“Here Comes the Sun”
Ladies and gents,
There is only one thing this splitting headache, bleary eyes, and queasy stomach can mean: the spring theater season is upon us! The cause of today’s maladie du festival was last night’s deliriously giddy opening night for the deliriously giddy new Christopher Durang romp Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I was perched house right, just behind the playwright himself, who is still stuck in his wheelchair with a full leg cast (for opening night, the cast was adorned with a silk cravat).
First nighters can make for notoriously tricky audiences, but these folks roared in all the right places and then, in Act II, when the show starts to show it has a giant heart beating under all that farce, seemed collectively surprised by just how moved they were. But perhaps the most moving moment happened not onstage but in the house. Sigourney Weaver, the show’s leading lady who delivers the boldest — and perhaps most delightful — comic stage performance I’ve ever seen from a movie star, left the stage in the middle of the curtain call. Her cast mates, including comedy masters David Hyde Pierce and Kristine Nielson, were left standing on stage looking about as bewildered as the 800 of us on the other side of the footlights. I’ve never, in my decades of theatergoing, ever seen a leading lady exit the stage in the middle of her opening night curtain call – what the hell was she doing? She appeared seconds later inside the house (yes, she must have ran out the stage door, down the alley, and into the house) bearing a giant bouquet of roses, which she delivered to Mr. Durang (who was, at that point, the only person in the entire theatre not on his feet). It was one of those very special theatrical moments that come to define an memorable occasion, made even more poignant when you consider Ms. Weaver’s longtime relationship with Mr. Durang – both as friend (they were classmates at Yale) and collaborator (she has been the playwright’s longtime muse). After delivering the floral tribute, she disappeared back into the alley as quickly as she appeared, not to be seen again until her arrival at Gotham Hall for the after party. She was, fittingly, the final cast member to arrive, and posed gamely with her fellow players in front of a campy “weekend-in-the-country” themed step-and-repeat, before disappearing, one final time, into the party to celebrate.
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted icons of the gay rights movement Larry Kramer and David Mixner at the opening night of the new Stonewall drama Hit the Wall.
Caught a certain Tony®-winning television icon slipping a heavy pewter blue heron centerpiece into her purse at the opening night of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
Overheard a patron at Joe Allen, seated a few yards away from where Al Pacino was holding court in the back of the restaurant, remark to his dining companion, “Now I understand why everyone calls it the Pacino Table.”
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!