Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

SAG Ensemble Predictions

"How is no one talking about the kids from IT????? They were amazing" - David

"I think Girls Trip makes it. Or st least Tiffany Haddish gets a nod. Right now, I’m thinking both?" - Roger

"In terms of crazy nominations that will never happen in a million years, I'd be elated to see something like The Beguiled or mother! nominated." - Film Junkie

What'cha Looking For?
Interviews

new Claes Bang Actor
(Sweden's Oscar Submission)
Nikolaj Lie Kaas Actor
(Denmark's Oscar Submission)
Hana Jusic Director
(Croatia's Oscar Submission)

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500 Patron Saints!

IF YOU READ THE SITE DAILY, PLEASE BE ONE BY DONATING. 
Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Subscribe
« Secret Messages: Time Window | Main | Capsules: 28 Hotel Rooms, Yossi, Caesar Must Die »
Monday
Mar112013

Stage Door: Sigourney Weaver in "Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike"

On Mondays, Broadway's dark night, let's talk theater! I have reason to talk tonight, shout even. The highlight of my weekend was an unexpected one. I agreed to see Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike with friends knowing virtually nothing about it aside from the safe-guess that it was somehow riffing on Chekhov and that Sigourney Weaver was in it. Sigweavie was draw enough. 

This semi-blind purchase happily delivered far more than just starpower.

The play takes place in a single weekend at the childhood home of the very famous Masha (Sigourney Weaver), an Oscar-less aging movie star who made her name on a violent genre franchise. Heh. That sounds so familiar! Is playwright Christopher Durang having a winking laugh at his close actress friend? more

Sigourney Weaver with the playwright Christopher Durang. They've been friends & collaborators for decades.Masha sadsack siblings, Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and adopted sister Sonia (Kristine Nielsen, who was so funny a couple of seasons ago in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) have been living in the house their whole lives but Masha's visit totally upends their old-married style bickering and routines. She announces that they're all going to a fashionable high society costume party. She's going as Snow White and expects her siblings to flank her as Dopey & Grumpy much to their chagrin. Masha's also brought along her latest boytoy, the young dim Spike (Billy Magnussen), hence the play's title. He's a would be actor whose biggest achievement is almost winning a role on Entourage 2. Masha might be as unhappy and regret-filled as her siblings but she covers it with a comically oversized enthusiasm and self-aggrandizement rather than their self-deprecation. Into this clash of egos, cultures, personalities and agendas drop two more characters: Nina (Genevieve Angelson) a beautiful young actress who wants to meet Masha and Cassandra (Shalita Grant) the housemaid who has the gift of second sight and keeps warning everybody about everything... but mainly about each other.

Theater aficionados will love the Chekhov parody but even if you aren't well versed in prestigious Russian classics (I'll admit that half of those jokes sailed over me) this play's comic reach extends far beyond them. The Snow White business is just priceless with the tall and low-voiced Sigourney Weaver prancing around hysterically with high pitched affectation. She's sublimely silly throughout and throws herself into buffoonery with complete conviction. She reminded me, quite happily, that Lt. Ellen Ripley aside, her greatest gift has always been comedy.

There's plenty of accessible sibling rivalry laughs and showbiz humor, too. The latter jokes often come at the the expense of the ridiculous Masha and the exhibitionistic Spike who will jump on any excuse to take his clothes off though he generally doesn't wait for one. But the MVP of Act 1 might just be Kristine Nielsen whose Maggie Smith impression so upsets Masha. Suddenly there's California Suite all up in her Snow White!

Billy Magnussen (Boardwalk Empire) invites gawking and big laughs as exhibitionist "Spike"

Act 1 is so high energy and farcical that Act 2, the aftermath of the party, is naturally a bit less caffeinated. Durang's attempts to wring a bit of pathos out of all the laughter isn't quite as successful and definitely not as focused - Pierce brings the house down with an angry/funny monologue about preferring the past to the present but it didn't always feel like it was from the same play.

But why quibble when you're having this much fun? Tony nominations for all! Please and thanks.

What's the last thing you saw on stage? Do you like Sigourney better in comedies or dramas?

