I saw some wonderful shows last year, which I meant to recap in December, but life got in the way. Better late than never and before spring hits, indulge me as I revisit 2015 in theatre, dance, and music in my next few blog posts.
2015 started off with a quick trip to New York to see Sting's The Last Ship on January 10th. (I wrote about The Last Ship in last year's theatre round-up.) The Last Ship didn't last long on Broadway, and while Sting was nominated for a Tony for his amazing score, he didn't win it, and I'm still baffled by it all. The Last Ship was my favorite show of 2014, and I felt lucky to have seen it twice, even if the second time was in the middle of a New York winter. Here's a rundown of the other shows I saw in 2015.
Choir Boy, Studio Theatre, Washington, D.C. (February 28, 2015)
I bought a ticket to this play solely based on its writer, Tarell Alvin McCraney. I had seen his trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays: The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet, years before, and they made a lasting impression on me. Now, I can add this one to that list. Choir Boy depicts life in all-Black boys boarding school as seem through some of its choir members. At a year-end ceremony, Pharus (Jelani Alladin) is prepared to be named the lead for the school's popular gospel choir. When publicly humiliated at the event, his lifestyle and confidence are shaken, and the incident ripples through the school, affecting everyone from his friends to the headmaster. Tarell Alvin McCraney's plays are always refreshing and surprising. I love his modern take on age-old issues and how music is always an integral part of the tapestry – making his stories relatable and educational for everyone.
Blithe Spirit, National Theatre, Washington, D.C. (March 29, 2015)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York, New York (April 5, 2015)
The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Theater J, Washington, D.C. (June 11, 2015)
When I was invited to see this play, I didn't know anything about it, but I recognized the title. It was a night of surprises, since my friend and I saw it in Theater J, a local theatre that I didn't know existed. The Tale of the Allergist's Wife is a witty play that offers a look at the upper class in the New York's Upper West Side. Marjorie Taub (Susan Rome), a well-off doctor's wife, spends her days attending cultural events in an effort to become a better, more interesting person, but struggles with the idea that she may never become that. After a recent public outburst, Marjorie retreats to her apartment to deal with her midlife crisis, which is interrupted by the reappearance of her childhood friend Lee (Lise Bruneau). Lee, a seemingly sophisticated world traveler, lifts Marjorie's spirits but disrupts her life. The Tale of the Allergist's Wife premiered in 2000, and for this production, playwright Charles Busch updated references in the story to keep it modern. The result was a clever, funny whirlwind of a show about colorful characters vividly portrayed by a great cast.
Once, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., (August 6, 2015)
Once at the Kennedy Center, I didn't feel excited about it. The story involves an Irish vacuum cleaner repair man (Stuart Ward) who spends his spare time writing and singing songs on his guitar. After a chance meeting, he is encouraged by a young Czech woman named Ivanka (Dani de Waal) to pursue his music. As his confidence grows, so does their unique love for each other, until they must face a turning point in his budding music career. Once is an intimate, touching story. Since it lacks much excitement, I was surprised that it won eight Tony awards for its Broadway production a few years back. (At the Kennedy Center, my friend and I thought it might be better experienced in a smaller venue or viewed from closer seats than the balcony.) I'm sure that the moving, crowd-pleasing music written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova had something to do with it. Even as we made it to our seats, audience members were joining the cast on stage, where they had begun playing Irish tunes in the bar setting. Once is a lovely production that is faithful to the film and leaves you inspired and humming its songs all the way home. Here's information about Once, the musical, on tour.
Oliver, Arena Stage, Washington, D.C., November 8, 2015
Bright Star, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., December 10, 2015
With 2016 well underway, you can still catch some of these inspiring shows. Keep an eye out for them and treat yourself to a trip to the theatre.