Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Books and Lyrics by Steven Slater
Based on the play by Frank Wedekind
Directed by Michael Arden
Production website 💉💉💉💉💉 out of 5.
My body tingled from the very first moment – – and all the way through the curtain call. I tingled. The hair stood up on my arms. I was in theatre nirvana. Never for a moment did I disengage from this show. In fact I tried to sit in the audience after the curtain call just to enjoy the high of the show for as long as I was able.
This is the second time that I have seen this musical on Broadway – the first was years ago with what was to become a good portion of the cast of Glee. The show was great. It was innovative. It was just a lot of fun.
But this production with a primarily hearing impaired cast was simply an entirely new game. I must admit that I have a bit of expiereice and a whole lot of love and respect for the the beautiful lange of American Sign Language (ASL). In college I was part of a small theatre troupe that was exploring SEE, a newly devised language though to replace ASL but, for many reasons, never caught on. I always feel so sad for those who attend theatre productions and see that one person crowded off to the side by the proscenium arch interpreting the show. Often I just hear how annoying this is – – as if it was interrupting the experience for others. Boy, oh boy, do you have no idea what the theatrical dynamics and beauty that is possible when this language moves stage front and center.
It is hard for me to describe the intensity of the show. The stage pictures were truly beautiful. It is as if the beauty of the hands and body were being extending to the full stage picture. The director was using the visual dynamics of this language and realizing it in the placement of people and the few pieces of scenery that were on stage. Hands danced and the actors bodies joined in.
I experienced the show completely differently. It was as if I saw a musical without the dance and now finally got to experience the show WITH the dance. I could go on and on about all of the moments and innovations to the story that was in this production. I loved the cast warming up on stage before the show wearing all white underwear. Nothing makes someone look so youthful as wearing all white underwear; they become children indeed. And at the shows conclusion when they return to their youth — – the trappings of dangerous adulthood are taken off and they return to all white underwear and an exit that will take your breath away.
There were so many moments I would love to share with you – – but one became just too weird and too wonderful. Just as Act 1 draws to a close and the two young lovers are getting ready to take off some of their clothes and cure their virginity, I started to smell something. My body got a bit weak. What I was smelling was THE very same Frankincense burning that I burnt every week of my teenage years as an altar boy! I could even hear the clinking of the thurible, or metal container of incense suspended on a chain. Plus, there is that distinctive “clink” of chain meeting metal. Now my brain was blurring concept of losing my virginity combined with my service as an altar boy – – in both the visual of the two actors, the sound of the thurible and the unmistakable smell of Frankincense. I was immediately transported back to my youth and that “original sin.”
This is one beautiful show and I challenge any theatre addict who gives this less then five hypos.