Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a charming and warm-hearted comedy by Christopher Durang, played a successful limited run on Broadway at the Golden Theatre from March 5 to August 25, 2013, garnering 6 Tony Award nominations and the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.  The play won every Best Play Award of the 2012-13 season, including the Drama Desk, Drama League, New York Critics, and Outer Critics Circle Awards.  The Broadway engagement starred Tony® and Academy Award® nominee Sigourney Weaver and Tony® and Emmy® Award winner David Hyde Pierce and followed sold-out, smash-hit engagements at McCarter Theatre Center and Lincoln Center Theater.

Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they were raised, while their movie-star sister Masha travels the world. Just as their cleaning woman warns them about terrible events in their future, Masha returns for a surprise visit with her studly boy-toy, Spike. So begins an unforgettable weekend of rivalry, regret, and hilarious uproar.

With more than 70 productions planned for major theaters around the U.S. during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, look for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike soon at a theater near you.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News

When Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” opened off-Broadway in November, I called this seriously silly play the funniest show in town, yet one with an emotional kick that lifted it to a more rarefied plane. Happily, the show has re-opened on Broadway with its cast (the headliners are Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce), its bucolic Bucks County setting (David Korins) and its laughs intact. It’s even better on second viewing, a rare thing for a comedy. (Read Full Review)

Erik Haagensen, Backstage

A sold-out hit Off-Broadway for Lincoln Center Theater this past fall, it is easily the best new play of the Main Stem season to date and a top contender for the Tony Award. Both breathtakingly funny and quietly poignant, this Chekhov-inspired work — for which knowledge of the Russian master’s plays is not a requirement — is pure joy from start to finish. Director Nicholas Martin has skillfully refashioned his original thrust staging for a proscenium house, and the happy result is a small but undeniable comedic boost. (Read Full Review)

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Observer

Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which opened last week at the Golden Theatre, is one of the funniest plays on Broadway in recent memory, and it’s also one of the cleverest. It’s Chekhov relocated to Bucks County, Pa., and updated to the 21st century, allusive and intellectual but also zany and broadly comic. The young characters are both naïve and ludicrous; the older characters worry either that their lives are over or have passed them by.(Read Full Review)

Unsigned, The New Yorker

Christopher Durang’s seriocomic, slapstick mashup of Chekhovian names, themes, and motifs, in a transfer to Broadway after a popular run at Lincoln Center, seems like it shouldn’t work — it’s a snob’s show, with mugging — but, thanks to the topnotch cast and deft direction by Nicholas Martin, it soars like a seagull. (Read Full Review)

David Cote, Time Out New York

I must be off my meds — or back on them: I was delighted to spend another weekend in the country with these middle-aged sad sacks, whose trials in life and love now strike an unexpectedly amusing but plangent chord. If misery loves company, you’ll have a ball with this hilarious, beguiling crew. The play may be frothy and silly, but it’s gracefully written and hits notes of genuine pathos and anger in the second act: a touching phone monologue for Sonia, given a chance at love, and a superbly dyspeptic rant against modern life by Vanya. (Read Full Review)

Michael Musto, Village Voice

David Hyde Pierce is just plain perfect, and his monologue about the joys of the past (everything from licking stamps to Old Yeller) is pulled off with a virtuosic mastery of eccentricity and stagecraft. Kristine Nielsen gives her best performance to date, getting big laughs with her Maggie Smith impression (she gets about six syllables out of “no-mi-n-aaa-aaaa-ted”), and becoming quite touching as she asks a romantic interest if she can use her real voice instead of Maggie’s with him. (Read Full Review)

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater

With its first-rate cast intact, I like the play even better on seeing it a second time, in its new home at the Golden Theater — and I loved it at Lincoln Center. Christopher Durang generously gives each of the six actors in the cast at least one special monologue that allows them to dazzle. For David Hyde Pierce, it’s the rant set off by Spike’s finding it ridiculous that people use to lick postage stamps. But the best monologue is by Kristine Nielsen, who is overall the best thing about the show, and also most clearly representative of its dual pleasures.(Read Full Review)

Linda Winer, Newsday

Christopher Durang, of all unrepentant scamps, was inducted into the very upright Theater Hall of Fame in January. And now, he has one of the funniest comedies that Broadway has seen in seasons. This is all delightful. The new play, which seemed too tidy and almost mellow in its Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theater last fall, feels bigger and broader and more — dare we say it — commercial within Broadway expectations. (Read Full Review)

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News

Seen Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center last year, the play opened Thursday on Broadway with ample yuks, snazzy design and a six-actor cast, led by David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver, intact. But as in the show’s earlier run, the only downsides of Christopher Durang’s gleefully silly, if mostly empty-caloried, Big Gulp of a comedy are smile lines and overstimulated funny bones. And maybe mild orbital ache from rolling eyes at the sheer scope of the mugging. This riff on the Russian writer’s mopes and dopes isn’t subtle. (Read Full Review)

Brian Scott Lipton, TheaterMania

This brilliant, often absurd comedy, now somehow deeper and funnier than it seemed just a couple months ago at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, proves to be one of the highlights of the theatrical season. But as in much of Christopher Durang’s best work, it’s the heartbreak that is as memorable as the hilarity. In the end, Durang leaves us with a message about the importance of family (much as Chekhov did) and a reminder that even for the heartsick, laughter is truly the best medicine. (Read Full Review)

Marilyn Stasio, Variety

In this hilarious mashup, classic themes of existential loss and longing are given a modern spin and endlessly inventive comic twists for an inspired cast led by Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce. Borrowing freely from other [Chekhov] plays, Sonia sighs over the beautiful blue heron that comes to feed at the pond, and compares herself to a wild turkey. She also declares herself to be in mourning for her life. Which causes Vanya to snap, “I hope you’re not going to make Chekhov references all day.” (Read Full Review)

Matt Windman, amNew York

It would appear that director Nicholas Martin has encouraged the cast to play their roles as broadly as possible, with the result being that their performances, on occasion, are way too aggressive. That aside, this is a smart, relentlessly silly, at times heartwarming comedy. (Read Full Review)

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

The lapel-grabbing style of comic acting known as mugging is not always a theatrical offense. Judging from the jubilant reception the play received both times I saw it — Off Broadway and now on — audiences tired of reading headlines about the stalled recovery are up for anything that delivers the release of a heedless good time too. I can imagine many satisfied patrons leave the theater muttering, “Now if only real Chekhov plays were this funny, maybe I wouldn’t keep falling asleep.” (Read Full Review)

Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

Few Chekhov-inspired shows make you laugh out loud, and repeatedly at that. Luckily for us it just opened on Broadway, after a recent run Off — and it’s the rare transfer where the show improved. What’s changed? At first glance, nothing: Cast, director and set are repeats from the Lincoln Center stint last fall. And yet Nicholas Martin’s production has gotten noticeably better: It’s simultaneously sharper and smoother, and the one weak performance — that of Sigourney Weaver — has grown more nuanced and funnier. (Read Full Review)

Michael Sommers, New Jersey Newsroom

Christopher Durang’s amiable saga of 50-something siblings Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and Sonia (Kristine Nielsen), who lead retiring lives in Bucks County, and their movie star sister Masha (Sigourney Weaver), who pops in for a weekend visit, offers plenty of laughter regardless of one’s knowledge of Chekhov’s plays. Still, theatergoers who are fond of Chekhov will derive extra amusement from observing the clever ways that Durang entwines elements from his works into this good-natured two-act comedy. (Read Full Review)

Comments are closed.