Monday, January 28, 2008

More Reasons to Love the Roundabout

As I said in the previous entry, I've been seeing tons of theatre lately. Some excellent ("Happy Days"), some good ("The Farnsworth Invention"), and some disappointing ("The Little Mermaid"), but I feel compelled to write about "Speech and Debate" because you are less likely to have heard about it.

I've loved the Roundabout Theatre Company since I saw Assassins at Studio 54 in 2004, which had one of the best ensemble casts I've seen in live theatre. Since then, I've never been disappointed in any of their productions. In the fall, the company introduced Access Roundabout, an initiative to encourage young adults to attend live theatre with discounted tickets to every performance, and Roundabout Underground at its new Black Box Theatre in the basement of the Laura Pels Theatre. The first of the productions is Speech and Debate by Stephen Karam. The play officially opened on October 29 and since then has been extended several times.

It is refreshing to see such an intimate theatre space just a block from Times Square. There is a cozy waiting area with couches and a bar for early arrivers. The theatre itself, which is general admission, seats about 60.

Three high school students with varying agendas who have secrets about themselves and their drama teacher form an alliance in, as you may have guessed, a speech and debate team. Solomon (Jason Fuchs) is an aspiring journalist, Howie (Gideon Glick) is a recent transfer who wants to start a gay-straight alliance, and Diwata (Sarah Steele) wants to star in the school musical and is also working on her own musical version of The Crucible. For a non-musical, this has some of the best musical numbers I've seen this season. From the sample of Crucible, one can only hope for a Speech and Debate sequel with the full scale version.

Susan Blackwell is the only "adult" in the show, and while she masters who two scenes, she lets her three young co-stars steal the show. Fuchs captures the anxieties and innocence of his character with little details like biting his thumb nail. Glick, is playing a teenager who came out at the age of ten, a far cry from the confused Ernst he played in Spring Awakening, but it would be a shame if he always gets typecast as the gay one. Still, he out of everyone feels most like a teenager in the way he can portray ultra-confidence and complete insecurity at the same time. Steele was Adam Sandler's sweet, chubby, smiling daughter in Spanglish, and one of the best parts of the movie, but who knew she could sing, dance, and bring so much humor and depth to a character? She's definitely one to watch.

The show is now set to close on Feb. 24. It would be nice if it would extend again so even more audiences could see it, but one can always look forward to the next Roundabout Underground show, if this is going to be the standard.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I'm back.

To the few people who read my blog regularly (hi mom), I apologize for being so bad about updating. I recently started a new job and to be honest, I've been wondering whether it'd be worth it to keep this blog up. But lately I've been thinking, even though I do a lot of writing at my job, I should have an outlet for review writing, just for fun, whether or not people read it. So I will try and write more regularly. I've been seeing tons of theatre lately (more than I should probably admit to), so more on that to come.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I'm Down With OSP

You must check out Old Springs Pike. Here's the review I wrote on one of their shows for