I see Romeo and Juliet tonight. The production with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad as Shakespeare’s doomed teens. Am I looking forward to it? You bet. But I’m just as anxious to see the restored Richard Rodgers Theatre. The theater’s stadium-style orchestra level (rows of seats slope upward from row L) boasts some of the best sightlines of any Broadway house, but the venue’s been looking dowdy of late. Word is the face-lift works.
Looking at my diary, here’s what else I’ve got lined up in the next few weeks:
• The Glass Menagerie: How many Glass Menageries have I seen in my lifetime? A lot. But who’s counting when this time it’s Cherry Jones’ turn at bat as Amanda Wingfield?
• Bad Jews: I interviewed Tracee Chimo for the October print issue of IN New York. I can’t wait to discover how this giggly sweetheart on the telephone turns herself into the onstage termagant Daphna Feygenbaum. I expect acting fireworks.
• Big Fish: I drew a big laugh from Big Fish’s director/choreographer Susan Stroman when I asked her if the director in her ever came to blows with the choreographer. “Sometimes I would love to extend a production number, just for dance’s sake,” she told me. “But I can’t because my job is to propel the story forward. That’s why I love choreographing for New York City Ballet or Pacific Northwest Ballet, where I can let the dance be the star. In musical theater, dance is just a part of telling the story. Yes, I do find myself wishing I could just go on and on. But I am well aware that I have to be my own best editor.”
• A Night With Janis Joplin: I slept through the ’60s, so now I’ll finally get to know what all the fuss was about.
The morning after, a POSTSCRIPT to my night with Romeo and Juliet.
Two great musical ladies in the audience: Jessye Norman and Bernadette Peters.
The theater: I praise the Richard Rodgers’ sightlines (see above), but I wrote that before I took my seat (Row J, dead center, in the Orchestra), directly behind a mooring-post head attached to a bolt-upright torso that didn’t alter position throughout “the two hours’ traffic of our stage.” Add to that the gent’s hairstyle, combed forward and ending in spiky points (think: the Statue of Liberty’s crown). As to the theater’s restoration: It’s beautiful and smells new. Lighting pipes and ladders, however, mostly obscure the gorgeous proscenium. And what’s with the winged faucets in the remodeled men’s room? Bizarre.
Post-theater dinner at Pongsri Thai.
As to the production, I’ll keep my opinion to myself.
>> Romeo and Juliet, Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St., btw Broadway & Eighth Ave., 800.745.3000
>> The Glass Menagerie, Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St., btw Broadway & Eighth Ave., 212.239.6200
>> Bad Jews, Roundabout Theatre Company, Laura pels Theatre, Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, 111 W. 46th St., btw Sixth & Seventh aves., 212.719.1300
>> Big Fish, Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St., btw Broadway & Eighth Ave., 877.250.2929
>> A Night With Janis Joplin, Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St., btw Sixth & Seventh aves., 212.239.6200
Photo Caption: Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad in Romeo and Juliet
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft