On her new album, “Are We There,” Sharon Van Etten asks a question — though her designer left off the question mark — whose answer depends very much on who you’re asking.
I’ve been having a debate with someone about Sharon that demonstrates that there’s no clear answer to the question.
My debate partner thinks Sharon, whose first album, 2009’s Because I Was in Love, was a fairly stripped-down, singer-songwriter affair, has exhibited an increasing tendency to lean too heavily on studio tricks and production techniques, burying her voice, obscuring her lyrics, and seriously undercutting the impact of her songs. And her first impression of the new album is that it continues in that vein.
I had similar reservations at first, but now, after listening to Are We There a dozen times, I think that Sharon may have f0und her sweet spot.
Romeo (Damon Daunno) and Juliet (Kelly Barrett) in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of The Last Goodbye. (Photo by Sam Hough)
When The Last Goodbye blossomed on the stage of downtown Manhattan nightspot Joe’s Pub in April 2009, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? knew director Michael Kimmel (who also conceived and adapted this show) and his collaborators were onto something good. The idea of pairing the lyrics and music of tragic pop star Jeff Buckley with Shakespeare’s story of tragic lovers, Romeo and Juliet, had an instant appeal.
And it took shape well onstage. My mind was blown by that early reading. It went through some changes, was re-presented in New York City this March, and now it’s taking a polished form at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.
Many members of that original Joe’s Pub cast remain with the show. And that’s for good reason. They’re great.
Word of mouth
We haven’t yet seen this fully staged version, which opened on Saturday and runs through Aug. 20. But the word is very good. A friend of this blog who saw the Joe’s Pub version calls the Williamstown production “quite good,” with “much better integration of the bard’s language.”
Daily Variety reported last night that The Last Goodbye, New York director Michael Kimmel’s musical play pairing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with the music of Jeff Buckley, is headed to the stage next season. The item also said there would be a developmental reading in NYC soon. What Variety didn’t tell you is when that reading will be and how you can attend. But Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has those answers for you exclusively.
The reading will be held at 2 pm on Friday, March 12. The New York City venue hasn’t been named yet, though the creative team will have that finalized soon.
As for getting tickets, it’s a bit of a crap shoot, but the rules are simple: Just drop an email, including your full name, email address and telephone number to email@example.com by 12 am ET on March 1. That will put you in the running for a free pair of tickets.
I’ve been a huge fan of Jeff’s work for ages. After I saw the concert version of this show at Joe’s Pub last year, I wrote that it blew my mind and I couldn’t wait to see it develop. That time is fast approaching!
Jeff Buckley, the tragic rocker who lost his life in the Memphis River almost a dozen years ago (May 29, 1997) is finally getting a turn onstage in a theatrical mashup of his music and William Shakespeare’s story of Romeo and Juliet.
The result is The Last Goodbye, an adaptation by NYC-based director Michael Kimmel. It will get three nights of concert readings at Joe’s Pub in New York City: May 11, 25 and June 1.
The cast comprises 14 young actors, two of whom I know — the fabulous Jo Lampert, who is artistic relations associate at Joe’s Pub, and the fantastic Ariela Morgenstern, a San Francisco native who made her off-Broadway debut last year in the acclaimed production of Adding Machine.
Buckley’s timeless, haunting music should work spectacularly well with Shakespeare’s classic story.