I am nobody’s mother, but I am somebody.

On Tuesday night, @endotique met me (at the last possible minute, goddamn you, traffic; she literally got to the seat as the lights were going down!) to see new revival of The Color Purple. I saw the original production some years ago and I literally remembered nothing about it. LaChanze was in it, sure, but I don’t even remember her performance. I remember that Oprah was a producer and it didn’t do well – that’s about it. 

I think it’s safe to say that I will definitely remember this production.

The stage is very bare and has a semi-Our Town feel to it – in the sense that part of the first act has the characters that aren’t in the scene sitting onstage and watching. 

The elevator pitch for the show is it’s about two sisters, Celie and Netty, who live in Georgia and are separated when Celie is “given” to man by her step-father (who had been raping her since she was 12) to marry and basically be his slave. The new husband is abusive and doesn’t allow her to have contact with her sister at all. The Color Purple is about Celie’s journey to find her sister and her independence. Or at least a life that doesn’t include and daily rapings and beatings. 

Spoiler alert: There’s a happy ending.

The score is beautiful and I really enjoyed the direction (finally, John Doyle, you did something right!). The choreography is really excellent, too. But the stars of this show are Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks, and Heather Headley. 

Cynthia Erivo was Celie and she has a voice you wouldn’t believe. She earned a standing ovation after one of her big songs in the second act. I’d be surprised if she talks at all when she’s not onstage. Give this woman the Tony Award ASAP.

Danielle Brooks, aka Tasty from Orange is the New Black (who I totally didn’t know was in this and it was a fantastic surprise), was Sophia, a woman in their small town who doesn’t take shit from her husband or any one else. Brooks has a killer voice and she’s a great actress. She helps encourage Erivo to leave her abusive husband.

And then there’s Heather Headley (who recently replace Jennifer Hudson, who, honestly, I could not care less about no matter how talented she is) as a famous singer named Shug Avery. Avery used to be in a relationship with Celie’s abusive husband and later becomes another advocate, and love interest, for Celie. I haven’t seen Heather Headley onstage since AIDA and I was so excited to be witness to her greatness again. She didn’t disappoint. She sounded great, she looked great, and her acting was, as far as I could tell, spot on.  

I could go and name the rest of the cast as they were all wonderfully talented with gorgeous voices, but you can go to IBDB for that. We stood as soon as the curtain call began and didn’t sit again. I enjoyed this show so much more than I thought I would and I’m so glad I gave it a second chance. 

The original production was a joke in comparison. Don’t hold it against this production because it’s 100% better. 

Lazy

You know how I stopped working in theatre a year and a half ago? (Maybe longer? I’ve lost track.) Well, I sure don’t miss it (save for the free tickets) but my theatre-going has slowed a bit. Oftentimes afterwork, I’m just all, “I just want to go home,” or, “I’m just going to go to yoga.” Trying to get a super cheap back-of-the-theatre or rush ticket just doesn’t sound appealing. 

I know, I’m so whiny – I’d have to take the train 3 stops, then get off and check, and then possibly get back on. The horror. I guess, technically, I also want to hang out with my cat while she’s still getting used to living with me. (Secretly I think she counts down the minutes until I leave in the morning but I could be wrong.)

But I’m slowly rectifying that. I purchased a ticket yesterday for Saturday’s matinee to Tuck Everlasting for starters. I really think it sounds 100% boring, but it has a great cast and it was the only show that had a Saturday matinee on TDF, so why not

Secondly, while I contemplated going to see a show last night, specifically Waitress (because @endotique says it was great), I decided against it and bought a ticket for May 18th instead. Afterwards I picked up tickets for an irreverent musical for J’s birthday in a couple of weeks. I’m not saying what it is here incase he reads here, but he’ll love it. 

What else do I need to see? Blackbird, Bright Star, Fiddler on the Roof, possibly Fully Committed, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (amazing cast), The Father (why not?), She Loves Me, The Color Purple (I’d have no interest after seeing the original production but I hear this one is fantastic), The Crucible (I’ve never seen it live and who doesn’t love a 3-hour play about McCarthyism?) and, oh yes, Hamilton. I guess. (I’ll do the cancellation line sooner or later before Lin leaves.)

I’m pretty sure that’s about it. Ten shows. It’s a play-heavy list, that’s for sure. I want to see American Psycho again soon but hopefully that’ll be around for a little while.

