Oct 30, 2013

Making Good

There are no Playbills on offer at the Public's current production of The Good Person of Szechwan, a remount of the Foundry Theatre's beautiful, pitch-perfect queering/contemporizing of Brecht's great fable, which I'd say, based on limited authority (I haven't seen every show onstage in NYC), must be among the best things currently onstage in NYC (Fun Home, just across the lobby, ain't chopped liver, either). Instead, the program you're handed at the end of Good Person is a specially printed one. That must have been expensive, you may be thinking; and you can learn in the very same program that in fact "Programs & Front of House Displays" set the remount back $6,300.

You can learn that because, as they did for the original LaMaMa production in February, the Foundry has printed their budget, in the interests of transparency, and something to do with Brecht's characteristically opaque quote about the truth being "concrete." Above, at left, the LaMaMa budget ($203,815), and at right, the Public numbers ($476,861). That looks like a big markup for a show to move a few blocks over, but what's not immediately clear is that the original production ran for 25 performances, by my count, and the new one runs 57. That means that while you can duly note the big jump in, say, production/technical costs between LaMaMa and the Public, the new Good Person is a (relative) steal at these prices, given the show's large cast and band. It's true that lot of uncountable development costs were absorbed by the original production, of course, since the show didn't have to be recreated from scratch for the move; that surely saved the Public some dough (and maybe now they'll do more imports/coproductions with Off-Off shows that deserve a longer life).

Now, if we could just see the receipts...

Oct 2, 2013

Cromer's Town

Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
I confess I haven't followed David Cromer's busy New York directing career as closely as I could or should have; but how could I? He's been as busy as Sam Gold, it seems, since he brought that amazing Our Town to town a few years ago (actually I'd count his winning streak from the import of The Adding Machine the previous year, in which show I was lucky enough to catch the subbing Nick Offerman; Cromer's New York directing debut, I was recently reminded, was actually Orson's Shadow in 2005, starring fellow Chicagoan Tracy Letts).

Now he's returning to Chicago to act in the Timeline Theatre's revival of The Normal Heart, in the role of Ned Weeks--a role that apparently lends itself well to director/actors, as Joe Mantello returned to performing after a long hiatus for the play's 2011 revival. (Interestingly enough, there's another synchronistic connection with another iconic AIDS play: Cromer played Louis Ironson in an acclaimed Chicago storefront production of Angels in America back in '98--the role Mantello originated in L.A. and on Broadway.)

This was a fine excuse to sit with Cromer and chat for Chicago magazine. A sample:
Northlight’s 1986 production of [Normal Heart], directed by Eric Simonson, transfixed Cromer (“It’s one of the only times I’ve leapt to my feet at the end of a show,” he says) and not least because he was coming of age himself during the plague years. The formative fears of that time can still surface: Cromer says that while getting tested for HIV some years ago, he started to “wig out” until a clinic counselor close to his own age put things in perspective. “He said, ‘It’s our generation; we’re just scared, and we’ll never not be scared.’ The monster can’t be defanged for us."
RTWT here.