The Age of Tiresias

How have I been? It’s been a while and I show up with a post about Into the Woods and a year has gone by. How have I been?

Living is the simplest of terms. I have a healthy roommate and my cat is now 4-years-old. I moved to a much better apartment, where I feel more comfortable to actually spend time creatively.

I have been slightly stressed, which is why I write this all out. On Saturday, I had a dream. Well a series of bad dreams. Earlier this week I had a minor discussion with my father, which left me feeling irked and stressed.

So on Friday night, I went to bed. With the aid of an anti-anxiety medicine, which helps me relax. Oh and the dream was odd. It involved my parents and myself, fighting over life issues. My life, my responsibilities, my ability to save money. It was intense and realistic.

Then I woke up! Normally, when I have a bad dream and I awake I am filled with joy. I can return to sleep and ignore all that just went on. I resumed my sleep only to enter the dream again, almost on pause. Am I some sort of Dream Magician? Is this Inception? I kept fighting with my parents. I awoke again. Once again the dream continued. Awake. Dream. Awake. Dream. It got to the point when I did awake, I wasn’t sure if I WAS awake or just awake in another dream. I couldn’t tell if what I was dreaming was in fact true or not.

I know as to why the dreams occurred, but why the continuation through a series of waking up? This is my life at times, and I have to deal with dreams of a dreaded future. A future that may never come, but I must live it out in my head. How Greek, the lot of it. Call he Tiresias.

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Into the Beans

So now that I am back, I suppose I should get started with a theatrical review as only I know how. Let us start with the grand prize the Into the Woods in Shakespeare in the Park!

Cast PicIn the Beeson household, ITW is a very sacred show. It has been in my life since I was but a child of 6 and saw the 1990 PBS recording with the original Broadway Cast! I only saw Act II at the time, so I even knew then, nothing ended happily ever after.

When I was 14, I finally discovered what the musical actually was. This was in the age of the VHS. A tape that you had to rent from a thing called a library. Today you just need to go into Netflix Insant and there she is Bernadette Peters, with a tight perm giving you FACE! Back in the ’90s I had to rent it from the library and I watched it every day for two weeks, sometimes twice a day. When I had to return it, I rented it again! It opened my door into Sondheim’s world.

So cut to the present. I have never seen a live production if Into the Woods, but I have heard every recording, I have seen every possible footage of  the shows. I now own the DVD, but at this point, it’s just redundant. I so looked forward to this revival, and I did it enjoy it, for all it’s faults.

This Shakespeare in the Park import from London. I was thrilled to have it here in the states! There apparently was a twist though. It was the same director, but going to be redesigned. The Public theater didn’t quite advertise that aspect. Back in the day of VHS, we had a thing called analog. The point of that was when you make a copy of a copy, you end up with a faded repeat of the original. This was that very production.

The cast, as we are well aware, had several big names. Donna Murphy, Amy Adams, Denis O’Hare, and the rest of the 56 other cast members! There was a wonderful veteran involved, Chip Zion! He now played The Mysterious Old man (*SPOILER ALERT 20+ YEARS LATER: The old man is the father of The Baker, a role Zion originated in 1988!!!*)

If you have seen Tangled, you have seen Donna Murphy in Act II of ITW. Act I was strange, her costume was a bunch of moss and roots. Renewing the idea that if the Witch is cursed, it’s not making her old, it can be cursing her in a supernatual way.


Covered in compost.

Then there was Amy and Denis. Oh the chemistry!, or lack-there-of. I didn’t mind the age difference, especially when the show came together at the finale. Denis was unfortunately, still finding his character when I saw the show. Everyone was at that point, so I’m skimming on their performances. I highly enjoy O’Hare as an actor, but as a singer he faulted in this production.
Then there is La Adams. I adore her in all her many film roles, and I long to see her try the stage again. Unfortunately she has taken a cursed role. No matter how many revivals we have, no one and I repeat: NO ONE can reinvent the role Joanna Gleason originated. That aside, Adams was adorable. There were moments of genius in her, I long for her physical approach to comedy. It wasn’t explored here.

Now onto the juice of my review. The production! I am a costume man and what drew me to this production coming from London was the design aspects of it. The set, which was 4 levels and built into a forest. Rapunzel’s tower was a crow’s nest!

I knew that moving the production into Central Park would cause for changes. The set over all was beautiful and intimidating. Perhaps, too intimidating to even the cast. Thanks to Global Warming, there hasn’t been a chance for a normal summer in many years. The cast had to rehearse in heatwaves and rainstorms. Fosca Murphy has had to wear compost on her face in 90+ degree weather! Amy Adams has had to sustain that bun on her head and wearing layers of clothing and NOT sweat. NOT SWEAT while running up and down 4 levels of stage!

This is no easy feat and for that I applaud them! When the show opened I was invigorated! Now I am going to gracefully move into the section I did not enjoy. I am a costume man, and one of the things that intrigued me from the London production was the costume design.

The characters all seemed to flow, everyone lived in the same world. Meanwhile, in this current production, Emily Rebholz, designed the style of the show and it was thoroughly disappointing. The story of ITW in this production is told by a little boy who has run away from home. His father has yelled at him and he is in the forest making up stories. Something I relate to as a child growing up literally IN THE WOODS. That is another story though.

In the plot of the musical, there are three main story lines, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and the newly created tale of the Baker and his Wife. In Cinderlla’s story Cindy (Jessie Mueller) is an emo-slave girl with black framed glasses, a loose-fitting dress, handkerchief on her head and ironic tattoos (not to mention the knee pads). Her stepmother and step sisters are strange morphs of Lady Gaga reject outfits.

Her mother in the tree is a 1940s Housewife wearing an impressive, but still odd, light green dress adorned by leaves. She is a TREE after all.When she gives Cindy her ballgown, I was hoping for a vast improvement. . .to be polite, it was not what I’d hoped.

Cinderella in ITWS

Look at those legs. . .alas.

Then there is Jack and his mother, who really have no theme. They are just absurd images of what you would expect from a Steam Punk wet dream.

The Baker and his Wife are more folksy than anything else. Ms. Adams sports a large bun on her head and I found that endearing. I enjoyed what others have referred to as a “Rat’s nest.”

The chorus is a mass of different themes. There is Hansel & Gretel who wear white outfits with candy glued to them and in their hair. The Wolf is Little Red.

Speaking of Little Red Ridinghood. The show was hers. Red (Sarah Stiles) reinvents the character in a way that is cohesive with the intense reimagining of the staging. She begins the story as a young, intensely ADHD, girl who is off to see her grandma in the woods. Her encounter with the Wolf is literally a lesson in how innocence can be corrupted. She is seduced and becomes a young woman, not with sex, but with character choices.

We watch in her big number of Act I, how she has learned things now, “many wonderful things”, and is now going to look at life through a mature pair of eyes. Ms. Stiles shows this change throughout her unfortunate lack of scene time. She was a breath of fresh air anytime she was on stage.

Her costume, which changes (one of the FEW costume changes in this production), even reflects the mental state of the maturity of Little Red.

Little Red

Brava! The show is for you!

I could go on ripping the costumes, but I feel I have said enough. Go, the run has ended. If you saw it, then you can disagree. If you haven’t, then my word is solid.

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This Is My Life

Shirley Bassey is ME in this studio right now!

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Cut to one year later!

Deja Vu? No! I am alive and have finally decided to take this thing out of retirement! Why? Because once again, Facebook is waning on my soul. People are annoying, I apparently am TOO much for some people and I’ve been exiled to the land of WordPress.

Not necessarily exiled, but it turns out when I left wanting people to notice my writing, it wasn’t in Facebook terms. That place is just full of everyone else wanting to be the one to get the last laugh. Or taking a moment out of their day to be rude (on your Facebook wall no less) rather than actually speak with you in a more direct way.

So I am going to keep a regimen of writing one here now. I have things to say, or at least I try to say them. I have theater and life experiences to share. Insights that are not in need of other people’s opinions to cloud them.

Granted when I last left, I had my mother, people who find this who are interested in dating me and perhaps one online stalker reading this.

Now I begin alone again. A new take, I’ve grown a little bigger, gotten a little wiser and been drinking a little bit more.

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I Am Alive

Oh the neighborhood is wonderful! I know I haven’t written in sometime, but my keyboard is a mess, so typing sometimes gets difficult. Now that the move is done, I am plain and boring. I am socializing! I joined a book club and a writing club. I am looking for things to keep me busy.

Queens is a thrilling little borough to move into. It’s very social and that makes it fun, but pricey at times. I am trying to budget, which is a trying task, but alas we all have to do it at some point.

I just saw Sister Act on Broadway and unfortunately besides the stunningly talented Victoria Clark, I was rather bored by the whole event.

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Theatre For Oneis a box in Time Square. It’s a large steamer truck right in front of the steps of the newly built TKTS booth. It comes but once a year and for those fortunate to step inside they are lucky enough to experience a very personal and touching moment.

This is where the magic happens. Photo by Danny Bright

Christine Jones is the Tony Award winning set designer for American Idiot. She is more of a set environmentalist. The sheer size of the set in AI was startling. Daunting in fact when you see how that came from such a petite woman.

