Lucky me! I had three theatre-related events this week, my most prominent NYC passion and indulgence. Monday night I was invited as a guest at TDF Honors Kinky Boots, a festive fund-raising event and concert which featured the entire cast of that creative musical. Total joy! Cyndi Lauper, the co-creator, spoke briefly, and pretty much everyone who’d ever been in the cast performed. The actors’ excitement and affection at the reunion spread throughout the theatre.
Last night I saw the first act of Arthur Miller’s The Price, but left at intermission, insufficiently moved by the performances of Mark Ruffalo (I know!) or Danny DeVito to stay through Act II. I’m always reminded of my college professor, Jim Cavanaugh, who encouraged us students to revive the art of booing as not only our right, but also our obligation. Not wanting to hoot at the stage, leaving my seat imparted that message to those who stayed.
On Tuesday, I attended 2/3 of TEDx Broadway 2017 (this time I knew in advance I’d have to leave to get home for my virtual mastermind at 6pm) to hear speakers involved (mostly) with all things theatrical. I relaxed into my front row seat as soon as Alton Fitzgerald White opened his talk by singing a few stanzas of The Impossible Dream a cappella. He had portrayed Mufasa in The Lion King for 4308 performances and focused on how he stayed present and in gratitude throughout his extended run. He attributed his sustained success to performing service for others vs. feeling resentment that all of his weekends were sacrificed–for YEARS–so that he could entertain audiences.
What made the entire program worthwhile was hearing Tina Landau whose name was new to me. She came onto the stage with a cardboard box on her head having been introduced as the director of the upcoming show The SpongeBob Musical. My first reaction was, “I’m not your demographic.” By the end of her talk, I was googling to find out when the show would be opening and figuring out when to take my grandchildren to see it.
I was tracking with her as she went through her talk which definitely exceeded her time allotment, but no one cared. We were all in the palm of her hand. Somehow she took us through an experience of an alien coming to earth and what deductions s/he might make presented with a hand full of copper pennies. That Lincoln is God (?) for starters. It all made sense as she spoke, though I’m not doing a very good job of relating it back.
She talked about the intersectionality of life today – that she, for instance, is an American, a woman, a Jew, a lesbian, a director, etc. She enlisted her creative team to interpret the concept that “Nothing is ONE thing” and to celebrate our multiplicities. After describing her thoughts about this she showed us images of the the musical’s set to a chorus of oooh’s and ahhhh’s.
Deepening her relationship to and trust of this audience, she said that it might be ‘oversharing’ to mention her struggles with depression, but that it’s the flip side of the same coin. Without those struggles, she wouldn’t be able to cherish the joys of her collaborative effort.
I’m staying in tonight to allow all of the wonderful energy I received this week to marinate.
Meanwhile, would you like to read about some remarkable women I’ve worked with?