Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let the New Theater Season Begin!

With the 2009-2010 Tony Awards behind us, it’s time start taking a look at the new season. Here is a rundown of two new shows, and a report on a one-time event, a concert version of Lerner and Loewe’s lovely, lovely musical, Brigadoon.

Let’s begin with Little Doc by Don Klores, now on view at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

To give you an idea of the sensibility of the play, it’s helpful to recall that Klores is best known as an independent filmmaker with a penchant for exploring what lies beneath the scabs of life. Perhaps his best-known film is “Crazy Love,” the impossible-to-fathom but nonetheless true story of Linda Riss and Burton Pugach, who married some 15 years after he arranged to have liquid lye thrown into her face when she attempted to break off their relationship. Scabs, indeed!

With this new work, Little Doc, Klores examines what happens when a group of ‘60s stoners have evolved into ‘70s druggies and dealers. The events unfold during a gathering of these long-time friends, now a collective of cons, hustlers and misfits, for whom casual marijuana use and free love have shifted into high gear, and cocaine and various injectables shore up their lives and serve as their source of income. The plot hinges on the revelation that one of them has shortchanged their supplier by $50,000, and it is the fallout from that little oversight that carries the play to its predictable, if still sad, conclusion.

The play itself is well performed, especially by Adam Driver in the title role. Driver seems to be channeling a young Jeff Goldblum, which is not a bad thing, and the cast as a whole works well together. But as was the case with “Crazy Love,” Little Doc leaves us feeling a little queasy, uncomfortably eavesdropping on conversations that are so none of our business. You need to decide for yourself if these are folks you would like to spend an evening with.

Speaking of disturbing characters, chances are you would not care to party with the characters in Order, a new play on view at the Kirk Theater on Theater Row. Order, by Christopher Boal, is an offbeat dark comedy about the mental instability that lurks just beneath the surface of what we foolishly call normalcy. The central character is a gentle man, a walking “kick me” sign, who is bullied by his boss and his psychotherapist, and who is a disappointment to his wife. Our hero finds redemption and discovers his inner Hannibal Lecter with the assistance of a demon named “Bathug.”

The “ick” factor may be stronger in Order than in Little Doc (hint: did you pick up on the Hannibal Lecter reference?), but I enjoyed it more because of its over-the-top approach—a little bit Martin McDonagh, a little bit “Little Shop of Horrors,” and perhaps just a dab of H. P. Lovecraft.

The actors, members of the Off-Off Broadway Oberon Theatre Ensemble, do splendid work under the direction of Austin Pendleton, himself a multi-talented actor, director, and playwright. They and the audience are in good, if blood-stained, hands.

I would hate to end this blog entry on a gory note, however, so let’s talk about Brigadoon, with its sublime score by Lerner and Loewe, presented at the Shubert Theater in a concert version as a one-time benefit performance for the Irish Repertory Theatre.

As with any benefit, there were some opening speeches and words of appreciation to sit through. Actors Matthew Broderick and Jonathan Cake were on hand to provide the introductory remarks, which included an explanation as to why the Irish Rep, which specializes in plays by Irish and Irish-American playwrights, had chosen to present a musical that takes place in Scotland. Answer: “The Irish are Scots who learned how to swim!”

But finally the talking ended, and the musicians began to play, and it soon became apparent that the best thing for me to do was to close my eyes and just let the beautiful music sweep over me.

If you are familiar with the score of Brigadoon only from the 1947 cast album, it would be worth your efforts to track down other recordings. Indeed, please let me know if you have any recommendations. While I normally prefer the original versions of shows, in this case, it does not do justice to the score; the singing is overblown and annoyingly operatic in style; songs are left out or truncated; and lyrics are altered. The score also includes some lovely orchestral passages that do not exist on the original cast album.

For me, then, this concert version was an eye opener. Melissa Errico and Jason Danieley, in particular, were in exquisite voice in the lead roles, and it was fun to listen as Christine Ebersole tried on a Scottish accent to sing "My Mother's Weddin' Day." Also nice to see Len Cariou, even if he did sing only a few notes. But the evening truly belonged to composer Frederick Loewe and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, for whom this was a most fitting tribute. It was nice that Lerner’s daughters were in the audience to once again enjoy their father’s most beautiful musical.

