Diary of a theatre addict: From P-town to DC & NYC

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I’m finally on holiday — for the last six years now, discount my husband and I have made an annual visit to Provincetown (or P-town, physician as it is usually abbreviated) on the farthest tip of Cape Cod, reached by a 90 minute ferry ride from Boston.

I usually take this time off from going to the theatre as much as I can. But this year, I have succumbed to the lure of theatre several times over. norm-lewis-arthouseLast Friday, the first day we got here, Norm Lewis was appearing here in conversation and song with musical director and Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky, in the intimate environs of the P-town Arthouse, whose annual Broadway series — produced by Mark Cortale — this year has also already included Laura Osnes, Sutton Foster, Lea DeLaria, Sam Harris and opera diva Deborah Voigt, with Kerry Butler, Christine Pedi,  Jane Krakowski and Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner (reunited from the original production of Sideshow) still to come.

Cortale is also presenting a few, even more high profile, shows at Provincetown Town Hall, including Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka tonight and tomorrow (yes, I’m going!), and Audra McDonald and husband Will Swenson (on August 24, and God, do I wish I were going!). I actually saw Audra do one of Seth Rudetsky’s Q&A cabarets a couple of years ago, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

Rudetsy is an amazing interviewer — full of knowledge and random references to the person’s career who is interviewing. (I’ve seen him do the same routine with Patti LuPone in London once, which elicited a truly hilarious story about co-starring with Sherie Rene Scott in the original Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown that it would be impolite to re-tell here…..) And Norm Lewis, who appeared in the West End as Javert in Les Miserables as well as in the 25th anniversary performance at the 02, is a truly wonderful singer, too: Rudetsky introduced him as the best Broadway male voice of the last 30 years, and it’s hard to disagree.

Johnny Mathis is, Lewis said, his inspiration, and he has the same mellow, effortless way with a song. There’s a pure and total connection with his songs and purity of tone throughout. He sang ‘Stars’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis, as well as songs from A New Brain (that he took over the lead in, and recorded the cast album of), Porgy and Bess (that he last appeared on Broadway opposite Audra McDonald in, and I saw both in Cambridge during its pre-Broadway try-out en route to another trip to P-town, and twice again on Broadway) and David Friedman’s extraordinary ‘We Live on Borrowed Time’ that he called his favourite song. I’m so glad I borrowed some time with him.

norm-lewis-breakfastThe next morning my friend Bruce Glikas (a Broadway photographer), my husband Mark and I had breakfast with Lewis (pictured left), and he was as charming in person as he was onstage. We also made a day-trip back to Boston yesterday, for another Cambridge try-out at American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T) of a new musical called Waitress, with a score by singer-songwriter Sara Bareillis, that stars Jessie Mueller (Tony winner for the original Broadway production of Beautiful). Its still previewing, but I bought a ticket so I’m free to say: I loved it! I hope Broadway beckons, and soon.

Broadway stars feature strongly on the dance card here in P-town; another promoter at the Crown and Anchor also stages an annual Broadway series now, whose bill this year has already featured Bernadette Peters, Barbara Cook, Jennifer Holliday, Jeremy Jordan and Linda Lavin. Tomorrow I’m seeing Shirley Jones as part of that season, and still to come (though not when I’m here) are Billy Porter, Kathy Griffin and Charles Busch.

But that’s it — I’m not planning on any more theatre in P-town, at least. And last week in New York, I actually had two nights off from the theatre entirely — a first for me! But I nevertheless managed two shows across the three days I was there, catching On the Town (for the fourth time — my favourite revival since Pippin, which later last week announced its closing for September 6, after 28 previews and 368 regular performances) and a press performance of Hamilton (for the third time — I’d also seen it twice downtown at the Public, ahead of its official opening on Thursday).

And the night before I travelled to New York, I caught a preview of Grand Hotel at Southwark Playhouse— with the permission of the director and producer, I hasten to add, so in reviewing it for The Stage here, I was hardly breaking any Hamlet-like embargoes as erupted last week, and I wrote about here.
I’m finally on holiday — for the last six years now, recipe my husband and I have made an annual visit to Provincetown (or P-town, this site as it is usually abbreviated) on the farthest tip of Cape Cod, treatment reached by a 90 minute ferry ride from Boston.

