theatreSo you’re coming to NY for the weekend.  Are you going to spend it looking at chocolate at the M&M Store?  Waiting on line for the ridiculously expensive and intolerably slow ferris wheel at Toys R Us?  Or are you going to see something unique to NY?  LIVE fabulous theatre.

I bet you know what I’m gonna suggest.

This past week, the Theatre Gods  were with me, and I saw  two truly wonderful things.  If you are coming to NY (without your kids – these two shows are NOT kid friendly) you should seriously consider checking these out:

1. The Book of Mormon

This show is AWESOME.  The FUNNIEST thing you will see for a decade!  It is also not for the easily offended.  If poking fun at God (with serious vulgarities) offends you – don’t go to this show. If, however, the idea of the word of God being handed down by Hobbits appeals to you – by all means, get thee to the theatre. The musical, by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, tells the story of two Mormon Missionaries sent to Africa. It’s about Mormonism – but only  because they had to choose one religion to use to go after organized religion in general.  I don’t want to tell you much – the jokes are so fresh and surprising (except for the one where the main character equates– where else: Disney Land? – to heaven on earth.) that I don’t want to give any of them away.  Suffice it to say: the sets are clever, the choreography complex and interesting, the musical hummable and bright, the performers talented and the book and lyrics totally hysterical. The funniest show I have EVER seen. Plus, it has a point of view, and something to say. I may be starting to believe in miracles…or at least in Musical Theatre again.

2. Hello Again!

Maybe not at the other end of the spectrum…but pretty far from The Book of Mormon’s big-bold production and style, is this intimate, innovative production of Michael John La Chiusa’s Hello Again from The Transport Group.  A little background: The Transport Group is a theatre without a home.  So every production moves to a different space, which is incorporated into the staging.  Last year, they did a revival of The Boys in the Band, a play that takes place at a party in a downtown NY apartment.  So the production was in…you guess it – a downtown NY apartment, where audience members not only ringed the room, but say inside of the apartment itself, in effect joining the party. Fabulous.

This production also used a loft space downtown, and turned it into a dinner party or cabaret.  Round tables  – a bar at one end.  Plus, the action of the play takes place, in large part, on top of the tables. You are IN the scenes.

And what’s the action?  Well, lots and lots of sex.  Not actual sex, mind you.  But actual bare butts on actors simulating sex.  Aside from the sex there is a complex and wonderful score and perhaps the most uniformly and incredibly talented ensemble cast ever “ensembled.”

True, there are times when you can’t see everything that’s going on. But if they were trying to immerse you in the experience…well done.

Hey – sex and religion!  What could go wrong?