Thursday, March 28, 2013

Theater Review: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

David Hyde Pierce, Sigourney Weaver, Kristine Nielsen, and Billy Magnussen. Photo: Carol Rosegg
By Lauren Yarger
Christopher Durang's comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike makes an easy transfer from Off-Broadway to the Great White Way's Golden Theatre, where it is one of the hottest selling tickets on Broadway.

Starring Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce and Kristine Nielsen, among others, the comedy tells the story of three very different siblings in their home in Bucks County, PA, where throwing coffee cups at the wall and channelling Maggie Smith (Nielsen is a hoot) are not considered strange.

This is a very funny tongue-in-cheek send up of some of Chekhov's themes (the siblings, Vanya, Sonya and Masha all have been named after the playwright's characters), but doesn't waste time trying to parody the classics. Nicholas Martin directs a fabulous ensemble cast that only seems to have solidified since their run at Lincoln Center (particularly, Shalita Grant and Billy Magnussen seem to have come into their own as the zany, Voodoo practicing housekeeper and Masha's much-younger, self absorbed, sex-crazed boyfriend respectively). The smaller Golden Theatre helps keep the show's intimacy intact (but the line for the small women's bathroom is poorly managed. Don't plan on getting through before the curtain goes up).

Soliloquies by Pierce about his frustration over change and the lack of shared memories in society ( a real tour de force) and Nielsen as Sonia, trying to overcome a poor self image and believe that a man might be interested in her, are not to be missed.

Because I just reviewed the Off-Broadway version, I won't repeat the review, but you can read it by clicing here. The only addition is to add a disclaimer: my friend Pat Flicker Addiss turns out to be one of the producers. She knows that my reviews aren't influenced by the fact that I like her, but you should know it too.

Extended through July 28. For tickets and information visit: http://www.playbill.com/events/event_detail/25262-Vanya-and-Sonia-and-Masha-and-Spike-at-John-Golden-Theatre.

To read the review, visit: http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/2012/12/quick-hit-theater-review-vanya-and.html.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Homosexuality
-- Sexual actions
-- Voodoo

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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