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

Monday, June 14, 2010

2010 Tony Awards Show

The Broadway theater industry put on its annual self-love fest last night at the Tony Awards ceremonies.

I don’t want to be a Monday morning quarterback, and so I won’t comment on the winners and losers and the overlooked. But I would like to share some thoughts about the broadcast itself, both as a theatrical event and as an indicator of where the industry would like to position itself in the eyes of the American public.

It seems to me there was a greater understanding that this was a television show as well as a theatrical awards ceremony. More attention was paid to entertainment values and to keeping the adrenalin flowing, with an eye toward attracting a younger audience to both the broadcast and to Broadway.

Nothing wrong with that; the traditional audience for a Broadway show is getting rather long in the tooth, and so an appeal to the next generation is a good thing. Thus, the rock band Green Day and music from the show American Idiot, which features the group’s songs, were given lots of air time. There was a video promo by rock superstar Jon Bon Jovi. Two performers from the popular television show Glee, Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, were given feature spots in which to perform Broadway show tunes. And there was a very visible presence of popular Hollywood stars as presenters, recipients, and camera-ready front-and-center audience members.

Do note that “younger audience” is a relative term. Green Day and Bon Jovi date to the 1980s, and both Mr. Morrison and Ms. Michele sang show tunes from the late 1950s and mid-1960s, respectively. The target audience would seem to be those old enough (mid 30s to mid 50s) to have sufficient disposable income to pluck down the big bucks for an evening at a Broadway show. Maybe some of them will even be hitherto non-theatergoing guys; hence the presence of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who introduced a number from the musical Memphis. (Didn’t Spamalot demonstrate that the right marketing could bring in an enthusiastic male audience?)

It is difficult to turn an awards ceremony into an entertaining must-see event. I don’t envy the producers of the Tony Awards show. Hopes are always high that maybe this year, the show will be exciting and offer up more than the expected. There will be enough people griping about long-winded speeches and problems with the sound, so let me just point out some of the things I did like about the broadcast.

Sean Hayes was a charming, professional, and seemingly comfortable host for the evening. No over-the-top “Just Jack” moments for this actor, best known for his role as the outrageous Jack McFarland on the TV show Will and Grace. He performed admirably—from his introductory piano performance to his gentle humor to his participation in a choreographed sequence from the Broadway show in which he currently stars, the revival of Promises, Promises.

Marian Seldes, the 81-year-old always-working actress, accepted her lifetime achievement award by posing coyly for a few moments, then walking offstage without saying a word. Perhaps the best speech of the evening.

Lea Michele did a gutsy, “out there” rendition of the song “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from the show Funny Girl. The musical is slated to be revived on Broadway in the 2011-2012 season under the direction of Bartlet Sher, who helmed the near perfect revival of South Pacific, and many believe this was Ms. Michele’s audition performance. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether she might make a good Fanny Brice, but I certainly admired her moxie.

Bibi Neuwirth and Nathan Lane were a delightful pair of presenters for the awards for best actress and best actor in a musical. They were well prepared and appropriately self-mocking of the critical “thumbs down” for the musical in which they currently co-star, The Addams Family. They were a pleasant contrast to the typically formal, squinting-at-the-teleprompter presentation speeches.

It’s always difficult to convey the power of a musical number taken out of context of a show and sprawled across the stage of Radio City Music Hall. The one number that worked best in my view was the song “The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles, headed up by Douglas Hodge, who won the Tony Award for his performance as Albin. The number made good use of the stage, and even went out into the audience., lending dimensionality often lacking in such televised production numbers. It certainly played well and could lead to an upsurge in ticket sales for a show that has been revived on Broadway twice since its original production in 1983.

In case you were wondering, tickets for the Tony Awards generally go on sale the same day the nominations are announced. This year, tickets prices were $250 and $450, and the event is billed as “black tie only.” I don’t know about you, but unless I am invited as someone’s guest (tux thrown in), I’ll continue to watch from home.

And so, the 2009-2010 New York theater season ends with its usual share of official winners and losers.

Let the 2010-2011 season begin!

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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Forget the Tonys: Welcome to The First Ever ProfMiller Kudos Awards!

