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by Robyn Blumner
When the curtain goes up, so do my spirits. Does this happen to you, fellow theater-goers? Are you innerved when the stage is unwrapped like a gift or when the stage lights suddenly rise? What's to come may be more treacle than treat, more insufferable than soaring, yet still I arrive at that first moment of a play's opening with palpable anticipation. Most of the time, I'm not disappointed. Live theater is a great escape.
Having just come through a bruising national election when it felt at times like the future of the Enlightenment was at stake, there is nothing like finding refuge and diversion in a darkened theater and its typically too-cramped seats. Theater is one of life's great pleasures and one of the only opportunities a rationalist has to suspend disbelief. Much more than movies, an affecting play or musical can insinuate itself into my thoughts and emotions and reside there like a permanent houseguest, a welcome one.
It has been more than a year since I saw "
I caught "Good People" when it was on Broadway. But one of the nicest surprises since moving out of New York decades ago has been the exceptional theater available almost anywhere.
Currently a stirring revival of "1776" is playing at the
The Sarasota production has everything a theater-lover could want, including immense architectural sets representing the main chamber of the Pennsylvania State House, known today as Independence Hall. There, the
This brilliant work by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards originally opened on Broadway in 1969 but shows no wear. It seamlessly alternates between being moving and funny, even generating a surprising soupcon of anxiety over how things will resolve. I remember being enthralled when I saw it on Broadway during its 1997 revival. The Asolo's production has reminded me why.
I've seen hundreds of shows and can't remember looking at a pair of theater tickets and thinking that I'd rather not go. Maybe it's genetic. My parents, both 79 years old this year, use their Manhattan apartment as little more than a launching pad for their weekly quotient of three or more live performances. After Superstorm Sandy hit their east side neighborhood and cut off power, heat and cellphone service, they declined help to relocate. They had tickets. Sandy came ashore on a Monday. By Wednesday they were at a Broadway matinee.
Following my parents' lead, I'm a born audience member, always looking forward to the next journey into the creative spirit when the house lights dim.
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