Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New York City

 I am  in the final day of my NYC vacation. I came here to get inspired and this city never fails me. So far I have seen November by David Mamet, August: Osage County by Tracy Letts and The 39 Steps.  

Each play inspired me in it's own way: November was wonderfully well-executed. Nathan Lane dropped his "Broadway Baby" schtick and delivered an hilarious and smart performance. Laurie Metcalf is a force of nature when she does comedy. She always does some kind of  wacked-out utterly surprising physical movement that astounds me. The 39 Steps was fun and it was pure pleasure to witness the virtuosity of the actors. I love movement-based theatre and the original choreographer of this play was trained in the LeCoq method, something I have always been deeply interested in. But the real stand-out for me was August: Osage County. This play is should be up there with Death of a Salesman  and The Crucible. It is truly an American masterpiece. I can't stop thinking about it. The writing and the performances were sublime. Particularly Amy Morton. She was magnificent. I have no idea why she wasn't nominated for a Tony. She is an amazing actor.  But really everyone was fantastic. I wept at the end, not just because of the subject, but because of being reminded of what a moving experience live theatre can be. Those actors and that particular audience, of which I was a part, shared a few hours together in an intimate and focused way that will never be repeated. That is part of what I love so much about live theatre. It is a living thing. The show is a little different each performance: the audience changes, laughing in a new place, or not laughing at all. The actors change--they are a day or a week or a month older, an actor has had a fight with their spouse hours before the show, or has a cold. Live performance is ephemeral. And when the performance is over there is no record. It burns to ash.

A couple of great NY moments: 

1. On the subway on Monday heading uptown, I glance to my left and see that one of the actors from August is sitting right next to me. Frank Wood. He played Bill Fordham. A wild coincidence since I had seen the show only  the day before.  I struck up a conversation--told him how much I loved the play. Incredibly nice guy and a great actor.

2. At the Met with my good friend Michael Lally. We were walking in a crowd and I was goofing with him and said in a funny voice "Get off my back."  A guy to my right says "You don't want to hang out with me then!" I turned to see a young attractive blind guy smiling at me, one hand grasping a cane and the other on his friends back as he was being guided through the crowd.  We cracked up.


RJ said...

Ny is a great place! I get there about 4 times a year. There are tons of great things to do there. What else did you get to see and do while you were there?

If you ever have the chance to see River Dance, do so! It is a phenomenal show!!! they are doing their farewell tour now, so see it if you can. It is well worth it!!

Vince Liaguno said...

Love Lane and Metcalf! Metcalf has evolved into quite a solid character actress and scene-stealer over the years. I put her in the same category as Swoosie Kurtz (whom I adore!).

Glad to hear you had an enjoyable trip!

PeterZ95 said...

NY? Come to Chicago. More, more accessible. Better prices. Far less attitude.