Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A couple of interesting shows

Recently, Marisa and I managed to take in a pair of non-Broadway productions, both of which proved quite enjoyable dinner-and-a-show "date nights" for us.

The first took place at Centenary College in nearby Hackettstown, and featured students performing a show called "The Many Deaths of Shakespeare," which was written and directed by a CC professor, Dr. John S. Lennox. The concept is a college class is forced, as a senior project, to study every death in Shakespeare's canon (prompting two stoner students to ask, "Shakespeare killed people with a cannon?").

The show was really very interesting, funny, and even thrilling in spots - Dr. Lennox is a stage combat choreographer. Although M thought it dragged a bit toward the end, I thought that was one of the funnier parts (as the students try to get through the last 100 or so deaths en masse). The combat moves may have been a little repetitive, but on the whole, I found it particularly entertaining. Especially as the son of a (retired) Shakespeare professor.

Not sure when or if this show will be playing again anywhere soon, but I highly recommended it as light entertainment for Shakespeare fans.

The second show was a bit closer to Broadway: The historical musical "1776" at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

It's one of my favorite shows - I own the movie(starring William Daniels, the voice of KITT) on DVD - and I first saw it years ago at the Paper Mill. I missed the Broadway revival, sadly (though I have the soundtrack), so I was glad we made it to the last weekend of this version. We were up in the cheap seats, and this review made me a little nervous, but on the whole, we had a grand time, even if M overheated a bit by the end (it's a long show).

I couldn't tell you exactly why I love this musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence, but I do. It's based on historical events, with some historical dialogue, and it's just kind of funny and yet serious all at the same time. "Molasses to Rum to Slaves" may be the creepiest, most disconcerting, discomforting song I've ever heard in a musical, and that includes "Assassins" - a show about killing various presidents.

In fact, we had a good enough time at the Paper Mill that I'm plotting a trip to see another show at the Paper Mill that I have an odd fixation with: "The Full Monty."

Loved the British movie, and loved it on Broadway. Even if there is a bit too much male nudity for my taste, as the expression goes.

Bit of trivia: The role of the courier in "1776" was played by Griffin Matthews, a graduate of my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon; the role of Jerry in "The Full Monty" on Broadway was played by another alum, the slightly better-known Patrick Wilson.