Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Play's the Thing!

I am so far behind in blogging about my theater experiences this season. I have always enjoyed live theater and have seen random shows here and there over the years. Last season, however, was the first time I ever had season tickets to any theater. And I absolutely LOVED it! I also saw my first show on Broadway in 2008, went to my first professional ballet and attended one drama at Trinity Repertory. It was truly a great season of theater for me and I vowed that I would keep it up this season. And boy have I ever. I think I may have even gone overboard (Shh! Don't tell my husband). Not only did I resubscribe to the Broadway series at Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) and The Community Players (a local community theater group), I also bought a subscription to Trinity Repertory Company (a local professional theater group). And if that wasn't enough, I also bought a ticket to see To Kill a Mockingbird at 2nd Story Theater - yet another local community theater group. YIKES. Not to mention I still have voucher for one free show at the ballet this year. You would think that I would have the Providence theater scene covered. Not by a long shot. There are several other professional theater groups in the Providence area (Gamm, Perishable, Black Rep and numerous smaller companies and student companies). It was therefore not too surprising when Travel and Leisure Magazine recently named Providence the fourth best theater city in the nation - right behind NYC, Chicago and Minneapolis (Minneapolis? Who knew?).

As much as I have always enjoyed all the theater opportunities here in Providence, it never occurred to me that Providence was unusual in this. But seeing it in print (in a recent Providence Journal article) really made me think about it and realize just how lucky I am. I just wish I had unlimited time and funds to attend all the shows that interest me. (Not a bad problem to have, I know).

Anyway, in the last couple of months I have seen Cabaret at Trinity and Young Frankenstein at PPAC. And tonight I am going to see Avenue Q at PPAC. I feel badly that I haven't managed to blog about Cabaret or Young Frankenstein yet. I'm not sure I will able to do a full on review of either show, but I will give the Cliff's Notes version here.

First, Young Frankenstein (YF). I am almost embarrassed to write about my experience at this show. Let me start by saying it's not the show, it's me. Geoff, who usually loves Mel Brooks, went with me to this show. (He's not as much of a theater fan as I am and he picks and chooses which shows he will or won't see). Since he likes Brooks, he decided to come with me to Young Frankenstein. As for me, I'm not a big Brooks fan, but I thought it might be fun to go with Geoff and witness his enjoyment of this show. Unfortunately, the timing was not great for us. We have been dealing with some difficult issues and we happened to have tickets to this show just 2 days after an extremely difficult event. Neither one of us was in the mood for Mel Brooks. The show was fine, but neither one of us laughed or was much in the mood for this type of show. And here's the embarrassing part...we left at intermission. *hangs head in shame* Our hearts were just not in it and we decided that rather than sit there wishing we were home, we would just go home. And that's what we did. I still can't believe we did that, but it was what we needed to do in that moment.

A week or so after (sort of) seeing YF, we saw Cabaret at Trinity with our neighbors (who we bought season's tickets with). I will admit that I was not too thrilled about seeing a musical at Trinity. PPAC is the theater that gets Broadway shows on tour and Trinity's forte is drama. I will happily admit that I was wrong to be so skeptical. Cabaret was really fantastic. Joe Wilson, Jr., who played the emcee, was beyond phenomenal. He blew me away. It wasn't until about half way through the show that I realized that he is the same actor who played Walter in A Raisin in the Sun last season. He was brilliant in that role as well. And if you are familiar with these two roles, you know that they are as different as they could be. I didn't even recognize Wilson. His transformation into the flamboyant, gay emcee was complete and mind-blowing. Another interesting aspect of Cabaret (and Trinity shows in general) is that after the show a staff member conducts a "talk back", in which members of the audience can stay after the show for 20 minutes and discuss the show with each other and the staff member. We decided to stay and it was fascinating and illuminating. It never ceases to amaze me when talking about books that different people can have such divergent interpretations of the events of the story. Well, the same can be said of live theater. This surprised me because we all SAW the same thing, yet we came away with different interpretations. Somehow reading something and actually seeing something seem different to me. I am not surprised that the written word can be open to interpretation, but events that have been witnessed seem much more concrete to me. I loved experiencing this. It was fascinating.

Anyway, tonight I'm off to see Avenue Q with my friend Margaret. Margaret did some theater work in college and one thing she did was work with puppets (Avenue Q is acted by Sesame Street type Muppets). She is excited to see this show and I'm anxious to see it with someone who has some knowledge of this "medium". Hopefully, I will find the time to write a real review of Avenue Q in the next couple of days.

So much theater, so little time...

Image from Google Images


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post... I haven't been much of a theater goer - I live in a very small town, but your post makes me think I should take that trip into the city every now and then!

Sandy said...

I went to see Young Frankestein at PPAC, too, and thought about leaving at intermission. But it wasn't up to me and we stayed and I have to say the second half was much better than the first.

Glad to hear you enjoyed Cabaret. I could have told you that the musicals at Trinity are worth seeing. I saw My Fair Lady there a few years ago when Tim was attending the Conservatory and I loved it!

Can't wait to hear what you think of Avenue Q. What a friend of mine who saw it in NYC called puppets with dirty mouths.

Tammy Howard said...

I had no idea Providence was such a huge theater city! Lucky, lucky you!

When I was in grad school, I had season tickets to every theater in Philly. Student ID = reduced rates = ability to see more shows. But alas, theater was my priority, not Tom's, and I stopped making money...

I love being able to live these things vicariously through you. Thanks so much for your reviews! (Young Frankenstein is here next week and now I feel a little less bad about having to miss it...)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"It never ceases to amaze me when talking about books that different people can have such divergent interpretations of the events of the story. Well, the same can be said of live theater. "

I had never thought of theater that way. Glad someone is getting to the theater. I saw Caberet 23 years ago in NY with Joel Grey. Then here again in Austin with him. Loved every moment.

Karen said...

I'm sorry about your Young Frankenstein experience.

But it's great that you've gotten to see so many other shows. I haven't been to anything since attending my 4th performance of Wicked last year. I'm itching to get back to the theater!

gail Foelsch said...

I'm glad to hear that you like PPAC -- my sisters and I were just talking about getting my Dad and Sharon something different for Christmas this year and she mentioned that "Wicked" was in her area soon so I checked online and it's coming to PPAC too. I think we're going to get them a gift certificate to PPAC so they can pick a play they want to see.

Anita said...

These all sound like such fun, I so rarely visit the theater.......I just live in a small town and so little is available at a reasonable cost/distance etc.
I hope you enjoy Ave Q, I've heard good things.
I also hope life is settling down for you, I've been so absent too.

Helene said...

Wow, you've had such wonderful opportunities to see so many shows! My husband into any kind of theater (except movies, of course) so I don't really go to any of the shows I'd like to see. I tried to get him to see Wicked with me one time and he just wouldn't go!


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