Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Theater

Breaking Up With My Therapist

Reading at “Come as You Are,” a night of storytelling at the Charles R. Wood Theater in support of Warren-Washington Association for Mental Health.

Season Tickets

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So let’s see, the Pet Shop Boys, Vince Gill, and a chamber concert all in one week? Dude, my life is so boring. We’ve done Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Book Fair, and Drama Club this week. Sigh.

V-Grrrl, commenting on yesterday’s post

When I was a teenager, my father gave me two pieces of advice on how to deal with women:

1)  Never hurt a woman.

I still don’t really know if he meant physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

2)  Take your wife out on weekends.

This completely went over my head when he first told me this piece of wisdom.  Tickets for the weekend was a central concept to my father’s vision of marriage.  My father was always getting theater and concert tickets “for Elaine” (my mother).   Even though he always said he was getting it “for her,”  I think he got them equally for himself.  My  father was the type of person who could never admit doing anything for himself.  It always had to be for someone else. 

My father was also obsessive-compulsive, so he had a huge bulletin board in his bedroom where he would micro-organize all his tickets to concerts, shows, and events.  He believed that if you bought tickets ahead of time, this would force you to go out, even if you got lazy at the last moment.  He would sometimes subscribe to a theater season a year ahead of time, so he always knew he had something to go to every weekend, and didn’t have to worry about it.  Box offices throughout New York City would know his name when he called up, because he would send his check in the mail before the season actually began.  He subscribed to the Roundabout Theater, Circle in the Square, Lincoln Center, Queens College Concert Series, Theater in the Park, and several others, including discount Broadway show tickets from the Theater Development Fund. 

My parents would go out practically every weekend, frequently taking me along.  There were times when it was clear that no one wanted to go, but we went anyway because we “had the tickets.”   It was my family’s version of being forced to go to church on Sunday morning.  We would travel two hours into Manhattan during a snow storm to see a poorly-reviewed version of an Ibsen play (awkwardly updated to 1920’s Chicago) just because the tickets hung on the bulletin board and the date was penciled in on the large calendar my father kept next to the bulletin board.  My friends would be drinking beer outside on Saturday night while I would be dragged to hear Chopin with my parents.  I  frequently fell asleep during these concerts and my mother would elbow me so I wouldn’t snore.

I realize that when I described my parents on this blog in the past, I created a picture akin to the parents of Seinfeld — real Jewish outer borough types.  That IS an accurate description of them.  But there was one big difference,  My father had an obsession with high culture.  Where did it come from? — I have NO IDEA, but it was important that we immersed ourselves in it. If my mother didn’t have a sense of humor about some of the boring stuff we saw, I would have turned into a hopeless prig.

Years later, though, much of my father’s wisdom has started to make sense — especially about the importance of going out.  In the two weeks since she came back from New York, Sophia and I have gone to three concerts, a Broadway musical, and a movie.  Like my father, we bought the tickets early enough to force ourselves to go out.  We knew that if we waited until the last minute, one of us (usually me) would start copping out, wanting to watch “Dancing with the Stars” instead.  But to be honest, going out is pretty tiring, especially to someone like me, who is happy enough just sitting at the computer, blogging.   Tonight we didn’t go anywhere, which was pretty nice.   After we watched — what else? — “Dancing with the Stars” (dancer Cheryl Burke is so cute!), Sophia turned to me and said, “Remember, tomorrow we’re going to the Improv with Danny.”

“Do we have to?” I sighed.

“Yes,” she answered.  We already have the tickets.”

Some things never change.

Twenty-Five Years Later

I don’t like to toot my own horn, but lately, I’ve been living quite a glamorous life.   As a trend-setter, I’m invited to all sorts of openings, events, and theater.   Frankly, I feel a little sorry for your dreary lives, but I hope by telling you about my experiences, you can feel a little bit better about yourselves by just knowing me, and impressing your friends with that information.

Last night I went to the premiere of a new theatrical piece that’s coming over here straight from London.   Most of you are just too "out-of-the-loop" to have heard about this play, but I was given a unique opportunity to see it before the general public.  The piece is quite interesting, as it is a play with music, but rather than a traditional story, it is based on the poetry of a well-known British poet, T. S. Eliot.  The show revolves around a cast of feline characters, so the title is very apt, "Cats."  There are several memorable songs and some surprising special stage effects.  I predict that this play will be quite successful, although I doubt the "Average Joes" who make up my readership will be able to get these exclusive tickets very easily. 

