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Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi Newhouse Presents "Nantucket Sleigh Ride"
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Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi Newhouse Presents "Nantucket Sleigh Ride"

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Lincoln Center Theater
At the Mitzi E. Newhouse
André Bishop: Producing Artistic Director
Adam Siegel, Managing Director
Hattie K. Jutagir, Exec. Dir. of Development & Planning

Nantucket Sleigh Ride
(Nantucket Sleigh Ride Web Page)
By John Guare

Clea Alsip, Tina Benko, Adam Chanler-Berat
Jordan Gelber, Germán Jaramillo, John Larroquette
Grace Rex, Stacey Sargeant, Douglas Sills, Will Swenson

Directed by Jerry Zaks

Sets and Projections: David Gallo
Costumes: Emily Rebholz
Lighting: Howell Binkley
Original Music and Sound: Mark Bennett
Stage Manager: Janet Takami
Casting: Daniel Swee
Dramaturg: Anne Cattaneo
Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross
General Press Agent: Philip Rinaldi
General Manager: Jessica Niebanck
Production Manager: Paul Smithyman
General Press Agent: Philip Rinaldi

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 24, 2019 Matinee

The term “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” refers to a dying harpooned whale who leads the fishermen and their boat through the raging sea, until either the fishermen lose strength and their boat submerges, or, most often, the whale loses strength and dies in the water. John Guare’s fragmented, confusing, mixed-plot, tedious play, using the whalers’ term as metaphor, lost the attention of many in today’s matinee audience. The Mitzi Newhouse’s one intermission, early in this Lincoln Center Theater production, generated a great deal of buzz in the rows as viewers tried to make sense of Mr. Guare’s intentions. To list the plot highlights, Edmund Gowery (the always magnificent John Larroquette, wasted here) wrote one play in the 1970’s, “Internal Structure of Stars”, then went on to develop a career as an investment banker. He had invested his earnings from the show in a Nantucket home, that he soon discovered was taken over by child pornography by mail. And yes, it gets worse.

Poe (Adam Chanler-Berat) and Lilac (Grace Rex) appear early in the play at Edmund’s financial office to confront him with a book he gifted them as children in the 1970’s in Nantucket. The book serves as the play’s catalyst for Edmund’s flashbacks. Its author, Jorge Luis Borges (Germán Jaramillo), from whom Edmund seems to have purchased the Nantucket house, had also given the home to his daughter, Elsie (Clea Alsip). The series of Edmund’s Nantucket-set flashbacks, with wild characters and burlesquean non-sequiturs, plays non-stop. Even a subplot in which Edmund had considered remaking Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” with Fonda and Redford is tossed in, along with the live, once-frozen corpse of Walt Disney (Douglas Sills, who triples as three colorful characters).

Edmund’s original play appears to have been an ongoing hit in Nantucket, with local and school productions revealed in the pop-up characters’ repartee. Edmund, a snob, had never attended these local performances of his show. But, today’s audience metaphorically will be kinder to Mr. Guare on attending his future productions. The remaining ensemble, Tina Benko, Stacey Sargeant, Jordan Gelber, and Will Swenson deserve another play. Kudos to David Gallo for sets, Emily Rebholz for costumes, Howell Binkley for lighting, and Mark Bennett for original music and sound, all of whom exuded valiant effort.

The Company of Lincoln Center Theater's
"Nantucket Sleigh Ride"
Courtesy of T. Charles Erickson

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at