Monday, April 17, 2006

Back from NY

I’ve been traveling with my high-school-age daughter the last week, and haven’t been around to update the site.  We went to New York with my mom, had a wonderful time playing tourist, and saw three plays, all of which I would recommend for very different reasons.

Two of the shows focus on mother-daughter relationships, which I thought would be appropriate given the traveling party of grandmother, mother, and daughter. 

The first show we saw was “The Light in the Piazza,” at Lincoln Center.  The staging is innovative; I like the “stadium seating” in the theater, which puts the stage below the audience.  Victoria Clark has the main role as the mother, and her range is incredible.  I think the part is written for an alto, but at one point she is singing the higher harmony part in a duet with the actress playing her daughter, who is a soprano.  The sets are minimal, more suggestive than substantial, and the music is gorgeous. 

The second play we saw was very very different.  Lisa Kron’s “Well,” which is described as “a seriocomic investigation about wellness and the mystery of parent/adult child relationships.” This one breaks the fourth wall in several different ways.  It’s performed without an intermission, and you won’t want to miss any of it, so I suggest avoiding liquids with your pre-theater meal.  Kron weaves together stories of her childhood in an integrated neighborhood and her difficulties with allergies as a teenager, and questions why she is healthy now while her mother is afflicted with a variety of ailments. 

The press release describing the play says, “WELL opens with Lisa Kron’s mother sitting on a La-Z-Boy recliner in the middle of the stage.  As the play goes on to deal with Kron’s personal experiences of healing, a comedic coup d’état breaks out.  The actors critique the script, her memories conflict with her flashbacks, her mother interrupts with her own opinions, and Kron finds herself in danger of losing control.  The result is a hilarious and brazen piece that questions our thoughts on the conventions of both theatre and wellness.” That sums it up. 

Pieces of this show keep running through my mind.  It’s funny as well as thought-provoking.  I highly recommend it.  Website:

We also saw a classic Broadway musical comedy, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” I have a particular liking for shows with gratuitous dancing and senseless bursting into song.  Norbert Leo Butz is amazing, especially while performing the energetic “Great Big Stuff.” I’d love to bottle whatever he’s on and take it home with me. 

My older daughter is a junior at the University of Delaware, and is very involved on the production side of a lot of student-run shows.  Right now she is stage manager for the Harrington Theater Arts Committee’s production of “Jekyll and Hyde.” This show depends heavily on the actor cast in the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and they cast this one right.  Here is a clip of the very talented Chris Saltalmacchio singing “This Is The Moment." This song takes place right before Dr. Jekyll first drinks the potion that turns him into Mr. Hyde.  My daughter Colleen opens the curtain and organized the crew that moves the lab table into place—I’m so proud.  grin

We saw “Jekyll & Hyde” both Thursday and Friday nights, in an effort to be supportive, but also enjoyed it a great deal.  Unlike “Scoundrels,” this one does not have a happy ending, but it asks the musical question, “How does an individual integrate the good and the evil?”

Saturday we visited the gorgeous Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.  It was a beautiful day and the gardens were nothing short of stunning.  We saw gazillions of tulips, walls covered with orchids, banana trees ... wow. 

Then Saturday night we saw yet another show—UD’s Professional Theater Training Program’s production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” Very well performed rendition of a play I last saw in the 70s when it was being staged by the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.  The actors playing R&G (or is it G&R?) did a terrific job with the banter and the layers of language Stoppard writes.  The theater PTTP uses is tiny, but the production values are very high. 

Now it’s time to get back to work!  I have big plans for developing this website over the next couple of months.  Stay tuned.

Posted by twcarey on 04/17 at 08:48 AM
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