Every now and then our staff is so jazzed about a show that we just have to share two different perspectives with you! Check out Brandon and Tara’s recaps of our newest obsession!
By Brandon, Concierge
As if Chekhov had devised it himself, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a ridiculously funny and brilliantly witty modern play by comedic genius, Christopher Durang, with punches from left field sure to leave you laughing out loud from curtain up until the curtain call. In VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, Durang borrows the names of three characters from Checkhov’s UNCLE VANYA and THREE SISTERS, and unites them as middle-aged siblings in their family’s beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania estate home. Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and his stepsister Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) have lived in the home for their entire lives, remaining there during adulthood to care for their ailing and elderly parents, while Masha (Sigourney Weaver) has been travelling the world, living a luxurious life as a world-wide actress and movie star. Feeling as though they’ve let life pass them by, unemployed Vanya and Sonia spend their mornings on the porch near the pond reminiscing about their parents and childhood, wondering if they could have done anything differently. Their cleaning lady, Cassandra (Shalita Grant), born with the same Apollo’s curse as her Greek mythological counterpart, warns our siblings with foreboding prophecy of the near future, but just like the Greek Cassandra, no one believes her. That is, until their sister Masha and her eager, twenty-something boy-toy, Spike (Billy Magnussen), make a surprise visit from New York City.
This show was a delightful treat, and I expect it to do very well at the Tony Awards this year. Shalita Grant provided expert comedy acting throughout the show as Cassandra, always entering at just the right moment with the best expressions. Kristine Nielsen and David Hyde Pierce were a terrific acting team, with sparkling chemistry that lit the stage. Billy Magnussen gave a terrifically ballsy interpretation of Spike’s character, and was not at all shy about taking his clothes off – another ridiculously funny aspect of this show. With a wonderfully vibrant cast, a gorgeous set, clever jokes, a soothsayer, a young hottie, and a brilliant trio of sibblings, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a must see on Broadway this season!
My first attraction to the show Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was not only the star power (Sigourney Weaver for my boyfriend and David Hyde Pierce for me) but also its popularity, as this show has been off Broadway for quite some time and due to its extensions and popularity had landed on Broadway. I had read a brief description of the show, that a brother and sister share a home owned by their other sister, who is a famous Hollywood actress. One day the sister comes by to visit with her much younger boyfriend, they all attend a costume party and hilarity ensues.
The thing that surprised me most was just how much hilarity. With the exception of a few emotional moments throughout the show, the audience and I spent most of the time laughing. Even within the first few minutes come snarky conversation, broken coffee cups, a grave premonition, and a nod to northeast convenience store chain Wawa… and it’s all wonderfully funny. This all comes before the arrival of Masha, the movie star, played very well by Sigourney Weaver, and I’m sure was a little tongue in cheek. Her boyfriend Spike, played by Billy Magnussen, was a lot of fun to watch on stage (and not just because he was in his underwear!) He plays the perfect impetuous twenty something pretty boy, and delivers a terrific monologue from his Entourage 2 audition.
What surprised me most about the show was the talent of the cast as a whole. With two big names heading the show, one would think that other roles would be more or less supplemental, but the other actors brought just as much as Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce. The actress that plays Sonia, Kristine Nielsen, is a delightful comedic actress and truly holds her own during the show (she also does a dead- on celebrity impression that will leave you stunned!) The housekeeper Cassandra, played by Shalita Grant, brought a different humor to the stage, interacted well with the other characters, and at the performance I went to, received the most laughs.
My favorite part of the show was getting to see David Hyde Pierce, a veteran of stage and screen. I have loved him since his work on Frasier, and he was wonderful in this show as the only male (mature male) in a sea of emotional women and sibling rivalry. The only crack in his calm demeanor comes in the second act with a monologue, or rant might be a better word, that was so wonderful it has to be seen to be believed!
I was fortunate enough to get to meet him and the other actors at the stage door. (This theatre also shares a stage door entrance to the Majestic Theatre so it was a double bonus to see the Phantom of the Opera actors coming out as well!) Everyone was very friendly, and they all, with the exception of the two stars, seemed pleasantly surprised to be asked to sign playbills and take pictures.) David Hyde Pierce was especially nice, staying around long enough to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk to the fans!
Though this show is only officially in previews, I feel as if they don’t have to change much. What they were doing off Broadway was enough to get them onto Broadway and hopefully if they continue, they will be there for a nice long while. Coming from someone who is typically a fan of musicals, Go See This Show!!
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