And a few other times theatre got aggressively sob-worthy. By Rozzie Heeger (student/writer)
About a week ago, a few friends and I (along with what seemed like one hundred other students from our sometimes theatre-centric school) treated ourselves to our first Broadway show of second semester, Sting's masterpiece, The Last Ship. The show was incredible. I mean, beyond belief incredible. A beautifully crafted Broadway score written by an established rock musician, inspired performances from each lead and supporting player (as well as the aforementioned established rock musician), and a theatre filled with the soft sounds of muffled weeping.
Inspired by the reactions of my friends and myself at the last spoken words of Last Ship (which I will not give away, as it will spoil the plot and I am still praying to the theatre higher-ups that more people will have the opportunity to see this now deceased show), I have decided to look back on my theatre-watching experience and gather a short list of similarly emotional moments--plot turns, songs, and the like that make the average audience member keel over in their seat before standing up in time for a curtain call.
In Which I See Hedwig a Second Time. By Gregory Jacobs-Roseman (Composer-Lyricist)
I wanted to write something new this week but I can’t really put the words better than I did over the summer.
Last night I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a second time – this time with the original Hedwig: John Cameron Mitchell. Both he and Neil Patrick Harris gave stunning performances, and I can’t honestly say I preferred one over the other as they were very different Hedwigs. But something about seeing the man I know from both the film and the cast recording perform the role he created was so emotionally cathartic that I have no thoughts in my head this week other than “wow that was incredible” and “I can’t put it better than I already have.”
So ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, I’m going flashback Friday this week with an article I wrote back in July after seeing the Hedwig revival the first time about what the show means to me. Please enjoy, and lift up your hands.
[This post originally ran on Crazytown on July 25th, 2014]
I was a freshman in college when I first was introduced to Hedwig and the Angry Inch (I had seen ads in magazines for the original off-Broadway run in high school but didn’t pay them much mind – my aunt Fran and uncle Alan saw the original, and for that I am eternally jealous). Growing up in Delaware, and having never attended a performing arts school or summer camp, access to new and exciting forms of musical theatre was limited. I knew I loved musicals, but I was only familiar with mostly the Broadway blockbusters, Sondheim, and not much else.
My first week at Emerson College and performing in the now-defunct New Student Revue was an eye-opening one. I was introduced to titles of smaller, off-Broadway musicals I had never heard of, that took forms and structures I had never seen before. John & Jen, A New Brain, Songs For A New World, these shows were in vogue amongst the upperclassmen, and it became clear quickly that I had a lot of self-education to do. I did what any 18-year-old did in 2001 when he needed to listen to new music: I found the nearest record store and bought up all the CDs I could find (oh, the world before iTunes – simpler times).
The only image I have of me as Snoopy on the label of a broken "pictue CD" (note the crack in the center of the CD - I'm still pissed that I can't access the files on it).
Then, in the fall of 2001 I was cast as Snoopy in a production of the revival version of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown as part of Team Players, the then resident children’s theatre company at Emerson College (that student organization has since been renamed “Kidding Around”), with a production staff filled with awesome sophomores and juniors who introduced me to a little musical called Hedwig and the Angry Inch by way of the film adaptation that had just been released the past July.
We've all been mortified at some point. Why not talk about it? By Geoffrey Kidwell (actor)
Imagine standing in front of a room full of strangers, opening one of your teenage diaries and reading an entry aloud, for the entire room to hear.
Sounds totally unbearable and insane, right?
Well, the folks at Mortified Nation - a storytelling event and now, a documentary film, are convincing people all over the country to do just that.
My best friend told me about the film the other night and I had to watch it. I cannot overstate how charming, funny, sad and human it all was.
Take a look at the trailer:
I mean...can you even imagine doing this?
Call me crazy, but I kind of want to give it a shot. It's true that we all have stuff that we've taken with us from childhood into adulthood. To be able to release it and to recognize how many others can relate might actually be really beneficial. Or...it could be a complete embarrassing disaster.
Won't know until I try, right?
Take a look at a few of these clips from previous Mortified shows and let me know what you think.
How The Duplex Changed My Life by Alan Winner (Performer, Writer, Artistic Director)
I moved to New York with $1000 in my checking account and a head full of ambition. Within a few days of being in the City, I had re-connected with a friend who introduced me to Ben Cameron and Broadway Sessions. At the time, Broadway Sessions (now in its 5th year at The Laurie Beechman Theatre) was at Therapy on 52nd street and there was not yet the open-mic portion of the show.
