I walk down to the Schoenfeld theater and try to go in but I’ve got over an hour to kill and they don’t open the doors yet, so the hipster guy at the ticket window tells me to go up to the 8th floor of the Marriot a half block away where I will find several lounges to have a drink and relax, so I thank him and take off, it’s been almost a hour since Starbucks while I walked around trying to memorize streets and landmarks. Soon I arrive at the beautiful hotel I go in through the doors and start the long ride up the escalators, many people are here since there is also several theaters here as well as shops and restaurants. The well to do and the tourists rub elbows here at the bar and in the seating areas, I pass a Sushi Bar, Starbucks, and a souvenir shop and at last settle down in the Broadway Lounge, for a few rum and cokes, I make a phone call or two while I wait. The piano player on the other side of the room is playing top ten hits, easy work if you can get it I guess, at least he doesn’t ham it up the way alot of these guys do-at least in movies and TV. I like it here, I could easily come here often and eat, drink, and maybe pick myself up a rich widow among the lounge lizards that probably reveal themselves after the theater crowd runs off to see the shows down the block. That reminds me…soon it’s time to go.
The Gerald Schoenfeld Theater is located at 236 West 45th St and was formerly called the PlymouthTheater in 1918 when the Schubert brothers completed the construction, and it was designated a New York City landmark in 1987. It’s a beautiful old theater typical of old New York, richly carpeted and at over a thousand seats it’s a little cramped when you sit down. I take a look at the stage set and write, occasionally getting up to let late comers pass by, the stage is simple. A grass mat covers the floor with a small tree stage right. The entire backdrop is made to look like the big old back of a barn or large house, a screen door in the center leading inside. There are fences and gates stage left and right used to separate the houses and occupants and give the feeling of a neighborhood. There is a porch in front of the back wall and great use will be made of this wall to show images associated with the memories of the characters. It gives the scenes a tremendous power that would not be there without it.
The play is powerful and acted with great courage and energy by the cast, of course John lithgow is stellar as Joe Keller and Diane Wiest is shattering as his long suffering wife. Patrick Wilson gives a commanding performance as Chris Keller, the youngest son of Joe & Kate, and Katie Holmes makes an auspicious debut as Ann, Chris’s dead brothers former fiancee. But I think Damian Young gives a solid performance and is very supportive as Dr. Jim Bayliss, the man who lives next door and knows much without saying. The piece is passionately acted, a family perpetually in crisis, trying to go on without letting go of the past. It is tense and at times uncomfortable. There is a feeling of shared sorrow which must be hidden by denial, it is the denial though that makes us desperate to pretend it’s not really there, and therein lies the tragedy. I wrote that at intermission so I won’t give the end of the play away, I think I have a good insight after attending a few plays in my day. I guess I didn’t love this play like others I’ve seen but it was a huge experience and I’m glad I spent the money and time to see it. I went to the loo afterwards so I missed getting a good spot at the stage door, but I got an arms length autograph from John Lithgow and got a photo of Katie Holmes and her new baby, very cute as she left quickly because of the cold. It was a powerful play…one I won’t soon forget . I make my way to Penn Station, a short walk on a cold night.
The ride home was loud, a bunch of young people are in the car, a girl across the aisle complains to her friends about how she is treated at home, I wish I could talk to her, give her some of my hard won knowledge. She’s fighting a losing battle but doesn’t know it yet, she needs to know that people aren’t going to change, you have to change without giving yourself away. I keep quiet and listen, sipping at a bottle of Stella Artois and relax, I’m a little worn out….I think about 2009 and what it might bring and remember the good times of this year and try to put it all into perspective as the train rhythmically moves bringing me closer to home.