I usually don't book theater on NYT workdays, but things were going so well Wednesday afternoon that I made reservations for that evening. I then ran into a snag and couldn't finish, sent the problem file to N to look at while I was gone, and ran out. Luckily, when I got back he had figured out the problem so I could get done at a reasonable hour.
The play was actually plays - "Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet" ("Keep Your Pantheon" and "School"), at the Atlantic on W. 20th. First time there. You'd think by now I would've been to every theater in New York, but not even close. "School" was a short riff on recycling and academic absurdities, an appetizer to the main play, a farce set in ancient Rome. The story of a hapless acting troupe was not quite as goofy as "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" but was pretty darn goofy. Very un-Mametlike, which is a good thing (I hated the original production of "Oleanna" in the '90s).
The next night I was in the balcony of the old Shubert Theater for the second preview of "Memphis." I had high hopes for this musical with the same composer/lyricist team as "Toxic Avenger" and subject matter reminiscent of "Hairspray." It did not disappoint; I liked it a lot, and the audience was highly enthusiastic. Outside afterward, people were being filmed giving those reactions you see in the commercials, but I was not a media whore and went right home.
I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago, on the way out of "9 to 5" I saw a crowd gathered in Shubert Alley waiting for the "Next to Normal" cast to come out of the stage door. I continued toward the subway but just as I reached the street, heard loud cheers and rushed back to see the husband and then Alice Ripley (who closer-up still reminds me of Helene) greeting the crowd. Then on the way back from "Superior Donuts" I again saw the "Next to Normal" cast (or at least the son) making the rounds of the fans. I wonder if this nightly acclaim ever gets old to stage actors. Speaking of acclaim, I got recognized on the subway this week - the fun never ends!
I normally wouldn't be up and about at 11am but had the opportunity to see a Philharmonic concert Friday morning, so one must sacrifice. The orchestra did Brahms' Violin Concerto (which I'm familiar with) and Schoenberg's "Pelleas und Melisande." New conductor Alan Gilbert gave a brief and helpful lecture explaining the story and main instrumental themes of the latter piece.
I had the leftmost seat in row D, so close I could see the violinists' music. Speaking of up close and personal, I once met one of the violists almost 20 years ago, and thought I was looking right at him, but later read they switched the orchestra layout and I was actually facing the violinists. Another orchestra member is a puzzle constructor's neighbor who I'd met at a party, but I could not see her section from my angle.
Another first-time theater visit was to Playwrights Horizons for "The Retributionists." Very nice venue, leathery seats. The play, about Holocaust survivors plotting revenge (and playing musical beds), was not as bad as the reviews implied, but not a masterpiece either.
I've been to the New World Stages complex many times (including when it was the Worldwide movie theater), and tonight saw "The Gazillion Bubble Show" which was supposed to run for a week in 2007 and is still around. Vietnam-born bubble artist Ana Yang charmed the audience with her visual displays (and cried "Bubble trouble!" when they occasionally fizzled). Although the show is geared for kids (the child next to me ruled it "awesome"), adults can appreciate it too.