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

In Broadway, Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

I’m sorry to have been missing in action for the last fortnight, 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.

But 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!)

One 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!)

Then 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!)

Then 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!)

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Mark Shenton
Mark Shenton has been a full-time freelance London-based theatre critic and journalist since 2002, and is proud to have co-founded MyTheatreMates with Terri Paaddock. He has variously (and sometimes simultaneously) been chief theatre critic for the Sunday Express, The Stage, WhatsOnStage, What's On in London magazine and LondonTheatre.co.uk. He has taught at ArtsEd London in Chiswick on musical theatre history since 2012. He was until recently President of the Critics' Circle, and is also on the board of Mercury Musical Developments and the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF). You can follow him on Twitter @ShentonStage, and on instagram at @ShentonStage. His personal website is www.shentonstage.com.

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Mark Shenton on FacebookMark Shenton on RssMark Shenton on Twitter
Mark Shenton
Mark Shenton has been a full-time freelance London-based theatre critic and journalist since 2002, and is proud to have co-founded MyTheatreMates with Terri Paaddock. He has variously (and sometimes simultaneously) been chief theatre critic for the Sunday Express, The Stage, WhatsOnStage, What's On in London magazine and LondonTheatre.co.uk. He has taught at ArtsEd London in Chiswick on musical theatre history since 2012. He was until recently President of the Critics' Circle, and is also on the board of Mercury Musical Developments and the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF). You can follow him on Twitter @ShentonStage, and on instagram at @ShentonStage. His personal website is www.shentonstage.com.

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