Blood, Sweat, and Tears as the American Way: Marc Anthony’s “I Need to Know”, the American Dream, and Lynn Nottage’s Sweat
There is a jukebox in the back of the bar where much of the action takes place in Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage’s incendiary new play Sweat, running in Studio 54. It’s dusty and old and you can’t quite tell if it plays CDs or something else. Taking place primarily over the course of a several months in 2000, Nottage implements a mixtape of early aught, late nineties tracks, songs that played on the airwaves too late before the club iteration of Studio 54 could blast them over a crowd of dancers in the city, dressed flamboyantly, swaying without care in the world. Instead, the music plays in a bar the reeks of as much history as the jukebox itself, the TV occasionally on with the faces of politicians vying for the White House, including George W. Bush; a couple tables where the regulars from the textile factory sit or tumble over; and a tap that spits out weak, watered down beer, the same beer every day, in spite of the hopes of young Chris’s, a factory worker and with college on the horizon. The song that is the most striking in Nottage’s playlist, the one that bookends the show, is Marc Anthony’s “I Need to Know”, off his eponymous studio album from 1999. For a story about a bunch of working class people in Pennsylvania whose relationship with their jobs, with each other, and with capitalism itself becomes a dangerous pas de deux (or better yet, tango), Anthony’s Latin infused track is recontextualized within the play’s ideas. Read the rest of this entry »
Although one is walking through the rain ostensibly to Studio 54, one is actually ushered into what amounts to a spruced up seedy night club by the name of the Kit Kat Club. Manhattan is a world away and the folks behind the “newest” production of Cabaret have done their best to transport you to Weimar Germany, where the waitresses and waiters put on a strong face, only ever hinting at the sinister reality underneath. The table is small, with a quaint lamp atop it, and you aren’t given a program until the end of the show. Whatever it is I just saw, I was mesmerized. I was both welcomed to and rejected from the cabaret, and I couldn’t have asked for anything else. Read the rest of this entry »
Spamalot is somewhat an adaptation/remake of Monty Python’s hilarious Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The original tale revolves around King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The title is a pun on “Camelot” and the long running Python gag “Spam”, which, if you dot already know, is canned meat. There were several differences from the movie, which, in essence, shouldn’t matter. Eric Idle, one of the originals, wrote the book and the lyrics for the play. The Lady of the Lake character is very funny, and the actress who plays her has a tremendous voice. Her rendition of “What Ever Happened to My Part?” is hilarious, in which she complains of not being on the stage for long and makes fun of Posh Beckham. However, in the style of those dirty minded comedians, there’s plenty of swearing and ladies showing lots of skin. The show, though advertised for families, is not exactly family friendly. There are very funny parts in the second act when it was like the original film with the Ones Who Say “Nee” and the Black Knight scenes. Lancelot, who falls in love with Guenivere in the original tale, falls in love with Price Herbert. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest, it was just the style that they did it in. A funny line that Lancelot said at the end of the show about same sex marriage is “To think that 2000 years in the future this will still be controversial.” It is true and put very frankly. There are very clever scenes in which they use a projector. The play is clever, funny, and sometimes hilarious!