Well, the Tony Awards are this weekend, and while I wish all of the nominees the very best of luck, I am making no predictions whatsoever as to the results.

Instead I would like to offer up my own awards.

Call them the 2009-2010 ProfMiller Kudos Awards for Outstanding Theatrical Achievement!

As I committee of one, I was able to reach unanimous decisions in all of the categories, some of which are unique to this ceremony, and all of which reflect my personal biases and judgments. These awards encompass both Broadway and Off Broadway productions; I am an equal opportunity theatergoer!

And so, without further ado, the envelope, please:

The first award, given for the Most Underappreciated Play of the season, goes to Brighton Beach Memoirs. This funny, warm, well-directed, well-acted, engaging, and loving revival just never took off and closed quickly, amidst much speculation as to what brought it to its knees, and taking with it the opportunity to see the play with which it was to be paired: Broadway Bound. I guess it’s like they say, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!”

In the category of Best Actress in an Underappreciated Play, the Kudos Award goes to Laurie Metcalf. Long associated with the TV sit-com starring the comic actress sometimes known as Roseanne Barr, Ms. Metcalf is a gifted and often outrageously funny stage actress, as anyone who saw her in November or A Lie of the Mind could attest. Brighton Beach Memoirs showed her in another light, and she gave a bravura performance as Kate Jerome, the mater familias who holds the family together through difficult times.

Ms. Metcalf’s male counterpart and the winner of the 'A For Effort' Kudos Award is Norbert Leo Butz who did his damnedest to sell Enron through dint of personality and adrenaline alone. His own “smoke and mirrors” rivaled those offered up by the production itself, and, in an interestingly ironic way, mirrored that of the character he portrayed, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

In the category of Physical Comedy, the Kudos Award goes to Jan Maxwell, a wonderful screwball comic actress, who brought down the house with her glorious meltdown in The Royal Family.

For Best Performance in a One-Person Show, the Kudos Award goes to Jim Brochu, who wrote and stars in Zero Hour, giving us a totally believable portrait and a fascinating evening with Zero Mostel. I rarely like one-person shows, but I was held spellbound for the entire time. Heck, while we’re at it, let’s give Mr. Brochu a Kudos Award for Playwright of the Best One-Person Show, and throw in an Award to Piper Laurie for Best Director of a One-Person Show

The winner of the Kudos Award for Best of the Rising Playwrights is Annie Baker, who gave us two outstanding works this season: Circle Mirror Transformation and Aliens. Hers is a voice to be reckoned with. She should also share her Award with director Sam Gold, who shepherded both shows.

For his star turn as Luckiest Playwright of The Season, the Kudos Award goes to Donald Margulies. His two plays , Time Stands Still and a revival of Collected Stories, were blessed by the presence of wonderful actresses giving exquisite performances: Laura Linney in the former, and Linda Lavin in the latter.

Indeed, in recognition of her performance in Collected Stories, Linda Lavin is the recipient of the Kudos Award for Best Actress in a Play. Her portrayal of Ruth Steiner is utter perfection, revealing layers of complexity in the central character of a talented, conflicted, and neurotic writer and teacher who is crushed by her student’s success and perceived betrayal.

For Best Revival of a Play, the Kudos Award goes to everyone associated with A View From The Bridge. Director Gregory Mosher has brought out the very best in the cast, headed up by Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, and Jessica Hecht. An absolutely flawless and mesmerizing production.

For his performance in A View From The Bridge, the Kudos Award for Best Actor in a Play goes to Liev Shreiber, whose every acting moment was layered with depth and ambiguity, through which he created a most complex portrayal of the character of Eddie Carbone.

The Best Play of the Year Award will emulate the Obies, and will honor Annie Baker’s two entries: Circle Mirror Transformation and Aliens.

In recognition of its work as the Best Off-Broadway Theatrical Company, the Kudos Award goes to The Irish Rep. I never cease to be amazed at the fine work that is produced there--always creative, imaginative, and magical in the way it uses its postage stamp stage to its fullest advantage. I particularly enjoyed The Emperor Jones and White Woman Street during the 2009-2010 season and look forward to seeing pretty much whatever else they come up with.

