Wednesday, October 29, 2008

metaDRAMA: Roundabout's Turnabout

UPDATE: As Isaac points out, and I admit this isn't exactly clear as I worded it, Roundabout did not produce Journey's End. What I mean is that their casting (especially for this season) seems to follow the same mold as Journey's End: their stars are generally selected for their hard work, not on their celebrity (look at The Overwhelming, although Isaac has a point about Cyndi Lauper), and the productions are always nicely done (David Grindley is an ace director for them). As for putting butts in the seat, the HIPTIX program really is a nice touch, along with not just the social events for that, but for all sorts of age groups. As for Woolly's season: I can't speak for anything outside NYC, I am tied to this place. But I stick by what's below: I'm psyched for this entire season, whatever that says about my taste.

For some reason, Roundabout took a lot of flak last year, although I have to say, their HIPTIX initiative has always been very kind to younger theatergoers (as is their only slightly obstructed rush policy). They seem genuinely interested in putting butts in the seats, and in making revivals interesting, casting theater stars (not film stars) to do so, even when it sometimes hurts a show (like the brilliant Journey's End). Flaws aside, I think it's safe to say that Roundabout has the "Best Season on the Books," with David Rabe's Streamers being joined by Hedda Gabler (with Mary Louise Parker now joined by Paul Sparks and Michael Ceveris) and a Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin love-fest in Waiting for Godot. To say nothing of Matthew Broderick in the anti-Moliere The Philanthropist (directed by David Grindley). Even shows I'm not interested in (A Man for All Seasons and Pal Joey) have AOI (Actors of Interest) like Frank Langella and Martha Plimpton giving me reasons to attend. As for the mystery show, Distracted . . . I may not be a Cynthia Nixon fan, but given a line-up like this, I feel obligated to trust Roundabout's direction. Oh! And of course, let's not forget that their Underground series has what I'm told is a terrific new second production, The Language of Trees. This is a good time to subscribe, if you're into that sort of thing.


Esther said...

I'd like to see Waiting for Godot. It sounds like a great cast. For some reason that I barely remember anymore, I was quite taken with the theatre of the absurd when I was in high school but I don't think I've ever actually seen any of it performed on stage. (I just read some of the plays. And I once met Eugene Ionesco.)

I'd also love to see Matthew Broderick on stage.

isaac butler said...

you're joking, right?

Aaron Riccio said...

Why would I be joking? It's Halloween, not April Fool's Day.

Mondschein said...

I'm a bit torn when it comes to the Roundabout. They have indeed fallen victim to stunt casting, most famously with the revolving door of Sally Bowles. Follow this up with the lovely, if miscast Claire Danes in last season's Pygmalion. Add to that their own deviation from their mission to produce classics (meaning revivals) of American theater, by producing Richard Greenberg's Naked Girl on the Appian Way a few seasons back. Mix in that this not-for-profit organization will soon control three Broadway houses and you have of a conunudrum wrapped in an enigma...(however the Churchill quote reads).

If you're looking for a theatre company with truly varied seasons and casting for talent more than box office, spend a little more time at Lincoln Center -imho. In their last few seasons, we've seen splendid new works (Light In The Piazza), interesting and adventurous new works (Coast of Utopia) and breath-taking revivals (South Pacific).

I will agree that Roundabout has had successes as well including 12 Angry Men, Pajama Game (though Mr. Connick's participation did smack a bit of stunt-casting) and Sunday In The Park With George to name a few, but I do think they are much more focused on filling seats than performance quality.