Three New Productions, Defined By Place

The Latino life of In the Heights looks rosy; The Seagull's lakeside life looks grim and damp

That happens roughly three minutes out of every 15 in Viacheslav Dolgachev's CSC production. Except for Bill Christ's unrelentingly loud, loutish Shamrayev, everyone onstage has persuasive moments. Dianne Wiest's Arkadina has a great many; Alan Cumming, as her dogged but faithless lover Trigorin, eschews the smarminess that's marred his previous work. Kelli Garner and Ryan O'Nan, as the doomed kids who long to supplant them, nail young love's poetic reality for even longer stretches. Unfortunately, whenever a tidbit of reality's been nailed, Dolgachev apparently gets interferingly directorial: People begin screeching, gesticulating, and dashing across the stage pointlessly like dodgem cars, until Treplev's description of Nina's amateurish, undisciplined acting seems to be the director's stylistic guideline. The play comes through, but in a bruised and battered form that won't win Chekhov many new admirers.


Bodega optimists: Robin De Jesús, Karen Olivo, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in In the Heights
Joan Marcus
Bodega optimists: Robin De Jesús, Karen Olivo, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in In the Heights

Details

In the Heights
By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes
Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 West 46th Street
212-307-4100

The Seagull
By Anton Chekhov, translated by Paul Schmidt
Classic Stage Company
136 East 13th Street
212-352-3101

27 Rue de Fleurus
By Ted Sod and Lisa Koch
Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street
212-868-4444

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27 Rue de Fleurus, a sweet, proficient, ineffectual new musical about a quite different community of kindred spirits, gets its sweetness from a genuine love of its subject, the "marriage" of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Regrettably, it gets its ineffectuality there too, since it loves the immortal artist and her eternally supportive spouse-equivalent chiefly as celebrity icons. It runs through all the gossip, drops all the famous names, pays lip service to the artistic achievement, and never delves deeper. It brought to mind a poet friend's description of another celebrity-Stein show some years back: "A perfectly delightful evening spent with a woman who couldn't possibly have written Three Lives." Frances Hill's staging is neat, though; the music is well handled by John Bell; and the all-female cast sings excellently.

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