Tag Archives: times square

A Night of Queens

June 11th brought with it a windfall of invitations to some very New York events. Apparently, it was a night fit for a queen or, more accurately, queens. I had to choose between an event at the NYPL with Queen Noor of Jordan, an evening of theater seeing MARY STUART at the Broadhurst Theater or a gala benefit for amFAR hosted by a different sort of queen, “Lady Bunny.”

Despite the unique appeal of each event, I had to choose just one. I went with MARY STUART,

Harriet Walter and Janet McTeer

Harriet Walter and Janet McTeer

because I can’t pass up a good Elizabethan drama. I arrived in Times Square directly from work and was still emailing from my Blackberry. Since I had enough time to spare, I took advantage of the new lawn chairs in the middle of Broadway and finished up the last of my emails sitting on a lawn chair right in the middle of the square.

By the time MARY STUART started, my exhaustion hit and despite the intriguing story line, it was a struggle for me to stay awake at first. But then I hit a point (and a second wind) where I was swept away in the language, the rhythm, lyrical dialogue and powerhouse acting of Janet McTeer (as Mary Stuart) and Harriet Walter (as Queen Elizabeth). They truly deserve the title of theater royalty.

Earlier this theater season I saw another member of theater royalty when actor Frank Langella starred in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. Though I am a fan of Langella’s work, SEASONS didn’t stir my emotions the way MARY STUART did. SEASONS gave us a portrait of a complicated and multi-layered man, something we’re used to seeing so much in theater that now it’s a bit old and overplayed. MARY on the other hand, was fluid, intriguing and dynamic. Perhaps this is because we don’t see many women on stage represented as complicated and multi-layered, especially during the time period of MARY.

The big second act rain/rebirth scene left me feeling like I’d witnessed one of those moments in live theater that people talk about for decades; it felt like a privilege. It also perfectly illustrates what I love about live theater: it’s a moment shared intimately by the actors and the audience. It only happens once, and, though it’s played out again and again, night after night, it’s always different. The audience gasps when the mists of rain suddenly come down and I wonder if that same reaction happens nightly. I wonder if rhythms in the character’s big monologues change, if the energy is different, how the theater smells (always a combination of upholstery and women’s perfume), if someone dropped a line, changed the order, missed their mark or is so caught up in the scene, they almost forget to breathe. Such elements can rearrange the molecules of a production leaving a mark like DNA, one that can never be duplicated — it’s there and it’s gone in an instant.

But no matter which night you go and which performance you see, the words are intact, the meaning translated; the audience moved. Just like the moment the rain appears on stage (whether you are surprised or not at its appearance), I gasp when I think of the singularity of what I’ve witnessed and how it can never be completely captured in that way and on that stage again. I suppose that also holds true for any of the other events I could have attended that evening, but MARY STUART captured my spirit. And in witnessing that performance, my very molecules were rearranged.
–Downtown

Janet McTeer as Mary Stuart

Janet McTeer as Mary Stuart

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Walking a Mile in a Younger Soul

Uptown,

Your Yoga post reminded me of a comment I had made to a friend while walking home from a book party at Housing Works last month. We were on Crosby street, after a night of 6-wording it with other “youngsters” and a late night drink at Balthazar, when I turned to one of my group and said, “Do you ever walk down a New York street and remember the first time you ever stepped foot on it?” I got a bunch of odd looks, so kept the rest of my thoughts to myself (perhaps it was a little too much for everyone to think about at 1 am), but I do think about it a lot.

Crosby Street was where I lost my innocence of freewheeling summers and part-time jobs at J. Crew and entered the “real people” working world. My first day and night of work happened to be on the spot I was standing. I can still feel the uncertainty of my 17-year-old self, attired in jeans, converse sneakers and a long-sleeve shirt, waiting for the rain truck to water down the street for our night shoot on the film “28 Days.” I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing, but I was naive and enthusiastic enough that I wasn’t afraid of the consequences. Walking down that same cobblestone street nine years later, I wondered if I would have as much passion and sheer gall as I did at 17. I’d like to think I would, but after trading in the converse for the heels, I’m not entirely sure. istockphoto_284371_cobblestone_street_nyc.jpg

Later that night, I walked by Cowgirl on Hudson Street, where on that same film, I had lunch and frozen margaritas with a guy I thought I loved. I remember playing it cool, thinking it was entirely normal to be drinking margaritas during a work day afternoon with a 29-year-old man who I was “involved” with. Halfway through lunch, his 28-year-old girlfriend (the first I’d heard of her) happened to walk in after seeing us sitting in the restaurant window. Introductions went around, I looked at him, she looked at him and he remained as cool as that margarita saying, “Anna, meet my co-worker. She’s a great kid.” I was flushed both from the alcohol and embarrassment. I had gone from sharing my first real kisses and stolen moments with him, to suddenly become a head pat away from a “kid.” The last thing I remember is him paying the bill with our petty cash, throwing an arm around his girlfriend as they walked out together and turning back to casually ask me to cover for him since he was “ducking out” early. I forced out an “ok,” went in the bathroom and threw up.

The streets I walked down after Crosby and Hudson taught me much more. Cobblestones turned to smoother pavement in Times Square where I spent several five AM dates with a fellow PA (closer to my age) as we were opening the set and sharing laughter & stories over very strong cups of coffee. Stanton Street for a post-wrap party with an incredibly tender guy, whom I still think about and whose beautiful eyes will always haunt my dreams. And Noble Street in Brooklyn, where that same tender guy asked if he could kiss me, but first traced my lips with his fingers — making that kiss even more powerful. Alas, he moved West and I stayed East, continuing to pound the pavement.

But it is in those real world moments (that all started at 17), when New York streets briefly intersect and I learn how to navigate them, each one bringing me a step closer to becoming myself.

-Downtown