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

100
Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Relevant

See it if A terrific production of a play by a brilliant author with a stunning cast. Vonnegut was a visionary and this production is true to it.

Don't see it if If you do not know about Vonnegut's anti-war stance and why he felt so strongly about war you voted for Trump you will hate this play.

80
Clever, Great acting, Dated

See it if you are interested in excellent, over-the-top comedic performances and an absurdist, imaginative take on death.

Don't see it if a lot of time spent watching toxic masculinity, even in a satirical form, is too painful to sit through.

Also Jason O'Connell's performance is a scenery-chewing (at one point almos... Read more Read less

83
Clever, Dated, Hilarious, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You read Vonnengut. You're interested in violence as connatural to man in general, and specifically as an American value.

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with Hitler playing shuffleboard in paradise, or with a mirror held up to you. You dislike the 1970s

29
Banal, Cliched, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if It has an OK story, somewhat interesting.

Don't see it if I really disliked most of the acting, especially the main guy who was so unlikeable as a Macho Man.

80
Entertaining, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Quirky

See it if You love Vonnegut!

Don't see it if You have sensitive ears!

86
Great acting, Quirky, Relevant, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You enjoy good acting, interesting and different plays. Not ordinary, by any means. Some light moments even if the play is intense.

Don't see it if you expect a typical show. Absurdity within the play, even if it delivers a message.

85
Intense, Relevant, Great acting, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy the writing of Kurt Vonnegut or are interested in a relevant, funny, but dark look at gender, at violence, at mortality...

Don't see it if you prefer realistic stories.

98
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great writing, Absorbing, Clever

See it if If you like Vonnegut's short stories or Slaughterhouse 5 then this will win your heart!

Don't see it if You want a typical play & aren't willing to be challenged or think. This has Vonnegut's writing stamp all over it.

During previews
88
Great acting, Intense, Seriocomic, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you're hunting for a timeless & timely dark comedy that explores our ugly obsession with defining masculinity & heroism in the modern world.

Don't see it if you're triggered by unabashed boorishness, misogyny, bigotry & chauvinism; you don't believe in 2nd chances (to see this gem of a revival).

During previews
85
Fierce, Funny and sly, Smart, Painfully relevant satire, Bravura performance

See it if Like absurdist work, Vonnegut’s piercing societal lance, dark humor, great staging/set/lighting, stunning perfs and precise direction.

Don't see it if It’s about toxic masculinity and lead character is repulsive. The actor O’Connell mesmerizes, but may be too much for some. It’s SATIRE.

Also I’ve seen Jason O’Connell before and wondered if he was an acquired ta... Read more Read less

During previews
85
Entertaining, Dizzying, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You are ready for Kurt Vonnegut’s first play,Misogyny, violence, craziness, we are niece, ENTERTAINMENT, a birthday cake that makes no sense

Don't see it if You are easily offended by anything. You dislike guns, hunting, men who behave badly,Stereotyping, nonsense, Edginess,quirkiness.abuse.

Also Happy Birthday, Wanda June is a dark comedy written by the brilliant K... Read more Read less

During previews
90
Vonnegut's frenetic absurdist romp pulled off by exceptional cast

See it if Absurdity of macho culture brought out by Jason O'Connell, a force of nature. Super talented cast keeps the hilarity rolling. Still relevant

Don't see it if You don't "get" absurdism. People with aversion to guns may be uncomfortable. The girl in the cast is dandy. The boy is already a talent

During previews
75
Entertaining, Funny, Quirky

See it if You like quirky funny characters in unusual situations and interesting family relationships.

Don't see it if You dislike when characters break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience or you prefer conventional characters and stories.

During previews
95
Funny, Great acting, Edgy, Masterful, Relevant

See it if you want to see why Kurt Vonnegut is one of America's great writers. Jason O’Connell's performance is spot on.

Don't see it if you are easily offended by political incorrect writing or you are not in the mood for thinking.

Also Vonnegut mixes the "real" and the "absurd". The "real" is portrayed as... Read more Read less

During previews
90
Entertaining, Quirky, Great acting, Great staging

See it if A well-acted play (all the actors fully committed to the roles) that is surreal, funny, and poignant.

Don't see it if Could be too out-there for some people. A bit long too.

During previews
67
Tedious, Dark, Overacted, Nice set/scenery, Imaginative

See it if You're a fan of absurdism and don't mind laughing at dark material.

Don't see it if You're in the mood for an upfront comedy.

Also I know lots of people have enjoyed and admired this production, but I ... Read more Read less

During previews
93
Hilarious, Great acting, Clever, Edgy, Masterful

See it if You have a dark sense of humor and want to laugh your ass off.

Don't see it if You are easily offended or are at all uptight. This one isn't for you.

During previews
73
Relevant, Quirky, Great staging

See it if You want to cringe at a revival that is still accurate. You enjoy surreal, kooky shows.

Don't see it if You want direction that has an opinion on the misogyny presented onstage.

During previews
55
Excruciating, Satire, Disappointing, Philosophical, Absurdist

See it if You are a Vonnegut completist or you want to continue digging into the topical ugliness of man’s nature. Some may find it funny...not me.

Don't see it if Today’s politics have heightened your awareness of or lowered your tolerance for the animal nature of man.

Also Vonnegut was insightful for me when I was young. This felt like #reall... Read more Read less

During previews
68
Funny, Repetitive, Relevant, Cliched, Disappointing

See it if you're a fan of Vonnegut and absurdist plays in general.

Don't see it if you expect a real slice of life or realism.

During previews
90
Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Intense

See it if You want to see a play that also serves as a masterclass for actors. You are a Vonnegut fan. Enjoy visceral, guttural dark comedies.

Don't see it if You dislike Vonnegut's works. Are thinking about going with kids because it has a kid on the poster? (You know that's probably happened.)

Also "Jesus...I dunno. You know. What the heck. Who knows?" -Looseleaf ... Read more Read less

During previews
80
Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Wild 'n' wicked, Relevant

See it if you'd appreciate dark, ironic humor of a 45+ year old play being absurdly, horribly relevant to the times we live in now

Don't see it if you don't dig sarcasm about such things as machismo, murder,wars, soldiering, trophy hunting, marriage, peaceniks, women's lib, the "n" word

Also A hoot and a half! Jason O'Connell is a force of nature.

During previews
100
Great writing, Hilarious, Great acting, Great staging, Must see

See it if A tour-de-force performance by O'Connell is reason enough but everything else about this show is spectacular. McLuggage is excellent too.

Don't see it if You find a hateful character who dominates a show to be too much-too loud, too angry, too crude, etc. The humor really tempers that though.

During previews
88
Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Resonant

See it if already at full speed for 1st performance at Duke; exceptional work by cast who are adept at all the twists and speed changes

Don't see it if five people to my left departed at intermission shows relentless satire and symbolism my not be everyone's cup of tea

During previews
90
Great acting, Funny, Entertaining

See it if It's got one of the best live performances I've ever seen (from Jason O’Connell) and an extremely strong supporting cast as well.

Don't see it if You're bothered by a slow and slightly confusing start - the play hits its stride halfway through the first act and keeps getting better!


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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