Saturday, January 22, 2011

Living Literature '11

This past week, I was up in NYC to see a performance of an original musical based upon the poetry of Langston Hughes. I knew the composer because I worked on a previous project with him, and this latest show is a part of the Living Literature Festival that the Metropolitan Playhouse sponsors every year around this time. Two years ago I directed a musical based on a short story by Herman Melville, and last year I made my NYC debut in another original show. But this year I was only an audience member, attending the opening night performance this past Monday.

It was really great to see old friends and old collaborators. I knew the director, stage manager, and both co-producers of the show, one of whom was the writer/composer, and it was great to see them all in NYC again. I didn't know any of the actors in the show, and realized it was strange to be supporting friends who had worked strictly in a supportive/creative way on a show. I wasn't going to see anyone I knew onstage; I was going to support the work my friends had done behind-the-scenes.

The show itself was a lot of fun. It wasn't a narrative story, just a series of songs, but most of them were well arranged, and the director staged some very clever transitions from one song into the next. The ensemble was full of strong individuals, although their chorale sections weren't as strong as their solos. One of the stand-out songs was based on this poem by Langston Hughes, about a black G.I. The melody was great, the performer really found the truth of the song, and it was one of the best songs from the show.

I really enjoy going to see new theatre. I don't always enjoy the shows I see, just see my last entry for proof of that, but I like going to see it. I've seen enough productions of "Romeo and Juliet" to last me for a lifetime, so I have to support people who are trying new things and writing new shows. Whether or not the new show strikes my fancy or not is an entirely different thing, as I often find most "new" theatre to be quite boring, indulgent, or masturbatory. But every once in a while, there is a nice and enjoyable show in the mix, like the one I saw this week. Kudos to you, Danny. Kudos!

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