Writing it out in a list like that makes it not seem so insurmountable. One show every week? Every two weeks? Done in no time. Except for Hamilton. I’ll have to take a Monday or Tuesday off from work to sit in the cancellation line to get tickets for my dude and I to that fucker. Goddamn you, Lin-Manuel. 

#throwbackthursday

I realized I had a bunch of old photo posts that I never actually posted, so they’re being turned into #throwbackthursday posts. 

This is from 2013 when Paul McCartney played a surprise mini-concert in Times Square. It was pretty awesome. Working in midtown kind of sucks, but this was one of the perks: being close to the action. 

$19.89 Tickets to American Psycho

I’ve been sort of excited to see American Psycho ever since I saw the video of their press preview. The music sounds different, the choreography looks fun, and who doesn’t love Benjamin Walker? I sure do. So, when it was sort of quietly announced that they were selling tickets for $19.89 (for the year 1989 when the play takes place) for six preview performances, I was instantly interested in heading down on a Saturday morning. I’d mentioned it to Matt a couple of days prior at Eclipsed and he said sure, let’s do it

We met up at 9:30am on Saturday morning to a line that went down 45th Street to 7th Avenue and turned towards 44th Street. We got on the line right as it turned onto 7th so we figured there were probably 100 people in front of us and it shouldn’t be too bad of a wait since the box office was opening in 30 minutes.

Did we ever misjudge the situation. The line took FOREVER. We didn’t buy our tickets until 12:45pm. Also: it was freezing. It was something like 32* out and I was wearing really inappropriate shoes. We took turns hopping into Junior’s and the Booth Theatre’s lobby to keep warm because I’m not lying when I say it was really fucking cold.

They’d really made shitty usage of the box office. I honestly don’t think they were expecting this many people to show up. They could’ve fit probably two dozen people in it but with the way they chose to wrap the line, there were 5 people inside of it at a time. When we finally were standing under the marquee, when it was fairly obvious what we were waiting for, I started telling passerby that we were waiting in line for tickets to a Trump rally. They believed us, no questions asked, and we died laughing.

We purchased our orchestra seats for the preview performance on April 5th and happily made our way to our respective homes and warmed up. It was worth it this time, but I will never do this again in the winter. 

I found out that The Drama Book Shop was having some hard times when I saw a clip on Facebook from a local news channel. The short story: a pipe burst destroying much of their ceiling and a whole lot of inventory. Lin-Manuel Miranda posted a video about it on Twitter and patrons rushed into the store to help by spending money. Their sales are up 50% and they’re hoping their insurance kicks in sooner rather than later.

I spent many days during my college years (and even before that while I was in high school) wandering the shelves looking for plays for classes and to read on my own. I used to buy a few dozen plays there every summer, coming back once I had finished reading all my prior purchases. 

So, last Tuesday I wandered up 40th and 7th to pay homage to the store that was such a huge resource for me and I picked up a copy of Stephen Karam’s The Humans. I know I didn’t particularly fall head-over-heels in love with the show, but I think that’s because I probably missed a few subtleties. 

I wished the manager good luck with everything, said goodbye to the manager’s dog that sits on the counter, and was on my way.

If you’re in New York City, or are planning a visit soon, please stop by The Drama Book Shop and show your support. You can find out more information here

I’d heard that The Humans, written by Stephen Karam and currently at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre off-Broadway, was fantastic and I knew it was transferring. Once Kristen reminded me that it wasn’t closing until January 3rd, I went to see last Wednesday’s matinee in a general rush ticket ($27) as the student rush was $50 (wtf?). The difference between the two seats was the student rush ticket was unobstructed while the general rush ticket was in the last row of the orchestra and thus the mezzanine overhang made it a little difficult to see the top floor of the set.

This play reminded me a bit of the movie Pieces of April as in a “Thanksgiving Gone Wrong” plot. Brigid (Sarah Steele) just moved in with her boyfriend Richard (Ariian Moayed) and Sarah’s family is coming to spend Thanksgiving with them in their unfurnished, barely-moved-into apartment. There were the usual witty lines of dialogue that inspired lots of laughter from the audience and it got serious and depressing in the last 1/3 of the script. Truths are revealed and Thanksgiving dinner is ended early.

