Are there any theatre-goers out there or have we become cinema addicts?

Saw Ibsen's "Ghosts" yesterday evening. A story of hypocricy, double-morality and syphilis. An everyday story of fine, upstanding citizens circa 1880. It had its premier in Chicago because no-one in Scandinavia would touch it, particularly with its portrayal of a pastor as hypocrite. Highly recommended.

we are all ghosts, pastor Manders.......there are all kinds of dead opinions and old, dead superstitions. They're no longer alive but stay in us and we can't get rid of them. The whole country must be full of ghosts, as numerous as grains of sand and that's why we're afraid of the light. Fru Alving.

What's your favourite play or best theatre experience?

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About 30 years ago, my girlfriend and I were invited to join her aunt at a performance at the Cleveland Playhouse.  Our hostess mentioned that the play was controversial and powerful, an assertion to which I responded privately with a dubious, "Oooooooookay ... we'll see."  The title of the play was Equus.

At the end, I can truly say that I had been knocked ass over teakettle by two very powerful performances, that of the doctor and the young troubled man ... and that these many years later, I reflect on that and wonder what Daniel Radcliffe had brought to the younger role in his Broadway appearance of Equus.  To say it was memorable is to understate rather badly.

Some years before Equus, I attended a presentation of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge.  That performance was also memorable, mostly in that I felt set up and USED by the playwright by the violent end of that work ... WHEW!  To this day, I have positively ZERO desire to see it again.

More recently, my wife and I have become subscribers to Cleveland's Great Lakes Theater Festival.  Over the past few years, we've laughed at Into the Woods and Midsummer Night's Dream, been disgusted at humankind through The Crucible, moved by Romeo & Juliet and kept the secret of The Mousetrap.  We even had a treat once when the gentleman making announcements before the performance brought a guest with him.  This guest had cut his teeth on the GLTF stage many years before he could become internationally known, whether as a cross-dresser, an Apollo astronaut or his own self-contained "box of chocolates:" Mr. Tom Hanks.  Tom appeared not long after the renovation and restoration of Cleveland's Hanna Theater, GLTF's new headquarters, to raise money for its support.  He praised it as the equal of any venue in the world ... and I expect he would know.  And seeing and hearing him there on the stage, singing the praises of his old stomping ground, was a treat, indeed.

Still ... those first two events I mentioned, the kick in the teeth of Equus and the emotional usury of View are the two which, for good or ill, truly stick with me.

Two weeks ago I saw "Billy Elliot - The Musical."  If you don't know the story, it's about an 11-year-old boy in a coal-mining town in Northern England who "discovers" ballet (and tap), and falls in love with the horror of his macho father and older brother.  It won 10 Tony Awards when it played Broadway 3 years ago.

I identified with Billy so thoroughly ... I started taking dance lessons when I was about 6, burned out by age 12, and fell in love with ice skating the first time I ever saw it on TV (hence my screen  name).  The only differences (besides gender) between me and Billy is that I never had to fight my family about taking lessons, and I never had the sheer talent that Billy does.

The cast is outstanding, energetic, talented, funny, agile, and somewhat surprising considering that about half of them are pre-teens or teens.  (NOT cutsey-poo widdle childwen!) There were 2 or 3 scenes where I was so caught up that I was surprised to find wetness occurring in my eyes...especially during a scene where Billy is dancing alone, but imagining he is all grown up and a professional dancer. He is dancing a fantasy pas de deux with his adult self to the music from "Swan Lake."  I still choke up when I think about it, or go to YouTube to watch a version that somebody recorded (illegally) during a performance.  I defy anybody to sit through that number and not be moved by it.  All the rest of the music was composed by Sir Elton John, and it's lively, sometimes sarcastic, and sometimes rather loud.  But fun!  So much fun!

I came out of the Pantages feeling happier than I have in years...maybe decades.  I think everybody did.  You can tell when an audience is delighted.  The next day I phoned and e-mailed a LOT of friends in this area and told them to try to get tickets ASAP.

I am in my 70s, and have a lot of trouble with my knees and back as a result of my misspent youth, and climbing the stairs to the mezzanine was sheer agony, but...  IT. WAS. WORTH. IT!  I'd go again in a heartbeat if I could get tickets.

I'm still glowing.


Oh yeah .. I remember you telling me about Billy Elliot and how excited you were to be going to the show.

So glad you enjoyed it.

I loved it!  But I suppose people who have never felt the need to dance, with or without an audience, might be bored by it.

I have always loved musicals and comedy more than "serious drama."  (But the one movie I actually walked out of was supposed to be a comedy...the original version of "The Out-of Towners." I didn't see one damn thing funny about it.)  That's just the way I am.

To each her own.

"Hammers" by Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller of The Independent Eye. It puts you into the mind of the insane protagonist in such a sly way, using masks as a medium. Not until the end do you realize you've been seeing reality through his distorted mind, after you've shared his story, then it clicks into place.

My best theatre experience for many years was, believe it or not, a re-write of Shakespeare, in Danish, performed by amateurs. "A Midsommer Night's Scream" was the same story as the "Dream" with the same character names/roles but with the text changed so it fitted a teenage party. I was on my feet as soon as it ended and clapped until my hands couldn't take anymore. Floated out of the theatre in a daze.

I saw the Nutcracker recently ... not exactly a play per se .. but sort of ..




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