Sherry Cohen's Picks for The Best of 2012
Most Interesting Shakespeare in A Park: The Merchant of Venice. Interesting means that it's different. Curtain Call's Shakespeare on the Green is arguably has of the best settings possible. The vast compound that includes a golf course and two restaurants is home each summer to an Elizabethan style-stage that resembles part of The Globe. Usually, the performers wear period clothing, but for The Merchant of Venice, they wore modern attire and carried smartphones. This might have worked more effectively with a different play, but it was the constant references to Shylock "the Jew" that seemed anachronistic. Yes, people talked that way back then, but these days we're supposed to be politically correct.
Best Movie Based On a Play or Show: Les Miserables. Usually I find myself disappointed after seeing a movie if I liked the play. (Proof comes to mind, even with a formidable cast.) I knew the movie would be even more powerful than the staged production. After all, it's hard to replicate on stage Jean Valjean's carrying Marius through the sewers of Paris. It could be suggested with a film running in the background as if it were a newsreel, but neither of the productions I saw had anything like that. And creating the barricade in the film was more effective as citizens of Paris threw furniture out the windows. Although film critics took a few swipes at the movie, especially at Russell Crowe's singing, I thought the movie was stirring and relevant, because of the seemingly unending Great Recession and the failure of the Occupy Anywhere movement. I was blown away by Hugh Jackson as Jean and Aaron Tveit as Enjolras. No surprise there. Jackman has more than proven himself as a Broadway performer and Tveit was fabulous in Catch Me If You Can and Next to Normal. Jackson subtly and credibly portrayed the tormented but decent hero and Tveit's charisma overshadowed Eddie Redmayne. (What were Cosette and Eponine thinking?)
I know what I'm thinking. There are people who never saw live theatre and they waited all these years to see Les Miz. Maybe this movie will inspire them to make more of an effort to travel, if they must, to see a touring show, or better still, make it to New York or London, or even Connecticut.