Recently, at the Theatre

Going to the theatre has long-been my second favorite multiple-hour escape from reality – nothing can beat hard drugs (joke!). I truly believe that live theatre is magic in its truest and purest form. And when executed correctly, it can be beautiful, mood-altering and maybe even life-changing if you let it.

That said, it doesn’t take a lot to entertain me. And that said, it does take a lot to truly wow me (i.e. give me the chills, perhaps force me to show some emotion in front of strangers without the involvement of the aforementioned hard drugs (still kidding! promise!), etc.). The performances I’ve had the opportunity to take in so far this year have all done a great job at all of this. My goal was to see one show per month, not necessarily Broadway, but it just so happened to pan out that way. It was also by happy accident that I’ve averaged two shows per month so far in 2015. You’ll see no complaints here.

Here’s a very brief synopsis on each of these shows, as well as my abridged thoughts on them all. I’m not going to attempt at rating them because they are so wonderfully different. Sucks to be you, Tony Awards Administration Committee.

Jan - March Broadway

Disgraced: The easiest way to summarize Disgraced is to say that it is a play that explores how race and religion affect your relationships and identity. I was heavily persuaded to see this by my friend and I’m so, so glad I got the chance to. Columbus’ own Joshua Radnor (Schmosby!) was in this, but the whole ensemble did a fantastic job. This set was an intricate and beautiful portrayal of an UES apartment; I wanted to move in when the show was over. And fun fact: my friends and I were so impacted and inspired by this play, we went to a really hip and trendy bar (definitely not the Times Square Planet Hollywood) to discuss its themes for about two hours post-show. The last time a play had such a profound effect on me was… well, never.

Constellations: This play takes a look at one relationship and examines the infinite possibilities of each moment that makes it up. It touches on choice, destiny, and how the different thoughts we process, words we speak, and sometimes even the tones we take can vastly change the course of our lives. With just two actors (I have to admit, I came for the Jake Gyllenhaal and stayed for the Ruth Wilson), and at least 8,000 scenes (a scientific approximation), this book must have been a bitch to memorize. And I must say, the acting was truly of another universe.

Favorite quote: “We have all the time we’ve always had”

Tony guess: Ruth Wilson for best leading actress in a play

Cabaret: Set in 1930s Berlin as the Nazis were rising to power, the classic musical Cabaret is about living, loving, and being persecuted for who and how you choose to live and love. But unless you are a two-months-ago-version-of-me, you probably already knew that. I, alas, did not, so my friend and I had to see Cabaret *twice* in less than three weeks. I simply could not get over (and for the record, still haven’t) Alan Cumming’s greatness. We were able to see both Emma Stone and Sienna Miller portray Sally (both fine, in different ways), but Cumming was the main attraction for me.

Killer lyric: “Life is a cabaret, old chum. It’s only a cabaret, old chum. And I love a cabaret.”

Life guess: Alan Cumming for King of the World

Hand to God: This play, set in rural Texas, is about the process of a possessed-by-the-devil hand puppet taking over a child’s life, as he copes with his father’s recent death and his mother’s lack of dealing with it. This was definitely the most wild-card-feeling play I’ve seen yet, and definitely pushed the envelope – probably more than what, in my opinion, was necessary. This play was super original and again, definitely sparked good conversation during intermission and post-performance, but I think this could be too progressive for the masses. Noteworthy: Steven Boyer, who plays both the protagonist (Jason) and the antagonist (puppet, Tyrone) deserves the highest accolades. I couldn’t imagine that switching emotions so quickly and acting as a damn ventriloquist for two hours a night is an easy feat.

Tony guess: Steven Boyer for best leading actor in a play

Fun Home: Simply, this new musical is about seeing your parents through the eyes of an adult. It’s based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir and happens to be the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian. I can’t describe it any better than: “My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay. And I was gay. And he killed himself. And I… became a lesbian cartoonist.” And I… just saw this yesterday, and haven’t stopped thinking about how original the music is, how talented the entire creative team is, how superior this ensemble was, and most of all, how natural and honestly they integrated this seemingly tough subject matter into fun songs that carry a lot of weight and thought-provoking material. I’m a really, really, really big fan.

Killer lyric: “I don’t know who I am; I’ve become someone new. Nothing I just did is anything I would do.”

Tony guesses: I just want this to sweep. All of the actors & actresses are noteworthy, and I also dig the set, music, book, production, etc., so nothing would surprise me here

Have you been to the theatre lately? What should I see next month?

I’m a UCB Fangirl, and You Should Be Too

UCB

At least once every month I try to make my way over to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre to catch some type of comedy show. Whether it’s an improv troupe, or sketch show in Chelsea or a stand-up special at UCBEast, it’s always worth the $5 or $10 I spend on a ticket. Truthfully, it’s worth much more as UCB is the top comedy school in the nation and the seriously insane level of talent that it houses is unreal.

A crowd favorite, and one of (if not the) longest running shows at UCB is ASSSSCAT 3000, which is offered at 7:30pm and 9:30pm each Sunday. It’s always a fully improvised show (they play off the stories of a guest monologist) and usually features some of the greatest people in the industry. Some of my fav ASSSSCATers [I’ve seen] are: Zach Woods, Adam Pally, Gavin Speiller, Fran Gillespie, Neil Casey, and the always hilarious Shannon O’Neil. I consistently pray to the comedy gods that one of these Sundays, I will cross paths with the beautiful and glorious UCB founder, Amy Poehler. So far, no cigar, but I remain hopeful.

If you live in NYC, like to laugh (or just generally smile and/or not be a terrible person), SHAME if you haven’t gone to a UCB show. If you’re visiting New York, attending a performance – any performance – really should be on your tourist to-do list, right up there with seeing Lady Liberty and eating at the Times Square Applebees.

I’ll likely never be one of the top actresses, improvisationalists (a word I made up) or sketch writers in the industry, but anytime I’m at a UCB performance, I break out of whatever world I’m spinning in for an hour or 90 minutes, and just laugh. And any place that can get someone like me out of my head that quickly and reliably in the heart of NYC deserves some serious accolades. Book those show rezzies here!