I had no idea what The Fortress of Solitude was about when my friend told me she had an extra ticket. I read that it was based on a book and Adam Chanler-Berat and Rebecca Naomi Jones were in it. So I told her I was in. I asked her if it was 90-minutes-no-intermission (#nmni) and she laughed and said, “oh no, this is a full two hours and forty five minutes.” I made sure to have an espresso milkshake from Momofuku beforehand.

It was about two boys, Mingus and Dyland, in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn in the 70’s when it was still called Gowanus. Both lived with their fathers and were abandoned by their mothers. One black (Mingus), one white (Dylan), they seem to be on a good path until Dylan is accepted to Stuyvesant High School and Mingus is left on his own to attend public school in Gowanus. We see the incredibly different lives they lead and after high school Dylan runs away to UC Berkeley because that’s where his mother left him to go. He makes a career for himself as a music critic there. 

A major aspect in both of their lives is soul music: for Dylan, it’s the music on the records his mother leaves behind and for Mingus, it’s the music that his father was previously famous for. Dylan’s mother leaves behind her wedding ring which acts as a magnet bringing the boys together, and eventually resulting in their final fight as adults.

The largely ensemble cast is uniformly excellent. Allison Whitehurst deserves special recognition for dancing in roller skates. And David Rossmer didn’t let his bandaged arm and hand in a cast bring him down (he apparently sliced the tip of one of his fingers recently), he was hilarious. Rebecca Naomi Jones did a great job with her two roles; I particular enjoyed her rage in act two. Kevin Mambo, as Mingus’ father, was and is always great. Chanler-Berat was fantastic, as per usual, easily conveying the range of emotions that his character goes through. Kyle Beltran as Mingus was the other standout. His character development and decay was perfect.

The show is long – especially the first act. But if they shave twenty minutes off the first act, The Public has another Fun Home on their hands for sure.

A few weeks back I went to the 30 Under 30 night at Playwrights Horizons, celebrating their new musical Fly By Night, written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock. The cast was packed with fabulous actors: Adam Chanler-Berat, Allison Cast, Bryce Ryness, Henry Stram, and Patti Murin, to name a few. 

Fly By Night was a musical all about love and fulfilling our destiny. Murin, an aspiring actress, and Case, a very meek but loving younger sister, move to New York City from some nowhere town and both end up falling in love with the same guy (Chanler-Berat). One’s destiny is to be with Chanler-Berat and one isn’t (though she may or may not be engaged to him already).

The cast, like I said, was fantastic. I especially loved Henry Stram as the charming and whimsical narrator. 

I really did like the show, although I think it’s closing this weekend, so run! The afterparty included Shake Shake, sandwiches, cocktails, and a photobooth (above). 

Totally a good time. Thanks, Playwrights Horizons!

My Desert Island All-Time Top Five Break-Ups

I’ve had a couple of shows that I’ve absolutely loved that have crashed and burned so quickly on Broadway that it would make your head spin. High Fidelity was one of them. And when a concert of the aforementioned beloved musical is taking place, you buy tickets. (Even if it’s happening at the excessively overpriced 54 Below, you still go.)

Kristen and I both have an unrelenting love for HiFi so we were beaming and our work days could not go by quickly enough.  We grabbed a leisurely dinner at Glass House Tavern and then went over to 54 Below to claim our seats at the bar. It was like a reunion of friends, old and new. I saw so many people that I hadn’t seen in – literally – years. I saw assorted cast members of Bring It On (and one from American Idiot – Van Hughes) at the bar and then realized that they’d be singing back up for the ensemble numbers.

Will Chase took the stage and it started.

I can’t describe how excited, elated, happy, energetic, etc. I was to see this happening in front of me. I mouthed the words. I danced. I think at one point during Desert Island, Taylor Louderman saw me and waved (though I have no idea why because I don’t know her – maybe she was applauding my enthusiasm?). I couldn’t have been any happier. 

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Will Chase still killed the score. Ana Gasteyer ripped up She Goes. Adam Chandler Berat was a spirited and PERFECT choice for Dick, and Mitch Jarvis was highly entertaining as Barry. When Van Hughes took the stage to sing a few songs as Rob, it was like watching “High Fidelity Jr.” but he was great! Jenn Collella and Amanda Green sang ‘Ready to Settle’ together, which was lovely. Mario Cantone as “The Boss” singing ‘Goodbye and Good Luck" with Will was amazing. David Larsen, Corey Mach, Jon Rua, Janet Krupin, Corey March, Ryann Redmond, and Taylor Louderman were fantastic as the ensemble.

Simply put: the concert was jaw-droppingly amazing. I would pay $35 + $25 food minimum once a month to see that happening in front of my eyes.

We said hello and goodbye to some friends and then went to say hello the star of the night (sort of?) Will Chase. I know Will from years ago, doing lots of benefits with him, and being a fan in general. But I hadn’t seen him for years. I think I ran into him on the street once a year or two ago, before Smash had ever premiered. 

We had a joyous reunion. So joyous that Kristen felt the need to capture it in film.

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When I joked saying that watching Van was like watching ‘High Fidelity Jr.’ he replied, “No it’s not! He’s the right age. I’m too old for this part!” Hah. We took pictures for old time’s sake. It was fun. I look like incredibly dorky in mine.

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We told him we’d see him soon, said goodbye to the last of our friends, and then walked down 8th avenue to the train.

To say it was the best night ever might be only a bit of an exaggeration.