It’s a Pinter laugh riot! I’m not a big fan of Pinter, but I thoroughly enjoyed No Man’s Land. It’s the most engaging and comic play of his I’ve come across, even the most humane. And the current Broadway production, starring an ideally cast Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, is easily the most lucid rendition of Pinter’s famously not lucid dialogue that I’ve ever encountered.
The Met is currently reviving one of the oldest productions in its repertoire, Nathaniel Merrill’s 1969 staging of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. This revival is wonderfully sung, and Robert O’Hearn’s sets and costumes remain a lush evocation of 18th Century Vienna. The Met has announced that it this is the last time it will present this staging, with plans to open an entirely new production of Der Rosenkavalier in 2016 (can I direct it, please?). It’s a good decision: There are certainly plenty of things about Merrill’s staging that haven’t aged at all well.
The lively revival of Oliver! at Paper Mill Playhouse reminded me what a fundamentally odd musical it is. Composer Lionel Bart adapted it from Charles Dickens’s 1838 novel Oliver Twist, one of his darkest works, featuring thieves, whores and murderers galore. Bart lightened the overall tone of this young orphan’s quest to find home and family in 1830s London. The most obvious result was the transformation of the evil master larcenist Fagin into something more like a charming pied piper.
‘Tis the season – time for drag queens to work a holiday theme to buy Mama a new pair of shoes! The hottest drag queen of the moment (a major new talent, really) Jinkx Monsoon has just such a show going on at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, featuring her musical counterpart, pianist/composer/raconteur Major Scales, titled Unwrapped.
This musical has a bunch of wickedly subversive undercurrents that belies its fastidious Edwardian trappings, making it much more to my personal taste than, say, Edwin Drood. The most obvious undercurrent is right there in the title – how to be gentlemanly when pursuing serial murder – but there are others, including gay seduction in the countryside and women sharing a man. Fun stuff!