Sister Act: dreadful. A selfish and unlikable main character who grows and changes because—uh oh, it’s 10pm and the main character has to grow and change by now. The writers didn’t bother writing anything actually clever or funny, they just put nuns in sequined habits, singing their guts out, and doing jazz hands. Oh, the humor. Not. However, 95% of the audience loved the show. Bored out of my mind, I watched the people around me, some of whom actually doubled over with laughter at jokes like: Bad guy to friend: Well, it’s all relative. Bad guy’s stupid nephew: I’m your relative. Unmemorable songs, ugly set, too loud, too bad. (Side note: Oddly, as a nonreligious Jew, I found the simplistic depiction of nuns more than slightly blasphemous. One was fat and funny, one was old, one was black, one found herself. The others all blended together—so unhappy, downtrodden, and repressed that they didn’t even know they could sing!)
Master Class: opera diva Maria Callas coaches three students while dealing with her own ego and demons. A friend who has seen Patti LuPone and Dixie Carter play Callas (other portrayers include Zoe Caldwell and Faye Dunaway) found current lead, Tyne Daly, unconvincing. This was my first Master Class, and I enjoyed every word out of Daly’s mouth. Earthy and larger than life, Daly made Callas real, charming, commanding, and very intimidating. I found Daly mesmerizing. Despite the oddly staged, crude, and unnecessary flashbacks, I enjoyed the writing and the you-are-actually-thereness of the master class. The total may be less than the sum of its parts, but I’m glad I got to see this revival of Terence McNally’s play, and the incomparable Tyne Daly.
A Streetcar Named Desire: a brilliant play about passion, desperation, tension, conflict, and heartbreak … played without passion, desperation, tension, conflict or heartbreak. At the picturesque Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, Jessica Hecht and Sam Rockwell somehow managed to make Tennessee Williams’ Blanche Du Bois and Stanley Kowalski … dull. A graph of Blanche’s painful, gradual descent, with flares of flirtation and hope, as played by Hecht would be a flat line, then a huge, unearned spike at the end, by which time I was thinking, What shall I eat for dinner? The couple sitting in the box next to me were already eating theirs: they left at intermission, as did many other audience members.
Holly Caster has lived in Nyack with her playwright husband, two kids, and two cats for over 10 years. She is by trade a writer and by nature a fan of theater, movies, books, history, & art.