Ladies and gents,
After a nearly month-long battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’ve finally gathered the fortitude to exit my bedchamber and pen my first column of the 2022/23 season. No, it wasn’t the parting of the rainclouds that imbued me with sudden vigor; rather it was the glorious afterglow from Thursday’s opening night of The Piano Lesson. And, let me tell you, there is no greater cure for the blues than a perfectly-calibrated, star-studded revival of an August Wilson masterpiece. I had a similarly knock-out experience a couple weeks back at Death of a Salesman. When two of the world’s finest stage actors, as Wendell Pierce and Sharon D. Clarke surely are, step into what is commonly considered the greatest American play ever written, attention must be paid!
So much has been said and written about the death of the American play that I almost started to believe the narrative. A quick glance at this season’s early openings should relegate that trope to the “fake news” bin, once and for all. And let’s not forget that the news has a long history of reporting deaths prematurely. A few notable examples: the hashtag #nowthatchersdead, which trended in response to the 2013 demise of Margaret Thatcher, was widely misinterpreted to be about the death of Cher. “Gilligan’s Island” star Bob Denver death was falsely reported in multiple news outlets in the early 1960’s after a rumor circulated that he was electrocuted by a radio falling into his bathtub. Perhaps most famously, Joe DiMaggio watched the announcement of his own death scroll across the bottom of an NBC broadcast in January of 1999, a full two months before he passed. I don’t know how DiMaggio reacted, but it would have confused the hell out of me!
But I digress. Back to the play-packed season at hand. In addition to Salesman and The Piano Lesson, we have Suzan Lori-Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living, and Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Beside Riverside and Crazy to look forward to. And those are just the Pulitzer winners! Five in total, which is only t wo fewer than record-holder Daryl Roth has produced. The season also boasts an autobiographical work by (and starring) Gabriel Byrne (Walking with Ghosts) and a quasi-autobiographical play by Tom Stoppard (Leopoldstadt). According to a prominent theatrical press agent, this season is, “an embarrassment of pitches!”
So, rest assured, the straight play is immortal. As, of course, is Cher.
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted: Lily Allen and David Harbour at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Black Tie Ball, seated one table away fromPaul Rudd and Julie Yaeger.
Caught: Ramy Youssef tipping a subway saxophonist at the Franklin Street 1 Train station.
Overheard: Cynthia Rowley asking very detailed questions about the ancient process of crafting fortified Spanish wine at a free sherry tasting at Astor Wines.
As always, a toast of something (fortified) to you and yours!