Luckily, Ben also co-hosted another night down in the West Village completely dedicated to open-mic. I hopped on the ‘1’ train and got off at Christopher Street. I walked in the door with “Duplex” written above it and made my way to the upstairs cabaret theatre.
The night was called Mostly Sondheim and I had expectations of singers taking themselves seriously, belting out some of the most complex compositions in Musical Theatre.
Lindsay Morgan, Brandon Cutrell, Ray Fellman, Emily McNamara, Brian Nash, Colleen Harris, Ben Cameron, Marty Thomas, Marissa Rosen, and Eric Michael Krop
I couldn’t have been more incorrect. The “Mostly” was added when the hosts realized that sustaining a 4-hour open-mic consisting solely of one composer is enough to drive anyone around the bend. The flexible rule stands that you should sing something from a musical, but if you want to sing a pop song, they simply ask that you “act the shit out of it.”
As far as the singers taking themselves too seriously… well, it turns out you don’t even need to know all the words. Make them up, or read from your iPhone. If you hit some rubbish notes, just finish with an exaggerated, Bernadette Peters-style, Sondheim ending and all is forgotten.
Cheers fill the theatre as you make your way back to your seat to see who’s next up. Ben treated me like a friend from the moment I met him. He called me “the part-time Brit” as I lived in Great Britain for 6 years and had picked up a pesky “Madonna accent”.
Everyone freaking out about Colbert leaving... you can stop now. By Rachel James (Treasurer/Writer)
When Stephen Colbert first announced his show would be ending at the end of 2014, many people were (understandably) devastated. Satire is so lacking in American culture - especially on television - and The Colbert Report has been a respite for the left-leaning, belly laughing set. But I’m happy to report that is 11:30 time slot is still filled with smart, funny, interesting comedy that you should be watching.
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore has a simple, but effective set up. Instead of being a run down of the news of the day, each night focuses on one story. Through the four segments of the night, jokes are made, opinions are shared, and you come away having a better grasp of the issues at hand.
In the first segment, Larry will do a bit behind a desk (sometimes with a Nightly Show contributor, but usually solo). Instead of being a character (a la Colbert), Larry Wilmore is just being Larry. The writing is clear, concise, and (most importantly) funny.
This week, the students of Hillside adjust to their Post-Ashley existence and everyone tries to convince everyone else they're just fine, while they all stand on the brink of crippling mental breakdowns. By Owen Panettieri (playwright, lyricist)
Last Time on Fifteen, Ashley headed off to private/reform school and everyone had one less problem without her. Matt was missing his place of glory on the basketball team, a million new characters who were supposed to be there all along got introduced, Courtney flirted with the idea of wearing jeans instead of her insanely ugly dresses and Brooke was a total bitch. It's nice to know that amid all this change, some things remain constant.
SEASON 2, EPISODE 2: THE KIDS ARE NOT ALL RIGHT
Opening Credits Observations: Are Ashley and Arsmean playing one keyboard at the same time while singing into one microphone? Dylan's band could use some extra equipment.
Avalon – Main Booth for Mopers. Now for an opening scene that makes no sense! We kick things off immediately with a new round of “And You Are…?”The girl is Matt’s sister, but we don’t learn her name despite several justifiable opportunities for Matt to say it just so we’d know it. The two are sitting across from each other looking sad. Sister doesn’t like Hillside. Grade school was better! Matt explains that she’ll get used it eventually. Wait, did she just start there? Has there been a time jump? No, Dylan stops by to tell us Ashley left only three days ago. But they are well into the school year at this point, considering everything that happened in the first season was part of the same year. She also has no idea who Dylan is and she should at least know him by bad reputation. Whatever. Matt says she’ll be fine and asks if he’s ever lied to her. She says he hasn’t, which means Brooke should be around in no time to let her know about his terrible drinking problem.
Are you an artist suffering from art withdrawal? Do you have the bad weather blues? Here is some art therapy to help you through. By Alexis Haynie (Writer)
"And like any artist with no art form, she was dangerous." -Sula, Toni Morrison, 1973
This has been a long winter for me. I fell into the habit of working 50 hour weeks. When I was not at work I was hibernating in my dark basement apartment attempting not to freeze to death before my next shift. I was battling depression, anxiety, and the flu.
Without art, I became a danger to myself.
My bookcase stared at me from across the room, mockingly. My various notebooks sat in wait above it, menacingly. I just didn't have the energy. Plus, it was way too cold to get out of bed for anything other than work.
Something had to be done to fend off this gloomy state I had found myself in. An art project.
I bought some poster board and went to my favorite novels for some magic spells to put up around my room, very much like the barrier spells on the glass that kept the evil spirits contained in the movie Thirteen Ghosts (2001).