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I'm an NYC-based director, and this is an outlet for my various musings about theater and about the city of New York. Sometimes the subjects run together, sometimes they are entirely separate, but between the two they comprise the most fitful, most intense, most trying love affair of my few years. They fill my head, my heart, my mouth every hour of every day; they could fill a book.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some More Really Good Theater

The Directors' Lab has begun, and after just two days, I am already exhausted, terrified, excited and inspired. But more on that later.

Before I my head goes completely below water, though, I need to mention a few things that have happened.

First, Captain Moonbeam closed on Sunday. I've already gushed way too much about this show, and I think at a point enough is just enough. So I'll keep it brief. I loved working on this show. I am really going to miss it. The people I collaborated with on Captain Moonbeam are some of the most talented, most fun people I've worked with since moving to New York, and the sense of community I felt working on this production is something that I've been missing terribly. I'm really looking forward to having the chance to work with James, Ben, or any of the other folks from Nosedive, or the cast and crew of Savior again in the future.

I'm pretty pleased with the way the show turned out. I ended up using a lot more multimedia, like sound and slides, than I ever have in the past, due in large part to what James called for in the script. And I think the end result looked quite nice.

All of the actors gave wonderful performances, too, which was really rewarding to watch as a director. They put a lot of effort into this project and were fantastic for their parts. This was one of those projects where I found out I was directing it and then found it had to be cast within the next 48 hours. I feel really happy and grateful that I know such talented and hard-working people that I can call on for projects like this. Last-minute casting can be a total disaster, but all four of these actors, including Mr. Playwright himself, who graciously stepped in as an actor, just killed it in their parts.

Of course, it goes without saying that James Comtois wrote an amazing script. And Ben! Lord, do not get me started on the amazing talents of Mr. Ben Vandenboom. He made simultaneously producing, stage managing, designing props, costumes, and sound, and running the show from the booth look EASY.

Okay, I'm starting to gush now, and it's getting gross. I'm moving on. Oh, but one more thing - James also had some really nice words to say about the Captain Moonbeam experience in his blog, so check that out too, if you get a chance.

Now I'm done.

I've also seen some really good theater recently. I saw The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World at Playwrights' Horizons and it was every bit as good as everyone's been saying it is. I won't write a full review, partially because I don't have time, and partially because there's not much I can say that's already been said: the performances are amazing, the story is so compelling and so sad, and the score finds a strange, lovely balance between the music they wanted to make and the music they actually made. It was wonderful; poppy, catchy and somehow profound. It captured all the hope that this sound represented to the girls, their father, and to American culture. And yet it still managed to echo the melancholy of the truth - the reality of their music and their situation. The score strikes the same sad chord somewhere between hope and failure that, I think, their original does. Or does, at least, for me.

In an interview that was distributed after the show, Joy Gregory, one of the creators, also said something about pop music that really resounded with me. It probably goes a little way toward explaining why the score of The Shaggs was so sensitive and so meaningful, but more importantly, it communicates perfectly what I think we were trying to do with the pop music in 8 Women for so long, so I thought I wanted to share it:

I'm super passionate about what a lot of people would call crappy music. I will cry to ABBA. And it's not my generation's default-irony mode. I uncritically love it for its immediate emotional availability. It connects me to a deep place of memory and feeling.

Yes, Joy Gregory!!! EXACTLY!

In any case, it was a really good show.

You know what another really good show was? Nosedive Productions' Blood Brothers present... Freaks from the Morgue. And I'm not just saying that because, you know, I worked with Nosedive on Captain Moonbeam. It. was. freaking. awesome. So creepy, so much fun. I'm always saying I like "shows that know what they are." And - if you don't know what that means, I'm sorry, but I can't explain it today. I've got a Directors' Lab to get to in twenty minutes, you know. Maybe that's a post for another day. But anyway, Blood Brothers knew exactly what it was, and was it with unrestrained, incredibly disturbing glee. I expected to enjoy the show, but I definitely did not expect to leave going, "HELL YEAH! THAT WAS AWESOME!" And I totally did.

Blood Brothers has TWO MORE performances, so go! You really won't regret it.

That's it for me. See you all on the other side.

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