Jonah @ Roundabout

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#1Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/23/24 at 10:41pm

Saw this tonight and was really moved by this play. There is a level of vulnerability on the stage that theatergoers don't get to see so often. Gabby Beans is just so natural and convincing at both her most intense and her most detached. Graphic, twisty, uncomfortable, thoughtful... just wonderfully done. Curious to hear others' thoughts.

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Jordan Catalano
#2Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/25/24 at 9:53pm

Just in from this tonight. Gabby Beans is just a star - plain and simple she shines so bright on that stage, not leaving it for almost two hours. This play is hers and is every verb described above but i want to add FUNNY. In fact, since I went into this totally blind tonight, for a lot of the first scene I thought this was going to maybe be a romantic comedy. It wasn’t until the scene change that I went “oh ok, i guess I need to buckle up”.

The audience was filled with what seemed like mostly older people (as is the norm for a roundabout show) and there was a steady stream of walk outs tonight from them, that I saw. At one scene an older man stood up near me and went “Nope” and seemed to storm out. But this hits at something I’ve been loving from Roundabout - new works that really challenge an audience that’s not really what they’ve historically been known to do. This play, much like several others at the Pels recently makes you question everything and wonder at times what’s real and what’s not. 

And if you’re the lady in front of me eating chocolate cake with your hands for the last half of the play - ew. 


#3Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/25/24 at 10:02pm

Wow, that's great to hear!  This play definitely intrigued me so I'm glad that there are positive notices (especially for Gabby Beans who I always find electric on stage).  Are there any seating locations I should try to avoid?

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Jordan Catalano
#4Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/25/24 at 10:08pm

I don’t think they would be any obstructions from any particular seat. 

Much like “You Will Get Sick”, I know people will come away from this not liking it and I hope they post their thoughts here because I’m fascinated to hear from people who didn’t like it and why. Would love to have discussions about this one. 

#5Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/27/24 at 10:38pm

well this was pretty great. my main gripes with the play have nothing to do with the play- the theater was exceedingly warm tonight, Row F of the right orchestra felt very cramped, where there was someone breathing so heavily i thought they were snoring the entirety of the 110 minutes, and there was one woman who reacted to every moment with a gasp, exclamation as if we were in her living room. all frustrating.

but the play itself was pretty riveting for nearly 2 hours without intermission, and kept us guessing almost the whole way as to what was going on. and the beauty, for me, is USUALLY that means theres some absurdist/unexplained point that we are meant to divine but here it was all so straightforward, so ultimately heartbreaking but understandable, i found myself pleasantly surprised by the way the show wraps itself up in a neat bow. if anything, i think it goes too far in this regard-- i dont need the cliffnotes that i get at the end about what i just saw. (in the same vein i kept waiting for some heavy handed political message, or underlying socioeconomic comment, to hit us like a hammer, but nope. this play is too good and too smart for that.)

if im being vague its because i dont want to give anything away and really urge all theater nerds to go see this. yes there is a scandalous moment that elicited some gasping feedback (seems like the one misstep- i didnt need that, and i dont think it added much in retrospect) but its ultimately a very beautifully told simple story, reminiscent of A Case for the Existence of God.

and yes give Gabby Beans every award. give her the key to the city. give her everything. shes on stage for 2 hours. shes non stop. and shes perfect- again i dont want to spoil anything but the way she changes her cadence and posture, the way she dances between funny and cutting- its a masterpiece through and through. She and Hagan Oliveras have such visceral, horny, sweet chemistry--and he does teenager so well (and reminded me of a more human Timothee Chalamet). And John Zdrojeski was hilarious before he broke my heart. Cant remember the last time I was rooting for someone on the edge of my seat the way I was for his character. I did think Sam Levine was miscast- i dont question his immense talent, and he has a tricky role to play, but he is (or he is being directed to) scream (well! convincingly!) to show us his rage/demons, but he's otherwise tame, sweet. Maybe I am nitpicking in the context of the other three performances.

anyway this rant courtesy of that feeling when you really dug something simple, surprising, in a theater. i felt the same buzz walking out of The Connector a few weeks ago, so kudos to Off Bway original work guys. 


