Welcome to my new series “Let Me Tell You What I Like About…”   The premise is basic.  I am going to write about the things I LIKE about a Broadway show.  My theory is this:  I see a lot of shows, and in this era of snarky armchair critics on Broadway message boards, a moment of “Hey, you know what I thought was interesting” might be a welcome change.  My posts so far:

Let Me Tell You What I Liked About EVITA

Let Me Tell You What I Liked About NEWSIES

Let Me Tell You What I Liked About ONCE

Like in my SMASH Fact or fiction posts, I want to continue our conversation about the ins and outs of a Broadway show.  The difference?  We’re talking real Broadway shows, not a television show that’s about a Broadway show.  I don’t write about everything I see, just certain shows that have things that strike my fancy or have an interesting tidbit.

Are you all with me?  Instead of doing fact or fiction, we’re doing:

Let Me Tell You What I Liked About: Ghost, Jesus Christ Superstar, Venus and Fur and The Lyons

I have seen so many shows lately and been juggling so many blogs that I’ve fallen woefully behind in my LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I LIKE series. In an attempt to catch up, allow me to do a 4 pronged attack by doing 4 shows at once. We’re going to do musicals and plays all in one post. Tis the season for TONY voting, so I am seeing shows at a break neck speed. Try to keep up.

Ready? We’re off. I will do these in the order that I saw the shows. Oh wait–I should also point our that I have a new advertiser. (Look to your right) See the ad for SEEK? Click on it and take a look, especially if you live in New York City or are planning a trip to New York City. This site will hook you up.

Okay, seriously, this is it.

Let’s start with the tight race for Best Actress.

"Alice" becomes a mother who has needs of her own in THE LYONS.

"Alice" becomes a mother who has needs of her own in THE LYONS.

1) THE LYONS: This is a play currently running at The Cort Theater and there is one MAJOR reason to go see this show. What did I like about The Lyons? Easy. Linda Lavin. You might remember her best for her multi-year run as the title character in the 70’s TV show ALICE, but us in the New York theater crowd know that she’s been putting out some sensational theater appearances and proven herself to be much more than a wise cracking waitress. In The Lyons she plays the Jewish mother of all Jewish mothers and really, she breaks just about every rule you learn in acting school. She mugs, she dominates the scenes, she chews the scenery. She shows you the very reason why an actress of this quality gets to set her own rules. She’s the play (along with Dick LaTessa, who gives a terrific and testy performance as her husband) and the best reason to see it. This should be her Tony year.

2) VENUS AND FUR: Two words. Nina Arianda. Who? I know. Go see this play and you’ll be able to say you saw her at her (almost) start. She gained a lot of attention playing this role last year (OFF Broadway) and then gained a TONY nomination last year for BORN YESTERDAY (she lost out to Frances McDormand who was also deserving but dressed to go to the movies rather than the TONY awards. Right? Back me up on this. Wasn’t she in a jeans jacket?) Back to Nina–sporting possibly the biggest female feet on Broadway, she is one the people who is

Some great performances in a smart play by David Ives.  Venus in Fur.

Some great performances in a smart play by David Ives. Venus in Fur.

fearless onstage. She is fun to watch because she just….goes for it and makes the most out of every moment. It’s like watching Meryl Streep–she makes a meal out of a part and is great, great, great and fun, fun, fun to watch. She might lose out to another well established Hollywood and Broadway name (Lavin) but she just might pull it off and come home with a statue.  Her co-star Hugh Dancy is also excellent–but hurry–VENUS IN FUR closes June 17th.  Oh, and by the way, leave the kids at home for this one.

Now let’s talk about some terrific singing.

3) GHOST: I think most people pay the ticket price for name recognition (the movie) or the special effects (things fly around and people go through walls and stuff) but what I liked about GHOST was the performances by Caissie Levy in the Demi Moore role and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in the Whoopie Goldberg role.

These two are better than the touted special effects. Ghost the musical.

These two are better than the touted special effects. Caissie Levy and Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Ghost.

Levy first emerged as a standout in HAIR as Shelia and has an Elphaba from WICKED credit, so clearly–she can sing. What I like is both the quality of her voice, and her restraint in this American Idol pop-screaming era. She has a terrific voice and she is content to just sing the lyric and sing it well.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph is making her Broadway debut and just might debut her way into a TONY award. What is so cool about her is how well she sings, yes, but more importantly, she can act (she got her Masters in acting from Yale School of Drama.) Someone will write a musical for her soon, so stay tuned for her to tear it up.

4) JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: This is one of those shows people are passionate about…in many directions.  Given

He looks and sounds just the way you want him to.  Paul Nolan (and the cross) star in Jesus Christ Superstar.

He looks and sounds just the way you want him to. Paul Nolan (and the cross) star in Jesus Christ Superstar.

the two Jesus musicals, I’d (personally) pick GODSPELL (which is also playing on Broadway, but I didn’t see it).  Why so many Jesus musicals this season?  No idea.  But, if you want to see him sacrificed in two different ways on the same day, catch a matinee of GODSPELL (the nicer, more gentle crucifixion), and save the bloodier version for the evening show of SUPERSTAR.  Perhaps a nice dinner of lamb between shows?  Regarding SUPERSTAR, if you are looking for a cute Judas, and a Jesus who sounds pretty much exactly the way you want to hear Jesus sung in this rock opera, then this revival is one stop shopping.

I am seeing a show every day from now until the TONY voting deadline, so expect more of these posts. I should include ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS in this post, but I am out of room. It deserves more ink than I currently have left for today, so next time.  Methinks, perhaps, my daughter Charlotte should write about  ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS because I can promise no one laughed as hard as she did.



About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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2 Responses to Let Me Tell You What I Like About: GHOST, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, VENUS IN FUR and THE LYONS.

  1. Amanda says:

    I think Nina Arianda will win. No contest.

  2. Prue says:

    Someone I spoke to had an interesting theory about the revivals of JCS and Godspell arriving at the same time -that they could be aiming to counter The Book of Mormon which could be seen to be making a teensy bit of fun of religion (personally I loved it, and didn't love Godspell, but I have no religion)

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