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Sunday, August 1, 2010

To See the Stars

When I got the email, I admit that I got a little tingly in the trousers. And, no, it wasn't an email offering a way to get a "BIGGER PEN!S"

The e-mail touted half-price tickets to the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.” It’s easily one of my favorite musicals, wedged somewhere in between “Into the Woods” and “Assassins,” also by Sondheim (no, I’m not gay) and Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World.” Now, if you’re saying to yourself, “Wait—- what about all that G&S shit,” honey—those are operettas, not musicals. Jesus Beezus, have I taught you nothing?

Anyway, the reason folks were being offered half-price tickets is because Catherine Zeta Jones, who was appearing in the run as Desiree Armfeldt, was unable to perform on said weekend, and so the theatre management resorted to slashing box office prices to fill the house in her absence.

And I thought to myself, “Well, she’s hot and everything—but I just want to see the show. I can ogle moving and/or still images of Catherine Zeta Jones online at any time and besides, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, I would have to keep my trousers on.

Now, I know I think too much about things that probably shouldn’t require such exertion of my admittedly limited brain power, but the notion of selling half-price tickets to a Broadway show just because the big, hot-shit actress is in Maui getting her nipples repinkified kind of rubbed me the wrong way—even though my wife and I were the beneficiaries of a wonderful show. Doesn’t it devalue the importance and significance of the rest of the cast by saying, “Well, you’re all not good enough to justify people shelling out the full coinage to see your sorry asses unless Catherine Zeta-Jones is present in all of her Welsh yet ambiguously Asian glory to behold”?

I mean, if I were the twitchy d-bag playing Henrik, I’d be kind of pissed. N’yah mean?

It speaks, I think, to one of the problems that I see with live theatre, at least in America. It has gotten to the point where producers and other affiliated shittynecks are saying to themselves, “Well, the only way we can get these stupid motherfucker Americans into a theatre to see a play is to cram as many A-list celebrities onto the stage as humanly possible because, if we don’t, why the hell would people come see a play?”

I mean, why not just stay at home and Netflix Catherine Zeta-Jones? Much cheaper than seeing a Broadway play, yes?

I don’t know what happened to seeing a play for the sake of the play—its story, its plot construction, the complexity of its characters, the wit and wisdom of the writing, the subtle nuances that you just don’t get in a film or a TV show. I don’t know why we have to get our tussies tickled by the notion that Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl are in “Prisoner of Second Avenue.” Why can’t we just see it because it’s a Neil Simon play and because we’ll laugh our balls off (if we’re Jewish).

What’s funny is that there’s a totload of super talented performers out there who are professionally trained stage actors—that is what they do and that is all they do—and they are consistently beaten out for sexcellent roles by Hollywood fartstarts because they have big names (and pricetags) and the classically-trained stage actors are waiting tables, living in cardboard boxes, or sitting in waiting rooms reading “Good Housekeeping” in the background of Celebrex commercials.

Why can’t TV actors do fucking TV, film actors do fucking films, and stage actors do fucking plays? Believe me, I know that live theatre needs to be saved, but putting Helen Hunt in as the Stage Manager in “Our Town” isn’t going to get Broadway off its ventilator and breathing on its own.


  1. My face was a pleasant mask of placidity until I got to this:

    "Catherine Zeta-Jones is present in all of her Australian yet ambiguously Asian glory"

    What? Catherine Zeta Jones is WELSH. From WALES. Stop giving Australia the credit, Wales has few enough things going for it without taking her away out of the equation...

    I am not even 0.01% Welsh, and I am still offended on behalf of my honorary fellow countrymen in a tiny country annexed by the English. They have it hard enough over there, with that hideous accent and being surrounded by englishfolk....

    On a separate note, I too believe the rest of the cast should be valued in their own right and the tickets should not be brought down in price just because of one member of the cast. That's just wrong.

  2. Harls,

    Quite right. All has been corrected (except my impeccable reputation for accuracy-in-reporting) and I am most sorry that your mask of placidity was interrupted in so base a fashion by my sloppy fact-checking.

    When I wrote that about Catherine Zeta-Jones, I must have been thinking about some other overrated twit.

    Please accept my profound apologies, you Irish hottie, you.

  3. Too bad you don't get Bernadette Peters:

  4. I think it's even more ridiculous when film actors say they want to do theater because it will prove that they are legitimate and they want to get back to what acting is really about. Silly me but i thought that would be what picking and choosing roles in FILM was about.

    Also, by mentioning Prisoner of 2nd Avenue and Our Town in the same post you are creating dangerous concentrations of theater awesome. Take caution. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go cuddle my old scripts.


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