ROBIN’S SHOW RAVE: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

 Christopher Durang’s new comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, is playing a limited, 17-week premiere Broadway engagement at the Golden Theatre. Directed by Nicholas Martin, the production stars a truly stellar cast of  Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen, Shalita Grant, Genevieve Angelson and Billy Magnussen

Riffing on some of Anton Chekov’s most time-tested themes, Christopher Durang (a playwright whose eclectic works I’ve long admired) proves in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, that whether you’re in 19th Century Russia or 21st Century Pennsylvania, the human condition never changes. Vanya (Pierce) and Sonia (Nielsen) have never left the confines of their childhood home and spent considerable time caring for their now deceased parents in a rambling farmhouse in Bucks County, PA – while having to witness the glamorous exploits of their sister, Masha (Weaver), a famous movie actress, from afar. A surprise visit from Masha and her 20-something boy toy, Spike (Magnussen), throws the normally quiet household int0 emotional chaos.

Nielsen is brilliant on every level!  When she cries that her life is over (or never began), we feel her angst. When she contorts her face or pops her eyes, we feel her confusion or insecurity or disbelief.  When  she dresses as the Evil Queen in Snow White, to attend a costume party with her family, she is drop dead hysterical as she impersonates Maggie Smith. 

 Hyde Pierce is a delight and delivers a powerhouse monologue as he rants about how life used to be better and simpler in the 50s watching family friendly television shows, and how he misses those times and frets for the uncertainty of the future.  And, when dressed as a dwarf to accompany Snow White, he takes on an irresistible impish personna.  Grant, as Cassandra, the psychic housecleaner, is a comic force in her own right.  Magnussen exudes the right combo of beefcake and puppy love toward Weaver, as he teases and taunts other cast members, whether gyrating up against Nielsen or tweaking Hyde’s  areloa and tempting his gay manhood.  Weaver displays a range  similar to that of her work in the film Working Girl, and she’s right on the mark as Masha.  Angelson is appealing and effective as the innocent neighborhood gal who is awestruck by both Hyde Pierce and Weaver.

The show is a must-see, laugh out loud robust theatrical romp that will leave you wanting more!

The creative team features David Korins (Scenic Design), Emily Rebholz (Costume Design), Justin Townsend (Lighting Design), and Mark Bennett (Original Music and Sound Design).

Tickets for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike can be purchased in person at the Golden Theatre Box Office (252 West 45th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues) or via (212) 239-6200.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was commissioned and developed by McCarter Theatre and co-produced by McCarter Theatre and Lincoln Center Theatre. The play premiered at McCarter in September 2012 (with the current Broadway cast) before it transferred directly to Lincoln Center at the end of the McCarter run. Both runs were sold out.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is produced by Joey Parnes, Larry Hirschhorn, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Martin Platt & David Elliott, Pat Flicker Addiss, Catherine Adler, John O’Boyle, Joshua Goodman, Jamie DeRoy/Richard Winkler, Cricket Hooper Jiranek/Michael Palitz, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Radio Mouse Entertainment, Shadowcatcher Entertainment, Mary Cossette/Barbara Manocherian, Megan Savage/Meredith Lynsey Schade, Hugh Hysell/Richard Jordan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Ron Simons, S.D. Wagner, and John Johnson, in association with The McCarter Theatre Center and Lincoln Center Theater.