Tuesday, June 26, 2018

ABT 2018 - Don Quixote

Last night was my regular subscription night to ABT - I've had to exchange most of my tickets this year because of either work or trips home.  Monday is usually the night I like to go, since it's the first night of any particular ballet.  And although Don Quixote is not my most favorite ballet in the world, I had a lovely time last night.

As I've said before, the plot to Don Quixote is just plain silly and there's maybe only a half hour's worth of story, if that, but then there's two+ hours worth of lovely dancing.  The dream sequence alone is worth the price of admission.  I see this ballet every few years, but it's usually not on my regular rotation, due to lack of story - though I did see it last year.  Last year was the performance where the lead gent got injured during the wedding pas de deux and he had to be replaced by a dancer playing another character (you can remind yourself of my thoughts on that performance HERE).  I remembered a bit of choreography from that performance caused a bit of trouble - I'll have to remind you later of when I remembered that...

Two of my favorite performers danced the lead roles last night, Isabella Boylston and Daniil Simkin.  I was a tad disappointed when a little slip of paper fell out of my program and I saw that Devon Teuscher would not be dancing as Mercedes, but then I was happy again when I saw that Stella Abrera would be taking her place.  You all know I love Stella!  I was also happy to see that Calvin Royal would be dancing Espada, the matador.  I enjoy him so much and I'm always glad to see him dance new roles (well, at least new to me, I've never seen him in Don Q before).  Oh, and my ABT MVP, Roman Zhurbin, was also performing, again as Don Quixote himself.  Zhurbin is such a fine actor, he will have a wonderful career post-dancing, I think.  He found so many touching moments in an often-silly mime role.  Again, the dream sequence was just sublime, and he helped elevate it immensely.

from Pinterest
Boylston and Simkin are a delightful pair, very light-hearted and winning, with huge dancing and a great sense of fun.  They are both quick and precise, with big jumps and amazing tricks.  They both stayed in elevations long past what I'm used to and their essential sweetness as dancers shone through.  Their wedding pas de deux was simply spectacular and just kept getting better and better throughout.  They did have some trouble with a couple of lifts - the first one in the first scene was dicey (she never made it all the way to the correct position), though when they repeated it, Simkin made a point of landing it and then doing it one-handed.  He tipped with her a bit precariously in a second act lift, and then when they came out for the third act wedding pas de deux, all of a sudden I remembered last year's issue and thought, "please, god, let them skip the one-handed-press lift, please!!"  I don't think it's a good sign when you want the dancers to skip a piece of choreography, but I was really afraid something would go wrong.  They replaced that lift with something else and I (and probably everyone else) breathed a sigh of relief.

As I said earlier, the dream sequence was truly a dream.  Sparkling Skylar Brandt was again at her sparkling best as Amour and young Katherine Williams made her debut as the Queen of the Dryads.  She was terrific with spectacular fouettes.  I wasn't quite so fond of Isabella's arms throughout her solo, but she handled the tremendously difficult footwork well.  Oh, and in old reviews of Don Quixote, I generally make mention of the gypsy costumes in act two (you'll see I criticize them HERE).  Well, in the good news/bad news department, I can happily say that the costumes and wigs have been replaced.  Bad news:  they're worse.  Now the ugly Van Halen wigs are fuller and more brightly colored, and the macrame crop tops have been replaced by (I think) tie-dye tshirts.  And the velvet pants?  Yuck.  Seriously.  Yuck.  I took a look with my binoculars because I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing - I'm hoping it was just my eyesight playing tricks on me...

All in all, though, I enjoyed myself immensely.  Everyone seemed to be having fun on stage and there was some terrifically difficult choreography being thrown around as if they were the easiest steps in the world.  I really like Boylston and Simkin more and more, each time I see them dance.  I love their approach to filling in their characterizations more each time they dance and I just love their wonderful technique (of course, Boylston gave me the iconic leap I was looking for [though not in the photo at right, sorry]).  The wobbles and quibbles didn't detract from the performance for me at all.  They're dancing together again later in the run; I suggest you check them out.  

