I drove up to Massachusetts last Sunday to see the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s big-budget production of Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle. The night before I went uptown to Harlem to see a free outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Both shows gave me great pleasure, and I’ve written about them in today’s Wall Street Journal drama column.
“On the Razzle” is Mr. Stoppard’s English-language adaptation of Johann Nestroy’s “Einen jux will er sich machen,” the same 1842 play whose subplot Thornton Wilder borrowed for “The Matchmaker,” which in turn became “Hello, Dolly!” Any way you dish it up, it’s a lunatic spree in which Herr Zangler (Michael McKean, lately of “Hairspray” and “A Mighty Wind”), purveyor of expensive foodstuffs, travels to Vienna in search of romance and promptly sticks his head into a noose of comic chaos tied and tightened by his thrill-seeking assistants Weinberl (Robert Stanton) and Christopher (John Lavelle)….
With 22 speaking parts and a hell of a lot of sets, “On the Razzle” is hard to produce save at a festival, and Roger Rees, Williamstown’s new artistic director, is to be commended for giving it the deluxe treatment (Neil Patel’s d