With the prospect of a show-stopping strike by the stagehands’ union casting a shadow over Broadway, the Roundabout Theatre Company pulled off a coup last night. It opened a solid-gold hit–in a strike-proof theater. David Grindley’s extravagant, exhilarating production of “Pygmalion,” in which Claire Danes is making her debut as a stage actress, is the best classical revival mounted by the Roundabout in recent memory. No sooner do the lights go down than it takes off like a supersonic skyrocket, powered by a cast that is strong from top to bottom….
Of course you’ll want to know about Ms. Danes, and the news is good: If I hadn’t known that this was her first straight play, I’d never have guessed it. Unlike so many movie and TV stars who dabble cluelessly in legitimate theater, she has mastered the elusive art of projection. Not only is she audible, but she is blazingly visible as well, lighting up the 740-seat American Airlines Theatre with the kind of space-filling energy that comes naturally or not at all….
Is there a regional drama company with a better name than People’s Light & Theatre? This 33-year-old ensemble, which operates out of a two-theater complex in a suburb just west of Philadelphia, is putting on Louis Lippa’s newly translated, freely adapted performing version of “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” the 1921 play in which Luigi Pirandello beat the postmodernists to the punch a half-century before the fact. It’s every bit as satisfying as the Roundabout’s “Pygmalion,” and a lot easier to get into….
Acting, staging, costumes, lighting, sound design: All sweep over you in a way so unified and involving that you’ll feel disoriented when it’s over, as though you’d just emerged from a funhouse in which truly scary things happen.
No free link. Once again, you know what to do, so get with. (If you’re already a subscriber to the Online Journal, the column is here.)
Footnote for theater-savvy travelers: not only is PL&T’s production of Six Characters terrific, but you can also dine at Places, the company’s on-site bistro, where the food and service are both exceptionally fine and you’re mere steps from the theater. Between Six Characters and the major Renoir landscape show now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I can’t think of a better time to visit the City of Brotherly Love. What’s keeping you?