In Comes Platonic Heterosexual Company

So I was finally able to see the Company…

…which opened while I was recovering from my injuries, and while director Marianne Elliott’s edited edit of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s 1970 musical changes the gender of central character Bobby and updates the white heterosexual norm of the original production with gay and intermarriage portrayal, what struck me most was how the view of heterosexual male characters changed in a new context.

(Note: While I don’t want to make assumptions, after careful consideration and conversation, I’m calling these characters straight because the writers and director give no indication that their sexuality goes beyond heterosexuality. )

As played in the original, a straight man Bobby asks his married friend Harry if he ever regretted getting married. He responds with the very intimate song probing his feelings about his relationship with his wife, Sorry-Grateful. Eventually, married friends David and Larry sing parts of the song, suggesting that Bobby asked other married male friends this very personal question.

You would therefore think that Bobbie from the new production, played by Katrina Lenk, would ask this question to three friends, but no… There remains a trio for Harry by Christopher Sieber, David by Christopher Fitzgerald and Larry by Terence Archie, suggesting that Bobbie is closer to the male halves of these three couples than the female halves. And it’s staged without any hint of sexual tension or romantic attraction between the married men and the single woman.

When I was nearing my 30s, screenwriter Nora Ephron’s hugely popular romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally seemed to reinforce the idea that straight men and women couldn’t really be platonic friends because sexual attraction would always annoying. Watching this scene performed at the Jacobs Theater last week was the first time I can remember in my 45+ years of acting seeing this level of trust and intimacy between a heterosexual male and female presented, and I smiled under my mask in recognition of a relationship that I sometimes had the chance to share.

But there is more…

In the second act of the original, Harry’s wife Sarah, as they are in their bedroom about to go to bed, begins the song Poor Baby, expressing her concern that Bobby is missing an important part of life by not being in a committed relationship. with a woman. Her husband is unconsciously indifferent.

Well wouldn’t you know Elliott is changing things up this time around and it’s Harry who’s worried that Bobbie doesn’t have an engagement with a “guy” as the change puts it of lyrics. And while Jennifer Simard’s Sarah seems oblivious, Larry and David are among those who echo Harry’s sympathetic words, completing a rarely dramatized depiction of heterosexual men selflessly feeding a woman they show no romantic or interest in. sexual; a dynamic that exists, but is rarely dramatized in this way in popular culture.

Again, the woman I attended with (straight, single, around Bobbie’s age) speculated that guys saw Bobbie as “the hot friend they want to cheat on their wives with or suggest a threesome”.

Different experiences, different interpretations.

One more note about the company…

By now, Broadway patrons have grown accustomed to seeing ushers occasionally walking down the aisles during performances, looking for unmasked audience members. But in Company, the ushers seem choreographed in their tasks, mimicking the rapid movements of the actor crossing the stage during musical transitions and crowd scenes. Good game.

Warming up at the FRIGID Festival…

It was a chilly night in St. Mark’s Square last Friday, but between slices of dollar pizza and cups of java coffee, my base was SOUS St. Mark’s, the warm and cozy theater space in the underworld. ground which, along with the Kraine Theater on E. 4th Street, hosts the 16th annual FRIGID Festival, which runs now through March 6.

FRIGID’s mission is to give emerging and established theater artists a chance to go wild in an uncensored environment. Tickets are relatively inexpensive (most of this year’s 24 offerings are priced at $15 or less) and all proceeds from sales go to the artists.

And with multiple productions sharing the spaces each night, you can do a marathon like I did on Friday, catching three terrific solo pieces…

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George Steves (Photo: Saul Luna)

That’s what it is to this day when you have Asperger’s Syndrome,” explains George Steeves in Love & Sex On The Spectrum. “Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized by above average intellectual ability coupled with impaired social skills and restrictive repetitive patterns of interests and activities, and that’s what dating has become for me. A restrictive repetitive pattern of interest and activity. At this point, I’m not looking for a relationship, I’m just looking for experience!”

So armed with a dating app and the excitement of a latecomer to make up for lost time, Steeves dives headfirst into the world of casual dating, sorry to find a lot of guys along the way who are too committed. . To protect their identity, he only refers to them with boy band aliases.

A self-proclaimed child of the ’90s, Steeves’ text is loaded with quotes and references from teen rom-coms that I’ve only known through Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals based on them, and it’s likely to flesh out his stories by bursting into a Sade or Mariah Carey agree at any time. I may not have got it all figured out, but, under the direction of Megan Ford Miller, it’s a charismatic comedian with a fun show.

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“As a show about a Lutheran, it wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t start with an apology,” notes Matt Storrs at the start of Portly Lutheran Know-It-All.. “I’m not overweight anymore. For those of you expecting a chubby kid to talk to you tonight, I’m so sorry.

When he was that chubby kid – one with dyslexia — Storrs soon learned that if other kids laughed at mistakes he made, he could pretend he made them on purpose and take credit for being funny. Going for fun seems to have been a big part of her teenage years in religious college.

With gentle humor and no disrespect, he guides us through a series of memories such as the day he defended Judas in a mock trial, his science project to determine what type of wood Noah used to build his arch, his selection of TV commercial characters as modern equivalents of the Holy Trinity, and, of course, the kissing games he and his classmates used to rebel against their abstinence training.

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“I was very lucky to have had my depression when I was 25 and still had my parents’ health insurance. If I didn’t have insurance, I would probably be dead by this time. moment, or worse…in debt for the rest of my life.”

Ellie Brelis fully admits to having a somewhat dark sense of humor, and occasionally in her admirable openness and irresistible Driver’s Seat, there’s a line like the one above that may shock you a bit with its mix of humor and scathing commentary. The play opens with her cataloging the ways she could take her own life, leading to a bit of her story as someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition that was triggered in 2020 by a really bad breakup and related death. to COVID from a loved one, which led her to check into a mental health facility.

Under the direction of Skye Murie, Brelis carries a rather gritty presence as she describes her treatments and the significant life events that followed without ever underestimating the gravity of her situation. As she learns to take more control, Driver’s Seat becomes less about her condition and more about expressing her gratitude to those who have shown her support.

“We had a great final dress rehearsal on March 11, 2020.”

So explained J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company Artistic Director Robert W. Schneider in a pre-show talk ahead of their terrific production of A Class Act.

Lonny Price and Linda Kline’s musical bio about the career of Ed Kleban, best known for writing the lyrics to Tony and Pulitzer-winning A Chorus Line, was meant to be the final entry in the company’s first season, right after their very nice Seesaw and No Strings bindings.

But theaters were closed on March 12, 2020, so instead, A Class Act kicks off the second season for this young company to watch, as they run small productions of rarely seen musicals. If you’re quick, you could grab a ticket to this afternoon’s closing matinee, soon to be followed by A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine (February 24 – March 6) and The Baker’s Wife (March 10 – 20).

Andy Tighe’s adorably quirky portrayal leads director Schneider’s eye-catching production. Kleban’s story is the classic story of a neurotic New Yorker who wants to write music and lyrics for Broadway musicals, frustrated that the professionals only want him for his lyrics. The title refers to his training in the craft of musical theater writing at Lehman Engel’s weekly BMI workshop.

Opening in March 2001, A Class Act was somewhat overshadowed in the season of The Producers and The Full Monty, a situation the company cleverly usurped when it performed that year in the Broadway Cares/Equity competition. Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition.

The north side of 7th Street, just east of First Avenue…

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: In Comes Platonic Heterosexual Company

Curtain line…

The way Warren Carlyle and his dancers shut down the show with 76 trombones in The Music Man, you’d think Harold Hill better form a corps de ballet from River City.

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