Another New York Theatre Binge Underway!

Friday, January 18, 2013

All right.  All right!  So my last post, presumably after swearing that I would become a more regular poster, was September 23?  My apologies!  I know, my friend Carol said I should stop apologizing.  But really, this is a bit much.  I guess I’m mostly apologizing to me, since I’m the primary target of these jottings.   I’m delighted to have curious readers along for the ride, but when I’m bingeing on theatre, as I find myself doing this week, primarily I need to hear myself think.  And I have to actually formulate some words in order to know what I’m thinking.  Without that, I’m wasting a lot of time and money as I occupy all these seats with a “view in the dark.”  Never mind trying to keep all the plays straight and separate in my mind, which is increasingly difficult at age 73.  … which by the way, I just realized I am.  Joan and I made a point of actually forgetting each other’s birthdays this past year, and as late as last night I was just telling an old friend that I was 72.  Then I did the math!  Which I will now forget about and stop counting!  I’d rather it had been at 39, like Benny, but I’ll take 72.  Young enough.

I’ve missed out on talking about some fair theatre over the past several months, but for one reason or another, I haven’t been especially moved to write about it.  Kathleen Turner’s turn as Molly Ivins in “Red Hot Patriot” at Washington’s Arena Stage last fall was a real hoot, but it was more a one-woman impersonation than a play.  Plus, radical that I am, I agreed with everything she said, so what was I going to pick on?  That she is still an outstanding actress, but no longer the stunning vamp of  “Body Heat,” who led William Hurt across the bedroom by his …?  No!  I will not dwell on the aging process!

Joan and I passed through New York in October en route from a Long Island  family history trip.  I took her back to two of my favorites, “Book of Mormon” and “Anything Goes,” both of which I have already written about, and both of which provided some of the best fun I’ve ever had in a theatre seat.   In the mood for more fun and nothing serious, we also took a chance on the much-praised “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  We both found it overproduced and trifling.  I suspect it was fine and allowed far more imagination to be in play when it was off-Broadway, where it will return this fall.

The Belvedere Gargoyle

The Belvedere Gargoyle

We also caught Cheryl West’s “Pullman Porter Blues” up at the Arena a few weeks back, which was okay, but nothing to write home about, even with the powerful voice of E. Faye Butler.   Great old blues music connected to it, and a lot of promise, dealing as it does with racism and the rich and painful history of the Pullman porters.  But it was altogether disappointingly tame, and sorely in need of grit.  That play remains to be written.

Which brings me to tonight.  I’m back on another of my solo New York theatre binges, and back once again to the same room at the Belvedere I was in last year.  And I just left Peter Brook at the Harvey Theater at Brooklyn’s Academy of Music.  More on that later, I promise.  For now, I’ll just mention that for a theatre nut like me, it’s kind of akin to being blessed by the Pope.  I’m here this time to see seven plays in my five allotted hotel room nights in New York:  The Heiress, Golden Boy, The Other Place, Once, The Suit, Avenue Q, and Tribes.  I have two to go tomorrow, before heading home bright and early, and broke, on Sunday.   I’ll be back in the morning.

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4 Responses to Another New York Theatre Binge Underway!

  1. Ginger McCarthy says:

    Oh, who’s counting? 🙂

    Speaking of grit, though, you didn’t mention Golden Boy. I’m a big Odetts fan, and that particular play would be on my list were I in your moccasins.

  2. Ah, Peter Brook! Tell us more. One of my own theatre regrets was deciding not to see his Midsummer Night’s Dream in New York (1971?), just because I could not really afford it (no excuse). That’s perhaps like heading to Woodstock for the 1969 concert and turning back because of the traffic (an experience I have been told about). Brooks’ Empty Space is a wonderful book, still. Bil, your blog readers might have missed reading about Peter Brook’s scandalous behavior as a West End audience member last year — either hecking a young actress (who plays Lady Edith in Downton Abbey) or babbling as he awoke from napping for the final moments of the play. Read all about it here

    • Bill Rough says:

      Hi Stephen,
      Many thanks for your feedback. Since you went West, I miss our regular post-theatre chats in New York. I’ll be posting my own thoughts on Brook and “The Suit” tomorrow, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, what a great story of a curmudgeonly old perfectionist. But I don’t trust the press for an accurate rendition of it. Since I’ve been known to nod off myself in less than stimulating versions of “Uncle Vanya,” I prefer to think Brook awoke with a start and embarrassed himself. One doesn’t like to think of one’s god as human, no matter his reputation for curmudgeonly perfectionism. And more power to Laura Carmichael for going on without batting an eyelash.

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