Sunday, November 08, 2015

Misery on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre - A Review

The Broadhurst Theatre

Yes, I know that this blog is about television shows with a weekly photo post thrown in. But, as they say, "The Show Must Go On." I believe that saying has its origins in the theater. Today I'm reviewing Misery on Broadway with Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf in the lead roles as I attended the play on Saturday, November 7.

Spoilers be ahead -- you've been warned!

There are several reasons I was compelled to go see this when I really don't go to hardly any Broadway shows:
  • I'm Stephen King's true Number 1 fan. Er, well. Okay. I'm just a huge fan of his work. I'm not a stalker. Really. I'm not.
  • I like both Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. I've enjoyed Bruce since his Moonlighting days and Laurie since she played Rosanne's sister, Jackie, on Rosanne.
  • I found the book Misery to be one of my favorites -- I prefer The Stand, but that's a whole 'nuther story.
  • The movie Misery was mesmerizing. I have it on DVD and now feel the need to re-watch it.
So, I decided I must go see Misery the Musical. Oh, wait. It ain't that. It's Misery on Broadway!

Another thing it isn't is Misery, the Hollywood movie. Nor is it Misery, the Stephen King novel.

I'm not saying that's such a bad thing. However, the play takes a much different approach than either the book or movie. It was a bit unsettling at first to be amused and giggling during the show. But then it seemed like a great adaptation to me -- making the show a dark comedy with moments of terror thrown in.

Before getting into the meat of this review, I should mention the stage set. It was a revolving affair. There were three sets altogether -- a wintry outdoor front porch set, a bedroom (where most of the action took place) set and a kitchen with hints of a staircase and another room set. Music, most often suspenseful, played as the scenes almost seamlessly rotated through the show. The lighting job was also superb with car headlights shining in the windows, thunderstorms and such.

The show is still in previews at the present time as they perfect things. With the exception of one incident when the curtain came down and they announced technical difficulties, it seemed quite perfected to me. That only lasted shut down for just a minute or two. But it was just before the hobbling scene and built the suspense for it as the audience knew what was coming! It wasn't an issue with the revolving stage set(s) as it was in the bedroom set. They picked it back up repeating the last few lines and action, going on from there.

Like Kathy Bates, who won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes, stole the show from James Caan ... as does Laurie Metcalf steal it from Bruce Willis. Oh, she does it in a much different manner, mind you. She's outright hilarious at times in the role of Annie! I call it a brilliant performance and think she made the show entertaining, often funny and sometimes jump in your seat scary. Kudos to Laurie Metcalf!

Then there's Bruce Willis in the role of Paul Sheldon. Hmm. Well, he looks much different from the Bruce Willis we all know. His shaved bald head is now sporting gray straggly hair around the ears and back of the head and he has a scruffy beard. Of course, the beard fits in with the held captive bit. I've heard some negative things such as he used an earpiece to tell him his lines and he's flubbed lines. I didn't see an earpiece. I do think he may have flubbed a line or two, but recovered decently. The role of Paul Sheldon hasn't the lines to reign supreme like Annie Wilkes. I think he did okay with the role. He was funny at times, screamed well at other times.

A third actor, Leon Addison Brown, played the minor role of the sheriff. He did well, but we didn't see him a heck of a lot. He died quite expertly.

Overall, despite the humor in the show, the terror moments made the audience gasp and squirm. Once, Annie Wilkes smashed a manuscript down on Paul Sheldon's broken legs. I didn't expect that and actually jumped a bit in my seat. I think I felt the pain! The hobbling was done with perfection (after their "technical difficulties" show stop mentioned above). I don't really know how they did it. Yikes! When Annie shot the sheriff (but she didn't kill the deputy), people actually screamed with surprise. And, when Paul fought back against Annie, it was horrifying! Well played, well played.

The performance I saw received a standing ovation. So, I wasn't the only one really enjoying it!

A few notes on the Broadhurst Theatre:
  • My seat was in the first row center of the mezzanine. I had a great view and was close enough to see details on stage, facial expressions and such. I hear the latter part of the orchestra section has the top of the stage obscured by the low-hanging mezzanine. Sucks to be them, huh?
  • The theatre is NOT accessible as far as I could tell. There is no elevator. Going up to the mezzanine, I had to climb a gazillion steps. Bless handrails. Even the orchestra seating seemed to be at such an incline that trying to get a decent view seated in a wheelchair might be impossible.
  • The legroom, or lack thereof, actually beat the Astor Place Theatre where I saw the Blue Man Group. I'm talking about the LACK of legroom. It wins the prize! While the seats themselves were comfy and spacious enough, my knees and feet were actually touching the mezzanine wall while I was sitting upright with good posture. Halfway through the show, I ended up shifting a bit sideways. I've had a DVT already. I don't want another.
  • There was no intermission during the (over) 90 minute show, but there was a bar set up both upstairs and downstairs. Since they don't want you to take drinks to your seats, I guess people have to chug their wine. I didn't get a beverage.
  • When I picked up my tickets at the box office in the morning for the 2pm matinee, I asked the agent/clerk/whatever when it would be best to return for the show. He said ten minutes before two. Hmm.
  • I returned a half-hour before the show to find a line stretching almost to the corner of the block, thus confusing Matilda attendees. 
  • While I ended up getting in line near the nearby Shubert Theatre (Matilda is there), it was only due to a fluke because a car wanted to cut through the line to get into the parking garage and there was no room for anyone to really move. It almost broke into fisticuffs between a woman theater-goer and the driver while an NYPD cop watched from the street. Nonetheless, I got stuck and ended up talking to the people around me, then just moved forward with them.
  • Because they too were told to arrive ten minutes before the show and the line was so long (all ticket holding folks), the theatre filled up late and the show started late.
  • One man in line was telling people we were in line for Obama, the Musical. They believed him. He and I discussed various possibilities for the show.
  • The theatre staff was pleasant enough.
  • Even considering its late start, the show did run overtime. Maybe that's one thing they need to work on while it's in previews. It's supposed to last 90 minutes. It ended up running about ten to fifteen minutes over that. I didn't really care about that.
A final note:
I'm not a Broadway show reviewer, nor do I even play one on television. I personally would go again to see this show if it were in my budget. Laurie Metcalf rulz!


Delee said...

So glad you enjoyed the play. If I lived closer would love to see both of the actors. Thanks for the review!

meb said...

Loved reading your review Jackie. I hope the play 'makes it' and continues to entertain many people. Then perhaps it will go on the road and i'll get to see it here in Raleigh. All speculation of course. I was intrigued at how it could be humorous at all, remembering the movie. Glad you got to see it.

David said...

I really loved The Stand, as well

My dad is an MD, and he had a patient that knew Stephen King. The patient, having been informed by Dad that he had a son who was a huge fan, offered to get a personalized autograph.

Being a doctor, my dad grabbed the paper that he had handy, his prescription pad, and scribbled my name on it for the patient to take with him.

When the patient returned for his next appointment, he brought back the same piece of paper with the inscription, "For David. Two scares daily, use as directed. -Stephen King, MD.

It is one of my favorite things. :)

Jackie said...

Love that, David! I've met him at book signings and, not only have signed books, but a few photos of us together. He's a very personable guy.