My favorite moments in theater are when I’ve been caught off guard by a performance, or was surprised to love a piece I hadn’t expected to. Director Nick Abounader and company pulled off something close to theatrical alchemy with their recent production at Players of Utica, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: the ensemble was so in sync with the material and each other that the whole thing became gloriously more than its parts.
It’s become a birthday tradition that Susan and I should be surprised by Sarah onstage.
Our class president was prohibited from speaking at graduation, because the administration was nervous about what he’d say. Tor is now an internationally known lawyer who defends computer hackers; what might a politically conscious playwright make of that, with Tor as a performer in the show?
Theater is one of the few educational activities that’s measured by the enjoyment of the participants. I want to shift the bar.
The Richard Rodgers Theatre is not The Cotton Club; its performers should not be similarly cowed. As Garrison Keillor sung in his definitive song about Newt Gingrich: “Artists always have the final say.”
80s pop music depends on studio embellishment for its sound – the Footloose songs just don’t have the bones of The Who’s Tommy…The band had plenty of talent, but the sound was thin and rhythms awkward, often out of synch with the performers.
We were lucky to get the cast we have, 17 performers, many of whom have carried previous shows on their own…there has never been such a qualified musical cast in Central New York.
Lucas Hnath’s The Christians is a messy, near-masterpiece. Although Syracuse Stage’s production of the work falls short in a few ways, it stirs the audience to discomfort (intellectual pot-stirring being a noble theatrical aspiration.) It’s their best show this season.
Sarah brought a striking reality to her key scenes. She introduced an element of danger, the sense that what was happening on stage had real consequences – something was at stake…I have to think others in the audience shared my sense – before everyone sung Happy Birthday during the bows, there was a subtle gasp from the audience when it was announced that Sarah was celebrating her 16th birthday.
Award lists always say more about the writer or the awarding committee than the subjects of the awards themselves. They are always limited – nobody sees everything, and what is seen might have been affected by an off night, a bad seat, a bad mood. None of which means we shouldn’t take a moment to celebrate our favorites. And so…