glory
“The Glory of the World” | Courtesy of Actors Theatre

Call all your friends in New York City. Heck, call all your friends in the Northeast. One of the finest pieces of theater I have ever seen is coming to Brooklyn.

“The Glory of the World” by Charles Mee was commissioned by Actors Theatre to celebrate the spirit of famed mystic and monk Thomas Merton on his 100th birthday.

The play debuted in March at the Humana Festival of New American Plays to nearly universal praise (the few outliers were miffed the play wasn’t about Merton, just inspired by him).

This New York remount reunites the original ensemble cast and creative team from the play’s Louisville premiere under the direction of Les Waters at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of New York’s most adventurous venues. The show previews Jan. 16-20, opens Jan. 21 and runs through Feb. 6.

Les Waters
Les Waters

I saw the play three times. Each time, as the play concluded, tears washed down my face. There was nothing particularly sad about the play; these were tears of overwhelm. I had just seen something so unusual, so spiritual and hilarious and powerful, the only way to react was to find some sort of release. It could have been hysterical laughter; for me, it was tears.

Director and Actors Theatre artistic director Waters will reprise his role as The Man during the previews in Brooklyn. Then he will be replaced by Louisville’s Will Oldham, aka “Bonny Prince Billy.” The original cast returns for the New York run, including perennial favorite Bruce McKenzie.

The play features the most elaborate fight scene I’ve ever seen, dancing, singing, philosophizing, long moments of silence, slapstick and brutality.

So, let your Northeastern friends know that a spectacular spectacle is heading their way. It’s not every day New York sees theater as powerful as this.

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