Seat neighbor-wise, it was an interesting night.  I was in the midst of a group, mainly behind me, filled with children.  I'm so happy that parents bring their kids to the ballet, honest, I am, BUT.  For the love of all that's holy, teach them NOT TO KICK THE SEAT IN FRONT OF THEM.  The entire first act consisted of my being pummeled by restless feet, which I think were encased in concrete boots.  You all know me, I'm non-confrontational, but I absolutely had to say something.  The whole first intermission was ruined for me, because I was upset I had to be negative at someone.  But I stood up, turned around, smiled, and politely asked the mother to keep the child from kicking my seat.  I didn't want to give the child a negative impression of being at the ballet.  The mom smiled back and said "ok."  Thankfully, the kicking stopped.  But the talking started.  I don't know if they were talking about not kicking my seat, but at least I wasn't sitting in a vibrating seat.  I can drown out talking, but not kicking.  Oh, and my left-side-seat-neighbor thanked me after I said something.  I said I hate to yell at a kid, but enough was enough, and she said she was getting ready to get the house manager.  I probably saved an international incident.

Though I was ready to start one myself with the guy two rows in front of me who gave a standing ovation to EVERY PAS DE DEUX.  Not at curtain call, but during the ballet.  People behind him kept yelling "sit down!", but he didn't care.  Ugh...people.  Oh, and the women to my right were seriously in love with Daniil Simkin.  Every time he did something grand (which was often), one would whisper "jesus."  Then they both would giggle and clap and yell bravo.  They were of a mature age, so it was kinda cute.  Though I hope I never become the subject of someone else's seat neighbor's report...

Only one ballet to go for the season!  I can hardly believe it's almost over!  I was worried, at first, that I wouldn't enjoy myself this summer because of all the backstage turmoil, but I'm happy to report that once the lights dim and those beautiful chandeliers rise to the ceiling, all is happy in my ballet world.  

Monday, June 25, 2018

ABT 2018 - Swan Lake

I was home briefly last week for another celebration of my sweetheart's high school graduation (some photos are below) - this time, it was his party, along with a birthday party for my sister.  She and I also took a paella cooking class while I was there, which was great.  There were only four of us in the class, so we did have a lot of personal attention - I had no idea I was holding a chef's knife incorrectly!  And I finally learned how to supreme an orange!  So...very worthwhile and fun.  My mom and I did some shopping, we watched some tennis, and had some laughs; it was great.  All in all, I had a terrific time (oh, and my sweetheart DID hold up his end of the bargain and saw The Incredibles 2 with me!  His review?  "It was better than mediocre."  Sigh.  I loved it.  We went on Father's Day, then went out to eat where he said he had the best steak dinner of his life. Ok) and I'm sad I won't see them again until Christmas.  Though we did get two unexpected extra days together, thanks to American Airlines.  There was some sort of regional/commuter airline computer kerfuffle, so my flight kept getting delayed and/or canceled.  It was nice to spend extra time with the family, but boy, travel delays are exhausting.  For me and my family - they kept having to come get me at the airport!  Because of the nonsense, I missed out on The Iceman Cometh (I had to give away my TDF ticket), and I almost missed my ABT ticket for Swan Lake.  But I guess they knew they'd better get me back for that or there might be hell to pay...

photo credit: Gene Schiavone
You all know I do love me some Swan Lake, though after my gold standard performance in 2013, I'm always a little wary.  Here are some thoughts on previous visits to the lake:  2013 and 2015.  I was happy to see one of the new principals take on Odette/Odile, Devon Teuscher.  I thought she was terrific.  She was very elegant and moving as Odette, with beautiful arms and deliciously romantic poses.  She did lack the amazing swan arms that I've loved on other dancers, but this is only the second or third time she's done the ballet, so there's room for growth.  Her Black Swan/Odile was fantastic!  So glitteringly evil, she didn't even look like the same woman!  And her fouettes were downright fantastic!  She traveled a bit, but that's ok.  And the speed and fire of her dancing finally woke up her prince Siegfried, Cory Stearns.

