a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Disaster’

“Hughie” First Big Disaster of Bway Season. Not Surprised It’s Closing Early.

Hughie“Hughie” is the first big disaster of the Broadway season, closing early it will have lost its’ entire 3 million dollar investment. One wonders what they spent the money on? The set? Well the set was grand! Set and costume design by Christopher Oram, and kudos to him for one of the best, most evocative renderings of a Time Square hotel in sad, ghostly decline that I have ever seen. Oram is ably abetted in his decaying spookiness, by lighting designer Neil Austin. Can’t remember such a good use of green lighting and green neon to boot.

I wish I could say the same about actor Forest Whitaker’s embarassing, one-note performance. He wandered about the stage, and that was about all he did. Whitaker, Academy Award winner for “The Last King of Scotland,” seemingly has never appeared onstage before. And knowing that, I wondered about the wisdom, and hubris, of attacking what is basically a one-man show, as his Broadway debut.

And the one-act play of Eugene O’Neill’s is as barely there as Whitaker’s vaporous performance. O’Neill is not helping him at all and there’s no drama whatsoever. Flat, flat, flat.Erie Smith(Whittaker) is a small time gambler, down on his luck, and the late former night clerk, Hughie, was his only friend.

And poor Frank Wood, as the NEW night clerk of the decrepit hotel, is trapped there, seeming to fall visibly asleep, as he is stuck listening to Erie Smith’s(Whitaker) ENDLESS monologue of his late friend Hughie, who was the night clerk before Wood’s character got the job. I ended up feeling sorry for night clerks.

But that’s because Wood an esteemed Tony-winning stage actor is very, very good in the little he has to do. And you keep wishing the play was more about HIM. And the characters he’s seen in his life. He admits to being a lifetime night clerk. And the weariness and boredom of his job is palpable. Because he’s had to listen to one loser spilling his guts to him after another, midnight after midnight.

Basically, Erie Smith is a bore. And he bored me and obviously, he’s boring audiences, because they are not coming. And it’s closing early. That doesn’t happen much anymore on Broadway. Investors are so careful, if not parsimonious with what they sink their cash into that shows are previewed and tried out to death. Guess this one wasn’t.

It was barely an hour, but it felt like years. Stick to films, Forest. He’s a great film actor, but onstage, he’s a bore.

Some Lights Go Back on, but the subways STILL are not all back.

Life in NYC post-Sandy is symbolized to me by that dangling, dislodged crane over W.57th St. It seems like everything here is dangling by a thread now. Nothing is certain anymore. You keep waiting for the next shoe, or crane, to drop. And there’s another storm coming this week!

The buses and subways are now back to charging fares. They are no longer free. I found that out the hard way when I went to return some items to the library today. Ouch! They should keep it free until ALLLLL of the subways are back! And a lot are not.

I would say it’s like 3/5s there. Lower Manhattan is still a frightening dead zone, though lights have come back on. But not the subways. Buses go down there at night, I understand, but I wouldn’t venture there. New York like this is scary enough in the daytime, nevermind at night.

But you do go stir crazy if you stay in too much. But going out with the weather turning colder than its’ been in a long time in NY,(we barely had a winter last year), if you’re not bundled up like an Eskimo, the chill winds can kill you.

Today the temperature kept dropping, and I had to go out, and go to the library cross town, as I said, then back uptown to the TV station to drop off this week’s “Stephen Holt Show” and that’s a long, cold walk, let me tell you.

And with W.57th STILL a danger zone, buses were being re-routed over to 9th Ave. from Fifth and Sixth and 7th…well, you get the picture.

Then they continue on back on their regular routes once they get past The Dangling Crane.
And who do I meet on the bus going back home, after dark, from the TV station? Well, one of my favorite British character actresses of all time Miriam Margoyles!

She was a particular favorite of mine from the many,many film and TV roles I saw here in when I lived in London in the 70s and now that I live here, I kept following her work.

She’s in town she told me “safe and warm on the Upper West Side” to do a two performance only stint of her one-woman show “Dickens Women” at the Morgan Library. It sounds delicious! And particularly with Madame Margoyles playing Dickens perfect-for-her eccentric characters.

