Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My must-see fall shows, regional edition

Fall preview season is just the greatest time of year. Every tv series is a possible hit, every book a potential bestseller and there's no shortage of promising performances on stage and screen. I get kind of giddy anticipating it all.

When it comes to theatre, I want to see everything but sadly, unlike books, movies and tv shows, that's not practical. So here are the plays and musicals in my area that I don't want to miss and have a realistic chance of being able to see. This might not be everyone's list, but it's mine.

I already have my ticket for The Huntington Theatre Company's production of August Wilson's Fences. After loving Joe Turner's Come and Gone, I'm excited about seeing another chapter in Wilson's cycle chronicling African-American life in the 20th century, this one set in the 1950s. (Also, the Huntington has set up a great Web site for the play, with links to podcasts, articles, interviews and sketches for the set design. Every theatre company should do it this way.)

I'm also interested in Shooting Star at Trinity Repertory Company. The two-hander is by Steven Dietz, a new playwright for me. Plus, it's a "smart romantic comedy," one of my favorite genres. And it features Kurt Rhoads and Nance Williamson, husband and wife actors who've won praise for their work with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. It'll be nice to see some new faces at Trinity Rep.

I never had a chance to see Avenue Q on Broadway and it closes Sunday. But I've certainly heard a lot about this rather raunchy, supposedly hilarious puppet show over the years. I'm looking forward to catching up with the tour at the Providence Performing Arts Center, just to see what snatched the 2004 Best Musical Tony from my beloved Wicked.

On the other hand, Rent isn't new to me. I saw it at PPAC in 2008. But the tour is returning to Providence this fall with Broadway's original Mark and Roger - Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal. Rent was a groundbreaking musical in so many ways and to be able to see it with two of its original actors is a unique opportunity.

Speaking of Wicked, the musical returns to PPAC for a month in December. I saw the show on tour in 2007 and just fell in love with it. So you know I'll be there - and I hope you will, too.


Todd Wallinger said...

You're in an interesting position, being able to see both Broadway shows and their touring versions so readily. Have you ever caught any shows both ways? How did they compare?

Esther said...

I've only had one opportunity so far to compare. I saw Spring Awakening on Broadway with its original cast and then I saw it on tour in Providence.

I loved the musical in both places and they were pretty similar in terms of the costumes, sets, choreography. I did enjoy the Broadway cast - John Gallagher Jr., Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele - a little more but I think that's just because I saw them first. Also, this time around I knew the story, so it didn't have quite the same emotional impact.

But there's usually a gap of about two years between seeing a show on Broadway and seeing it on tour. By that time, it's kind of hard for me to remember!

I am looking forward to seeing August: Osage County in Boston next spring and that'll give me another opportunity to compare and contrast.

Also, I just want to add that I've seen terrific touring productions. I fell in love with Hairspray and Wicked when I saw them on tour.

Dale said...

I think you'll love Avenue Q for sure! Have you seen 'Glee' on television with Lea Michele? It's pretty enjoyable.

Esther said...

Hey Dale! I'm very curious about Avenue Q. I know some of my fellow bloggers have loved it and others not so much. It was just one of those shows I never had a chance to see in New York because there was always so much new on Broadway.

And yes, I have been watching Glee and enjoying it! Amazing to think I saw both Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison on stage!