photo credit: Gene Schiavone
I went back and looked at old reviews of Cory - I generally describe him as 'stalwart.'  A very pleasant and handsome dancer and a strong partner.  A couple of years ago, I saw him as Siegfried (see link above) and thought he had made giant leaps (ha! leaps!) in the acting department, but he seems to have regressed.  The scuttle is that he and Devon are a couple offstage, as well, so perhaps he was holding himself back to let her shine more?  I don't know; all I do know is that he was fine, not bad, but nothing special and so I didn't really feel anything throughout.  Though I will say that he was electric after the Black Swan pas de deux until the end - his frantic dancing with Odette because he's sentenced her to death was quite well done, and his death leap was very exciting.  I just wish he had done some of the exciting dancing/acting earlier in the evening.

My ABT MVP, Roman Zhurbin, was again the lizard form of Rothbart, and again, he was terrific.  I just can't believe how he finds new layers and new pieces of business, all while wearing a huge rubber lizard suit.  Thomas Forster was Purple Rothbart and he was outstanding!  I always enjoy him and boy, was he seductive in the ballroom.  His arabesque may not have been as high and secure as Marcelo Gomes' (he's always the gold standard, as far as I'm concerned), but other than that, he was fantastic.  The pas de trois in the first act was done excellently by Blaine Hoven, Catherine Hurlin, and Katherine Williams.  I am going to keep my eyes on those two ladies - they were effervescent.  The four baby swans were lovely in the second act, along with the swan soloists.  Oh, and I was so impressed with Duncan Lyle and Jose Sebastian in the Spanish Dance.  They were fabulous.

I'm always happy to see dancers take on new roles and I look forward to watching Teuscher develop as a principal dancer.  Maybe her new roles will inspire Cory to take some risks, too.  Only two more ballets in my season - I need to make them last!

Friday, June 15, 2018

ABT 2018 - Romeo and Juliet

My ballet season has been strange - it seems like my tickets are so far apart!  Though, part of the fault is mine.  I never found the time to blog about my trip to La Bayadere, which I enjoyed, I just never wrote about it; and I never made it to Harlequinade, unfortunately.  I had a work event and I just completely forgot to go.  I hope hope hope it comes back next year, it got great reviews and I love to keep up with what Alexei Ratmansky is up to!

I got back into the ABT swing of things last night, though - I got to see the sublime Stella Abrera in Romeo and Juliet.  You'll remember that I adore this ballet (take a look at some reminders HEREHERE, and HERE) and last night was no exception. Well, there were a few exceptions, which I'll mention later.  First, I should say that I still haven't gotten my "don't talk to me" sign repaired, because as soon as I sat down, the gent next to me asked me if I go to the ballet often, had I seen Harlequinade, and on and on.  He seemed quite nice, but I was perplexed about why he wanted to talk to me instead of his date.  Ah well.  I'm going to have to work on my subtext placard before my next outing...

photo credit: John Grigaitis
Moving on.  I was thrilled to be able to see Stella's NYC debut as Juliet.  She was absolutely stunning.  Her dancing is always so silky and lovely, but she was just gorgeous in her acting, as well.  You know I am partial to a good storyteller.  I used my binoculars quite a bit and her work was so specific and real.  I really thought she was wonderful and had tears in my eyes throughout the evening, knowing how much it also meant to her to be dancing the role (if you have a subscription to the NY Times, check out this article about Stella: NY Times article).  Her story is inspiring.  She was especially glorious in the last third of the ballet - from the bedroom pas de deux on, her performance was simply electric, and the scene in the crypt was incredible.