Back to reality —

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Yes, hell froze over.  I saw "Cats" because someone gave Sophia two tickets.   Actually, I love musicals, but I always promised myself that I would never see "Cats."  It sounded really boring, even though I like the poetry of the anti-Semitic T.S. Eliot.  I wish I could give you a complete review of the show, but I won’t, mostly because I fell asleep in the middle.   How can this thing be running for 25 years?  What the hell was that about?  Some cats meet up and choose which cat deserves to go to heaven?  Are these cats Mormon cats?  That was one bizarre show!

My seeing such an old show makes me think about another issue.  Who can I talk to about this show?  Everyone I know already saw the show fifteen years ago, and it was 10 years old already.  I notice that this is a growing problem with movies and TV shows as well.   With the growth of DVDs and Tivo, fewer people are watching the same shows at the same time, or even on the same night.   What’s going to happen to watercooler talk if half of the office still hasn’t watched last night’s big "Grey’s Anatomy" episode because it’s still on their Tivo. 

Have you ever rented a movie that you haven’t seen, let’s say Forrest Gump, and you loved it.  You’re busting out of your seams wanting to talk about it, but everyone else saw it years ago.  What can you do?  If you went into work the next day and said, "Hey, I saw Forrest Gump last night.  What did you think of it?," everyone would think you’re an idiot. 

Remember the old days, when millions of viewers all watched M*A*S*H together at the same time, including the commercials.

Anyway, I finally saw "Cats"  25 years after it opened.   What did you think of it?

Today on Blogebrity:  Daddy Blogs   (Rude Cactus and Dadcentric)

My Hit Broadway Musical

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On of the most anticipated New York theater pieces this fall is the opening of Dog Sees God:  Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.

"Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead’ is an "unauthorized parody" that follows the Peanuts gang – all grown up. Set approximately ten years after the events in the fifty-year-running comic strip, ‘Dog Sees God’ begins with Snoopy’s death, and things for the introspective "CB" go downhill from there. Still trying to understand life’s darker meanings, still plagued with his endless identity crisis, CB talks to his gang of friends to find answers to his many questions. Of course, this gives us the chance to laugh at seeing what became of these well-loved and recognizable characters.

Clearly, producers are trying to mirror the success of "Avenue Q," where the characters are modeled after the former-happy-go-lucky creatures of ”Sesame Street.”

It’s a perfect formula to appeal to the media obsession and ironic tendencies of the younger generation.   Take some old time childhood comfort and throw in some modern edge.

Was this the same formula that was used to update everyone’s favorite childhood movie, "The Wizard of Oz," into Wicked?

"Wicked," which has won 10 Tony nominations, finds good and evil reversed. Glinda the Good is a ruthless alpha girl, embodied by Kristin Chenoweth as the queen of spiteful, popularity-obsessed perk. Her nemesis, Elphaba (Idina Menzel), the Wicked Witch of the West, is an idealistic do-gooder and social pariah with a scary green complexion, who is fanatically intent on liberating Oz’s caged animals.

Of course, Broadway isn’t as predictable as most Hollywood movies.  There are other ways of capturing nostalgia without destroying our memories of childhood classics.  How about reliving the favorite songs of our past in a musical with no plot?  Let’s see, there have been musicals based on the music of Billy Joel, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Queen, Abba – am I missing anyone?

Today, I sat down and decided to develop a Broadway hit.  What if I could create a show that combines the characters of a childhood favorite (using a edgy gimmick) with a lively musical that features the hit songs of a popular singing group?  And I found it! 

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Broadway’s next hit — Alvin and the Chipmunks! What other cartoon characters also have a #1 Billboard album?  Sit back and watch as Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, now middle-aged, deal with divorce, tummy tucks, and Alvin’s pornography addiction (with plenty of their old songs to rock the house!)

(All right you Chipmunks)
(Ready to sing your song)
(I’ll say we are)
(Yeah)
(Let’s sing it now)
(Okay, Simon)
(Okay)
(Okay, Theodore)
(Okay)
(Okay, Alvin, Alvin, ALVIN, Where’s ALVIN?)
(He’s online downloading photos of MILFs again!)
(ALVIN!)

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