Features NYCNYC Features Published 28 October 2019

Exeunt NYC Recommends: November 2019

This November, Alanis is on Broadway. Samuel D. Hunter is at Lincoln Center. And Dolly’s back in town (well, sort of). Check out our critics’ picks!

Exeunt Staff

This November, Exeunt NYC’s critics are giving thanks for the wide variety of theatrical delicacies found across the city’s stages. From Alanis Morissette’s music on Broadway to Hello, Dolly! on tour, there’s plenty to see and hear before it’s turkey time.

Celia Gooding and Antonio Cipriano in Jagged Little Pill. (Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva)

BROADWAY

Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst Theatre) (Open-ended run, performances begin November 3): Your mileage will vary with this precious melodrama of a musical, which I caught during its world premiere last year at Cambridge’s ART. Not so much on whether you think Alanis Morissette’s seminal alt-pop-rock album of the same name should be required listening for every breathing creature (it should), but on how many storylines you think a show is able to handle before it collapses. The Diablo Cody-scripted book presents a perfect American dollhouse of a family caught in the grips of #MeToo, opioid addiction, changing gender norms, mental illness and every other headline you’ve read in the past five years. Even with slightly cringe-worthy “hyper woke” marketing, what’s undeniable is Lauren Patten’s ability to bring down the house with an 11 o’clock “You Oughta Know,” and that Morissette’s lyrics––stark as they are––find poignant new life when sung from different perspectives. (Juan A. Ramirez)

OFF-BROADWAY

Greater Clements (Lincoln Center Theater/Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater) (November 14-January 19): Any new play by Samuel D. Hunter instantly earns a spot on my must-see list, but this one has several factors that make it among my most anticipated shows of the entire year. For one thing, the cast includes Edmund Donovan, who was so heartbreakingly vulnerable in last fall’s production of Hunter’s Clarkston. Also on board are the fabulous Judith Ivey and James Saito, and the director, Davis McCallum, is someone who does consistently strong work. The setting, as you might guess, is Idaho, where Hunter sets up a conflict between wealthy transports purchasing vacation properties and blue-collar townies being forced out of the only home they’ve ever known. (Cameron Kelsall)

BrandoCapote (The Tank) (November 1-30): Call me biased, since I work there, and since Sara is a friend and mentor, but I’ve been looking forward to Sara Farrington and Reid Farrington’s BrandoCapote for almost two years now and have been following its development–both at The Tank and Art House in Jersey City–from afar since Sara described the concept for her play late one night. A dance theatre piece that inspired by Truman Capote’s 1957 New Yorker profile of Marlon Brando, the play sneakily transcends its own interview format before transforming, via Reid Farrington’s always-stunning multimedia design, into a much deeper story about toxic masculinity and cycles of abuse and violence. (Kev Berry)

Race Cards (BAM) (October 29-November 10): I’ve wanted to see Selina Thompson’s work for a while. She is a British theater artist who created this free, participatory installation. One single audience member enters the room alone.  The room is filled with thousands of questions on cards on the wall that Thompson has written. The audience member chooses a card from the wall and then writes a response. The questions are all about race and identity. Thompson will not read the responses until the project is over. I’m really interested in the audience experience of being confronted with the questions, choosing a question, and formulating a response. I’m fascinated by the shift of power and labor between artist and audience. I cannot imagine it will be easy, but I also expect it will be the kind of challenging art we need right now. (Nicole Serratore)

Playwright María Irene Fornès. (Photo: Susan Johann)

Fefu and Her Friends (Theater for a New Audience/Polonsky Shakespeare Center) (November 16-December 8): María Irene Fornès is one of the overlooked greats of the theater (despite having several Obies to her name and being a Pulitzer finalist), and her death in late 2018 after years of living with Alzheimer disease was a sad loss to the community. Fefu and Her Friends is a compellingly luminous play that deftly weaves from frank humor and sharp characterization into dreamlike surrealism and back again. It sparks throughout with Fornès unique wit and poetry, and it remains unusual as a play wholly dedicated to eight individuated female characters. It broke ground too as a piece of environmental theater. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz’s past work (including the brilliant, Obie-winning The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA The Negro Book of the Dead at Signature) suggests she has the right sensibility to let the genius of this classic shine. Not to be missed. (Alison Walls)

The Young Man From Atlanta (Signature Theatre Company) (November 5-December 15): Signature Theatre Company and Horton Foote are an ideal match, as evidenced by memorable productions of The Trip to Bountiful and The Old Friends. As part of its Legacy Program, the company now revives Foote’s Pulitzer-winning but rarely performed The Young Man From Atlanta, nearly a quarter-century after giving the play its world premiere. The cast includes Aidan Quinn, in his first New York stage appearance in over a decade, and Kristine Nielsen. Lovers of well-made plays should nab themselves a very affordable (only $35 for all seats!) ticket. (Cameron Kelsall)

Fur (Next Door at NYTW) (November 1-24): A love triangle set in a post-apocalyptic sandstorm featuring a woman covered in fur, a pet shop owner, and a hunter? OK, I’m curious. Elena Araoz, who adapted Mac Wellman’s “A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds” for NYTW’s Next Door Series last year, will return as director of this Boundless Theatre Company production of Migdalia Cruz’s unconventional play. From the looks of it, it’s exactly the kind of show for which the Next Door Series was designed. (Jordan G. Teicher)

Sing Street (New York Theatre Workshop) (November 25-January 19th): John Carney’s 2016 film Sing Street has traveled an interesting path. It was hardly an immediate sensation–reviews were just decent, and the box office wasn’t huge. Some dismissed it then as a cutesy, derivative coming-of-age tale. And honestly, it is cutesy, and it is derivative. It’s also disarmingly sweet and earnest, treating its teenage characters’ dreams with zero hint of irony or condescension. These are fine characteristics for a musical. Maybe it was always meant to be one. (Joey Sims)

Carolee Carmello leads the national tour of Hello, Dolly!, which will play Hartford, Conn., in November. (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

NOT QUITE NYC…

Hello, Dolly! (The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts) (November 12-17): The Tony Award-winning 2017 Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! is back in the tri-state area, as the national tour of the production passes through Hartford. The musical has a cherished, 55-year history of celebrating grande dames of stage and screen, and the tour is now led by the incomparable Carolee Carmello. With her signature titanic voice and extraordinary versatility, Carmello is not only a worthy successor of all Dolly Levis that came before her, but is arguably one of the greatest musical theater performers of the last century. Even if you have seen this revival of Dolly before (or six times before, like I have), it will be worth the trip to see Carmello descend that staircase. In addition to Santo Loquasto’s grand, technicolor designs, this production of Hello, Dolly! is still a delight to behold. (Teresa Kilzi)


Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine