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7/11/13

8 Shows That Made Me Flat-Out Ugly Cry, Inside or Out


It's summer. Not much is going on. Reflection and nostalgia creeps into my daily roticon even more as we gear up for the everexpanding fall season (which by the way, is looking pretty darn great with each announcement). Now, let's talk about crying. Namely, I do it every now and then and the theater is practically a sanctuary where that activity is celebrated. Below is a smorgasbord of shows I have shed tears at because why not. And I'm not talking about getting a lil' moisty-eyed; that is a fairly common occurrence. I am talking full-blown, "where's my handkerchief" waterfalls. A perfectly appropriate reaction, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Spring Awakening

Oh, how I'll never forget. Most shows - and most shows on this list - really only have a moment or two of utter tear duct overflowage (if that), but Spring Awakening? Four times. Yes, at the ripe old age of 17, my feelz were even more cray and erratic then they are now and Awakening struck my soul where it matters. Not to mention, it was particularly difficult to let the waterworks run during the show when YOU ARE ON THE DAMN STAGE WITH THE PERFORMERS and fear your audible cries will mess them up. But, c'mon…am I wrong here? When a scared Moritz is getting slap-shamed by his father for failing school? His final monologue post-"Don't Do Sadness/Blue Wind," where John Gallagher Jr.'s devastatingly emotional performance really took flight? When Melchior discovered Wendla's tombstone and breaks down crying? The last few bars of "Those You've Known?" Spring Awakening may have its flaws, but all things it considered, it made me feel. Hard. Take your place as one of the best musicals of this century Spring Awakening...mission accomplished.

Next to Normal

Because the amazing "I Am the One" couldn't settle for one appearance in Next to Normal, the show just had to go and reprise it as a duet with Dan and Gabe Goodman. Tom Kitt's orchestrations are always so on-point - it is scary, quite frankly - but between that and the combined vocal orgasm of Dan and Gabe, I was done for. I needed to oar myself out of my river of tears. and suppress the urge to yell things like "GABE ISN'T LETTING GO, YOU GUYS" and "Wha...Dan sees him? DAN SEES HIM? AND GABE JUST SAID, "HI DAD." Powerful stuff, no? When I am feeling vulnerable and need to have a good cry - as one does - that is my go-to. I don't listen to this song in public anymore in case of spontaneous tear leakage, but let's just consider that a credit to the show.


Intelligent Homosexuals Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to Scriptures

You can pretty much rely on anything coming out of the Tony Kushner House of Nuance to hit you like a freight train, so much so you just want to curl up in bed and cry for the following day or three months. The Intelligent Homosexuals Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to Scriptures, aside from being a really fun name to type out, has all the plot points and emotions in the world. Literally. All of them. Name it and it is in the show with brilliant finesse by Kushner. Watching an entire family get uprooted when their patriarch-esque father asks for their consent before committing suicide with the backdrop of the Republican Party's decline in mind - you know, the standard plot stuff - provided many "MY FEELZ; I CAN"T EVEN" moments, particular when the hardened brother played by Stephen Pasquale let his guard down and unleashes his vulnerability and disapproval on the circumstances. As if that wasn't enough, Michael Esper - arguably one of the most underrated performers out there - took what could have been a throwaway side character and made Eli the most relatable and palpably heart-breaking gay man I have ever seen portrayed anywhere - literature, theater, film or television. To this day, I cry thinking about what he achieved on that Public Theater stage.

Crap, my mouse pad is struggling to move with the tears I just shed on it. Michael Esper. He causes that.


War Horse

I have a soft spot for "man and his animal" stories, so despite the conflicting plots in War Horse, there was a moment that just floored me with moisture. Namely, the ending. When Joey the Horse is about to get shot while the tear-gassed recovering Albert Narracott is about four feet away, I almost yelled out, "they aren't gonna shoot this damn horse, right? AFTER ALL THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH?" Thankfully, the horse was spared and the elation of Albert finding the horse he was looking for for, like, years, moved me to weep heavily at their reunion. Cliche and a little pandering? Yep. But a tear-filled and lovely moment nonetheless.

Death of a Salesman

It's been over a year since the Mike Nichols-directed Death of a Salesman graced our lives and sent us out into the sunshine with our make-up running (yes, even when I wasn't wearing any). The biggest shock was that this old as balls Arthur Miller classic can be done up and as emotionally resonant as when the first Broadway production debuted (about 63 years earlier, for the theater historians out there). Chalk it up to some stellar direction - of course - and some crazy awesome performances, particularly from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield. The penultimate scene of the second act, the one where Biff and Willy lay their feels out on the table floor, results in heartbreak galore and me weeping in my box seat. Because we have all been there and have had that all-too familiar pain of regret. It's rare to leave a show feeling emotionally exhausted, but that happened. All three times I saw the show. Like a boss.

Peter and the Starcatcher

Yeah, but that ending. Adam Chanler-Berat got me all choked with his passionate performance and his constant declarations of wanting to be a boy forever...and it all wrapped up in a bittersweet, nostalgic and whimsical ending. But mostly, it was bittersweet for me. I experienced a personal distraught that the central relationship between Boy and Molly had to come to an abrupt end (yes, I know this was a prequel to Peter Pan and I should have expected as much). Add that to the ensemble taking the stage and providing its own send-off of an ending…to which I can only describe as saying goodbye to my childhood and imagination. The result of feeling so overwhelmed? Raining down my face. Peter and the Starcatcher nailed it in more ways then one for its immersive experience and quite frankly, every tear was well-earned.

Working

I'll be upfront when I say that Working is a difficult show to sit through with...well, its lack of an attempt to establish a story other then "people and their different jobs." Also, every composer has their off-show or two (or in the case of Andrew Lloyd Webber, ten) and for Stephen Schwartz, this is probably his worst score other then Children of Eden (technically he wasn't the only one responsible, but still). Having said that, I found myself losing it at the recent production at the 59E59 theater, when we came to a vignette about a hardworking publicist. I work in public relations. The connection is as simple as that. It was like watching an older and futuristic version of myself, done up all regretful and jaded having devoted his life to a 24/7 job and his book of press clippings. I am sure the other patrons were glancing in my direction thinking, "what got his panties in a bunch?" while my friends had to console me right then and there. While I look forward to the campy, over-the-top story of my life to eventually take the Broadway stage and elicit laughter in everyone and inspire children, this indirect representation of myself caught me off guard...

The Trip to Bountiful

Oh, BELIEVE ME, crying at a Horton Foote show is embarrassing. But there was something very special during the bus scene with Carrie and the girl she crosses paths with in the currently running The Trip to Bountiful. Just driving along, laughing, feeling nostalgia and then, "BAM!" a contrivance flies by…I mean, a shooting star. But yeah, in that moment, Cicely Tyson and Condola Rashad were so spirited and enlightening and charming that I cried happy tears the size of bullets. In fact, the more I think about, it was mostly their performances that exuded such a warm and fuzzy energy.

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