Thursday, June 26, 2008

Great Theater

I was fortunate to be born to parents who love theater and who transferred that love to me. Because of them, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see some fantastic productions around the country over my early years and have continued to catch productions when I can throughout my adulthood. There is something unique and beautiful about theater as an art form, when done well. Drea has not had the same opportunities, but is eager to experience more. So, since we are in NYC, we thought we'd take in some world-class theater. To that end, we went to see two great plays on Broadway yesterday...

In the afternoon, we saw, "August: Osage County," which won the Pulitzer Prize AND a slew (5 total) of Tony Awards, including Best Play and a couple of acting awards. It focuses on a dysfunctional Oklahoma family, brought together by the disappearance of the family patriarch... and believe me, all hell breaks loose! The show has humor in the right places, but is serious and taut underneath. The acting and writing are excellent. The set was also great: a three story house! It was all very Tennessee Williams-y, I thought. Here is what the NYTimes had to say about the play when it first appeared.

As current Nebraska residents, we thought this was the quote of the play: "Michigan is the Midwest. This is the Plains: a state of mind, right, some spiritual affliction, like the blues." Now Drea and I run around saying to each other, "I've got a serious case of 'the Plains.'" (smile)

In the evening we went to see "Passing Strange," a new semi-autobiographical rock musical that focuses on the search for identity and meaning by a young middle-class African American man. The show breaks many of the basic theater conventions: the band is on the stage; The narrator, who also wrote the show, often breaks the plane between audience and performers by addressing the audience directly; the staging is sparse and post-modern, a la "Rent." But it is exuberent and fun and also deep and meaningful. We dug it quite a bit. We also got to meet the cast, including the guy who wrote and starred in the show, afterward. They were all super-cool and down-to-earth, genuinely jazzed to be practicing their art in NYC on Broadway. Here is the NYTimes review. Here is an excellent feature by NPR on the show. And another NPR segment, too.

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