Happy New Year!
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012.
“I really think that effective acting has to do literally with the movement of molecules.” – GLENN CLOSE
As we say good-bye to 2011, I’m reminded of the above quote, by one of my favorite actors – GLENN CLOSE. (Have you seen Damages? She’s an acting BEAST – and I mean that in the best way possible!) This “movement of molecules” is exactly why I love acting – as an actor myself and an audience member. As an actor, it’s something that I aspire to do every time I’m on a stage or a set: make a “molecular change” in the air that reaches my scene partner, or an audience member, or that person watching TV at home in their living room. As an audience member, this invisible “molecular change” is the shared experience by all, and it exists in that empty space that lies between the stage (or the screen) and the house – which looks like nothing more than air and space, but is filled with invisible moving molecules!
I wanted to look back at 2011, and name 3 highlights from last year that really moved my molecules:
1. BARBARA COOK TRIBUTE AT THE KENNEDY CENTERS HONORS: If you haven’t seen this, drop everything and watch – NOW: PART 1, PART 2
The first time I was exposed to this incredible talent was as a kid, when I watched the concert version of FOLLIES on PBS. To this day, she sings the most moving rendition of “Buddy’s Eyes” I’ve ever heard. She did nothing more than stand and sing from her heart – injecting every lyric with painful honesty. No fireworks, just raw emotion. If you haven’t seen that classic performance, here it is
Watching the best of Broadway (Rebecca Luker, Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster to name a few) pay tribute to this Broadway living legend was incredibly moving. That final chorus of MAKE OUR GARDEN GROW from CANDIDE never ceases to make me weep (that darn Lenny Bernstein) – and Audra McDonald is stirring.
2. Joe Mantello in THE NORMAL HEART: I never got to see Joe perform as an actor, since I was too young to see the original production of ANGELS IN AMERICA (for which he was nominated for a Tony Award). I only know Joe as a director (we worked together on the Chicago company of WICKED). Watching Joe is a master class in acting. It’s as if he is able to tear himself apart, and show you all of his insides – blood, guts, and all. I loved Joe as a director – and after that incredibly moving production of THE NORMAL HEART – I fell in love with his work as an actor.
3. B.I.V. (Broadway Inspirational Voices) Concert at Central Presbyterian Church: Michael McElroy (Tony nominee for BIG RIVER) is a dear friend – and a member of my RENT family. He is also the founder of BIV, and I was finally able to attend one of their concerts for the first time in June 2011. BIV is a gospel choir comprised of the best voices on Broadway. Let me preface this by saying that I am not religious at all. I did not grow up a Christian, and I did not grow up going to church – but listening to this choir make music was, truly, a religious experience. It touched me, spiritually. Call it God. Call is Buddha. Call is Allah. It doesn’t matter. It moved me, and inspired me. Music – good music - is able surpass all boundaries that could be created by cultural or religious differences.