Monday, February 6, 2012

Theater: New Shows (February 7-13)

The Great White Whale of the week is Death of a Salesman. I can't seem to get excited about it, despite its pedigree―or maybe because of it. Dream teams and supergroups can be averse to risk. I'm more excited about the resurrected Bleecker Street Theater, where a loose adaptation of Moby Dick gets revived: And God Created Great Whales, a modernist mixed-media opera that I was sad to miss back in 2000.
Rinde Eckert and Nora Cole swim the whirlpool of madness
in And God Created Great Whales
(photo: Caleb Wertenbaker)

And God Created Great Whales
where: Bleecker Street Theater
first night: Tuesday, Feb. 7
This musical drama, which premiered in 2000, dives into the mind of a composer who's fighting dementia by trying to write an opera based on Moby Dick. The show's creator, Rinde Eckert, has a radical style that's closer to modern opera than musical theater. Its challenging style is matched by the reward.

Death of a Salesman
where: Ethel Barrymore Theater
first night: Monday, Feb. 13
Arthur Miller's Everyman tragedy fits the Great Recession better than the Internet boom of '99, when it was last revived. This time, Mike Nichols directs a heavy cast, built around Philip Seymour Hoffman, Linda Emond, and Andrew Garfield (star of this summer's Spider-Man reboot) as the unhappy Loman family.

Hurt Village
where: Signature Center
first night: Tuesday, Feb. 7
Set during a long Memphis summer, this show offers a finely-tuned social conscience with faint echos of A Raisin in the Sun. A family prepares to move from a housing project to a more hopeful life, with a focus on a veteran who unexpectedly returns from Iraq. FYI, playwright Katori Hall also wrote The Mountaintop.

The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G
where: Theater Row
first night: Tuesday, Feb. 7
The Vampire Cowboys take an irreverent approach to genre work that's common on cable TV: horror, sci-fi, action―you know, the fun stuff! Their latest comedy is an Asian spy thriller with a revenge subplot, offering plenty of over-the-top violence while lampooning race and sex. Not to be missed!

Merrily We Role Along
where: City Center
first night: Wednesday, Feb. 8
This Sondheim musical has earned revisions and a higher reputation since bombing its 1981 Broadway premiere. Based, incidentally, on a 1930s Kaufman/Hart drama, Merrily follows a Hollywood bigwig backwards through his life to his happy beginnings as a Broadway composer.

The Navigator
where: WorkShop Theater
first night: Thursday, Feb. 9
A victim of the Great Recession finds the answers to all his problems coming from his car's navigation system. The plot sounds like whimsical fun―who hasn't wondered what that GPS voice could tell us? Hopefully, the light comedy sci-fi concept will move past simple sitcom territory to somewhere unexpected.

Poetic License
where: 59E59
first night: Thursday, Feb. 9
Though Poetic License is billed as a campus drama on the subjects of plagiarism and the scourge of publish-or-perish, a plot summary makes it sound more like a domestic drama with college trappings. A daughter returns home to introduce her new boyfriend to her poet laureate father and to spill a few secrets.

Rated P for Parenthood
where: Westside Upstairs
first night: Wednesday, Feb. 8
This domestic comedy treats the delights and hardships of parenting, from conception to college, in 90 minutes. Something about this show smells iffy―maybe because the press release says it's contains “giant doses of heart and humor”. Maybe I'm just cynical after 6 exhausting months as a father?

Venus in Fur
Lyceum Theater
first night: Tuesday, Feb. 7
One of the most electrifying American plays of the last decade shifts venues to continue its Broadway run. The battery that gives the play its special charge is Nina Arianda, who gives a nearly impossible role (dumb ingenue to smart cookie to dominatrix to Goddess) a soul. Go see this one.

Last chance!
where: The Gym at Judson
read my review

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