I usually take this time off from going to the theatre as much as I can. But this year, I have succumbed to the lure of theatre several times over. norm-lewis-arthouseLast Friday, the first day we got here, Norm Lewis was appearing here in conversation and song with musical director and Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky, in the intimate environs of the P-town Arthouse, whose annual Broadway series — produced by Mark Cortale — this year has also already included Laura Osnes, Sutton Foster, Lea DeLaria, Sam Harris and opera diva Deborah Voigt, with Kerry Butler, Christine Pedi,  Jane Krakowski and Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner (reunited from the original production of Sideshow) still to come.

Cortale is also presenting a few, even more high profile, shows at Provincetown Town Hall, including Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka tonight and tomorrow (yes, I’m going!), and Audra McDonald and husband Will Swenson (on August 24, and God, do I wish I were going!). I actually saw Audra do one of Seth Rudetsky’s Q&A cabarets a couple of years ago, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

Rudetsy is an amazing interviewer — full of knowledge and random references to the person’s career who is interviewing. (I’ve seen him do the same routine with Patti LuPone in London once, which elicited a truly hilarious story about co-starring with Sherie Rene Scott in the original Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown that it would be impolite to re-tell here…..) And Norm Lewis, who appeared in the West End as Javert in Les Miserables as well as in the 25th anniversary performance at the 02, is a truly wonderful singer, too: Rudetsky introduced him as the best Broadway male voice of the last 30 years, and it’s hard to disagree.

Johnny Mathis is, Lewis said, his inspiration, and he has the same mellow, effortless way with a song. There’s a pure and total connection with his songs and purity of tone throughout. He sang ‘Stars’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis, as well as songs from A New Brain (that he took over the lead in, and recorded the cast album of), Porgy and Bess (that he last appeared on Broadway opposite Audra McDonald in, and I saw both in Cambridge during its pre-Broadway try-out en route to another trip to P-town, and twice again on Broadway) and David Friedman’s extraordinary ‘We Live on Borrowed Time’ that he called his favourite song. I’m so glad I borrowed some time with him.

norm-lewis-breakfastThe next morning my friend Bruce Glikas (a Broadway photographer), my husband Mark and I had breakfast with Lewis (pictured left), and he was as charming in person as he was onstage. We also made a day-trip back to Boston yesterday, for another Cambridge try-out at American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T) of a new musical called Waitress, with a score by singer-songwriter Sara Bareillis, that stars Jessie Mueller (Tony winner for the original Broadway production of Beautiful). Its still previewing, but I bought a ticket so I’m free to say: I loved it! I hope Broadway beckons, and soon.

Broadway stars feature strongly on the dance card here in P-town; another promoter at the Crown and Anchor also stages an annual Broadway series now, whose bill this year has already featured Bernadette Peters, Barbara Cook, Jennifer Holliday, Jeremy Jordan and Linda Lavin. Tomorrow I’m seeing Shirley Jones as part of that season, and still to come (though not when I’m here) are Billy Porter, Kathy Griffin and Charles Busch.

But that’s it — I’m not planning on any more theatre in P-town, at least. And last week in New York, I actually had two nights off from the theatre entirely — a first for me! But I nevertheless managed two shows across the three days I was there, catching On the Town (for the fourth time — my favourite revival since Pippin, which later last week announced its closing for September 6, after 28 previews and 368 regular performances) and a press performance of Hamilton (for the third time — I’d also seen it twice downtown at the Public, ahead of its official opening on Thursday).

And the night before I travelled to New York, I caught a preview of Grand Hotel at Southwark Playhouse— with the permission of the director and producer, I hasten to add, so in reviewing it for The Stage here, I was hardly breaking any Hamlet-like embargoes as erupted last week, and I wrote about here.
I’m finally on holiday — for the last six years now, price my husband and I have made an annual visit to Provincetown (or P-town, sales as it is usually abbreviated) on the farthest tip of Cape Cod, reached by a 90 minute ferry ride from Boston.

