Monday, March 12, 2007

This was my dream...

I went to a play on Saturday afternoon, expecting to blog about it today, but it was so thoroughly tedious that just recalling the experience now is enough to make me want to stop typing and go read some other blog instead. And it was so thoroughly amateur that I'd feel mean even naming it. It's unlikely that anybody who doesn't owe the playwright a favor will bother going to see it -- besides me, but I'm a sucker for a free ticket, what can I say? -- and if those involved don't know how bad it is, telling them won't help anybody. So I'll just offer two general thoughts: first, if you think your play runs 85 minutes and can therefore be performed with no intermission, do me a favor and time a run-through, will you? Because this one actually ran 105 minutes, and those last 20 minutes make a big difference, especially when (as in this case) I'm looking to escape after the first 20 minutes. And second, did you ever go to a play and think, Several of these actors are not playing the characters as written; I wonder why the director didn't notice that... And then realize, Wait a minute, the director also wrote the script? You know you're in really competent hands when that happens.

That night I had a dream that almost made up for the wasted matinee time in the afternoon. (Normally I think hearing about other people's dreams is boring, but believe me, it's more interesting than hearing about that play.) I was in my hometown, and I went out into the backyard one morning to find an odd bird -- a literal odd bird, some sort of crow-like animal -- sitting there. Then it flew away and joined a group of similar birds, and they all took to the air. At first I thought something awful was about to happen, what with the dark cloud of scary-looking birds swarming overhead, but then they dispersed, and I saw that the sky was full of musical-theatre performers, who proceeded to do a lengthy and complex production number in the airspace above my yard. (I'm not sure whether the birds turned into the performers, or whether they just summoned them with their birdly powers. I also don't know how the performers were able to remain suspended in the air. Or where the orchestra was hiding. Ah, the magic of theatre!)

I watched this performance, and as the day went on I tried to describe it to everyone I saw. Nobody else seemed to have witnessed it, but I realized as I was describing it that it was actually an adaptation of the second-act opening number of a show I had recently seen on Broadway. And that show, as described by me in my dream, turned out to be a lot like Ain't Misbehavin', in that it was a revue of songs by a popular African-American songwriter who may or may not have been Fats Waller. (Did he write or perform any songs not included in Ain't Misbehavin'? Perhaps it was a sequel. Still Not Misbehavin'!) But it had a larger cast (which included Audra McDonald and, I believe, Kristin Chenoweth, both of whom were very good sports to do this whole sky-dancing thing), and the second act apparently opened with a spectacular tap-dance number -- sort of like the opening of 42nd Street, but with cooler music and more black people -- which is what I had seen in the sky. Although it was modified for sky performance, of course, since there's nothing to tap on up there. Anyway, I gathered that this must be some sort of promotional stunt -- Broadway publicists, take note! -- and I also somehow surmised that the performance would be repeated that night, so as evening fell I waited in my yard for an encore. Just then the (real-life) phone rang and woke me up, but I was so eager to see the number again that I went back to sleep, and didn't get up till it was over. It was the best theatre experience I had all week. Sorry you missed it! (Unless you dreamed it, too. That would really freak me out.)

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