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Theater without charge

May 17, 2009 pm31 12:01 pm

Oh yes, we all like free tickets. But that’s not (entirely) what this is about. I mean without watching kids.

When I was a little boy, my mother tried to regularly bring me to the theater – not dress up Broadway theater – local stuff, children’s workshop, young people theater. I loved it.

And forgot it once I got to the 4th or 5th grade. No plays for me. They were a bore, a drag. Even as a young adult, I rarely went.

And then as a teacher, I started going more often. Chaperoning. Big Broadway stuff. Especially when I moved to my new school. I’ve seen more plays in the last seven years than I had in my previous — than in all my previous years… And the habit comes back, a bit. And I go not just with school, occasionally, and more frequently.

This Spring I’ve been to two Broadway, one off Broadway, one off-off Broadway, and one college production. That’s five plays (really six, because one was actually two)

Three of the five, I brought students. Some were great plays but I was chaperoning. The fourth, I (world’s greatest uncle) took my niece for her birthday. Wicked. She’s 11, so I covered her eyes when they kissed. That counts as chaperoning, too.

The fifth was different. The Bronx UFT organized (and paid for) a night out for some Chapter Leaders and activists. We saw “Exit Cuckoo” off-Broadway, at the Working Theater (on 42nd, west of 9th).One, the play was good. And two, it was the only time this Spring I could sit back and not worry about the kids sitting around me. I was the guest, not the chaperone. Just so much more relaxing…

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Three ratings:

Wicked – good  sets. Music, meh. “Clever” wordplay. Really for the kids. I liked the green makeup.

In the Heights – cliched story – generic uptown neighborhood (I heard this as a complaint a lot – it’s partially fair) – standard Bway music, except the opening and closing raps by Usnavi were original – Some wonderful choreography – liked the sets – liked the ‘action’ in the corners

Exit Cuckoo – closes today. One woman show. Lisa Ramirez plays an actress who becomes a nanny, and then she plays the agency head, and the other nanny’s she runs into, and the employers, and the group therapist, and a grandmother… Short (80 minutes), incredible lighting work (Ramirez takes on most of these personas with simple lighting and voice changes). You leave empathizing with the nannies. It’s really a play in class manners, and who raises whose kids, and how little the women on the two sides have in common. If it reappears, come on, it’s a cheap ticket.

Coming up:

West Side Story (definitely), Hair (maybe)

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