BWW Blog: To the Mothership - Day Two - GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE, MOTHERS AND SONS and HEDWIG
Day two, my three show day, is behind me Dear Readers and it was an absolutely exhilarating one filled with laughs, tears, and culminating in a stunner of a show. But we'll get to Neil in a minute.
A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER
I started off the day with a sumptuous meal (much needed as I realized I hadn't eaten in 24 hours. Too much theater, no time for food) and then it was off to see some hilariously grisly murders. In "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" Monty Navarro (Bryce Pinkham) has just lost his Mother and found out from her best friend, Miss Shingle (Jane Carr) that he's actually a member of the wealthy and powerful D'Ysquith family owing to the fact that his Mother was a D'Ysquith but was turned out when she married a man her family didn't approve of. Which means Monty is now 9th in line to be the Earl of Highhurst. If only those pesky eight other D'Ysquith's weren't in the way. Monty then proceeds to work his way through the ranks of the D'Ysquith's through one unfortunate circumstance after another which keeps resulting in their death. He's bumping them off one by one. Oh and did I mention all the Lords and Ladies of the D'Ysquith line are all played by Jefferson Mays? What results is a deliciously macabre rousing romp through Victorian society.
Pinkham is completely sympathetic and loveable even though he's picking off his family. Complete with killer pipes and some hysterical sideways glances he runs this show like a well-oiled machine with its engagement never wavering. But it's Mays who turns in a tour de force with his lineup of delusional aristocrats and the genius comedic ways each on meets their maker. Carr is delightful as the meddling instigator of this serial killer. Lisa O'Hare and Lauren Worsham as the two women dueling for Monty's affections couldn't be more fun especially in one brilliantly staged almost face off of the tempestuous love triangle only assuaged by a couple of slamming doors. And I have to mention Joanna Glushak who comes in for a lone scene as the shrewish wife of Lord D'Ysquith and lays down a vicious performance to rival that of George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf".
Yes, murder can be fun and when set to music it becomes even more so. It's goofy, silly, and with Mays as the victim, an all-around a kick in the pants.
For more information on this one, check them out at www.agentlemansguidebroadway.com.
MOTHERS AND SONS
After I got done laughing it was time for some tears and let me tell you they were amply provided by the folks over at "Mothers and Sons" as Terrence McNally deftly explores the shifting attitudes of family and the raw nerves exposed from loss. Cal (Frederick Weller) has everything he could have dreamed of and more. A doting husband (yes, husband now that it's legal) and a precocious son. But he's soon reminded of a previous wonderful life he had with his late lover Andre as Andre's Mother Katharine (Tyne Daly) shows up unexpectedly and opens up some old wounds. It's an exorcism of emotions as Katharine confronts Cal on issues such as who made her son gay and more importantly who gave him the disease that took him away from her.
Daly is nothing short of sublime as she coldly awakens sleeping ghosts and delivers a scintillatingly honest and raw portrayal of a Mother searching for her place in a world without any family. Weller matches Daly's intensity with some beautifully tragic moments. And Bobby Steggert is adorably stalwart as Cal's Husband who is not about to let anyone intrude upon the life he has built.
Yeah, it's a tear jerker. But from the genius that is McNally the tears and emotion never feel forced or contrived. A total winner.
For more info on this one you can check them out at www.mothersandsonsbroadway.com.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
OK, it's time for the one you've all been waiting for. Or at least it was the one I was waiting for and the impetus for my trip to the Mothership. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris. That just screams "gift from the theater Gods". And a gift it was as Harris transforms into androgynous punk rocker Hedwig as she reveals through her concert the story of her life, loves and eventual betrayal from nearby mega-star Tommy Gnosis.
Harris is, to put it simply, a consummate showman as he completely owned the stage from the moment he set foot on it. And as energetic, hilarious and at times touching as the performance was, what struck me about it is that he never looked as though he was trying to convey any of it. It's a very real and in the moment portrayal which makes it all the more powerful. From his ease and banter with the audience you'd think the show was all improv but I've seen enough productions of the show to know that this is all in the script and Harris is just that good.
And as good as he was, the band, not to mention, Lena Hall as Hedwig's whipping boy and husband Yitzhak, are right there with their own power and presence. Not matching Harris' intensity and engagement but sharing in it. And Hall's transformation within the show speaks volumes although she barely speaks at all. That is until she gets her own number and melts everyone's face off with an insanely clear and gorgeous voice. I'll admit I went to see Harris but ended up with so much more thanks to Hall's performance.
The show is already a winner. It has been since John Cameron Mitchell gifted musical theater with it back in 1998. It's the complete package of brilliant storytelling mixed with musical theater wrapped up in a broken down glam rocker. But adding into that the performances of Harris and Hall makes this one of the most incredible theatrical experiences.
For more info on this one, visit www.hedwigbroadway.com.
So there you have it. My marathon day which took me though a roller coaster of emotions. I'll be back tomorrow with more as I'm off to see a Jazz legend as well as a one man shopping spree.