Sondheim gets his Shakes on, the most overrated play of 2011 and more …

Get ready for some random theatre-y thoughts:

Sondheim gets his ChiShakes on: After receiving the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement on Sunday morning, the man himself visited Sunday’s matinée of Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (along with playwright David Henry Hwang and the great Sir Peter Hall). He then went backstage following the show. According to a poster at All That Chat, “the cast and crew was abuzz … because of [Sondheim’s] afternoon attendance. He was free with notes and opened with a cute joke.” Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for all that! I did hear, however, that Sondheim was very impressed with ChiShakes’ production. I certainly know I was: I’m seeing it again November 13 — closing night.

Speaking of David Henry Hwang … Chinglish opens on Broadway: I loved Hwang’s play when it opened at the Goodman in June. “It’s smart, it’s topical, it keeps you on your toes, it’s well-crafted and the frequent laughs are more than earned,” I said when reviewing the pre-Broadway Goodman run. However, the New York reviews have been very mixed, with many saying it’s a one-joke play that quickly wears thin. Huh. Hopefully it finds an audience!

Speaking of New York reviews … Sons of the Prophet, or the most overrated show I’ve seen this year: When I was in New York last month, I got last-minute $35 third row seats for Stephen Karam’s new play, Sons of the Prophet. Sadly, I found the thing a trite, preachy snore of a play. The acting, particularly by Joanna Gleason (whom I’ve loved in other things), was forced and hammy, and the ending felt like a cop-out. I mostly forgot about the play the moment I left the Laura Pels Theatre. Why so many New York critics seem to be falling over themselves to praise the thing is beyond me — and there’s even buzz on the theatre chat boards of a Pulitzer nomination. Huh?

Speaking of nominations … Equity Jeff awards tonight! Tonight at Drury Lane Oakbrook, the Equity Jeff Awards will be presented. Check out the long list of nominees here and follow a live twitter feed from the ceremony here. Oh, and read my thoughts on the nominees here. Good luck to all the nominees!

2 thoughts on “Sondheim gets his Shakes on, the most overrated play of 2011 and more …

  1. I was feeling sorry I missed Sons of the Prophet when I was in NY last week, so I’m glad to hear your opinion that it was less than awesome. Instead, I saw the highly praised “Other Desert Cities,” which had some very good acting but a contrived, implausible plot and oddly specific but irrelevant backstories for each character (one is a lesbian, one married a Brit, one likes internet porn).

    1. My friend, who saw “Prophet” with me and felt the same way I did about it, also felt “Other Desert Cities” was another highly overrated play for many of the same reasons you’ve cited.

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