Extraordinary things come in small packages and Ms. Jones proves that in multitudes with Theatre For One!

I will admit, that I am a diehard theatre fan and I do NOT wait long for much. I have TDF and Rush tickets for a reason. I am in a rush, all the time. So when a friend told me to check it out I immediately asked him how long the wait was: About an hour and a half.


The Set to American Idiot. Impressive!

It was the night of the Tony Awards and Time Square was going to become a viewing center for the show. So while standing for 3.5 hours, yes I stood for three and a half hours to see five minutes of theater. If it weren’t for NY1 and Judith Light being interviewed for the award she would never win. I would’ve left after the first 1.5 hours.

Ms. Light Looking Epic at the Tony Awards!

I stayed strong and waited. Christine Jones was there and she assured us all that we would all get a chance to experience T41. Ms. Jones is a kind and frazzled looking woman. She is short and friendly, when she speaks with you there must be some sort of physical touch involved. I fell for it and believed in her vision, so I stayed the entire run.

When finally my turn came the door opened and I saw in the tiny room. Music filled my ears and I looked to a wall that slowly slid right and there was Tasha Lawrence ready to deliver the monologue: Lost and Found.

It was a touching story of a woman who lost 8 army men she bought as a child. She told me the story, but surprised me about halfway through when she began addressing me. It was moving and sweet and I look forward to checking it out again next year. Just hope that the wait is not that long.

What did it for me was the experience as a whole and upon leaving my performance Christine Jones stopped me. What did you think? She asked pensively. I smiled and we hugged, it was very intense.

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Balm In Gilead

After seeing The Other Place with Laurie Metcalf, I became obsessed with her. I watched most of Roseanne in two months just to recapture her essence. I listened to as many interviews with Ms. Metcalf and along the way I became entangled with her other notable show: Balm in Gilead by Lanford Wilson.

As I am in a position where many different designers come through the doors costuming shows in High Schools to off-Broadway venues to Church productions. I see the titles of their shows and I ask them what it’s about if I am interested.

Balm in Gilead came across my eyes one day when a rather eccentric young designer came in to pull for the show. She has wild hair that I enjoy especially when it is done up! I asked her what this production was all about and she informed me it was a free one night showing. It could be amazing or is could be horrible. I asked if I could come see, noticing the location of the space was only 12 blocks away from my apartment in Brooklyn.

I didn’t know what to expect. It was going to be performed in a warehouse in Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I’d only been to Industry City and that was on New Years Day 2010. It was some rave that my ex-boyfriend got a text invite to. I don’t prefer that memory because I despise my ex-boyfriend. I am glad to have something to replace it with.

The moment I arrived in the warehouse, Judith Light walked by. I knew I was going into something intense! We sat in a large space filled with chairs and random sculptors. I was worried that this play would involve moving around a room the whole night. After an hour of joining all the guests into one space and there were a lot of people there, the director made his opening announcement.

He told the audience how much Balm in Gilead by Lanford Wilson had moved him when he was younger. He always wanted to put the play on, but the lingering question of how would you put this show on? Then suddenly the option of performing in an empty warehouse and the play began to take shape. Over the last 96 hours the cast and crew put together this play! He spoke more and ended with: And without further adieu, enjoy Balm in Gilead.

After the music ended this is what we saw!

Suddenly a large warehouse door opened and we were ushered into a long dark space where on one end a lone man dressed in hippie garb played the guitar. We all moved slowly and quietly across the dark space and listened to the man sing beautiful and painful songs. When he’d finished his third song there was clapping and suddenly a light across the space turned on!

The entire cast was spaced out like the picture above. The scene was chilling! Then in a moment of quickness the cast pulled out many cots for the audience to sit on! It was quick and hurried and suddenly the play had begun! Characters began speaking all at once and it was up to where you’d chosen to sit to hear what you could.

The Diner in which a majority of the play takes place

The play is experimental for being written in 1965. There’s inner-monologues, characters speaking to the audience and repeated dialogue.

Then there is the main story and the incredible 20 minute monologue. Zoe Perry, Laurie Metcalf’s daughter, took on the role her mother originated. The moment she opened her mouth you knew that she was coming from the same place as her mother! She had the Metcalf purr and at times I would close my eyes and listen.

The night was intense and fun. It was a dog-eat-dog kind of show. If you got a bad seat on the floor [like I did for most of the first act] it would ruin your viewing, but after a painful time sitting and experiencing I quickly sat on chairs and cots the rest of the night!

The sex scene, so well lit!

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