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The Dinner, skip this meal for now.

Paul (Steve Coogan) and his wife, Claire (Laura Linney) are surprised by Paul’s brother, Stan (Richard Gere) and his wife, Katelyn’s (Rebecca Hall) abrupt invitation to have dinner at a posh local restaurant with difficult-to-get reservations. The brothers are not close and Stan, a congressman, is running for governor. Paul knows something is going on for Stan to meet with them at this key time in the campaign. As the couples dine, recollections of past family interactions unfold until the conversations lead to a very troubling story about the couples’ sons.

Based on Herman Koch’s international bestseller with the same title, the film, The Dinner, is not very appetizing. Movies simply cannot capture the nuance, character depth and the complexity of situations the way a book can.

The characters are enigmas but not in a realistic way, but in more of an implausible way. Claire is a strong, well-organized woman; Paul is unstable and angry about real or perceived childhood slights. Claire loves Paul but you’ll find yourself wondering why. He has very little appeal unless her affection is based on sympathy.

Stan tries to indulge his brother’s tantrums, as he goes from sympathetic to patient, but eventually becoming annoyed. Stan initially appears to be a person of character until he shows he can be talked out of his convictions with relatively little effort by his wife.

As the couples discuss past events, the adult characters look the same in the scenes revisiting the past, some taking place as long as a decade earlier. Their children are used as time markers. Their sons at the time of this dinner are 16-years-old but are shown in scenes of the past as six or eight-years-old. Again with the parents looking the same during all of the time periods. This reflects on the director, Oren Moverman’s lack of attention to details.

The Dinner does boast a five-star cast. Veteran performers Gere and Linney, as well as, lesser known actors Coogan and Hall are excellent individually as well as a group. But hard as they try, they cannot give authenticity to the dialogue and poorly developed characters of Moverman who is also the screenwriter.

As to cast diversity, The Dinner gets a B+. Black performers, Adepero Oduye who plays the congressman’s blindly loyal aide, Nina, and Judah Sandridge is Beau, his adopted son, both have very important roles in the film. Additionally, there are many other African-Americans with smaller parts and in background scenes; however, there are few other individuals of color featured.

The Dinner serves up just enough entertainment to get a Rent It rating; it’s two hours long and rated “R” for disturbing violent content, and language throughout.

Cicely Tyson Receives Surprise at Final Curtain for The Trip to Bountiful

WATCH VIDEO: Students Seranade Tony Award-winning Actress Cicely Tyson

At the closing curtain call of The Trip to Bountiful, students from the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts (East Orange) paid tribute to Cicely Tyson,the Tony Award-winning actress by singing Blessed Assurance, a hymn that featured prominently in the show.

Fellow show stars—Vanessa Williams, Adepero Oduye, Leon Addison Brown and Tom Wopat—were in attendance. Directed by Michael Wilson, the show's cast also includes Devon Abner, Pascale Armand, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Arthur French, Billy Eugene Jones, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner.


Videography by Alexis Williams

  • Published in Theatre

A Memorable Trip to Bountiful

On Wednesday, August 14th, I had the privilege to attend a showing of the critically acclaimed revival of Horton Foote's masterpiece, The Trip to Bountiful. Starring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, and Cuba Gooding Jr., it tells the story of Carrie Watts (Cicely Tyson), who is living in a small Houston apartment with her soft-spoken son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and very out-spoken daughter-in-law (Vanessa Williams).

Carrie dreams of returning to her home in a small gulf coast town called Bountiful where she grew up and raised her family. Sneaking away with her latest pension check, Carrie heads to Bountiful for the journey of a lifetime. The result is an unforgettable play about the idea of home and its power to sustain us.

This being the first Broadway show I have ever attended I was amazed and in awe of the performances, set design and overall experience. From the serious moments to the downright hysterical, I was enchanted by it all. The main cast and ensemble were a sight to behold.

After the show's end, the audience was treated to a special post show talkback with cast members Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and Adepero Oduye. The event, moderated by writer and critic Caryn James, gave a behind the scenes look at the creative process of the show. The actors were very candid with both the interviewer and the audience and were open to any questions, which was a real treat for all in attendance.

I highly recommend this show and strongly encourage you to join the list of celebs that have seen the production. They include: Denzel Washington, director Kenny Leon, Whoopi Goldberg, Diahann Carroll, and Harry Belafonte.

Go see it before it ends on October 9th, 2013.

There is currently a 2 for 1 ticket sale going, get tickets while you still can! http://bit.ly/14tzodB

  • Published in Theatre
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