Monday, October 13, 2008

"Suck it, Rose's Turn!"

The hiatus was brief, I am fully recharged (for now) and it's all thanks to some vampire killing I witnessed last evening.

Sunday was another two-a-day for me. I went to August: Osage County for my fourth and possibly final dinner engagement with the Weston clan, which was also the final performances for Jim True-Frost and original cast members Troy West, Sally Murphy and Amy Morton (who for me was the reason to see the show so many times). There isn't much to add to what I've said about the play - it remains one of the most vibrant, unnerving productions currently playing in New York. Though, one of the biggest gasps of this audience was new to me - the older crowd seemed agog at the incredibly rapid pace with which Estelle Parsons climbed two flights of stairs at the end of the third act. Long may the show run. (I say I'm done...but if anyone wants to fly me to England and put me up for a week, I'll more than gladly see the show again!)

With little time to spare, I ducked of the Music Box and crossed Broadway to get over to the Lyceum for the closing performance of [title of show]. Excuse me, I meant to say the [title of show] pep rally, which is how the cast and creative team decided to view the end of their run. I was supposed to go with a good friend of mine who really wanted to see the show. I picked up tickets on a whim last Wednesday and all seemed set. Until I got out of August at 6:25 to discover a voicemail from my friend informing me he was stuck in traffic near Reading, Pennsylvania, and that he wasn't going to make it.

So at 6:30 I'm calling the few numbers I have in my cell phone looking for someone I know who would just want to take the ticket. After twenty minutes of dead ends, I got a call back from Sarah, who is always up for shenanigans, especially theatre related. Besides, from a personal perspective I wanted to extend the ticket to someone I knew before I handed it over to a stranger.

There's always an intensity and energy surrounding a big performance. However, I don't think there are many that could compare with the pep rally last evening. First off, it was a wonderful sight to see the Lyceum packed to the hilt. (Though the balcony usher was a rather bizarre fellow, I'm guessing they don't get too many people up in the rafters at this flop-prone house). There was intense screaming for Larry as he made his way to the keyboard. Then a full house standing ovation for Jeff and Hunter as they made their first appearance. The show was a mess of energy - an mutual admiration society between stage and audience. Unlike some closings, this didn't feel really have the usual tinge of melancholy. Yes it was sad that the show was closing prematurely, but there was a celebratory feeling and one that this wasn't the end of the road. For Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Heidi Blickenstaff and Susan Blackwell (and Larry Pressgrove), it's certainly a new beginning. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

I witnessed the longest mid-show standing ovation I've ever seen in the theatre for "Nine People's Favorite Thing." I've been to opening nights, closing nights, post-award performances, one night concerts and have witnessed the phenomenon (and this includes the Madame Rose of both Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone). The Routledge went on for three minutes and fifteen seconds (topping the previous s/o for Heidi's "A Way Back to Then" just moments prior) and will remain one of the most extraordinary theatregoing experiences I've ever had. The title of my post was my facetious verbal response to the ovation.

My appreciation of this show seems to have surprised many who thought I wouldn't like it. It felt as though I was watching a show put on friends. Not just kindness being polite either I might add, I felt that they had something relevant to say and said it with idiosyncratic charm and heart. I wish the show could have run longer, but I'm glad they had the opportunity. Anyhow, it was the sparkplug I needed to slay a few vampires of my own and become nine people's favorite thing.