Her voice is so deep and warm and resonant, the chill New York night didn’t seem so cold anymore. She told me she was on her way to see “The Heiress” starring Jessica Chastain on Broadway. And I told her I was also seeing it later this week.

I also took a wild guess and thought that she and Dame Helen Mirren might be very good friends. Same age. British. Acting royalty. AND THEY ARE!

I told Miriam that Dame Helen had just had great success the night before at the AFI film festival with “Hitchcock” which she didn’t know anything about.

“Oh, I love Helen! Don’t you? She’s a wonderful person!” and I concurred saying that I had interviewed her many times.

“And Sir Anthony Hopkins is playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Dame Helen is playing his wife,” I told her and she continued to enthuse.

“I’ve worked many times with both of them. They are both lovely people!”

I told her that people are thinking that they BOTH could get Oscar nominations.

And I told her is was worried about her play because the Morgan Library is in the “Dark” zone…er, I think…

And she said, “The Lights will be on by then!”

Actors! They keep this city buzzing!

New York After Sandy ~ A City Broken in Two

New York City is broken. Hurricane Sandy broke it in two. There are now two parts to my beloved city, the Light and the Dark. The Light is virtually untouched by the tragedy of the disaster.  The electricity and power are ON. And now even the subways are running.

But south of 30th Street on the West Side and 40th Street on the East is “The Dark.” There is no power at all. No light. No heat and in many high rises no water! The street lights are out. There are patrol men and women in uniforms directing traffic. Oh, and the buses and subways are free.

In the daytime there have been soooo many buses, more than I’ve ever seen in my life, and yesterday the subways started running again but only to midtown. Queens travelers I think are fine. And the Bronx, where I am from, is totally AOK.

I have not been able to replace my lost remote, so my TV remains dark, and the only news I get is from the Internet and most importantly from what my friends tell me. Or people on the buses I ride tell me.

I was always a huge bus-rider and it’s now like 9/11 here AGAIN where people are all turning to total strangers that they are sitting/standing next to and talking about The Conversation, the Catastrophe. Just like 9/11 when the notoriously rude New Yorkers all of a sudden WEREN’T. They became instantly friendly, concerned.

The people downtown, the Village, Lower Manhattan even Chelsea, are all looking like refugees from some war-torn country. Evacuation is the what they all should have done and many have, but many people can’t leave their cold, dark apartments. And in the skyscrapers downtown there is also of course no elevator service.

People are literally trapped as the weather turns ever colder in the high rises.

When I lived in London in the ’70s, I was always surprised when I saw and heard the British and especially the Cockney disdain for living way above the ground. Now it seems wise.

Me? I’ve got heat, light, and water. My internet is working. And so are the elevators. But when I had to venture out to 23rd Street on Wed. it turned into a really harrowing ordeal. Going downtown the bus was as jam-packed as the subway at rush hour and I was checking on my storage room downtown, where all my playwriting and past TV shows are stored, and while my floor was OK, the basement was flooded and everybody who had anything stored there lost everything.

There are still no lights downtown. Block after block as far as the eye could see, not one light on in ANY buildings.

And no subways at all in the lower part of Manhattan.  It’s frightening. It’s shocking. It’s sad. It’s terrible.

Meanwhile, uptown the party that is New York goes on. Everybody in the “Light” area seems almost universally giddy, upbeat, rushing to the next Broadway show or movie.

And yes, the movie houses are now open as of yesterday, I think.

I went to see a screening of the upcoming “Lincoln” and went uptown on a bus(which was free)to the suddenly appropriately named Lincoln Square.

On the way up there was this terrible traffic snarl. Why? Well, there was this crane dangling over W.57th street, which is closed off for blocks. It took a long time, but we got there. And coming back, we got a subway (also free) I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the rumble of the always noisy subway for the first time in days!

There weren’t a lot of people on it. But every body who was on it was in a good mood, because they were riding on it and it was going. Just down to W.34th Street. But it was going. And it was bright and warm. And everybody was happy to be on it. THIS is a New York first, too. Smiles all ’round on a subway!

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