Already closed | 2h 20m | Midtown W

Happy Birthday, Wanda June

From 272 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Relevant, Quirky

About the show

Wheelhouse Theater Company offers a return engagement of famed novelist Kurt Vonnegut's rarely produced satire. A searing and darkly comedic look at American culture. More…

After being presumed dead for eight years, respected war veteran and big game hunter Harold Ryan returns home. He brings with him an old way of thinking, celebrating a Hemingway-esque machismo and American exceptionalism. Harold soon discovers that the society he returns to has made attempts to progress into a more modern, enlightened cultural narrative. 'Happy Birthday, Wanda June' is a dynamic and often comic meditation on toxic masculinity and a capitalistic America's failed attempts at progress cloaked in honor and morality.

2h 20m | Already closed | The Duke on 42nd Street (Midtown W)

Member Reviews (272)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Relevant, Quirky
81
Avg Score

90
Quirky, Relevant, Great writing, Clever, Great acting

See it if You like stories with topical plots, this one, though written during the Vietnam era could not be more relevant to today’s headlines.

Don't see it if You don’t like a lot of symbolism, exaggeration and satire used to make some very serious points.

Also I loved this show. I thought it was very creatively directed and super... Read more Read less

71
Hemingwayesque figure returns from the jungle after missing for 8 years: wild absurdist comedy by vonnegut where macho-aggressive culture returning figure represents runs head long into post-woodstock culture

See it if inventively/w humor reflects macho aggressiveness in set, characters mimicking animals, songs of the '50s/60s: "you belong to me"

Don't see it if dated satire of Hemingway machismo; frenetic and overacted (other than by fine K McCluggage), more cartoon than sharp social criticism

Also It's hard to act successfully in an absurdist play where characters ar... Read more Read less

70
Great acting, Engrossing, although a bit too long, would have been better as a one-act, Sadly relevant and thought provoking

See it if entertaining, excellent acting. Play is OK but not great. Interesting in way fourth wall is broken throughout. Nice 1970s costumes.

Don't see it if you won't enjoy an actor wildly roaming around the stage in an animal-like & violent manner. Incredible performance, difficult to watch.

Also Jason O'Connell's performance is riveting, but after awhile it also be... Read more Read less

84
Funny, Great staging, Quirky, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if you like the offbeat offered by Vonnegut presented in a glamorous set with solid acting, making you laugh and compare to today's newsmakers.

Don't see it if you want a calm evening in the theater. This is an energetic romp from beginning to end that may be offensive to some.

86
Clever, Absurdist, Intelligent, Farcical, Relevant

See it if You want to experience a carefully crafted production that is definitely “theatre of the absurd” as well as sadly relevant ! It’s Vonnegut �

Don't see it if You can’t go with the flow ! You don’t like plays that ridicule traditional roles of masculinity. You don’t like Kurt Vonnegut’s style.

78
Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Satirical

See it if Errant husband returns to family after extended absence. In Vonnegut's testosterone-fueled satirical world, all alphas are apes and "A"s.

Don't see it if Shag carpet underfoot! Poly-carbon allergy alert! Wall-to-wall, even under your seat. High prod. values, but 2 hrs of Neanderthal caricature

83
Somehow relevant after 50 years, Great set and acting, Great absurdist writing

See it if Harold returns Odysseus-like to wife Penelope who is besieged by suitors. Conquering hero Harold heads the household with hyper-masculinity.

Don't see it if Harold’s vicious behavior and savage grunts are vaguely reminiscent of the way Trump and the Trumpsters are attempting to govern.

85
Funny, Great writing, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if You’re a Vonnegut fan! Great acting!

Don't see it if If you’re looking for a really straight play.

29
A big confusing mess

See it if You have the patience to hang in there. The first act of this play is bad including the acting. But all of the acting gets better

Don't see it if you like to understand what you are watching.

Also This is one of these plays that I go to and just feel extremely stupid... Read more Read less

81
Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Dizzying, Quirky

See it if you love brilliantly staged & acted over the top farce.This surreal show is over long, but truly fun. Great tech elements.Direction is great

Don't see it if you want a show with a real point to make. This is a very funny and well acted fantastical farce.

75
Polarizing exagerated play., Beautifully cast, Nice staging, Not my taste

See it if You like Vonnegut's sensibilities. You appreciate how good casting gets you halfway to character. Wife perfect. Pilot wonderful.

Don't see it if You dont like mugging, some gross gestures, lip smacking, dry humping couches, wild eyes.

Also But this is what you signed up for in this play. It is a specific tast... Read more Read less

83
Ambitious, Funny, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you would enjoy a biting commentary on toxic masculinity and its misogynistic and racist violence.

Don't see it if you want to miss yet another lights-out, balls-to-the-wall turn by Jason O’Connell. The New York stage is immeasurably lucky to have him.

Also This work is particularly relevant in our current political climate.

