This is me right now.
This is me right now.
Into the Woods is in my top-3 favorite Sondheim musicals. I was mildly enthralled with the last revival of Into the Woods in 2002. I also had a minor crush on the actor who played Jack. I saw that revival twice and memorized the words when the cast recording was released. Was it the best production ever? Probably not, but it did the trick to spark my interest in the show. When I heard it was going to be one of the shows at Shakespeare in the Park this year, I knew I wanted to see it. After the cast was announced, I knew tickets would be hard to get and after a good two weeks of playing the virtual lotto, my friend Kristen and I gave up and I volunteered to get to the park way-too-early so we could secure tickets.
We’d last waited in line together to get tickets to the 40th anniversary stage of HAIR at the Delacorte in 2007, until to last weekend. I said I’d get there at 6am and she could meet me whenever (as she lives a tad further away now). And of course in true Public Theater tradition when I woke up last Saturday at 5, it was pouring (like last time). I grabbed my huge blue and white umbrella, a straw sun mat to sit on, some sustenance, and a fully charged cell phone and headed out.
I was 75-100th on the line but an employee from the Public assured us that we were fine and getting tickets. I slept for maybe half an hour, played around on my cell phone and watched as my yoga pants became increasingly soiled with sand and dirt. There were a few more showers, including one huge downpour. Kristen met me around 10:30 and told me to go home to change out of my soaked, dirty clothes (a command that I happily obeyed). The line grew and grew and the end was nowhere in sight around 12pm. We were eventually told to stand and we got our tickets (after which we hopped on the subway down to Second Stage to see if we could get tickets to Dogfight – score!). Fast forward to 7:15-ish and we take our time walking to the Delacorte, grabbing sandwiches at the theatre’s cafe once we’d arrived (AWESOME sandwiches btw).
We were both exhausted from the day but totally stoked to see what we’d heard was an innovative production. The weather was perfect and the sun was beginning to set behind Belvedere Castle. James Earl Jone’s voice bellowed from the speakers, thanking their donors, and the little boy came downstage and dumped his backpack out to begin the show.
The set was incredible (as you can see above). It was one of my favorite parts of the show. Morgan James had it all wrong when she said musicianship was dead because of this production. Dead wrong. The orchestra sounded beautiful, as did the voices. The lighting was perfect, and I especially enjoyed the way in which they created the giant in the trees.
I was excited to see the wonderful Denis O’Hare as the baker, and he was as impressive as expected. Donna Murphy, as the Witch, blew me away with her interpretation and voice. I was skeptical of Amy Adams as the Baker’s Wife as I’d heard mixed things about her, but I was fully impressed equally by her acting and her voice. There may have been a high note or two that she couldn’t sustain, but overall, she was very good. Ivan Hernandez was insanely entertaining as the Wolf (also as Cinderella’s Prince, but more so as the Wolf), and his interpretation of the Wolf was intensely sexual. Lest we forget Chip Zien, as the Mysterious Man, who starred in the original Broadway production as the baker. He’s a brilliantly hilarious actor and he brought everything he had to his role.
My favorite re-interpretation of a character was provided by Sarah Stiles, as Little Red Ridinghood. She was equal parts playful, smart, edgy, obnoxious, and sexual (when it came to the Wolf). Her voice was great also, and I loved her costume (it could best be described as a mix between a traditional Little Red and Leaf Coneybear from Spelling Bee).
Honorable mentions must be made for Gideon Glick, as Jack, who was entertaining and endearing in his portrayal, and Jessie Mueller, as Cinderella, who really does have the beautiful voice that everyone said was the only reason to see On A Clear Day.
Into the Woods was three hours long, but it certainly didn’t feel like three hours. I left the theatre feeling satisfied and happy. Another magical, perfect night at the Delacorte completed. As we exited the park at 11pm, people were already lined up for the next night’s performance. Luckily for them, it wasn’t supposed to rain that night.
The blogosphere and Twitter were abuzz with Morgan James’ tweet from Tuesday night. Playbill.com even wrote up an entire article pertaining to this incident. (I guess it was a slow news day because The Huffington Post wrote about it too.) I never saw the original tweet she posted, but I was told it said, “Question: HOW can you **** up "into the woods”?? I fear musicianship is dead in musical theatre. And acting, for that matter. #horrified.“
Yesterday she tweeted the above apologizing for her twitter tourettes.
