Friday, September 18, 2015

Shakespeare in New York: Autumn 2015 (part 1)

The autumn season has plenty of good theater to see. Putting aside Shakespeare for a sec, I'm most excited about Lazarus at NYTW. It's a musical version of The Man Who Fell to Earth, a '60s sci-fi novel about the fall of an alien messiah. The deeply weird '70s movie starred David Bowie, who's also behind the NYTW version in November.

In the Shakes-sphere this fall, there's no major stage productions but plenty to see in New York. Off-Broadway the talented Eric Tucker (of Bedlam) directs a quintet of actors in his protean fashion for Midsummer Night's Dream. Also highly anticipated: These Paper Bullets, a mod musical adaptation of Much Ado, with Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) doing a Beatles pastiche. Rounding out my top picks is The Changeling, a rare Jacobean tragedy from the Red Bull.
Shakespeare meets the Beatles
in These Paper Bullets at the Atlantic
So below I've put together a listing of what NYC's stages will offer in the way of Shakespearean theater. There's so much, next week I'll post a separate list for films (Macbeth with Fassbender & Cotillard), transmissions of London stagings (e.g. the Cumberbatch Hamlet on Oct 15), and local readings (e.g. Red Bull's essential Revelation Readings). In the meantime, here's what's onstage:

Rattlestick Playwrights Th.
thru Oct 5
An actor lures his birth mother, an alcoholic ex-actress, into a psychodrama involving a phony staging of Shakespeare's tragedy
The Drilling Co. (in Bryant Park)
thru Sep 20
If you find yourself in Bryant Park one evening this September, check in with Kate and Petruchio
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Pearl Th.
thru Oct 31
Eric Tucker, the mastermind of Bedlam, casts five actors to play Puck and company

The cast of the Pearl's Midsummer
Richard III
Nicu's Spoon (at the Secret Th.)
Sep 29 - Oct 11
In this radically inclusive staging, the only actor without a physical disability will play Richard Crookback
Sure We Can Redemption Center
Oct 1-18
A La Mama-style staging (v. gypsy-inflected) of Macbeth at a site-specific venue in Bushwick
BAM Next Wave
Oct 21-24
A modernist portrait of Q. Bess using a collage of her public & private writing

A Midsummer Night's Dream
New Victory Th.
Oct 30 - Nov 8
Benjamin Britten's opera gets adapted further by a Cape Town ensemble, who score it to marimbas and djembes
All's Well That Ends Well
Mobile Shak Unit (Public Th.)
Nov 2015
Shak's minor tragicomedy tours the boroughs in Oct, then settles into a short run at the Public
Atlantic Th.
Nov 20 – Jan 16
A musical based on Much Ado and A Hard Day's Night (!), with music by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong (?!)
Nov 27 - Dec 13
A fictional Hollywood man-of-the-moment meets his match as Hamlet on B'way, by pseudonymous playwright Jane Martin
The Changeling
Red Bull Th. (at the Lortel)
Dec 26 - Jan 24
An excellent Jacobean play eclipsed by Shak. This noirish tragedy has a lady and her servant/lover kill their lord; it includes a visit to Bedlam Asylum!


Something Rotten
Broadway (St. James Th.)

Christian Borle's Shakespeare is a rock-musical god
in Something Rotten
Not a movie! Not a novel! This fluffy musical comedy is notable mainly for actually being entirely original. Rotten imagines a pair of Elizabethan playwrights who anachronistically invent musical theater to compete with Will Shakespeare. Christian Borle plays that role as a swelled-head rockstar in tight leather and large codpiece; Brian d’Arcy James is his everyman opposite. They're forced to carry the show, a forgettable entry in the shticky sub-genre of musicals-about-musicals (e.g. The ProducersSpamalot). From the POV of a Shakespeare nut, Rotten is especially disappointing. The act 1 number "God, I Hate Shakespeare" wastes itself on lame potshots like 'he makes the audience feel dumb' and 'his plays are too long' instead of legit gripes like overcomplicated plots, unfunny clowns, and the ridiculous sight of epic battles on intimate stages.

Classic Stage Co.
Mar 2016
F. Murray Abraham plays a Jew; the play's a 18th-c. German response to Shylock

Classic Stage Co.
Mar 2016
CSC partners with Columbia Drama's grad students to stage Shak for younger audiences

Mar 24 - May 1, 2016
David Tennant is the matinee draw as Richard 2, with Antony Sher's Falstaff as ballast

Romeo and Juliet

Mobile Shak Unit (Public Th)
May 2016
The MSU stages one of drama's most familiar tragedies for the outer boroughs & the Public

These Paper Bullets — Michael Lamont
A Midsummer Night's Dream — T. Charles Erickson
Something Rotten — Joan Marcus

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