Over the past few years, actor and playwright Kate Hamill has adapted several beloved novels into stage plays.
Her most recent adaptation is Dracula. Based on the Bram Stoker novel, the play adheres to the narrative in the book. Jonathan Harker (Michael Crane) is sent on a business trip to help sort out the business affairs of the mysterious Dracula (Matthew Amendt). But there is something off about Jonathan’s host.
Back in England, a mysterious illness starts to affect the residents of the coastal town of Whitby. With the help of Doctor Van Helsing (Jessica Frances Duke), Jonathan’s wife, Mina (Kelley Curran) has to solve the mystery of this illness and the appearance of what may be an unholy visitor.
I’ve been of Hamill’s for the last few years. Her adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Little Women were fantastic. This adaptation is no less fantastic than it’s predecessors. I went in with the question of how she was going to adapt Dracula. Unlike her previous works, this book is not exactly what one would label feminist. But Hamill adapted it in such a way that the play retains the narrative of the book while highlighting the issues of women during the 19th century and in our time.
I absolutely recommend it.
Dracula is playing at the Classic Stage Company in New York City until March 8th. Check the website for showtimes and tickets.
The wanting and/or keeping of political power is a story that is as old as human history. William Shakespeare‘s tragedy Macbeth has been told countless times over the centuries.
The latest adaptation of this play can be seen at the Classic Stage Company in New York City. Stepping into the shoes of the power hungry general Macbeth and his equally power hungry wife Lady Macbeth are IRL married couple Corey Stoll and Nadia Bowers. As they claw their way up the ladder of power, they leave a train of bloodshed, madness, murder and destruction in their wake.
This plays brilliant and timeless. As the lead couple, Stoll and Bowers are enthralling. It’s almost like passing by a car accident on the highway. As much as you want to look away, it is impossible not to. In addition to the magnetic lead actors, I very much appreciated the non traditional casting of female performers in roles that are traditionally played by men.
I recommend it.
Macbethis playing at the Classic Stage Company at 136 East 13th Street in New York City until December 15th. Check the website for showtimes and tickets.
Little Women is one of the true classics of American literature. Louisa May Alcott‘s 1868 novel has been the favorite of many readers (myself included) since it’s debut 150 years ago.
A few weeks ago, Little Women, written by playwright/actress Kate Hamill premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City.
Stepping into the roles of the iconic March sisters are Hamill (Meg), Kristolyn Lloyd (Jo), Paola Sanchez Abreu (Beth) and Carmen Zilles (Amy). The narrative of the play follows the narrative of the book: The March sisters are growing up and coming of age in Civil War era Massachusetts. Meg is responsible, but also yearns to be fit in. Jo is the rebellious tomboy who dreams of becoming a writer. Beth is shy, preferring the company of her family to the company of strangers. Amy is spoiled and impulsive.
This play is brilliant. As a fan and a playwright, Hamill understands how to adapt a beloved classic for this generation. She has also hit on certain underlying subjects within the narrative that have been overlooked in the past.
One of my favorite aspects of the play is the non-traditional casting. In choosing actors that are not all Caucasian, this adaptation speaks to all of us, regardless of skin color.
Though I will warn the some purists may have some issues with the choices that Hamill made as a playwright.
I recommend it.
Little Women is playing at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City until June 29th. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.
A dysfunctional family is never a good thing. A royal dysfunctional family is even worse.
William Shakespeare’s King Lear is the story of a king who gives up his throne to his daughters. While his sanity slowly fades, the kingdom falls apart.
Last night, King Lear made its premiere at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
King Lear (Anthony Sher) has decided to step down from his thrown. He has three daughters and declares that she who loves him best will receive the biggest largest share of his kingdom. His elder daughters, Goneril (Nia Gwynne) and Regan (Kelly Williams) proclaim their love for their father. His youngest daughter, Cordelia (Mimi Ndiweni) is not as vocal about her love for her father as her sisters are. As a result, she is banished from her father’s kingdom.
The story then snowballs into treachery, madness and war.
While the play is a bit slow, it’s very well done. Shakespeare was making a point not just about family, but about politics, which can both be incredibly messy sometimes. Anthony Sher, in the title role, plays Lear with a mixture of conceit, insanity, foolishness and ultimately regret. It is a powerful play that for obvious reasons, is still as relevant in 2018 as it was in 1606.
I recommend it.
King Lear is playing at the BAM Harvey Theater (651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn NY 11217) until April 29th. Check the website for showtimes and tickets.
Pride and Prejudice is the book that Jane Austen is most famous for. It is the story of the rocky courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Published in 1813, it remains a beloved classic more than two centuries after its initial publishing.
Recently, a stage version of the book premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City. Written by actor/playwright/Janeite Kate Hamill (who also stars as Elizabeth Bennet), the play is the story of the middle class Bennet sisters who are in need of husbands. With no brother to directly secure the family estate for the next generation and very small dowries to call their own, they have only one choice and that is to marry well. Eldest sister Jane (Amelia Pedlow, who also plays Miss De Bourgh) catches the eye of the newest bachelor in town, Mr. Bingley (John Tufts, who also plays Mary Bennet). Elizabeth is unhappily introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy (Jason O’Connell), Bingley’s best friend. They don’t exactly get along.
This play is nothing short of brilliant. Using a small stage, actors playing multiple characters and Austen’s text (for the most part), the play is well worth a few hours of your time. I will warn that Ms. Hamill did make some changes that do not exactly adhere to the cannon, but the changes were well worth it.
