To Be or Not to Be…

I’m a theater junkie. When I can be, that is. I love plays, musicals, comedies, tragedies, one person shows, even readings when I can get to them.  There’s something about an actor’s bravery that intrigues me.  Because they have to be brave, you know. The desire, compulsion, willingness, and ability to appear before strangers to tell a story, portray a character, sing a song or deliver a monologue is indeed courageous.  In most cases they have to step out of themselves at the same time they reach inside themselves in order to bring a two dimensional entity to life so a story can be told that will affect the audience in the way the author intended. That takes skill, and I love to watch it happen.

It doesn’t matter if the production is local, college, road company, or simply a group of talented people doing a reading of a famous author. Today for example, the Station Theatre group in my city is performing readings of Mark Twain at the library. In two weeks I am going to see a new production of Hamlet. It will not be like any other Hamlet, if for no other reason than each performance is a unique experience. Ask anyone who has seen more than one performance of Cats or Les Miserables or The Mousetrap, all long-running and successful shows that compel people to see them again and again. The content is wonderful, the actors accomplished, but each time is different. Maybe it’s simply a cast change, or perhaps it’s the audience, but no stage performance is identical to the one before it. That’s the fun of theater.

I don’t have the luxury of being in a large city, but my theater choices are still varied. As I said, the Station Theatre company is active all year, doing musicals as well as drama and comedy in a small but oh so versatile venue. The University of Illinois has several series each year, student productions as well as those which attract skilled performers from throughout the Midwest. The Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company is also active. Each one is unique.  And should I want something larger…Chicago is only two hours away. 

My favorite plays these days?  Les Miserables, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The 39 Steps, Love Song, Picasso at the Lapin Agile,  A Steady Rain,  The Cripple of Inishman, the Mousetrap, Ragtime, and Aida.  I would see them all again and be amazed.

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