Just in time for the holidays comes Stick Fly, a new play about family members coming together with their new significant others for an oh-so-comfortable visit. Lydia R. Diamond’s dramady centers on a wealthy black family visiting in Martha’s Vineyard when the two sons bring their girlfriends home to meet the parents. One is black, one is white. Let the fireworks of heated racial arguments, class discussions, and revelations of family secrets begin!
The No. 1 Reason To See Stick Fly: Condola Rashad’s breakout performance Read more
A ditzy blonde can always be counted upon for a laugh in a comedy. Yet in the case of Born Yesterday, she is also the fixture that gives the play its soul. In this excellent Doug Hughes-directed revival, Nina Arianda as Billie Dawn displays not only the discovery of a woman’s independence, but also the awakening of a spirit.
Set in Washington, D.C. in 1946, Harry Brock (Jim Belushi) is a blustery tycoon who blows into town with his trophy girlfriend Billie (Arianda) with plans to make millions through a method in which Uncle Sam would not approve. Worried that the thickheaded Billie will clash with his high-influence potential cohorts, Harry hires Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard) as a tutor to sharpen her edges. However, Harry awakens a sleeping monster in Billie that will foil his political plans.
Directed with thorough care by Hughes, Arianda creates a window into Billie that begins foggy and gradually clears to allow full visibility. Taking playwright Garson Kanin’s quip-filled script, Arianda nails the jokes in Act I by conveying Billie’s ignorance. In Act II, her Billie’s humor changes to reveal her newfound confidence and feistiness. Yet it is more than Kanin’s solid writing (which holds up shockingly well from its debut in 1946); every gesture and expression from Arianda builds upon who Billie is. I left the theater feeling as if I knew Billie in real life. Arianda gives true insight into Billie, doing so with a vibrant and ambitious energy that reflects her eagerness to be on stage. Arianda tackles this character with such force that she has left no inch of Billie’s stage time unmarked.
Arianda has fiery chemistry with Belushi, who seems extremely committed and comfortable as the bossy Harry. Their arguing and cheap shots at each other somehow feel fresh compared to other tired examples of volatile couples. By belittling and dismissing her, Belushi creates a cage in which we see Billie is trapped and manages to make it both comedic and frightening. His is also a fully-thought performance. While Arianda is busy filling silences with some golden gestures, Belushi’s presence and delivery equally fill the stage. It is often difficult to decide which performer to look at. Read more
With a standing-room ticket (because that’s the only way to get into this show without breaking the bank), Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Santo Loquasto’s set, and Brian MacDevitt’s lighting pulled me into 1957 Pittsburg. The night felt like an event. You could chalk it up to the massive Hollywood-star wattage displayed on stage, and you’d be right. The way the audience of the Cort Theatre was buzzing is what Stage Rush is all about—people getting an adrenaline rush from theater. It wasn’t just Washington and Davis’ presence that made it an event though—it was the quality of the piece on display, and the acting chops and production value to match it.
August Wilson’s Fences focuses on Troy Maxson, an intense man who likes to tell big stories in order to make himself seem bigger. While he exhausts his diatribes, all his wife, best friend, and sons can do is wait for him to finish. Troy likes to recount his days as a baseball star, and how the whites stopped him from breaking into the majors. He tells animated tall tales about how he wrestled with death himself, and how he dares him to a repeat match. Troy also lectures about his unfeeling father and the unspeakable violent streak that he had. There is a lot bubbling underneath Troy’s skin, which appears to be harmlessly blustery and jovial above the surface. Read more
Just like A Steady Rain, which boasted two huge Hollywood names, people are coming out in droves to see Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber in this revival of the Arthur Miller play. Last week, it sold 102 percent of its tickets! Being that there are only six weeks left to the production’s run and I was well aware of the demand for this show, I decided to be very cautious with this rush. I’m honestly shocked that Bridge has a rush policy at all, with the rate they’re selling. It’s a general rush that goes on sale when the box office opens for $26.50 a piece, up to two tickets.
I arrived at the Cort Theatre at 8:30 a.m. and was the third person in line. The Cort has a nice, large overhang that sheltered us from the rain. Once 9 a.m. hit, the rush line grew fast, eventually adding up to about 30 people. I could tell the rushers that were beyond tenth in line were getting antsy as to whether they would be getting a seat. People even began querying the front section of the line, asking who was purchasing tickets for the matinee or the evening show. It was then that I was content with my decision to get there early, because I knew I was getting a ticket and didn’t have to worry. It was a comforting thought, and made for a very easy rush. The payoff was even larger when I got my ticket, which was for a front row orchestra seat on the aisle of the center section. I thought it was a mistake at first! The idea of seeing Johansson and Schreiber perform that close was incredibly exciting. It turns out, the front row of the Cort is extremely close to the stage, which is also quite high. But luckily, the actors stand further upstage for most of the show, so they were visible. I didn’t need a giraffe neck like I thought, after all. Read more