Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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‘Fun Home’: The Closing of a Show

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‘Fun Home’, Closing night. September 10, 2016. Photo by Monica Simoes.

The first Broadway show I ever went to was “Godspell”. It was the early seventies. I was so young, it didn’t matter that the musical was about the Gospel of Matthew. I didn’t know the bible from Adam and Eve at the time. I only knew I loved the music and the amazing sadness and joy intermixed with a terrific score. I imagined becoming an actor and performing it on stage, so I could make someone out there feel as expansive and tingly as I did when I saw it. (I never became an actor.)

Then came “A Chorus Line”. Just in time for middle school, where adolescence was breaking through. “Too young to take over. Too old to ignore. Gee, I’m almost ready! But…What..FOR?”  And don’t get me started about “Tits and ass.” Obsessed is the likely word for my love of this show. I was about to enter life and all its auditions. What better way than to dance in front of the mirror and practice piano to play for grandma because…”all those lessons.”

But then came ‘Fun Home’, the groundbreaking, Tony award winning  musical that started at The Public four years ago and ran on Broadway for over a year which closed on Saturday night after a successful run.

Back in May of 2015, when I was getting ready for a trip back home, a neighbor of mine in Los Angeles, a playwright herself, told me about this show called ‘Fun Home’. “Get your tickets now, because it will be sold out!”

I didn’t get tickets. I couldn’t. It was sold out.

But I was intrigued after the show won Tony for Best Musical, Actor, Composer, Writer…etc… to listen to the cast recording.  How good could this be? Even the biggest hits on Broadway sound so…boring to me. If it isn’t Sondheim, it’s nap time.

I bought the score on iTunes and listened. I was floored. It was charming, sweeping – a lovely chamber play of intimate memories and melodic hooks. Each track of the cast recording was a journey of memories, Jackson 5 and Partridge Family infused amazingness until ‘Telephone Wire” – the song that gutted me. The song that was the last car ride, the last moment to talk to your dad that one last time. When an opportunity missed leaves a big empty void of questions for you to figure out in time.

I was hooked. Completely. Indeed, I was obsessed with the story and the music. I was back in NYC a few months later with tickets.

‘Fun Home’ WAS home.

“Come to the Fun Home…the Bechdel Funeral Home, baby!”

And I did. Three times. I’ve never seen a show more than once – not even ‘Hedwig’ – my beautiful broken down rock goddess.

Three times. Some have visited Maple Avenue (the street where the Bechdel family lived in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania) even more.

For one year, ‘Fun Home’ was my New York home.  I’d prepare for a NYC trip and part of that prep was getting a seat at Circle in the Square to share time with the Bechdel family.

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Photo by (c) Tricia Baron for Theatermania.

The intimacy of the theater and the simple elements of this complicated story (based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel) revealed deep universal themes. It was about sexuality and repression. It was about a lesbian coming out and living her true identity when her father (closeted) became overwhelmed by living out his own truth.

But, the particulars and details don’t have to match the audience member’s personal story. They didn’t match mine.

Yet, the theme of family and memory in this show, which embarks on its national tour this Fall, matches everyone.

It’s the world of imagination you find in the midst of hearing your parents argue.

It’s the fun you seek despite the harsh reality of your family’s personal isolation and your folks’ own sacrifice.

It’s about the element of childhood, when you felt safe until you grew up and had to walk the tight rope of existence.

It’s about the joy of being authentic and the perils of not living your true self.

It’s about becoming an artist.

It’s about fathers and daughters.

It’s about memory and placing yourself in the shoes of your parents when they were the same age you are now.

It’s about love.

And it’s also, once again, about the music – gorgeously poignant. So many 11 o’clock numbers in this one, but the final rundown of ‘Days and Days’, ‘Telephone Wire, “Edges of the World’ and ‘Flying’ make it a veritable  ‘Abbey Road’ side two  rush of one song after another, racing with quiet urgency, until the final heart stopping goodbye for the night.

“Caption: Every so often there was a rare moment of  perfect balance, when I soared above you.”

And on Saturday, the cast took their final bows for real. It was the end of this contemplation – the end of mourning for lives that didn’t allow themselves to live and a celebration of those that did.

‘Godspell’ and ‘A Chorus Line’ never did that to me.

Thank you Alison Bechdel, Lisa Kron, Jeanine Tesori, Sam Gold, Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn, Beth Malone, Emily Skeggs, Joel Perez, Roberta Colindrez, Sydney Lucas, Gabby Pizzolo, Oscar Williams, Zell Steele Morrow, Lauren Patton, Jim Stanek, the talented orchestra, and all the swings and understudies I followed on social media and loved for their quiet stand-by devotion.  Thank you for being an inspiration, a warm blanket, a catharsis and a wonder. I won’t be able to go home the same way again.

