It seems that I can never see all the shows I would like to in a New York visit. But on our last foray, I believe we did quite well. Here is what we most enjoyed.
If you forced me to choose a favorite American songwriter, it would have to be Cole Porter. He wrote the music; he wrote the words — and even the best duos don’t quite touch him. So it was with great anticipation that we went to the new revival of one of his classic shows, “Anything Goes” (Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 West 43rd Street; 212-719-1300). Starring the effervescent Sutton Foster and Broadway legend Joel Grey, it is a frothy tale from the ’30s packed full of Porter standards: “You’re The Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “All Through The Night.” The production values are first rate, and thanks to the choreography of Kathleen Marshall, you will enjoy one of the most exhilarating tap numbers I’ve ever seen.
And speaking of Stephen Sondheim, there is currently a revival of one of his finest shows, “Follies” (Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway at West 46th Street; 212-382-0100). The tale of two couples who reunite at a gathering to mark the closing of a theater where the wives once performed, it is filled with numbers that swirl from past to present and back. The production is brilliant, as are the performers, including Bernadette Peters. If you haven’t seen this show before, I urge you to do so. If you have, this might be the best revival it’s ever had.
Perhaps, like me, you had the pleasure of seeing Frank Langella in the late 1970s production of “Dracula,” with atmospheric black-and-white sets by the illustrator Edward Gorey. I have enjoyed Langella in many parts over the years, most recently as Sir Thomas More in “A Man For All Seasons. “ In “Man and Boy” (American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street; 212-719-1300), he plays a financial whiz who is on the brink of pulling off one of his greatest coups. It is not a great play. Terence Rattigan wrote it in 1963, and it did not succeed. But it is timely in its way, and to watch Langella play the role is to see an actor fully get into the skin of his character. It runs through November 27.
One of the great pleasures of the theater is willingly suspending disbelief. Nowhere is this effect more profound right now than on the stage of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in “War Horse” (150 West 65th Street; 212-239-6200). The story is simple: an English boy’s beloved horse is sold to serve in World War I, and the boy, who cannot forget, enlists to find his friend. What is not at all simple is the extraordinary way that the horses are depicted on stage, with two people operating full-size puppet constructs. All of that will melt away, and you will believe that you are seeing actual animals. It is a breathtaking piece of stagecraft. And this is a moving, thoughtful play.