ROBIN’S SHOW RECOMMENDATION: THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING
My son and I are fans of New Victory Theatre, and have enjoyed a number of memorable productions here. This show is the longest we have seen here (over 2 hours), and one that packs a powerful punch on many levels…delivering lessons including how to live a less fearful life, that it’s admirable to seek out happiness, how to speak up for yourself, be truthful, etc…..combined with inventive staging, endearing performances, and audience interaction. Despite the heavy material, it is engaging, and far from a show strictly for kids. Many childless adults were in the audience…and they were equally entertained by the wit and pulled in by the emotionally-laden circumstances.
You root for the characters (cheers from the audience), and you are struck with the message that with positive thought, imagination, spirit and courage, you can impact the world, even if you start with your own dysfunctional family.
Neil Armfield, former artistic director of Sydney’s Belvoir and acclaimed director of Exit the King (Broadway, 2009) and Diary of a Madman (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2010), directs The Book of Everything. The Book of Everything is Neil Armfield’s sixth venture into theater for young audiences. His first, The Small Poppies, which was written by David Holman and starred Geoffrey Rush, debuted at the 1986 Adelaide Festival and was subsequently produced by Belvoir for the Sydney Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival in 2000.
Based on the Dutch novel by Guus Kuijer, 2012 winner of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and adapted for the stage by Richard Tulloch, The Book of Everything centers on nine-almost-ten-year-old Thomas Klopper as he copes with the bewildering world of post-war Amsterdam. The year is 1951, and Thomas can see things nobody else sees – tropical fish in the city’s canals, torrential hailstorms raging midsummer and Jesus stopping by every now and again for a chat. He writes them all down in the “Book of Everything,” a secret diary that contains his greatest aspiration: “When I grow up, I’m going to be happy.” Thomas ultimately learns that despite his complicated and sometimes violent home life, he alone is responsible for his own happiness. Thomas’ life isn’t easy for a 9 year old. His religious-fanatic father regularly beats his mother, spanks Thomas with a wooden spoon, all while Thomas pines away for his sister’s friend, Eliza, whose prosthetic leather leg squeaks as she walks.
The Book of Everything sold out when it premiered at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney, during its 2009-2010 season. It received the 2010 Sydney Theatre Award for Best Production for Children in addition to its nominations for Best New Australian Work and Best Costume Design. Also in 2010, The Book of Everything was nominated for five Helpmann Awards: Best Play, Best Presentation for Children, Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role (both Deborah Kennedy and Yael Stone); Best Direction of a Play.
Set and costumes are by Kim Carpenter. Lighting is designed by Nigel Levings, who received a TONY® Award for his work on Baz Luhrmann’s production of La Bohème. Original compositions are by Iain Grandage; sound design is by Steve Francis; choreography is by Julia Cotton; and Eamon Flack assistant directs. The cast features Alison Bell, Peter Carroll, Julie Forsyth, Claire Jones, Deborah Kennedy, John Leary, Steve Meyer, Yael Stone (Diary of a Madman, BAM 2011) and Matthew Whittet.
All are wonderful performers, and Whittet is a particular delight as Thomas. Whether seeking advice from the “witch” next door or Jesus who is his confidante , we root for Thomas and the promise of his living a life of happiness when he grows up. Afterall, don’t we all want that, for our children and ourselves?! The Book of Everything will help set them on that path.
Fri 4/20 7pm
Sat 4/21 2pm, 7pm
Sun 4/22 3pm
Fri 4/27 7pm
Sat 4/28 2pm, 7pm
Sun 4/29 3pm
Tickets for The Book of Everything at The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd Street in NYC) cost $25, $18, $12 and $9 for Members and $38, $28, $18 and $14 for Non-members based on seat locations.
Theater-goers who buy tickets for three or more New Vic shows qualify for free Membership benefits, including up to 35-percent savings. To purchase tickets online, visit NewVictory.org, and to purchase by phone, call 646-223-3010. The New Victory Theater box office (209 West 42nd Street) is open Sunday and Monday from 11am-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-7pm.
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