There are few things that I can say that I am sure of at this exact point in time (other than "here and now and us together"...). For one thing, I am sure of what makes me go all a-tingly in my theatrical nether regions and what makes me want to vomit old sheet music. With the summer drawing to an imminent close, there is much on the horizon to be aware of. Here is my own personal and biased lineup:
The mucho gustos:
Othello (Produced by the Public Theatre, directed by Peter Sellars, starring John Ortiz as the Moor himself and P.S. Hoffman as Iago) This one speaks for itself. Right off the bat, I question the sanity of anybody who is not eager to see one of the greatest living American actors grace the stage as one of dramatic literature's greatest and least apologetic villains of all time. Peter Sellars is infamous for his work with opera, lending a modern lilt to classic work and breathing a tour de force life into contemporary work (as in his close working relationship with living American composer John Adams). He is sure to do great things with a straight play that hardly lacks the emotional charge of the operatic canon. In a totally selfish light, as an NYU student I score big time (for once) with access to $12 student tickets because the venue is the good old Skirball Center. Ra ra. Finally, the Public can really do no wrong. Q.E.D.
The Understudy (Written by Theresa Rebeck, Roundabout Theatre Company, starring Julie White, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Justin Kirk) Okay, this is a big season for names and this off-Broadway production of Rebeck's new play is stacked. After the recent appearance of Mario Lopez in A Chorus Line, why would producers NOT find a vehicle for Zack Morris? (Maybe next year we will see Dustin Diamond in the title role of Hamlet...) Justin Kirk, although popularly known now for his work on film, is no stranger to the stage and his return is much welcomed by yours truly. His capacity to adapt to roles that couldn't be more polar opposite (what would happen if Andy Botwin and Prior Walter went out for coffee?) leaves me soundly expecting a performance worth talking about. Finally, who doesn't love Julie White? She won the Tony for The Little Dog Laughed, appeared on Six Feet Under and playwright Rebeck has written specifically for her in the past. This woman has obviously been doing something right. (Also, who among us, whether admittedly or not, doesn't like a little backstage inside joke in their theatre-going lineup? The play focuses on "one of the most notorious roles in the theatre: the understudy.")
The Bacchae (Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, starring Jonathan Groff) Has anybody else been watching the new season of True Blood? Is anybody else getting a little miffed by Mary Ann and her Dionysian tomfoolery? Thank fuck the Public will pull us back to the roots with this production. Can you really think of a better play to be staged outside? And with a new (under)score by Philip Glass? I will not soon forget Alan Cumming's performance as Dionysus (at the Lincoln Center last summer) but am very eager to see what the much younger, much more innocent Jonathan Groff will do with the role. Oh, yeah, and it's free, lest we forget. Again, I assert that the Public can do no wrong. (Ten points deposited in the posthumous bank of awesomeness for Joe Papp).
The No Me Gusta Column:
American Idiot (Berkeley Rep, Directed by Michael Mayer) What the hell, everybody? Are you really making another jukebox musical? Does it really have to be formed around the album that reminds everybody what Green Day once was (wank-worthy) and no longer is? Does everybody involved have to be so legit that I am probably going to have to see it when it (inevitably) comes to New York? Damn all of you. Truly, why is everybody involved in this puke-prompting project really established and talented? Michael Mayer, John Gallager Jr., Tom Kitt, DO YOU REALLY HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO? Good luck super-imposing a narrative onto that piece of rubbish...
Catch Me If You Can (Seattle's 5th Ave. Theatre) All I have to say about this is that A) we don't need another movie cum musical B) Aaron Tveit traded in a wonderful role in an excellent ORIGINAL work for a wardrobe the size of a small country and C) this speaks volumes.
Heed my musings or don't. I'm just one small girl (in a tree).