Oslo: #Not90MinutesNoIntermission

 

I’d mentioned a few weeks back that Kristen and I had bought a bunch of tickets on TDF after the Tony Nominations were announced and one of those shows was Oslo at Lincoln Center. It had a great cast and it was historical. How could it be bad?

Oh yeah, it was three hours long.

Should we get large coffees at Joe beforehand so we’re properly caffeinated?” I’d texted Kristen that morning. She concurred and with large cold brews in hand, we walked over to the Vivian Beaumont. We took our seats in the orchestra, off right of center. The seats were, once again, fantastic. TDF is really killing it lately in that sense. Although it must be mentioned that there’s literally not a bad seat in that theatre. I’ve sat in all of the sections, top and bottom, and they’re all good. A few minutes after 2pm, the incomparable Jefferson Mays walked onto the stage and the lights shifted.

In case you’re living under a rock, Oslo is about the Olso Accords that took place in Oslo (duh) from 1992-1993. Given that I was 6 years old when this happened, and we all know how anything we weren’t responsible for directly is skimmed over in the US school system, I was unaware of everything that went down.

Mays played Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norweigian sociologist and politician, who had a method for conflict resolution that he greatly wanted to attempt to use to solve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. His wife, Mona (the fabulous Jennifer Ehle) worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and together they worked “in developing the back-channel communications that (reportedly) saved the Oslo negotiations from collapsing.” Because despite what our current president might think, it’s pretty hard to negotiate peace in the Middle East and the US and major world powers in 1992 were attempting the same thing and fucking it up royally. His theory was, I believe, that it was more affective for people only associated with two side’s governments to be at the table, rather than the government officials themselves.

It’s incredibly sad to see how hard people worked on this and then how quickly it all fell apart. The last sequence is the cast onstage together reciting the events that lead to the atrophying of the peace agreements and the eruption into the chaos that we know it is today.

Besides Mays and Ehle, Michael Aronov, Anthony Azizi, Dariush Kashani, and Daniel Oreskes all gave powerful performances as the people who involved in the actual negotiations.

But let’s get back to the length for one second. This was by far the quickest 3 hours in a theatre that I’ve ever experienced. I sat through (the slightly longer) August Osage County and that felt lightyears longer than Oslo. Oslo was so engaging that I was never, ever, even for one second bored. I never flipped through my Playbill or checked my watch. THAT’S how you know you’re experiencing a solid piece of theatre.

Oslo just won the Outer Critics Circle Award and I bet that’s not the last award it will win this season, at least I hope not. This is a simple, yet thoroughly engaging production on a timely AF topic with a top notch cast. Get your tickets.

Review: Come From Away

The day after my birthday in April, my parents and I celebrated by seeing the matinee of the new, immensely popular Broadway musical, Come From Away, with book, music, and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. I’d been watching this piece come to life through a friend’s Instagram posts and I thought it looked cute, but I wasn’t really dying to see it. But once my parents heard about it and it’s popularity spiked just before their opening night, I finally stopped finding reasons to not get around to see it and I’m certainly glad I did.

A lot of the music sounds very Once-esque, which I was immediately annoyed by (despite being a big fan of Once because that is music for Once and not this, etc. etc.) but I warmed up to this folksy music as well as the rest of the score over the next 100 minutes. (Yes, it’s 100 minutes, no intermission. #best)

I’m pretty resistant to anything and everything that co-ops 9/11 which is probably responsible for some of my resistance to sit down in the Schoenfeld, but Come From Away doesn’t do that. They barely mention what happened and they never say “9/11” explicitly. It’s purely about humanity and this tiny town in Newfoundland named Gander and how it’s citizens come together to host these ~7,000 strangers who are stranded there for a week-ish) by this catastrophic event.

The cast is amazing – filled with some of my favorites from my teenage years as a Renthead, among others – Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, etc. The cast uses very subtle costume adjustments to change characters in an instant when they flip-flop between planes (people were trapped on the plans for 28 hours!). I’m pretty sure this is no easy feat and I’d 100% screw up what character I was when if I had to do that.

My favorite subplot line was the one about the SPCA director in Gander, Bonnie Harris (played by Petrina Bromley) and how she basically forces her way into the cargo holds on the planes because she has the foresight to suspect that there are animals onboard and they need to be taken care of (#squee!). She’s right. There were 19 animals on all the planes – something like 7 cats, 9 dogs, and one pair of rare Bonobo monkeys, among others, all of whom she takes care of while they’re there. This obviously warmed my heart. She deserves a medal.

