Have Yourself a Very DTLI Christmas
The DTLI Critic Cohort got together to bask in some holiday season warmth by sharing their favorite shows of the year, favorite theater moments, and their resolutions for the new year.
Jose Solís: What was your favorite night out on Broadway?
Ran Xia: Isn’t that just Six uncontested?
Christian Lewis: Yes, Six and Diana with pre-game.
Ran Xia: I’d have to be very drunk for Diana.
Christian Lewis: I did a whole day of Diana, including Spencer and brunch.
Ana Zambrana: Me too! I did a Diana day with my partner where we saw Spencer, then ate at the Jones Wood Foundry pub, before going to the musical. The absurdity of the show and extremely reactive and enthusiastic audience made me and my boyfriend feel like we were in some sort of twilight zone.
Bedatri D. Choudhury: I had a very fun night at American Utopia, I saw the show and then walked to Empanada Mama and had a lot of empanadas. I don’t know what theatre people do but I go there and eat three seafood empanadas.
Ran Xia: That’s exactly what I do.
Bedatri D. Choudhury: Then I can sit with you.
Juan Michael Porter II: For me it was Lackawanna Blues, I went with my partner and knew he was going to be late, so I went to a bakery, had an aperitif, went to buy an expensive chocolate bar, sat next to Bedatri at the theater…and he was late.
Bedatri D. Choudhury: Not too late, you arrived shortly before curtain.
Ana Zambrana: I’d have to say it was my night I went to see Diana.
JS: What was your cocktail of choice before shows this year?
RX: I like to be thematic, I don’t usually drink and then go to shows, but the only time I had a cocktail at a theater this year was at Six. That was perfect.
JMPII: I prefer to drink after shows, unless it’s something like Six. I wouldn’t want to drink before Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
CL: If I do pre-theater drinks I have a few glasses of Prosecco.
BDC: Same, something light like Prosecco or a G&T.
AZ: If it’s the holidays I can’t say no to coquito, but on the reg, I have to go with an espresso martini.
JS: What was your favorite theater moment this year?
RX: I have two. At American Utopia where they did the layers of shadows. The other moment was at a show I did where the students did shadow puppetry, including a horse made out of umbrellas. A student took her ponytail to create the actual pony tail, the audience gasped.
BDC: I love the moment in Six where they introduce the band, the drummer was so badass! I wish I’d seen her dancing. I think about that moment a lot.
CL: For me it was that moment in Merry Wives where they moved the sets and lit the trees in the Park. It was one of my first times back at a show and it made me so emotional.
JMPII: At Trouble In Mind there is a monologue where Chuck Cooper’s character talks about a lynching he saw as a child. You almost didn’t see the stagecraft because you felt like you were in Chuck Cooper’s mind. It’s only after when you realize something happened with the lighting, it was just wow.
AZ: So this isn’t directly correlated to an actual production, but it’s related to my personal relationship with theatre. Being a part of the BIPOC Critics Lab, this cohort and learning from Jose Solís has been so enriching for me. I wouldn’t be where I am without Jose opening doors for me and pushing me in. The past couple months covering shows and having a home base to discuss them with have meant the world to me. While my default answer is always In The Heights, this is really my honest answer.
JS: Thank you, Ana! It’s such an honor to have you in this field with all of us. Now moving on to New Year’s Eve, which theatrical outfit would you wanna borrow to wear at your party?
JMPII: In Six in “Get Down” Anne’s “I’m here bitches” costume.
BCD: I’m a less showy person so I’d go with a grey suit from American Utopia.
CL: I’d wear the fuckity-fuckity-fuck-you dress from Diana.
RX: I’d wear something from Diana as well.
AZ: Oh my God, so anything worn by the ladies from Six because I’m extra-as-hell specifically something worn by Catherine of Aragon.
JS: What show tickets would you buy for people as a gift?
BCD: If I like them I’d buy them tickets to Sweatshop Overlord, if I don’t like them, maybe tickets to Diana.
CL: Dana H. And maybe something Off-Broadway.
RX: I’d get my friends a combination of Dana H. And Clyde’s.
AZ: I can’t just pick one because I need them to have some sort of balance. It would have to be a double feature day, I would have them start with a matinee of Trouble in Mind and end with Six. I think those shows are like when you get a perfect bite of a meal, or like the scene in Ratatouille where Remi eats the strawberry with the cheese.
JMPII: For my friends who want something engrossing I’d say Twilight Los Angeles 1992, or What to Send Up When It Goes Down. For something fun, Six or Clyde’s.
JS: I’m fascinated by Bedatri buying presents for people she doesn’t like.
BCD: You guys don’t work in offices?
JS: Continuing the spirit of generosity, let’s talk personal resolutions and what do you wish for theater in 2022?
CL: My resolution is: I don’t have to see every single thing. My hope for next year is that theater stays open, that they do what they need to do to not have shows closing.
BCD: My resolution, inspired by Juan Michael, is to make better use of my plus-one tickets, to invite people who don’t get to watch these plays. I invited an elderly stranger to see Flying Over Sunset with me, he was waiting in the queue and wanted a ticket. I want to do more of that. My hope for 2022 is we get to a point where we can do theater safely without shutting it down.
JMPII: I have to give credit to Jose for inspiring me to share tickets with strangers. My resolution is that if I’m falling asleep during a show I’m not reviewing, I should leave. It’s not the actors’ fault if I’m not enjoying something, it’s me, not them. My wish for next year is we see more plays by diverse playwrights. I want to see Indian dramas, Asian plays, and everything else not getting produced.
RX: My resolution is to read more plays. I want to discover plays, have dreams about them. My hope for Broadway is that it stays open and also for producers to elevate shows not because they think these are what the audience wants, but actually find out what do people want.
AZ: Definitely to see more Off-Broadway shows, specifically from Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre company. Seeing Cyrano at BAM, which I know is going to happen because I already snagged my tickets. Most of all, I want to be more involved with theatre creatively again, seeing all these shows has made me want to get back into directing and acting. I miss the chaos of the creative process and I’m ready to go nuts again. Next year, I hope theater provides better accessibility and frankly decolonization of audiences. We need more shows like Chicken and Biscuits that invite audiences to react and become a part of their family. I think it should be illegal for someone to think the theater is a place where you go to look pretty and be quiet.
JS: Lovely! From all of us at DTLI we wish you the happiest of holidays!
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