DAVID GEWIRTZMAN, Playbill Special Projects
Beautiful (Broadway). I don't really know much about Carole King or her music, but what I do know is that Jessie Mueller has never been less than sensational in anything I've seen her in since her smashing Broadway debut in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. I'd see Mueller in any show she happened to be doing on a New York stage, and since this is the show she's doing this season, I'm ready. I've already added King's "Tapestry" album to my music library to prepare.
Domesticated (Off-Broadway). I never really know what to expect from (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright) Bruce Norris: sometimes it's a sprawling three-hour drama with a scene in which a spaceship holding enormous bee-aliens lands on stage, and sometimes it's Clybourne Park. This particular drama is about a couple (played by Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum) whose marriage is tested by a major scandal, so I'm guessing there won't be any aliens this time. But it's a pretty safe bet that this play will be shocking and funny and very entertaining.
The Last Two People On Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville (Off-Broadway). So there's this massive flood, and everyone on Earth dies except for two men who decide to chronicle the rise and fall of humanity through the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, R.E.M. and Queen (to name a few). And playing those last two men on Earth are Taylor Mac and Mandy Patinkin, as directed and choreographed by the ever-busy Susan Stroman. As Anna Russell would say, "I'm not making this up, you know." It all sounds a bit "The Twilight Zone," and a bit "WALL-E," and mostly just totally mad and brilliant, but how could a collaboration between Stroman, Patinkin and Mac be anything less than fascinating?
Regular Singing (Off-Broadway). For the past three years, each of Richard Nelson's Apple Family plays has been a highlight of its respective season, with the anticipation of the premiere of a new one as exciting to me as I'm sure the arrival of The Nutcracker or The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is to others. This year, alas, brings the last one in the series, but I have no doubt this final visit with the Apple family of Reinbeck, NY, will not let me down.
Richard II (Stratford/London/US Cinemas). Yes, New York is getting its fill of Shakespeare this season on Broadway and Off — mostly the ones that star characters named Romeo or Macbeth — but it's one happening across the pond at the RSC (and happily in American movie theatres, thanks to the recently announced "Live From Stratford-upon-Avon" series) that has me most excited. Though, to be honest, the play and playwright are beside the point here. It's the casting of David Tennant - the uber-talented actor who, though he's given acclaimed performances in recent years in stage productions of Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, is most well known as "The 10th Doctor" by legions of "Doctor Who" fans worldwide - that makes it a must-see.
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