Sunday, November 3, 2013

From Godot to Glover - Eight Days in The City That Never Sleeps...

New York, of course, is a theatre lover's mecca.  From the splashy stages of Broadway to the far-reaches of Brooklyn, there is always a show for someone to see and an event for another to create.

That the performances and opportunities are never limited to traditional plays or confined to regulated spaces is what makes this city's offerings so vibrant.  For those of us who live here, the options are (honestly) endless.

In the past eight days I have seen a masterful dress rehearsal, one lavish Shakespearean tragedy, a dance showcase that left me breathless, and (while making my way home from the dentist) I found myself surrounded by costumed characters at the West Village Halloween parade and on a crowded subway train.  

If you are visiting the Big Apple on October 31st, you don't need to spend $100 on a plush Broadway seat.  Just cough up $2.50 for a Metro card and watch the drama unfold.

Brandon Stanton's subway shot best summarizes the Halloween
street theatre of New York.

If you do have time and money, however, there are some performances that are well-worth your investment.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

One of the standout moments of my unscripted and inspiring week was attending the dress rehearsal of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot". Under the direction of Sean Mathias, this version of the absurdist play stars Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.  The two "Sirs" (who are pals off-stage) are fun to watch, but Mr. McKellen's charming interpretation of a vaudevillian hobo seems to echo the true spirit of the playwright. The actor who really held my attention, however, was Billy Crudup. Playing the slavish role of Lucky, the 43 year old actor was unrecognizable and seemingly ageless. He disappeared beneath a bowler cap and a mop of sheet-white hair, and he nearly stole the show. 
If you are in Manhattan and you want to see a worthy production of a masterpiece, get your tickets here:
I was less impressed with Ethan Hawke's turn as Macbeth.  His shouts a murmurs overwhelmed any nuance the actor could have brought to the role. I attended Jack O'Brien's interpretation of the bloody spectacle with 100+ students, parents, and teachers from the school where I work.  On the whole, I think we were collectively impressed with O'Brien's clever re-imagining of the witches (men playing women who manipulate and shape-shift their way through the drama) and Anne-Marie Duff's aggressive Lady Macbeth. The play is in previews at the Lincoln Center.


Last night I took the 2 Train to Flatbush for a one-night dance showcase at Brooklyn College. Savion Glover, a tap phenomenon since his childhood, is now the reigning master of the form and with a resume that includes lead roles on Broadway and in film, he's a seasoned star.  In a show called Stepz, Glover shared the stage with a group of talented tappers, but his subtle prowess was mesmerizing. He doesn't seem to have a center of gravity - he simply floats and pounds and skips and shuffles and sweats and smiles his way across the stage.  He's taking the hoofers on tour this month, catch him if you can!