Sunday, June 26, 2022

New York City Theater: BACK TO BROADWAY 2022

By Jacquelin Carnegie
"What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play." Nothing lifts one's sprits better than seeing a good show. As the pandemic continues, theaters on and off Broadway are hurting. These shows are a great incentive to get up off the couch and head out.
Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th St);
Book, Music & Lyrics by Irene Sankoff & David Hein; Directed by Christopher Ashley; Currently Starring: Jenn Collela, De’Lon Grant, Caesar Samayoa, Sharone Sayegh, James Seol, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Emily Walton, Jim Walton, Gene Weygandt, Sharon Wheatley, Paul Whitty, Josh Breckenridge, John Jellison, Tony LePage, Monette Mckay, Happy McPartlin, Julie Reiber.

Perhaps you haven’t gone to see this absolutely, fabulous show yet because you heard it was about 9/11 and don’t want to be reminded or live through it again. Well, while it’s true that the events of 9/11 are the catalyst for the show, it’s really not what it’s about. It’s about random acts of kindness and “it takes a village.” That village happens to be Gander in Newfoundland where 38 planes were forced to land on that fateful day.

(photo: Matthew Murphy)

With no notice, the townspeople of Gander and the surrounding hamlets organized to provide food, shelter, and welcome to thousands of frightened, frenzied, international passengers who’d “come from away” (outsiders in Newfoundland speak). With open arms, the Newfoundlanders helped this group of distrustful, cranky, not-particularly-grateful strangers. But their unbridled kindness and generosity in the midst of tragedy taught those passengers a lesson in compassion. Over the course of that heart-rending week, their ingratitude turned into appreciation and enduring friendships. The terrific, ensemble cast of COME FROM AWAY takes you there. As Anne Frank once said: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” This show is the embodiment of that thought. Do yourself a favor and go see it before it closes on Broadway (10/2/22). Get a glimpse:

Brooks Atkinson Theater (256 West 47th St);
Book, Music & Lyrics by Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss; Directed by Lucy Moss & Jamie Armitage; Currently Starring: Adrianna Hicks, Keirsten Nicole Hodgens, Andrea Macasaet, Brittney Mack, Mallory Maedke, Abby Mueller, Samantha Pauly, Joy Woods.

If you have teens &/or tweens, they’ll really enjoy this 80-minute song fest. One would be hard-pressed to call it theater; it’s more as if Madonna did one of her stadium shows in a theater. There’s no storyline per se just six terrific performers singing about the lives—mostly sad fate—of English King Henry the XIII’s six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour; Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard & Catherine Parr. “Divorced, Beheaded, Died; Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” – that’s the plot. Nonetheless, it’s a fun night out and Tony-award winning Gabriella Slade’s costumes are to die for! Get a glimpse:

The Orchard
Baryshnikov Arts Center (450 West 37th St) – Closed 7/3/22; 
Conceived, Adapted, & Directed by Igor Golyak (based on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard); Featuring: Jessica Hecht & Mikhail Baryshnikov, with Juliet Brett, Darya Denisova, Elise Kibler, John McGinty, Nael Nacer, Mark Nelson & Ilia Volok.
With a group of fantastic actors, you can stage a play any which way and it will still work. Here, Russia is an eerily-beautiful, surrealistic landscape where the servants and pets are robots, but the characters’ anguish is as real as ever.
Social upheaval is indeed a bitter pill—past, present, and future. Fortunately, in this production, a monumentally-talented cast guides us through the torment.
The aristocrats, clinging to the past, are cruisin’-for-a-bruisin’. The arrivistes—former peasants now middle-class with money—gleefully kick over the apple (cherry) cart and grab up the spoils. The old, faithful servants are left on the ash heap. The “Moscow Millennials” are stunned, but cautiously hopeful for the future. As for the orchard…But, take heart, any day you see Mikhail Baryshnikov on any kind of stage is a good day. Jessica Hecht is always magnificent and this merry band of accompanying players rises to the Chekhov occasion with gusto, especially Nael Nacer as the unctuous Lopakhin.

Editor’s Note: This post-modern production can be seen in-person, virtually, &/or a combo of the two. (Closed 7/3/22.) Get a glimpse:

BAC is dancer/performer Mikhail Baryshnikov’s brainchild. Envisioned as a creative space to support international, multidisciplinary artists, BAC presents innovative works of dance, theater, and music at affordable prices. Check out upcoming presentations.

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