that girl allison

I'm Allison. I see a ton of theatre. I'm a fan of Green Day, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Weezer, Oasis, Adam Rapp, Emily Giffin, and Shakespeare. I run sometimes, and do yoga always.

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thatgirlallison08 at gmail dot com

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Posts tagged "manhattan theatre club"

I attended the opening night of Manhattan Theater Club’s When We Were Young a couple of weeks ago. I had seen the word ‘feminist’ thrown around in writing about the plot of the show but didn’t really know what to expect.

Cherry Jones plays a woman (Agnes) who runs a home for women who are domestically abused and looked to escape their husbands. Agnes also has a daughter of her own, Hannah (Cherise Boothe), the feminist of the house who wants to go to an Ivy League school and has no time for boys. Mary Anne (played by Zoe Kazan) arrives at their doorstep and while she’s staying with them, she coaches Hannah on how to get her dream guy to ask her to the prom, among other things, and this totally changes Hannah, for better or for worse, who knows.

When We Were Young is much deeper and thought-provoking than I’m making it seem, but it’s also a very heavy. You definitely need to take a moment to remember to breath during intermission.

Cherry Jones is, of course, spectacular. Boothe and Kazan are both enjoyable to watch and believable. Patch Darragh and Morgan Saylor play two supporting roles as well and help keep the play moving and exciting.

This is a fine production at MTC and Jones’ gives a performance not to be missed. 

(Full disclosure: The company I work for works on this show, but the opinions are all my own.)

Last weekend I was thoroughly surprised and delighted by this little show off-off-Broadway at MTC’s smallest stage at City Center, The Lion, written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer.

I’d read that it was about his life, so I expected it to maybe be a little self-indulgent and full of hyperbole, but it wasn’t. At all. It was deeply honest, at times very sad, with lots of comic relief to get you through the sad points. And Scheuer is a very attractive man who writes beautiful songs, so watching him play these songs is no hard task.

I had no idea what to expect going in to this but I’d be lying if I wasn’t telling everyone to go see it now. It’s really a gem.

Go see it

Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of Casa Valentina (written by Harvey Fierstein) was both educational and thought provoking. Inspired by true events that took place at the Chevalier d’Eon Resort in the Catskills in 1962, it was about a small group of men (all claiming to be heterosexual with wives and children at home) who would come to the resort to spend the weekends dressing in drag. It is an interesting notion to think that there are men who like dressing in women’s clothing just for fun who are straight and vice versa. it’s one that I’m still trying to sort through in my head.

Brilliant performances were given all around, starting with Patrick Page and Mare Winningham as George and Rita, the resort’s owners, to John Collum and Tom McGowan as some of the regulars at the resort.

Though I found it a bit slow during a couple of moments, I still enjoyed it. It showed me something new, something real.

The day after These Paper Bullets, my friend Kristen and I went to see a matinee of Manhattan Theatre Club’s newest production at their off-Broadway space, Tales from Red Vienna by David Grimm. I jumped at the chance because… well: Nina Arianda. What was the surprise second best part? Michael Esper. I’d totally forgotten that he was doing a new show, so that was pretty rad too. 
The play is about a woman (Arianda) who’s husband is assumed to be dead after he’s unheard from in two years after World War II and like many women (apparently) during that time, she turns to prostitution to pay the bills. Her world is turned upside down when she is set up by a friend (more like a frenemy) with the man (Esper) who happened to have been her first customer. 
It was interesting and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Arianda way more in Venus in Fur, but I suppose I have to succumb to the fact that not every piece Arianda works on will be Venus in Fur. Esper was, of course, fantastic. he’s actually such a brilliant dramatic actor - something that never would’ve been apparent if you only knew his work in American Idiot. 
Would I recommend this just to see Nina Arianda and Michael Esper? Probably. Just go. 

The day after These Paper Bullets, my friend Kristen and I went to see a matinee of Manhattan Theatre Club’s newest production at their off-Broadway space, Tales from Red Vienna by David Grimm. I jumped at the chance because… well: Nina Arianda. What was the surprise second best part? Michael Esper. I’d totally forgotten that he was doing a new show, so that was pretty rad too. 

The play is about a woman (Arianda) who’s husband is assumed to be dead after he’s unheard from in two years after World War II and like many women (apparently) during that time, she turns to prostitution to pay the bills. Her world is turned upside down when she is set up by a friend (more like a frenemy) with the man (Esper) who happened to have been her first customer. 

It was interesting and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Arianda way more in Venus in Fur, but I suppose I have to succumb to the fact that not every piece Arianda works on will be Venus in Fur. Esper was, of course, fantastic. he’s actually such a brilliant dramatic actor - something that never would’ve been apparent if you only knew his work in American Idiot

Would I recommend this just to see Nina Arianda and Michael Esper? Probably. Just go. 

