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Archive for the ‘AIDS’ Category

Best New Play on Bway “Significant Other”

“Significant Other” is a VERY significant play. In fact, it’s the best play I’ve seen so far this year ON BROADWAY. It’s significant, too, that it’s on Broadway. A play like this, about this topic, is something that has never been articulated on Broadway, and certainly not from the gay character’s point of view. It’s a drama. It’s not JUST a comedy, although that’s how they’re selling it, but young gay playwright Joshua Harmon has some very important points that he wants to make, and he makes them quite strongly. He’s not pulling his punches.

Nor is his ace director Trip Cullman, who is simply one of the best young directors of his generation. And yes, it’s the Millennial generation. That’s what this play is about, purportedly. It’s 20-something cast thinks nothing of living on their cell phone and their iPhones and their computers and texting, texting, texting. Instead of really just talking to each other. But they DO talk. They have to communicate with each other. This is a play after all, and we want to see them interact with each other, and they do and it gets quite ugly and violent, by the end.

But the feelings that are being articulated here are so important, I didn’t mind how harrowing “Significant Other” gets.  These things needed to be said, and playwright Harmon and director Cullman say them VERY well.“Significant Other” is a play about a young gay Jewish man named Jordan Berman, who surrounds himself with a bevy of girls, who he thinks are this friends. And as the play goes on and one by one each them leaves him to get married, until he’s left utterly alone, and we are as devastated by this climatic state of things as he is.

Gideon Glick as our soon-to-be-hapless hero will probably be nominated for Best Actor in a play as he turns from super-schlub to super-mensch. He is called upon to play a wide variety of comedy, and camp, but by the end he just breaks your heart with a violence that is quite unforgettable.

Because what “Significant Other” is about, really, is about loneliness, the only kind of loneliness many gay men will ever know. When his last BFF shatteringly leaves him, he is facing a life that is going to be lived without his (he thought) heterosexual besties. You can’t help but hate the three young women who are played so well here, the aptly named Sas Goldberg,(no, that’s her real first name), Rebecca Naomi Jones, and especially by the overweight girl, who he thought would NEVER get married, and leave him, too, Lindsay Mendes(in a beautiful, powerful performance).

The climax of the play articulates what I’ve never seen even mentioned in any gay play on Broadway or Off. Glick tears into the shocked Ms. Mendes in a tirade against heterosexual women and the institution of marriage. He realizes that this is never going to happen to him, and the love and life she has found is something that he, as a gay man, is never going to experience.

This play feels like it was written before Gay Marriage was on the table as a viable option, if that’s what you’re looking for, but it seems Gideon isn’t, not really. Not yet. He wants to hang on to his immaturity as long as possible that his life is just going to be one Bachelorette party after the other.

Of course, for balance, the trio of female characters also express their various dissatisfaction(s) with their marital states, but Gideon is just left bereft by what he sees as their betrayal of his kindness and good humor and generosity towards these women.  They are exploiting his good nature, he expresses in a vitriolic scene with Ms. Mendes that could lead them both to the Tony ceremony in June. And of course, Mr. Harmon and Mr. Cullman, too.

And lighting designer Kate Voyce has to be commended, also, for her astute use of multiple chandeliers overhanging the urban interiors below. Y’know, the kind of chandeliers that just scream “WEDDING.”  The institution of marriage and its’ concomitant inevitable promise of happy endings for everyone, is not the case here in “Significant Other.” It ultimately questions loneliness and leaves the gregarious Gideon Glick’s character Jordan Berman with it as his seemingly unavoidable option. And that is its’ power and greatness. Bravo to all involved in bringing this superb production to Broadway.

#Significant Other, #Gideon Glick, # Joshua Harmon, #Trip Cullman, # Broadway, # Best Play of the Year, # Tony Awards, #homosexuality

 

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Wonderful, Important “Falsettos” is Back on Bway!

falsettos-1The most astonishing, important new musical on Broadway,  isn’t a new musical at all. It’s a revival of “Falsettos.” And in its execution and impact, it is absolutely overwhelming. In Act Two. In Act One, well, it left me wondering what all the fuss was about. It won Tonys back in its’ day,(1992) and the same Tony-winning team of composer William Finn and director James Lapine are both back, too. It’s cumulative effect however is devastating. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Mine among them. I could barely speak, either.

I didn’t know what was coming in Act Two, but most people know what it’s about. It is a damaged, damaging cry from the front-line of AIDS. And this revival of “Falsettos” is so fresh and new, especially in Act 2, as I’ve said, that it hits you like a ton of bricks as its’ horrible, inevitable denoument plays out.

And of course, it’s the character I loved the most, Whizzer, who gets sick and dies. He’s played by the admirable Andrew Rannells, who launched like a supernova as the lead in “Book of Mormon” six years or so ago. But here he surely has stepped into a kind of legend with this heart-wrenching portrayal, that does not once ask for self pity of any kind.

