Sometimes three can be a hard combination to maneuver. Our society favors couples; hence someone will always be the odd man out. But I have witnessed an exception, Lyle Kessler’s Orphans has three good reasons for going to taking a trip down to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre – Alec Baldwin, Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge.
Orphans tells the story of two parentless brothers barely surviving on the hard streets of North Philly. Older brother Treat resorts to petty crime and manipulation to take care of younger brother Phillip. Living in a dilapidated home and eating tuna fish every day isn’t a satisfactory existence for Treat. He attempts to upgrade his station by kidnapping a bigwig for a big payday, but he and Phillip get more than they bargain for with Harold. Harold, also an orphan, provides the boys with a warped sense of stability and a father figure.
We have all heard the saying, “honor amongst thieves.” When actors come together to bring life to a script, they must bring integrity to the role as well as respect for one another. The cast of Orphans does this in an impeccable fashion. Each one of these actors played their role as if it was created for them. Alec Baldwin is Daddy Warbucks meets Captain Hook; his skill as actor simply shines as he leads the boys down the proverbial primrose path that crime offers with compassion and love. Treat, on the other hand, has made a living leading Phillip and others up the old garden path. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one dives into the deep end of darkness like Ben Foster. He definitely didn’t disappoint in his Broadway debut. Foster’s portrayal of Treat is steeped in complex layers of pain that made me want to clutch my purse in fear only to feel an emotional 180, desiring to give him a comforting hug, which he probably wouldn’t accept. Tom Sturridge’s interpretation of Phillip offered a sense of sincere dynamism and vulnerability. I enjoyed how he used John Lee Beatty’s set design as his own personal parkour course, strategically crouching and jumping at will as if he was using the art of misdirection to keep Treat unaware of his true intelligence. Despite all the drama the occurred before Orphans began previews; the drama present on stage is dark, delicious and a great display of acting that is sure to garner a Tony nomination, or two, or three.
In boxing, a sure way to get a knock out is to connect two punches to the body and one to the head. Orphans executes a theatrical blow that could rival a Mike Tyson KO back in the 80s. And like Tyson, Baldwin, Foster and Sturridge show that hitting with bad intentions can sometimes be a good thing.
TIMBER! FAMERS can you say, “I told you so.” This Sunday the wretched rendition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s will play its final performance, succumbing to Broadway’s spring opening frenzy. Somehow, I don’t think anyone is surprised to hear the news. Breakfast at Tiffany’s suffered from poor reviews and empty seats. With only 38 regular performances under its belt, I have no theories on why the show was doomed. Bad is bad and the streets of New York City is filled with enough garbage for people to know junk when they see it. Good riddance…well you know the rest.
To read why I knew Breakfast at Tiffany’s would close early, click https://famenycmagazine.com/2013/03/25/breakfast-at-tiffanys-on-broadway-where-are-audrey-and-truman-when-you-need-them/.
Springtime on Broadway is a fast and furious time for openings of new shows. Competition is fierce and there’re bound to be casualties. This year, the first to fall was Hands on a Hardbody, a musical based on a documentary of the same name. In fact, the April 13 closing gave Hands on a Hardbody a new, unfortunate title, “Fastest-closing musical of this season.” This homegrown musical with is rock and roll score did get fair reviews, but the kind words from critics weren’t enough to fill the seats. I also thought the musical had potential, yet after only 56 performances the lights of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre will be dark until another production takes the stage. So what went wrong for Hands on a Hardbody? Here are a few “non-conspiracy” theories F.A.M.E NYC has come up with…
- The Tony’s Race – The 2012-2013 season ends on April 25. Spring and fall are always major seasons for Broadway, but the reason why there is an overabundance of shows opening in March and April is to secure the opportunity for consideration for this year’s Tony Awards. With so many shows opening, the little musical that could didn’t have enough selling power to get past Broadway’s spring frenzy to make it to the summer months when Broadway has an extremely light opening schedule.
- Musical Smackdown – This season Broadway had several musicals going head to head for supremacy. Musicals like Matilda, Motown the Musical, Jekyll & Hyde, Kinky Boots and Cinderella all have audiences they cater to. Cinderella is a family-friendly show that will draw from the same audiences that have enjoyed Wicked, The Lion King or Mary Poppins. Who doesn’t love the music of Motown? The musical simply just has to use the massive power of its overwhelming catalog to fill seats. Similar to Hands on a Hardbody, Kinky Boots is based on a true story that audiences may be unfamiliar with but the score from Kinky Boots is all the rage. Jekyll & Hyde and Pippin already have a loyal fan base, and these revivals will rely on heavily on its fans to compete. Broadway already has its breakout musical for this season with Matilda, with such heavy competition; Hands on a Hardbody would’ve needed a miracle to survive.
- Star Power – Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, Deborah Cox, Constantine Maroulis, Cyndi Lauper, Nathan Lane, Ben Foster, Alec Baldwin, Alan Cumming…need I list more? Broadway is definitely seeing stars this season. With the exception of Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody was devoid of recognizable actors. Although I rather enjoyed the ensemble cast, Broadway is a business and stars equal ticket sales.
As Hands on a Hardbody shuffles to the Broadway graveyard, I would also like to make mention of its timing. What this show suffered from most was the time in which it opened. Instead of trying to battle for a nomination slot in this year’s Tony Awards, it should’ve waited and opened in the summer. But you know what they say…should’ve, could’ve would’ve.
Although it’s a moot point, to see what F.A.M.E NYC thought of the show, click https://famenycmagazine.com/2013/03/25/hands-on-a-hardbody-places-its-palms-on-broadway/.