June 28, 2018

Broadway, Broadway, how great you are…

Dateline: New York, New York –

I didn’t write an update yesterday or this morning. Bad Andy. No biscuit for you. So tonight’s entry will have to cover the last two days which shouldn’t take too long as I don’t think most of you want to read about my doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen.

Ellise departed on Wednesday morning heading back to the southland. I’m sure we’ll get together in July when I am back in Birmingham and start to cook up some theatrical mischief. With everything that’s going on politically, we know we need to get the cabaret up and running but writing a show that can keep pace with the current political insanity is anything but easy. We had one ready to go in April about the development of fascism but Tommy’s illness put the kibosh on that one.

I took myself to Brunch and then off to the matinee of part one of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. It’s the production from the National Theater in London which is on Broadway for a limited run with the same cast (with one replacement – Lee Pace for Russell Tovey as Joe Pitt). I’ve read Angels and seen scenes, but never seen a full out professional production. I’ll post my full thoughts on it tomorrow after I have a chance to see Part II. I did not book them back to back as I thought that might be a little much, after all, I lived the 80s in real time.

After the show, I took an hour or so to unwind and then met Jonathan Miles Goldstein for a drink and we caught each other up on both Birmingham and New York theater gossip, then I headed off to the West Village and Marie’s Crisis where I met up with Jay Rogers whom I have known on line forever but whom I had never actually met. We talked for a while and then I headed home and put a movie on the DVD player and promptly fell asleep.

Today, I got up and spent some time with domestic chores and doing a little shopping. Then it was out to dinner and off to see Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theater. I’d been hearing about this one for a while and had looked into getting tickets when I was here this past fall but they were hard to come by. One thing I’ve learned this trip is that you can pretty much always get a single ticket to anything if you keep looking and I did find one for this although it took me about a week.

For those of you who don’t follow theater, Dear Evan Hansen is about a quirky misfit of a highschooler, the title character, who has high levels of neuroses and his therapist suggests he write letters to himself about his positive traits. One of these letters is taken by the class psychopath who shortly thereafter commits suicide and the letter is presumed to be from him to Evan and misinterpreted by his family as a cri de coeur. Evan, who has a yen for psycho’s sister, gets drawn into the family circle and ends up making a fictitious friendship between him and the dead son to comfort them and to bolster his own ego. Complications ensue.

Ben Platt, who won a Tony for the title role, has left the show, but his replacement Taylor Trensch (whom I saw last year as Barnaby in Hello, Dolly!) is very good. The whole cast is very good. I’m not sure if I liked the show. The score is not very strong. I can’t remember a single number two hours later other than parts of ‘Waving Through a Window’ and ‘You Will Be Found’ mainly because I’ve heard them multiple times in other contexts. I also found the teen angst which motivates much of the show a bit facile. That being said, it still made me a bit of a weepy mess at the end of both acts, not because of the teen psychodrama, but because of the messages of love and community, and others being there to pick you up when you fall and to help you climb higher. Those are themes that are resonating in my life right now.

Story time: OK, I will finish the Sondheim lunch story from a couple of days ago. I’m warning you all that it’s anticlimactic. Anyway, invitation was received and I was given his home phone number to talk to his assistance regarding scheduling etc. (That phone number is still in my phone and I have teased generations of theater kids with it. Bad Andy…) Steve and I had a trip to NYC coming up so I called to make sure Sondheim would be in town. His assistant assured me he was. Great! I had visions of a lunch in Sondheim’s elegant Turtle Bay townhouse with witty repartee and several cocktails. We arrived Friday night. I called as instructed to let them know we were in town. Lovely conversation with answering machine. Called again Saturday, more answering machine. Steve and I went to a matinee of ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ (This was before I had met Charles West as I wouldn’t move to Alabama for another year). Called again. This time, got human who said Mr. Sondheim was very busy this weekend but would be able to see me for fifteen minutes as he went between this meeting and that. Please be at such and such diner and he would stop by our table. So, on Sunday we did that, we waited for about ninety minutes, toying with our food but eventually Sondheim did walk in, sit down and talk to us for a few minutes. He was complementary of the piece, chided me for a few bad rhymes (Lord Byron/environ), told me to keep writing, and then breezed away. It wasn’t what I expected but how many of us get any sort of feedback from our idols at all?

It’s late. Off to bed…

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