Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hello Dolly!

For some reason Lucas Hnath felt the need to write a sequel to Henrick Ibsen's A Doll's House. We saw his A Doll's House, Part 2 last night at Barrington Stage.

I haven't yet figured out why someone wants to take someone else's  play and characters and try to keep the story going. King Lear, Part 2??  It was said at the time (1876) that when Nora slammed the door and left her husband Torvald, it was a slam heard 'round the world. A sort of early 'Women's Lib'.

In this play Hnath brings Nora back fifteen years later to try to get Torvald to sign divorce papers, which he never filed. Since Ibsen never told us what happened to Nora everything now is conjecture.

Nora and Torvald argue over all the things they should have argued over when she was still there, then she and her daughter do the same thing. In the end she walks out and slams the door again.

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Laila Robins was excellent as Nora,gorgeous in a sensational purple dress.

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Mary Stout nearly stole the show as Anne Marie, the nanny who raised Nora's children after she left. 

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Christopher Innvar was Torvald.

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Ashley Bufkin was the daughter Emmy.

The set was simple. A door in the middle of the set and two chairs. 

I'm not sure what Ibsen would have to say about the play. I felt it was unnecessary.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Let them eat Cake!

Last night David and I saw The Cake at Barrington Stage 2.  It is a play about a woman, famous for her cake baking, who must make a decision to make a wedding cake for two women, one of whom she is very close to.

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Debra Jo Rupp plays the baker with great energy verging on hysteria at times.

Menuma Ceesay and Virginia Vale are the two women.

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Ceesay is the intellectual, matter of fact one who simply wants to get married and doesn't really like cake.


Vale is the local southern girl who wants the wedding to be all that her late mother would have wanted. They quarrel quite a bit almost break up. She wants Della to bake their wedding cake. Della, for religious reasons, doesn't want to do this and comes up with various excuses not to do t.

Della tries to reason with them both, discouraging their marriage. Her own marriage is in bad shape. Her husband, played by Douglas Rees, is not romantically inclined. She tries to seduce him into having sex unsuccessfully.

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After much to and fro she finally bakes the cake for them.

David enjoyed the play more than I did. With the recent Supreme Court decision about his subject, I felt the play was a bit dated and was too busy with side issues. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Royal Family

I have given my opinion of the work of William Finn several times in the past and last night's performance of his The Royal Family of Broadway at Barrington Stage did nothing to change it.

It is a loud, over-blown production based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber based on the Barrymore family of actors. Any resemblance is purely accidental.

One of the more surprising nights in my life. It began with a flat tire and ended with a Tony Award.

Harriet Harris played the grandmother, who is infirm but not ready to retire from show business. She had what was the best number of the show and brought it off very well.

Laura Michelle played her daughter Julie and Hayley Podschun was Gwen her grandaughter. Both belted out high notes that were hard on the ears. This is apparently the way actresses sing on Broadway, or at least in Pittsfield these days.

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Will Swenson played Tony, the son, who was supposedly a copy of John Barrymore. He had a good voice with the occasional roar.

In a word, it was a tough evening for a voice teacher. A woman sitting next to me asked 'Why do they scream?'

Good question.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938), better known as Typhoid Mary, was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook. She was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation. (Wikipedia)

Last night David and I saw Mark St. Germain's play Typhoid Mary at Barrington Stage 2. It is a dramatic masterpiece about this amazing woman who worked as a cook in several New York homes after coming from Ireland.

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Heading the cast in the title role was Tasha Lawrence, who simply was Typhoid Mary. Her strong performance was the glue that held the whole play together. Angry, sympathetic, loving in turn, she captured all the emotions of this conflicted woman.

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Kevin O'Rourke was excellent as Dr. William Miller, the man who was in charge of her incarceration in one hospital where she was forced to stay out of the public eye.

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Miles G. Jackson was Father Michael McKuen/ Martin Fazier the priest who tried to give her comfort in her incarceration and a fellow sufferer of the disease. He played both parts extremely well.

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Keri Safran played another doctor, Dr. Ann Saltzer, who was not sympathetic to Mary's condition and who, at one point, thought of ending Mary's life with an injection.

Frances Evans was fine in the role of the child Sarah, in whose home Mary cooked and who loved the young girl who died of typhoid fever.

It was an engrossing evening in the theatre. Bravi to the cast and to Mark St. Germain for producing this fine work.