Posts Tagged ‘celia keenan-bolger’

Best Theater of 2013

December 23, 2013

1. Fun Home – beautiful adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic family memoir by Lisa Kron with top-notch score by Jeanine Tesori, an excellent cast with three Alisons and Michael Cerveris as her closeted gay father, keenly directed by Sam Gold and keenly designed by David Zinn.
fun home diner
2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Julie Taymor’s smart, inventive staging with spectacular scenic design by Es Devlin, costumes by Constance Hoffman, and major performances by Kathryn Hunter, David Harewood, Tina Benko, Max Casella and 20 rambunctious children.

3. Love’s Labours Lost – fast funny musical adaptation of Shakespeare by director Alex Timbers and composer Michael Friedman in Central Park, with a cast of newly minted stage stars.

Love's Labour's Lost Public Theater/Delacorte Theater
4. Good Person of Szechwan – Lear de Bessonet’s excellent funky staging of Brecht’s masterwork at La Mama ETC (later the Public Theater) starring Taylor Mac and other downtown luminaries.

good person prodshot
5. The Designated Mourner – deeply affecting revival of Wallace Shawn’s disturbing play with fine performances by Shawn, Deborah Eisenberg, and Larry Pine directed by Andre Gregory.
6. Here Lies Love – delirious immersive musical about Imelda Marcos by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim staged by Alex Timbers with a game young cast headed by Ruthie Ann Miles.

Here Lies Love Public Theater/LuEsther Hall
7. Pippin – Broadway revival brilliantly staged by Diane Paulus as a circus with an instantly legendary performance by Andrea Martin.
8. Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 – a chunk of Tolstoy shaped into a dense, hip musical by Dave Molloy and crisply staged cabaret-style by Rachel Chavkin with a memorable leading performance by Philippa Soo (below) and luxurious costumes by Paloma Young.
phillip soo in natasha pierre
9. The Assembled Parties – Richard Greenberg’s play with a cast of good actors smartly directed by Lynne Meadow.
10. All the Rage – Martin Moran’s monologue about loss, death, life purpose, dreams, and anger, delivered with the same beguiling mixture of writerly detail, grace, and humor that characterized The Tricky Part.

Laramie PC_Michael Lutch
11. The Laramie Project Cycle – Tectonic Theater Project’s documentary about the murder of Matthew Shepard and its aftermath, still powerful 15 years later.
12. The Flick – Annie Baker’s latest crack at mining mundane lives for drama with a richness that bears comparison to Beckett (with whom she shares a reverence for silence) and Chekhov, set in a rundown movie theater (designed with hilarious drabness by David Zinn) with a heartbreaking performance by Matthew Maher (below), directed by Sam Gold.

the flick 2

Honorable Mentions:
Clint Ramos for costuming Here Lies Love and Good Person of Szechwan
Judy Kuhn for her performance as Fosca in John Doyle’s production of Sondheim’s Passion
Marin Ireland for her stylized performance in the title role of David Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette

Mark Rylance for his performance as Olivia in the all-male Twelfe Night on Broadway
Tom Pye’s set design for Deborah Warner’s production of The Testament of Mary
Craig Lucas’s libretto for Nico Muhly’s Two Boys at the Metropolitan Opera
Bernardine Mitchell for her performance as Rose in La Divina Caricatura
John Tiffany’s staging of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, Bob Crowley’s set, and Celia Keenan-Bolger’s performance as Laura (below)

glass m celia k-b

Performance diary: THE GLASS MENAGERIE

September 20, 2013

glass m celia k-b
9.14.13 —  Everybody remembers the last five minutes of The Glass Menagerie, but I’ve never seen a production that placed such careful and meaningful emphasis on the first five minutes as John Tiffany’s revival currently on Broadway. I guess I’ve heard it a bunch of times, but I could never have told you that Tom Wingfield’s opening soliloquy describes economic conditions in the 1930s, “when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy.” I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that his mother Amanda would describe one of her suitors as “The Wolf of Wall Street” (the name of Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming film, starring Leonard DiCaprio and set in the contemporary world of securities fraud). Most of all, Tiffany and his key collaborators – choreographer/movement designer Steven Hoggett and set/costume designer Bob Crowley – combine the “memory play” aspect of Glass Menagerie with Tom’s mention of “tricks up his sleeve” to frame the naturalistic family scenes at the heart of the play with inventive, sometimes downright peculiar visual effects. As with Once and The Black Watch, the shows that put the team of Tiffany and Hoggett on the map in New York,  scene changes and transitions often involve the actors performing strange abstract gestural “dances”: Tom is drawn from the fire escape into the living room backwards as if memory exerted a literally magnetic pull; “setting the table” becomes a curious ethnographic tribal rite; and without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say Laura has never made an entrance before the way she does here.

glass m laura and jim
The production concept is strong and remarkable because it doesn’t get in the way of the actors but gives them something extra on their plate, so they go about their business (on a tiny island of tenement surrounded by Crowley’s lake of black goo) a little bit like naturalistic actors but also a little bit like performance artists. I think Tennessee Williams would have approved. His introductory stage directions explicitly state, “The scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart. The interior is therefore rather dim and poetic.”

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The actors are all terrific. Although Cherry Jones didn’t erase my memories of previous Amandas (Jessica Tandy, Jessica Lange, Judith Ivey), it didn’t remind me of any previous Cherry Jones performances, it’s completely created in the moment, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget her shattering delivery of the simple line “Betty who?” Amanda Plummer set a high-water mark for me playing Laura opposite Jessica Tandy, but I thought Celia Keenan-Bolger was awfully good – troubled and stubborn and a lot less fragile than we sometimes think of Laura as being. It’s always tough inhabiting a character so ostentatiously representing the playwright, but Zachary Quinto plays a lot of colors: claustrophobic, poet, proud member of the working class, resentful yet loyal son, loving brother. And there’s an attenuated moment on the fire escape with Jim, the Gentleman Caller (Brian J. Smith, suitably operating on a different frequency than the Wingfields), that suggests some history of physical intimacy the play never otherwise makes explicit.

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The producers, by the way, have made available a thorough and informative study guide to the play – you can download the PDF here.

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