Monday, May 2, 2022

Angels in the Wings

“Angels in America” is a monumental piece of theater. No one who sees it, ever forgets it. And no one involved in it, leaves it behind without a broken heart.

So, with our final performances anon, I write this farewell to the people who have shared this journey of the “great work” with me, to commemorate forever the impact they have had on me.

To Mikey Mulhearn, our fearless leaderand equally fearless Prior Walter: the passion and prowess you so openly shared on stage and off has been and remains inspirational.  The love you have for the transformative magic of theater is palpable and touches everyone you meet. It has touched me and changed me in profound, wonderful ways.

To Emma Maltbyour defiant, lunatic Harper (and my blathering, slurping Martin): your vibrance and artistic acuity have made working with you a treat. We may not have shared much stage time, but I’ve treasured every minute and have enjoyed our time together all these months. Seeds have been planted.

To Nathan Frizzellour ever-verbose Luis: your intrinsic charm has created a Luis that, though self-sabotaging and dogmatic, proves utterly endearing and sympathetic—a feat no other actor in the role (that I’ve seen) has ever accomplished as you have managed. What a gift. My yarmulka’ s off to you.

To Michael Mattsour wise and witty Belize, the sly Mr. Lies and the Man: you prove every performance that you can say volumes with a single phrase or look—that every moment on stage can be full of entrancing, nuanced life. Thank you for getting me into this; you are my own, personal angel!

To Sarah Flemmingour Hannah (and my dry Henry and wry Ethel Rosenberg): what a joy to get to work with such an endlessly devoted, diligent actress. Watching you dive into each role and blossom into them has been a beautiful experience. You can sing to me anytime!

To Jahel Corbán Calderaour fierce Angel, our charming Emily and Sister Ella, and our crazy Homeless Person: the innate talent and honed craft you have brought to your multiple roles has been a thrill to watch; you make each character thoroughly on-point and memorable. We have been blessed.

To Dane Larsen—my baby Joe (and my Prior 1 compatriot): sharing the stage with you has been my honor and my pleasure: you are as talented as you are warm and generous. I could not imagine anyone else I’d rather call my son. Or my friend.  You are forever “familia, now.

And to our incredible crew, who worked and continue to work tirelessly in ways that leave me in awe: you are the necessary and welcome wind that sends this ship sailing every night and I thank you.

And finally, to our audiences: I shall be ever grateful for your taking this journey with us. You are the raison d'être for it all.

I shall miss you all, terribly. But the ache will forever be outshone by the love I bear for all of you.

I think playwright Tony Kushner sums it up best:

“You are all fabulous creatures, each and every one.”


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

What Makes a Winner

History was made at the Oscars this year, but it’s probably not why you think. 

Forget Will Smith for a moment and take note of these pioneering achievements:

--Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor ever to win “Best Supporting Actor”.

--Ariana DeBose became the first openly queer woman of color to win “Best Supporting Actress”.

--Jane Campion became the third woman in the history of the Oscars to win “Best Director”.

--“Best Picture” and “Best Adapted Screenplay”, also normally dominated by men, were both won by a woman, Sian Heder.

We must not allow these milestones to be overshadowed by one privileged man committing (and getting away with) battery on live television. While that event and all its factors and ramifications must be discussed for us to learn from, let us remember that far more good happened on that stage Sunday night. You have only to look at the list above to see that.

But I would leave you with one more. One that I think is a far better thing to share, remember and cherish as a lesson about who we should be and how we should treat others: the moment of grace, respect and care when Lady Gaga helped a struggling Liza Minnelli get through her guest appearance, offering a comforting “I got it”. 

If Will Smith showed us who we can be when we let anger and poor judgement guide our actions, Lady Gaga showed us who we can be when we allow love and kindness to guide us.

That is the lesson of the night: be like Lady Gaga. Act with love. Gentle, mindful love. 

Do that and you become a winner.

And so do we all.