Tuesday, June 3, 2008

JSH's Top Five Plays

We asked artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland to name his top five plays, and this is the response we received:

Should I separate them into musicals and non-musicals? I love a lot of different kinds of theater. If you ever watch the TV show Slings and Arrows, the three main male characters are always very combative towards each other because one's obsessed with Shakespeare, one's all about musicals, and the other's strictly into pretentious avant-garde spectacles. I always have a very schizophrenic feeling watching the show, because I can relate to all three characters. I like everything they like - combined - and more.

Anyway, in no particular order, at this moment, I think my top five is:

1. Sweeney Todd. My favorite version ever was the traveling version that just came to Louisville, with Judy Kaye as Mrs.Lovett. After that, I love the original Hearn-Lansbury version best. The movie's fun too. Not so crazy about any of the Patti LuPone incarnations.

2. The Producers. Say what you will about Mel Brooks - and there's a lot to be said about him - the original Broadway cast and the subsequent movie were a pinnacle in 20th century theater. Says me.

3. Last Summer At Bluefish Cove. I'm specifically speaking here of the recent one that Pandora Productions did in Louisville, but I'm sure I'd love to see it again done by anyone. The way the set is laid out in two separate parts that connect in real time (thus eliminating the need for pauses to change scenery) directly inspired the way I'm going to have the set broken into two parts in Toulouse-inations. I also love the play's style, its sense of characterization, and flow of dialogue. The play is so well crafted that you don't have to be able to relate to its core issues (lesbianism, cervical cancer, 1970s feminism) to be moved by it.

4. Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Brecht and Weill have always been HUGE influences on me, in ways even I'm probably not aware. I've never seen or heard a bad version of this. I'm especially fond, however, of John Doyle 's recent version that aired on PBS. Patti LuPone redeems herself here, and does a stellar job.

5. Twelfth Night. Despite its high stature among scholars, this is probably Shakespeare's cheesiest work in the canon, seeing as it basically set the meta-template for every episode of Three's Company that dealt with accidents of chance, misunderstoods, and sexual ambiguity. And I love it anyway. Someday Catclaw will put it on. Someday.