Monday, April 20, 2009

Great Works

Coming off of last week, I feel blissfully inspired. It was my birthday and I treated myself to a lot of theatre.

Actually I started this theatre-treat even earlier than last week, seeing Irena's Vow on April 1st. It's an incredibly moving play based on the true story of Irena Gut Opdyke, a Polish Catholic girl who was forced into servitude by the Germans in WWII. She had endured all sorts of horrors by the Russians before this capture, but somehow her tenacious spirit and fierce faith got her through this hellish time. And strangely enough, her position as servant (she was housekeeper to an SS officer) afforded her the ability to save 13 Jews by hiding them in the German's own villa! It's an amazing story, and I wouldn't be surprised if it soon becomes a film.

It was heavy stuff, but I was amazed at the humor that would creep in throughout the play, especially in the character of Irena herself, brilliantly played by Tovah Feldshuh. But it makes sense to me: humor can help us get through anything.

Irena's Vow is an incredible play and almost everyone in the audience was in tears at the end. As a special treat, Irena's actual daughter came onstage after the show and answered some questions from the audience about her mother. Amazing stuff!

My next show was Blithe Spirit, which I saw on my birthday with my friends, Michael and Carl. We'd been excited about this show since we'd first read it was coming to Broadway, and so we decided to catch the matinee on my birthday. The boys took me to brunch, then we walked down Shubert Alley (even saw Jeremy Irons on his way to his show, Impressionism) and had a little Wicked fun along the way.

We had amazing seats for Blithe Spirit and the crowd went wild when the legendary Angela Lansbury took the stage! She was brilliant! I loved her as child when I first saw Bedknobs and Broomsticks on the Disney channel, and later saw clips of her Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance (how I wish I'd been alive to see her MAME)!

It was really miraculous to watch her work with the wonderful Blithe Spirit cast. To be 83 and still doing high kicks onstage... that's the life for me! :)

Then on Thursday I saw August Osage County with my friend Wayne Henry from Johnny On a Spot. Holy Toledo! What an amazing play! It raged like a rollercoaster from hell, and had me on the edge of my seat. I loved the dark humor, not knowing what was going to happen next!

The cast was phenomenal - it was my first time seeing Estelle Parsons onstage and she was simply magnetic! I had heard much of this "monster of a mother" character, but she made her Violet so human, so multi-faceted! In fact, each member of the cast was like a multi-faceted gem! They all brought these characters to life with great ease.

The set and lighting design, the direction, costumes, the writing... it was all truly a masterpiece.

And something interesting about 2 of these 3 of these plays was that 2 of the leading ladies - Tovah Feldshuh and Estelle Parsons - were tiny! And that inspired the heck out of me because I'm a tiny but mighty leading lady as well. Yet another reminder not to limit myself ever!

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