And thank you sweet little Evangeline for being the back stage show mascot.

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Photo by Michael Cerveris

 

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When an Off-Broadway Show Hits a Milestone

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Just had to sing some praises! (Despite the fact the coma on my keyboard isn’t working. Pardon the dashes!)

‘Daddy Long Legs’ is the little show that could. It just celebrated 200 performances at the Davenport Theater!

If you’re in the NYC area – spend a matinee or evening with this lovely story filled with heartbreaking and life affirming beauty. Plus – real married couple and stars Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin are a couple of cuties. Lovely all around!

Because I am slightly obsessed and love to champion good creative work -the producer’s team kindly gave me a discount coupon to share with family and friends. Please click through and grab a seat or two!

Or go to: https://www.telechargeoffers.com/go.aspx?MD=2001&MC=DLLDEBI

And if you don’t – that’s okay. I’ll still love ya! But give it a try. As a written piece – it’s a corker.

 

 


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‘Daddy Long Legs’: Happy Storytelling

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Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin in ‘Daddy Long Legs’

We all love a good story. Storytelling allows us to feel grounded with humanity, and can be a catalyst for growth. As I develop ‘The Good Write’ into a platform to help coach writers and to develop tools to help write their own tale, I  will continue to be a bullhorn for great storytelling and to encourage writers to get their ideas out on paper for the world to see.

As some of my readers may already know, I’m a very big fan of the lovely and charming off-Broadway show ‘Daddy Long Legs’, a musical that is storytelling at its finest,  beautifully and intimately told through letter writing,  gorgeous melodic music and divine performance.

Back in October, I had the opportunity to see it at the Davenport Theater and was captivated by its charm.

Furthermore, back in December of 2015, the show was also the first theater performance streamed live on the internet. It’s the little show that has created major ripples in the digital and theatrical universe.

I love to champion a production that deserves recognition. That is why I’m honored to provide a opportunity for you to see it with your family and friends at a discount price.

Please click on this link to claim your tickets ->

https://www.telechargeoffers.com/go.aspx?MD=2001&MC=DLLDEBI

You can also go directly to www.telechargeoffers.com and use the promotion code DLLDEBI to purchase your discount tickets.

The secret to happiness are many things. If you live in the NYC area or plan on visiting, please go see this lovely cast at The Davenport Theater on West 45th street and find a pocket of happiness . You may want to write a letter about it!

And when you do, please let me know about it here or email at drotmil@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Live From Broadway

ddll photo by Jeremy

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

I am absolutely smitten this morning. Smitten with technology and live performance converging into new ways of bringing theater into the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Last night (depending on where you live), the off-Broadway show ‘Daddy Long Legs’ streamed a live performance straight from the Davenport Theater in New York City. The show stars real life (and adorable) husband and wife Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin who are just damn delightful.

As a New Yorker living on the west coast, it’s difficult for me to make it back to see shows. Although I did see this wonderful performance just a month and a half ago on my whirlwind ‘World Series Halloween Marathon’ weekend, there are many shows I wanted to see that were unaffordable, sold out or did not have time for, such as  ‘Something Rotten’, ‘An American in Paris’ and ‘Hamilton’ (cough…cough..sold out until the sun becomes extinct).

Sadly, as with the case of 2006’s ‘Sweeney Todd’, a superb show I allowed to pass me by, so many great performances close and thousands of hopefuls with no access to New York Public Library’s Lincoln Center Branch’s Broadway video archives, never get to see them. Instead, they are tempted to view them on bootlegs via YouTube, where one feels dirty watching an illegal cut, shot through someone’s coat buttonhole. (I imagine the hateful glare of Patti LuPone on my shoulder as she watches me watch her duet with Michael Cerveris on “A Little Priest”,  recorded on a jiggly Flip camera one hundred feet from  stage.)

Yes, a cast recording is very nice, but how great would it be to see a staged show recorded for posterity? They did it with Sondheim. They did it with ‘Elaine Stritch Live at Liberty’. The National Theater in London has been doing NTLive for a while now, where Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch was just recently seen in select movie theaters. Network television is redefining the live staged experience by broadcasting  ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘The Wiz’ live, the ‘Grease’ to follow on Fox.

But for actual off/on Broadway shows – think of the coverage. Think of the continuous revenue flow that will continue to contribute to a show’s ledger long after it has closed. Think of how amazing it would be to see ‘Fun Home’ or ‘An American in Paris’ in your pajamas when you are never going to get to New York in that season?

