Last night I attended the first performance of A Midsummers Night Dream at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, and the whole night was magic, pure magic. I won the tickets in a TodayTix lottery (TodayTix is the best) and it so happened I already had plans in place with Lisa F., my friend who always treats me to theater tickets. Lisa had never seen the play, and as it’s my all-time favorite I was so pleased to share it with her. (Lisalisa power is no joke.)
Midsummers was the first play I ever saw in a theater–it was in the 1980s at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, and my beautiful, already-ailing grandmother who couldn’t drive put on her best green dress and took the commuter rail down to scarysnobby Cambridge from Lowell, Mass to sit with her kindred spirit grandaughter in the Bard’s bigcity forest magic. Since then, every meaningful relationship of my life has been graced with a Midsummer’s Night Dream story, and midsummer has become my favorite time of year. Also I am abashed to say this was the first time in my 24 years as a NYC denizen that I ever attended Shakespeare in the Park, and it was of course the perfect introduction. Continue Reading →
Anyone who really loves show business has a “come to Fosse” moment. You know you’re a real convert to the choreographer and director when you come around on “All That Jazz,” his bombastic meta-movie biography-musical. You’ve joined his cult when you come around on his last film, “Star 80,” about slain porn star Dorothy Stratten. (I’ve yet to achieve that status.) But even if you don’t dig Fosse – even if you don’t consciously know Fosse – chances are good you’ve fallen under his influence. Born in 1927, his signature style didn’t just indelibly stamp the world of dance. It redefined the packaging of sexuality and entertainment, blurring worlds that post-World War II parochialism had strenuously separated.
I first saw “All That Jazz,” Bob Fosse’s signature directorial effort – though not the one that one him an Academy Award – in its initial 1979 run, and was singularly unimpressed. Of course, I was age eight, and more impressed by “The Muppet Movie.” Years later, I saw what I had missed. Buried in the film’s dance sequences, its half-assembled spangled costumes and bare-bones Broadway backstages and editing rooms, was a winking homage to narcissism and its opposite, true communion. It was, and is, an amazing cacophony. But it is also bloated by his death wish – a courtship with his own demise that he materialized by casting Jessica Lange, one of his many girlfriends, in the role of Angelica, a literal angel of death. Continue Reading →