Bottom line: Vanessa Hudgens doesn’t embarrass herself. She’s perfectly fine as a beautiful girl coming of age in the glamorous and morally ambiguous wold of belle epoque Paris (though honestly at Broadway prices, “perfectly fine” isn’t quite enough). The best thing about this production, however, is Victoria Clark as her youngish grandmother Mamita.
The reign of English king Henry VIII (1509-1547) – full of palace intrigue and illicit lust – is the stuff of soap opera. It has already produced several popular television series, including the early 1970s miniseries The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the even more popular late 2000s Showtime drama The Tudors. Most recently, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall novels about Henry’s political representative Thomas Cromwell have become very popular indeed, inspiring both a miniseries and this stage adaptation. At its best, this version carries you along like the trashiest soap.
To my mind, this raucous comedy is the best new American play in many a moon (the only one this decade I liked more is Douglas Carter Beane’s The Nance). Playwright Robert Askins shows us what happens when a teenage boy’s puppet at a Texas Christian Puppet Ministry starts revealing his darkest urges.
Wendy Wasserstein’s feminist drama has aged surprisingly well. Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss plays Heidi Holland, an art historian who has, broadly speaking, been more successful in her career than her life. From the perspective of 1989, she looks back on bright promises of her generation, the “baby boomers”, with mixed feelings.