Silas Botwin Sings

Hunter Parrish who is most noted for his portrayal of Nancy Botwin’s older son on the hit Showtime series Weeds, one of my all-time favorite television shows, will make his Broadway debut as Melchior Gabor in the laugh-a-minute musical comedy riot Spring Awakening this August. As pleased as I am to see a younger actor with such a rising profile so willing to work on stage, I’m sorry to say it wouldn’t be enough to make me ever go see the show again.

However you can’t deny the kid’s got enthusiasm. From Playbill:

In a statement actor Parrish said, “I have always hoped that my passion for the theatre would eventually lead me to Broadway. Spring Awakening is a truly one-of-a-kind show with its timeless story, commanding music and innovative imagery. I am elated to have the opportunity to become a part of it.”

I’m quite fortunate – this is the first year I’ve had Showtime, so I can now actually catch the series as it’s airing. Still one of the more innovative series out there – Mary Louise Parker continues to amaze me, as does most of the cast and writers, frankly. Not to mention it’s made me a fan of Malvina Reynolds.

"Little Boxes"

I finished watching the third season of Weeds on demand tonight and damn that was some season finale. I picked up the first season of the show on DVD when it, as many of my television ventures are, ridiculously discounted in some retail chain around town. I think it $15. Not bad for a Showtime series. Anyway, I’ll never forget: I was just going to pop in and watch the pilot. I ended up watching the entire first disc, as it would turn out, was also half the season. I was immediately engrossed with  Nancy Botwin in her conflicting roles as widowed suburban soccer mom and drug dealer. I was also immediately taken by the brilliant Elizabeth Perkins as her frenemy Celia Hodes, in one of the most captivating characterizations I’ve ever seen on any television show, period. (Someone give this woman an Emmy, dammit!) Add to that Kevin Nealon as a pothead accountant, Justin Kirk as Nancy’s ne’er-do-well brother-in-law, Romany Malco as Conrad, Nancy’s supplier and you’ve got a top-notch cast. And no, I haven’t forgotten Mary Louise Parker, who shoulders the series as Nancy, endlessly naive in the world of drug-dealing, constantly getting in and out of scrapes, shuffling between motherly duties, grieving the sudden and unexpected loss of her husband, all the while setting up shop in town in an attempt to maintain her extravagant lifestyle in suburban Agrestic, CA. Parker, who is one of my favorite actresses on the planet, is a total MILF. There. It’s been established. She just is. An incredible hot, flirtatious mom, constantly appeasing her caffeine addiction, slurping through a straw with those seemingly innocent eyes. And that works entirely to her advantage on the series, which shows her barely hanging on by a thread in her ever-uncertain world. Chaos is the norm. The satire is potent, especially as established through the opening credit montage and the use of the great Malvina Reynolds‘ classic “Little Boxes” as the show’s theme song. And never once does it seem to cross Nancy Botwin’s mind to downgrade to a more affordable lifestyle. Oh we class-conscious Americans with our pre-fabricated homes and committees and lattes and hybrids.

This was prior to the DVD release of the second season, so I took to youtube to catch up on season 2, which took less than a week. And now, with the arrival of Showtime in my house, I can finally catch up on what I missed of the third season. And oh boy, was it something else. I cannot wait until June 16 when the fourth season starts up. I caught a preview in passing and it looks to be something good, particularly with all the questions that have been raised in the most recent episode (which in many ways plays like a series finale). The writing is as sharp and incisive as ever, the acting stellar. The show remains one of the best currently offered on TV today.

I still have a couple seasons of Six Feet Under to go. Plus Lost and I have yet to catch up on the season finale of The Office. So much viewing. So little time in which to view.

“And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same…”

What Do You Do on a Friday Night Alone…?

I blog. Or as I already know and you will soon find out, I ramble.

Had an interesting week. I almost did something theatrical. I missed out on a ticket to the final preview of the legendary flop of the season Glory Days, the one-night stand at the Circle in the Square that came into town against everyone’s better judgment (as per the bloggers and chatterati… then came the reviews… ouch). The one performance flop is that rare phenomenon – a show with either the arrogance or blind faith that they will be a hit, not seeing the writing on the wall during previews, rehearsals, try-outs, etc. The most recent one night closure was The Confederate Widow Tells All in 2003. Aside from that, many flops try to push as far as they can, like Urban Cowboy’s rescinding their initial closing notice to run a few more weeks. Amour’s 17 performances comes readily to mind. In spite of that show’s drastic failure, it still copped several Tony nominations, including Best Musical – once again proving that anything is possible. (I believe Rags, with its 4 performance run in August 1986 holds the dubious distinction of shortest lived Best Musical nominee). It was surprising to see the musical fold so abruptly, you’d think they would have tried to eke out some sort of a run however brief. It was deemed ineligible for Tony consideration, which I think is more because the nominators didn’t have time to see it as opposed to its actual quality, however poor.

Freed the house from the shackles of the oppressive Cablevision and their evil optimum for Verizon FiOS… (Let the Marxists among you bask in the irony of that statement). So far, so good. The internet is a faster and more reliable connection. On the amazing front – I get TCM, FXM, IFC, Showtime, Sundance, and every show I ever wanted on demand. Oh the goodies. I have season three of Weeds and season four of Entourage at my disposal. (I can actually watch a first-run episode of Weeds, what? Choir of angels is that you hosanna-ing on high? Yes. Wondrous). Seriously, its just nice to feel further in the digital age. Hell, we even got wi-fi going on in here. This is some impressive technology, folks. Not to mention as all this exciting new-age digital technology was being installed, my parents were having the windows replaced. All of this happening on one of the wettest days in recent memory. Yeah, we all got all sorts of wet.