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (17)

I love Sigourney in anything of course but I think her comic gift is wonderful and underused. The play sounds wonderful, what a cast! Glad to see Billy Magnussen seemingly working his way up slowly but surely in good productions. I used to watch him on As the World Turns and he stood out from the crop of beautiful young actors as one of the more talented with a sly comic air.

Haven't seen anything on Broadway in years, Thoroughly Modern Millie with Sutton Foster! yikes so long ago. But I did see a production of An Ideal Husband a couple weeks ago at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. It was somewhat disappointing because the actress playing Mrs. Cheveley was weak but otherwise an okay production.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

. I saw 35 MM, a music-based production inspired by a series of still photographs (musical isn't quite accurate - it's more song cycle/concert than musical). Still humming "Leave Luanne" and grabbed the cast recording from iTunes the next day.

I haven't liked Durang for years, if ever. Wonder if this will change my mind (reading it, anyway. Doubt I'll get to see a production)

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Kristine Nielsen manages to steal the show, not an easy feat with this cast.
Her second act phone monologue is stellar. Fingers crossed for a Tony nod- and hopefully a win- for Featured Actress.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

Magnussen is supes cute.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik Anderson

I've always preferred her in comedy. Her dramatic work always seems a little too reverential and careful (Ice Storm was her best dramatic work imo). Working Girl was inspired and she was wonderful in Galaxy Quest.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Siggy Weaves is my all time favorite, comedy, drama, she can do no wrong:) I caught this in December, my fourth time seeing her Off Broadway, and I am so thrilled this moved to Broadway---I'm happy you liked it.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Bell

So there's a chance she'll get the Tony...?

Wasn't there a period that she was the only person to have EGOT nominations but no wins (I understand she's credited for the Grammy win with a Jon Stewart spoken album now?!)?

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrichie

I love me some Sigourney Weaver, she was the only thing bearable in Baby Mama and I say this as a massive Tina/Amy fan :-)

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrami (ramification)

Sounds like a great play!
I'm going to see Helen Mirren on stage in 'The Audience' here in London tonight. Much looking forward to that!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenji

Loved the entire night at the theater. Kristine Nielsen and Billy Magnussen were highlights, with Shalita Grant as Cassandra coming close. As much as I love film, there is something magical about watching an ensemble of great actors perform a good play. Sigourney looks fantastic at 63 and watching her move and bend around the stage, she could still kick an alien's ass. The ticket booth guy rewarded us with house seats at the corner of the stage so I took in all of Magnussen's cavorting. Quite a "Magic Mike" show that I didn't mind one bit!

Also saw Will Chase in Mystery of Edwin Drood. So glad he gave up the Smash gig for it. way more entertaining. It was also nice to see Broadway legend, Chita Rivera, who can still light up a stage at 80!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

So much actressing up on Broadway this season! The next Tony for Best Actress wil be tough with so many contenders...Weaver, Bette Midler, Laurie Metcalf. Amy Morton, Holland Taylor, Fiona Shaw, etc.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Please someone give her a diane keaton role.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Sigourney is a fantastic actress and so much underrated. She is great in drama roles (Snow Cake, A Map of the World, Imaginary Heroes, A Map of the World, The Ice Storm, Death and the Maiden) and so funny in comedies (Galaxy Quest, Heartbreakers, Dave, The TV set, Crazy on the Outside).
I hope to get on the plane from Europe to NYC and see her on stage.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMax Krause

What would Ghostbusters be without Sigourney's grace and wit? And what is her secret? The woman doesn't age.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

DJDeeJay, don't forget Cicely Tyson! I'm thrilled that there are so many plum roles for women on Broadway this season. Hollywood, take note!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

Richie-she was for a while, though she has a Grammy now (of all four, what an odd one to have). The only person who currently (and, sadly, will always) has nominations for all four without ever winning one is Lynn Redgrave.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

I'm going to see this show and feel so excited. I'm also going back to Europe really soon. Do you think there is any chance to meet Sigourney Weaver and get an autograph?

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina K

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>