There are many other touching and tear-jerking story lines which I won’t give away, but you should get yourself to the Schoenfeld and see this heartwarming little show as soon as you can (if you can, because tickets are selling out at each performance).

A couple of weeks ago I saw On Your Feet!, The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan at the Marquis Theatre. I only remembered some of her music growing up in the 90′s and I knew nothing about her life growing up in Miami. This was bound to be a history lesson on all fronts.

The timing of this show is perfect – a show about (a lot of) immigrants who do good shit and work their asses off. We need this right now in this country. I don’t think Gloria lived an extraordinary childhood by any means, but she was a very talented kid and to say that she’s lucky that Emilio found her is an understatement. The most amazing part of her story, though, was her recovery from her tour bus accident. I had zero idea this happened and her path to walking and dancing again is an inspiring one. (Sorry, spoiler alert?)

Luckily, this is a jukebox musical that is structured very well. The story flows and boredom is never really a thing that happens because every time you might find yourself looking for your Playbill, another one of her hit songs blares over the speakers and the energy in the audience spikes. Ana Villafane as adult Gloria and Alexandria Suarez as young Gloria were both excellent. Villafane sounded like an exact replica of Gloria herself. And lastly, Omar Lopez-Cepero, whom I remember from American Idiot, duh, was excellent as Emilio. 

On Your Feet! is a must-see for Estefan fans everywhere, at the very least.

U.S. Energy Department balks at Trump request for names on climate change

I think it’s a real stretch to compare Trump to Hitler. I don’t think Trump hates any one group of people enough to exterminate them. Even the Muslims and the Mexicans. I think he’s a narcissistic pathologically-lying businessman who’s gotten in over his head. I am, however, questioning the people he’s appointing to his cabinet. 

And doing things like this. I don’t think it’s really him, per se, but the people in his transition team. Hence the questions. You know what moves like this one is reminiscent of? World War II. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, they gathered all of the university professors (and doctors, and lawyers, etc) and publicly executed them, or sent them to concentration camps to die. Their goal was to get rid of the Intelligentsia of Poland. 

The courtyard at Jagiellonian University in Krakow where the intelligentsia where rounded up before being executed. 

I feel like what’s happening in the energy department is akin to that. They are trying to find out who opposes them and who needs to be gotten rid of (fired, not executed this time) when the regime takes powers. 

And that’s some scary shit. 

U.S. Energy Department balks at Trump request for names on climate change

My Night with Alabama

Is Alabamans the name for people from Alabama? I’d imagine so. Let me know if I’m wrong. 

I’d gone with J last Saturday night to a bar in the Flatiron so he could see one of his good friends from his first job in DC for the first time in years and somehow I ended up hanging out at a table that was more than half full of Alabamans. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d say! 

His friend’s fiancee is from Alabama (she was super sweet!) and she met up with four friends from high school/college who were vacationing in the city or lived here. Two of them were not yet 30 and vacationing in the big city for their 5 year wedding anniversary. A different way of life, indeed. 

Politics never came up, and probably for the best. But Fucking A, I have never in my life felt so pressured to be engaged and/or married. When we were asked how long we’d been together and we said our 1-year anniversary was the prior week, the couple celebrating their 5-year anniversary looked at each other and said, “oh, we were engaged after a year!” And then they started discussing engagement rings and how I have to take him shopping for one so he doesn’t get me a bad ring. I smiled and nodded and then changed the topic because I’m in no rush to get married. I don’t see it as a necessary step in a relationship or in life. 

They were super nice people and I had fun, despite my being incredibly exhausted. But man, am I glad I don’t live in Alabama and that I wasn’t married right out of college. Talk about boring. Where’s the room for life experiences if you’re already playing house when you’re 22? 

One thing is for sure: they’ll be fun to drink with at the wedding! 

Different strokes, man….

STAGE TUBE: AMERICAN IDIOT Cast Performs at Character Approved Awards

One of my favorite songs from the album, Holiday, and also from the show.

Also from the Character Approved Awards last week, here is a video of the cast performing Wake Me Up When September Ends and American Idiot.

STAGE TUBE: AMERICAN IDIOT Cast Performs at Character Approved Awards