Audience Choice Award for ALWAYS WITH ME

Yesterday I received the following:

Congratulations to Walter Thinnes whose play “Always With Me” is the week one winner of the 7thannual Players Theatre Short Play and Musical Festival – NYC 2017!  This wonderful production was directed by Pamela Wilson with assistant director Chelsea Robinson.  The talented cast included: Max Hanau as John, Kasey Moorhouse as Ellen and Sophie Larin as Susan.

In the recently completed festival the audience receives a ballot with their program and chooses two shows from the slate they see that night.  Many audience members are there because they know a writer or cast member and they can be counted on voting for that show.  In theory the second vote balances that factor.  We had very few people we knew at the program which means we had a great preponderance of those second votes.  And no wonder.  Pamela and Chelsea did an amazing job and these actors are supremely talented.  I am very proud of this production.

Soon I will catch up with very late commentary on the recent Tony Awards.  Good thing I am only a blogger and not a journalist with a deadline!

Audience Choice Award

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @WalterThinnes

Thrilled with ALWAYS WITH ME

My short play ALWAYS WITH ME opened last night for a weekend run at the Short Play and Musical Festival at the Players Theatre in Greenwich Village. Tickets are on sale at http://www.shortplaynyc.com/ for $30.  If you use the discount code CAST you save $10 each.  Reservations are recommended.  We are the first weekend of a three week festival.  There are three other plays in our weekend and the audience casts ballots each night on best play with the winner for each weekend receiving a $100 prize.

The Players Theatre puts on three self-produced festivals each year and the theme of this one is “Only In New York.”  ALWAYS WITH ME is my “9/11” play and this is the first full production of it.  It has had several developmental workshops and readings.  I must say that I am absolutely thrilled with this production.  All credit goes to:

Max Hanau as John
Kasey Moorhouse as Ellen
Sophie Larin as Susan
Directed by Pamela Wilson
Assistant Director Chelsea Robinson

These good people, working together, have mined new insights in the work and provided it with thrilling vitality.  As a team works over a play, we know the ending.  We know things the audience cannot ever know.  It is very easy to toss off or overplay a playwright’s adumbration (yeah, cool word I recently learned – look it up, it is worth knowing and I realized this is very much the job of a playwright) An easy homework assignment really as most systems allow you to capture and look up the word just as you read it.  The subtlety is reflected in the “umbra” at the base of the word.  Cool.

Anyway, we had some friends who attend lots of theater at the show last night.  We did not explain anything before so they saw it cold.  They experienced it exactly as I wanted. There is a bit of confusion and uneasiness at first and when the “reveal” happens they immediately spooled back and catalogued the oddities they observed, fitting perfectly into their new understanding.  It is all I can ask of a short play and this cast and the directors did a brilliant job.  Can’t wait for the rest of the run.

Players Theatre cast curtain call

Sophie, Kasey and Max taking their well deserved bows….

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @WalterThinnes

MEETING WITHOUT END gets a spin at Mary Baldwin University

This weekend I visited Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, VA.  There I had the chance to see a performance of the theater department’s spring plays titled “The Play’s the Thing.”  They presented a number of short works directed, performed and generally written by students.  My niece Julianna (Toni) Thinnes chose one of my short plays MEETING WITHOUT END as her directing class project.  I’ve seen a number of different productions of this work and Julianna’s version differed significantly from previous versions.

That is one reason I enjoy seeing my scripts performed and why I give directors wide latitude in how they choose to shape them.  As far as I am concerned there is no “right way” to stage one of my works.  Sometimes I learn something unexpected along the way.  This particular script is a rendering of a corporate meeting full of trite phrases and business catch words that get progressively mangled along the way.  Most directors have played it straight but Julianna turned it into the circus underlying the concept.  Interesting.

Staunton itself is a lovely little town but I must admit that it was hard to find a place for a drink when we wanted it and crossing the GW Bridge back home was a nice relief.  Glad to visit, happy to live in Manhattan!

Walter and Julianna

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

My play ALWAYS WITH ME at the Players Theatre in Greenwich Village

In an earlier post I had mentioned that my play ALWAYS WITH ME was to be featured in the Players Theatre Short Play and Musical Festival in Greenwich Village.  The theme of the festival is: NYC – Only in New York.  Here are the additional details as promised.

Performance dates:
Thursday, June 8 @ 7:00 PM
Friday, June 9 @ 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 10 @ 7:00 PM
Sunday, June 11 @ 3:00 PM

The cast:
Max Hanau as John
Kasey Moorhouse as Ellen
Sophie Larin as Susan
Directed by Pamela Wilson
Assistant Director Chelsea Robinson

Tickets will be on sale soon at http://www.shortplaynyc.com/ for $30.  If you use the discount code CAST you save $10 each.  Reservations are recommended.  We are the first weekend of a three week festival.  There are four other plays in our weekend and the audience casts ballots each night on best play with the winner for each weekend receiving a $100 prize.

This play (with a slightly different cast) will be performed again for Plays & Prestidigitation 8: That Certain Someone Edition at Polaris North (www.polarisnorth.org) July 14-16.  It will be on a bill with other short plays including my play BABY TALK.  I also host this weekend with magical interludes between each work.

I hope you can join us for one of these performances coming up soon.

 

Players Theatre 6

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Laugh Hard at The Play That Goes Wrong

Had the delightful chance last night to catch The Play That Goes Wrong on Broadway.  I haven’t laughed so hard in a very long time.  One of my favorite plays is Michael Frayn’s Noises Off (which I have seen several times).   Believe it or not, this is an even broader version of the same concept.  Essentially an amateur drama society is putting on a performance and nearly everything possible goes wrong.

