It’s been a long day’s night.

I knew Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night was long. I supervised wardrobe on it in college and sat through it (backstage) about a dozen times. That was the longest week ever. But I’d studied it in multiple classes in college and John Gallagher Jr. was in the cast (alongside the amazing Jessica Lange) so I wanted to see it. 

I remembered it was 3h15m, maybe 3.5hr. But when I found out it was 3.45, I was a little nervous. And when I found out there was only one intermission, I was totally scared.

Let me just start by saying that it is certifiably insane to only have one intermission. Two one-hour-and-forty-five-minute acts with only a 15 minute break is criminal. 

This show has comedic relief, sometimes, but overall it’s four hours of a depressing day for the Tyrone family. Jessica Lange carries this show effortlessly as the morphine addicted Mary Tyrone. I can’t imagine how tired she is at the end of this show. Gabriel Byrne gives a brilliant performance as the short-tempered and stingy James Tyrone. John Gallagher Jr. and Michael Shannon as Edmond Tyrone and James Tyrone Jr. (respectively) put their hearts entirely into their performances.

I won’t lie: I was maybe falling asleep during the last 45 minutes. It had already been a long day and the show was the longest day that I’d ever endured. 

I’m glad I saw it but I have to say that you should drink at least a triple espresso before you take your seat.

Hush

I had “Hush” in my Netflix queue for a few weeks (months?) and I’d been meaning to watch it. Last night, after watching some sportball (the one with the basketball ring) with my dude at a local bar, we came back to my place and put it on. The one big thing that I didn’t know about it? John Gallagher Jr. was the killer.

it was about a deaf writer living in a secluded cabin who is preyed upon by a random killer in a mask with a crossbow and a knife. Some parts were in her point of view – silence – and it was really interesting to see a horror movie from a deaf person’s perspective. Her neighbor friend runs up to her glass deck door, screaming for her life and banging on the door, while she’s cleaning up from dinner, and she doesn’t hear a thing (obviously) and never notices. Her friend is killed right there and she never has any inclination to turn around. 

Things are made much harder for her when Gallagher takes her cell phone, turns off her power (no wifi!), and slashes her cars tires. 

The whole movie was kind of silly because, as always, the protagonist makes some dumb choices, but it’s a horror movie, so without those dumb choices, there would have been no movie. 

That said: it was different to see parts of this movie without sound. 

Also: it was really nerve wracking. 

I missed this on opening weekend but got around to seeing it last Saturday. I went to the AMC on West 84th Street for the first time since they renovated a year or so ago and the seats are now all basically leather recliners. It’s a little nuts. I really love the original Cloverfield and although I suspected this one had very little, i.e. nothing, to do with the first one, I love John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr. so I was excited to see 10 Cloverfield Lane.

The movie opens up to the main character, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), racing in her car down an empty road somewhere in the midwest probably while looking intermittently down at texts from her (now ex-)fiance asking her to please come back and not run away because she apparently always runs away when things get hard. When she turns on the radio, we hear about a massive blackout across much of the country (aliens?) and eventually she is driven off the road. When she wakes up, her leg is injured and she is chained to the wall of a steel vault with a mattress to sleep on. 

John Goodman appears after she’s had a few minutes to freak out, bringing her food, telling her he saved her life, and the questions begin. John Gallagher Jr. is introduced shortly thereafter. Goodman also saved his life and he now sleeps on a cot behind some food racks. He needs a shave. 

I walked out of the theatre a little perplexed. I wasn’t sure what to make of what I had just seen. Was John Goodman a good guy or a bad guy? There are probably 3 times that we’re lead to believe that he’s the good guy, with equally as many strikes against him where we’re left thinking he’s a total psychopath. Did he save them from something outside? Is the air really unbreatheable outside? Did he kill a girl? Why is he keeping them down there? I think he was probably really a psychopath but there obviously was something outside so was it just giving him a good excuse to abduct people? So many questions. 

