Monday, April 27, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: The Heidi Chronicles

Elisabeth Moss. Photo: Joan Marcus
The Heidi Chronicles
By Wendy Wasserstein
Directed by Pam MacKinnon
The Music Box Theatre
Through May 3, 2015

What's It All About?
A journey with Heidi Holland ("Mad Men's" Elisabeth Moss) and the women's rights movement from the 1960s through the 1980s She enters a career as an art historian and shares the ups and downs of her life with gay best friend, dentist Peter Patrone (Bryce Pinkham), and Scoop Rosenbaum (Jason Biggs), a magazine editor who manipulates her through a sexual relationship and longtime, tense friendship, though he marries another woman Lisa (Leighton Bryan). The journey through the years also is shared with a number of friends and acquaintances (played by Bryan, Tracee Chimo, Elise Kibler,  Ali Ahn and Andy Truschinski ) and is marked by a sense of betrayal that the women's movement didn't deliver on its promises.

"On a scale from one to 10, if you aim for six and get six, everything will work out nicely," scoop tells Heidi prophetically. "But if you aim for 10 in all things, and get six, you're going to be very disappointed. And unfortunately that's why you quality time girls are going to be one generation of disappointed women. Interesting, exemplary, even sexy, but basically unhappy."

Heidi finally decides she can be a mother on her own and adopts.

What are the Highlights?
Many women are excited to see this play again. When it first was produced in the late 1980s, it touched a chord with many of them as they recognized themselves in Heidi, It won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize.

Moss is a good actress and gives Heidi a range of emotion and growth. She will be honored with a caricature at Sardi's tomorrow at an unveiling ceremony.

What are the Lowlights?
I was surprised at how much I didn't relate, even though I had enjoyed reading the play years ago. I came a bit behind Heidi in in the time period, but experienced many of the same moments with regards to the women's movement (while some progress has been made, there are still some things that haven't improved in my lifetime and the women's movement seems almost dead to me).  I found most of the characters unlikable. The action seemed to drag at two hours and 35 minutes.

More information:
The design team includes scenic design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Jessica Pabst, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Jill BC Du Boff, projection design by Peter Nigrini, and hair and make-up design by Leah J. Loukas. 

Performances are Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $59 - $139: theheidichroniclesonbroadway.com.

The Heidi Chronicles ends its run at the Music Box Theatre, 239 west 45th St., NYC on May 3.

Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Homosexuality
-- Language
-- Nudity in a projection
-- Sexual dialogue

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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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