A Night with Shirley Jackson

I’d seen somewhere on the Internets that Paul Giamatti (far right), along with (from L-R) Cristin Milioti, Dana Ivey, and Stephen Kunken, were participating in a night of reading short stories by the late writer Shirley Jackson in honor of her 100th birthday. I literally had no idea who Shirley Jackson was, but my dude had just finished watching the John Adams series on HBO and loved Paul Giamatti so I bought two tickets. 

We ended up hearing five short stories from the group (one was read by the host, whose name I forget at this moment) and they were all pretty good. The story Ivey read was kind of long and I don’t really remember what it was about. Jackson was a dark writer, sometimes very cryptic. Usually cryptically funny though. 

Giamatti’s story was probably the more eerie. Milioti, Ivey, Kunken, as well as Giamatti all told the stories with the flare that only stage actors can provide. It was a really different type of night, one that I’m glad we went to.

Last Thursday my friend Nick invited me to a sold-out performance show that he was starring in titled “... And Then I Wrote A Song About It,” with book by Eric H. Weinberger, music by Daniel S. Acquisto, lyrics by Sammy Buck, and directed by Igor Goldin (Yank!).  ATIWASBI is a one-man show about a young gay man in New York City who is a self-proclaimed singer/songwriter/dancer/actor and is trying to make it in the business despite his father telling him that he has to get a good job and get married. 

Nick Cearley portrays the protagonist effortlessly and hits his mark on each emotional peak throughout the script.  He never loses energy, or the audience’s attention, from one song to another.  He has more charisma in his pinky than most performers do in their entire bodies and he’s always been entertaining to watch. 

Though we only the protagonist go as far as winning a spot in his office’s (NBC) talent show, the audience is no doubt left rooting for him and wondering where his life will take him next. 

Musical Mondays is an organization whose goal is “to affirm the future of the American musical through staged readings, workshops, and productions."  They worked to develop an early inception of Next to Normal.  More information can be found here.