Sunday, June 2, 2013

Far From Heaven

I almost missed it. The trains had signal problems (well, the tracks did) and the Q train was backed up in every station from DeKalb to Newkirk. I waited on the tracks for 20 minutes before they told us that, and then I ran out of the train, up the stairs, and as fast as I could in the insane heat, over to the 2 train on Nostrand. (I know this is a very Brooklyn-centric post so far.) On my way, a bus came, and I got on that, but then the bus got detoured because of road construction on Church. When I got to the 2, I dashed down the stairs, just in time for a train, which I got on at 7:20. I had an 8 PM curtain at Playwrights Horizons. It was not at all clear I would make it. But there were no train delays, and I arrived at Times Square at 7:50, and I ran the whole way to Playwrights, and I sat down in my seat at 7:59. And that's when the joy started. Because you know what it's like when you are running late, but you're sort of ambivalent? You don't really care that much if you make it to the thing you're going to? This is NOT how I felt. I was completely looking forward to making it to this. Far From Heaven, the new project by the creators of Grey Gardens (plus Richard Greenberg) starring the absolutely riveting Kelli O'Hara, and also featuring Nancy Anderson, who was flawless in her role as the conflicted best friend. (Side note. Nancy played a small but unforgettable part in this satirical media spot Josh and I made with Eric Ward, about the ways the anti-immigrant movement is trying to influence the environmental movement.)

I love seeing new musicals. I love seeing them when they work. I love seeing them when they don't. I love the process. I love the first passes. I love the glistening finished products. I love the interplay of music, lyrics, dancing, plot, character, and set. It's a complex organism, and I love it.

(I just got interrupted in my writing by something as opposite as my love for musicals as possible, and I am having a hard time getting my flow back. Please accept any shifts in tone you might notice.)

So it's 7:59, and the lights are about to go down, and I just LOVE that moment. Full of anticipation. I know the story, because I saw the movie. I know the themes are ones that matter to me. A picture perfect marriage. White middle class people from Connecticut. A society page gossip mill all around. The man in the perfect marriage actually gay. The woman actually likes black people. A society page gossip mill all around. Things unravel. Their heavenly corner of the world is much more complex than originally portrayed to be. But then again, we knew that was the case, didn't we? Because it's no longer 1957. And lots of people in 1957 knew that was the case, didn't they? Because they weren't white and middle class. And lots of white and middle class people in 1957 knew that was the case, didn't they? Because they had their eyes open. Or their husband was cheating on them. Or they didn't really have enough money. Or their wife was taking pills. Or their kid was getting beat up. Far From Heaven.

So it's 7:59, and the lights are about to go down, and I just LOVE that moment. And then the lights go down. And the unexpected comes right away. Photo projection on the screen. And immediately I am transported to Connecticut in the Fall. And the townspeople filter in, and eventually Kelli O'Hara comes center stage, and starts to sing, and I'm transported again, by the fluidity of her voice, and as my friend Jesse put it, by her hidden sadness.

So much more I could say, but that's enough. Sitting alone in the theater, 15 feet from Kelli O'Hara singing, with a stellar supporting cast without one sour note in the bunch.  Heaven. Not far from. Just heaven.

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