Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-05-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER FEATURE 'Foolin'' around on Broadway
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2019-05-04

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Do you know the difference between a Shakespearean "clown" and a "fool"?

I never pondered that question until a recent trip to New York City to binge on theater. Three Broadway shows I caught all coincidentally deal with performers struggling to bring about societal change in the face of perilous odds.

The Shakespearean clown/fool question is central to Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. It marks the Broadway debut of out playwright and art drag performer Taylor Mac ( Hir; A 24-Decade History of Popular Music ), and Gary is an uncompromising mix of heady and lowbrow humor.

Three-time Tony winner Nathan Lane stars in the title role, a previously unnamed street clown/messenger from Shakespeare's original gory tragedy. Mac names him "Gary," and imagines that he has finagled his way out of the noose.

Gary is grateful to be hired as a maid to help his seen-it-all supervisor, Janice ( Kristine Nielsen ). Their task is to clean up piles of slaughtered bodies festering in the imperial banqueting hall.

But Gary gets inspired to rise above his rank to become a "Fool." As Mac emphasizes in Gary, a Shakespearean Fool can actually speak truth to power via humor as a ruler's personal entertainer.

What's wonderful about Gary is how Lane, Nielsen and their co-star, Julie White ( as the startled midwife Carol ), all expertly finesse the script's humor to move audiences to stitches. Director George C. Wolfe finds a playful balance between macabre camp and unsettling carnage to fully illustrate Mac's challenging comedy.

True, Gary might not be for all tastes. I counted six audience walkouts amid the play's parade of dead cadaver dick jokes. But I laughed a lot thanks to the expert performers and Mac's theatrically silly play that seriously questions how much of an impact an artist can have on society to prevent future massacres.

Gary was just nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Play. Yet another high-profile production was nearly shut out of the nominations.

A Broadway revival of Shakespeare's King Lear starring octogenarian Glenda Jackson ( a two-time Academy Award-winner and former Member of Parliament ) only received one Tony nomination. It went to Ruth Wilson for her dual dramatic and comic performance of Lear's youngest daughter, Cordelia, and of Lear's personal Fool.

Jackson previously won much acclaim in London for her return to the stage as Lear, but this Broadway revival is a different production. No doubt director Sam Gold ( a Tony Award winner for Fun Home in 2015 ) wanted this Lear to be as inclusive as possible.

So in addition to Jackson playing Lear, Tony Award winner Jane Houdyshell plays the cruelly deceived Earl of Gloucester. There's also colorblind casting in supporting roles, and hearing-impaired actor Russell Harvard plays the violent Duke of Cornwall with actor/director Michael Arden speaking the text while also translating into sign language.

The performers all really can't be faulted, and Jackson's rage-filled performance is something to be marveled at. But it's tough to make sense of this updated production.

I'm guessing that Gold wanted to use Shakespeare's portrait of a mentally unstable ruler to be a commentary on the current state of America. How else to explain the tarnished Trumpian gold unit set by designer Miriam Buether?

Unfortunately, Shakespeare's play doesn't provide tidy plot parallels to today. Especially since Lear is presented as a declining ruler to be pitied rather than vilified.

If this revival of King Lear is a noble miss, The Prom is surely a contemporary hit. This hilarious new musical comedy, which was just nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, amazingly isn't inspired by a pre-existing film or pop song catalogue. Yet it was recently announced that producer/director Ryan Murphy ( Glee, American Horror Story ) has obtained the rights to The Prom to make it into a Netflix feature film.

The Prom focuses on a group of publicity-hungry actors ( and their faithful press agent ) who seek out a good cause to deflect from their recent failures and disappointments on Broadway. The do-gooding New Yorkers descend upon Edgewater, Indiana, where the local PTA has cancelled prom because an out lesbian named Emma ( Caitlin Kinnunen ) had invited her girlfriend to go.

Rather than helping, these Broadway interlopers create more problems for Emma and her sympathetic principal, Mr. Green ( Michael Potts ).

There are plenty of laughs throughout The Prom, which reunites Elf the Musical collaborators Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin on the script, composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Beguelin for the songs and Casey Nicholaw as the director/choreographer. Each of these artists clearly had a field day working together, while the performers wring every possible drop of comedy and drama from the tolerance-celebrating material.

Tony winner Beth Leavel oozes showbiz pizazz as the stage diva Dee Dee Allen, while Brooks Ashmanskas brilliantly balances the stereotypical and genuine as the gay actor Barry Glickman.

Christopher Sieber is great as the pompous Julliard graduate Trent Oliver, while Angie Schworer gets to inspire with Fosse-esque moves in the slinky number "Zazz."

The Prom being a musical comedy, things work out happily in the end. But The Prom ensures that Emma, the true heart to the show, eventually finds her own performing voice to combat homophobia and to change minds in her hometown.

Each of these productions show how performers can try to shape society for the better amid so much divisiveness and chaos. You can argue whether each show succeeds or not, but it is admirable that so many theater artists are trying to say important things within the commercial confines of Broadway.

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus continues in an open run at the Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St., New York City. Garyonbroadway.com .

King Lear plays through Sunday, July 7, at the Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., New York City. kinglearonbroadway.com .

The Prom continues in an open run at the Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St., New York City. Theprommusical.com .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW La Havana Madrid 2019-05-19 - Playwright: Sandra Delgado At: Teatro Vista/Collaboraction at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: TheDenTheatre.com; $30-$60. Runs through: June 22 This ...


Gay News

Correct Arts to present All The World's a Stage, evolution of Chicago theater in art 2019-05-19 - Artists examine the evolution of Chicago area theaters from past to present ( including vaudeville stages, silent pictures, live performance venues and motion ...


Gay News

Van Ness, Gadsby at Chicago Theatre in June 2019-05-18 - LGBT celebrities Jonathan Van Ness and comedian Hannah Gadsby will be performing in separate shows at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., ...


Gay News

Kokandy Productions announces casting for Head Over Heels 2019-05-16 - CHICAGO ( May 15, 2019 ) — Kokandy Productions is pleased to announce casting for its Chicago premiere of the bold new musical ...


Gay News

'Stonewall' exhibit talks, performances on May 22-25 2019-05-16 - Talks related to the Wrightwood 659 exhibit "About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and New Queer Art" will take place May 22-25 at the gallery, ...


Gay News

THEATER The Secret of the Biological Clock 2019-05-15 - Playwright: Andie Arthur At: Eclectic Full Contact Theatre at the Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Tickets: Eclectic-theatre.com 773-935-6860; $25-$30. Runs through: June 2 ...


Gay News

Megan Hilty sings Smash hits at the Goodman gala 2019-05-15 - Tony Award nominee Megan Hilty has had some unforgettable performances in the past with Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked and as Doralee ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Winter's Tale 2019-05-15 - Playwright: William Shakespeare At: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.. Tickets: $20-80; GoodmanTheatre.org/thewinterstale. Runs through: June 9 Why The Winter's Tale? ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-05-14 - Late Nite Catechism, Royal George Theatre, open run—On May 26th, Vicki Quade and MariPat Donovan's internationally acclaimed solo show celebrates its 26th-year anniversary ...


Gay News

Spotlight on The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes 2019-05-14 - "Caged Miami Heat" and "Murder on the Sicilian Express" are the deliciously irresistible titles of The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3 ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.