“All can be revealed,” we’re advised halfway via a delightfully scrumptious Act One within the new musical, or ought to I name it; the brand new sung and spoken phrase abstractionism that’s Right here We Are now taking part in at The Shed‘s Griffin Theater. And in a manner, it’s precisely why we’re all right here, to pay homage as we enter that lovely theatre in Hudson Yards. A lot about this journey is nearly symbolic of what’s in retailer. The heightened air of magnificence, model, style, and wealth that Hudson Yards was imagined to ship. However failed to take care of. The magnificent creation that’s The Shed, a minimum of from the skin, that appears lovely and fashionable, whereas by no means actually delivering (thus far) on these excessive expectations. Inside that architectural wonderment is a little bit of a hodgepodge mess of escalators and roped-off walkways that really feel like airport overkill, main us on a snake-like path upward as we make our technique to the entrance doorways of the theatre.
It’s fairly the wind-up, however “name me superficial!” because the power and pleasure of the group is alive and properly within the house, with expectations escalating with every stage we transverse. When the information broke that there could be one final Sondheim musical making its premiere, all of us celebrated inside our grieving hearts. It felt like the most important of items, and I used to be thrilled and intoxicated with the concept we’d have yet another likelihood to listen to one thing new from this genius composer and lyricist. The announcement carried all the identical pleasure of these Hudson Yards. With a forged of celebrated execs as thrilled to be concerned as we have been by the information. And I wasn’t upset, and but, I used to be, very similar to that closed-down honeycombed Vessel that stands so majestically beside The Shed, roped off due to all of the grief it introduced forth.
Right here We Are, with a big unpacked and involving ebook by David Ives (Venus in Fur; The Liar) with music and lyrics by the late Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods; Firm), is in a realm all by itself. It offers us every thing whereas additionally stripping away among the draw. It’s summary and fantastic, giving us inspection and deliverence, whereas leaving us considerably befuddled, questioning the place the music stopped in relationship to our invested curiosity.
Impressed most gloriously by the summary and significant movies of Luis Buñuel, Right here We Are vegetation us precisely there, a lot to our confused chagrin and joyfulness, misplaced in a sea of squares of white gentle and round neon, questioning when we’re going to be fed the very factor all of us turned up for. After which stunned, properly a minimum of a few of us, with the sensation of being full on what seems to be one thing apart from what we wished or anticipated from this creation. Each dad and completely happy to have had that final Sondheim meal.
Primarily based across the mixed power of 1972’s “The Discreet Appeal of the Bourgeoisie” and 1962’s “The Exterminating Angel“, Right here We Are, as directed with a pointy humorousness and element by Joe Mantello (Broadway’s Three Tall Ladies), unfolds with summary dedication, because the play’s first structuring follows a gaggle of individuals looking for dinner amidst surreal encounters, whereas the second actually and emotionally traps them of their remaining chosen eating spot. It begins with three buddies; the privileged Paul Simmer and his overtly snobbish designer spouse, Claudia Bursik-Zimmer, performed completely by Jeremy Shamos (Broadway’s Meteor Bathe) and the magnificent Amber Grey (Broadway’s Hadestown); arriving with their cohort, Raffael Santello Di Santicci, deliciously portrayed by Steven Pasquale (CSC’s Assassins), with out warning for a scheduled brunch that was on nobody’s calendar. Their hosts; the stunningly vapid and lovingly optimistic Marianne Brink, gorgeously embodied by Rachel Bay Jones (Broadway’s Pricey Evan Hansen; Broadway Heart Stage’s Subsequent to Regular) and her billionaire husband Leo Brink, powerfully and dynamically portrayed by Bobby Cannavale (BAM’s Medea), are confused however completely happy to interact. Not a lot so from their East Village anarchist youthful sister, Fritz, performed remarkably properly by the gifted Micaela Diamond (Broadway’s Parade). The tip of the world is what she has in thoughts, deliberate with one other for that very same day, not just like the “good day” that her older sister retains chiming on about.
Choreographed cleverly by Sam Pinkleton (RT’s You Will Get Sick), the forged sink their tooth most passionately into the abstraction that’s beneath their toes, working wonders on that stark and exquisite white framework designed magnificently by David Zinn (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo), who is also in control of the costuming, and the forged revels within the supply. With very good lighting by Natasha Katz (Broadway’s Some Prefer it Scorching) illuminating the structuring of their superficial varieties and the white barren world that surrounds them, the pack of privileged wealthy folks go searching for meals, as their servants, performed gorgeously and adeptly by Tracie Bennett (West Finish’s Follies) and Denis O’Hare (Nationwide Theatre’s Tartuffe) as each and all of the ladies and men who’re there to serve and take care of them, don’t have anything for them, or don’t appear all in favour of delivering something that they need.
