Sunday, June 5, 2011

When you have plenty of time on your hands, you get to support the arts a lot.

This past week, I have been able to catch a lot of great theatre.

Last Sunday, my friend, his roommate and I caught a double feature...the matinee of The Normal Heart on Broadway and the (sadly) late Lucky Guy off-Broadway.

I have always found stories of the early days of the AIDS epidemic fascinating and heartbreaking...I've read And the Band Played On several times (and if you've seen how large that book is, you'd find it quite strange that "read" and "several times" would even be used in the same sentence) and Longtime Companion, which tells the story of the day in the life of each year for ten years of a circle of friends, starting with the day the New York Times announced there was a strange new disease spreading among young gay men, is among one of my favorite movies. (One of many reasons why I love that film so much...Campbell Scott. Why wouldn't Colleen Dewhurst and George C. Scott have one insanely talented son?)

The one thing that kept going through my mind while watching The Normal Heart , especially sitting next to a close friend who happens to be a young, gay man, is that had we all been born twenty years earlier, that would have been our generation...we would have been watching many of our friends die. (I know I'm speaking like EVERY young woman in America hangs-out with mostly gay men and that's not the case at all.) It's truly the most terrifying, numbing thought and I'll always be incredibly grateful that we weren't around for that.

This production is fantastic, each and every performance is beautiful. (I will be very honest in admitting that when I see Ellen Barkin, I can't get Faerie Tale Theatre's "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed" out of my head. In fact, until The Normal Heart, that was my favorite Ellen Barkin performance of all time..not gonna lie.When she finally laughs at the end, and you KNOW it's just because she really loves Howie Mandel and wants to marry him...stirring.)

A very heart-wrenching, devastating show...will be rooting for the show to win Best Revival at the Tony's next week, and I think Ellen's going to take home her own statue.(On a disappointing note, one of my very favorite guys, Cheyenne Jackson, was supposed to be in this show, but wasn't able due to a conflicting television filming schedule. While every single actor on that stage was terrific, it would have been extra-special to have my buddy up there.)

That night, we caught Lucky Guy. Since the show has since closed (that very day, in fact), I don't want to say too much about it, since it will just make you all feel really bad that you didn't get to see it. (All four of you reading this right now...there are 5, but Matt is one of them, and he WAS there with me.)

All I WILL say about Lucky Guy is that Jenn Colella should just be in every single show ever produced.


She really, really should.

We gave her entrance applause and a standing ovation.

I am not kidding. 

On Friday night, I went to go see Midnight in Paris with my good pal Megan. Megan and I became friends when we were both cast in a high school production of Play it Again, Sam so it is appropriate that we would go see Woody Allen's latest together.

This was one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time.

In fact, several times during this movie, I proclaimed, probably way too loudly, "I LOVE THIS MOVIE!"

Because I just really, really did.

I will go so far as to say that it made my heart soar. The writer in me connected with the writer main character...played WONDERFULLY by Owen Wilson...who feels he was born in the wrong era.

It was just so darn quotable.

And, so, so Woody Allen.

Mr.Allen has still got it.

And, I always say that the only thing that can make a great movie even greater is a cameo by Adrien Brody which you didn't even know was going to happen...and then suddenly comes Mr. Brody (whom I love. That last scene in The Pianist when he is sitting at his piano and he looks-up and smiles...and that entire movie seems to be summed-up in this lovely, heartbreaking smile of his...just brilliant) appeared playing Salvador Dali.

He is so good. They all are. The whole movie is.

This girl who was almost named "Annie Hall" gives this film two very enthusiastic thumbs-up and anxiously awaits the DVD release with lots of extras and deleted scenes. It awakened the writer in me and made me remember what is really important. I want to write something that good.

Today, I went upstate to see Carl Howell, an extremely talented young actor that starred in my romantic comedy Pigeons, Knishes and Rockettes last year, in the World's End Theatre production of Chekhov's The Seagull. My gut told me Carl was the guy for my show before he even auditioned, and I apparently have really great instincts because this guy has some serious star quality. I have only ever seen one other Chekhov tale on stage, which was a musical production of The Black Monk that my friend starred in a few years ago. The shows were similar to each other...they started-out rather light and then just kept getting deeper and sadder. (In The Black Monk, my friend's character lost his mind and there was the most gut-wrenching scene with him eating pancakes with his hands towards the end. For some odd reason, that scene really got to me. I had to remind myself that it was just a play...but I am yet to go to a diner with this friend for any breakfasts for dinner since then.) The Seagull is also a story about a writer and a lot of it really kind of depressed me as a writer, but the story is brilliantly written and the actors were excellent. I know one day I'll be very proud to tell people that Carl starred in one of my shows back when he was a young actor making it in New York City.

It was also nice to see a different part of New York State. I actually said out loud, "Hey! I think we're near the Almanzo Wilder Boyhood Home Museum!" (My mother told me that we were, most certainly, not stopping there.)

Great, inspiring arts=all around us.

Diana Rissetto