10/17/12 Christian Siason

On Wednesday, October 17th, we went to see The Heiress on Broadway, starring Jessica Chastain as Catherine Sloper, David Strathairn as Dr. Austin Sloper, Dan Stevens as Morris Townsend, and Judith Ivey as Lavinia Penniman.

I thoroughly enjoyed Strathairn and Ivey’s performances as Austin and Lavinia; they really embodied the characters from the book, in my opinion. However, I didn’t really like Stevens’ work as Morris. He seemed far too sincere throughout the play and I actually felt bad for him, unlike in the book. I also disliked Chastain’s portrayal of Catherine – until the end, at least. I know that Catherine was a dull and simple girl in the novel, Washington Square, but I just found her to be mind-numbingly boring in the play. Her voice was monotone pretty much all the way through, and I just found it annoying after a certain point.

The end of the play was different from the ending in the story, and in my opinion, it was much more dramatic and entertaining. As boring as I found Catherine to be for the majority of the play, I definitely thought that she made up for it in the end. In the book, Catherine simply asked Morris to leave. In the play, she led him on. She promised, once again, to marry him, and he ran off to pack his bags. When he came back, she had closed the curtains and turned off the lights and had gone upstairs to her room, totally ignoring him. As I said earlier, I actually felt bad for Morris because in the play he seemed so sincere, but if this had been the ending in the book, I would have really enjoyed it and supported Catherine’s decision. I honestly think it would have been the perfect ending in the book.

Being able to watch this play was a fulfilling experience for me. Reading the book, I couldn’t see everything unfolding in front of me, though I was able to visualize scenes in my head. Going to Broadway to watch The Heiress allowed me to see these scenes acted out in front of me, and it really added to my appreciation of the story.

Stephanie Solanki, 10/17/12

Yesterday, we went to the play The Heiress. It was my first Broadway in very long time.

My first impression was of the theatre itself. It was very grandiose, “magnificent, opulent, and sumptuous.” I thought that the gaudy and over-the-top decorations of the theatre added to the experience of the play. The play is set in the Victorian era, which is also very gaudy and opulent. I was very impressed, also, with the set. It was beautifully done! The columns and rich-looking furniture helped to bring the story to life. I found the lighting so interesting. To transition to a morning scene, the lighting in the windows became gradually brighter to give the effect that the sun was coming up. During night scenes, the windows were not completely black, but gave off a blue light to show that the moon was outside. I found that little things like these really made the set of the play into a very realistic world.

I am really glad that I had to thoroughly analyze the book before I went to the play. This way, I was able to appreciate the story and how the actors portrayed the roles they were given. I really loved Jessica Chastain’s Catherine Sloper. I appreciated how her voice was very timid and monotone in the beginning, but as Catherine found herself, Chastain made her voice louder and she expressed her feelings through the tone of her voice more. I felt that Austin Sloper was not portrayed as witty and sarcastic as he should have been. He seemed a little lazy and tired. Mrs. Penniman’s voice was so on point with her character! In the book, she is the overly emotional character, and her wavering, high-pitched voice was perfectly in tune with her character. I thought that Morris Townsend seemed too sincere and too little of a sleaze in the play. He seemed at times to actually love Catherine.

I loved the ending of the play very much. It was perfect for a theatre performance of this story. It was more dramatic than the ending in the book, which is fitting for theatre. Even though the ending was drawn out, it didn’t skew the author’s intentions of the characters. It actually helped to better express how Catherine felt at the end.

Overall, I was very impressed with The Heiress. I was most impressed with the technicalities and the details that go into a play of this kind. I was impressed at how the set and lighting design created a whole new world on stage, one in which the actors were able to express their characters freely how they wished.

~The Heiress on Broadway 10/17/12 Naomi~

This Wednesday we went to see ‘The Heiress’ on broadway with Jessica Chastain (Catherine Sloper), Dan Stevens (Morris Townsend), David Strathairn (Dr. Austin Sloper), and Judith Ivey ( Aunt Lavinia Penniman).  This was my second straight Broadway play, the first being ‘Death of a Salesman’ with Andrew Garfield and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I enjoyed seeing the play adaptation of the book Washington Square even though it was not entirely what I had imagined the world of Washington Square to be.  This was the first play that I saw, musical or straight, where I knew the basic story before I saw the show.  As a result of this prior knowledge I was constantly looking to draw comparisons between the play and the novel because I had already built up this idea in my head of what each moment should look and sound like.