He’s starring opposite another Broadway legend of sorts of the most modern kind, the two time Tony winner, Christian Borle, who also astonishes and steps up his game big-time as Marvin.the bisexual love of Whizzer, who survives him. But suffers with his decline with an anguish and depth I didn’t think Borle was capable of. But he is and he makes you cry along with him as Whizzer slowly dies. One of their greatest love songs, “Two Unlikely Lovers.”

Their song ” What Would I Do(If I Hadn’t Met You)” is a love song that tops the show and makes you think and makes you cheer with pride, all at the same time. I wanted to give it a standing ovation, but was so emotionally devastated by its’ power and beauty, I could not stand. Just yell, hoarsely “Bravo”!

And if Mr.Rannell’s doesn’t get a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his “Everybody’s Gotta Die Sometime” as he expires…well, I don’t know what to say.

This show deserves all the accolades that will get thrown at it. Stephanie J. Block can reap a Supporting Actress nomination surely for her turn as  Trina.the ex-wife of Borle and the mother of their understandably confused child, twelve-year-old Jason( a fantastic Anthony Rosenthal. )She’s never been better than when slamming out the solo “I’m Breaking Down.” As she tries to describe the confusion a straight woman feels who is left by her husband for another man.falsettos-3

This is a limited run only through Jan. 8 however. It’s at the Walter Kerr, where “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”  ran for two and a half glorious years. And now it’s got another smash musical there “Falsettos.” I hope it runs forever.

 

#Falsettos

#Andrew Rannells

#Christian Borle

Impact of Election on Oscar Race

fences-6I was just about to write a rave review of the wonderful, important revival of “March of the Falsettos” and then The Election happened and turned the world, and my brain and everyone else’s upside down.

I tried to write about it but I couldn’t. I was in such deep shock. Like when you have a serious fall, as I did recently, and it wasn’t until hours later, or was it a day later, that the real pain kicked in, and I was reminded I had fallen backwards onto a fire-hydrant. It took four or five really strong women(In town for the marathon, I’m guessing) to pull me back up and set me on my feet.

Yes, my reaction to The Election was just as severe as that, as disappointed for anyone who voted for Hillary. I can’t believe it happened. I’m still processing it. And so is the country. It’s something that I can’t snap out of but just being depressed and angry isn’t constructive. Hillary Clinton had nothing but a positive message. Maybe there is something good inside Donald Trump. Well, first of all, he’s a native New Yorker. As I am. And that counts for something.

After coming out of a Whole Foods on Union Square, I ran into hundreds of protesting young people. I got on a bus. It took quite awhile for the big New York City Bus to get through the noisy crowd of protesters. They made me smile though. I knew what they were feeling. I had done this, too, in my youth. Protesting the Viet Nam War. Civil Rights. Free Nelson Mandella. Gay Rights. Aids. There’s been a lot to protest, always peacefully. Make your voice heard.I was happy to see them there.LGBY handsThis made me think of what a terrible day it was when Ronald Reagan got elected. I thought it was it the end of the world. It wasn’t. The same way when Bush after Bush after Bush entered the White House. Until Bill Clinton. Until Barack Obama.

I’ve been thinking of the night when “Brokeback Mountain” lost the Oscar to “Crash.” Sasha Stone and I were both disconsolate that night and so was everyone else on Oscarwatch. We thought we’d never get through it. I was never going to watch the Oscars again. But I did. We got through it because we were together.

Sasha did everything she could think of to help Hillary. I’m still shocked, and sickened, but she’s probably more shocked and more sick. She and Assistant Editor Ryan both added Rodham as their middle names.

But, as with “Brokeback”, she went back to work and felt back. I did, too. Over the years I’m happy to report that I developed a friendly relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway and Michelle s and Williams and now Ang Lee, who did win his first Oscar for “Brokeback” by the way. I loved his new “Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk.”

But all those disappointments and depressions and shocks were way worse than this. Maybe as much as I loved Hillary, and I still do, I just knew, I just KNEW that America was never going to elect a woman to the Oval Office.

And now this happened. Donald Trump may not have meant a lot of what he said. Was it Melania or Ivanka who said he was “saying all those things just to get elected”?

Melania Trump and Michele sitting down to have  tea, to chat and tour the White House. File it under a list of Things I Never Would Have Thought Ever To Have Happened.

And now the Oscar Race, how is this going to land with the very left wing Academy? I think this says goodbye to anything light and fluffy like “La La Land” and hello to something that can’t be denied like “Fences” or the very political “Jackie.”

viola-davis-fences-1jackie-1fences-3Gay Pride 2016 2

Happy Gay Pride 2016!

Gay Pride 2016 1Happy Gay Pride 2016 to all my dear readers, cineastes & lovers of theatre!

