I went as a fan of War and Peace but emerged with a new understanding of NY theater now. Over and again in recent years, I’ve had to say that what’s on Broadway is thin and to recommend this-little-show-in-an-“unusual”-space: Sleep No More in the Mc Kittrick Hotel, These Seven Sicknesses at the Flea, and now Pierre, Natasha, and the Great Comet of 1812.
Theatre is happening everywhere in the city and, perhaps most vibrantly, in said little out-of-the-way theaters. There is so much talent in NY that it cannot squeeze anymore into the expensive, years-consuming, investor-courting space that is Broadway. The kind of revitalization of theater that has happened from time to time in NYC and elsewhere is happening now.
What you’re hearing in my post is not the usual Broadway is dead complaint: it’s not dead and a lot of great things play in the not-for-profit and smaller houses near 42nd Street as well as, from time to time, in the larger traditional Broadway houses. But the scene is once again a scene, with small, unconventional spaces (or larger ones like the Mc Kittrick).
Actors mixing with the audience and improvising scenery and action, sometimes by co-opting the audience’s space. Pop rhythms infusing old forms, like Tolstoy’s 19th-century novel and high opera. Energy everywhere. Talent bursting at the seams—so much that it seems able to fill the stage for decades. Do you hear excitement? I am feeling it.