Go Home

daily dish

May   3

A Midsummer Night's Beefcake

Paper Mill Playhouse
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Through May 21. More info here.


One of the great things about Shakespeare is that no matter how many symbols, periods and gimmicks you load onto his plays, he bears the burden willingly, even cheerfully. Such is the case with Tina Landau’s rollicking adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing at the Paper Mill Playhouse through May 21. (If you don’t remember your Shakespeare, you can find the plot here.)

Landau’s version is a mostly but not entirely modern-dress musical comedy. Some of the tricks work. Some don’t. But even when they start to wear thin, Shakespeare is always available to come to the rescue. Especially when he gets help from Lea DeLaria as Nick Bottom.

Casting a woman as Bottom is an invitation to ponder gender, sex roles and sexuality. Is this Bottom a man who happens to be played by a woman? Is she a woman disguised as a man to help her pick up women? (What, after all, is more butch than a fireplug of a girl dressed as a garbageman?) Is Bottom simply beyond gender, like Saturday Night Live’s Pat?

None of this really matters when DeLaria gets going. In her rendition, Nick Bottom seizes control of the stage and absolutely refuses to let go, channeling Jackie Gleason, John Belushi, Curly Howard, Elvis Presley and a few I probably missed.

The music comes from an engaging pop/rock/folk trio called GrooveLily. Most of the songs are Shakespeare’s. Some were actually written as songs, though the tunes have been lost. GrooveLily’s own songs, opening each half of the play, are a little front-and-center for my taste. But their transformation of Bottom and Co.’s rendition of Pyramus and Thisbe into a rock opera is delightful.

Other performances of note:

  • Ellen McLaughlin plays two queens – Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and Titania, Queen of the Fairies, with equal dexterity. All steel as the first, all elegance as the second.
  • McLaughlin and Jay Goede’s Oberon have a fine Noel Coward vibe.
  • Brenda Withers does wonderful things with Helena, striking just the right notes of comic self-abasement.
  • We’ve all had dreams where we’re dressed all wrong. This is a Dream that takes full advantage. Sometimes I thought I was watching A Midsummer Night’s Beefcake, between the Speedo-equivalents worn by Puck (Guy Adkins) and Titania’s fairy retinue, and the tendency of the male lovers to start shedding their clothes to demonstrate the depth of their love. Maybe this is what offended the conservative crowd that frequents the Paper Mill. The night we went, we saw more than a dozen muttering patrons leave at intermission, summed up by the overheard plaint of one: ``Bring back `Oklahoma!’ ‘’

    If you like your Shakespeare in robes, tights and clipped British accents, this is not your show. For the rest of us, it’s more than worth a look.                Warren Levinson

      May 3, 2006 in Theater | Permalink | Comments (15)

      daily dish

      December  10

      The Kids Are Alright

      Montclair High’s School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA), who brought you Ragtime and Les Miserables, has a new show. "Showcase 2006! Comedy (the musical)" has two remaining performances: tonight, 8 pm, and tomorrow, 3 pm. Little Theater at Montclair High School Annex, 141 Park St. Tickets, $10, available at the door.

      December 10, 2005 in Theater | Permalink | Comments (16)

      daily dish

      August  22

      Back Stage Pass

      We're officially jealous. Bloomfield, specifically the Watsessing Heights Neighborhood Association, stepped onto the stage of the historic Shubert Theatre last Friday for a private chat session with WHNA neighbor, Michael McGrath, a star of Spamalot. McGrath, a Tony nominee for his rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," shared the scoop on performing in the runaway smash play. The group, led by WHNA president Anne Prince, learned interesting tidbits -- McGrath goes through a mountain of coconut shells every week and the lucky audience member plucked for each performance is a real life person and not a cast member plant. According to McGrath, the Spamalot management changes the seat number every performance. While backstage, the starstruck WHNA group also spied former Frasier star David Hyde Pierce who plays Sir Robin and King Arthur/Tim Curry.

      August 22, 2005 in Theater | Permalink | Comments (1)

      daily dish

      April  29

      Cheaper Than Broadway

      Critics have weighed in with mixed reviews for Broadway's latest take on A Streetcar Named Desire (seems some were hoping for a hunkier Stanley Kowalski). Here in Baristaville, we've got a slew of new opens, including...

      3cardmonte_2_1Topdog/Underdog This darkly comic fable opened yesterday at Luna Stage. A tale of brotherly love and family identity, it tells the story of two brothers haunted by the past and forced to confront the shattering reality of their future. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $20 - $30.

