I have had really wonderful theater luck these past few days. That's why I came here, to soak up as much theater in the center of the universe of acting on stage, so I need to reflect on my good fortune. In just this past week, I have seen comedy, spectacle, a fledgling musical and a memorial for a giant. Not bad. All were memorable and the most they cost was $30 and one was free. I do love a bargain.
Jackie Hoffman, comedy genius, is celebrating her 50th BDay by skewering the people who stood in her way, on her rise to the almost top. She is not a household word to anyone out of Manhattan. She has the role of GrandMa in the Addams Family, but they didn't give her anything to do in the second act. Oh the chutzpah of those writers!...She nails them. She has a crackly voice and is not much to look at, but she cracks every funny bone in the room. Joe's Pub is a wonderful place to see a show, and I got a bunch of fun friends together to laugh for the evening, one from Maine, one from Texas and one from Australia. It was perfect. Of course, I related to Jackie's lamenting about getting old, but my friends are blissfully ignorant of such issues. "Just you wait, Henry Higgins!" That's all I have to say.
Next, on the agenda was Spidey. Well, for a show that won't even open until March 15th and has a terrible habit of hurting it's actors, it is maddeningly sold out every night. The only way to see this train wreck is to get "rush tickets" on the day of the show. They sell $30 seats to fools who get there at 7 am, to fill in the few holes they have in the audience, single seats, anywhere that they need a body...well, I am a fool...a smart fool! Got there at 7:45 because the subway was closed down for a police action, one stop before 42nd Street. I watched the policemen pull people off the train I was on and search them and detain the most normal looking people. No one ran or sassed back. It was quite a show in itself, but I was rushing to a box office, so I was most annoyed I had to hoof it 6 blocks (not the walking, but the time). I didn't want to be at the end of the line. They only give out 10 to 15 tickets. When I finally got there, there was only one person waiting. A very nice girl from the real Oz, who was spooked into getting there at 7, because there was a line around the block the day before. Well, by 10 o'clock, there was no feeling in my toes or fingers, and I was certain nothing would make up for that pain...I was wrong. Spidey has a new second act, and it is GREAT. I saw it with Barbara in December, and it was a snore (except for the flying and the set design). Now it is a whole lot of fun! I'll go back again when it warms up a bit. The music is OK, but the singing is fab, and the action scenes are just spectacular. They are selling tickets through May, and it hasn't even opened yet. Glen Beck said it was better than WICKED. He is an asshole. Wicked is a gazillion times better, but it will bring lots of $$$$ to Broadway, and that is a good thing.
From the huge to the small; next up was a baby show called Camp Wanatachi, the pet project of one of my favorite actresses, Bridget Regan, from Legend of the Seeker. She has been pimping this show for months now, and it finally opened, well the proper word is previewed. The opening is Wednesday, tomorrow, and I had such a great time, I'm going back. It is a show about summer camp and falling in love. I'll say no more than that, but it spoke to lots of things I know and understand. I was a camper and those days were formative. I lived for those months I went to camp. Chicago was a place to get out of during the summer. Not like California,where there is lots to do if you go 10 minutes in any direction. Camp was heaven and this camp is great: great singing and music. The girls in this show seem really young, but if you read the program, there is a great deal of Broadway credit, and they were holding notes as high and long as any in the huge shows. How wonderful to see talent that good in a 50 seat black box theater. Actually, the theater is a story in itself: The La MaMa. A most historic spot. A founding institution in the Off Broadway world, and right across the street from the original home of RENT. This is where shows come to grow and actors learn their craft. It is a 10 minute walk from my apartment. How lucky am I?
Last, comes a history lesson. Ever hear of Fiorello (NYC politics)? She Loves Me (The Shop Around The Corner/You've Got Mail)? The Rothschilds (Mega rich European Jewish power brokers and wine makers)? The Apple Tree (Eden/Barbarians/Cinderella in Hollywood)? Fiddler on the Roof? Oh, that got your attention! Well, the man responsible for all that beautiful music was Jerry Bock. He was one of the last biggies who wrote wonderful melodies. Musicals today are very much influenced by pop and rock and there is precious little lyrical melody around.
Jerry Bock died in November, but they gathered Broadway's giants to celebrate his life: Hal Prince, the legendary producer, Chita Rivera, a Diva, Tony Walton, Julie Andrew's first husband and set designer, Boyd Gains, great actor, Barbara Cook, another Diva and sort of Kristin Chenoweth's godmother, and last but certainly not least, Harvey Fierstein, a Tevye who wishes to be a rich man, but God is his voice gone. They sang and talked about the history of musical theater in the 50's and 60's. It was wonderful. Fiorello was the first real on Broadway show I ever saw. I was VERY young, but as a Chicagoan, I related to the graft and political chicanery of a song such as "A Little Tin Box". There were always such boxes, with lots of cash, in the newspaper stories when I was growing up. So, I had a history lesson and a concert of classic songs sung by the originators of the roles. I was in heaven, which is where most of the people thought Jerry Bock was as well.
Looks like I wrote a book today and no photos...sorry Richard. They frown on me using my camera in the theater (not that it isn't done). I will leave you with a picture I took at the Farmer's Market recently of a crazyass bunch of cauliflowers. I never saw this before, but it is green, and I am thinking I will never see that color again...I miss green. Oh, that reminds me....Teal Wicks becomes the Green Girl next week. Company is coming from SF to celebrate that event. I have a full house and not enough beds, but so what, Teal takes over Broadway. TWickies, bring it on!