December 29, 2013

Theater Recommendations

Here’s a collection of still-running plays and shows that we’ve seen recently and not so recently in NYC along with ways to get tickets without breaking the bank. We present the upsidownia score out of 10 with the score of 5/10 reserved for things we didn’t hate but didn’t really like, either.

Shows running as of December 2013:

The Glass Menagerie - 7/10. A glimpse into the Wingfield family presented as a despondent memory of Tom Wingfield. The characters Tom, Laura  and their mother that may or may not remind you of your own, are brilliant and well-cast.

Hamlet (at the Bedlam Theater) 6/10 Great acting, very low production value. It felt like we were at the practice reading-through or watching a bunch of college students performing on the quad; very creative but amateurish. You should be at least vaguely familiar with the play because there are only 4 actors and each plays several roles, often simultaneously, changing character by putting on different hats. Literally. It’s Shakespeare, so nothing less than a 6/10 will do, especially since they didn’t mess with the text. Tickets are usually available at TKTS. Warning: the play is 3 hours long with 2 intermissions.

No Man’s Land 10/10 This play by Harold Pinter is the best thing I have seen in a long time. Maybe ever. Ian McKellen and Patrick Steward are brilliant. The play is about a loquacious waiter who accompanies a drunk patron home and makes himself comfortable there. It’s witty and hilarious and fun. Go see this! Rush tickets are available the day of the performance.

Waiting for Godot 8/10 Waiting for Godot is showing in repertory with No Man’s Land and features the same brilliant 4-man cast. It is by far the more famous of the two plays and seems to attract a larger audience, but it may be hard to understand why. The play was incomprehensible at times (I bet you knew that!), mildly upsetting, and a bit abstract for my plebian tastes. Beckett fans will rejoice. The quality of this performance is amazing. The rest of you, proceed with a very open mind and allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of the play and the dialog without worrying too much about the big picture. The play is very sophisticated and you may find yourself counting down the minutes and wondering why people have such big smiles on their faces as you leave. Rush tickets are available the day of the performance, but you need to arrive very early– these are highly sought after.

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 10/10 A musical adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, we loved every minute of this even though we often keep our distance from Broadway musicals. The play is set up so that the audience is sitting in a Russian Barroom circa 1820 replete with cozy tables, vodka and perogis not to mention the decor. This is a highly entertaining show – quite different than the other stuff out there. (Note: we saw this before it moved to Broadway from the meatpacking district but I don’t think much has changed). Rush tickets available, also see TKTS where they are frequently available. Go see this before it’s too late!

Still not convinced? Check out this video clip of the actors performing the opening song in Bryant Park.

The Perfect Crime 5/10 A solid whodunnit, this play has been on Broadway forever, performing over 10,00o performances. It’s a safe option if say, your in-laws are in town and they want to see some NY theater but not one of the childish big box musicals. Tickets regularly available at TKTS.

Blue Man Group 3/10 We have seen this show several times in the last 10 years and it has gotten progressively worse with the addition of digital screens and stupid cell-phone jokes, and less awesome drumming. Pity. Still may be great for a family with wide-ranging interests. Student tickets available same day.

Betrayal 7/10  Another Pinter play, this time starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz so tickets are considerably more difficult to get. Consisting of several acts in disordered chronology, the play is an anatomy of a marital affair involving a man, his wife and his best friend. We found a pair of tickets on StubHub for cheap but that was really a matter of luck.

The Watson Intelligence 5/10 The play delves into the lives of 4 “Watsons”, including Alexander Graham Bells’ Assistant, Sherlock Holmes Assistant, the IBM computer and an obscure tech support guy, weaving the plots together with some dexterity. Overall though, we found it to be a bit too “clever.” Look for discount codes online.

Book of Mormon 10/10  I don’t need to write another review of this show. Every knows it’s amazing, funny and very inappropriate but the only question is how to get tickets. In this case, standing room is the only reasonable option: arrive at the theater at about 3pm and get on the standing room line (you will recognize it by the line of people sitting on the floor). At 2.5 hours before the show they have a lottery for seats, which you can participate in even if you’re on the standing room line and at 1 hour before the show they start giving out the standing room tickets for $28 each max of 2 per person. Don’t worry that you’re too old or too fancy to stand – go and have a great time!

NY friends, what have you seen and liked?

3 Responses to Theater Recommendations

  1. dorothy candib says:

    thank you- these reviews are very interesting and helpful, in case we come to nyc and want to see something!!

  2. Sima says:

    Porgy and Bess! 10/10 for sure!

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