      A world premier new musical, Journey, will be performed at Mount Hebron School in Montclair this weekend. The music and lyrics are by Grammy-Award winning composer Michael Huseman of Montclair. The book and lyrics are by Kathleen Kellaigh of Clifton. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $15 - $20.

      The Bawdy Babes of Broadway, a new musical review, recounts the lives of three former Broadway Gypsies. It will premier at the Theater Under the Stars in West Orange this Friday and Saturday at 8pm. The Bawdy Babes of Broadway is here for two nights only, before moving to NYC. Tickets are $15.  Update:  This show has been rescheduled due to illness.  The new dates are May 20 & 21.

      At 12 Miles West in Bloomfield, see Celebration 2005: Visions of the Near East performed by Mosaic Dance Theater Company of Glen Ridge. Featuring nine Middle Eastern dancers and live musical accompaniment, the show includes dances from Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $25.

      Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre in South Orange presents a staged reading of Melissa Jane Martin’s new play You Don’t Say! followed by an open discussion between the audience, playwright, director, and actors. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $10.

      April 29, 2005 in Theater | Permalink | Comments (0)

      daily dish

      May  29

      Luck be a fellow

      Darren Gage, advisor to the Glen Ridge High School Drama Club, picked up a best director award at yesterday's Bucks County Theater Festival, where the club presented its spring musical, "Guys and Dolls." Graduating senior Matt Edelstein walked away with an acting award for his portrayal of Nathan Detroit. Congratulations, guys.

      May 29, 2004 in Theater | Permalink | Comments (1)

      daily dish

      May  20

      Laramie Project

      laramie_proj_230_3Punks may be scratching anti-Semitic slogans on cars and leaving swastika graffiti on walls, but the Glen Ridge Drama Club is fighting hate with its production of the Laramie Project, the story of the brutal 1998 killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

      The production will include a film of events in Laramie, which was shot at local locations like the Montclair Art Museum and Hurrell Field in Glen Ridge.

      Darren Gage, drama club advisor and the play's director, was a little worried that the play, which deals with issues of gay rights, might spark some protest. We'll see.

      Tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm, Ridgewood Avenue School. (Corner of Ridgewood and Bloomfield) Free.

      May 20, 2004 in Civic Virtue, Theater | Permalink | Comments (0)

      Click & Jump to our INSIDE PAGES:
      AT HOME

      · In Case You Don't Look at Our Announcement Box
      · Window Painting
      · Flatulent Friar
      · Ballyowen -- The Best $140 a NJ Golfer Can Spend
      · Corzine Budget Gets MSU Calling For Action
      · Open Space Call For Action
      · Closed For Renovations?
      · Thrill Seekers
      · Heroic Dudes
      · Making Montclair's History Demo-Proof

      » ARCHIVES
      May 2006
      April 2006
      March 2006
      February 2006
      January 2006
      December 2005
      November 2005
      October 2005
      September 2005
      August 2005
      July 2005
      June 2005
      May 2005
      April 2005
      March 2005
      February 2005
      January 2005
      December 2004
      November 2004
      October 2004
      September 2004
      August 2004
      July 2004
      June 2004
      May 2004

      A Friend Writes
      April Fool's!
      Bada Bing
      Barista Does the Math
      Barista's Sunday Poll
      Betty Says
      Brand New
      Civic Virtue
      Comings and Goings
      Culture Club
      Current Affairs
      Cute as Hell
      Don't Ask: Dating in Baristaville
      Flu Shot Central
      Food and Drink
      From the Crazy Mixed-Up Files of Raymmmondo
      Funniest Home Videos
      Good Reads by Neil Baldwin
      Growing pains
      Help Your Barista!
      In Your Dreams
      Intersections We Hate
      Karma Violation
      Lights! Camera! Craft service!
      Lights, Camera..... Roll Tape
      Major Dudes
      Marlboro Inn
      Movie Mojo
      Only in Montclair
      Our Favorite Diversions
      Paranoia Beat
      Parties We Crashed
      Party With Baristanet
      Photo of the Week
      Pop Culture
      Postcards from the EB
      Really Freaking Weird
      Scooped by Phil Read, Again
      Scot's Photo Journal
      Seasonal Decorating Violation
      Seen around town
      Seen in Cyberspace
      Shopping With Barista
      Songs We Can't Get Out of Our Head
      Suburban Archeologist
      The Daily Chat
      The Sunday Barista Poll
      The View from Her Pickup
      Those Crazy Kids
      Time Capsule
      We All Bow to Java
      We Ask Random Strangers
      Where For Art Thou?
      Win Stuff
      Yard Sale Treasure Map