Over the past couple of weeks, Shannon and I have been lucky to see several great performances downtown, all worthy productions in their own right. To start off, we have the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I thought this production was very clever in the use of audience members in the plot. I’m not sure to what degree, if any, that the participants knew that they would be called on stage, but some of the funniest moments of the play revolved around the challenge to spell words presented to them by the cast. Red House continues to impress me as they seem to do such great work with so few resources. I’m really excited to see what they’ll do with their new facilities. If the rest of the season is anything like the first production, it should be a real treat. I would not be surprised to see it in the running for an award at the end of the year.
Funny, funny, funny. If you have never read or listened to David Sedaris, you’re missing one of the most engaging authors out there today. This was a simple, no frills, production that consisted of a simple podium and Mr. Sedaris. There was a really nice pace to the entire performance that started with readings from his works, a few readings from his diary and then questions and answers for the audience. Sedaris’ work resonates with on a level that makes you feel like you’re listening to a friend tell you a story. Lots of laughs intertwined some serious subject matter. I was also very impressed with his accessibility by his fans. Considerable time was spent before and after the performance to meet and greet anyone willing to wait in the long lines to speak with him … of which Shannon and I both participated. I think I may have embarrassed her with some of my comments, but after all these years together, she should have known that just about anything can come from cart blanch freedom to say what’s on my mind. What did I say? Well, that’s a story for another time.
The Syracuse Post-Standard reviewed last night’s show, titling the piece “‘The Book of Mormon’ is vulgar, ugly, offensive and truly fine musical” … I agree 100%. This one is not for everyone, as it’s completely feasible to image that some in the audience would have the same repulsive response as the elders viewing the play during the performance. But the theater was standing room only and it echoed with laughter. True, when even I feel guilty singing some of the songs out loud, you know the content is explicit. I loved it! Everything was top notch … the dancing, music, book, set design … just what you would expect from a Broadway musical. Hasa Diga Eebowai was my favorite song going into the show, but in the live setting, Turn It Off was the show topper. If you have the fortitude to withstand the digs against the Mormon (and Catholic) faith, I’d highly recommend this one. A great night of entertainment.