Sunday, August 7, 2011

For Theatergoers, New York Is A Summer Festival

Broadway or Off-Broadway:  The Theater Capital of the World!

Summertime is supposed to be a down time for New York theater-going, but this summer has been offering up a lot of unexpected treats.  Certainly, there has been plenty to keep me busy so that it doesn’t feel like the doldrums at all.   

Two of this summer’s big openers on Broadway are the excellent revival of Master Class, starring Tyne Daley in what is likely to be a Tony-nominated performance as opera diva Maria Callas, and the upcoming revival of Follies, with a cast that includes Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, and Jan Maxwell.  Not so shabby!  I’ve already seen (and written about) Master Class, and I’ve got my Follies ticket for a couple of weeks from now. 

There’s also the opportunity to partake of the “summer of love” that is Hair, making a short return to Broadway following a 20-city tour.  If you failed to catch Diane Paulus’ Tony-winning revival, now would be the time to do so.  I speak as one who saw the original Broadway company in1968, and found the current production to be as energetic, exciting, and fun, with a great ensemble cast.   I’m seeing it again next week, as it happens.  Who knows?  Maybe this time I’ll join the end-of-show onstage dance party! 

If you want to see a Broadway show but don’t want to pay full Broadway prices for your tickets, I have noticed that the August heat and humidity have been accompanied by shorter lines at the Times Square TKTS discount tickets booth. 

Yesterday (for a Saturday matinee), I walked right up to the window and snagged a half-price ticket to Anything Goes, splendidly directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall.  The Tony-winning production boasts a top-notch cast and a truckload of marvelous Cole Porter tunes.  Even if you feel you are overly familiar with the show and the score, there are surprises and delights to be found in the de-lovely dance numbers and in the comic timing displayed by John McMartin, Adam Godley, and Jessica Stone in supporting roles. 

The names over the title, Sutton Foster and Joel Grey, are no slouches either.  She is a dynamo, and he is teddy bear adorable, and the newly refurbished and renamed Stephen Sondheim Theatre (formerly Henry Miller’s Theatre) is an inviting and comfortable venue, with good sight lines throughout.  

Moving to Off-Broadway, I’m looking forward to seeing Elysian Fields, set for a short run at the Kraine Theater in the East Village (August 22-26) as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. The playwright, Chris Phillips, has come up with an intriguing concept, to create a play around characters who are discussed but not seen in three Tennessee Williams plays:  Allen from A Streetcar Named Desire, Sebastian from Suddenly Last Summer, and Skipper from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.   

This being the centenary year of Tennessee Williams' birth, there have been quite a few opportunities to see revivals of both his well-known and lesser-known plays. Elysian Fields sounds like an interesting addition and tribute to the mix, which has included the recent One Arm (an unproduced screenplay written by Willams and adapted for the stage by Mois├ęs Kaufman) and the current production of The Pretty Trap, an early one-act version of The Glass Menagerie at Theatre Row’s Acorn Theatre, starring Katharine Houghton in the pivotal role of Amanda Wingfield. 

And as long as we are taking a stroll along West 42nd Street, I look forward to paying a visit to Playwrights Horizons and its latest production, Completeness, a new comedy about romance and sexual politics written by Itamar Moses and directed by Pam MacKinnon.   Playwrights Horizons continues its policy of offering discounted tickets through this blog.  Regular priced tickets are $70, but discounts are available for $40 for performances from August 19-September 4, and then for $50 through September 25.  For more information, go to or call 212-279-4200.  When ordering, use the discount code COMPBLOG. 

I've got my summer tickets lined up.  What are you waiting for? 

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