#6Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/28/24 at 12:15am

Why are the hiptix showing up as $90 on the site

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#7Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/28/24 at 12:25am

I also thought this was a really good offering from Roundabout. Gabby is really becoming a go-see-her-regardless-of-the-show actor for me. And she is good here in so many ways. I loved the opening scene with Hagan and thought he was spot-on. I do think he could use a little more coaching on articulation but maybe this was still a work in progress when I saw it. I liked everyone (did not think Levine was miscast; his portrayal worked for me). I also thought the design elements (including especially the lighting and special effects) were very good and the direction sharp and very effective. I do think there were 10 cut-able minutes in this 100 minute piece (but I usually do). I'd kinda like to see it again. 

I had the good luck of not being in an audience as bad as the one Jordan describes. I'd also say that, if you DO read the info on their website about the play (I didn't; I don't), for me it overstates the "sensitivity" issues, although I guess they know their audience better than I want to :-)

I could say more but not without saying something spoilerish. (And I am too lazy to put it in a spoiler.)

#8Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/28/24 at 10:11am

Saw this last night as well. I agree that Beans was fantastic. I also loved the actor playing Jonah. But for me, Levine was miscast. Or at least his performance felt inauthentic to me. I cared less for the play as it went on. The revelation was simply not revelatory.   The friends I saw it with had a broad gamut of reactions and I was the most down on it. 

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#9Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/28/24 at 11:15pm

Saw it this afternoon. Four older people walked out after the first flash. I thought it was very well done. Gabby bean was great as others have said. It took a little while to get what was happening. 

Well I didn't want to get into it, but he's a Satanist. Every full moon he sacrifices 4 puppies to the Dark Lord and smears their blood on his paino. This should help you understand the score for Wicked a little bit more. Tazber's: Reply to Is Stephen Schwartz a Practicing Christian

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#10Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/28/24 at 11:24pm

“It took a little while to get what was happening.”


That was actually one of my favorite things about it.

#11Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/28/24 at 11:42pm

Yes, the trick of the play was how confusing but engaging it all was, until it clicked towards the end. Looking back a day later, I still think the playwright does us no favors by explaining so much at the end. I think the audience gets there without the full explanation. 

But glad to see so many positive reactions. My first exposure to Rachel Bonds, Gabby Beans, and just great to be exposed to such new talent.

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#12Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 1/29/24 at 4:57pm

I saw this Saturday afternoon – luckily didn’t notice any inappropriate audience behavior and didn’t have temperature issues (up in the mezz). I also didn’t notice anyone walk out and, to be honest, am a little confused what part of this show is making people leave?

I enjoyed this as a whole piece, but didn’t necessarily enjoy the full experience of watching it. I was moved at the end, but had many moments throughout where I had a hard time feeling engaged. I think this is partly due to the “mystery” stretching a bit too long (I found myself distracted by trying to figure it out, which took me out of the show itself) and partly to feeling like there could be some cuts made.

But, as I said, I was definitely moved at the end and found it to be an interesting piece. Even though I didn’t love it, I do think it’s worth seeing – I would always prefer going to a show that attempts something (even if I don’t think it’s always 100% effective).

And, as everyone above has said, Gabby Beans is just fantastic. She felt like a completely different performer than the person I saw in “Skin of Our Teeth” (which I also thought she was fantastic in). Such a talent!

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#15Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/1/24 at 10:29pm

I was unable to follow any of it.  I had no idea who the characters were and had to ask someone (who appeared to get it) what each character was.  It's a problem when an author can't coherently state a story that leaves a good number in the audience confused.  It was also quite lengthy, at just under 2 hours no intermission, and it felt way longer.  It was a slow steady trickle of walkouts, not at any particular point, so I attribute it to the show being slow-moving, boring, and impossible to follow who was who.  We see the bad sexual stuff and the self-harm stuff on the stage, but I had no idea who these people really were or what it meant, so it came across as simply sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism to me. FWIW I similarly hated You Will Get Sick as I found it also very slow-moving and "esoteric". 

Updated On: 2/1/24 at 10:29 PM

#16Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/2/24 at 5:35pm

Put me in the "was fascinated by this" camp. I liked it a lot. I (think) I followed it and loved how it was paced out. It kinda reminded me of my experience of watching Anatomy of a Fall. Every time I thought I had a handle on where it was going and exactly who everybody was, the play would introduce something else that would make me completely re-evaluate what I'd thought up to this point. Also, for a show that was dealing with a lot of heavy themes, I thought it avoided being overly dark and depressing, which I greatly appreciated. I might have to see this a second time if I get a chance. 

