Thoughts on Life and Death: Wakey, Wakey at Signature Theatre



We’ll let you in on a little secret. While theater is something we love to experience, it’s not something we love to blog about. It’s a daunting task trying to capture the essence of a play or musical.  But when we experience something unique, like we did with Wakey, Wakey, we want desperately to share our experience.

In Will Eno’s new off-Broadway play, Guy gazes out at the audience and says:

“This was supposed to be something different.”




Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Image courtesy of Signature Theatre. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Image courtesy of Signature Theatre. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The character is played brilliantly by Emmy Award-winning actor Michael Emerson (you’d likely know him from his portrayal of Finch on Person of Interest). Something about his delivery of the line stood out to us.  Was it meant apologetically or as a mere statement of fact?

As it turns out, it held a special meaning.

When we approached the play’s co-star, January LaVoy, to commend her on her performance after the show, she shared some intel on this wonderful play.  She revealed that James Houghton, the founder and former artistic director of Signature Theatre, had succumbed to stomach cancer and passed away in the latter half of 2016.  Will Eno, the playwright and director, was so profoundly affected by the event that his work-in-progress morphed into Wakey, Wakey.  

“This was supposed to be something different.”





Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Wakey, Wakey deals with issues of mortality but there was a sense of reverence to it all.  There was a feeling that this was deeply personal, and that we, the audience, had not only been invited into this private moment of grief and celebration but were also being asked to be a part of it, to share this man’s final moments, to see him off on this last, solitary journey.  And January LaVoy’s beautiful, minimalist rendering of the archetype of a calm, gentle, humane and caring stranger was the perfect complement to Michael Emerson’s moving portrayal as Gus.  The relationship gives us hope that in our final moments, humanity can save us from feeling entirely alone.

It’s a poignant work made infinitely more touching by the personal experience.  And don’t let the subject matter deter you, we promise there is no shortage of celebration.  And if you’re still feeling particularly melancholy after the performance, a nice spread of snacks and beverages are available for free after the show to cheer you up.  (Free food always cheers us up.)

Wakey, Wakey has been extended through April 2.  For more information and to buy tickets, visit Signature Theatre’s website here.

Location:
480 W 42nd St



Pair it with:

Ramen at Ippudo

Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Wakey, Wakey Will Eno Signature Theatre - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

You may be wondering why we keep pairing our theater outings with ramen.  We wish we could produce a hyper-intelligent string theory to explain how they are inextricably linked.  But we can’t.  It just so happens that there are a lot of great ramen places in Hell’s Kitchen near the Theater District.  And it also just so happens that we really like ramen.

Ippudo, which hails directly from Japan, has elevated ramen from fast food to a culinary delight.  While it always offers its signature products, it continues to innovate.  Ippudo is one of the few chains to offer a wide variety of vegetarian ramen bowls.  They also offer a multitude of toppings, with recommendations for each specific bowl to suit the flavor profile.  

There might be a wait, so try to come on off-hours.  We promise, it’s worth it.

Location:
321 W 51st St

Hours:
Monday-Thursday 11:00am – 3:30pm, 5:00pm – 11:30pm
Friday 11:00am – 3:30pm, 5:00pm – 12:30am
Saturday 11:00am – 11:30pm
Sunday 11:00am – 10:30pm

– L. & J.

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