Joanna McKenzie Miller was perfectly cast as the lead of this production about Catherine Reed, a young mother who bonds with her fellow workers at Chicago’s Radium Dial Company. The four women’s friendship emphasizes the tragedy as each falls sick and dies after decades of licking brushes lined with radium. The minimalist set and costuming were a perfect match for the subdued but haunting score.
Being a fan of puppetry, particularly the use of puppetry to push boundaries, I was excited for my third show—the comedy Hand to God. In fact, Hand to God provided some immediacy for this vacation as it is closing on January 3.
Tyrone—a loud-mouthed, violent, and possibly demonic hand puppet—begins and ends the play with hilarious monologues about the nature of evil (spoiler alert: it’s humans who created evil… not the other way around). Steven Boyer keeps his hands moving at light speed as Tyrone rants, raves, and attacks both his ventriloquist Jason and the four other characters in this outstanding ensemble cast.
I continued my tradition of visiting Manhattan for the weekend prior to Christmas. None of this year’s shows inspired the same I-need-to-fly-back-to-New-York-to-see-this-show-again reaction that I had after viewing Michael C. Hall in Hedwig and the Angry Itch, but all four were strong Broadway offerings.
I started with Fun Home, the well-deserved winner of the 2015 Best Musical Tony (considering that the runner up was Something Rotten, all theater-goers owe Fun Home a debt of gratitude). I did my homework by reading Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel prior to the show, and I was surprised Michael Cerveris’s portrayal of Bruce Bechdel involved much greater vulnerability than I had interpreted from the book.
The earth doesn’t quite move during Beautiful despite every attempt to turn Carol King’s life into the next great biopic musical.
Like other works of the genre, King’s music is presented in an order than best represents a world in transition. Book writer Douglas McGrath does his best to add drama to the story of a hard-working songwriter who was accepted into the world of rock and roll with relative ease. King jumped on the runaway train that was the rock music industry at just the right time, and much of the action relates to the frantic pace with which King needed to produce hits while knowing that hot new songwriters were less than a step behind.
At a certain age during childhood, we start to devote a small amount of attention to the media. This awareness of newspaper headlines and TV soundbites begins before we realize that history is not just Egyptian pyramids or the Civil War or Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years.