Monthly Archives: February 2013

Holland Taylor becomes “Ann”

ann1by David, Concierge

“ANN”, written and performed by Holland Taylor, is a deeply researched and entertaining look at the life of the political firebrand and Texas governor Ann Richards. Beginning in an imagined college auditorium, continuing into the Texas Governor’s office and into a sort of dream world, much the play details Richards’ life from her birth in a small town in west Texas through her political career and beyond using the subject’s inimitable style, words and humor. Fans of Ms. Taylor’s work in films like Legally Blonde or television shows like “Two and a Half Men” might be hard pressed to recognize the actress in this role. Her movement, accent and cadence so closely resemble those of Richards and are unlike her own.

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Photo Credit: Photo by Ave Bonar, Playbill.com

The play begins with Ann Richards stepping up to a podium of a Texas college auditorium to address students, faculty and administration. Starting as a typical commencement address, She begins talking about her own life, beginning with her birth in Lakeview Texas, the only child of her doting father and reserved mother. The monologue highlights significant moments in her life such as the time her mother drove her to southern California to join her father who had been drafted into service. It was the first time either of them left their segregated Texas home and proved to be a mind-expanding experience in cultural diversity. She goes on to describe her marriage to David Richards, the children they raised, the parties they threw and the political activism the shared. Richards describes that as a woman, campaign work was limited to stuffing envelopes. She proved to be an accomplished political worker, having worked to elect liberal to the Texas Legislature. Although accustomed to supporting the campaigns of others, she ran successful campaigns for Commissioner and State Treasurer. During the latter term, she describes the intervention and treatment that led to her recovery from alcoholism. The strain of her role in government on her marriage proved too great and resulted in her divorce.

Her life took a significant turn when asked to speak at the Democratic Convention in 1988. The barn-burner of a speech thrust her into the national limelight and set the tone for her political future. It opened the opportunity to being the second woman to be elected Governor of Texas. At this point the play takes the audience inside the office of governor’s mansion and focuses on one particularly hectic day on the job and some of the more pressing issued she faced. Taylor is “joined” by the off-stage voice of her secretary, Nancy Kohler, by played the wonderfully dead panned Julie White. Act two resumes in the Governor’s office, transitioning to an office in Manhattan as we follow Richards from political office and into life as senior political adviser and consultant.

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Photo Credit: Photo by Ave Bonar, Playbill.com

Taylor’s admiration of the former Governor is clear, and the resulting piece of theatre is a sort of Valentine. Although a little slow on occasion, Taylor holds the stage and audience for the full two acts. Through both monologue and an imagined day in office, the playwright brings biographical detail to life, some fact, some imagined, with warmth and humor. Taylor avoids making a “political play.” There are some moments when political positions are addressed, most notably issues of women’s health and equality. They function more as an underscoring of Richards’ passions and motivations, not a diatribe. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable theatrical experience.

This show is great for fans of Ann Richards, Holland Taylor or politically minded audience members. It is a good offering for people who prefer plays to musicals, new works to revivals, and sophisticated viewers more into ideas than crashing chandeliers.

Looking for tickets to Ann? E-mail us at info@newyorkguest.com and we’ll set it up!

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It’s All in the Timing…and the time is now!

by Louise, Director of Operations

The new production of All in the Timing, a collection of short plays by David Ives (also  the playwright of the recent Broadway hit Venus in Fur) just officially opened at Primary Stages on Tuesday. This is a 20th anniversary production – the collection first premiered in the fall of 1993. I remember going to see it then with my family, and even though I now realize that I probably was too young for the vast majority of the jokes, I have very fond memories of seeing it (over and over again) and we have been quoting it on a regular basis for the past two decades.

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Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

These six short plays share common themes: timing (as implied by the name), language and communication. In my favorite of the plays, The Universal Language, an entirely new language (called Unamunda) is spoken by the characters, consisting mostly of onomatopoeia and re-purposed words. Even though it’s essentially gibberish, you can understand pretty much everything the characters are saying anyway, if you’re not laughing too hard to listen. I can also pretty much guarantee that something from this play will find its way into your regular vocabulary. I’ve been saying “off corset” for “of course” and “corngranulations” for “congratulations” for most of my life without even remembering that they were Unamunda.

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

The other two plays in the first half of the show focus on language as well. In Sure Thing, a man and woman meet and re-start or move a few lines back in their conversation over and over again until they are headed in the right direction (the right direction being love, of course), as though life were a video game where you had infinite chances to get it right. And wouldn’t that be nice? In Words, Words, Words, three monkeys are unwillingly taking part in an experiment at Columbia University with the hypothesis that if they are left alone with typewriters they will eventually produce Hamlet purely by chance. In Ives’s particular version of reality, the monkeys are well aware of what they are expected to do (although they don’t know what Halmet is, which is somewhat of a stumbling block) and have a lengthy (amazing, philosophical, hilarious) discussion about their circumstances.

