Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two Remarkable Plays and a Star

Just returned from a short business trip to New York. My Sunday was free, so I met up with my brother Bob and we attended two new plays that had been suggested by Ed Herendeen, artistic director of the Contemporary American Theatre Festival.

The first, at the Atlantic Theater Company, entitled "Scarcity," was a visceral and intelligent study of a nuclear family that is imploding from alcoholism and near-poverty--yet love each other in deep and desperate ways. It's also raw and funny, well-acted by an ensemble cast that includes Kristen Johnston ("Third Rock from the Sun").

Later, we saw "100 Saints You Should Know" by Kate Fodor at Playwrights Horizons. Like many productions at PH, which specializes in developing new work, there was an unfinished quality to this play that signaled it's still likely to experience further refinement in subsequent productions. Nevertheless, "100 Saints" is a fascinating and thoughtful piece about people struggling with their faith in God. Janel Moloney ("West Wing") was making her New York theatre debut as part of the ensemble cast.

Returning from a day-long meeting at the Theatre Communications Group, I rode the subway back to my hotel with another TCG panelist staying there, Joan Schirle,co-Artistic Director and a founding member of Dell’Arte International, the North American center for the exploration, development, training, and performance of the actor-creator. It was the tail end of rush-hour, around 6:45, but the number 1 train was packed. I noticed a handsome tall man standing a couple of riders over from us and he looked at me--we both gave one of those expressions of "don't I know you?"

It was Bob Stillman, and we had a great catch-up chat before we arrived at his stop. Bob starred in my production of "The Last Session" in 1998, the Jim Brochu/Steve Schalchlin musical. We had heard about it, so Andy Barnicle and I went to New York to see it (in which Bob was playing the central character) and to meet its producer Michael Alden.

Bob is one of those "triple-threat" performers--he acts, he sings, he plays piano. In "The Last Session," he had to do it all.

A couple of years later, he did it all again for Claudia Shear's play "Dirty Blonde," a comedy about two people obsessed with Mae West. (When I saw the play, however, I missed him because he had the day off.)

And most recently, I saw Bob in "Grey Gardens," the highly acclaimed play about Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier, cousins to Jacquie Kennedy, and their eccentric lives.

Anyway, as I commented to Joan after Bob descended the train, "New York is the center of the universe and I always run into people unexpectedly there."

Until next time...


No comments: