For a limited time, Audible Theater, a division of Amazon, is offering free audio versions of a selection of popular stage productions from the past year, narrated by the original cast. So if you missed some of the critically acclaimed shows you wanted to see, or if you’d like to hear some of your favorites again, you can go online, download your choices, and listen to the stars’ narrations of a variety of theater titles at home, at no charge.
Included among the audio offerings are the company’s latest releases of 2019: Lauren Gunderson’s The Half-Life of Marie Curie; and John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons. The former was commissioned by the Audible Emerging Playwrights Fund, providing Gunderson (recognized as America’s most-produced living playwright) with creative support and funding to develop the original work, which then celebrated its Off-Broadway world premiere at Audible’s Minetta Lane Theatre. The latter was adapted exclusively for Audible from Leguizamo’s solo show, which enjoyed a Tony-nominated Broadway engagement at Studio 54 following its Off-Broadway debut with the Public Theater.
Narrated by Kate Mulgrew and Francesca Faridany (who respectively starred as the pioneering physicist, mathematician, engineer, and inventor Hertha Ayrton and scientist Marie Curie in the stage version ), The Half-Life of Marie Curie, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, with sound design by Darron L. West, recounts the fictionalized history of the two months the friends and colleagues spent together at Ayrton’s home on the English seaside in 1912, facing the trials and tribulations of accomplished women in an androcentric field and culture. Through their distinctive accents and intonations, Mulgrew and Faridany readily identify the different voices and personalities of the formidable feminist Ayrton and the fragile and tormented Curie, as they discuss their accomplishments and challenges, argue and bond, in a gripping 79 minutes of storytelling that is equally informative, poignant, and celebratory.
In his signature irreverent style, Tony and Emmy Award winner John Leguizamo presents a fast, funny, and furious lesson in Latin-American history, which, he observes, is notably absent from the educational curriculum in our country. Written and narrated by the Colombian-born NYC-bred actor/comedian/writer and framed in the context of his son’s homework assignment on heroes, Latin History for Morons offers his own over-the-top perspective on famous figures and events in a 79-minute crash course spanning three millennia, from indigenous Pre-Columbian civilizations to post-modern Latino culture, with adult language, in both Spanish and English, that is decidedly not for school children! Leguizamo provides all of the vocalized sound effects and voices all of the legendary and contemporary characters he surveys with no-holds-barred humor and provocative insight that will leave listeners laughing and thinking.
Along with the two audio-plays featured above, there are seven more free titles to choose from (Nevada-Tan, Proof of Love, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, An Act of God, Evil Eye, Sakina’s Restaurant, and Feeding the Dragon), encompassing everything from drama and mystery to comedy and coming-of-age stories, in addition to an array of reasonably priced downloads. For Audible Theater’s full catalogue, go online.