Before I get to South Pacific, I've realized that I left everyone hanging with my mysterious David Spencer quote on Friday. So, click here for the review that it came from. For those of you who are too busy to click the link, I'll just tell you: it was Billy Elliot. He actually loved the show, and the review is really positive, but as Mr. Spencer does so well, he exposes some of the cracks (mostly Sir Elton John's score/lyrics) in this unquestionable "hit."
This review was obviously of interest to me, because my show has many similarities to Billy Elliot (children, children performing, adversity, being different, etc.). And it kills me that I haven't actually had the opportunity to see this show. Why, you ask, haven't I seen it? Well, I can't afford it. I saw the movie long before it was even being developed into a musical, and loved it. I've seen clips of the musical on the Macy's Parade, You Tube, and the Today Show, but I just can't afford to shell out the $$$ to see the show on Broadway.
And that makes me sad.
You know what other show I didn't get to see live on stage? Yup. South Pacific. Guess where I just saw it? In the comfort of my modest studio apartment on my 17" flat screened tv. And I loved every minute of it. And it shall remain DVR'd for eternity so that I can watch its brilliance over and over again.
So, I've got two things to very briefly address in this blog. One, how sad it makes me that someone as passionate and invested in the theatre industry as I am, couldn't afford to see either of these great shows live; and two, why I am so glad I at least got to see South Pacific on public television, because it's a production we musical theatre writers, directors, actors and producers should aspire to. So, in brief:
1. It's sad that people like me can't afford to see Broadway shows. I don't know what else to say other than how thankful I am that programs like TDF exist, because I wouldn't be able to see much of anything other than Equity showcases (because I can get in free with my Equity card) without them. For a fraction of the cost, because I am both an educator and a member of professional theatre unions, I can sit in a Broadway theatre and watch the magic of live theatre unfold before my eyes.
Thank you TDF.
Now, this is something I really, really need to think about, and think about, and think about, because if I want Helen to go all the way, which I do, I've got to understand the commercial model of theatre and figure out why it operates the way it does. I have a lot to learn about the nuts and bolts so that I understand why it is so often the case that the people most deserving of seeing these special theatrical events, whether it's for their commitment to the arts, or their passion for the piece or even just the resonance and social inclusiveness it may provide for them, just can't afford it. Because from a logical standpoint, these are exactly the people I want sitting in the seats for my show. I know that there are good reasons, and probably very limited solutions to this problem. But, it doesn't make it any less troubling to me.
2. Lincoln Center's production of South Pacific makes me remember why I fell in love with musical theatre at four years old. I know it's all been said before about this production, but I just have to echo all the accolades with my sentiments. This production is exquisite, heartbreaking, timely, timeless and gloriously acted, sung, directed, choreographed, designed and conceptualized. A true Pulitzer-prize winning story brought to life; a "play with music" that never sublimates the brilliance of Rodgers and Hammerstein's music to the concept, but rather, elevates it through thoughtful, nuanced direction and spot-on performances.
Thank you Live from Lincoln Center and PBS. Without you, this simple girl from Auburn, Massachusetts who has played just about every R&H heroine (Maria, Anna, Carrie, Cinderella) and who was the "Getting to Know You" and "Cockeyed Optimist" soloist in NURSERY SCHOOL (seriously, life is uncanny, isn't it?) would never have had the opportunity to experience this very important and meaningful theatrical production.