More Openings, More Shows
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by Sherry Shameer Cohen
More openings, more shows
As much as I love living less than an hour from New York City, I also love the fact that I live close to Westport, Ridgefield, New Haven, Hartford and other theatre destinations.
Here are the productions that I am most looking forward to seeing and why:
The entire Westport Country Playhouse season. This year's season, in the words of Artistic Director Mark Lamos "is a celebration of laughter." There are hundreds of comedies, from which to choose, but I am curious about why Lamos chose these plays:
The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney
The Show-Off by George Kelly
Loot by Joe Orton
Oblivion by Cathy Mensch
Don't get me wrong. You don't have to drag me kicking and screaming to see a play by Gurney. I've seen Children twice and Far East three times, and wouldn't balk at seeing either of them again. But why The Dining Room and two farces? And why Room Service instead of George Kelly's The Torch-Bearers? How does an artistic director make the choices and hope they will be successful?
January Joiner at the Long Wharf Theatre. This premiere by Laura Jacqmin asks why we just can't be happy with the way we look? Jacqmin's play has a talking vending machine that tempts people who are trying to lose weight, but the silent stalking vending machines, ads for mouthwatering food and scare tactics by the health and wellness police about all the diseases for which overweight people are at higher risk put the proverbial pressure cooker on max. I'm among the unfortunate who feel that pressure constantly. Moreover, I foresee this play as a variation of committing myself to reading Wally Lamb's novel, She's Come Undone. I really didn't want to read it, I told myself as I was absorbed from the beginning. Long before the final chapter, I loved Wally Lamb.
As the mother of a child who is nearly six years old, I am looking forward to seeing more children's plays. Curtain Call in Stamford always has a youth theatre production in the summer. (This year it will be producing Into the Woods.)I plan to take him to see age-appropriate shows at the Bushnell Children's Theatre. It's a part of The Bushnell I've only recently researched and I am impressed with the variety of plays they have for kids. Some are for preschoolers; others are for students in the fourth grade and up. Theatre is a great way to help kids understand social issues. The plays at The Bushnell are often connected with schools' curricula, so they are not just about entertainment. Closer to home are the shows at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport and the Ridgefield Playhouse. I named my older son after the legendary producer Alexander Cohen and he came home from the hospital on Tony Award weekend, so I simply must make good on my promise to take him to the theatre!
In all seriousness, I wish every parent would introduce his child(ren) to professional theatre and concerts, starting as soon as possible. My childhood was a bit similar to the one Donald Margulies had. (No, we didn't meet until 2010 when I gave him the Connecticut Press Club's Mark Twain Award.) He grew up in the projects in Brooklyn. I grew up in one in The Bronx. Our parents didn't earn a lot of money, and our families were not religious. We worshipped the gods of the theatre when our parents took us each year to see a Broadway show. My mother also took us to see the dress rehearsals of the New York Philharmonic. What a wonderful gift for a child! Except that I grew up thinking every conductor was like Leonard Bernstein, and that part of the job description was to write songs that could be performed on Broadway!
Does anyone remember a man named Androo at Footlight Records? Androo grew up the only child of theatre loving parents. They took him to every show because it was cheaper to buy him a ticket than to hire a babysitter. Everyone who met him at Footlight Records knew he was a wealth of information about the theatre. In case anyone wonders what happened to him, here's the story. He moved to Minneapolis and worked at the Barnes and Noble music department. He wanted people to know that he did not have full-blown AIDS. He died several years ago of an unrelated illness. And he took with him a lifetime of theatre memories.