I'm down and out with another cold, but I thought I better muster some energy to get out my 2016 reviews before springtime. In my next few posts, I'll share my memories about some of the best of last year's live entertainment.
Let's start at the theatre! I tend to forget how much I love going to the theatre until I'm there, and then I'm addicted, as you can tell by the length of this post.
New to me, the 10-year-old Constellation Theatre Company put on this great show with imaginative direction, sets, choreography, and musical arrangements. Like Matilda and Kinky Boots, this cast offered some exaggerated and memorable performances. Voted Best Theatre Company in 2016 by City Paper and The Washington Post, I look forward to seeing more shows here.
Signature Theatre. My dad bought these tickets but then couldn't attend, so my friend and I were stuck with perfect seats for this musical biography of 1920s jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton. A pioneer of Ragtime music and the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton had a healthy ego, but his fantastic music made up for his exaggerated claims. With a wonderful cast, Signature Theatre's revival of this Tony-winning musical is an immersive experience with seating arranged with tables for a night club setting and some performers, at times, dancing right next to us. As with Shuffle Along, we left the theatre wanting to hear more music and learn more about the fascinating historical figures who created it.
The Object Lesson, created and performed by Geoff Sobelle, offered some much-needed comic relief. Set in a warehouse full of boxes and furniture, audience members were invited to sit on any available couch, chair, or box that allowed for it. This one-man show is a combination of storytelling and stand-up, as Geoff Sobelle discusses his relationship with things and how they affect his relationships with people. Reenacting scenes from life or speaking directly to the audience, he uses inventive techniques to revisit some of life's key moments, including starting out in college, beginning and ending personal relationships, building a career and family, and dealing with old age.
All of these performances provided unique experiences, one of the hallmarks of live theatre. You never know what you're going to get, but it can be exhilarating and unforgettable.
Treat yourself to some tickets and see for yourself. I'll probably see you there!
Image copyright credits: Matilda the Musical: Joan Marcus; Kinky Boots: Matthew Murphy; Urinetown: Daniel Schwartz; Shuffle Along: Julieta Cervantes; Jelly's Last Jam: Margot Schulman; Constellations: Igor Dmitry; Moment and The Object Lesson: Allie Dearie