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Summertime...Took a little vacation! Three reviews coming soon! Amazing Grace, Hand to God and Mamma Mia!

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Saturday, September 17, 2011

CASTING: The Submission & Wild Animals You Should Know

NOTE: This article has been updated from its original posting.  An error was found and reported by a reader - THANK YOU!  It has been corrected and is in RED below.

If you follow this blog somewhat regularly, you know that one of my goals over the last year has been to expand my theater-going horizons beyond Broadway musicals and high profile plays.  More regular attendance at off-Broadway and regional theatres is on my agenda.  So far so good... Death Takes a Holiday and Lysistrata Jones have proven that the quality and star power of Broadway can and does exist beyond Times Square.


This season, I got a subscription to MCC Theater mainly because I really wanted to see Carrie, the fateful Broadway musical flop of legend.  Given that it is to star one of my favorite actresses, Marin Mazzie, it was a no-brainer.  And it was actually only a few more dollars to subscribe to the whole season than to try and buy whatever was left over ticket-wise for Carrie.  Both plays, The Submission and Wild Animals You Should Know, had me with their plot synopses on the company website.  The former, about making art and identity and race sounded right up my alley.  The former sounded intriguing, creepy and definitely interesting.  The casting for both (Wild Animals was just announced yesterday) really has me even more excited about both world premiere plays.  Talk about top-notch actors and directors!


The Submission's Logo Photo
From MCC Theater
The Submission, currently in previews toward a September 27th opening, plays through October 22.  The cast is just four, but really represents the current generation of actors who embrace theatre just as they do television and film work.  I think we are all the better for it, too.  The immediate draw for me was Glee and Spring Awakening star Jonathan Groff, a young actor whose career I have followed since seeing Spring Awakening off-Broadway (go figure).  I have yet to see him in anything where I didn't enjoy his work.  I think he has an honesty and vulnerability that appeals to me.  Eddie Kaye Thomas, whose work in the funny, if not terribly brilliant film series American Pie is all I have seen.  But his work on stage has been well-received, including Broadway's Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and The Diary of Anne Frank, as well as off-Broadway's Dog Sees God

A scene from The Submission.  (L to R) Eddie Kaye Thomas,
Jonathan Groff, Rutina Wesley, Will Rogers
Photo by Joan Marcus

And I have never seen a single second of HBO's True Blood, but mention Rutina Wesley to anyone who has seen it, and their eyes light up.  So, I am curious to see how good she will be, not that I really doubt it.  The final actor in this four-hander, Will Rogers, is making quite a name for himself quickly, having co-starred in this summer's Unnatural Acts, the critically acclaimed, oft-extended play about the underground gay scene in 1920's Harvard.  Doesn't sound like it can lose, cast-wise, and a world premiere play by a young writer, Jeff Talbott, who was awarded by no less than the late Arthur Laurents, can't be all that bad, either, right?  And Walter Bobbie of Chicago fame is directing.  I think you can probably understand why I am looking forward to seeing this show in early October.

With the announcement yesterday of the final casting of Wild Animals You Should Know, another world premiere by a newer playwright, Thomas Higgins, I am really looking forward to seeing this play in late fall.  Daniel Stewart Sherman is a respected regional actor, while John Behlman is a veteran of The 39 Steps, and these are just the supporting roles! 

Patrick Breen and Alice Ripley

The drama surrounding two young men on a scout camping trip (press materials use words and phrases like "cat-and-mouse," "intrigue and deception," and "innocently erotic game."  The final sentence of the play description really makes this sound mysterious and even dangerous: "But Matthew has secretly decided just how far he's willing to go for his final act of scouting and everyone might do well to heed the scouts' motto: Be Prepared."

Gideon Glick and Jay Armstrong Johnson

Patrick Breen of Next Fall and The Normal Heart on Broadway, is a co-founder of MCC.  He plays the father of one of the boys.  The young men are being played by up and comers Gideon Glick and Jay Armstrong Johnson.  I have enjoyed the work of both actors: Glick in Spring Awakening and in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (Version 1.0), and Johnson in the National Tour of A Chorus Line and his very first performance as Claude in Hair (It was the fourth preview and he was going on almost unrehearsed for Gavin Creel.  He was TERRIFIC!) And as the mother, Alice Ripley!  I cannot wait to see her act in a straight role; I'm sure she will be intense and fierce.

Glick, far left, with the original Geek Chorus from
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

The First National Tour of A Chorus Line
Jay Armstring Johnson is third from right.
Photo by Paul Kolnik

Wild Animals You Should Know begins previews November 3rd, opens November 20th, with a scheduled closing of December 11.

To find out more about these plays, click HERE.


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Jeff
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1 comment:

  1. I saw the play THE SUBMISSION last Saturday and I was absolutely bowled-over by the play itself and by the performances. As you suggest in one of your comments, with all of the talent involved, I would have been surprised if it was *NOT* a success. … and perhaps … "success" is a bit of an understatement …

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