Like the last time I saw this ballet, I found James Whiteside to be underwhelming as Romeo.  He is a strong dancer and attentive partner, but he is rather inert and lacking an 'it' factor when acting.  So that did put a damper on things.  I loved Arron Scott and Luis Ribagorda as Mercutio and Benvolio; their rapport (and their dancing) was clear, but Whiteside was blank.  His dancing, at least at the beginning, also seemed sloppy to me.  Perhaps he was just overexcited - it's obvious he has great affection for Stella, their curtain call was lovely.  If he could get that sort of emotion into his dancing, it would help things a lot.  I thought Thomas Forster was terrific as Paris, very moving and eager.  Even though he doesn't do a lot of dancing, he still registered very strongly.  I also loved Alexandre Hammoudi as Tybalt.  I've seen him play Romeo and Paris before, but I thought this was his strongest performance yet.  I really think he's been studying fencing, because his sword work was miles above everyone else's and he was very forceful in his acting as well.  I really knew this Tybalt and greatly enjoyed his interpretation.  I also really appreciated Alexei Agoudine as Juliet's father, he was quite evil and his performance worked well.

The corps de ballet was a tad ragged last night, especially during the mandolin dance.  That was actually a hot mess, between the out-of-sync dancers and the completely terrible solo performers in the orchestra.  It was kind of shocking how bad it sounded.  The harlots were very good, though one had on so much white makeup, she looked like a kabuki performer, which was odd.  I thought the dancer playing Rosaline was very fine, though I still can't understand why her costume can't be a little more distinctive.  She did a good job making herself (and her character) be seen, though.  There was one gent in the ensemble who was a tad too contemporary in his gestures, but other than that, it seems like the whole company took their storytelling duties to heart and presented a very nice Romeo and Juliet.  If only the Romeo had been up to the superior level of Juliet, the evening could've been even more sublime.  I just hope Stella gets the chance to shine in this role again someday soon...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review - The Great Leap

As you all well know, I have my favorite writers - I helped administer a young writers' group for years and I have a huge fondness for the group's alums.  I enjoy them as people, think of them as friends, and I try to see their work whenever I can, since I believe in them and their talent.  It's always a happy day for me when I can pick up a ticket to one of the alum's plays; last night, I treated myself to Lauren Yee's new play at the Atlantic Theater's smaller second stage, The Great Leap.

I saw another of Lauren's recent plays when I was in Los Angeles last year (you can remind yourself of my thoughts on that play HERE) - I'm thrilled she's getting noticed nationwide and her plays are being performed at many theaters right now.  It's very exciting; I think she has a very unique voice, strong style and a huge future.  And, to cut to the chase, I thought The Great Leap was utterly wonderful and you should all go see it.

The Great Leap takes place in two time periods, and we go back and forth a bit between the two: 1971 Beijing and 1989 San Francisco.  In 1971, an American basketball coach went to China to teach them about the sport and there is a soft promise of a return for a rematch.  The scenes in 1989 deal with the coach taking his college team to Beijing.  But there is so much more to The Great Leap - it uses basketball as a metaphor for international relations, generational struggles, personal commitment, a need to discover identity and beyond.  I am so glad I didn't read the reviews before I saw the play, because I was extremely moved and devastated by the plot and characterizations; it was a pleasure to see the craft with which Lauren unfolds this story.  

photo credit: Ahron R. Foster
I don't want to ruin the sense of surprise for anyone, so I'll just say that I loved The Great Leap without going into too much plot detail - it was fast and funny throughout, with just delicious dialogue, yet it was also so moving and heart-wrenching as all of the threads of the story began to come together.  The company of four actors was superb, most especially BD Wong, who simply broke my heart as Wen Chang, the Chinese basketball coach.  I always love Wong's work, but here he exceeded even my lofty expectations.  There were so many layers to this quiet, thoughtful man who feels he has to hide so much, and his final monologue was shattering.  I don't think I'll ever forget the final image of this play - maybe other people expected this ending, but I didn't and I was overwhelmingly moved.  But, really, all four actors were first-rate: the other actors are Ned Eisenberg, Tony Aidan Vo, and Ali Ahn.  They all constructed their characterizations beautifully and complemented each other wonderfully well.  Even with Wong's amazing performance, this was truly an ensemble.

