Friday, June 30, 2023

Shining Through: Encores’ The Light in the Piazza

Anna Zavelson and Ruthie Ann Miles in The Light in the Piazza. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Director Chay Yew provides The Light in the Piazza, the final offering of Encores’ 2023 season, a slight spin on the 2005 original by casting the two lead roles with Asian-American actresses. Margaret Johnson, the role that won Victoria Clark a Tony, is now played by Ruthie Ann Miles, while her daughter Clara, a luminous Kelli O’Hara in the original, is newcomer Anna Zavelson. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Plays with Music: Brokeback Mountain and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – and a Brief Farewell

Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges in Brokeback Mountain. (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Receiving its world premiere at London’s compact, comfortable new Sohoplace in London, Brokeback Mountain, Ashley Robinson’s ninety-minute dramatization of the Annie Proulx story most people know through the 2005 film, is a trim, skillful production. Jonathan Butterell has staged it effectively in the round on Tom Pye’s pared-down set and Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges, the two actors succeeding Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger in the roles of the young Wyoming cowboys embarking on a forbidden, tragic gay romance, are both excellent, especially Hedges as Ennis Del Mar, the more inexperienced of the two lovers. The problem is that damn material, which is meager and phony and keeps striking the same mournful note over and over. The show includes a small band playing country-western ballads (mostly) that merely replicate the mood. You walk out of the theatre starved for a little variety – and, God knows, an ounce of humor.