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rappling with a post-covid life, around a dinner table
September 12, 2021

Richard Nelson's final play in his 12-play Rhinebeck series is a wake for a dance superstar — and all the large and small losses that have accrued during the pandemic. It's called "What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad." And WNYC arts editor Jennifer Vanasco told host David Furst that because these plays are a series of conversations, there's no need to have seen the others. "This one, this final show, is particularly beautiful," she said. "It's basically a wake for one of the characters. But it's also a moment to reflect on the losses so many of us have experienced in the past pandemic months - of friends, of careers, of a way of life, really."

the new york times
Review: In ‘What Happened?,’ a Questioning Farewell to Rhinebeck
September 9, 2021

Kate, a woman in her late 60s, sits alone at a weather-beaten table, the clutter of a cauliflower lasagna mostly cleared and her dinner companions now out for the evening. Together, they have spent most of the last two hours talking about Rose, Kate’s wife, who six months earlier, while dying of ovarian cancer, was killed by Covid-19 instead. After all that reminiscing, letter-reading and even dancing — Rose was a modern dance choreographer — what does Kate do?

the washington post
Playwright Richard Nelson ends his epic cycle of hyper-realistic drama with — what else? — a global pandemic
September 9, 2021

Over the course of a dozen plays, Richard Nelson has been dishing out current and family affairs, across chummy dinner tables and elegiac Zoom calls. His epic cycle began with "That Hopey Changey Thing" way back on election night 2010, in the heady heyday of the Obama administration. It ends now in the mournful uncertainties of "What Happened? The Michaels Abroad," set on Sept. 8, 2021, the 18th month of a global pandemic.

theater mania
review: in pandemic-inspired what happened?, richard nelson asks the same questions we all are
September 9, 2021

"My first trip back into the city, I thought it would feel strange," she says. "What surprised me is that it felt normal. And suddenly everything that'd come before – all of it – felt like a dream." Simple words, yet in a not-quite-post-pandemic world of returning to the theater, it's an oddly profound statement. It comes midway through Richard Nelson's elegiac play What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad, running through October 8 at Hunter College's Frederick Loewe Theatre, and it underscores what we're all thinking now as we once again resume sitting knee to knee with strangers in the dark, masked and vaccinated, and reflecting on what the heck we were just fortunate enough to survive.

new york stage review
review: what happened? the michaels abroad: from richard nelson, more food for the soul
September 9, 2021
Cider is on the table, fresh bread is in the oven and a head of cauliflower is being cut and seasoned for a spicy lasagna dish. For those of us who have followed Richard Nelson’s Rhinebeck Panorama—a series of twelve plays tracking three families based in that Hudson Valley town, each set on its opening date—it’s a homecoming of sorts, albeit a bittersweet one. And that’s not just because What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad is intended as the final installment.

new york stage review
review: what happened? the michaels abroad: despair, dread, dance, and lasagna
September 9, 2021
Playwright and director Richard Nelson completes what he calls his Rhinebeck Panorama—encompassing nine full plays plus last summer’s Pandemic Trilogy of Zoom plays—with What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad. Each thematically related but distinct installment, about three different if slightly overlapping families in this bucolic but gentrifying Hudson River town, have been strong, provocative, and delectable. What Happened—which takes one of the clans to the similarly out-of-the-way city of Angers, France—might be the most powerful of them all. Perhaps because in Nelson’s plays, all of which are centered around food, the last course served is always the tastiest.

dc metro theatre arts
review: richard nelson closes his ‘rhinebeck panorama’ with ‘what happened?: the michaels abroad’ at hunter college
September 9, 2021
After following the stories of three fictional Upstate white middle-class families – The Apples, The Gabriels, and The Michaels – for twelve years through a series of twelve plays and a pandemic-time shift from in-person to virtual performances, Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s popular Rhinebeck Panorama now comes to an end with What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad. “An Independent Theater” production of Hunter Theater Project, presented at the Frederick Loewe Theater on the Hunter College campus, the world-premiere finale of Nelson’s theatrical cycle leaves the Zoom format of the three most recent installments behind and returns to the live stage, just as The Michaels (the third family in the series, first seen in the Fall of 2019) leave their extended period of isolation behind for a post-pandemic trip to a dance festival and memorial exhibition in Angers, France. But can they really leave the past behind?

the new york times
Richard Nelson’s New Play Closes a Chapter of Theater History
September 1, 2021
A character named Kate tells a story, of a story told to her, about a man attending a play. The actors are all deaf, and they rest their cheeks and chins on a big table, which stretches out to the audience, to feel the vibration of a spinning top. From his seat, the man leans in and puts his forehead on the surface. 
“He wants to share in what the characters are feeling,” Kate says. “He wants to be at that table too.”Kate’s monologue is delivered almost in passing — no one onstage even responds to it — yet it reflects, in just a few lines, the mission and magic of Richard Nelson’s decade-long, 12-play project called the “Rhinebeck Panorama,” which concludes with “What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad,” opening Sept. 8 at Hunter College’s Frederick Loewe Theater.

theater mania
Interview: 13 Plays Later, Richard Nelson Reflects on His Rhinebeck Panorama
August 20, 2021

For just over a decade, playwright Richard Nelson has been responding to world events through the prism of different families from Rhinebeck, New York. It began with the Apple Family Plays, a quartet of dramas set in Obama-era America, and was followed by the Gabriels cycle, a trio of works set during the during the 2016 presidential election. A planned conclusion, introducing a family of artists named the Michaels, debuted in 2019 and that ending was quickly derailed by not just the pandemic, but three more Apple plays that Nelson created on Zoom to cover the recent tragic events.
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