80
Dark but entertaining, Beautiful & clever set, Excellent singing (harmonizing), Humorous @ times / some great acting, Interesting & relevant farce

See it if you enjoy satire &/or Vonnegut's writing. DEF different, not for everyone (folks left during intm). Don't miss his artwork on your way in!

Don't see it if you prefer linear plays, str8-up dramas (no farce), real characters (no fantasy scenes) & no over-the-top ad-libbing.

Also Male chauvinism reigns supreme here.... Read more Read less

77
Darkly-humorous, Off-beat and quirky, Dated in some ways, painfully-relevant in others, American reality via a bleak and violent portrait, Involves harsh themes of misogyny, abuse, and cruelty

See it if a fan of absurdist works, Kurt Vonnegut, or actor Jason O’Connell--who absolutely steals this show; if you don't mind brutality & sexuality.

Don't see it if you need drama to make sense at all times; don’t like absurdist or post-modern works; dislike sexuality, misogyny, violence, or dark humor.

Also Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday, Wanda June is a savage, dark satire lo... Read more Read less

90
Superb acting & direction, Relevant, Resonant, Intelligent, Challenging to interpret

See it if you like dark funny comedy, plays that are intellectually challenging with fine acting & themes about the "nature" of men, women & society.

Don't see it if you dislike plays whose meanings are difficult to discern, have farcial elements and not "realistic" character depictions.

84
Ambitious, Delightful, Funny, Dizzying, Great acting

See it if Stage set-fun/exciting Acting-top notch Dialogue-some funny/ brilliant/ nutsy Story line-confusing All pieces wonderful, how do they fit

Don't see it if You need a straight story line, are uninterested in another take on male/female relations and systems.

81
Clever, Funny, Great acting, Quirky, (sadly) relevant

See it if if you're a Vonnegut fan and are willing to go on a crazy, wild trip. I especially liked the musical interludes.

Don't see it if you have a problem with theater of the absurd and want to be grounded in reality.

79
Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Quirky

See it if you want to be truly entertained. It's about a dad returning after missing for years and the afterlife - all of which has comical effects

Don't see it if you're looking for a more traditional comedy

71
Funny, Dated

See it if Toxic masculinity blasting on an outdated boombox knocking and harming everything in its way. So over the top, it gets funny at points.

Don't see it if Feels less relevant since current daily news of Prez is toxic masculinity: self absorbed,childish, trigger happy, insecure &hateful,misogyny

Also Free ticket from Show Score.

65
Dated vonnegut falls flat

See it if You absolutely love Vonnegut and don’t care about lack of pacing, lack of theatrical narrative and characters that are cartoonish

Don't see it if You are easily offended or care about issues of toxic masculinity and it’s effect on the world bit want it expressed theatrically

90
Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Dizzying, Quirky

See it if you like bizarre but relevant plays, you want to see the Wheelhouse Company ensemble work together, you like non-stop action

Don't see it if you don't like Vonegut's work; you don't like plays that carry a message; you only like happily ever after plays

82
Intense, Great acting, Profound

See it if You are up for a brilliant, but very tough play depicting just how cruel a man can be. Vonnegut was a masterful writer.

Don't see it if Searing drama is not your thing.

82
Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Quirky, Resonant

See it if you like surreal, absurdist theatre. Beautifully designed staged. Relevant discussion of gender roles acted beautifully by all but male lead

Don't see it if you are easily offended by language or raunchiness. If you don't like off-beat, incongruous, surreal scripts. But it is worth the effort.

84
Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you enjoy over the top comedy, with an important message, that makes you think.

Don't see it if you want to see a straight drama about important subjects.

74
Clever, Funny, Quirky, Slow, Refreshing

See it if you like the fourth wall broken, like quirky characters​ and historical time frames-and curious outside the box staging and zingy politics.

Don't see it if don't like a show carried by one actor--can't stand too much bombast, uneven performances and long drawn out plots.


October 23rd, 2018
"Although some of Vonnegut's surreal 1970 satire is amusingly dated, there are moments so eerily prescient that you're jolted back to the present...Director Jeff Wise helps his crackerjack cast navigate a tricky tonal tightrope between broad shtick and heartbreaking insight...Even when his absurd...
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October 24th, 2018
"For anyone willing to look, Wheelhouse and director Jeffrey Wise have staged a marvelous abyss...The growling, slobbering, center of the play is O'Connell, who gives one of the most uninhibited performances I've ever witnessed...All of the actors come together in impressive harmony for the show'...
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October 23rd, 2018
“As directed by Wise, it’s loud and confrontational...but it’s no more than that. Just letting a tyrannical hollow man storm around isn’t enough. It’s less than enough. It’s alienating. Making matters worse, the activities handed the other characters have no helpful afflatus. What must be said, h...
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October 28th, 2018
"A simple, straightforward style and biting satirical content...What O’Connell manages to do, along with director Wise, is to erase the outdatedness that’s hard to ignore in Vonnegut’s work. O’Connell is a dose of mania, popping in and out of characters and caricatures that are both amusing and i...
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