I need to read up on analyses written about 10 Cloverfield Lane, but I enjoyed it. There was lots of tension and suspense, and unlike Cloverfield, they actually didn’t show the monster until the very end. 

American Idiot, at my alma matter; 11.21.15

Matt, my American Idiot and Green Day partner-in-crime for life, alerted me a few weeks ago that Pace University, the school I graduated from, was staging American Idiot this week and we bought tickets. I’m not sure how I missed this bit of information because I’m part of the Pace Performing Arts group on Facebook and maybe I’m on some kind of list serv for the department, but it seems I totally zoned out on this fact.

The Schimmel Theatre at Pace was built to mimic the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center so it’s very large and we made sure to get there when the doors opened to get good seats. We ended up securing seats in the fourth row. We’d kind of wanted to be in the front row, but friends of the cast had commandeered those first. We spotted Leslie McDonel, the director and original cast member, there of course Gerard Canonico, another original cast member, was also in the lobby when we arrived. As you can see, we were excited:

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My friend Andrew and his girlfriend joined us minutes to showtime and we took in the set, which looked like a smaller version of the one designed for Broadway, and took (what are probably illegal) photos and settled in for the next 90 minutes. 

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The short version: We really, really enjoyed ourselves. These guys did an amazing job. I missed the anticipation of the curtain rising at the beginning, for sure. They had some great graphics that they used – stills from the republican debates and the like – and they used a bunch of soundbites from Trump. Ian Fairlee, who played Johnny, had a very strong voice that was totally reminiscent of John Gallagher Jr.’s more often than not. He made a few different choices as far as his portrayal and they all worked. For the first few songs they had him in a sweater and all I could think was “oh god, I hope he gets to take that off soon.” (He did.) David Park, who played Will, also had a really nice voice and made great choices as far as his character. He really pulled off the man-bun spectacularly too. As the much, much more bro-y version of Tunny was Connor Antico. He also had a great voice which started off sounding like a member of a boy band but got grittier as the show went on. McDonel made the decision to make Tunny and total and complete bro was much different than what we’ve seen on Broadway and on tour, but it worked. Matt and I always judge a Tunny by how long and strong he can hold his high note at the end of Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Well, we high-fived each other when Antico held onto it strongly to the point where we were wondering if it was a recording. 

Mary Claire Miskell, an original cast member of Broadway’s short-lived 13, played Whatshername, was really excellent. She embodied the character’s free spiritied-ness in a much younger (obviously) way than Rebecca Naomi Jones did. Marissa O’Donnell, seen on Broadway in Shrek, portrayed a heart broken and frustrated-as-fuck Heather. Her voice is beautiful but for me, in a rock musical, started out a bit too beautiful, but as the show rocked on, she found her vocal grittiness.  The last stand-out was Jamal Christopher Douglas as St. Jimmy. This was an interesting choice that McDonel made for this character, as it’s general played by a strung-out-looking skinny, somewhat jovial white dude. Douglas was anything but – he’s muscular, scary, and imposing. He had the presence of a drag queen, at some moments, but in a way that completely worked. It was just nothing like what we’d ever seen in past incarnations (that would include Berkeley, Broadway, Equity tour, non-Equity tour, etc). It feels silly not to give a shout-out to the last featured actor onstage, Sarah Hamaty, the Extraordinary Girl, who was great, but the character comes in so late that it always seems like barely a featured player.  Hamaty has a great voice and did her best with the movement in the song given that they obviously couldn’t suspend her from the ceiling. 

McDonel borrowed probably 1/3 of the original choreography from Broadway and the new choreography fit in just fine. Her direction is a new and smaller space was effective and visually beautiful. The band was on the top level of the stage and killed it. The lighting was extraordinarily effective and it was great to watch these students masterfully pull off a show that is so near and dear to our hearts. Standing ovations were given at the end and Good Riddance was, of course, the encore. 

