Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lowering the curtain on 2010

All the reviews have been written and the curtain has dropped on my year of living theatrically, 2010 edition.

Unfortunately, it was not a record-setting year. I saw fewer shows than I did in 2009, since I wasn't able to get to New York in the spring and I didn't make it to Boston at all. But it's quality not quantity, right? And I still saw a lot of memorable theatre.

Before I get to the highlights in an upcoming post, a few odds and ends:

I checked two more Broadway theatres off my list: the Longacre and the Cort. There are only six left that I've yet to step inside: Ambassador, American Airlines, August Wilson, Golden, Majestic and Sondheim. The Longacre reopened in 2008 after a two-year, $12-million renovation by the Shuberts, and it's beautiful. The Cort, well, I hope it's next on the list for a facelift. And speaking of the Sondheim, when are they going to dot the i? Has anyone else noticed that it's still missing?

Among the seat-selection lessons I learned this year: just because the front row in a particular theatre is fine for one play, that doesn't mean it'll be fine for another play. I sat in the front row at the Friedman for The Royal Family and it was perfect. But I was a little too close for The Pitmen Painters. The stage seemed to be higher and deeper. I never realized the dimensions could change that dramatically!

Another question: Does the director ever sit in the audience to make sure everyone can see from every vantage point? A row of speakers blocked my view of the actors' feet in Xanadu. Not good in a musical with roller-skating dancers. A chair blocked my view for a couple of scenes in The Pitmen Painters and a piece of the set that popped up from the stage did the same during Act II of A Free Man of Color at the Beaumont. (To be fair, I had changed my seat at intermission, moving down to an empty spot in the front row. There's no leg room in the Beaumont, even in the orchestra.)

As always, I had many wonderful stage-door experiences. Among them: Saycon Sengbloh of Fela! graciously took me onstage at the O'Neill.

I tracked down Tony winner Douglas Hodge in a bar after La Cage aux Folles and he was great, taking a few minutes to talk to me and sign my Playbill. I consider that one of my more intrepid stage-door adventures.

I met Michael Shannon from Mistakes Were Made at the Barrow Street Theatre. He was so nice, asking me where I was from, how I travel to New York and what other shows I was seeing. He asked me my name so he could personally inscribe my program. (I think I startled him because "Esther" is his character's secretary in the play). And he even drew a little smiley face for me!

Another first: I met a playwright! David Hirson was at the stage door at La Bete, a work I really loved and I got to tell him so. I also had the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with David Hyde Pierce. I told him how much I enjoyed him in Curtains and he showed me that he was wearing the show jacket from the musical - which I thought was sweet in a theatre geek kind of way.

By far the rudest audience behavior I witnessed this year was at Trust, at the Second Stage Theatre off-Broadway.

I was in the third row and at the beginning of Act II, a woman sitting on the aisle snapped a couple of pictures of Zach Braff. It was so brazen, as well as rude and dangerous to the actors. It's a small theatre, too, 327 seats. So it's not like no one would notice.

I'm pretty sure that if she'd waited until after the play, he would have posed for a picture with her.


Anonymous said...

They used Stephen Sondheim's signature for the theatre, and I don't think he dots the i...maybe that's why they haven't added it?

Esther said...

That sounds like a logical explanation. Thanks for the comment! I'm hoping to see the inside of the Sondheim this spring, for Anything Goes.