New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


For great Jersey music and much more, tune into our radio station at AsburyMusic.com

REVIEW: Nureyev's Eyes at George Street

By Gary Wien

originally published: 02/11/2016

REVIEW: Nureyev's Eyes at George Street

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) — George Street Playhouse opened a wonderful production of  Nureyev’s Eyes by David Rush last week. It is a fascinating fictional account of the relationship between the painter Jamie Wyeth and the Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.  The play stars William Connell (Wyeth) and Bill Dawes (Nureyev).  From the moment they hit the stage, the world becomes one of two tortured artists.  One who seeks to rise to the standards set by his family of famous artists; the other who fights comparisons to his lover for the title best dancer in the world.

“My name is Jamie Wyeth, I’m a painter.  I want to do your portrait and I wasn’t sure until just now,” says Wyeth upon meeting Nureyev.

Nureyev is reluctant at first, telling him that “you can’t paint dancer… ballet is dancer moving.” But Wyeth persists, even setting up a meeting under false pretenses.  Eventually, they come to an agreement - mainly because they both have specific goals that the other can help with.  Nureyev wants Wyeth’s connection to Lincoln Kirstein, the co-founder of the New York City Ballet, and Wyeth wants Nureyev to be the subject that will elevate his career.

Directed by Michael Mastro, George Street Playhouse’s Resident Artistic Director, the play moves at a swift pace.  It runs 90 minutes without an intermission and Mastro keeps the action at a very high and sometimes frenetic pace.  Both actors are exceptional, revealing both the confidence of their character as well as their fears.

One of the best scenes in the play is the negotiation between the two regarding the painting.  Nureyev spouts out a laundry list of demands, yet Wyeth goes toe to toe with him.  After hearing his list, Wyeth confidently shoots down each demand, ultimately saying, “I don’t tell you how to dance, don’t tell me how to paint!”



The article continues after this ad

 


In real life, Wyeth is known to have sketched hundreds of drawings of Nureyev over the course of several years.  In an interview with the New York Times in 2002, he described Nureyev as “one of the most demanding and fascinating assignments he had ever taken.  He wanted to capture ‘this phantom figure,’ he said, a goal that was complicated by Nureyev's obsessiveness about his art and himself.”

REVIEW: Nureyev's Eyes at George Street

A funny thing happens along the way; as Nureyev sits for Wyeth time after time and months pass, the two become friends.  Both sense the greatness within each other and recognize the potential that could come from the painting; Wyeth knows he can finally be seen as a true member of his family’s artistic legacy and Nureyev can gain the immortality he has long sought.

Wyeth probes Nureyev along the way, determined to learn his secrets and discover what drives his passion.  His answers are like riddles into his soul.  When asked what is your happiest day he responds, “tomorrow, always tomorrow.”  Nureyev, who defected to the United States, also reveals his greatest fear — the KGB hunting him down.  “The only place I’m free is on stage,” he says.

REVIEW: Nureyev's Eyes at George StreetNureyev’s secret is in his eyes, Wyeth believes.  His questions are always given with the hope of capturing the truth hidden inside.  Part of his obsessiveness with the sketches is a quest for an image that will accurately portray Nureyev’s eyes and lead to his masterpiece.

Their friendship is partially built by the personal demons they both share.  Wyeth constantly hears a voice that tells him that he cannot paint, he doesn’t match up to his family’s name and never will.  Nureyev’s voice goes even farther, telling him that he will fall and he will drop his partner.

“Your voice is a lot more aggressive than mine,” said Wyeth.  “He’s Russian,” is the response.

It's not important to know much about ballet or art to enjoy this play.  There are a few mentions of specific dancers and paintings, but the story is truly about these two characters. Whether or not you know Wyeth's family story or the dancers that Nureyev compares himself to will not take away from the plot.

The play is a perfect blend of drama and comedy. Beautiful lighting changes lure us into the minds and moods of these artists, showcasing everything from their joy to madness.  The lighting is such an integral part of the production it is practically a character of its own.  Through the ups and downs of an often intense relationship, the play ultimately begs the questions: how much does an artist need to know about his subject in order to capture them on a canvas? An how much do they need to know about themselves?

 

Nureyev’s Eyes is running now through February 21 at George Street Playhouse (9 Livingston Avenue) in New Brunswick, NJ.  For more information visit www.gsponline.org

 

REVIEW: Nureyev's Eyes at George Street

 

Photos by T. Charles Erickson




For more by this author, click here






Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.