VOLUME 3, ISSUE 36 | September 2 – 9, 2004
BOMBAY DREAMS The cartoonish plot follows the exploits of Akaash, an “untouchable” from the slums as he tries to break into the Bollywood film industry. Only by becoming a rich movie star can he buy the land on which his family and friends live. He meets a documentary filmmaker slumming to do research and gets a part on a TV show that he turns into an opportunity to be a movie star. And before you can say “Mickey and Judy,” Akaash becomes India’s biggest star. But we all know that even stars have their trials, and Akaash brings on his own by turning his back on the people who made him. The Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway at 53rd St., 212 239 6200. (C. Byrne)
BUG Tracy Letts’ new play opens with a desolate Agnes, drinking, smoking, and being bored, in a seedy Oklahoma motel room, where the entire story is set. Agnes, whose ex-husband is in jail and whose son is kidnapped, ekes out a living as a bartender. What money she has is spent on cocaine and liquor. Her lesbian friend R.C. comes over one night with Peter, a drifter, who at first is short on words, but winds up staying. Agnes, after all, is lonely. Agnes’ husband, Jerry, is released from jail and shows up. Agnes and Peter become lovers and she discovers that he believes bugs are eating him and are part of a vast government conspiracy to control humans. Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., 212 239 6200. (C. Byrne)
THE FROGS This new Stephen Sondheim, Nathan Lane, Susan Stroman musical at the Vivian Beaumont uses the frog as a metaphor for unthinking passivity and the incapacity for independent thought is just one of the abundant joys in this incisively intelligent, profoundly moving and over-the-top hilarious show. The show is daring, passionate political theater wrapped in the trappings of musical comedy and classic spectacle. From beginning to end, it very nearly overwhelms the audience with its size and energy, brilliantly combining shtick, circus, romance, polemics and lots of lovely girls. Lane significantly expanded Burt Shevelove’s 1974 book, staying true to the essence of the play but adding gags that play to a modern audience and exploit current political themes. What is also retained from the original is an echo of the structure of the Attic drama of Aristophanes, which freely combined slapstick, satire and intellectual argument, leading up to catharsis and resolution. Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, 212 239 6200. Through Oct. 10. (C. Byrne)
FICTION Steve Dietz’s bittersweet and engaging new play “Fiction” is a sophisticated domestic comedy and a heartfelt examination of how the stories we tell shape our realities. It is an intriguingly structured, wryly observed and deliciously mature play. Linda and Michael are fiction writers who have been married for 20 years. Both successful writers, they are also diarists who have kept their journals for years. When Linda is diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer, she asks to read Michael’s journals and in there finds what appears to be an ongoing affair with a woman Michael met at a writers’ colony, Abby, that had gone on during most of their marriage. Linda is forced to examine whether or not the story she believed to be fact has, indeed, been fiction. The dramatic tension arises not from the affair, which may or may not have happened, but from what happens when the stories can’t be made to fit. Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St., 212 719 1300. Through Sep. 12. (C. Byrne)
HERE LIES JENNY Who is Jenny, the title character of “Here Lies Jenny,” the high-concept Kurt Weill revue at the Zipper Theater starring Bebe Neuwirth? Is she Pirate Jenny, the trod-upon chambermaid from Weill’s “Three Penny Opera,” who, long abused by her betters, famously bites back? Perhaps she is the campy character from Weill’s “Saga of Jenny” (with lyrics by Ira Gershwin). If the identity of Jenny ultimately remains opaque, one imagines that’s exactly what was intended by this revue’s creators, who, in addition to Neuwirth, include choreographer Ann Reinking and director Roger Rees. Theatergoers wanting to be seduced into an evening of decadent but ultimately heartwarming cabaret will be disappointed. I’m not one of those people, but still I found “Here Lies Jenny” at times more frustrating than rewarding. World-weary, sharp, vulnerable without being soft—a Weill heroine is one tough cookie, and so is Neuwirth. She doesn’t possess a luminous singing voice, essential for this stripped-back staging. Yet as a singer, Neuwirth is never less than good, but she’s only wonderful when she’s dancing Reinking’s minimal but inventive choreography. The Zipper Theater, 336 W. 37th St. Through Sep. 26. 212 239 6200. (C. Schmidt)
LET’S PUT ON A SHOW Mickey Rooney was in Minneapolis, in a hotel there, with his wife Jan. The two of them have an act, “Let’s Put on a Show”—some songs, some words, some laughs, some memories, with which they’ve been touring the country, preparing to bringing it to the sweet little Irish Repertory Theatre, right here on Manhattan’s West 22nd Street, for a month-long run starting Tuesday, August 10. “Do you remember that line?” the moviegoer asked on the telephone from New York, attempting to communicate some of its personal impact. A growled negative comes over the phone from Minneapolis, followed by, “It’s just a line in a movie.” Does Mickey Rooney ever watch any of his Andy Hardy movies these days? Brusquely: “No, no.” Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 W. 22nd St. Through Sep. 12. 212 727 2737.
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