I usually take this time off from going to the theatre as much as I can. But this year, I have succumbed to the lure of theatre several times over. norm-lewis-arthouseLast Friday, the first day we got here, Norm Lewis was appearing here in conversation and song with musical director and Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky, in the intimate environs of the P-town Arthouse, whose annual Broadway series — produced by Mark Cortale — this year has also already included Laura Osnes, Sutton Foster, Lea DeLaria, Sam Harris and opera diva Deborah Voigt, with Kerry Butler, Christine Pedi,  Jane Krakowski and Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner (reunited from the original production of Sideshow) still to come.

Cortale is also presenting a few, even more high profile, shows at Provincetown Town Hall, including Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka tonight and tomorrow (yes, I’m going!), and Audra McDonald and husband Will Swenson (on August 24, and God, do I wish I were going!). I actually saw Audra do one of Seth Rudetsky’s Q&A cabarets a couple of years ago, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

Rudetsy is an amazing interviewer — full of knowledge and random references to the person’s career who he is interviewing. (I’ve seen him do the same routine with Patti LuPone in London once, which elicited a truly hilarious story about co-starring with Sherie Rene Scott in the original Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown that it would be impolite to re-tell here…..) And Norm Lewis, who appeared in the West End as Javert in Les Miserables as well as in the 25th anniversary performance at the 02, is a truly wonderful singer, too: Rudetsky introduced him as the best Broadway male voice of the last 30 years, and it’s hard to disagree.

Johnny Mathis is, Lewis said, his inspiration, and he has the same mellow, effortless way with a song. There’s a pure and total connection with his songs and purity of tone throughout. He sang ‘Stars’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis, as well as songs from A New Brain (that he took over the lead in, and recorded the cast album of), Porgy and Bess (that he last appeared on Broadway opposite Audra McDonald in, and I saw both in Cambridge during its pre-Broadway try-out en route to another trip to P-town, and twice again on Broadway) and David Friedman’s extraordinary ‘We Live on Borrowed Time’ that he called his favourite song. I’m so glad I borrowed some time with him.

norm-lewis-breakfastThe next morning my friend Bruce Glikas (a Broadway photographer), my husband Mark and I had breakfast with Lewis (pictured left), and he was as charming in person as he was onstage. We also made a day-trip back to Boston yesterday, for another Cambridge try-out at American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T) of a new musical called Waitress, with a score by singer-songwriter Sara Bareillis, that stars Jessie Mueller (Tony winner for the original Broadway production of Beautiful). Its still previewing, but I bought a ticket so I’m free to say: I loved it! I hope Broadway beckons, and soon.

Broadway stars feature strongly on the dance card here in P-town; another promoter at the Crown and Anchor also stages an annual Broadway series now, whose bill this year has already featured Bernadette Peters, Barbara Cook, Jennifer Holliday, Jeremy Jordan and Linda Lavin. Tomorrow I’m seeing Shirley Jones as part of that season, and still to come (though not when I’m here) are Billy Porter, Kathy Griffin and Charles Busch.

But that’s it — I’m not planning on any more theatre in P-town, at least. And last week in New York, I actually had two nights off from the theatre entirely — a first for me! But I nevertheless managed two shows across the three days I was there, catching On the Town (for the fourth time — my favourite revival since Pippin, which later last week announced its closing for September 6, after 28 previews and 368 regular performances) and a press performance of Hamilton (for the third time — I’d also seen it twice downtown at the Public, ahead of its official opening on Thursday).

And the night before I travelled to New York, I caught a preview of Grand Hotel at Southwark Playhouse— with the permission of the director and producer, I hasten to add, so in reviewing it for The Stage here, I was hardly breaking any Hamlet-like embargoes as erupted last week, and I wrote about here.
I’m sorry to have been missing in action for the last fortnight, dosage but I’ve actually been on holiday, finally returning from New York late last night. It was not, of course, a trip without theatre, of course, but a quite serious reduction in it (at times), though much of the trip was planned around theatre dates beyond New York itself.