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#17Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/17/24 at 12:44am

I went tonight through TDF and loved this.  Gabby Beans is tremendous and runs the full gamut of emotions—she's vulnerable, she's haunted, she's funny, she's a flirty teen—without leaving the stage once.  This is my first time seeing her onstage and I get the hype now!  She's wonderful in the bigger moments and in the smaller moments between scenes when she wordlessly shows exactly what's going through her mind.  I liked the rest of the cast too, especially John Zdrojeski (took me a while to realize he was Tom Buchanan in PMP Gatsby because he is very different here) and Hagan Oliveras.  The lighting was my design highlight.  The play was honestly more straightforward than I thought it would be even with the jumping around.  I'm satisfied with how and when the pieces came together, though the ending maybe didn't have to explain everything as heavily as it did.  The play doesn't hold your hand, but it doesn't get disorienting to the point that it loses you.  It was also far more humorous than I expected, and the jokes landed.  The humor/trauma balance felt very real.  I'm surprised to hear reports about walkouts because this didn't seem like it would be that off-putting?  There are certainly more uncomfortable and confusing plays than this one.  Perhaps I lucked out with the audience members around me, who were into it.  A less engaged audience may have tainted my experience.

It's a gripping and original show with an interesting structure, and I'm glad I took a flyer on it.

#18Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/18/24 at 10:00am

If you're interested in seeing another interpretation of a role, or want to cheer on an understudy: on February 29 at 7pm, the role of Ana usually played by Gabby Beans will be instead performed by Francesca Fernandez!

#19Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/21/24 at 9:30am

Saw this last night and agree with the majority of this board's opinions. I did not have an overtly emotional response to it in the moment, but have been thinking about it all night and into this morning. 

I will see anything with Gabby Beans and this cemented that sentiment. She is a STAR. I didn't think there was a weak link in the cast.

My biggest gripe with the play is that it feels the need to explain itself at the end. It did not come across as revelatory because the rest of the play is written strongly enough (and performed excellently) to slowly reveal what is actually transpiring.

#20Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/23/24 at 1:42pm

I saw this last night, and I have to say I was a little disappointed by it given the rave reactions on this thread, but I still overall enjoyed it.  I was also expecting it to be a bit "weirder" since I feel like I got a good handle on things by the second scene with Danny, but I admire the construction of it.  I don't know if it's because of these preconceived notions I had, but I felt that I was never emotionally invested in the characters themselves.  By the second scene (when Danny shows up), you can kind of tell that something is afoot, and I think that dissonance made me question how much I should really be invested in the scene being played out (especially since it's SO different from the earlier scene with Jonah).  So I think the mystery of it (which again, might have been overplayed in my head) sort of stopped me from fully sinking into the scenes and the characters.

Gabby Beans as usual delivers with everything she needs to do and it really is such a joy watching her on stage, especially in the scenes where only her face is lit.  The cast overall worked quite well for me, and I didn't have any issues with them at all (there are some cringe-inducing moments, but definitely purposefully done that way).

I think I like this play better at a distance, but it still feels more like "it's cool how this leads to this and this connects back to this" in a more analytical way rather than something where I deeply connected with (which I felt for both A Case for the Existence of God and You Will Get Sick).  I think it's also a much more self-contained play than either of those, where it's more about Ana as a character and what her story is rather than a larger allegory (though certainly parts of the story can also be applied to other areas of life).  

#21Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 2/23/24 at 3:09pm

always appreciate your thoughts, chrishuyen. 

and you are right, going in totally blind to this allowed it to seem more mysterious than the text really warrants. sometimes these boards unintentionally poison our receptions of shows---in either direction. 

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#22Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 3/2/24 at 5:21pm

Does anyone think this will transfer?

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#23Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 3/9/24 at 2:37am

I’m glad I caught this before it closed. I knew absolutely nothing about the play going in and had no issues following. I’m a bit baffled how anyone could be so confused by it… it’s pretty straight forward, to be honest.


I like the scenes with Ana and Jonah the best and was really rooting for them. So adorable.

#24Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 3/9/24 at 11:22am

Broadway Flash said: "Does anyone think this will transfer?"

I highly doubt it will transfer unless a major celebrity like Zendaya got attached.  But think this will have a robust life in the regional and collegiate circles.


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#25Jonah @ Roundabout
Posted: 3/9/24 at 12:19pm

Colleges and acting classes will be doing these scenes for decades.