Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Since I haven't made a list in a while (I keep wanting to talk about "things". What's wrong with me?), here's one just to lighten the mood of this journal (which has been really "the point is..." lately. Sorry about that).

Here are the ten shows that I would go to see if I had a ten-night trip to New York and a buttload of money (New York theatre is expensive, dude!).

DAY 1: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT - A musical adaptation of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria. I don't really think I need to say anything more than that.

DAY 2: THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) - What better way to follow up a big Broadway musical comedy than with an off-Broadway one-man show in which an ordinary man muses on life? The writer Will Eno was called "Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation" by the New York Times and this show - which has been described as stand-up existentialism - is supposed to breathe new life in the fictional one-man show (a genre I've taken great interest in after "I Am My Own Wife" and "The Gog/Magog Project").

DAY 3: SHOCKHEADED PETER - I am not typically one to see a show made for the whole family, but this does not sound like a typical children's show. In Tim Burton/Lemony Snicket manner, this bizarre-sounding show consists of a ghostly-faced M.C. telling us stories of rich Victorians who meet their maker for their sins and crimes. I can see this one getting a "Nightmare Before Christmas"-style cult following.

DAY 4: HURLYBURLY - I only know the bare basics of David Rabe's Hollywood-skewering play, but its incredible amount of acclaim, along with a cast that includes Ethan Hawke, Parker Posey and Wallace Shawn, definitely make me drool theatrical slobber (Note to self: "Theatrical slobber" is a good band name).

DAY 5: DEMOCRACY - If there's anyone who can blend theater and politics, it's Michael Frayn. His follow-up to 2000's "Copenhagen" focuses on the world of 1970's German politics, which is apparently a lot more exciting than any of us ever thought. This was a big hit in London, and is subsequently doing well on Broadway.

DAY 6: THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE - The latest musical from the creator of "Falsettos" is going to transfer to Broadway later in the year, but I'd rather see it on a more intimate stage. The show, as the title suggests, centers on a children's spelling bee, as we meet the contestants and see what brought them there. It's supposed to be a very funny and very touching look at the need for competition in our lives.

DAY 7: THIS IS HOW IT GOES - Even if his writing is not necessarily up to par (as with "The Mercy Seat"), Neil Labute is great at creating characters who may have money and an optimistic nature, but conceal a real terror that manifests itself in horrifying ways. Plus, Ben Stiller, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright playing an interracial love triangle sounds intriguing enough as it is.

DAY 8: THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT - Stephen Adly Guirgis is one of the most promising emerging voices in theater, and since his latest (about the courtroom trial of God and the Kingdom of Heaven v. Judas Iscariot) stars Sam Rockwell and Eric Bogosian and is directed, as usual, by Philip Seymour Hoffman, this one looks most promising, indeed.

DAY 9: AVENUE Q - Winner of three Tony's, it's a musical comedy that takes the ideas of "Sesame Street" (puppets living with humans in a lower-class neighborhood) and turns it on its head, showing what would really happen. This one has puppet nudity, a song about Internet porn, people killed by falling pennies, closeted homosexuality and Gary Coleman. What more could you want from a show?

DAY 10: DOUBT - I'd round out my trip with what I hear is the strongest piece in the bunch. John Patrick Shanley has been around for a while, winning acclaim for plays like "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" and Oscar-winning screenplays like "Moonstruck". But many people say this piece, about a nun who suspects the priest at the grade school she heads is molesting a boy, is his best work yet.

This is one of the few times in recent memory that I've actually found ten shows that I'd be enthusiastic about seeing in New York. The place has been dead for a long time (and indeed, normally dependable writers like Donald Marguiles and David Mamet have been giving us less-than-average fare this year), so it's nice to see these shows (along with other promising-looking fare coming up like Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman", Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia", Jose Rivera's "Massacre (Sing to Your Children)" and "Jerry Springer - The Opera") trying to bring back the edginess and importance of New York theater.

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