Seat Filler: ’s Guide to Theater
BY Brandon Voss
May 04 2010 1:00 PM ET
The evening I attended Come Fly Away, a dance tribute to Frank Sinatra’s music conceived, directed, and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, hunky dancer John Selya’s straining glutes ripped a huge hole in the seat of his dress slacks. It was the highlight of the show because it distracted me from the hot mess on stage at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre. The athletic, gravity-defying dancers, who shed lots of clothing in the second act, are amazing — like Bebe Zahara Benet, Karine Plantadit is a leonine firecracker from Cameroon — but the partner-switching plot, set in a nightclub, is all but nonexistent. Billy Joel’s songs provided a powerful narrative in Tharp’s Movin’ Out, but Sinatra’s just don’t fly. And if I had it my way, a Michael Bublé type would’ve sung live instead of basically having an orchestra accompany a Sinatra CD.
In Donald Margulies’s Collected Stories, a deceptively simple drama about literary ethics and maternal jealousy that’s making its Broadway bow through June 13 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, Ruth, a respected author and teacher, hires Lisa, a promising young student, as her assistant. Lisa also finds success over the course of their fissured six-year friendship, but not without swiping Ruth’s juicy secrets as fodder for her own debut novel. Uta Hagen and Helen Mirren played Ruth off-Broadway and in London, respectively, but there’s a new girl in town, Alice icon Linda Lavin, and she’s looking good — especially in a climactic scene requiring her to choke back tears while eating cottage cheese. Sarah Paulson, perhaps best known as Cherry Jones’s ex-girlfriend, is too blandly earnest as Lisa, but her chemistry with Lavin is compelling.
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