“My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”-David Mamet, Variety, December 2008
“However, it is not known whether he is an oral or rectal one. I can guess. LOL.” “Larry”, January, 2009, random website, the Internet.
There are a couple of other stories to come out of New York lately which I find interesting. After a six year Broadway run, during which it won the Tony for Best Musical, Avenue Q has closed. But not for long. The show began its life Off-Broadway in 2003, and in what I think may be a one-of-a-kind move, it's returning to its roots. I have never seen the show; the national tour swept through DC a while ago, but I didn't get there. It's a story of urban living told with Henson-like puppets and Sesame Street-like tunes, but it's decidedly adult. Wicked, the show which Avenue Q beat on Tony night, continues to pack 'em in on Broadway and on tour, while the Q's Vegas production closed prematurely, and its national tour was a disappointment. It was struggling with small houses for many months before it closed on Broadway, but I have a hunch it will continue to draw crowds Off-Broadway for years to come. Other shows hope to make the leap onto Broadway; Avenue Q is making a bit of history by going in the opposite direction.
Did you hear that there will, finally, be a Broadway revival of A Little Night Music? I wrote a while ago how odd it was, that this Sondheim favorite has never had a new production. The late Natasha Richardson headlined a staged reading of the piece earlier this year, with her mother Vanessa Redgrave playing her mother in the show. Now, a new, full production has been announced with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the lead (she'll warble Sondheim's most famous tune, "Send in the Clowns") and Angela Lansbury will be swiping the show as her mother. Perpetual Anticipation pays off!
I have to go back to Broadway for this last story, which is a new chapter in a story which seems to be getting worse. Hugh Jackman was in previews for his new show last week, a non-musical two-hander which costars Daniel Craig. Some jerk's cell phone went off during one of his dramatic speeches, and, as you can see from the clip below, he decided not to try to compete with the distraction:
As you saw, once Jackman brought attention to the interruption, the phone continued to ring. The owner was obviously too embarrassed to reach into her purse and hit the mute button, so instead she held the entire production hostage with her inconsiderate actions. (You may note that, though I never saw the perp, I am calling her a woman. I wonder how many times over the years I have witnessed a cellphone going off during a performance...I bet it's close to a hundred. And the offending cellphone always belongs to a woman. Always. ALWAYS.)
Anyway, The New York Times reports that Daniel Craig was interrupted by the exact same thing during a previous performance; like his costar Jackman, he halted the show until the ringing stopped.
Months ago, when Patti Lupone was getting such flack for stopping her show to harangue against someone taking pictures, she gave interviews saying that the number one problem in live theatres today was the intrusion of ill-mannered audience members with their cameras, cellphones, texting, and the like. This is not, of course, just a problem in New York, it happens in every theatre everywhere. My buddy and sometime boss Warner Crocker published a note on one of the websites to which he regularly contributes. He mentions Jackman's actions, and relates it to an incident at his own theatre, Wayside. I was in the audience at the performance Warner references; a cellphone went off, and instead of immediately silencing the thing, the owner (guess what? It was a woman) allowed it to continue to ring as she made her way up the aisle to the lobby. (This was a loud, intrusive ring-tone, so loud that I wondered if Robert E. Lee, a character in the play, was getting a phone call from the White House.) This woman then answered the phone, in full voice, and talked for a minute in the lobby, which is not soundproofed. We heard every word. A few moments later, the damn phone rang again; this cow had asked somebody to call her back, but instead of placing her phone on "vibrate," or, God forbid, stepping out onto the sidewalk, she answered the call and had a conversation in the lobby, with the whole audience listening in.
Really, people? Are you actually that important? That you must be available to answer your phone every minute of every day? Are you a heart surgeon, waiting for a donor for your transplant? Are you an expectant father, waiting for your wife's water to break? Are you an actor waiting to hear if you got the gig? If you do not fit into one of the above three categories, your cellphone should be OFF.
Amidst my anger over this kind of thing, I admit I got a giggle from Warner's post. Well, not the post, exactly, but the site onto which it was submitted. Warner contributes notes to a site called "GottaBeMobile.com." His vote against inconsiderate cellphone users appeared on a website which celebrates the fact that we all, everywhere, everyplace, are now accessible to everybody else, and ought to be! Warner's note has received a dozen or so comments, all supporting his views. But I wonder how many other readers of a site called GOTTA Be Mobile feel that irritating entitlement which goes something like, "I'm Mobile and Connected and Entitled to Prove It. And if the guy sitting next to me disagrees, screw him." I Gotta Be Mobile!