The week before last was spent in Provincetown in Cape Cod; I’ve already reported on my first weekend there when I was last here, and then after that I caught husband-and-husband team Neil Patrick Harris and David Burt joining forces at P-town Town Hall for a sold out cabaret, and the next night Shirley Jones at the Crown and Anchor’s Paramount, where the veteran 81-year-old performer was very warmly embraced with her MC John McDaniel. I’ve reported on both here.

two-southern-sissiesBut really my week in P-town wasn’t about theatre — though there were some delightfully random theatrical connections, including the fact that London-based, but Venezuelan born, choreographer Javier de Frutos was in town to help his partner Keith who has newly set up a terrific barbecue eaterie named for both of them, The Two Southern Sissies (logo right), and where we had a great lunch! (As a result of this lunch, and the fact that my friend Nick Holder is singing Cole Porter songs in it, I am heading to Aberdeen in October to catch de Frutos’s Elsa Canasta!)

scarbieOne of my regular treats in P-town, too, is the bingo night held in the UU Meeting House every Wednesday — presided over by the drag queen Scarbie  (left)who cycles around town in her unmistakeable costumes. (The friend we were with, broadway.com photographer Bruce Glikas managed to win $78!)

Then I got back to New York on Saturday August 15, just in time to go see On the Town for a fifth time! (Talk about addiction! And I talk about the show’s own ahead-of-its-time portrait on sex addiction in my blog entry for The Stage here). I also saw two more off-Broadway shows in the next couple of days. On August 16 I caught the final performance of Significant Other, by Joshua Harmon at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre where I’d also previously seen the original production of his play Bad Jews before its transfer to London, about the pain and longing of a young gay man as he watches his straight girlfriends pairing off and he stays resolutely alone and wondering if he’ll be alone all his life.

Then on August 17 I saw Ruthless, an off-Broadway revival of a campy off-Broadway musical from the 90s that I saw first time around too, and can now only wonder what the world ever saw in its cheerless, over-the-top portrait of a stage struck brat and her grasping, stop-at-nothing ambitions for stardom. (It was nice though, in another random sort of way, to run into two holidaying London actors there who follow me on Twitter and recognised me!)

mark-evansThen last Tuesday we travelled on down from New York to Washington DC, to catch first of all The Fix (returning to Signature Theatre in Arlington VA where it had originally received its American premiere in 1998, a year after being premiered at London’s Donmar Warehouse, starring Mark Evans in the role originated by John Barrowman, pictured left with a cut-out of himself in the foyer!) and then the new American musical Dear Evan Hansen, by the composing duo of Pasek and Paul; I’ve reported on both here, where I (proudly) declare my personal association with the former, as its composer Dana P Rowe is a very close personal friend — close enough that I’m officiating at his October New York wedding (and have recently been ordained in the American Life Church and officially registered at City Hall to do so!)

We came back to New York last Thursday and — a first for me — I didn’t actually see any shows on Thursday or Friday! (We had dinner with friends on both nights instead, including Scott Alan who is heading to London for an eight-night residency at the Hippodrome starting on September 7, and includes a birthday celebration night specially for me!)

audra-will-glikasThen we saved the best till last — making a 320-mile round trip drive on Saturday up to Williamstown to see the always-glorious Audra McDonald and her husband Will Swenson starring in a production of A Moon for the Misbegotten there (that I’ve reported on here and are pictured left on either side of myself and Bruce Glikas).

 
And now I’m back, tired but happy. I should be heading off to Edinburgh this Thursday for a five-day send-off to the Edinburgh Festival as it enters its home stretch, but I’ve actually decided to re-group: I can see five shows in London I want to see over the five days I would have been there, instead of 25 in Edinburgh I don’t want to see but would see out of a sense of (misplaced) obligation! It’s a relief, to be honest. And I won’t waste the train tickets, either, as I can simply rebook to use them another time — and give myself that long-promised trip to this beautiful city OUTSIDE of the mania of the festival instead.  (And some of the shows I did want to see up there — Fake It Till You Make it and Penny Arcade’s Longing Lasts longer — have already announced London dates at Soho Theatre, so I’ll catch them there!)