For Best Ensemble Performance, the winner of the Kudos Award is the cast of The Temperamentals. The company, headed up by Thomas Jay Ryan and Michael Urie, performed splendidly together in this thoroughly enjoyable, intelligent, and funny play about the early days of the gay rights movement in the United States.

Moving on to the musicals, we’ll start with the Kudos Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The winner is Kate Baldwin, who lit up the stage in the revival of Finian’s Rainbow. What a beautiful singing voice, just right for those glorious Burton Lane/Yip Harburg songs.

For Best Actor in a Musical, it’s a tie! Christopher Sieber wins for his performance in The Kid, if only for the look of near panic that crosses his face with regularity so that you can feel his character’s neuroses rise to the surface. Mr. Sieber shares the Kudos with Bobby Steggert—not for his Tony nominated role in Ragtime, but for his leading role in the musical Yank, in which he holds the audience in the palm of his hand as the narrator and as a young gay soldier during World War II.

For Best Musical Revival, the Kudos Award goes to Anyone Can Whistle, which had a brief run as part of the Encores series at City Center. This semi-staged production, starring Donna Murphy, Sutton Foster, and Raúl Esparza, erased any notion that the legendary flop of a show by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim needs to remain hidden. It was terrific!

For Best Musical Off Broadway, the winner of the Kudos Award is The Toxic Avenger, a total hoot of a show from start to finish—funny, clever, crazy, energetic. Haven’t enjoyed a musical this much since Urinetown.

In the Category of Best Musical on Broadway, multiple Kudos Awards go to everyone involved in Fela. Hats off to director and choreographer Bill T. Jones, actors/performers Sahr Ngaujah and Lillias White (she of the shattering soulful voice), set designer Marina Draghici, and the members of the glorious onstage band Antibalas.

And that’s a wrap. Cue the music and call it a night!

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wrapping Up A Year of Theatergoing. Part II: Spring Semester

Welcome to Part II of a discussion of my season of theatergoing in 2009-2010. Part I covered the “Fall Semester,” i. e. the time span between September of 2009 and December of 2010. I pick up now with January of 2010 and go through to the end of May, the “Spring Semester.” The notion of “semesters” of theater is a nod to my vocation as a college professor. And since this is grading time, I have given each production a letter grade based entirely on my own criteria.

Here, more-or-less in the order of my seeing them, are the plays in my 2009-2010 season of theater-going. Part II: Spring Semester.

Don’t know if there is any significance to the coincidence, but we begin, as we will end, with a play by Donald Margulies. The first play I saw in January was Time Stands Still, which boasted solid performances by a cast that included Eric Bogasian, Brian D’Arcy James, Laura Linney, and Alicia Silverstone. The two women outshined the men, though the play itself was only moderately interesting, and I continue to long for Margulies to plumb the depths of the interesting issues he raises. Overall grade: B+

Jerk was a memorably disturbing venture into the mind of a serial killer, as much a piece of performance art as a play. Some brilliant moments, but utterly too creepy (and not in a "cool" way) for me to recommend it to anyone I know. Overall grade: C-

Present Laughter was a revival of a Noel Coward play that has never worked for me. Can American actors perform the lighter-than-air stuff of British drawing room comedy? Not in this case, anyway. Overall grade: C-

Venus in Fur by David Ives was a quirky take on the battle of the sexes, anchored by a wonderful performance by Nina Arianda as an aspiring actress who jumps around like a quantum electron from being ditzy, to intellectual, to sexy and dangerous. Overall grade: A-

Mr. and Mrs. Fitch was an unfunny comedy by a talented writer, Douglas Carter Beane, unfunnily performed by talented actors John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle. Overall grade. C-

Clybourne Park was a provocative play about race relations by playwright Brice Norris, well directed by Pam MacKinnon and strongly acted by a sharp ensemble of actors. Overall grade: A

The Pride, by Alexi Kaye Campbell, juxtaposed gay relationships in the middle and late twentieth century. While the play itself did not offer much that was new, and suffered from some confusing directing decisions, it was blessed with riveting performances by Hugh Dancy and Ben Whishaw. Overall grade: A-

True West, A Lie of the Mind, Ages of the Moon, all by playwright Sam Shepherd, were performed at three different venues during this season. This was a great opportunity to get a taste of Shepherd’s offbeat work--the first two from 1980 and 1985 respectively, and the third, a new play about the reconnecting of two old friends. Of the three, it was the new work—more restrained and far more focused than the out-of-control sprawl of the older pieces—that I enjoyed the most. Overall grade for the trio: A

A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller was given a flawless revival, smartly directed by Gregory Mosher and brilliantly performed by a cast that included Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, and Jessica Hecht. Schreiber, in particular, blew me out of the water by layering every moment with great psychological depth and unpredictable ambiguity. Overall grade: A+

The Duchess of Malfi
, the 17th century drama by John Webster, was given a strong production by the Red Bull Company, which specializes in performances of Jacobean plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries. It’s been fun watching this company mature, as director Michael Sexton has let go some of his way-over-the-top style to trust these already over-the-top plays to take front and center. Overall grade: A

The Temperamentals by Jon Marans, a thoroughly engaging play about the early gay rights movement in the United States, was given a terrific production in its transfer to New World Stages. Kudos to all involved! Overall grade: A+

The Cradle Will Rock, Marc Blitzstein’s iconic pro-worker, anti-capitalist musical from the 1930s was given a topnotch production at Theater Ten Ten, one of those gems of small theater companies operating out of church basements scattered around New York City. The show, well performed by a cast of excellent singers, was done in the style of the legendary original production, which took place in an impromptu space with no sets, props, or costumes and but a single piano. Overall grade: A

Next Fall by Jeffrey Nauffts deals with the intersection of religion and homosexuality. I found the play and the performances to be tedious, but, hey, what do I know, since it a nominee for a 2010 Tony Award for best play! Overall grade: C

Measure for Measure, one of Shakespeare’s notoriously difficult plays—call it a dark comedy—was presented with clarity by the Theater for a New Audience, though not with the overall power as last year’s production of Othello by the same company and director, Arin Arbus. Overall grade: B

The Glass Menagerie, one of Tennessee Williams’s best-known and successful plays, was given a strong production with some original, and to my mind, quite compelling direction by Gordon Edelstein, who challenges the generally accepted notion that the play is truly Williams' great “memory play” rather than a piece of writing that manipulates memory. Special credit to Judith Ivey, who has beautifully captured the character of Amanda Wingfield in all of her complexity. Overall grade: A+

A Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonough is a quirky and ultimately quite funny dark comedy, with top-notch performances by Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. Overall grade: A-

Red, by John Logan, is another Tony nominated play that I didn’t care much for, despite strong performances by Alfred Mlina and Eddie Redmayne and some intriguing staging under Michael Grandage’s direction. I found it to be pretentious, more of an essay or lecture than a play. Overall grade: B-

Yank, by Joe and David Zellnik, a musical about relationships among gay soldiers during World War II, was given a delightful, warm, and loving production by the York Theater Company, yet another theater group housed in a church basement. The show is set to move to Broadway, hopefully retaining its star Bobby Steggert. Overall grade: A

A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick by Kia Corthron was not so much a play as it was a means of conveying issues that were obviously filling the head of the playwright. The theme of water (draught, flood, thirst, drowning, poisoned water supply, and the bottled water industry) sort of held things together, but the play also dealt with race relations, religion, the battle of the sexes, genocide, visions, migraine headaches, and probably several more important ideas. It was quite a juggling act, though not always compelling theater. Overall grade: B

Anyone Can Whistle, the short-lived mess-of-a-show by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim that saw 12 performances in 1964, was given a revelatory production as part of the Encores theater season at City Center. Wow and Triple Wow to all involved! Overall grade: A+

Family Week, Beth Henley’s play about a dysfunctional family and an experimental psychotherapy approach, was generally ripped to shreds by the critics when it was recently revised. I found it interesting enough but rather sad, with a message of “you can’t win, no matter what you do.” Overall grade: B

Promenade, another quirky musical from the 1960s, by Maria Irene Fornés and Al Carmines, was given a one-performance “reading” at the New World Stages. What is most noteworthy is that it was the kickoff for what is intended to be an Encores-like series for Off-Broadway musicals, something that I would love to see happen. While the performances were uneven, it was nice to see Andrea McArdle and Neva Small again. (Thank you, David, for sending me a copy of the original Off-Broadway cast recording!) The overall grade of A is for the concept.

