Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for January 2012
Three pals drown their sorrows in a Dublin bar in Gary Duggan’s messy drama about late-December desperation. Rent’s Anthony Rapp and a sexy James Kautz play a Freddie Mercury enthusiast and a slimy male escort who unpleasantly wrestle with their latent bisexuality. Interspersed with soliloquies, interpretive dances, and original songs by Rapp and Daniel A. Weiss, the show is depressing, distressing, and deliriously intoxicating.
Interart Theatre Annex, through January 30.
Written and performed by the appealing if somewhat tepid Michael Yates Crowley, this brief and biting satire of financial advice TV shows — think Jim Cramer’s Mad Money — cashes in on a cool gay twist: While promoting his new book, Buy The Recession, billionaire CNBC host CJ begins to collapse faster than the economy as he frets about vengeful blackmail at the hands of the scorned male assistant with whom he had an affair.
The Red Room, through January 21.
Best known as the inspiration for Sex and the City’s Stanford Blatch, Clifford Streit wrote and directed this tart, likable comedy, which starred Dante's Cove beefcake Jon Fleming in his debut stage role — not to mention his underwear and swim trunks — as a gay actor whose bitchy publicist shoves him back into the closet. Streit plans to expand the zippy one-act, which sometimes felt like a cocktail-napkin sketch of The Little Dog Laughed.
Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, closed January 6.
Torchwood’s Mekhi Phifer and Rent’s Tracie Thoms are among the bright stars of Lydia R. Diamond’s African-American family dramedy about two brothers who invite their girlfriends — one black, one white — to their Martha's Vineyard summer home. Kenny Leon directs this juicy tale of race, class, and sibling rivalry like a very special episode of The Cosby Show, and producer Alicia Keys fills the gaps with sparkling incidental music.
Cort Theatre, open-ended.
Recommended for young audiences, David L. Williams and John Gregor’s peppy musical confection — originally added to Vital Theatre Company’s repertoire in 2005 — tells the endearing story of Lenny and Steve, a nerd and a bully who must learn to work together when they get picked on for being the “new kids” at a new school. The message is clear: Bullying is bad news, especially when it stems from one’s own insecurities.
Vital Theatre Company, through February 26.
The 2010 Tony winner for Best Musical is still rockin’ hard, thanks to rousing songs by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan and a resonant book by out librettist Joe DiPietro. It’s the ideal time to see or revisit the brisk, soulful show now that hunky powerhouse Adam Pascal of Rent and Aida fame has taken on the plum role of Huey, a goofy white DJ in 1950s Memphis, who introduces “race records” to mainstream radio and falls for a black singer.
Shubert Theatre, open-ended.
Copresented by Vineyard Theatre and Naked Angels, Zayd Dohrn’s new play about an American man who falls for a questionably motivated Beijing woman has the misfortune of opening during the same season as David Henry Hwang’s superior Chinglish, which also explores miscommunication in China. Otherwise, this intriguing, unpredictable drama puts a darker spin on culture shock and boldly eschews supertitled translations.
Vineyard Theatre, through February 4.
The Cherry Orchard
Treating audiences to one of the most vivacious and accessible Chekhov revivals to blossom off-Broadway in years, director Andrei Belgrader harvested the farcical comedy of the 1904 classic about futile Russian aristocrats. Opposite a delightful Dianne Wiest as indebted landowner Ranevskaya and John Turturro as blustering businessman Lopakhin, Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie was an unexpected standout as Epikhodov, the clumsy clerk.
Classic Stage Company, closed January 8.
Dancing at Lughnasa
During my college production of Brian Friel’s memory play about five unmarried Irish sisters in 1936, the cast sometimes surmised which of those spinsters might be a lesbian. That guessing game is just as fun at Charlotte Moore’s exquisite, beautifully cast 20th anniversary production of Friel’s lyrical masterpiece, in which our narrator Michael — the role I played in college as possibly gay — looks back at his family’s sad decline.
Irish Repertory Theatre, through January 29.
The Fall to Earth
Helmed with a keen eye for familial detail by gay director Joe Brancato, out playwright Joel Drake Johnson's tense, heartrending drama stars Deborah Hedwall and Jolie Curtsinger as the mother and sister of a wayward gay man who has committed suicide after a series of bias crimes. “He would flirt with the wrong people,” says the police officer in the small town where the estranged women have traveled to find some answers.
59E59 Theatres, through February 5.
Like Contagion crossbred with a particularly undercooked Grey’s Anatomy episode, Matthew Maguire’s ambitious drama turns four scientists against each other as they fight to contain a SARS outbreak. Unfortunately, the play is plagued by clumsy medical jargon, forced exposition, and a lack of urgency — dire symptoms relieved only by the emotional chemistry between Maggie Bofill and Amirah Vann as lesbian vaccinologists.
The Lion Theatre, through February 4.
Close Up Space
Out director Leigh Silverman does her best to make sense of Molly Smith Metzler’s wan, wearisomely wacky comedy. The dependable David Hyde Pierce stars as an uptight New York book editor who must attempt to fix his own paternal errors when his rebellious daughter shows up speaking Russian after being expelled from prep school. Although miscast here as a successful chick lit author, a feisty Rosie Perez is always welcome.
Manhattan Theatre Club - Stage I, through January 29.