And socks and get down to the PCPA for their new show, "West Side Story." (http://www.pcpa.org/) Terriffic cast, great staging. For some reason I'd never seen that piece on stage. Saw the movie and certainly played the record until it wore out, but never saw in staged. The small PCPA theatre in the semi-round worked very well, the smaller space confining the concentrating the energy of the dances. And it was interesting to listen to one of the songs, a multi-voiced "opera-like" piece that was a forerunner to Steven Sondheim's complicted, multi-voiced pieces that he used much later to such powerful effect in "Sweeny Todd." The program notes said Sondheim was 25 when he wrote the lyrics. Surely he learned a lot from working with Bernstein.
Then put on your roller skates and head on over to the the Great American Melodrama Theatre (http://www.americanmelodrama.com/) in Ocean for a performance of "The Tavern," by George M. Cohan. Yeah, that "Yankee Doodle Dandy" George M. Cohan. Didn't know he was a playwright, did you? Me neither. "The Tavern" is playing July 15 - Sept 19 and alternates with "The Crock of Gold," so if you go, be sure you get the right play /date.
What made "The Tavern" so astonishing was how utterly modernist it was -- very funny, yes, but so much of it had fascinating echoes of Tom Stoppard's skewed-view works ("Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead"), the deadpan, mordant wit of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," the absurdist tomfoolery of Kurt Vonnegut, with modernist theatre techniques (breaking the fourth wall), Marx Brothers silliness, 1940s "screwball comedies," and lots of comic Daily Show self-referential deconstruction tossed in to boot. Most of which are post war sensibilities and had no business being in a play by a guy I associated with WWI, not WWII. So when I got home and googled it, sure enough, thing was written in the early 1920s. ????? Amazing.
Then, quite by accident, while outside the PPCA theatre during intermission of West Side Story the next afternoon, I spied the star of "The Tavern," Chuck McLane, and went to ask him about it. According to Mr. McLane, Cohan wrote the piece as a savage indictment of "theatre" and actors and the whole art form because he was furious over the Actor's Equity Guild having been recently formed -- he HATED unions. The original actor hired to play the part of the "mysterious stranger" hated the play and quit after a few performances, so Cohan took over the role himself, and -- O irony -- the play was a huge success and made a bundle. So much for satire. Audiences obviously missed Cohan's point about actors and unions and the whole "theatre" art form.
At any rate, it's a wonderful performance. The cast, as they do on all Melodrama pieces, has a great time as does the audience.
So, do yourself a favor. Put on those shoes and socks and get down to Santa Maria and Oceano ASAP.