Although I enjoyed the play overall, I don’t feel that Dan Stevens did a good job of being a jerk.  I liked him too much to be Morris Townsend.  I pictured Morris as very aggressive and arrogant and a little impatient with Aunt Penniman.  Stevens’ interpretation was too sincere, that I almost believed that he actually loved Catherine.  The only time that I felt that his ‘Morrisness’ showed was when he was running to hide the cigars and brandy that he had been helping himself to in the Dr.’s absence.

Additionally I respect Jessica Chastain’s interpretation of Catherine, but I felt that at moments she was overtly awkward, to the point of rivaling Aunt Penniman as the comic relief of the play.  Drastic changes is her voice such as getting deeper when she told her father “I’m getting married” were more comedic than I had expected Catherine as a character to be (although I acknowledge that it was not Catherine who interpreted herself as being funny, but rather Jessica’s delivery of the line that was comical).  Nevertheless, I feel that Catherine hit a stride when she forced her father to write her out of his will.  I enjoyed Jessica’s interpretation of a stoic Catherine Sloper who has been broken  by both her father and suitor, and I loved Jessica’s performance in the final scene of the play when she locked Morris out of the house, turned off the lights and walked up the stairs.  The image of her walking up in that beautiful gown only lit by lantern is etched into my mind.

Along with the ending of the play, which was different from the novel, and much more dramatic.  I liked how David Strathairn played Dr. Sloper as very remorseful.  You could really tell that he missed his wife, and although he was very harsh with Catherine I liked how in the play Catherine forced him to write her out of his will, as oppose to him doing it on his own.  I didn’t like how in the novel Dr. Sloper didn’t trust Catherine and decreased her inheritance.  I thought that it was nice that in the play you could see that in the end, despite his disappointment in Catherine, he still loved her, and felt bad that Morris had broken her heart.  In the book I felt that Dr. Sloper took too much enjoyment in telling Catherine “I told you so” after Morris jilted her.

All in all, I enjoyed seeing ‘The Heiress’ on Broadway, and I am grateful for the opportunity, especially because it is in limited run.


The Heiress – 10/17/12

On Wednesday, I went to see my second Broadway show called The Heiress which is based of the novel “Washington Square”. I noticed that the plot line was very similar but the ending was quite different and unexpected but I liked the concept very much. Catherine was still portrayed as being awkward and clumsy but only around her father. Jessica Chastain used a deeper voice to make her seem awkward. I expected her voice to be shrill actually because shes supposed to be overly sweet but Jessica’s version was definitely very effective in making Catherine seem naive and awkward. Throughout the play, Dan Stevens portrayed Morris as being genuinely in love with Catherine and it ended up making the audience find no flaws in the dynamic between the two but as the play neared to the end, the dialogue definitely showed that Morris was indeed as greedy as Dr.Sloper thought he was.

The ending was different from the book and it was much more fierce. Catherine’s voice was still low and monotone but it no longer seemed awkward but confident and blunt, as if she knew what she wanted for herself for the first time in her life. I enjoyed the twist because I wasn’t expecting Catherine to leave Morris under the false impression that she wanted to marry him when she actually just wanted to humiliate him. I think the ending make the show what its worth.

Even if we were in the balcony, I was still able to get a good view of the characters and I thought the scenery was beautiful. The lighting they used made morning seem like morning and night seem like night. It added to the effect of the whole story and I realized just how much of a role the lights play. For instance, Morris left Catherine the first time after he promised to marry her. And as the lights kept getting brighter, I realized how much time was passing and that Morris did indeed lie to her.

I like how on Broadway, you can hear the immediate response of the audience. When something was funny, the audience would laugh automatically and the experience is much more lively than watching it on screen. Even if the setting was only on stage, the drama of the story never made the scene boring no matter how long we had to look at Catherine’s living room. I noticed that the dialogue was slightly altered but some of it was the exact wording from the dialogue in the movie, The Heiress. I also noticed that the way the words are said are equally as important as the way the actors behave because the audience could be sitting very far away and not be able to completely see their facial expressions but would have to get the gist of the mood by listening to how the dialogue is communicated.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of watching The Heiress and am looking forward to more Broadway plays.

10/18/12 – Broadway Show – The Heiress

Instead of going to our regular seminar class at 4:40 at CSI, both seminar groups went to a Broadway show. It was called The Heiress.  The last time I went to a show on Broadway was when I was in 6th or 7th grade, and my family and I saw, The Lion King. If I compared both shows, I would say that The Lion King kept me wanting to see more, whereas, The Heiress kept me on the edge of my seat towards the end. However, they are still absolutely magnificent and mind-blowing performances. The trip to the show was definitely one to remember, for it was filled with a lot of unexpected occurrences and tons of laughter.