Moayed mentions in the early part of the play that there’s a comic which takes place from the perspective of monsters and how all of their horror stories have humans as their monsters. Brigid’s mom (Jayne Houdyshell) and her sister Aimee (Cassie Beck) can hardly believe that would ever be the case as humans are basically not capable of such horror-inducing acts. By the end of the play, we know this isn’t true.

It felt like a horror/thriller movie towards the end when a couple of random items are knocked over and a door closed by itself. I’m not sure what Karam’s intentions were by adding those subtleties to the script. Their grandmother, “Momo” (Lauren Klein), is not well and basically catatonic throughout the entire play. I’d like to think the supernatural element of the script had something to do with her character, but honestly, I’m really not sure. 

Overall I really enjoyed it. I don’t see this being very popular on Broadway, but it’ll be good exposure for Sarah Steele and Reed Birney (who played her father). The cast executed the layered script as best they could; there were no weak links. With no big names and being a not altogether feel-good script, I’m interested to see what this does when it transfers. 

Random Christmas Present Success

I didn’t ask for much for the holidays this year. I don’t really need much. So, my mother said to me that she had to “improvise” a lot. Well, OK. My dad also came up with something neat – plastic Playbill covers! Playbill.com sells Playbill binders but they only hold 15 or so and they’re a complete rip off. Oh and I’d need about 75 of them to hold all of my Playbills. 

So, I went through one of my four shelves of Playbills last night and put the first 100 in plastic holders. Lots of good memories to be relived. Apparently I met Carrie Fischer (top right corner) in addition to having met Mark Hamill years ago!

Going forward, I might put all of my Playbills in alphabetical order. It is going to be a pain in the ass but it might make it easier to find things in the future. Perhaps. How do you guys store your Playbills? 

Two Saturdays ago I was able to score extremely-cheap-practically-free tickets to The Gin Game. I thought it was a great primer before seeing the new Star Wars movie – it was the voice of Darth Vadar! On stage! I made the cheesy request to go to Bourbon Street on Restaurant Row beforehand and my dude obliged. I had very little idea what The Gin Game was about – though I assumed it was probably about gin rummy – but it didn’t matter. It was James Earl Jones and Cecily Tyson onstage! Two of the oldest people still acting, I think. (Probably not, but let’s just go with it.) And they’re both still amazing. You know what else was amazing? Our seats. Fifth row, orchestra, dead center. I could’ve touched James Earl Jones with my lightsaber (if i owned one). 

About a pair of senior citizens living in a rather depressing retirement home in the south, the script is essentially just the two of them playing game after game of gin rummy. Tyson wins every single time, after two or three plays – sometimes five, if Jones is lucky. My boyfriend had semi-jokingly said beforehand, “I just want to see Darth Vadar swear for an hour and a half.” Well, he got what he wanted. His character had quite the temper and he swore and threw things around, a lot. 

It gets really dark and I ended up really feeling badly for the both of them. They’re both fantastic – duh. It was an odd and unexpected play, but highly entertaining. 

The Family You Choose

The great thing about choosing not to procreate (besides having the most thankless job out there, not having to pay for someone to go to college, etc.) is that you get to choose your family – essentially who your friends are. As I entered my mid and late-twenties, I began to make solidifying my friendships with my kick-ass and reliable friends, since they were going to be my chosen family. 

You’ll always have your parents, and siblings, and extended family, but when those holidays come around that are in the middle of the week and you aren’t granted a day off (ahem, Chanukah), you get to make your own traditions as an adult.

Ben and I have a tradition for Chanukah that includes going to an old time-y diner and eating ourselves stupid on traditional plates for the holiday. Last year it was, of course, the Edison Cafe, but since the Edison is no longer with us (RIP), we went down to the East Village last week to B&H Dairy.

The service was fast, the place was tiny and crowded, and the food was just what we were looking for. We had matzo ball soup, latkes, and blueberry blintzes. It was delicious and I think it cost us about $24. 

This is one tradition that I’m thankful for and I hope we continue it for a long, long time.

Hamilton & Hennessy

After the final performance of The Wild Party on Saturday night, a few friends and I headed over to Urbo on 42nd and 8th for a party celebrating Hamilton’s first week on Broadway, sponsored for Hennessy. There were fun drinks and fun people – and lots of dancing, oh, and a photobooth. 

The only person I asked to take a picture with was Jonathan Groff and when I asked him if my friend could take a photo, he said, “Oh here, I can take a selfie!” Below is the end result (and more photos after the jump!):

It was a fun night.