What is the Real? – My Five Favorite Shows in NYC

I started this entry on September 12th, two days before my last day as a New Yorker and had just passed my four-year anniversary in the City on August 22nd.  These four years have been pretty amazing, crazy, hard, wonderful… really, all sorts of adjectives.

As I think of all I didn’t do, I reflect on what made my four years here what they were.  Therefore, a short series on four years in New York shall commence.

September 12, 2011 – My five favorite shows in NYC:

I came to New York four years ago to study theater. Fortunately, I was able to see a lot of it while here.  I still missed a lot of shows (Fela!, Circle Mirror Transformation, the Our Town revival) that folks spoke very highly of, but I am happy with the breadth of what I saw.

Every time the lights dimmed, I still felt the thrill of live theater.  It is a magical experience when done well.

While shlepping boxes to UPS last week, Joe and I got talking about how many Broadway shows I have seen. Eventually, we figured out it was around 55 (including Book of Mormon last night, which was awesome) and that is not counting seeing shows more than once.  Of course there are many off-Broadway shows and Columbia shows and more, but to even figure that out would be impossible.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever captured the correct voice to talk about shows I really loved – it is always easier to talk about the problematic aspects of good, but not great shows.  So here is my fan-girl-ish incoherent ramblings of my five favorite shows:

Sleep No More – Punchdrunk Theater Company – 2011 (still running)

I have been holding off blogging about Sleep No More because I’m just not sure what to say.  I think it is still going to have to have its own blog entry, with many spoilers and much gushing.

But in brief – Sleep No More is a performance piece that interprets Macbeth as though in a Hitchcock hotel.  Audience members wear white masks, and explore the 100 rooms at will, interacting with the space and the actors based on each’s individual path.

Dear friend Robert had this to say, immediately following:

Captivated by the lady in red, Her smell lingers-clothes saturated; dancing with the male witch-we both led; a sweaty head-wet my leg; water dripping from her hair-the sexy witch; bruises on her leg-the bald witch; I smell Her now; and I feel Her porcelain grasp from floors above.

I really loved the experience, it was the most magical theatrical adventure I have ever had. And it challenged my personal conventions as an audience member, many times, and in different ways.  Best immersive, audience experience I have had.

To this point, I have seen it twice, and am going tonight to see it a final third time.  I greatly admire the performers, and am amazed by the production design and just heaps of work it must take to keep the show going.

I have recommended it to all my friends, and I do to you too, gentle reader. =) Tickets are available here, and the show has been extended through January.  If you do go, wear running shoes, go as early as possible (there are staggered entrance times) and enjoy!

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson – the Public Theater – May 2010
By Alex Timbers; music and lyrics by Michael Friedman

How many people do you know who have a favorite year in history?

Well …. I do (1968, in case you were wondering). Which is just one sign of what a history dork I am.
Therefore, when you combine American History, a rock musical, and Benjamin Walker in eyeliner – I’m sold!

The Public Theater production of Bloody Bloody tells the story of America’s 7th president, from his frontier life, to his populist campaign and through his presidency. It was full of crazy intensity, smart reference, and joyful anachronism.  I laughed and was moved by the examination of the serious issues of the 18-teens that have ramifications today.  As Ben Brantly said, ‘Though its style is often as skewed as a tilt-a-whirl ride, “Bloody Bloody” takes precision aim at its central target: an impatient electorate ruled by a hunger for instant gratification.

The intricate, and over-the-top set design extended through the whole house, and in our front row seats, we could see the sweat gather as the cast worked their asses off. … I died at the De Tocqueville joke in the musical retelling of the Corrupt Bargain. … ‘Twas really wonderful.

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