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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen McKinley Henderson’

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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August Wilson’s Fences, a Pulitzer-prize winning masterwork of theatre, has reached Broadway once again.  While I may have an impression that the play is let down only by not having that glorious ensemble of characters that his other masterwork (in my mind) has, namely Joe Turner’s Come And Gone, it is certainly as joy to watch.  It may not be Joe Turner or The Piano Lesson (my second favorite Wilson play), there is something special in Wilson’s work.

The original production featured James Earl Jones and Mary Alice, both Tony winners for their performances.  One difference this time around is that the role Alice played was considered a Featured role, and Viola Davis is considered a Lead.  The role, Rose Maxson, is very much a reactor to the main character, her husband Troy Maxson.

Troy is an interesting theatrical and literary character.  He is ultimately revealed as a man who doesn’t look around enough to let himself grow with the times, rather choosing to fence himself in.  Quite literary, in fact, as the play builds.  A man who rose through the first half of the century, witness to both world wars, the depression, and, as the play takes place, the early days of the Civil Rights movement – along with everything in between.

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