Whew! I think I've finally caught up on the back log of topics that I wanted to write about.
OK, I still need to write about the upcoming changes to my column, but that will be for tomorrow's entry. Lately, I've had some absolutely wonderful interviews with people in the community--interviews that end up getting distilled to three or four quotes in a review. I may start expanding upon some of my columns in this space. Yes, I need to be disciplined about making sure I have a complete story in the column itself because my readership here is much smaller than my readership in print. However, for those who are interested in reading more, it'll be here. Plus, I can insert some of my own thoughts, reactions, and ideas. However, I'll wait until after the column has published.
Which means looking back to last week's column and...
Riverwalk's The Side Man
I saw this show on Sunday. Director Susan Chmurynsky said they'd had several people walk out on them because of the show's language.
It does have strong language in it--language that is integral to the show. The script works hard at creating an atmosphere--an atmosphere of the world of jazz. The actors and director get a lot of credit for that atmosphere as well. There was a great deal of commitment to the characters and I especially enjoyed watching Jan Anderson play the part of Terry. She really was outstanding.
Thomas Slovinski likewise did an excellent job of portraying the child caught between the worlds of his parents, unable to create his own life because he is too busy taking care of them. The expression on his face when the final lights go out is priceless and communicates his journey in a manner as strong as any words that he speaks. It's one of those strong, memorable, emotional moments.
My one complaint about his performance is that his interpretation would have me believe that he was born a 30-year-old and never changed in mannerisms, voice, or behavior through the years. I can buy that he was forced into an early emotional maturity; I have more trouble buying that puberty brought no physical changes to him.
I'd also have to agree with Jim Fordyce who wrote that "moving through time is also a problem with the other characters. The three band members and the singer/waitress are exactly the same in each scene, even though their roles span 40 years."
Nonetheless, it's a show that is well worth seeing. It's a story about families, about jazz, and about finding one's own way in life, whether or not people give us what we need. Jack Dowd finely portrays a man who is unable to sustain his momentary interest in human beings because he's too caught up in music.
Warren Leight ends his script on somewhat of a downer note. The main character is insisting that the way of life portrayed in his play is dead and that rock and roll has sounded the death knell for jazz. I'd have to argue with him. Yes, he's right that things have changed and that jazz is not the same today as it was fifty years ago. However, it seems pessimistic to say that because it has changed, the art form has died. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that if it hadn't changed, it would have died?
Maybe you can't go to a jazz concert every weekend night anymore. There are still plenty of options from your mp3 player to frequent concerts throughout the month at places ranging from bars to Wharton's Cobb Great Hall.
As I was working on this entry, I got a call from Linda Granger, the artistic director of Starlight Dinner Theater. They've already sold out for their opening night of Dearly Beloved and are getting close to selling out their second night. That's got to be pretty exciting--to have half your show run close to sold out when you're still a week and a half from opening. They had experimented with adding Sunday shows at one point and dropped them this season. Perhaps they'll be able to swing a third weekend in the future if they keep having such large audiences.
While I risk going off on a tangent that deserves far more than an off-the-cuff comment, I do have to say that Linda has done extremely well at figuring out her target audience and providing shows that they're interested in doing in a location that is convenient for that target market. It's good planning that bodes well for the success of this dinner theater.