I absolutely recommend it.
Pride and Prejudice is playing at The Cherry Lane Theater at 38 Commerce Street in New York City until January 6th, 2018. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.
Family, if nothing else, is f*cked up. Just because we love each other and we have the same DNA does not mean that sometimes we can’t stand each other.
The revival of the J.B. Priestley play, Time And The Conways, is set in two different time periods, 1919 and 1937. Mrs. Conway (Elizabeth McGovern) is the widowed matriarch of an upper middle class family in Britain. She has six children: Alan (Gabriel Ebert), Hazel (Anna Camp), Robin (Matthew James Thomas), Kay (Charlotte Parry), Carol (Anna Baryshnikov) and Madge (Brooke Bloom). The rest of the cast includes two family friends, Joan (Cara Ricketts), Gerald (Alfredo Narciso) and a friend of Gerald’s, Ernest (Steven Boyer).
A friend who saw the play a few weeks ago said that these characters need to be in therapy. I couldn’t agree more. Mrs. Conway is not a bad mother, but her parenting skills need some improvement. I’ll be frank, I saw the play because Downton Abbey is and will always be one of my favorite television shows. I was not going to pass up seeing Elizabeth McGovern live and in person. What I liked about the play is that the playwright not only plays with the grey areas of life, but also that family is not the picture of perfection that we, as an audience almost expect.
I recommend it.
Time And The Conways is at The American Airlines theater until November 26th, 2017. Check the second link above for showtimes and ticket prices.
In 1923, the play God Of Vengeance hit Broadway. It closed in one night. It closed not because of poor reviews, but because it was considered immoral. It is the love story of two women against a backdrop of false piety, false modesty and the worship of the almighty dollar. Written in the first decade of the 20th century by Sholem Asch, it has been compared to Romeo and Juliet for its portrayal of love against all odds.
The Broadway play Indecent, is about not only the production of this play, but the reaction to the play over the years. Written by playwright Paula Vogel and directed by Rebecca Taichman, the play starts in the early 20th century in Warsaw. Sholem Asch (Max Gordon Moore), a newlywed and a budding writer, has written a play called God Of Vengeance. Young and enthusiastic, he is eager to see his play on stage. It becomes a success in Europe, but in America, it is a different story. The years pass, the culture changes and the question of what is art and how morality plays into the question comes into the forefront of the battle to see the play on stage again.
The thing that struck me about this play is how relevant it feels in 2017. It asks questions about politics, immigration, morality, diversity, etc. It also has a love story with two women, which was unheard of in the early 20th century and only now is slowly becoming more acceptable.
I absolutely recommend it. Indecent is only open until this Sunday, August 6th. See it if you can. I guarantee that you will walk out of the theater blown away.
A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, has one of the most famous endings in the world of theater. Nora Helmer walks away from her husband and her children, the door slamming behind her.
The new play, A Dolls House Part 2, is the sequel to the classic play. Nora (Laurie Metcalf) returns to her husband and her home 15 years after the original play ends. She is greeted by her children’s nanny, Anne Marie (Jayne Houdyshell), who is both pleased and displeased to see her. Nora receives similar responses from her husband, Torvald (Chris Cooper) and her now teenage daughter, Emmy (Condola Rashad), who was very young when her mother left.
At first glance, this play appears to be a straight drama. But it turns out to be a very funny comedy. It is also speaks, as it did with the original in 1879, about the difficulty of marriage and how women are still fighting for their own needs vs. the needs that the overall culture says we should strive for.
I absolutely recommend it.
A Dolls House is playing at The John Golden Theater at 252 W 45th Street in New York City. The show runs until January 8th of 2018.
Within the world of politics, there is a sliver of absurdity.
For the last 30 odd years, Capitol Steps has had the pleasure of pointing out the absurdity of politics and politicians in particular.
Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing a show at The Symphony Space in New York City. A cross between a political SNL parody and a musical revue, the show uses popular music to satirize the truth about politics.
This show is brilliant, funny and the perfect release for the political agita that has become the norm over the last few years. I absolutely recommend it.
Capitol Steps is playing at various theaters around the country. Check the website for location and showtimes.
When we are children, we think that by the time we reach middle age, we will have everything figured out. Then we grow up and learn that some of us never figure everything out.
In Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Vanya (Jim Incorvaia) and Sonia (Sheree Joseph) are a middle-aged brother and sister duo. Sonia is forever going on and on about the fact that she was adopted. Their lazy lifestyle is financed by their sister Masha (Heidi Hecker), a movie star whose career and love life both taking a hit. Reeling from a 5th divorce, Masha returns home with a much younger Spike (Brian Shaw), a himbo who thinks with his lower appendage more than he thinks with his brain. Planning on selling the house, Masha receives protests from Sonia, Vanya and Cassandra (Asami Tsuzuki), the cleaning woman who speaks in a weird prophetic language. The final character in this mix is Nina (Kelly Schmidt), a young woman who is visiting relatives next door who wants to be an actress and fawns over Masha.
I must state two disclaimers before I go further. The first is that I did not see the Broadway production (which is the video above), I saw a local community theater production. The second is that I’m not really familiar with Anton Chekhov, whose work is heavily referenced in this play. Many of the references were well over my head. My problem with this play is that the first act does not really go anywhere narrative wise. By the time narrative becomes more interesting in the second act, I found that I did not care about these characters or their story.