Morgan James is an incredibly talented performer and songwriter. I’ve seen her in concert once or twice, and she played Alice the one time I saw Wonderland and was very good in that as well. But obviously she was under some influence (the influence of bad judgment, perhaps?) when she tweeted her original statement.
How could she not expect that to go over poorly? You’re in this business, and you know how small of a community it is. Don’t alienate yourself by posting incredibly judgmental opinions of a whole group of unspeakably talented people.
those who live in glass houses those originate roles in shows such as the less-than-wonderful Wonderland shouldn’t throw stones shouldn’t talk shit about acclaimed and adored pieces like Into the Woods. I’m pretty sure Stephen Sondheim will never cast you in one of his shows again. (No, I don’t. I’m just being hyperbolic.) And also, you went to the first preview. Did you like it when everyone on BroadwayWorld was commenting on the first preview of Wonderland? Yeah. I didn’t think so.
I try to keep my negative commentary down for this very reason. My real friends know my true opinions and I know they’re not going to smear my name in the industry. I’m sure I say some less-than-positive things about shows that are truly train-wreck-worthy but that’s only when they’re really, really deserved. I digress: this industry is tiny. Manhattan is only 10 miles long and the theatre district is about a half-mile long.
Hopefully the backlash has taught James to think before she tweets. I think this is a good lesson that harsh commentary isn’t going to be received well, especially when it’s brutal, probably undeserved, and presented in such a foul manner. And unless you’re, say James L. Nederlander or David Stone, you’re going to have a hard time getting away with it unscathed.
I was reminded of my childhood yesterday when I went for a walk on some trails near where I grew up on Long Island. I ate a couple handfuls of these – both red and black – and they were delicious. I can’t for the life of me remember where I would find these berries, but I *think* they were in my parents’ yard.
I went “trailblazing” yesterday with a guy that I’ve known for several months now. We met on OkStupid when he popped up on my homescreen and I saw that he was from a town in my school district (and he was cute, and I didn’t recognize him! Score!). He graduated several years before I did but mentioned that his sisters were the year ahead of me and Did I Know Them? He told me their names and I yelped, “OMG, of course!” We were in the drama club together, and I immediately saw the resemblance (as they all look exactly alike).
The unfortunate part is that his job keeps him traveling 75% of the year (I won’t go into details, but it’s legal, awesome, and involves a lot of traveling) so dating someone isn’t really possible. He told me this and we kept in touch anyways here and there. We both had very similar personalities – sarcastic and full of bad puns. We found ourselves on Long Island at the same time a couple of months ago and we met up at a local bar and immediately clicked. We talked for a few hours over Blue Moons, played darts, and it was awesome. We saw each other a few weeks later when he happened to be in the city (for work) and we split a couple of bottles of wine and some tasty noshes at The Bourgeois Pig and talked for hours again.
I was on Long Island this weekend for my best friend’s bridal shower and he happened to be as well (on Long Island, but not for a bridal shower). We grabbed a few drinks on Sunday night (this time I let him pick me up, where as the first time we met … hey, I’d never met him – in person – before, I wasn’t getting in his car!) and mentioned hanging out on Monday, so we grabbed lunch down Port, went for a quick tasting at the Port Jeff Brewing Company, went to the trails where the above berries were found (until we realized we were being eaten – literally – by mosquitoes), and to grab gargantuan-sized iced teas at Se-port (don’t ask – it was a thing in our high school that once you got your license, you went here for lunch. You just did).
But this relationship is just a friendship. And that’s fine. Occasionally we kiss, but that’s it. It can’t be anything more, and I keep re-iterating this to him, because we want completely opposite things. He wants, and I quote, “a bunch” of kids and a house in the suburbs near where he (we) grew up, while I’ll never leave New York City and I want as few children as possible (preferably keeping the number zero in mind as a goal). Other than that minor (hah!) conflict, he is absolutely great. Someone I’m close to told me, “Now don’t convince yourself you’re SO IN LOVE with him that you want kids,” no, that’d never happen. And love? Please. That’s not even on the table. For the first time, I think EVER, I’m totally realistic about what this (awesome friendship) is and keep myself in check.
Even though things can’t progress any further, at least I made a new friend. Hopefully we’ll be friends for a while, if only because we enjoy each others company so much.
But, shit, sometimes the universe works in such frustrating ways, doesn’t it?