They have to search around, aspect by aspect. This firm doesn’t precisely go into the woods to search out nourishment on this completely lovely Sunday, nor do they go into the park with anybody named George. However the ardour is actually there throughout them, and we be part of with them, merrily going alongside, not whistling nor searching for a bit evening music to appease their souls. They go, “again to sq. one“, repeatedly, perhaps, hopefully, to gorge themselves on a tasty meat pie on the West Aspect for a folly or two, like some dream-coated gypsies considering they heard a waltz on this highway present to the top. Possibly, presumably. discovering themselves within the focused fisheye of an anarchist murderer, hoping to deliver these privileged all the way down to their knees. The crew is decided (and ever so gifted), making an attempt their finest to place all of it collectively for a (pacific) overture that ends with a meal, however a humorous factor occurred on the best way, because the world has different plans for these frogs, and so does Right here We Are. As a result of, to be sincere, that’s why we’re right here as properly.
With some fantastically crafted orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd) dropped at luxurious life by music supervisor (with some extra preparations by) Alexander Gemignani (Broadway’s West Aspect Story) and an in depth sound design by Tom Gibbons (Almeida Theatre/PAA’s The Physician), this difficult present finds nuance and delight within the abstractionisms that each these Luis Buñuel movies deliver. They principally make up every act, discovering the connection within the wordy type and performance. The music, a lot to our shock, is nearly secondary, whereas additionally giving us such remarkably attaching themes that harken again to traditional Sondheim.
There are echos of early and extra honorable achievements, giving us spoken songs that remind us of Sunday within the Park with George or others, however there are a couple of different moments, filtered in, right here and there, that additionally give us the “good day” formulation that we so love and have been desirous of. Rachel Bay Jones, our most beloved, lovely, and superficial information via this journey, sings, whereas unable to actually bear in mind what she was imagined to do at the moment. It’s a theme that requires some unraveling, and can we really feel glad ultimately? I’m undecided that abstractionism was created for that form of unpacking and packaging.
Becoming a member of in on their unfulfilled seek for sustenance, the ravenous Bourgeoisie have a run-in with Colonel Martin, performed strongly by Francois Battiste (Public’s Raisin within the Solar), and his good-looking and sensual Soldier, athletically portrayed by the ever so gifted and match Jin Ha (Encores’ Highway Present) looking for a drug cartel that stands instantly earlier than them. In addition to a Bishop, hilariously portrayed by David Hyde Pierce (Public’s The Customer) who’s given the chance, like a couple of, however not all the others, to present us with unwrapping of a playful little tune about desirous to do one thing that issues to somebody. Simply not from the place he has been garmented for.
The present really is a treasure trove of deliciousness. The soldier’s dream, delivered by a panoramic Ha; the French waitperson’s lament by a beautiful Bennett; and the pleasant Café Every little thing waiter who has nothing to allow them with, sung to perfection by O’Hare. All of them fill the starvation we have now for only a bit extra Sondheim despite the fact that the songs will not be named in this system, but indicate a lot and past. However in case you are coming into searching for one thing extra Broadway in its conventional structuring, I believe Buñuel isn’t the supply materials you’re searching for.
Particularly the extra play-like Act Two which moreover a gorgeously animated and superficial dance with a bear by Jones, and a tune about being completely not good for each other sing engagingly by Diamond and Ha, the finale is of a special type than most is likely to be anticipating, and even wanting and ready for.
“Only one extra drink!” all of them exclaim when requested to depart after a satisfying meal. Very like us as we wandered out for the intermission. However Act Two is one thing fairly completely different, extra aligned with the movie, “The Exterminating Angel“, a film I didn’t know properly, even with that one 12 months of movie historical past course I took at school forty years in the past (that’s the place I realized concerning the movie that Act One was principally based mostly upon, however my reminiscence doesn’t serve me all that properly, very similar to O’Hare’s character). That movie was initially referred to as “The Outcast on Windfall Avenue“, which is translated to imply the folks that don’t belong on the road protected by God, and overtly was meant to criticize authority and the Church. Act Two is about those self same privileged few trapped and unable to depart a grand room the place that they had lastly been given a meal by a now-disappearing crew of servants and cooks. The tip of the world is upon them, or is it?
What is evident is that the second act is one thing that may both be embraced or discharged by those that have come to get their final style of a Sondheim meal. Will it fill your wants and your abdomen? The metaphors are nearly too apparent to disregard, as I took on this banquet of songs and thematic moments. However it’s a present to be embraced and mentioned, lengthy after it ends with a standing ovation that is likely to be extra for the expertise and the historical past of all of it than the piece that was simply laid out earlier than them. However boy, was it an entertaining deliverance, one which I used to be thrilled to be in attendance. “Dinner is served,” cries out the embassy butler Windsor (O’Hare), and all of us applaud with delight for what seems earlier than us, prepared, like this gifted crew of actors, to fortunately dig into all of the flavors set out earlier than them and us. So Right here We Are, fortunately. Now seize a chair and chunk into this enormously enjoyable and flavourful romp. Even within the methods it does work. In the best way we anticipated it to. And let me know what works and tastes good to you, that’s in case you are the place you should be in Right here We Are.