Several years ago Manhattan Theatre Club produced a show on Broadway called “Shining City.” It was about ghosts and it was interesting, but you didn’t go “oh my god!” until the final moment of the play right before the blackout. The Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater’s current production of “The Correspondent," by Ken Urban, is kind of the same.

About a man named Philip (Thomas Jay Ryan) whose wife was murdered, shortly after the funeral he hires a service that gets paid for having their on-their-death bed employees deliver messages to their loved ones once they have also passed. Philip fought and slapped his wife the night before she was killed by a speeding driver and he questions whether or not she forgives him. Shortly after he speaks with the woman (Mirabelle, played by Heather Alicia Simms) who’s going to deliver his message, he starts receiving letters in his wife’s handwriting including intense detail about their relationship. Mirabelle decides to help him find out who’s leaving the letters (Jordan Geiger).

That’s when things get weird. Very weird. Sometimes awkward as well. But once the man gets his answer your jaw drops and the play is over and the black out occurs.

The writing was at times questionable but made sense at the end. The acting was solid and the set was simple and effective - a modest, well kept living room in a Boston apartment.

The last line though? It’s worth seeing just for the last line.

Murder Ballad

I saw Murder Ballad on Friday night after hearing numerous positive accounts from friends whose opinions I trust. Also: Rebecca Naomi Jones, Will Swenson, and Cassie Levy? Yes, please sign me up.

I guess site-specific, make your stage shows are the rage now. I guess everyone has to have some schtick and Murder Ballad capitalized on this by basically creating their own theatre in the round at the Union Square Theatre. Where I was sitting was basically where the stage would’ve been. The show’s action centers around a long bar in the front orchestra and a pool table in the house left section of the orchestra.

The plot, although semi-cliche, is compelling enough to keep you interested for 80 minutes (No intermission! Score!) and despite the upfront admission that the ending is not happy, is pretty happy. I have to admit that after being told by Jones’ character that someone dies, I spent much of the show guessing who it’d be.

The score is great. There is LOTS of belting. It’s a great rock score, with just the right number of ballads to make sure you don’t get a headache from the volume. The lighting and staging is beautiful, and very creative. John Ellison Conlee was out, so Josh Tower covered for him; and he was great.

Jones’ character is mainly the narrator who breaks down the fourth wall from the very first note. I thought she was, of course, fantastic. And like in American Idiot she wears very little clothing the entire time. 

The show begins and ends in exactly the same, which is something I always love, because it gives you chills. Murder Ballad is eerier form start to finish, and it’s also quite amazing.

Murder Ballad is paying at the Union Square Theatre through July 21st. 

I’d heard The Other Place, part of MTC’s current season, was good, and I’d heard Laurie Metcalf was even better. I’d seen Metcalf onstage before and she’d always killed it so I took advantage of a recent opportunity to see The Other Place last Saturday.

Billed as a psychological 80-minute thriller, I thought it sounded really interesting and the fact that it had no intermission was even better. It was the story of a scientist’s recounting of her descent into dementia and how her daughters running away when she was a teenager had effected her life.

Laurie Metcalf was great. Superb actually. The play itself was good - though quite intense. It was somewhat confusing in the second half trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t though (or maybe I just missed something!). Maybe that was the playwrights intention though, to make the audience feel as lost and confused as Metcalf’s character did.

Metcalf’s performance is reason enough to catch this production should you have the opportunity. I’m glad I saw it.

(The overexposed photo above is from the post-show talkback with the cast.)

I heard that An Enemy of the People was very relevant, so I thought it might be a modern play. I obviously did no research on it before seeing it, so I was saddened when I figured out while sitting in the Samuel Friedman Theatre yesterday afternoon that it was a century+ old. But boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong. 

Ibsen’s play is incredibly relevant. An Enemy.. is about a town doctor, played by the incredible Boyd Gaines, in Norway who discovers the water source for his town’s spa (“baths” as they were called then) is poisoning the people and he goes about trying to get the mayor (and brother, played by Richard Thomas) to notify the public about the issue and correct it. Politics and money come into play, and the outcome is eerily similar to current events.

I was stunned by the parallels between now and then. It’s both comforting and disturbing to see that we as a society are still making the same mistakes that we were back in the 1800’s. 

Manhattan Theatre Club has a hit on their hands, and I hope it’s received that way when it’s reviewed. 

Last night Manhattan Theatre Club’s most recent production The Columnist opened and last week I took in a performance at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre starring the impeccable John Lithgow.  The Columnist was about a closeted conservative Washington DC columnist during the 1960’s who was doing everything in his power to lead the conservative party ahead with his writing.
It’s very much a period piece; an interesting one at that though it may have gone on fifteen or twenty minutes too long. John Lithgow gave a superb performance as per usual as the columnist Joseph Alsop  I was also very impressed with Gracie Gummer as his daughter Abigail. She matured believably through the years with ease. Mentions must also be made for the wonderful Boyd Gaines as Lithgow’s brother, Stewart Alsop, and Margaret Colin as Susan Mary Alsop, Lithgow’s wife (and beard, so to speak). 
After a scandal surround him surfaces, Joseph ends up a lonely old man with only his daughter around him when he passes, a depressing ending to be sure. I enjoyed The  Columnist because it was educational romp through the 1960’s, an era I’m always fascinated with. 
A history lesson as well as a lesson in hypocrisy in two acts, The Columnist is another fine work produced by Manhattan Theatre Club.

Last night Manhattan Theatre Club’s most recent production The Columnist opened and last week I took in a performance at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre starring the impeccable John Lithgow.  The Columnist was about a closeted conservative Washington DC columnist during the 1960’s who was doing everything in his power to lead the conservative party ahead with his writing.

It’s very much a period piece; an interesting one at that though it may have gone on fifteen or twenty minutes too long. John Lithgow gave a superb performance as per usual as the columnist Joseph Alsop  I was also very impressed with Gracie Gummer as his daughter Abigail. She matured believably through the years with ease. Mentions must also be made for the wonderful Boyd Gaines as Lithgow’s brother, Stewart Alsop, and Margaret Colin as Susan Mary Alsop, Lithgow’s wife (and beard, so to speak). 

After a scandal surround him surfaces, Joseph ends up a lonely old man with only his daughter around him when he passes, a depressing ending to be sure. I enjoyed The  Columnist because it was educational romp through the 1960’s, an era I’m always fascinated with. 

A history lesson as well as a lesson in hypocrisy in two acts, The Columnist is another fine work produced by Manhattan Theatre Club.

I remember being urged by multiple friends to catch Venus in Fur at Theatre Row off-Broadway last season but for some reason, I never made the time and I regretted it more and more as more people came forward and told me I totally “should’ve seen it.” So, needless to say, I was ecstatic when Manhattan Theatre Club announced that it would be picking up the play for their next season.  I purchased a mezzanine ticket through MTC’s “30 under 30” program and got excited because who doesn’t love Hugh Dancy, and even more so, who doesn’t love Nina Arianda after seeing her in last season’s Born Yesterday?
Venus in Fur is unbelievably hard to explain but Dancy plays a writer/director looking for his muse and lead for his stage adaptation of the book Venus in Fur (by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who Sadomasochism was named for).  The curtain rises and he’s on the phone with someone complaining about how all the actresses he’s seen are dumb and have trouble reading basic English. While lamenting, an actress bursts through the door toting numerous bags and yelling about her tumultuous trip to get to the audition.
Venus in Fur, the book and play, are about power over another person.  As Dancy and Arianda dissect the script scene by scene, the dynamic changes almost concurrently.  The play’s meant to be ambiguous and not have a clear cut meaning and it succeeds as you believe in one moment Arianda might be a complete psycho about to kill Darcy, and then it does a bate and switch.
At 100 minutes, Venus in Fur keeps the audience (well, okay, I can only speak for myself) on its toes the entire time.  If anything, go see this just to see Nina Arianda, who I can only assume will receive at least a Tony nomination if not the award itself for her performance which is brilliant, heart-breaking, comical, and powerful.

I remember being urged by multiple friends to catch Venus in Fur at Theatre Row off-Broadway last season but for some reason, I never made the time and I regretted it more and more as more people came forward and told me I totally “should’ve seen it.” So, needless to say, I was ecstatic when Manhattan Theatre Club announced that it would be picking up the play for their next season.  I purchased a mezzanine ticket through MTC’s “30 under 30” program and got excited because who doesn’t love Hugh Dancy, and even more so, who doesn’t love Nina Arianda after seeing her in last season’s Born Yesterday?

Venus in Fur is unbelievably hard to explain but Dancy plays a writer/director looking for his muse and lead for his stage adaptation of the book Venus in Fur (by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who Sadomasochism was named for).  The curtain rises and he’s on the phone with someone complaining about how all the actresses he’s seen are dumb and have trouble reading basic English. While lamenting, an actress bursts through the door toting numerous bags and yelling about her tumultuous trip to get to the audition.

Venus in Fur, the book and play, are about power over another person.  As Dancy and Arianda dissect the script scene by scene, the dynamic changes almost concurrently.  The play’s meant to be ambiguous and not have a clear cut meaning and it succeeds as you believe in one moment Arianda might be a complete psycho about to kill Darcy, and then it does a bate and switch.

At 100 minutes, Venus in Fur keeps the audience (well, okay, I can only speak for myself) on its toes the entire time.  If anything, go see this just to see Nina Arianda, who I can only assume will receive at least a Tony nomination if not the award itself for her performance which is brilliant, heart-breaking, comical, and powerful.