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Posts Tagged ‘Jon Michael Hill’

What a season!  A superlative blend of four promising new musicals, three dynamite plays (and another really enjoyable one), and a play revival that reinvented what that play was about and another that had only excellent notices.  When it comes time to award this season, there simply aren’t enough trophies to go around.

Just a glorious season for Off-Broadway.

Oh, right, the Tony Awards are only for Broadway shows.  Yeah, that season was a letdown as a whole.  A few inspired performances and pieces, but as a composite, the NY Times’s two critics called it a B- season.  To me, its more along the lines of C+.  Barely-there books in the Musical category, Plays that sound better on paper than on stage, and revivals of a slate of classics that were generall more about competence than brilliance.

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Superior Donuts, a follow-up of sort for Tracy Letts from his masterpiece August: Osage County, is first a foremost a direct attempt to not be a follow-up to the playwright’s prior work.  Letts has never been one to “build” on his work, which is not only admirable, but, frankly, exceptional.  His gift for dialogue & view into circumstance is equally exceptional.  This play, however, falls short of his talent.

Superior Donuts, the shop not the play, is a home of sorts for the play itself.  A single room set houses the rather dramatic break-in that sets the circumstances in motion in the confined space, and all of the elements of a dramatic score are present.  Michael McKean’s Arthur Przybyszewski is an aging (if not already aged) hippie, whose personal tale is a focal point of the play.  Its his store, and, to some extent, his story.  On stage for nearly the entire 135 minutes of the play, McKean does an admirable job conveying the balance of righteousness & hopelessness that is essential to the role.  However, the role is too simply written – telegraphing all of the impending plot developments & speeches for the audience, rather than allowing us to connect the dots and make our own assumptions.  I won’t spoil the deeper elements of Arthur’s paradox, but suffice it to say there are some serious issues he’s avoided over his life.  If only there was some depth to how those complications were expressed, this character could have been exceptional.

Jon Michael Hill sparkles in a somewhat stereotypical role of the neighborhood kid from the wrong side of the tracks trying (or appearing) to do good.  Of course, I pretty much called of the plot developments for his character arc, but Hill’s easy charisma helps his obvious talent overcome the rote-ness of his role.  The remaining actors deliver fine performances, with quotes and facial expressions lingering in my head.

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