I’m uber-psyched for Sunday morning brunch. I look forward to meeting other bloggers and having a generally kick-ass sort of day. There’s a poll. I can tell you’ve all devoured the idea with ravenously reckless abandon (all two voters… one of which was yours truly…). Oh well.

Did anyone catch the 30 Rock season finale…? Ohhhhh my. Some interesting goings-on with our favorite Lemon. Only wish there were another Stritch appearance. (Does anyone else share my enthusiasm for wanting Jack to encounter Nathan Lane, Molly Shannon and Stritchie in a good ol’ fashioned Irish-Catholic Walpurgisnacht?) I’m also looking forward to the season finale of The Office next week. Oh what a weird and tragic year for the sitcom in general. Hopefully we can be spared an encore with the negotiations involving SAG & AFTRA.

I have to admit I’m surprised at myself. May 4-7 came and went and I didn’t even think to blog about my beloved 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Been a crazy week folks, a crazy week. Hopefully, next week brings nothing but good things.

Tony nominations will be revealed shortly, as will the recipients of the 2008 Theatre World Award. It may surprise you, but I’m more excited for the latter than the former. Perhaps that’s because I’ve actually attended the Theatre World event in the past and it is a good time had by all. You get a feel of that community that industry professionals talk about when they work in NY theatre. Nothing but positive energy all around – and since there are no nominees, there’s no sense of competition. As I’ve said before, when it comes to the Tonys, I’m interested in the plays and revivals, but not the new musicals. Sad to say it, but not one title that has opened this year has made me go “I’ve got to run and see this!” That’s already not true of next season, because Billy Elliot is opening at the Imperial. I am uber-psyched for this one (Elton John’s score, while hardly Sondheim, or even Schwartz, is his best theatre composition yet). And the fact that they aren’t dumbing down the show’s political undertones and anti-Thatcher sentiments makes me even happier. Other shows have got to learn: trust your audience once in a while, sometimes we can be insightful, intuitive and understand context and subtext. Then again, if we live long enough, someone might write a musical adaptation of The Hottie and the Nottie. I realize that you are laughing, but that laughter is tinged by your underpinnings of fear because you and I both know it could happen.

I also re-read Marc Acito‘s How I Paid for College and the recently released sequel Attack of the Theater People this week. (I am an incredibly fast reader: I’m already well into book three: Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, a first person plural narrative about the goings on in a Chicago ad agency on the skids). It was fascinating to revisit the first book, since I hadn’t read it in about two and a half years. I was still in New Paltz at the time and we had a wonderful independent bookstore in town called Ariel’s (that sadly closed my final semester of college) and I happened upon the title accidentally. When I noticed “musical theater” on the cover, it sounded like it would be an interesting time. It certainly was. The characters created, while on the broad side, bring to mind many of the theatrical people I knew both in high school and college. While extreme in their actions (ohhh the reveling in crime), at heart the characters genuinely care for another (in spite of their severe aversion to monagamy). As the title suggests, you follow protagonist Ed Zanni’s highly illicit heists and capers to secure his tuition for Juilliard (master-minded by his nerdy sidekick Nathan Nudelman, who, really, is the hero of us all – and the character with whom I most identify, minus the interest in dubious financial practices). The follow-up takes us two years down the line to Edward being rejected from his third year at Juilliard by Marian Seldes, who wants him to discover life and rediscover the raw truth that was present at his audition, but never in his classwork. Many of the old crew are along as he unwittingly becomes involved in illegal insider trading, masquerading as a British vee-jay for a party planner and once again fights off his mortifyingly unbearable ex-step-mother Dagmar. A lot of the gang is along for the ride, The Music Man with a deaf Harold Hill, Starlight Express is a major plot point (and hilariously described by Ed) and we get a few new additions, the most notable being Willow the sprightly, not quite there, but lovable actress (sort of the Juilliard equivalent to Luna Lovegood). It’s too involved and farcical for me to describe, just pick up the book.

In spite of all the fun to be had, it’s Acito’s two wonderful choices in the later chapters that left the greatest impression on me. In lamenting the then-current state of the fabulous invalid, his protagonist encounters an older woman who ushered in Broadway theatres for years and years, and magically recounts the moment when the opening night audience gave itself over wholeheartedly to My Fair Lady. It’s magical. Plus, Ed and Paula have what I call musical theatre zen when they second act Barbara Cook’s A Concert for the Theater. I especially relate on the latter, having seen Ms. Cook’s Mostly Sondheim a few years ago, she remains one of my all-time favorite solo performances. Everything that he feels, my friends and I felt as well (even at 75, she could still hit the B natural in “Ice Cream” and how). However there are certain questions that I have for Marc: what happens to Mr. Lucas? Why is Kelly’s mother missing from the story this time around? and when does the third book come out? (oh, you’ve got to…)

For reasons I won’t reveal here, I’m in a very bizarre mood. When I get into this particular mood I usually spend money to make me feel better. Needless to say, a brand new laptop is suddenly looking really, really lucrative right now… Oh boy, temptation is a wonder, ain’t it?

But should I see No No Nanette on Sunday instead? Oh, the decisions… And I just realized I forgot to pick up a MegaMillions ticket for tonight. Well, maybe next time…