Broadway: Sunday 30th March

Only two activities on the Theatrica calendar today – a tour of the Lincoln Center and seeing a play called August: Osage County.

A few days ago we toured the Juilliard School of Drama at the Lincoln Center, a special treat just for our tour group. But today, we went on the general tour of some of the public buildings in the complex. The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the world. Sitting on a 6.3 acre site in New York City, the Lincoln encompasses 7 buildings, 12 theatres and a total of 22 performing spaces.

A little secret: for nearly 20 years now, I have dreamed of one day visiting the Lincoln Center! When I first heard of it at the start of my teaching career, I knew it would be a treat to one day visit such a massive performing arts complex. I can happily report back that it was this, and much more!

The only bummer about our tour was the rule of no photographs inside the main buildings. We visited three theatres in our tour. This massive series of buildings houses such prestigious companies as The Metropolitian Opera, The New York City Ballet, The New York Philharmonic, The New York City Opera, as well as educational institutions such as The Juilliard mentioned earlier.

After sitting inside a 5-tier theatre, home to the New York City Opera and thinking 2,800 seats is impressive (at about 200 seats more than Hamer Hall in Melbourne), it was The Metropolitan Opera’s theatre that blew me away! 6 tiers and a seating capacity of 3,800 seats, this theatre was unbelievably massive! Wait for it …. the stage opening (proscenium) was seven storeys tall! In all my life I have never seen a theatre this big!

In the afternoon we saw one of the hottest plays currently on Broadway. Originally from Chicago, this play has moved on to Broadway to incredible critical acclaim and commercial success. August: Osage County was a straight dramatic play. At about three and a half hours long, including two intervals, this was one of the best theatre experiences of my career!

Suitably prepped by myself in advance on the heavy themes present in this play written for adults, August: Osage County was enjoyed by our students for its production values and brilliant acting. Everyone who’s anyone on Broadway is tipping this play to sweep the Tony Awards on 15th June this year, just as the show we saw a few nights ago, Spring Awakening, did last year.

August: Osage County has instantly jumped into my top three favourite performances of my life. The acting in this play by a cast of over a dozen was nothing short of superb! It was, without doubt, some of the finest acting on a stage I had ever seen. The script was solid, the characters fascinating and the plot, intense. This play was about a dysfunctional family (and that’s an understatement!) and most people in the audience could see snippets of their own family life, past or present, in some of the events and characters in the show. It must have had more than a dozen twists in the plot, most of them unforeseen, yet all of them totally plausible because of the tight script and impressive acting.

The set was a two-storey house and completely naturalistic with the finest of details accounted for. The lighting was fantastic and the acting, out of this world! While the events in the plot of this play may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, there is no doubt the acting alone made this show one of the most worthwhile events on the tour. To have seen such a strong theatre performance in the busiest theatre district on the planet was indeed a privilege. Someone bring this show to Australia, please!

Because no photos were allowed inside either the Lincoln Center or the Imperial Theatre where August: Osage County was showing, there aren’t many photos to enjoy today.

By the way, if my posts on this blog don’t seem too intellectual at times, its because I’m writing them in a darkened hotel room on a laptop at around 1.00am each morning after a 15-hour day. Would love to go into a bit more depth with discussion on some of the shows we’ve seen, but its not really possible, unfortunately. On more than one occasion, I’ve completely nodded off in the middle of writing a post on the blog!

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