I have the feeling Jagged Little Pill has a long future in store.
The new musical, directed by Diane Paulus, isn’t content just to give us nineties nostalgia. The creators reexamine Alanis Morissette’s hyper-popular 1995 album to fit the issues facing us today. Start checking them off; they’re all here, from coming out to opiate addiction to sexual assault. It’s a lot for one show to attempt, and the writing doesn’t always prioritize story over message. But we realize how character-driven Morissette’s songwriting has always been. Her work is so personal and confessional that it seems to belong here on the musical stage.
He based her on his mother. The cantankerous, mischievous, elegant dowager, 92 years old–or only 91, by her admission–that leads Three Tall Women is Edward Albee’s invocation of the woman who never accepted him. He left home, like the son in the play; we can assume his being gay had something to do with it. (There’s one fleeting reference to walking in on him with others.) And possibly he never forgave her, at least in life. “A” never forgives her son, either. They reconcile when she’s older, when she needs him, but they never dig deep enough for absolution.
Is there a classic musical more divisive than Carousel? With its transcendent score pitted against a 1940s take at gender politics, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s show returns to Broadway when we’re all anxious how abusive Billy Bigelow and the quietly devoted Julie Jordan will land.
We just caught two revivals in New York of shows from the eighties: both highly acclaimed back in the day for pushing the boundaries of queerness and gender identity on stage. After thirty-some years, what may have been transgressive about these characters’ sexuality is now more accepted, and both playwrights have revised their work to be effective for 2017 audiences.
The last weekend she ever sees him, Alison Bechdel begs her father to talk to her. Really talk to her. This mundane car ride comes weeks after she comes out to him, hours after she learns he sleeps around with young men—and days before he steps in front of a truck. It’s Alison’s first and only chance to address what used to be their shared secret. He makes a small gesture, suggests a local gay bar, but she reminds him she’s too young to go. Nothing is really said.
I know Merrily We Roll Along from its original 1981 cast album. That recording immortalized Merrily’s 16 brief performances before Franklin Shepard and friends closed up shop. Like a few Sondheim shows that came before (looking at you, Anyone Can Whistle), that recording was so important for giving Merrily a life past its initial failure.
THEATER REVIEW: The Little Foxes and The Price.
Regina’s story feels so familiar. She’s every woman who’s had to put up with stupid, selfish men getting ahead and keeping the rewards to themselves for far too long.
Making her return, as Norma Desmond defiantly crows, as a great star attempting her own ill-fated comeback, Glenn Close is following in the tradition of Broadway stars who’ve revived their characters for a new generation. This time around, Close’s Norma Desmond is more recognizably human.
It’s an unusual play with, I think, some of Tennessee’s most empathetic writing. By the third act, Iguana is essentially a two-hander for Hannah and Shannon, as they comfort and understand each other. Hannah’s fervent hope becomes a lightning rod for Shannon, inspiring him to—well, we don’t know.
THEATER REVIEW: The Present Ethel Barrymore Theater, New York, January 15, 2016 The curtain rises on Cate Blanchett with a pistol in her hand. She looks out at the audience, then at the pistol with a grim, steely countenance. It’s a gift she’s received for her fortieth birthday. As the adage suggests, we know […]