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Entries in Stage Door (46)

Wednesday
Jul122017

Stage Door: An Ode to S. Epatha Merkerson 

Editor's Note: I've been away at the National Critics Institute in CT but will be back in a few days to regular blogging right here at The Film Experience. In the meantime please enjoy this review of one of the shows I saw in my absence, starring two of television's best actresses. The Roommate is playing through July 16th at the Williamstown Theater Festival and you should expect a transfer to NYC stages. - Nathaniel R

S. Epatha Merkerson in rehearsals. Photo by Daniel Rader

She wanted to be a spy… or a baker if espionage didn’t work out. It’s tough to square these  interchangeably silly abandoned dreams with timid Iowa retiree Sharon, standing right there in her well-stocked suburban kitchen. Sharon dreamt of being a spy? — Sharon!?!  Her new roommate doesn’t seem trustworthy but is right about at least one thing: Sharon shouldn’t “mummify” herself this early and needs to get out there and live.

I’m speaking like you know Sharon because I do. Sharon is fictional, you see, but the glorious actress S Epatha Merkerson and the playwright Jen Silverman have breathed such life into this rich idiosyncratic character in the new play The Roommate that for two hours I was convinced otherwise...

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Thursday
Jul062017

First Look: Sienna Miller in "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof"

Why is it that Sienna Miller has had quite a successful and diversified stage career, but can't seem to break from the suffering wife roles that have marked her film work? Miller always gives these roles more than they ask of her, so you would think she would be given a role with more narrative heavy lifting. This year, she got to flex a little more muscle in The Lost City of Z (out on DVD next week) within the trope, giving the film its haunting final note.

Miller's next stage role is a similar suffering wife, but of the iconic sort: she will be playing Maggie in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London's West End beginning next week. Miller joins a growing list of actresses like Scarlett Johansson and Anika Noni Rose that have played the role in recent years - this play never seems to go away. Unbroken's Jack O'Connell plays her closeted husband Brick. Take a look at Miller in rehearsals and muse on her career in the comments.

Wednesday
May312017

Stage Door: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

by Dancin' Dan

Broadway has never seen anything quite like Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Oh, pieces of it have been seen before - the modern-meets-traditional costumes were done in Hamilton, ensemble members have been playing their own instruments since at least John Doyle's landmark revival of Sweeney Todd, and actors have been performing in the aisles since time immemorial. But still, it's never been done quite like this.

For one thing, for an adaptation of mammoth Russian novel War and Peace, it's amazingly entertaining.

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Thursday
May182017

Stage Door: "Six Degrees of Separation" Revived

Stage Door bringing you intermittent theater reviews when we manage to get there. Here's Nathaniel R

It's so basic to binge plays during Tony season as opposed to a more sensible and committed once-a-month diet of live theater. Alas, just as the more familiar mainstream obsession of the Oscar circus encourages studios to backload their releases to the last quarter of the year, most of the "big" theater shows open as late as they can for Tony consideration. This makes April and May a madhouse of theater-going for those who care about such things. Because most of the musicals are too expensive, I've been catching up with the plays. We've already covered The Little Foxes (a must see) and the Pulitzer-winning economic tragedy Sweat. So let's talk Six Degrees of Separation nominated for 2 Tonys: Best Revival of a Play and Best Leading Actor (Corey Hawkins).

"Chaos, control. Chaos, control. You like, you like?"

That's Stockard Channing's most sweetly funny line reading (among thousands of exquisite ones) in the 1993 movie adaptation of this stage classic. That was also, roughly, my reaction to the Broadway revival with Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey, and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), taking over the roles Channing, Donald Sutherland, and Will Smith played onscreen...

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Wednesday
May172017

Stage Door: The Pulitzer winning "Sweat"

Stage Door bringing you intermittent theater reviews when we manage to get there. Here's Nathaniel R

Awards have a way of hyping certain creations, especially the modest kind, to a point where disappointment is an obvious risk. The gifted playwright Lynn Nottage is only 52 but Sweat is already her second Pulitzer winner for Drama (the first was for Ruined). This places her in the rather astonishing company of prolific geniuses Tennessee Williams and August Wilson, and just one prize away from Edward Albee (!) and marks her as the most awarded living playwright and the most awarded female playwright, living or dead. As a result I spent the first act of Sweat wondering what the fuss was about. The Fuss does not identify itself in the second act but by then you can meet the play halfway with its likeable flawed characters and appreciate Nottage's earnest thematic thrust as the play mourns the loss of intersectional solidarity, without clumsily naming it as such...

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Tuesday
May092017

Stage Door: "The Little Foxes" doubles The Lovely Laura Linney

Nathaniel R on one of the season's biggest Tony nominees and the most important for Actressexuals

Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes first debuted on the New York stage in 1939 with instantly classic characters, most notably the spiteful Regina Giddens and mousy drunk Birdie Hubbard, who Regina's brother married for her considerable fortune. The show was a hit and immediately scored a classic film version, released in 1941. In the intervening years the show seemed to disappear from the public consciousness a wee bit, despite being revived several times. It didn't help that the awesome 1941 film version was out of print for a long stretch. It's always a treat for fans of actresses since the roles are tailor made for starpower divas...

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