Raise A Hand To God…

Hand To God
Hand To God

Five days in and I have only seen two Broadway shows.

I am slowing down.

I love theater on Tuesday nights. Most shows commence at 7pm and TKST usually has the best selection and the smallest crowds.

I was in a quandary as to which show to purchase since I wanted to see so many of those listed.

I had a conference with the knowledgeable peeps who offer instant counseling by the electronic TKTS board. I conferred with one well informed gentleman in particular whose opinions were in line with mine. I tested him on Fun Home and that clinched it.

Hand To God was the winner and it was sensational. It was also a great price point for 5th row orchestra seats.

It was just nominated for a Tony for Best Play.

Hand To God Set
Hand To God Set

Hand To God, which previously ran Off Broadway, takes place in a basement classroom of a Lutheran church. Puppets and profanity are heavily involved and it is hysterically clever, entertaining and touching .

Here’s the scoop…three teenagers show up for puppet practice, none on a mission  to praise the Lord.

Timothy (Michael Oberholtzer) the class bad boy, is a tall, strapping kid whose raging hormones are fixated on Margery (Geneva Carr), a totally inappropriate love object. Jessica (Sarah Stiles), a sly and glib charmer who is transformed by plays end, is the only interested participant although she favors Balinese shadow puppetry.

Steven Boyer photo: Joan Marcus
Steven Boyer photo: Joan Marcus

The third member, Jason (Steven Boyer who is nominated for a Tony for Best Leading Actor In a Play), whose mother, Margery, is creator and leader of the class, is excruciatingly shy and couldn’t be more humiliated to be put in this  ridiculous position.

Jason and his alter ego in the form of Tyrone, a sock puppet with a devilishly foul mouth, rule the stage and breath laughter and creativity into this dark yet poignant comedy.

Hand To God flies by. The payoff comes in the second act, after Jason’s puppet Tyrone has totally gone over to the dark side as is evidenced in the hilariously inappropriate physical transformation of the church basement into the devil’s lair.

Steven Boyer, Sarah Stiles  photo: Sarah Krulwich, nytimes.com
Steven Boyer, Sarah Stiles photo: Sarah Krulwich, nytimes.com

The scene between Jason’s puppet, Tyrone and Jessica’s, Jolene is a Broadway moment that should not be missed.

Fun Home  photo:nyfix.com
Fun Home photo:nyfix.com

This week, we also saw, Fun Home. There is quite a buzz about the timely and relevant show. It was lost on me. I enjoyed parts, admired the sets, but felt it was too long and every musical number could have been edited.

Fun Home photo:broadwaygeniusgroups.com
Fun Home photo:broadwaygeniusgroups.com

Pubescent highlight alert…the children’s performance of a commercial for the family funeral home was a show stopper.

Zell Steele Morrow, Emily Skeggs, Judy Kuhn, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris, Beth Malone, Roberta Colindrez
Zell Steele Morrow, Emily Skeggs, Judy Kuhn, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris, Beth Malone, Roberta Colindrez

The musical is adapted by Lisa Korn and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir.

The story concerns the father-daughter relationship between Alison Bechdel and her father Bruce, played by Tony nominee, Michael Cerveris. He is one of my favorite Broadway actors yet I was not blown away by his performance and his voice sounded strangely different.

Fun Home has been called “the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian.”

Hand To God is a must see and my choice over Fun Home…hands down.

Hand To God Booth Theatre 149 West 45th New York. Running Time 150 minutes. 15 Minute Intermission.

Fun Home Circle In The Square 235 West 50th Street New York. 110 minutes. No Intermission.

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