Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. This week, Larry tells you about RESTORATION, EVERYDAY RAPTURE, IMAGINEOCEAN, WHITE WOMAN STREET, GRACELAND and YEAR ZERO.

Restoration, Claudia Shear’s new play at NY Theatre Workshop, is about a 40-something woman who is a brilliant art restorer, hired to clean Michaelangelo’s “David” for the 500th anniversary celebration of its creation. Giulia is more than a little obsessive/compulsive about the job, so much so that she starts referring to the statue as “him” rather than as “it.” At one point in the play she actually quasi-tries to have sex with the statue. This is hilarious, by the way.

Giulia is great when she’s dealing with stone, but impossible when she’s dealing with people. Until, that is, she strikes up a friendship with the handsome security guard at the museum where she is working. In the course of the play, Giulia finishes her restoration of the statue and, just maybe, starts to come out of her shell.

Ms. Shear is perfectly cast as Giulia, no surprise as she wrote the role for herself. There is also wonderful work here from Jonathan Cake as Max, the security guard, and from Alan Mandell as Guilia’s former professor, who helped get her the job. Mandell sounds astonishingly like John Giulgud. Well, everyone in the cast is superb.

While I wouldn’t put this one in the absolutely-don’t-miss category, it’s a very enjoyable evening and well worth checking out.

As is Everyday Rapture, Sheri Rene Scott’s autobiographical musical at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre. I saw this last season at Second Stage, and I had my doubts about how it would play in this much larger theatre. These doubts were dispelled.

Ms. Scott tells the story of a girl from Kansas, raised as a Mennonite, who fell in love with singing when she was introduced to Judy Garland records by her gay cousin. Judy became a huge influence in her life, as did Fred Rogers, of all people. Ms. Scott’s medley of Mr. Rogers songs makes a case for the children’s TV icon as a homespun philosopher/poet. Although Ms. Scott is most of the show, there is also good work here from her 2-woman backup group, whom she calls the “Mennonettes,” and a hilarious section involving a teenaged boy who has posted a video of himself lip-synching to a song his idol sang in Aida. Eamon Foley practically steals the show with this embodiment of the joy of performing, and of being a true musical comedy fan.

Go – you’ll have a great time.

You’ll have a great time, too, at John Tartaglia’s Imagineocean, at New World Stages – but only if you’re there with a little kid. This is a delightful puppet show about three fish buddies who go on a treasure hunt. It has dancing jellyfish, bubbles, and water sprays. I took a three year-old, and she was enthralled. And because she had such a good time, I did too.

Sebastian Barry’s White Woman Street, at Irish Rep, is about a gang of saddle-worn train thieves on the trail to White Woman Street, a small town where their leader, O’Hara, had an experience in his youth which marked him for life. The play is a mostly-narrated western, with little dramatic action. It is set in southern Ohio, in 1918, where apparently there are still injuns and it’s still the Wild West. Ohio? 1918? And the language sounded awfully bogus to me. I kept trying to identify the metaphor in all of this, but couldn’t. I just wound up wondering, why did an Irish playwright write this? It made no sense to me, but what ultimately held me were the superb performances, most notably by Stephen Payne as O’Hara.

Irish Rep does much better when they revive old plays. Why they can’t find better contemporary Irish plays is beyond me.

Lincoln Center Theatre has a program called LCT3, in which they produce plays by “unknown” playwrights. Plans are underway to build a space for this very worthy venture up there at Lincoln Center; but for now, LCT3 is performing at the Duke Theatre, where I saw Ellen Fairey’s wonderful Graceland, about an adult brother and sister, both themselves sort of lost souls, struggling to deal with the circumstances surrounding the suicide of their father.

Marin Hinkle is wonderful as the sister, Sara, and Matt McGrath is great as her brother, Sam. Well, everyone in the cast is delightful, with special praise going to David Gelles Hurwitz as teenaged Miles. The scene where he tries to put the moves on Sara is hilarious.

I loved this play!

I also loved Michael Golamco’s Year Zero, produced by Second Stage at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, about a Cambodian woman and he younger brother, also struggling to deal with the death of a parent; in this case, their mother, who has just died of cancer. Ra, the sister, is dating a med student named Glenn who is hopelessly in love with her; but she holds a torch for neighborhood bad boy Han, a gang member who has just gotten out of prison and who is adored by Ra’s teenaged brother, Vuthy.

Will Frears’ production is just beautiful, and all the actors are great. Louis Ozawa Changchien is an extremely charismatic Han, and Mason Lee a wonderfully surly Vuthy.

This one is definitely a don’t-miss.

___________________________________________________-

RESTORATION. NY Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th St.

TICKETS: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200

EVERYDAY RAPTURE. American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.roundabouttheatre.org or 212-719-1300

IMAGINEOCEAN. New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St.

TICKETS. www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

WHITE WOMAN STREET. Irish Rep, 132 W. 22nd St.

TICKETS: 212-727-2737

GRACELAND. Duke Theatre. Alas, closed.

YERO ZERO. McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway

TICKETS: 212-246-4422.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

—– George F. Will

Share