The play is loosely based on Lauren's father's experiences as a basketball player in San Francisco's Chinatown, and I love how she used the personal story as a jumping off point, alongside the historical facts of what was happening in China to tell this story and make it even more compelling.  I really loved The Great Leap as a wonderful theatrical experience, regardless of knowing the playwright, but my personal pride in her added immensely to my pleasure.

Seat-neighbor-wise:  I obviously need to work on my "don't talk to me" face, because last night, and Monday night at the Cherry Lane, my seat neighbors immediately struck up a conversation with me, asking me did I come to that theater often and what have I seen lately that I recommend.  I mean, I guess it's a compliment, and I should be flattered that I look like a reliable source, but I generally go to the theater to find my happy quiet space.  So, hm.  Maybe if I ever see my therapist again (she's stopped returning my emails, which is almost causing me to go to another therapist to talk about my therapist's rejecting me), I should talk to her about this...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Preview Thoughts on First Love

Although I have mentioned in the past that I'm not really a devotee of the plays of Charles Mee, when a discount offer appeared for a production of his play First Love at the Cherry Lane Theatre, I pounced.  One, I pounced because I'm a big fan of one of the actors.  Two, I pounced because the idea of this play (or the synopsis provided) was intriguing to me.  Three, I pounced because I feel as if I should try to crack this nut and understand why Mee's plays don't make themselves known to me (check out some of my struggles HERE).  Four, I pounced because it has been suggested that I should stop holding grudges.  SO.  Off I went.  This production is in early previews, and I'll only offer a few thoughts...

I should also mention that this isn't the first production of First Love - it premiered downtown in early September 2001, but quickly closed after 9/11.  I rather wish I had seen that production - it starred Ruth Malaczech and Frederick Neumann (from Mabou Mines, a company for whom I have great fondness).  But this revival features one of my longtime favorite actors, Michael O'Keefe, and Angelina Fiordellisi.  It's nice to see actors of a certain age starring in a love story, even in an off-kilter love story like First Love.  As a single woman of a certain age, I always appreciate seeing a story about the bravery needed to take that first step towards love.

photo credit: Monique Carboni
In the printed script, which you can see on Mee's website, he mentions that the play takes place 'in a world of Magritte,' and you can see that world in the set design, the costumes, and even the persona of the third performer in the play.  There was a blue sky, a juxtaposition between reality and fantasy, an acknowledgement that what you see might NOT be what you see, a bowler hat, a pipe, and other references to Magritte throughout.  So it definitely put me in the right frame of mind for the heightened reality of the play.  Often I wondered, did that really happen?  Was it imaginary?  What's real and what isn't?  And, for once in a Mee play, I liked that.  I guess because I find the concept of romantic love so foreign, the fantastical nature of this play worked for me.

I also thought O'Keefe was terrific.  He had a sense of whimsy, and a lightness, alongside a depth of feeling that was quite poignant.  A bit of "I'll reject you before you reject me," which was familiar to me.  He had great chemistry with Fiordellisi, who was also grand.  There was a lot of humor, with huge flights of fancy, plus a lot of sadness in First Love, which seemed just right to me.  And it featured a beautiful rendition of "September Song," one of my favorite pieces of sad/hopeful music.  They're actually in really good shape for such an early preview, so I'm sure once they open, the piece will be really humming.  I think First Love is worth a look and hope that it helps me find my place in Mee's playwriting world... 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review - Paradise Blue

I should maybe auto-post about all of my favorites, like a Mad Libs game, with just blanks to fill in - sometimes it seems as if I'm in a rut, yes?  But I can't help it that my favorite spaces always seem to host my favorite writers!  And so it was that I went to see Dominique Morisseau's new play Paradise Blue at the Signature Theatre...