Some purists scoff at the idea of digitally streamed Broadway. Being in a theater and feeling the energy come off the stage as you join hundreds of other people watching the same story unfold before you is a magical experience. The smell of the plush seats, the greasepaint, the velvet ropes and hushed or crackling energy you feel from actors breathing the same air.

But let’s face it, for those who can’t afford this experience, seeing in the comfort of your own home for a nominal fee is better than not seeing it at all.

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Ken Davenport, Producer of ‘Daddy Long Legs’ and owner of The Davenport Theater, where the show lives, is a staunch supporter of bringing live Broadway to the 21st Century by use of streaming technology. He facilitated, along with BroadwayHD, the debut of last night’s streaming of ‘Daddy Long Leg’, and it was indeed a major breakthrough, a step in the right digital direction. Twitter was alive with “Daddy”. The hastag #DaddyLongLegsLive was trending nationally on Twitter and commentary, weighing both pros and cons, were bandied about on the internet. Imagine an SVOD platform to house these live shows…

Thanks to BroadwayHD, a new Netflix type company created by Broadway producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, live streaming Broadway is slowly becoming real and lucrative. The fledgling company has already acquired 100 titles to stream on their SVOD platform.  Not all titles are new nor particularly desirable. Most are already available on DVD and other online sources, but it’s a solid start.Remember iTunes and Netflix started out with limited supply and built their library over time.

Once Broadway understands the need for digital streaming, there will be more fresh material to subscribe to, making this venture a successful one to Broadway nerds out there.

Read more about digital Broadway:

http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/10/27/3716292/broadwayhd-netflix-for-theater/

http://variety.com/2015/legit/news/daddy-long-legs-live-stream-1201657841/

http://mashable.com/2015/12/10/off-broadway-live-stream/#Ka0jsbvtGqqN

Check out ‘Daddy Long Legs’ – http://www.daddylonglegsmusical.com/watch/

Explore BroadwayHD — https://www.broadwayhd.com/


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A Crispy Realization…

balloonheartbwThis is the sound of the unlocking and lift away.+

I guess I wanted more. I wanted to speak with him, tell him things without the crush of a crowd waiting to talk to him. I can’t compete with the love and adulation of fans, their hearts aching from the show, waiting to tell him and the smiling cast what stirred in their hearts. They stand with anticipation outside the lobby, iPhones, selfie sticks, waiting with creased Playbills and markers, ready for an autograph or a photo cheek to cheek – so well deserved as the good people they are.

But I didn’t want an autograph or photo. I didn’t know what I wanted.

I walked around the theater, hoping to gain the courage to say something…anything. “Say something! Talk to him. Say something! Anything! … This can’t be our last…”*

And it was. I couldn’t connect. Why? He doesn’t bite. He’s human. He’s nice. What did I want?

Me, a little lost right now, clinging to anything wonderful to keep me going as I try to find the juice again. Just wanted to tell him how I’ve admired him since he played drag years before, how we have a mutual friend, how when I finally saw – after so many years of knowing him on the peripheral of actors and projects that swirl around me – that one interview he did that captivated me, where I saw his energy – a light – a gentleness and a lurking darkness. I saw a person beyond a role. At least a scratch of someone I don’t know at all. But something there seemed familiar.

I tried to write him a note on social media – only to delete it before he could see it. I tweeted, but wiped it clean.  He doesn’t need to see my obsession. I’m noise.

Unhinged and Uninhibited. Those words come to mind. Maybe the unhinging of the heart unburdens the soul and allows this stuck writer to create, to build something new. Let go of the fear that builds the wall.

Maybe Unhinged and Uninhibited make a good team.

So, I file him away with Bruce and Helen and with my Samuel French books. I imagine him reading this, but he will likely never come across it, never know this. But just the fantasy make things a little easier.

I make room on my iPhone playlist for new music, put away the singing pleas of Alison speaking of floating cars and telephone wires as her pained father tries to find her face yet looks away, unable to connect. Unable to say something…anything.

My summer on Maple Avenue has ended.  A virtual visit to Beech Creek with hills and valleys below. So much damage, broken windows…I didn’t realize I would end up like Bruce in that car ride. But maybe there will be other chances, more opportunities. Perhaps this wasn’t the right time. Yes, next time.

My stay made me want to come home to New York and face the memories – to build something new.

I’ll always remember moments with my dad when nothing went unsaid. There were grades and piano, television, screaming parents and me hiding, imagining pop songs that made things happy. And there was music, baseball, books and boys. The ever present actual Quixote my own dad sculpted out of clay and bronze that sat on the mantel. And my mother at the Steinway, playing perfect pitch, who let her days go by.

Either way, their love will be safe with me.