Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016

Rose in darkness and walked under a fragment of moon and brilliant stars, lovely except for one who so longs for rain. I had the city to myself. A cat talked to me from the school parking lot, but he seemed fat and happy and I walked on, so solitary that for the most part I walked in the middle of the street. What I noticed was that I felt miraculously well, the aches and stiffnesses that made me murmur “ouch!” at almost every movement gone. The bit of gardening I did yesterday loosened me up? The steroid Dr. Hicks gave me for gout but which I took last night because of the pain? If the latter–if either, now that I think of it–I am saved. It is still night outside.

I have wonderful poems that I forgot I had written, I’ll bet 200 which have never seen the light of day.

Woke dreaming that I was grading comprehensives, which means I should probably do that in truth some time today.

Prairie Wolf Review takes two poems.

I have been telling people the wrong title for the show I’m “producing.” Bruce sent me an outline. Not electrifing positive, but not a dud.

(Music, lyrics and book by Dave Malloy, directed by Rachel Chavkin. Performances begin at the Imperial Theatre on October 18th)
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (a.k.a The Great Comet) is one of my most cherished discoveries of the past few seasons. The show is by triple-threat author Dave Malloy, and it’s a stunner. Based on one mere thread of the literary tapestry that is Tolstoy’s War and Peace, The Great Comet has a score that artfully weaves in Russian musical idioms into what is an otherwise contemporary score. The show features just a tad too much narration (telling versus showing) for my personal taste, but overall the musical is rich and rewarding. I’m a tad concerned that Malloy’s more recent musical efforts have been alternately baffling (Ghost Quartet) and inert (Preludes), but The Great Comet is thankfully a strong piece in its own right. The big question for the Broadway version is whether Josh Groban, who will be making his Broadway debut as Pierre, has the acting chops for the role. He’s an odd fit: Pierre is grizzled and dyspeptic, two adjectives it would be hard to apply to Mr. Groban. Even so, I’m quite intrigued to see how the show, which was done in an immersive ballroom setting Off-Broadway, will translate to a proscenium stage. Based on the recent American Repertory Theater staging of the show, the show should make the transfer quite handily. Plus, there’s a stunning new song for Pierre that isn’t on the Off-Broadway cast recording, a brooding atmospheric solo called “Dust and Ashes,” which may well have been added to beef up the role for Groban, but it’s a strong song nonetheless, one that adds to the already rich fabric of The Great Comet.

It is apparently a version of War and Peace and had a life off Broadway. Interesting how I get into these things knowing nothing about them. 

Played the original cast album on Spotify. Hmm. “Triple threat Dave Malloy” made an error I could have spared him at the outset– exhausting references to the whole text of War and Peace, when he should have taken the moment of his show as though that’s all there was. Constant jokes about the characters’ many names. I wouldn’t have invested had I heard it first, but it might not be a disaster: the degree to which I and the Great Public differ in our theatrical tastes is legendary. 

4:30. Thunderstorm. Blessed.

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