2 Broadway shows: The Ferryman, Choirboy

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By Caitlin Kelly

One of the many reasons I enjoy living near New York City is having quick and easy access to its culture, whether music, dance, art, books, theater.

We’re fortunate my husband works for The New York Times, which is unionized, and as a result gives us access to TDF, which offers low-cost tickets to a range of entertainment; as I left the matinee of Choirboy, having paid $45 for a fantastic orchestra seat, I saw that the lowest price at the TKTS booth in Times Squares was $73.

It’s a real privilege to see a show for these prices — full price for an orchestra Broadway seat can be $300 or more.

The Ferryman

First, if you don’t know much recent Irish history — specifically “The Troubles”, then acronyms mentioned in it like GPO and RUC won’t mean much. Plus thick Northern Irish accents to cut through.

Go anyway! It’s an amazing play, even if the ending is abrupt and confusing. It has more than 20 cast members — seven children, plus (!) a live rabbit, a live goose and a very calm live baby. It’s almost three hours, with two intermissions.

It opened in New York on Broadway in October 2018.

It’s set in an Irish farmhouse at harvest time, in 1981, and includes everyone from Aunt Maggie Far Away, fading in and out of dementia, to the foul-mouthed patriarch Patrick and his wife, Patricia. There’s a very bad guy named Mr. Muldoon, a betrayed and betraying priest, a bunch of rowdy cousins and plenty of whisky. The plot is too complicated to detail here, but here’s a review of it; the themes of loyalty, belonging, lost opportunity and betrayal playing throughout.

Choirboy

Hard to imagine a more different sort of play, but so terrific. It closes March 10, so if you have a chance, run!

Set in an all-male prep school bristling with secrets and shame, it stars six African-American actors — in itself unusual. The set is simple but versatile, morphing from a steamy locker room to a classroom to a dorm room shared by two room-mates, the wall above each bed plastered with posters.

As someone who spent five years at prep school, and four of those in boarding sharing space with strangers, much of this was familiar.

In addition to the plot, there’s fantastic a capella singing, of course.

It was also great to see an audience filled with African-Americans, less visible in some Broadway houses.

Jose and I have tagged 2019 the year to Try New Things!

Theater is one form of culture I tend to overlook and neglect, so this is a good start.

11 thoughts on “2 Broadway shows: The Ferryman, Choirboy

  1. So envious! Watching these actors, people I have seen on UK television or movies is like watching musicians play an acoustic set. I have seen Laura Donnelly on Outlander and heard she’s amazing (plus the playwright is her partner). I pretty much fangirled over this cast. Glad you enjoyed it.

      1. Don’t personally know Isabel Huppert but decided to spring for “The Mother” (play — in preview, methinks) during my scant 10 days mid-March in New York. Huppert films currently are cycling on Tuesdays chez FIAF, and she’s there in person on the 24th (when I’ll already be back in Paris 😦

  2. I love going to the theater, which I’m able to do more now thanks to my workplace, which sells tickets at discount prices. I’ve been lucky enough to see Phantom of the Opera, Book of Mormon, and Hamilton when they’ve stopped in Columbus on tour, and I’m going to see Rent, The Addams Family Musical, and Hello Dolly over the next couple of months. I’m really excited, and I hope I get the opportunity to see more shows. Especially Moulin Rouge if it does well and goes on tour.
    And speaking of shows, have you heard of this new one called HadesTown? I’ve been seeing ads for it on my Facebook feed every now and then.

    1. I haven’t seen any of the 1st 3 — and all are in NYC. Rent is so much fun and so is Hello Dolly (I played VanderGelder in our summer camp production) so can sing all the songs…

      I have heard of Hades Town. Hard to keep up with it all.

      1. Time, energy, $$$, choices!!!

        The next MUST see on my list (and has been for a damn year) is the Toronto-originated Come From Away. The Band’s Visit is simply spectacular; we saw it (full price, eee) about a month ago.

  3. that is so lucky that you have access to well-priced tickets to these shows. a great perk. when i was in advertising, we promoted all kinds of entertainment and i had the lucky opportunity to see many things firsthand that i never would have had access to otherwise. i agree with you that not all will be your favorites, but they will all be memorable for the experience. wonderful –

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