Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Act One (A few words about the play)

          Movies, TV Shows and live theater by now you know I love them all so when one comes along and features a story about showbiz you can count on me to see it. That brings me to the PBS airing of Live from Lincoln Center’s performance of Act One. When I Wikipedia the synapsis I was intrigued by the story about playwright Moss Hart and how he broke into the business that is The Theater. 

       The show was on Broadway in spring of 2014 and received 5 Tony Nominations. One was for featured actor and one of my favorite people to watch (since discovering him on Wings) Tony Shalhoub. Mr. Shalhoub actually played a handful of roles including the narrator/playwright as an adult, his own father and real life producer, writer, George S Kaufman. Each character was as different as the last and a joy to watch (Between the quick costume changes and crazy blocking it’s a wonder he made it through the show each night). Santino Fontana played Moss Hart as a young man whose love for theater started when his Aunt Kate gave him a retelling of each play she saw. Fontana (who I learned afterwards is the voice of Prince Hans of Frozen) was excellent running up and down stairs, moving through different doorways and sparring with Shalhoub.

       Speaking of those stairs the show won a Tony for its outstanding scenic design by Beowulf  Boritt  and after seeing the set I know why. How do I write a description about a stage with many well made parts? First there were the layers, rooms on top of rooms. A revolving portion with sections including two home sets and a theatrical office. And those stairs, how the actors didn’t get confused as to which room they were supposed to be in at any given time and didn’t literally break a leg I’ll never know.

   Directed and written (from Moss Harts autobiography) by James Lapine, the production also starred Andrea Martin as Aunt Kate/Beatrice Kaufman/Frieda Fishbein, Mimi Lieber as Moss Hart’s mother, Will LeBow as Jed Harris/Augustus Piton/Alexander Woollcott/Slimowitz and the rest of the cast were amazing to watch.

    Until this play the only thing I knew about Moss Hart was as the writer of the play You Can’t Take it with You but now I feel like a know so much more and appreciate what I have learned by watching Act One, a wonderful, sweet play about a playwright and what it takes to make your dreams come true.