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Afterward we stayed around for a bit to tell a bunch of the cast congratulations and they did “our” show proud.  I ran (okay, walked) up to to Connor Antico after, tapped him on the arm, and said, “You fucking killed that high note, man. SO Awesome! Congrats!” or at least it was some iteration of that. He really shattered our expectations and probably even showed Stark Sands up (sorry, Sands). We spoke to Ian Fairlee and Jamal Douglas, too, before I said goodbye to my Idiot friends and headed home.

American Idiot has two shows today (Saturday) and two tomorrow. Click here for more information. If you’re a fan of the show, go check it out. 

That’s me deep in conversation with world-famous playwright Henrik Ibsen outside his apartment in Oslo, Norway. And since I know you’re all (not) dying to know what I’m dying to see during the Broadway season that started (in September), here goes:

Hamilton: No, I haven’t run to see it yet. Lin-Manuel Miranda is fine and dandy, but I’m not a super-fan of his. I’ll see it at some point. It’s not going anywhere. I’m sure it’s great.

The Crucible: Classic Arthur Miller with Ciaran Hinds, Jim Norton, and Tavi Gevinson? Sigh me up.

Fool For Love: I love both Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell so I’m THERE. I’ll be buying 30-under-30 tickets as soon as I can drag my lazy butt to the box office.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: YES, YES, YES. I’ve never seen this staged professionally but I worked on it in college and it’s Eugene O’Neil and it’s great. And there’s John Gallagher Jr.! What’s not to be excited about?

Noises Off: Two words: Tracee Chimo. Enough said. Oh, and Rob McClure.

School of Rock: This could be a good adaptation or it could be awful. I hope it’s good. 

She Loves You: I’ve never seen this show or heard the score so I’m very interested. And the cast is great: Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, etc?

Tuck Everlasting: I’ve never seen this movie but it has an awesome cast. Terrance Mann back on Broadway!

A View From the Bridge: More Arthur Miller! I missed the last production, so maybe I’ll actually make it to this one.

Waitress: So, four new musicals on Broadway this season? Sad.com. I’ve heard lots of hype but really, um, maybe? I’ve never seen the movie, but the plot sounds basic. Jessie Mueller is awesome, soo… maybe? I don’t have much of an opinion on this. But if I get a free or cheap ticket, I’d totally go. 

Pinch me.

I was convinced I was being punk’d until I finally saw my name on the list inside the door of The Studio at Webster Hall. The Studio is a small underground bar that holds around 300 people. Did I really see my favorite band in a venue that wasn’t big enough to fit my graduating class from high school? Yes. Was I really three people from the stage the entire time? Yes. Did I survive the roughness up front of some obnoxious fans and almost get kicked in the face by Michael Esper? Mhmm. I was there.  

I usually never line up outside venues before concerts but since The Studio was so small and I was excited, I decided to get there early. I expected nearly every one of the 300 people to get there extremely early, but only about 60 did. I arrived down on East 11th Street around 7:15pm after grabbing dinner and cash and a little while later my friend Ben met me, and later Andrew and his brother joined us. There were several other concerts at Webster Hall that night and whenever someone asked us, “Who are you on line for?” and we’d reply, “Green Day!” They’d always respond with a look of shock and say, “Green Day?! They’re playing here?! No way!” The guys in front of us found out that Green Day was planning on doing 25 new songs and then a set of greatest hits.  I was stoked (and nervous that I’d be out until 4am, but more excited, really). I also found out via the fantastic people of Twitter that a band (called No-No Spot) comprised of Gerard Canonico, John Gallagher Jr., and Michael Esper (as well as a fantastic guitarist named Aaron Lee Tasjan) would be opening.

As expected, the guys rocked it out. Esper is a fantastic guitarist and I always love watching him jam. Esper and Gallagher split the vocals on the songs for the most part. Canonico is a fantastic drummer, too (which we already knew). Tasjan was also awesomely fun to watch.

Around 11:45pm, Green Day took the stage and it got rough down front. There was definitely a large presence of douche in The Studio, but we overcame, I suppose (and pushed back at times).  I was three people from the stage. It was pretty awesome. They were all in costume (BJA was reminiscent as Jack Skeleton, Dirnt was a zombie, Tre was a pink fairy, and I’ll guess that Jason White was a mad hatter) and opened with The Monster Mash (listen here!), which included the insertion of Basketcase lyrics at one point, and beautiful back-up vocals by Rebecca Naomi Jones and Alysha Umphress.  

They played a long list of new songs punctured by two Foxboro Hot Tub’s songs (Stop, Drop, and Roll and It’s Fuck Time) as well as a cover or two. All of the new material was top-notch; I can’t wait to hear what makes it onto their next album.  Everyone in attendance went absolutely batshit when the guys started to play the opening chords for Fuck Time. How can you not love that song? Billie Joe hung from the club’s piping, crowd surfed, and even threw an obnoxious crowd surfer off stage.  

I couldn’t wait to hear what songs they’d choose for their encore of “old” songs. They started off with Murder City, which I’d never heard live (admittedly I haven’t heard MOST of their songs live, sadly) but it’s a track that I love. It was during this song the obnoxious crowd surfer was thrown onstage, knocking over BJA’s mic stand so he stopped singing, but kept playing and the crowd kept up with the lyrics. He picked up right where we left off without a hitch. They played Letterbomb next, which I swore Rebecca Jones would probably get onstage for but alas, she did not. Michael Esper did crowd surf though! As much as I love the all-female girl power orchestration of Letterbomb from the stage, I can’t help but love it more seeing it performed by the guys who wrote it. It’s just such an awesome song.

The other “old songs” included Going to Pasalacqua, Hitchin’ A Ride, Welcome to Paradise (a song they didn’t do at PNC last summer that I was disappointed about – score!), Geek Stink Breath, Paper Lanterns, She, 2000 Light Years Away (I wonder if Adrienne Armstrong ever gets tired of hearing this?), and 1000 Hours (if I missed any, let me know – also click here to see the new song setlist).  They’d had enough around 2am and we dispersed with new faith in good music and the inability to hear anything but ringing in our ears.  I spotted Libby Winters and Theo Stockman also in attendance afterward, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt! (Talk about random!)

Needless to say it was an epic night. I got home at 2:30am and went to sleep around 3am (much more easily than I expected since my head was pounding!). It was being digitally recorded (picture and sound) from all angles so I think we’ll see footage on the next album extras.  My photos are almost all blurry or overexposed, but if you want to take a look at the rest, they’re over here.  

February 27th: What the F**k? Three Rock Stars Left “American Idiot”

I haven’t really had the chance to sit down and process Sunday night yet this week.  I’ve been busy, but I’ve also been having trouble finding the words to describe what it was like to be there.  I know there aren’t many people who are going to understand this and I’m probably going to garner a lot of confused looks, but I know at least a few people will just get it (because they’ve already told me so).   

I remember feeling a mixture of relief, sadness, and joy on both Sunday night and then also all day Monday. American Idiot didn’t close on Sunday night, but it sure felt like it should have.  No, not because Billie Joe Armstrong had left the cast.  That was the last thing on my mind.  Armstrong is a fantastic performer and brought the show to a new level and he was fantastic to watch, but I’d been watching these two actors, John Gallagher Jr. and Michael Esper, develop their characters, Johnny and Will, since Berkeley.  And now they’re gone and the show will not be the same.  (I will always remember asking Michael Esper at the party after the first preview how he was going to maintain his energy level 8 times a week and he replied, pointing to the cheese whiz, “This is how! Cheese Whiz!”)  I don’t think either of them will (or should) come back. They’re both extraordinarily talented individuals –actors – who’ve never once had a problem feeding themselves – they have always book gigs, and rightly so.  I arrived on 44th Street as the matinee crowd was disbursing and was able to get a pretty decent shot of Michael Esper, who was one of the only cast members to come out afterward and he signed and took pictures for a good twenty minutes.  


The lottery that night was packed, easily, with 300 people.  I was thankful that I already had my ticket. There was an air of excitement and anticipation around the theatre last Sunday, one that I haven’t felt at the St. James since the first preview or opening night.  I’d venture to say that 80% of the audience was at the theatre that night for those two gentlemen, and the other 20% were there for Billie Joe Armstrong, unaware of what they were getting themselves in to.  I was happy to be in Row A of the orchestra on the right side.  I had a few friends spread around the orchestra and mezzanine, so even though I was sitting by myself, I still felt as though I was in good company.  I was nervous for the amount of screaming there was going to be and betting on rock concert-level screaming. 

I was right. 

From the moment the lights went down the sound cues played, people screamed.  In the early days (meaning Berkeley and previews), the very first moments of the show tended to make me tear up.  This had stopped after the 3rd or 4th time I saw the show, but on Sunday night, they were back.  I didn’t cry, but I had tears in my eyes.  This was it.  After American Idiot ended and Gallagher popped himself up on his bed, he had to wait a good minute before starting for the screaming to stop.  Once he introduced Will (Michael Esper), there was another lengthy applause because this was Esper’s final introduction.  His grin was beaming.  I felt a little guilty when Stark Sands (who plays Tunny and who wasn’t leaving that night) didn’t command as much applause, but I’m sure he didn’t feel bad.  The first bit of improv was during “Jesus of Suburbia” when Tunny “drives” to Will’s (couch) and said “I fucking love you guys!” instead of his usual first line during their first physical interaction. 

From there on out there was a ton of pandering to the both of them, screaming from the audience, but my favorite bit of improv was during Favorite Son.  I like the song Favorite Son from the original album but I really don’t enjoy it immensely onstage so I always revert my attention to Will’s couch, which happened to be directly in front of me.  Instead of rolling up a towel and shoving it down his jeans, as usual, Esper pulled out an actual dildo to the surprise of his two friends and teased them with it.  It was unexpected and hysterical.  The three of them were unable to contain their laughter for the rest of the song.  Armstrong, of course, also received copious amounts of applause during his entrance once the song “St. Jimmy” ended (after which, still in a frozen mostly-black out, he held a little sing-back of one of his usual, “AY-O!”).  The audience was happy to sing back. 

The show didn’t come down again and become exceedingly emotional until “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”  Gallagher took his time moving from lying on the floor to getting to his knees, all while clearing the spit and dirt from his face and out of his mouth before starting (one of) his final letters.  I’m quite certain that as the cast walked out onto the stage that night, they knew what they were looking at in the house – at least in their minds – not the WTC falling on 9/11, or any other horrendous act – they were starring at the end of the era for the show.  Esper strummed so violently on his acoustic that he lost his pick at one point and had to scramble to get another one out of the holder on the back of the guitar.  I thought he was going to snap a string with the way that he was strumming.  He also had tears streaming down his face from the first chord until the end which almost made me tear up again. 

The rest of the show went off without a glitch, a lost high note, or anything else unpleasant.  The audience was on their feet as soon as the curtain was done, before the lights went up, and the flowers flew from every direction of the orchestra.  Armstrong did not make the encore about him leaving the show at all, and if you hadn’t known better, you would’ve thought that he’d be back onstage on Tuesday night.  I don’t know Armstrong, obviously, but it’s little things like that which make me think he’s a great person.

As the audience filed out of the theatre and flooded 44th Street, I felt a sense of relief that it was over.  I was happy to have been there but emotionally wrecked, so the fact that it was over was probably a positive thing.  I stayed within the vicinity of the theatre waiting to meet up with a few friends and just watched, and took a few pictures, of the insanity.  My friends eventually found me amongst the craziness and around the corner we went for drinks.  What we’d just seen was almost-incomprehensible and now alcohol was a necessary evil. 

So, a thousand words later, I think I’m done trying to capture this night through the written word.  Here’s a link to about half of the pictures I took, and click here for the video of the finale.