The Clap: Hello Again
By Scott Hocker
One of the more obscure musicals of the last few decades, Hello Again, is currently having its first New York revival through April 3 at the hands of the adventurous theater troupe Transport Group. With little dialogue and a near-endless stream of song and music, the show weaves together 10 sexual encounters, each occurring in a different decade of the 20th century. Confession: I have long been obsessed with Hello Again, ever since hearing the original cast album in the early 1990s. Here, five things you need-to-know before heading out:
5) In The Flesh Hello Again is wholly and unabashedly about sex, so expect plenty of simulated romps along with lots of skin, including quite a few exposed male butts pumping away.
4) Onstage, Around Stage Transport Group is known for its unconventional productions. With Hello Again, the company's artistic director, Jack Cummings III, has staged the show in -- and all over -- a warehouse space in Soho. The audience sits at round tables scattered throughout the space, and the show's action transpires on and around the same tables -- an appropriate approach for a musical that grapples with the limits and possibilities of intimacy.
3) The Sound of Music At its finest moments, composer Michael John LaChiusa's score soars, melding character and song into a breathtaking union. Some moments falter, especially in the second half of the show. Still, having listened to the score hundreds of times, it is thrilling to hear it performed live.
2) And On We Go Hello Again is loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler's incendiary 1897 play, La Ronde. That play was named for a 'round dance' because each scene highlights two characters, one of who is also in the next scene. So in Hello Again, a whore and a soldier open the show, then the next scene features the same soldier and a nurse, and on it goes until the last scene in which the whore returns. The conceit is more than a gimmick. It underscores the ways sex both connects and separates us.
1) More Than a Feeling Portraying the parts in Hello Again is no small feat. Each is both a casual sketch and a nuanced character. Some are better drawn than others, but they all demand a fierce commitment from the performer playing them. A few standouts: Nikka Graff Lanzarone as the Whore, who yearns for a trick that lasts past the evening; Robert Lenzi as the innocent --and manipulative -- College Boy; and best of all, Alexandra Silber as the Young Wife, tackling the show's best song with full-throttle tenderness and verve.
To purchase tickets to Hello Again, visit Transport Group's website.