Monday, November 15, 2010

Send in the Clowns

New York City - no where else like it. Really.

I've mentioned that somewhere down the road Denton and I want to move to DC. But then I come back to NYC and my mind changes again. Manhattan is where I think I want to be. I really do love the city.

I have been here a few hundred times it seems and it always enthralls me and for different reasons than DC. I see myself as a visitor in both towns and never really a tourist. We don't tend to do the normal touristy things. I've been to the Statue of Liberty once (1981) and the Empire State Bldg once. I'm happy to just roam the streets and walk through the neighborhoods. And well, Central Park is one of my favourite places on earth. Amazing how you can be in there and not feel you're even near a city.

The trip up was interesting. Some guy across the aisle from me on the phone (before take off) continually saying, "I am fucked!. It got stranger from there, but I won't bore you.

We did do Broadway, because, what is a Saturday night in the city without a play. Yes, once must get near that horrid Times Square, but what are you gonna do?

As with most theaters, the seats and leg room are narrow and small. By the middle of the 2nd act, I was sure I had a DVT in my upper thigh and ass. It was so incredibly painful to sit there.....and not just because of the seating.

We saw Sondheim's A Little Night Music. I cannot say I was overly impressed.

This is the second Sondheim play I've seen and I had the same reaction - underwhelmed.

Yes, he can be a great lyricist but sometimes the overall story is just fair. I'm not a fan of farce for the most part anyway. I like the idea of Sondheim more than I actually like his work.

Elaine Stritch was the mother. She does better on 30 Rock when it comes to comedy. Tina Fey writes better lines or someone gives better direction. She couldn't really sing 30 years ago, and her vocal prowess has gotten no better from then to now. She clearly went to the Rex Harrison Vocal School. She speaks, but doesn't really carry a tune. Doesn't, because she cannot.

Bernadette Peters was ok. A little over the top, but you gotta play for those in the back rows.

The two male leads had almost identical voices. When they did sing together, it was really hard to know who was singing what part. And there were times when two, three or more people were singing at the same time - which seems to be a huge favourite thing of Sondheim. It's fine when it is done well (think West Side Story), but other's just too busy.

3+ hours this thing went on. Most of the music was just ok and I swear the only reason it got the revival nod was for the title of this post (which by the way, I don't own - so it's one of those rare occasions where the title did not come out of my music liberry).

We do not go to the theater often and I like to think of it more as an event. I abhor the people who must comment on everything as it's going on. "That's Elaine Stritch". "This is the big number!". Lord.

I had two or three favourite moments of the evening though. One was the lady next to Denton. Older, but not old old. As I said the seats were tight but this lady kind of went off on him about taking up the arm of the chair. As you know they are shared, but she seemed to believe that it was hers and hers alone. She would not let it drop even when he attempted, at first, to apologize. Since she wouldn't let it drop, neither did he and politely gave her a piece of his mind.

After intermission she exchanged seats with her daughter.

Two other people didn't come back after intermission too: Matthew Broderick and his beard wife Sarah Jessica Parker. They sat two or three rows ahead of us and left at half-time. I envied them. Oh, how I wish I could have gone.

He's looking older and a little bloaty. She is as horse-like as ever, but very demure looking as well. Maybe they came to see for themselves how bad Elaine Stritch was and needn't see anymore. Can't blame them.

As with any production now-a-days, there was a standing ovation, one that was not warranted. So often they are not, but people feel compelled to stand, clap and cheer just because.... It's no wonder that bad and mediocre "stars" are still in our midst.

One the way out, one very well-dressed older woman said, "well, that was worth waking up for..."
I'm not sure I agreed, but it's nice to know she gets out.

One of the nicer things happened at the end. Peters and Stritch stayed on stage to discuss the Broadway Cares organization, of which Peters sits on the board. It raises money for HIV/AIDS programs. Not only did they ask you to donate on your way out (I threw in $20), but the "stars" of the show were the ones at the doors collecting the money.

At least something impressed me Saturday night.

Song by: Judy Collins


Cubby said...

I guess I need to google Elaine Stritch.

Are you going to see any more shows while you're there? The Scottsboro Boys looks great.

don said...

I know my gay card was rescinded long ago so I can say this, I hate musicals. Thats why I went off-Broadway last weekend and saw a play about nuns and nazis. Much more realistic.

Ur-spo said...

I am sorry to hear Mr. Sondheim was a disappointment. His works can be marvelous; what happens in these revivials is they get big names rather than good actors and singers; and these fall flat.

Birdie said...

Move to NYC! Then I'll have yet another reason to go there. I really need to get back.

I saw "The Producers" just after Broderick and Lane left the lead roles. Boy, did I miss them. It was only fair, and one of the leads was overacting so much it felt like high school. On Broadway! I guess the only guarantee is the high price.

When I saw "Mama Mia" here, the stars collected for Broadway Cares after the show. I thought it was wonderful and got a little teary about it. And I gave too.