We celebrate that we’re all still here and stronger and more visible than ever! As the below poster says, “Hate Will  Not Defeat Love!”Gay Pride 2016 2

There’s a Great Mike Nichols Doc Just Around the Corner on American Masters

Mike Nichols 1I know. I know. It’s barely a week left to Christmas, and everyone’s counting down the Shopping Days. But there’s a post-holiday surprise coming that will reward and enlighten you for years and years to come. It’s going to be a cultural touchstone. And it’s directed by the great Elaine May.

And it’s a documentary about her late, great early career comic partner Mike Nichols, probably one of the greatest talents this country has ever seen. And he wasn’t American! He was German!

This insightful and also immensely profound and FAIR assessment of Mike Nichols overwhelming career that spanned decades and crisscrossed media with the speed of lightning, making film and theater and comic history as he went.

Elaine May is the perfect person to document and analyze all this within the confines of an American Masters special. It’s not on the air until January, but check you local listings and DON’T MISS IT!

From an unusual childhood background of escaping the Nazis, Nichols grew up on New York’s Upper West Side, the son of a successful doctor. He sits for a feature-length interview and reveals much that we have never been privy to before.

It’s like he was leaving his legacy to his early partner in comic improv and equally early success, Elaine May. Their break-up always stupefied me. But here they both are decades later setting the record straight and settling a few scores along the way.

May gets Nichols to reveal the downs as well as the ups of his astonishing career first as a comic sketch artist par excellence with his legendary duo of Him and Elaine May. Nichols and May. I grew up hearing about them, and glimpsing them occasionally on television in the sixties, when they were hotter than hot.Nichols and MayLater on in High School or college, I think I even bought one of their great comedy albums.

May allows a few laughs here, of course, but they are sprinkled very parsimoniously throughout this great doc. The tone is serious, as well it should be. He was a great artist. She even gets him to burst into tears when discussing Meryl Streep.

“I can’t talk about Meryl,” he reveals while fighting back sobs. What would he have told us, if he hadn’t broken down. He directed Streep in one of her Oscar nominated performances “Silkwood.”

There are gem-like moments as friends from Show Business pile on the praise and the details. And nobody is harder on Nichols than he himself. And he denotes that he feels he failed as much as he succeeded.

Interesting to note that his surviving wife Diane Sawyer, is nowhere mentioned. But Nichols’ life was so chock-full of incidents that I guess she wasn’t needed. It’s quite a complete portrait of an Artist in Full. And what a great Christmas present to know that it is coming soon!

“Heidi Chronicles” Closing Sunday is a Crime!

Heidi 1“The Heidi Chronicles” closing on Broadway on Sunday is a crime! I just saw it for the SECOND time last night, and enjoyed it all over again. I RARELY, as you know, dear readers, RETURN to revisit a show, especially in this high Drama Desk season, but I’m so glad I did.

The cast was very relaxed and giving and warm, warm, warm and funny, too, as the late Pulitzer winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein was in real life.

Insightful, witty, observant, and yes, timely, too, I do feel that Wasserstein’s “Heidi” is not dated at all and is as relevant today as it was then when it opened to great critical acclaim in 1989. It won the Pulitzer and also the Tony.

And I saw the original production, but I liked this one much better. The performances of Elizabeth Moss in the title role and the redoubtable Bryce Pinkham as her gay best friend were both awards-worthy, and thankfully Moss has been nominated for a Tony for Best Actress. Pinkham however was not, although he did get an Outer Critics nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. The Drama Desk ignored it completely.

I wonder if the shows’ unexpected, premature closing had something to do with the unjust lack of awards consideration “Heidi” has gotten.

Elizabeth Moss was simply magnificent last night, shining like a golden  sun and immensely relatable as the hapless heroine Heidi. Moss’ monologue ending with the famous line “I feel stranded” was a bravura tour-de-force of the highest order.

And Pinkham held his own in a 360 degree turn from his usual villainous musical rogues (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “Ghost”.) as a very warm, relatable doctor. His Dr. Peter Patrone goes from campy to bitchy to saintly in an arc than every gay man was experienced since the ’60s, ending with yes, a penultimate scene dealing with AIDS in the late ’80s. The  hyper-versatile Pinkham captures every nuance, pulse and throb of pain and joy that Peter undergoes.

The house was packed last night. The audience applauded every scene. That’s something that rarely happens with a straight play.

I urge you to try to see “Heidi” before it closes on Sunday. Maybe there will be enough of a demand to see its’ beautiful life extended.

“Imitation Game” FINALLY wins something! Gay Screenwriter Gives Moving Speech

Imitation Game 1And now, it’s starting to pick up as we are 15 minutes from midnite when I officially turn into a pumpkin!

The two screenwriting awards were just handed out and they are as follows ~

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Graham Moore – The Imitation Game

Best Original Screenplay:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo – Birdman

Thanks to http://www.awardsdaily.com for keeping me on my toes! This is my longest blogging night EVAH!

 

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