If you would like to remind yourselves about my feelings about some of Dominique's other plays, here are my thoughts on Skeleton Crew (HERE) and Pipeline (HERE).  I just love the work of hers that I've seen - I find her bold and original and she writes about people I don't know, but by the end of the plays, I know them intimately.  I also love that she writes about Detroit and working class people, the kind of characters we see far too infrequently on stages.

Paradise Blue takes place in Detroit, after WW2, in a neighborhood called Black Bottom.  I didn't know anything about that neighborhood, even though I lived in Detroit during grad school.  I've done a little googling about it and my, what a sad story.  Anyway, Black Bottom had a lot of black-owned businesses in it, mainly jazz clubs.  This play takes place in Paradise, one of the jazz clubs.  The club is also a boarding house, home to most of our characters: two jazz musicians who play in the club, the club owner's girlfriend and then later a mysterious femme fatale from Louisiana.  The club's owner, a brilliant and troubled trumpeter named Blue, is the other character is the play.

photo credit: Joan Marcus
This story could be played out in many cliches, with the troubled musician who is a tortured genius, yet a softie on the inside, who everyone loves because of his genius and innate goodness, and then the women who love him constantly make apologies for him.  But Paradise Blue doesn't do that.  At least, it doesn't do ONLY that.  The center of the story is someone you wouldn't expect and the story unfolds in completely surprising ways.  I loved the use of language and music in the storytelling and got so involved with these characters.  I mean, I don't want to say too much, because I think the unexpectedness is so appealing, but I will say that by the time we got to the final scene, I was just in tears because of all the pain and fear that was running through the characters.

I loved how Pumpkin (the club owner's girlfriend) was always reciting poetry - I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know the Harlem Renaissance poet Georgia Douglas Johnson before, but I'm very interested in her work now.  I loved the relationship that built up between Pumpkin and Silver (the femme fatale who sets a lot of the play's action in motion), and the relationship between Silver and Corn, one of the other jazz musicians in the club.  Actually, I loved all of the relationships between the characters.  They were all very real and interesting.  I'll admit I found Blue a difficult character, or maybe I found the actor playing Blue to be difficult.  I'm not quite sure.  But even with all the extenuating circumstances that are revealed throughout the play, I couldn't quite feel what I think I was supposed to feel for Blue.  That's on me, I guess.  His trumpet playing was expert, however, and I did feel his frustration at finding the 'perfect moment' in his music.

photo credit: Joan Marcus
The physical production is fantastic and I thought the direction was top-notch, too.  As usual, Dominique Morisseau, though her play, has taught me something new and introduced me to people/characters I'm glad to have met.  And, as usual, I can't wait to see what she brings us next.  In case you couldn't tell, I highly recommend you go see Paradise Blue.  Dominique is a true singular talent.  The run has been extended several times, so you should take advantage of that.  I only hope you're not sitting in front of the gal I sat in front of.  She gave a monologue about her dog that lasted the entire half hour I was in my seat before the show started, then continued throughout the entire intermission.  I don't know how her seat neighbor managed to keep quiet during her monologue.  In fact, I almost turned around and asked her if she was going through an audition piece, and not a real stream-of-consciousness outpouring of information about her dog, because my goodness.  It was a lot.  Certainly more than I ever needed to know about her black lab/some-kind-of-terrier mix... :)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review - My Fair Lady

Sorry again for the radio silence.  For some reason, it's getting harder and harder to find time to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper.  I don't know if I'm just too tired, too busy at work, or if my blog lifespan is winding down.  I have a few shows to report on, so I'm a bit behind.  We'll see if I can get reports on them all out into cyberspace - then I will need to find time for some serious reflection...

