Back in New York after a glorious 6 weeks in Roanoke, VA, teaching Studies in Genre Writing: Fantasy in the Hollins Children's Literature MA Program. We are almost unpacked, absolutely disorganized, I'm behind on many deadlines, and inclined to keep my writing time for fiction, but there's a Man With A Van coming at some unspecified hour to pick up my grandmother's unfixable baby grand piano (well, not actually unfixable, but it'll cost the earth and the fact is, I don't play the piano) and take it away to a charity that fixes and donates reasonably nice pianos (which this one is) to schools and so on. wild_irisesis in town, and we took the day off to spend with her, walking in Riverside Park, going up to Broadway to the Columbia Farmers Market and a stop at Le Monde for a little thyme/honey limeade, fetching up after some fennel/chicken/cilantro salad on Broadway, where Ellen had procured TDF tix for The Nance, with Nathan Lane, on what turns out to be one of its last nights before it closes.
Thus, a review.
Short version: it's a good play. It manages to be genuinely funny about a thorny and loaded subject (self-hating gay men--in this case, in 1930's New York in the declining days of burlesque) without flinching from the realities of the situation. The writing is smart as well as clever, the music is spot-on, the costumes convincing. The acting is remarkable, especially Broadway newcomer Jonny Orsini as the Love Interest. And Nathan Lane, of course. Nathan Lane is amazing. So is Cady Huffman, who breathes statuesque life into the rather one-dimensional left-wing stripper Sylvie.
And yet. I dunno. I wanted to like it more than I ended up liking it. I felt for Chauncey, I really did. I've met men (and women) like him, so badly damaged by the loathing society has heaped on them that they can't help but pass that damage on. It's not a particularly nuanced portrait, but a musical is not a particularly nuanced art form, and (perhaps more to the point) Lane isn't a particularly nuanced actor. Thing was, I just couldn't see why the sweet semi-innocent Ned, who'd left his young wife because he thought she deserved a man who could love her the way she needed to be loved, saw to love in Chauncey. And since their relationship is the heart of the play (as opposed to its political plot, which, as far as I can tell, exists to give the other characters something to do), this was a real problem.
Plus, the girls didn't really have much to do but throw their pasties and their gum-chewing accents around. But that's show business on Broadway these days. You have to go Off to see interesting women doing interesting things these days.
Still, there were lovely moments, quite a lot of very funny low comedy, and the decor was splendid. We had a wonderful time deconstructing it afterwards, and I only wish I could remember half the smart things we said, so I could transcribe them here. But that's what happens when I put off writing a review until I have time.