Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Up and Running: BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON/SpeakEasy, and THE CHOSEN/Lyric Stage

I've fallen behind in covering shows ... as the previous post will detail, I've been "otherwise engaged" but still dashing around town to see everything I possibly can.  Keep inviting me: I'll keep trying to get there.
So, here are a few current offerings ...

With perfect timing, SpeakEasy once again produces a knockout production of a recent New York hit that skewers the American political system by looking back, anachronistically and irreverently at the life of Andrew Jackson.  The cast (including the triumphant return of Mary Callanan, the Boston singer/actress who just toured the country with the ABBA musical MAMA MIA) sells this show with the energy and talent of a company twice their number.  As an antidote to the constant campaigning of an election year, the show gave me a cathartic opportunity to LOL, often, and often ROFL (though I thankfully did not actually get onto the floor).
The "emo" rock score is performed by a small kickass band and complimented by cast members occasionally strumming, blowing a horn, on banging on percussion props and instruments, often giving it a down home feel, while the genocide of Native Americans under Jackson's administration creates a solid and disturbing backdrop, and the history is told with the anachronistic and anarchic energy of a pulpy graphic novel.

The Lyric Stage follows up last season's highly successful dramatization of Chaim Potok's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV with an adaptation of Potok's THE CHOSEN.  The 1999 script, which, unlike ASHER LEV, Potok worked on before his death in 2002, focuses on the main relationships of the novel, with five actors seamlessly presenting the memory play: Charles Linshaw as the adult Reuvan Malter, Zach Eisenstadt as the young Reuben, Luke Murtha as his friend Danny Saunders, and Joel Kolodner as Saunders's father, a revered Rabbi, and Will McGarrahan as Reuvan's Father.  Directed by Daniel Gidron, the production lovingly creates the moods and the tensions within the relationship of the childhood friends and their fathers. 

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