(In my younger days I was in a performance of a British farce Run For Your Wife.  As my character stormed on stage I point to another character on stage only to find the doorknob had come off in my hand as I brought it forward.  I ad-libbed “This house is falling apart at the seams” – which was appropriate and sneaked it off stage to a stagehand who fixed it in the act break.  Now multiply that by a million times.)

The only TONY nod it received was for the scenery, which certainly deserved a nomination.  It is as much a character as any performing on stage – who are all excellent and limber and blessed with excellent timing.  It is every amateur theatrical disaster in one performance.  This is not quite as profound as a Long Days Journey Into Night, but I would estimate it has about two million more laughs.  Don’t miss it.  Just for fun.

BWAY The Play That Goes Wrong

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

The Imbible – A Spirited History of Drinking

Had some friends in town and we wanted to go out but for something fun, no ballet, no opera, not even theater.  So we found this off-Broadway gem at New World Stages – a show held in their bar – The Imbible – A Spirited History of Drinking.

Anthony Corporale, the writer and host for the evening is a terrific guide through alcohol in our culture.  I loved the show because it combined two of my favorite pursuits – history and booze!  The supporting cast of singers, dancers and comedians were terrific as well.

And you get three cocktails with the show.  I had assumed these would be tiny samples in mini plastic cups but they were honest to goodness drinks in glassware.  And quite good at that!  It makes a great evening for a social occasion and a fun way to spend a night out.  They have three offshoots we may look up as well – Daytime drinking for Memorial Day weekend, Pirates and Rum for the summer, and a special Christmas edition.  I’m guessing that includes nog.

OB The Imbible- A Spirited History of Drinking

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Hello Amelie, Goodbye Amelie

The movie that the Broadway new musical “Amelie” is based on must be one heck of a charming film based on the effort demonstrated last night at the Walter Kerr theatre.  Lost on me, however, as I never saw that film and could not make heads nor tails of the muddled mess I saw on stage.  I was in a distinct minority in a supportive audience but to me it seemed interminable.

It is not the style that put me off.  I am a big fan of quirky, grand Michel LeGrande musicals.  Give me some “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” or “Amour” any day of the week.  And there was plenty of talent that went into this work.  Phillapa Soo was sparkling on stage and everyone, including the abundant animations worked very hard to win over my heart.  But it never seemed a focused or effective narrative.  My guess is that the creators slavishly musicalized the film instead of striking off in their own direction to tell the story (and stage musicals are different creatures from art films).

Though the audience was enthusiastic I was not the only naysayer.  It had middling to poor reviews and received no TONY nominations at all.  Though I did not see the Twitter announcements until after the 3 hour show (sorry just seemed that way, only one hour forty minutes) apparently a closing notice was posted at half hour.  It ends May 21.  See it before it closes.  Or not.

BWAY Amelie

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

“Always With Me” Invited to Short Play Festival

I am thrilled to announce that my play “Always With Me” has been invited to the Player’s Theater Short Play Festival scheduled for dates to be announced in June 2017.  The theme of the festival is “Only In New York” and we will be producing the play ourselves.  More information as it becomes available!

Players Theater Short Play Festival NYC

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

A Doll’s House Part 2 – one part too many

I mentioned in my last post that I had two contentious reviews and this is part 2.  Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” has opened to uniformly rapturous reviews.  I’m sorry to say, I am a lone disagreer.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the night in the theater.  Sam Gold has directed a smoothly moving production and shepherded great performances from Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jane Houdyshell, and Condola Rashad.  The concept is intriguing and the debate lively – but three objections on the script:

  • The play uses modern vernacular with no attempt at placing the characters into their supposed actual time – 15 years after Nora storms out of her “doll house” to face the world, creating contemporary theater and the first feminist character.  The anachronistic costumes and settings clashed with the dialogue and debate.
  • Even with all the debate there seemed no urgent need to trod this ground.  Beside rehashing old arguments from the play and spinning them around again to the same result (spoiler alert, Nora slams the door behind her again at the end of the play) there seemed nothing new.
  • And having used the word debate three times already in my description, that is just my issue.  It seemed an academic presentation rather than a true character exploration.  Throughout I felt I was hearing the playwright’s voice (especially in the Emma section) and not the character’s voice.  It was a classroom lecture dressed up in 19th century clothing.

I know my take is far in the minority and I have questioned myself many times since I saw the show and then read the reviews.  But I cannot shake my feeling, even after looking over it closely.  Glad I saw it, but wish it had taken a different approach.  Lucky for the participants and the production, mine is a distinctly minority viewpoint.

BWAY A Doll's House Part 2

As usual you can find more on http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

The Little Foxes on Broadway

The next two Broadway reviews will be a little more contentious than usual.  I had the chance to see “The Little Foxes” as part of my subscription to Manhattan Theater Club.  This production is first rate with terrific direction and performances.

Laura Linney is one of my favorite stage actresses of all time.  She alternates roles with Cynthia Nixon and the night I saw it, my lovely Laura played Birdie, the smaller of the roles but I think more complex and impactful.  She was perfect as always.  She can do no wrong.  Cynthia Nixon was terrific as Regina.  The big surprise was Michael McKean who I have largely seen in light or comic roles.  In this production he was fabulously evil and calculating and complex.  A terrific portrayal.

The contentious part?  Pamela considers this a seminal important work in the American canon.  I consider it a well written Southern Gothic melodrama, so let’s just say we disagree on the merits of the script.  But we agree strongly on the strength of the production.

BWAY The Little Foxes

As always you can find more on http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes