The Butcher Boy or How Words and Actions Effect Us
The Butcher Boy now playing at the Irish Rep is based on a 1992 novel by Patrick McCabe. Set in a small town in Ireland in the early 1960s, it tells the story of Francie Brady (Nicholas Barasch, at my performance Dan Macke), a thirteen year-old who has not been dealt the greatest of hands in life. He retreats into a fantasy world that is violent leading to his becoming broken. This is a horror story about a sensitive child who fantasies about a happy family life and instead has his fantasies torn apart.
Francie’s mother (Andrea Lynn Green) is frequently abused both verbally and physically by her husband (Scott Stangland), a bitter alcoholic. She attempts suicide, leaving Francie alone when she is committed for a time to a mental hospital. His only friend is Joe Purcell (Christian Strange). When Francie and Joe steal Phillip Nugent’s (Daniel Marconi) comic books, his mother Mrs. Nugent (Michele Ragusa), their new British neighbor, calls the Brady family “a bunch of pigs.” Ironically, it is Joe’s idea to steal the books. Francie, whose father beats him, takes this insult to heart and begins to see four pigs (Teddy Trice, Carey Rebecca Brown, Polly McKie and David Baida). With the piggies urging him on, Francie starts to harassing the Nugents for “Pig Toll tax”.
His mother returns and Francie’s uncle Alo (Joe Cassidy), known as a local celebrity, comes for Christmas. Francie who admires his uncle, witnesses his drunk father reveal that Alo is a fraud. Francie, horrified runs away to Dublin, where he meets and falls in love with Mary (a glorious voiced Kerry Conte). While he is away, his mother commits suicide, for which his father blames him. He loses his friendship with Joe to Philip when Francie tries to kill Philip. He is given a job of butchering pigs. Blaming the Nugents for his demise Francie defecates on their kitchen floor and is sent to a mental institute. His father dies and Francie is threatened with being sent back to the mental institution, but goes to where his parents honeymooned only to find out more lies, that break him to his core.
Told in first-person, we see the story unfold as memory. The book, music, and lyrics by newcomer and senior at Princeton University, Asher Muldoon reach heights that impress. The music is much like Adam Guettel’s, with hints of Ahrens & Flaherty: lush, emotionally riveting and connected. Sadly, it is hard to hear the lyrics, which made me want to read them to gain more insight. The book also crams in way too much, instead of just dealing with how Francie never stood a chance in life and how he falls apart. Even now at almost 2 1/2 hours it is too long and could use some cutting.
The direction by Ciarán O’Reilly is well staged, yet some things are unclear. Unless you have been abused or understand the breaking of a soul, there are clues that do not congeal. Maybe this was because of the understudy. For instance, in “Live Like This Forever, ”as Frankie is being beaten, we see the pain, but not the real splitting of the personality. Frankie imagines a lot of what we see, but that is not made clear. Charlie Corcoran’s set of a large tv screen, with projections by Dan Scully, gives us clues to where Francie gets his ideas.
Choreographer Barry McNabb keeps the action going with plenty of song and dance moves. When Francie imagines Philip as a song-and-dance man in “Phillip’s Song,” Marconi excels. As does Stangland in “Those Were the Days.”
David Hancock Turner is not only at the piano, but also conducts the Slaughterhouse Five, to aplomb.
Stanley Alan Sherman’s pig masks are eerie.
Though this show is hard to take, it is definitely worth your while. Muldoon is a force to be-reckoned with and to be put on your radar.
The Butcher Boy at The Irish Repertory Theatre, through September 11.
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
Theatre News: Smash, I Need That, Good Night, Oscar, Funny Girl, This Beautiful Lady and In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical
The NBC television series Smash is coming to Broadway for the 2024-2025 season. Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Steven Spielberg will produce. The musical will feature a book co-written by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice and Tony winner Bob Martin. Tony and Grammy winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Some Like It Hot). The team earned three Emmy nominations for their songs from the “Smash” series will pen the score, which will feature numbers from the TV show.
Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (New York, New York) will direct and Tony nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse will choreograph.
The series was created by Theresa Rebeck and Spielberg, launch the series. Spielberg is also one of the co-producers of Good Night, Oscar, which begins performances at the Belasco Theatre on April 7.
Official dates, theater, creative team and casting for the “Smash” stage musical will be announced at a later date.
Speaking of the Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Theresa Rebeck, Danny DeVito and Lucy DeVito are set to star in her new play I Need That at the Roundabout. The new comedy will be directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel which will open at the American Airlines Theatre in October. The cast will also include Ray Anthony Thomas. … Also newly announced for Roundabout’s new Broadway season is a spring 2024 revival of Samm-Art Williams’ 1980 Tony-nominated play “Home.” Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct
Speaking of Good Night, Oscar, Doug Wright’s play was named finalist for 2023 new play award by The American Theatre Critics Association. The other six finalists for the 2023 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award include: Born With Teeth by Liz Duffy Adams, the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson, Sally & Tom by Suzan-Lori Parks, Spay by Madison Fiedler and
Swing State by Rebecca Gilman.
Paolo Montalban and Anne L. Nathan are joining Lea Michele in Funny Girl as Florenz Ziegfield and Mrs. Strakosh. Montalban and Nathan will replace original cast members Peter Francis James and Toni DiBuono, who take their final bows on March 26th.
Elizabeth Swados’ This Beautiful Lady will play at La MaMa this May. Previews will begin May 5 for the Off-Broadway run ahead of the May 8 press opening, with performances set through May 28 in the Ellen Stewart Theatre.
In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Graham & Kristina Fuller, will receive industry readings on Friday, March 24th at 11am & 3pm at Ripley Grier Studios. The readings will be directed by Jen Wineman (Dog Man: The Musical) and will feature music direction by Rebekah Bruce (Mean Girls) and arrangements by Dan Graeber, Graham & Kristina Fuller.
The cast of In The Trenches features Amanda Jane Cooper (Wicked), Jelani Remy (The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud), Christine Dwyer (Wicked), Caesar Samayoa (Come From Away), Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster!), and Vidushi Goyal.Join two bleary-eyed young parents as they trudge through the trenches and discover their new post-baby identities. In an evening of new-parent greatest hits, a foul-mouthed toddler zeroes in on “the most dangerous thing in the room”, tap dancing towards bleach, knives, and tide pods; a chronically-overlooked younger sibling sings the “second child blues”; a mom trio celebrates yoga pants in an R&B love song to the “official mom uniform”; dad discovers he’s not the “ice-cream and movie-night cool parent” but rather the “do your homework real parent” amid a kiddo sugar-crash; and mom retrieves a sticky, hair-covered pacifier from the floor of a LaGuardia bathroom while her baby screams bloody murder and her flight boards without her.
Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and More To Perform at TheaterWorksUSA Spring Gala
TheaterWorksUSA, currently presenting the hit family show Dog Man The Musical at New World Stages, will host its annual Spring Gala on Monday, April 24 (cocktails begin at 6 PM) at The Current at Chelsea Piers.
100% of the net proceeds from the event will support our mission to create exceptional, transformative theatrical experiences that are accessible to young and family audiences in diverse communities across New York City and North America.
This year TWUSA will honor Lisa Chanel (TWUSA Board Chair 2019-2022), Andréa Burns (Award-winning Broadway actress & educator), Peter Flynn (TWUSA alumnus and award-winning director, writer, and educator), and Holly McGhee (Founder and Creator of Pippin Properties, New York Times best selling author). The event will feature appearances by some of Broadway’s biggest stars, including Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Kevin Del Aguila, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and more.
On behalf of TheaterWorksUSA’s Board of Directors, we are thrilled to celebrate the people who have generously supported our mission, making it possible for us to bring high-quality theater to young audiences of all backgrounds throughout the country. We look forward to recognizing Lisa, Andréa, Peter, and Holly publicly at this very special event. – Tracy A. Stein, Board Chair
It’s a privilege to honor these individuals for playing such an important role in the work we do. Their vision, creativity, and ongoing commitment to our mission is truly something to celebrate. They are very much a part of our TheaterworksUSA family.- Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director
TheaterWorksUSA (Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) has led the Theater for Young and Family Audiences movement in New York City and across North America for over half a century. At TWUSA, we believe that access to art—and theater, in particular—is vital for our youth. Since 1961, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit has captured the imaginations of 100 million new and veteran theatergoers with an award-winning repertoire of over 140 original plays and musicals. Acclaimed alumni include Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Disney’s Frozen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Jerry Zaks (The Music Man), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton), Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America), and Chuck Cooper (Tony award-winning actor, The Life). WWW.TWUSA.ORG
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