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

The plays of the second act are (to my mind, anyway) more existential. Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread is basically just that, and I don’t know how else to describe it to you except to say its completely surreal and even if you don’t know who Philip Glass is, you will still laugh. The second play, Philadelphia, suggests that how your day is going speaks to a metaphysical location – in this case, the main character, while physically in New York City, has woken up “in a Philadelphia” which turns out to mean that he can’t get anything he wants (no real offense intended to Philly, I’m sure). In the final play of the evening, Variations on the Death of Trotsky, Leon Trotsky has a chance to reflect on his own death before it happens. While this play has a healthy dose of silliness, like all the others, it also has the most serious tone, including the haunting line spoken by Trotsky when he accepts that August 21st is the day he is going to die: “And to think I’ve gone over so many August 21st’s in my life, like a man walking over his own grave.” Gives you shivers, doesn’t it?

The cast of this new production is so wonderful and tirelessly energetic that by the end of the play I was tearing up just from their sheer joy at performing it. Carson Elrod (who was performing in another show while rehearsing for this one which just blows my mind) is particularly amazing; he appears in 5 of the 6 plays, transitioning quickly and brilliantly from character to character and hitting every note in exactly the way I would have wished him to as a (nearly) lifelong lover of these plays. Matthew Saldivar, Liv Rooth, Jenn Harris, and Eric Clem make up the rest of the ensemble, and every one of them is phenomenal. It’s always such a delight to see a group of actors meshing together so perfectly and really seem to be having a wonderful time. Even on the transitions between plays the actors are on stage, bringing us through the transitions in character. Every moment is absolutely delightful.

Right now All in the Timing is scheduled to run only through March 17th, though I hope it is eligible to be extended. I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t find his or herself gasping with laughter at every play. You need to go. YOU. Need. To. Go. I mean it. Email me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com to plan a trip including tickets!

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Dreams do come true: Cinderella is on Broadway

by Eileen, New York Guest Travel Planner

Cinderella2Last month I posted a blog listing the things I’m looking forward to most in 2013.  I am incredibly happy to cross Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella off that list!  Last night I took my best friend to a preview performance of the Cinderella, which officially opens on March 3rd.  My friend and I both entered with unusually high expectations since we fell into the hype machine and have been looking forward to this for over month.  We were not disappointed!

The story itself is timeless; variations date back to antiquity— each with different aspects but the general plot remains the same.  A young maiden in unfortunate circumstance rises above said circumstances and her life is transformed into a luxurious one.  The most well known version of the story was written by Charles Perrault in 1697.  He added a touch of magic to a very basic story— a fairy godmother, a pumpkin transforming into carriage, and most importantly glass slippers.  This production follows Perrault’s story the closest but with a new book provided by Douglas Carter Beane and the classic music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Cinderella1Cinderella is played by the exquisite Laura Osnes, who really brings such honesty and grace to the role.  One of our favorites, Santino Fontana, is incredibly charming as Prince Topher (pun intended). The entire ensemble really shines well together.  But what really had all of us gasping were the amazing costumes and sets.  Without giving away spoilers, we were all blown away with the onstage magic and my colleagues and I walked away asking “how did they do that?”

At the heart of Cinderella, is actually … heart.  The basic principles of kindness, compassion and understanding are there.  The show manages to make you think and reconsider your fellow man, without being too preachy.  And then there is of course love, which is at the source of all things.  The love story is wonderfully portrayed by the two leads, and I think everyone left feeling all gooey inside.

Before writing this off as a musical for children, I would beg you to reconsider the music, the actors, and the story of Cinderella.  I sat in the audience surrounded by couples, friends, and families all having a wonderful time.  I wouldn’t pass up the chance to be a part of the magic! Feel free to contact me directly at efitzgerald@newyorkguest.com to start planning your trip to see Cinderella on Broadway!

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Help us choose the Best “Love in NY” Photo

February is the time to celebrate love of all kinds – especially love of NYC! Scroll down to check out some wonderful photos full of love and then vote for your favorite! Voting will be open until February 20th.

#1 by Wendy Tyack

#1 by Wendy Tyack

#2 by Jane McGuire

#2 by Jane McGuire

#3 by Macarena Ermilio

#3 by Macarena Ermilio

#4 by Linda Golikidis

#4 by Linda Golikidis

#5 by Linda Brown

#5 by Linda Brown

#6 by Linda Brown

#6 by Linda Brown

#7 by Linda Brown

#7 by Linda Brown

#8 by Laura Colli

#8 by Laura Colli

#9 by Laura Castillo

#9 by Laura Castillo

#10 by Connor Morse

#10 by Connor Morse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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