My group and I, surprisingly, made it to The Heiress just in time, and were ready to witness the wonderful show. To be honest, I think it started off a little prosaic and wasn’t enticing at all. However, the satirical comments started coming out one after another, providing laughter for the entire audience. I can definitely say, I got a different feeling from watching the show and reading the book because the book didn’t appeal to all my senses, whereas, the Broadway show, touched on all expression levels. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, that the best part was the ending. Obviously, it differed greatly from the book Washington Square because in the novel, Catherine asked Morris to politely leave her life and never come back. However, at the show, she led him on to think she’ll take him back and as soon as he came back to her house with his clothes packed ready to marry her, Catherine shut off all the lights in the house, and swiftly went upstairs, leaving poor Morris, outside and alone.

I thought the construction of The Heiress, was quite inquisitive and pretty easy to follow throughout the entire show. I was never left bewildered or wondering to myself if what I thought happened, actually did. Going to this Broadway show was a change of pace, and I would definitely go back to see it anytime. I am also looking forward to seeing our teacher, Professor Kahan perform soon.

The Heiress

Yesterday, the class went to see the Broadway show, The Heiress.  This has not been my first Broadway show; I have been to multiple Disney based shows and having been spoiled by the excellence of The Lion King, I did not expect much.  After the night ended, my expectations were most definitely inaccurate.

I think that the most important part of a story is the ending.  While the rest of the story must contribute to its overall purpose, the ending must execute what the story leads up to. I would not be surprised if the writer of The Heiress would agree with me.

At first, I was not having too great of a time at the show; I thought that the plot points of the play were underdeveloped and the actress that played Catherine needed some serious acting lessons.  After the class experienced the shockingly entertaining and unexpected ending of the play,  my initial thoughts of the show were thrown away into oblivion.  It was as if the the play was steering the audience in one direction the entire show and then once it came to the ending, the play made a complete 180.

I highly adore the fact that the creators of the show took this approach to the story.  Rather than make an accurate retelling of Washington Square, the creators made their own version of the story.

As shown by my tone, I find the ending of the show much more favorable than the novel’s.  There are countless classic stories that depict a protagonist as a mature hero or heroine that took care of their conflict(s) with just and noble actions.  It is a refresher to see the cold face of revenge take charge at the end of a storyline.

I cannot wait for the next seminar trip to the city.  Hopefully, the next performance the class will see is as clever as The Heiress.

The Heiress on Broadway: 10/17/12

In place of Wednesday’s Seminar class, we went to see The Heiress on Broadway.  I have been to many Broadway shows before, but this was the first time I went to see a Broadway play that was not a musical.  I really enjoyed it.  I think the story was portrayed very well, and it did not stray too much from the actual story in the novel.  That was one of the main things I liked about the show – they didn’t for example, take the powerful and “sad” ending, as some people would call it, and turn it into a happy ending where Catherine takes Morris back and they marry and live happily ever after.  That would have been slightly disappointing.

While I thought the overall show was very well done, there were a few things I noticed that I think could have been done better.  For example, Dan Stevens, who played Morris Townsend, made Townsend a little too likable.  He made Morris Townsend seem too nice and too genuine so that, at certain times, I, as the spectator, almost felt bad for Morris and wanted Dr. Sloper to accept him and have Catherine take him back.  I think he could have been portrayed as a bit more conceited and deceitful.  In addition, one of the lines given by Dr. Sloper that we studied in great detail in class was not delivered too well, at least in my opinion.  There is a very powerful quote, at the beginning of the play, by Dr. Sloper: “Is it possible that this magnificent person is my child?”  In the novel, this line is delivered with sarcasm and irony.  In the play last night, I didn’t think David Strathairn delivered that line with enough sarcasm.  He seemed a bit too light-hearted and humorous.  Finally, Catherine was played very well by Jessica Chastain.  However, she was a bit too monotonous.  Every time she spoke, her tone was monotonous and it was almost as if she spoke in fragmented sentences.  I know Catherine was not supposed to be very intelligent or witty, but when I imagined Catherine, I always imagined her with emotions and feelings, and at least able to articulate herself.

My favorite part of the play was the ending.  It was absolutely incredible.  The last 15 minutes kept most of us on the edge of our chairs because it was so suspenseful.  We all knew how the book ended, but there was something about seeing it played out in front of us that made it much better.  Jessica Chastain portrayed Catherine so