, by playwright Moira Buffini, is a melodramatic World War II story about evil Nazis, a hidden Jew, desperate women, and a mysterious stranger. Still, it has been given a rich and well-acted production by the Atlantic Theater Company. Overall grade: B

Enron by Lucy Prebble was a frenetic, noisy, visually extravagant empty vessel of a play about the rise and fall of the mega-greedy. Overall grade: C

I Never Sang for My Father
by Robert Anderson, about the troubled relationship between a middle aged son and his elderly father, saw a strong revival, well directed by Jonathan Silverstein and with moving performances by Matt Servitto, Keir Dullea, and Marsha Mason. Overall grade: A

Everyday Rapture, co-written by Dick Scanlan and the show’s star Sherie Rene Scott, is in the vein of a Bette Midler revue, with songs strung together via a storyline very roughly based on its star’s somewhat bizarre life story. Entertaining up to a point, but not enough to warrant all of the fuss and the Tony nominations it has received. Overall grade: B

The Kid, a musical about a gay couple seeking to adopt a baby, written by Michael Zam, Andy Monroe, and Jack Lechner, was a pleasure through-and-through, funny, warm, and touching. Hope it has a long, healthy, and happy life. Overall grade: A

The Aliens, about a trio of social misfits, is the second show of the season by Annie Baker, a marvelous young playwright. Overall grade: A

Dr. Knock, or the Triumph of Medicine, a 1923 satire about the medical profession, written by Jules Romains, was given a first-rate revival by the Mint Theater Company, which specializes in producing rarely-seen old gems. Overall grade: A

The Burnt Part Boys, a musical by Mariana Elder, Nathan Tysen, and Chris Miller, about a group of teenagers on a quest to destroy a mine where their fathers had died ten years previously, falls flat on many counts, not the least of which is the lack of attention to capturing the place and time where it is set. Overall grade: C

White’s Lies
by Ben Andron is a cross between a sit-com and a farce, about a middle-aged man-who-has-yet-to-grow-up who gets into all sorts of trouble after promising his mother a grandchild before what seems to be her imminent death. Nice to see Betty Buckley back on stage. Overall grade: B

by Ellen Fairey was the story of a brother and sister who get together for the funeral of their father, along with a parallel and intersecting story about a divorced father and his teenage son. Well acted and well written by another playwright worth keeping an eye on. Overall grade: A-

Sondheim on Sondheim, the umpteenth tribute show for the octogenarian Broadway composer, offers lackluster performances of many Sondheim songs, some of them discards or alternate versions to ones that made it to the original cast albums. Of greater interest to Sondheim’s fans are the multimedia presentations of the master himself providing a running narrative and some revealing personal stories. Overall grade: B

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, by Kristoffer Diaz, is a vibrant and original entry to the theater season. It combines a hip-hop sensibility with a wild and crazy story about the world of professional wrestling and its xenophobic environment. Overall grade: A

That Face
by Polly Stenham is an over-the-top dark comedy about a highly dysfunctional family, featuring a drug-dependent, booze-hound of a mother and her co-dependent teenage son. Stenham was still a teenager herself when she penned this cutting work and is someone who bears watching over time. Overall grade: B

White Woman Street
by Sebastian Barry, a playwright, poet, and novelist whose work was unfamiliar to me before now, tells the tale of a group of outlaws in 1916 fixing to rob a train in the town of White Woman Street. Another triumph for the Irish Rep. Overall grade: A

We end, as promised with another of Donald Margulies’ plays. With the current production of Collected Stories, Margulies should thank his lucky stars to have Linda Lavin in the central role of Ruth Steiner. This is one of the richest roles that Margulies has created, and with Lavin, he has found the perfect person to portray the writer and teacher who gradually is overcome by a sense of being both surpassed and betrayed by her student. I have some quibbles with the play itself, which gets a bit essay-like towards the end, but none with Lavin, who is giving one of the very best performances of the season. Overall grade: A

That’s it for the spring semester. My next blog entry will ignore the various awards that have been given out recently, as well as the forthcoming Tonys, and offer up my own Kudos for the best of the best.

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