Monday, October 21, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W42: Cyrano, The Wrong Man, The Adventure Zone: Become The Monster Tour, Strangers in the Night, Scotland, PA, One Man, Two Guv'nors

10/15/19: Cyrano
What: The New Group presents a new musical adaptation of Rostand's play, with Peter Dinklage in the title role.
And? I'm really struggling with this. I understand that adaptations often suffer if they try too hard to be like the original while exploring nothing new (see: the 1983 Jane Eyre miniseries vs the 2006 Jane Eyre miniseries), and in fact earlier this year I read an excellent YA adap of Cyrano called We Are the Perfect Girl. For this new musical adaptation, perhaps what's making it difficult for me to let go of the original is how often they still use something like the source text, so I can't forget what it was. Or perhaps it's just that all the joy is gone. They've taken out all the playful parts of Rostand's play--Cyrano's duel ballad and his entire man in the moon sequence, Ragueneau's recipe poems, and even Christian's goading of Cyrano on their first meeting. They've taken out the fun, and all that remains is the angst. Well, that and several references to beats that no longer exist (now Cyrano praises Christian's bravery in ... entering a room). Angst with half-earned emotional beats never to heaven go. This Cyrano is brief, which is both a blessing and a curse. It suffers for its brevity, but it also means we're not sitting with it as long as we might be. Peter Dinklage, as one might expect, is a wonderfully powerful presence and a nuanced actor with a pleasing if limited baritone, but I could see him struggling to elevate the material to its poetic ambitions. Grace McLean, as Roxanne's chaperone Marie, is the only one in the cast who remembers there is fun in the world, and she is my takeaway favorite of the evening. Vocally the show is in good hands, with Jasmine Cephas Jones and Blake Jenner singing with beautiful ease notes--and beauty--beyond Cyrano's reach. I just wish the lyrics could match in interest, content, soul. I wish the choreography of the ensemble didn't so deliberately distract from the principals. Also hell no to the show's last line, but spoilers.

10/16/19: The Wrong Man
What: MCC presents a new musical which began life as a musical monologue concept album by Ross Golan, about a down on his luck man in Reno who wrong place-wrong time-wrong woman finds himself framed for murder.
And? Take away Joshua Henry's nakedly honest performance and soaring vocals, take away Ryan Vasquez's smirkingly charismatic evil, take away Thomas Kail's masterful staging of bodies in space (with Travis Wall's balletic choreography), and I'm not sure how much is left for us. Everyone I just mentioned is doing wonderful work, but. The lyrics are repetitive, the story upsetting but unsurprising: yes, we know this narrative and how it usually goes, but please show us something new about it. If it weren't for Henry and his truly special talent, I don't know how much I would have invested emotionally. The production does plenty to elevate the text, but it can't fully hide its deficiencies.

Joshua Henry, center, as Duran, with the company. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

10/17/19: The Adventure Zone: Become The Monster Tour
What: While not strictly a play, it was definitely a performance and an utter delight, and this is my blog, dammit, so I'm including it here. The Adventure Zone is a D&D podcast by the McElroy family, and this was their first time doing a live episode in New York.
And? Ho-ly-shit. A day after and I'm still hoarse from all the cheering and laughing. TAZ's live shows are always a delight to listen to, as things tend to get very silly very quickly, and I can now attest that they're even more of a delight to watch, including highlights like so much amazing cosplay in the audience, full costume and props onstage, Travis spilling his beverage all over his character sheet, Justin completely losing it while laughing, Clint shooting his narfblaster into the wings, and Griffin's [spoiler] posture. Such a good life choice, attending this show.

Justin McElroy, Clint McElroy, and Travis McElroy as Duck Newton, Ned
Chicane, and Aubrey Little. Photo by Zelda Knapp's iPhone FROM THE

10/18/19: Strangers in the Night
What: Hunger and Thirst Theatre present two one-acts, Screwed and Bottling Dreams of the Tearful Don't-Knower.
And? An uneven evening. Full review here.

Patricia Lynn as Molly in Screwed. Photo by
Al Foote III.

10/19/19: Scotland, PA
What: A new musical adaptation of the cult film of the same name, which resets Shakespeare's Macbeth in a burger joint in a small town in Pennsylvania.
And? What a delight! No, it's not perfect, but I had an absolute blast. The show is funny and dark and a natural descendant of the likes of Little Shop of Horrors. It was great to see such performers as Taylor Iman Jones, Alysha Umphress, and Jay Armstrong Johnson onstage again.

Kaleb Wells, Wonu Ogunfowora, Alysha Umphress, and Ryan McCartan as
Hector, Stacey, Jessie, and Mac. Photo by Nina Goodheart.

10/20/19: NTLive: One Man, Two Guv'nors
NTLive, bless their beautiful selves, have added this hilarious and silly play to their encore series, so I got to see it again and cry from laughter.


  1. I didn't know you were at TAZ when it came to brooklyn! I was there too! It was a great show!

    1. It was AMAZING. I was so psyched to be there, to see the amazing cosplay, and to watch those silly silly boys be delightful. I can't wait to listen to it again once it posts.