It’s apparently been on the air for a while already but only made it onto the W.E.T.A. website last night. Here’s a fantastic piece on our production with three of the Around Town regulars offering their reactions — with wonderful footage from the show. Anyone wanna post the pull-quotes?
Click here to get directly to the Around Town segment.
WETA Around Town
Around Town [Transcript] The Seagull on 16th Street
Robert Aubrey Davis: Hello I’m Robert Aubrey Davis and I’m joined by Jane Horwitz and Trey Graham. Theater J journeys to the Russian Countryside with their adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic tale about spiritual yearning and artistic ambition. The Seagull on 16th Street brings together a recognizable cast of local actors, sprinkles in snippets of popular music and pokes fun at lofty dreams and desires in this story about love lost, the making of art, a mother son relationship and a little touch of Judaism. The theater they’re trying to create in the countryside is basically a Jewish themed theater instead of a surrealist or modernist theater, and I thought that worked fine for me.
Jane Horwitz: I was surprised at how well it worked. Theater J is a Jewish themed theater company and they wanted to try…and there’s a little homage to Vanya on 42nd Street, the Louis Malle film. But they wanted to try making some of the characters Jewish and part of the mother-son conflict is that she’s an assimilated Jew who’s a very popular actress in Russia at the turn of the century and he wants to get more in touch with his identity, his ethnic identity and his religious identity, and they disagree about that. But it’s not laid on to thick. It’s rather lightly done.
Trey Graham: It’s not. I though it was rather gracefully done, this adaptation. It does come off in some ways I think as a sort of apologia for the theater’s message.
Jane Horwitz: Isn’t there even a line about who would want to do a Jewish theater or something.
Trey Graham: But in that way I think it works, especially if it’s speaking to its own audience and to some of the non Jewish patrons of Theater J.
Robert Aubrey Davis: But also I think you know the way you can tell a great Seagull is if you have this weight of the Russian soul and you felt this. I thought Naomi Jacobson did a brilliant job.
Jane Horwitz: Extremely well cast and acted.
Trey Graham: There are some tremendous performances here. Naomi Jacobson, J. Fred Shiffman as the doctor in a very controlled, contained performance.
Robert Aubrey Davis: Yes.
Jane Horwitz: Alexander Strain as the son, I loved very much.
Robert Aubrey Davis: Yep, fantastic.
Trey Graham: Absolutely. And the Masha, interesting, not quite the broody, sad Masha, at least not in the beginning, that you expect.
Robert Aubrey Davis: Yeah, she’s kind of bright. I thought it was a fascinating production, a fascinating performance.
Jane Horwitz: Some of the best local actors we’ve got and they’re all gathered in this one little place. It’s really quite a pleasure to watch.
Robert Aubrey Davis: It’s called The Seagull on 16th Street at Theater J until July 19. Thanks so much for joining us.