Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Free and Discounted Tickets and a Call for Submissions

Free Theater Tickets

Theaters around the country are currently participating in an event in which they are giving away free tickets--no catch.

If you are interested, check out www.freenightoftheater.net. If you don't see anything you want--or if what you want is already sold out--check again later, tomorrow, or over the next couple of weeks. New performances are added pretty much daily.

Or take a chance on a less familiar play or venue. It's got to be worth at least the price of admission!


Discounted Tickets

Websites like Playbill.com, Theatermania.com and Broadwaybox.com offer access to discounted New York theater tickets to the general public—no membership fees involved.

Sometimes theaters themselves provide these discounts directly through last-minute “rush” sales to students or to the general public, through lotteries, or during previews while a show is still working out the kinks.

Case in point: Playwrights Horizons, in its fifth decade as “home to new American theater,” currently is offering discounted tickets for the New York premiere of After The Revolution, a new play about a family confronting secrets of the past, written by Amy Herzog. You can read more about the play at the Playwrights Horizons website: www.playwrightshorizons.org.

If you are intrigued, Playwrights Horizons has approached me about letting readers know about its discounted ticket policy, and, as a fan of the organization’s work, I am happy to oblige.

Order by November 9 with code ARGR and tickets are only:
$40* (reg. $55) for the first week of performances Oct. 21 – Oct. 28
$45 (reg. $55) for all performances Oct. 29 – Nov. 28

HOW TO ORDER:
Order online at www.playwrightshorizons.org. Use code APGR.
Call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily)
Present a printout of this blog post to the Ticket Central box office at 416 West 42nd Street (Noon-8pm daily).

*A limited number of $40 discounted tickets will be available for purchase. Subject to availability. Valid only in select rows.


Open Submissions for 10-minute Plays

Here is an exciting opportunity for aspiring or active playwrights.

Red Bull Theater has announced that it is seeking new 10-minute plays for its spring short play reading day.

New plays of no more than 10 pages, written in heightened language, in verse, with classic themes, adaptations of classics, or that otherwise fit the company’s mission and history are welcome.

Visit www.redbulltheater.com/Collaborate for details.

I'll post progress reports on my own efforts as we approach the deadline in December.


Feel free to tell your friends about this blog, and to share your own theater stories by posting a comment.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hosannah for Angels in America!



Let me be unequivocal. The Signature Theatre Company’s production of Tony Kushner’s masterwork Angels in America is astounding.

“Astounding” is not a term I use loosely or often, so let me provide some context.

Let me begin by saying that I am unencumbered by memories of the legendary original Broadway production from 1993. I did not see it and had to settle for reading the published script and then, later, watching the HBO film version. Neither of these experiences prepared me the play’s sheer theatricality.

I do not have a clue as to how Kushner pulled off such an astonishing juggling act, brilliantly weaving together so many complex ideas: the AIDS crisis, sexual identity, gender roles, the nature of God, U. S. history in the second half of the twentieth century, legal ethics, Judaism, Mormonism, race relations, the healthcare industry, medical ethics, damage to the ozone layer, prescription drug abuse, mental instability, co-dependent behaviors, marriage, loyalty, friendship, and others I am sure I am leaving out. Somehow, all of these come together within a rich tapestry of reality and fantasy, punctured clich├ęs, surprising turns, unexpected humor, and deep, raw, and keenly felt emotions.

This is especially true in Part I of the two-part play, Millennium Approaches. In it, Kushner manages to pull everything into breathtakingly perfect balance and offers a most extraordinary yin and yang of intellectual content and human heart, comparable, in my view, only to Tom Stoppard’s brilliant Arcadia, which debuted in London, interestingly enough, the same year as Angels in America made it to Broadway.

Given the play’s many intertwined themes, it would be difficult to parse the plot. Angels in America takes place mostly in New York City in 1986-1987. The central characters are Prior Walter, a thirty-year-old gay New Yorker who has just learned he has full-blown AIDS; Roy Cohn, the real-life right-wing attorney best known as Red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel, who also has gotten AIDS through sexual contact with men but who adamantly eschews the “homosexual” label; and Harper Pitt, whose mental stability is collapsing along with her marriage to a closeted gay Mormon.

Now would probably be a good time to declare that Christian Borle as Prior Walter, Frank Wood as Roy Cohn, and Zachary Quinto as Prior’s conflicted boyfriend Louis give three truly indelible performances. This is a play that portrays ragged emotions at their most heightened and unvarnished, and one can only imagine the great sense of trust that had to have developed among the actors, and between the actors and director Michael Greif. There is not a false note to be found.

Zoe Kazan seems to me to have been miscast as Harper—looking too young and sounding more like a ditzy California blonde than a Salt Lake City Mormon---but she and all of the rest of the cast perform with all the love and attention and mutual respect anyone could ever hope to see on stage. The rest of this wonderful company is made up of Robin Bartlett, whom I loved as Harper’s mother-in-law Hannah and as the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, who has come for a deathwatch over her prosecutor, Roy Cohn; Bill Heck as Harper’s lost soul of a husband, trying and failing to keep himself and Harper on what he believes to be the “straight” and narrow path; Billy Porter as Belize, gay friend to both Prior and Louis and a nurse working with AIDS patients; and Robin Weigert as The Angel.

Without the budget of a major Broadway production, the Signature Theatre Company has done some wonderful work through the use of movable sets, projections, and black-clad stagehands. It is only in Part II of Angels in America, Perestroika, that things get a little muddy, especially with the introduction of a new plot element about heaven and the struggle of the angels to keep things together after God has taken off for parts unknown. For me, this is where the juggling fails to keep all of the balls in the air, and the connections are unclear. Still, Part II has some of the play’s most transcendent scenes, focusing as it does on love, forgiveness, and acceptance. Robin Bartlett shines in several of these scenes, and I wish we could have had more of her and fewer angels in Perestroika.

Still, Tony Kushner and all involved with the Signature Theatre Company have given us a wonderful gift with this production of Angels in America.

Did I mention that it is astounding?


Feel free to tell your friends about this blog, and to share your own theater stories by posting a comment.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bloody Bloody What??? When Sexypants Ain't Enuf!



Gotta say, they’ve come up with a brilliant promotional scheme for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the emo-rock musical that has just transferred from off-Broadway’s Public Theater to Broadway’s Bernard Jacobs Theatre: “History just got all sexypants!”

The posters and the other advertising materials carry that slogan and display the rear end of a dude in tight black jeans, with an American flag handkerchief sticking out of the left pocket and a holstered pistol on the right hip.

That the dude is a rock star version of the seventh president of the United States, the populist Andrew Jackson of the title, makes for an intriguing and imaginative image.

Unfortunately, from my perspective at least, that’s as good as it gets, despite energetic performances by the members of the cast, headed up by Benjamin Walker in the title role. The show, heavily dependent on fratboy humor and vaguely homophobic burlesque-y comedy—think Saturday Night Live on a particularly bad Saturday night—is just not terribly successful in pulling together style and substance to sell itself as the political satire that lies underneath the layers of inanity.

If watching Andrew Jackson pandering to the people and playing to their xenophobic views of the native American Indian population reminds you of the shenanigans of the Tea Party crowd, that may say more about what you bring to the show than what it brings to you.

In all fairness, I will say that many in the 20-to-30-something crowd that filled the theater during the preview performance I attended laughed heartily at every gag and pretty much every time a cast member uttered the “F” word or its well-known variation, the “MF” word. Since that pretty much included every other word, at least some in the theater had a good time.



Feel free to tell your friends about this blog, and to share your own theater stories by posting a comment.