Anyway, I am grateful I got to spend some time with my family a couple of weekends ago - my sweetheart of a nephew graduated from high school and we had a good time celebrating.  We also had a birthday party/picnic for my aunts and nearly the entire extended family came, plus I spent some quality time with my sweetheart.  We watched movies together on tv (I've seen more superhero movies than I ever need to) and struck a bargain: if I went to see Deadpool 2 with him, he'll go see The Incredibles 2 with me when I'm home next for his graduation party.  It seemed a fair deal to me.  I didn't love Deadpool 2 - it's a little too gory and a little too snarky for my tastes, but I laughed now and then, some of it was clever, and I get a kick out of my sweetheart's love of laughing at my reactions.  So it was win-win.  I'll keep you posted on whether he keeps his end of the bargain.  I'll put a few pictures from my fun trip at the bottom of the post.

When I got back into the office last Wednesday, one of my very terrific Tony voter bosses asked if I'd like to see the matinee of My Fair Lady.  Well, even though I was really tired, I happily accepted!  I was supposed to see the show with someone else, but our schedules got all tangled up and we ended up not going together.  This kind invitation was sort of kismet, don't you think?

photo credit: Sara Krulwich
I've actually never seen My Fair Lady on stage.  At least I don't think I have.  But I was supposed to be in a production a million years ago.  I still remember the director telling me I was the best actress who auditioned, but my singing...left something to be desired.  So I was cast as Mrs. Higgins.  Whatever.  It would've been fun to do the show, but the production was scrapped and I've been hoping to see it every since.  I've seen the film countless times, naturally, but I was eager to see another big revival produced by Lincoln Center and directed by Bartlett Sher.  I enjoyed his productions of South Pacific and The King and I, so I was hopeful for My Fair Lady.

I did enjoy myself, quite a bit.  There's so much to appreciate, not the least of which are those delicious song lyrics.  And the performances, for the most part, are excellent.  But I didn't have quite the rapturous experience that most critics seemed to have and it didn't enchant me the way Sher's other productions did.  I can't quite put my finger on why, though.  Maybe I was just too tired to completely love anything I saw, but after it was over, I was left wanting.  I even felt a bit pandered to, as if I were being appeased or something (the suffragettes just made me mad instead of empowering me).  Maybe it was merely a slow, tired matinee performance.  I just don't know.

The opening of the production seemed a bit leaden, with no air and sparkle anywhere.  It was terrifically sung and nicely paced, but I don't know.  It was just earthbound.  Things did pick up around the last third of the first act, so that was good.  There are fewer songs in the second act, and surprisingly, I had some trouble with the scenework.  After all the discussion made of how this was a production for the #metoo era, I thought that the acting would be tip top and would open my eyes to new aspects of the piece.  No, not so much.  There were some acting quirks that kept me from fully engaging with a lot of character development and, because they seemed to be hammering the acting so hard, I suddenly found some holes in the plot (or at least some questions I had never considered before).

photo credit: Joan Marcus
I was taken aback, however, by the glorious singing by Lauren Ambrose.  Her voice was effortless and lovely and it's hard to believe this is her first Broadway musical.  I enjoy her work, so I was surprised I found a lot of her acting to be overly mannered and strained.  Though her last scene was quite good.  I enjoyed Harry Hadden-Paton very much - he's a younger, more physically vigorous Higgins and I thought he had a nice chemistry with Ambrose.  Allan Corduner is a longtime favorite of mine and he was lovely as Colonel Pickering.  Jordan Donica was wonderful as Freddy, very dreamy and sweet, and Diana Rigg was luxury casting as Mrs. Higgins - just tart and delightful.  I normally love Norbert Leo Butz but I felt him trying too hard here (as Alfred P Doolittle).  

I'm in the minority with my quibbles, though.  The audience went into raptures and the reviews are equally giddy.  There was one particular review that made me think, "gee, I wish I had seen what she saw!"  Ultimately, though, I'm glad I saw this production of My Fair Lady - it's of course handsomely presented and the orchestra sounded grand.  And I have to mention Alan Jay Lerner's exquisite lyrics again - just grand.  I figure we won't get another revival for at least twenty years, so...this one will have to do.  I just wish I could put my finger on why I didn't find it as loverly has everyone else seemed to.  Hm.