Sunday, April 28, 2013

Buyer & Cellar: A Basement Utopia

Buyer & Seller, by Jonathan Tolins, directed by Stephen Brackett, starring Michael Urie, currently running at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, through May 12th.

Buyer & Seller opens with Michael Urie, in a delightfully dynamic and honest solo performance, perched on the edge of the stage, clutching a coffee table book to his chest, explaining to us what it is we are about to see. While behind him the neutral white space with piano bench, chair and table holding teapot wait for his use, he clarifies for us - interrupting himself several times - what is actually going on. The play is, as he is quick to point out, strictly a work of fiction and not meant to incite the ire of the apparently highly litigious Ms. Streisand. He is an actor - "You may know my work ...No? Oh..." - and Jon, the guy who wrote this, met Barbra only once, when she offered him part of her Kit Kat - an offer he declined. No, this is a work of fiction inspired by this very real book:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pippin: Not Your Average, Everyday Kind of Show

Pippin is a show that, regardless of its actual merit, engenders a lot of affection. It is telling that, after the stunning acrobatics and joyful greeting of beloved actors, the moments that were met with the most applause were not conclusions of songs, but rather beginnings - the opening piano chords of the overture, the beginning of the Manson Trio, the only Fosse choreography preserved from the original production. The audience was so delighted to be there, reliving their first time with the show, enjoying this new time, ready to be swept away by the entrancing Magic in the opening number.

"Magic to Do" - Patina Miller & Company
"With You" with acrobats.
It's a very familiar show at this point - after Little Shop, it seems to be one of the more "done" musicals for high schools. Jackson 5 covered their songs. And there are familiar faces up there for us to love, too - Matthew James Thomas, recently of Spiderman, as our increasingly charismatic titular character, Patina Miller, of Sister Act fame (a striking if unnerving presence), the real-life couple of Terrence Mann and Charlotte d'Amboise deliciously hamming it up as king and queen, and Broadway favorite Andrea Martin, holding the audience all too easily in her capable brilliant hands.