PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 23-March 1: Revisionist, Passion Open; Idina Menzel to Return to Broadway

By Robert Simonson
01 Mar 2013

Melissa Errico and Ryan Silverman
Photo by Joan Marcus

Also opening Off-Broadway this week was a John Doyle-directed revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Passion, at Classic Stage Company, with Judy Kuhn, Melissa Errico and Ryan Silverman in the leads. (Doyle, who has directed several other Sondheim shows, eschewed his usual trick of having the actors play instruments with this production.) The New York Times called it an "exquisite closed hothouse," adding, "Of all the formidable directors who have staged Mr. Sondheim’s musicals, no one cuts closer to their heart than Mr. Doyle, a minimalist with a scalpel." The Daily News said "the new just plain gorgeous — a feast for the ears and the eyes." NBC New York said it was "sad, searingly honest."


Finally, The Living Theatre is dead.

The experimental theatre company, founded in 1947, has tenaciously held on to live for more than six decades, weathering countless evictions and arrests, all the while witnessing the exits of the companies with which it once shared New York's avant garde stage universe.

But it couldn't survive the retirement of its surviving founder, Judith Malina. This week, Malina moved to the Lillian Booth home for retired artists in New Jersey, having been forced to give up the lease on The Living Theatre's Clinton Street space, the company's home for the past eight years. Malina had fallen four months behind in her rent. She lived in a small apartment above the theatre.

The Clinton Street theatre was the company's first permanent home since the closing of The Living Theatre on Third Street at Avenue C in 1993. But, the revival was short-lived. Shortly after it opened, Malina's partner, Hanon Reznikov suddenly died.

Matters grew bleak last year when the company was suddenly faced with having to gather tens of thousands of dollars together in order to stop city marshals from evicting them. Donations were called for through a local crowd-funding site called Lucky Ant. Just hours before its deadline, it met its goal of raising $24,000.

Malina, of course, isn't happy how things have turned out. "It's a nice place. It's beautiful," she told The Daily News of the Booth home. "But I don't want a nice place that's beautiful."