After hearing last week that Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize in literature, we immediately wondered how long it would be before one of his plays was on a New York stage again. Thanks to a quick visit to nytheatre.com, which looks ahead farther and more nimbly than we can, we’re able to inform you that the Atlantic Theater Company will be staging not one Pinter play but two, and in a very interesting combination: his first (The Celebration) and most recent (The Room; we won’t say it’s his last because even though he’s indicated that he doesn’t expect to write more for the theater, you just never know, and we don’t want to jinx anyone). The shows begin Nov. 16; this scheduling strikes Gothamist as pretty lucky for the Atlantic, which couldn’t have known when it was drawing up the season bill that Pinter would get the Nobel. Now there’s sure to be vastly more interest in the production than there might have been, especially since it provides an opportunity to see the way Pinter’s changed (or not) in style and ideas over the years.
Most of the commentary about Pinter’s win mentioned how ominous and charged with dark energy all his plays are. Gothamist has definitely appreciated these qualities in the work of his that we’ve read and seen, but we pretty much forgot about the Nobel and the use of unsettling language when we read on Playbill.com that one of our favorite movies, The Princess Bride, is going to be made into a musical for next spring. Adam Guettel (recent Tony winner for his Light in the Piazza music) and William Goldman, the author/screenwriter of The Princess Bride, are collaborating on the project, which sounds like a promising arrangement. Of course it won’t be the same without Andre the Giant or the young Robin Wright (Penn), but we’re looking forward to it even so. Will there be robotic ROUS’s, we wonder? We’ll be antsy until we know more – at the moment there’s not even really a date, but we just couldn’t keep the good news to ourselves.
OK, so what can you see this week? As always, there’s no shortage of options.
For starters, there’s an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Valparaiso being put on by Stone Soup Theatre Arts. It’s about a guy on a business trip who gets into some minor kerfuffles that make him the center of a bit of a media circus that then forces him to reveal more and more of himself. Delillo wrote the play in 1999 and the hyperactive spotlight of television coverage, documentaries, radio talk shows, and of course the internet has only intensified since, so Stone Soup’s description of the realm the main character enters – a place “where intimacy is impossible without an audience and off-screen lives cannot be verified” – will likely ring even more true now than it did originally. In their version there will be music and other multimedia elements, which is appropriate given the topic; overall it sounds like quite an engaging and enjoyable show.
On a, shall we say, less serious note, consider Harvey Finkelstein’s Sock Puppet Showgirls. The title says it all – it’s the infamous Showgirls, with sock puppets in all the roles. Needless to say, an “unauthorized” parody of the story about seedy Vegas; this was first performed here in last year’s Fringe Festival, but it started 10 years ago in Chicago, where Finkelstein, who’s dubbed himself that city’s “lowbrow puppet genius,” is based. You can get a pretty good idea of the nature of what you’re in for with the show by visiting his website. If you thought the naughty puppetry of Avenue Q was funny but maybe a little weak, this just might be the thing for you.
Going the opposite direction in morality: we made it through that awful week of rain, but just barely, so we’re not sure we’re ready to watch a deluge on stage. Nonetheless, a new musical called The Ark could be fun. Though it’s billed as a “fresh, contemporary look at the classic story of Noah’s Ark,” its creators (Michael McLean and Kevin Kelly) are both Mormons, so you probably shouldn’t go expecting “contemporary” to mean “subversive.” Adrian Zmed, who played Noah in Children of Eden, takes on the patriarch's role again, and the rest of the cast is experienced too, which bodes well. Plus, maybe uplifting rock and gospel songs about getting through unpleasantly wet times will give us something good to hum under our breath the next time we have to deal with weather like last week’s.
Finally, we take a leap from the Bible to the Space Age, as Flyer, a new play by Kate Aspengren, is opening this weekend. The ten person cast plays 30 roles to tell the story of Mercury 13, the female astronaut candidacy program that was started during the Cold War but was and is lamentably obscure for the most part. Fran Douglas, played by Annie McGovern, is the central character who is faced with, as you might imagine, quite a bit of opposition as she tries to get into space; she’s fictional, but it’s all based on real women’s stories, in keeping with the mission of the production company, 3Graces, which was founded just last year and aims to "expose and explore" women's experiences via theatre.
To sum up: air conditioned theater houses might not be quite the draw they are in the dead of summer, but there are still plenty of reasons for you to get out and see one of the many dozens shows going on now. Is there a play or musical that you’ve enjoyed recently that Gothamist hasn’t noted? Mention it in the comments!
Details: Valparaiso is at the Actors Theatre Workshop, 145 W. 28th St., 3rd Floor. It opens Thurs. and runs through Nov. 5, with shows Thurs.-Sat. 8pm. Tickets are at Theatermania.
Sock Puppet Showgirls is at Ace of Clubs, 9 Great Jones St. It runs through Oct. 30 with performances Sat. & Sun. 8pm. Tickets are at Theatermania.
The Ark is at 37 Arts Theatre, 450 W. 37th St. It’s in previews until Nov. 14; shows are Mon., Wed.-Thurs. & Sun. at 7pm, Fri. & Sat. 8pm, and Sat. & Sun. 2pm. Tickets are at Ticketmaster.
Flyer is at the Bank Street Theater, 155 Bank St., opening Fri. and running through Nov. 6 with shows Wed.-Sat. 8pm and Sun. 2pm (matinees have a cast/crew talkback afterwards). Get tickets on the 3Graces website.