An Excursion to NYC for Love, Love, Love

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My badge was on display!

Hello! I’ve had an absolutely lovely trip to NYC and thought I’d share some of my impressions on Love, Love, Love and provide a report on my fangirling adventures as well.  In case anyone was wondering, given the paucity of bloggerly motivation and posting in recent months, I can really assure you with 100% confidence that my deep and abiding admiration for, and, well, overwhelming attraction to Richard Armitage really hasn’t gone anywhere, though I suppose my general level of “active” preoccupationwitharmitage does wax and wane. So first off, apologies that I’ve become a really sorry-ass excuse for a blogger in recent months!  But even when I’m experiencing that loss of motivation to post, you can believe that the moment something like an announcement (or strong suspicion/well-supported supposition/wild-ass guess) about a live performance series occurs, I’ll be all over it, researching the theatre and ways to get tickets and checking my calendar. Simply based on my experience of the man’s onstage capabilities in The Crucible, I was willing to buy advanced tickets to Love, Love, Love– a play about a topic that didn’t seem interesting, by a playwright I’d never heard of, and before there was any solid intel beyond some Twitter follows and a response RA made to a fan’s tweet that hinted the name of the play. And I’d do it all again in a New York minute!

Okay! That’s out of the way. Now I’ll begin my recollection of my fan-diddily-damn-tastic trip to New York City! And let me just say that the Love, Love, Love I experienced was not just the title of the play… I also rather fell for the city (a huge surprise for me!), reignited my devotion to RA, but most importantly, I was downright blown away by the laughter, camaraderie and chance to make hopefully lasting connections with other fans. Richard Armitage was lovely, and he thoroughly delivered onstage, but in some ways he was more like icing on the cake.

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Flying into LaGuardia

Many months ago, before there was even a definitive confirmation of Richard Armitage’s involvement in Love, Love, Love, I became a Roundabout Theatre donor a couple of days before the advance tickets were to become available so as to have a shot at some great seats. As a donor, I was able to score front-row seats in both orchestra and mezzanine sections at a reduced price for myself and for fellow blogger Hariclea, who likewise was eager to have premium tickets even if none of us were entirely certain at the time that Richard was, well, involved! Hariclea and I planned to room together and have a long-awaited meet-up, but unfortunately In Hari’s case, the uncertainty about the trip was even more outrageous, and even up until the very morning she flew out, the feasibility of the trip was doubtful due to bureaucratic factors completely out of her control. In the several days leading up to the trip, as it looked less and less likely that Hari was going to make it, she and the well-connected Guylty reached out to several lovely local fandom members, including Armitagebesotted, NycPat, and DaphneHS, not only to offer to gift them with tickets, but to try to arrange for some friendly faces on my behalf, since it looked as if I’d be “solo” in The Big City. I still get emotional thinking about these marvelous ladies and their warm response.

As it happened, I awoke at 4am last Friday to wonderful news, a last-minute, powerfully exhilarated email from Hariclea stating that she was on her way to the airport after all!!!! I flew into NYC likewise in great spirits, with plans to meet Armitagebesotted and DaphneHS at a pub just across the street from the theatre for dinner before the show. Hariclea was supposed to be there as well, but ran into some horrendous traffic en route from the airport and wound up meeting the three of us at the theatre instead. It was really an entertaining chat before the show, where we exchanged our Armitage-initiation stories and the NYC contingent (veterans by now of the whole routine) mapped out exactly where and how I should reach the front of the Stage Door queue, etc.

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Entrance to the Laura Pels Theatre

For the Friday (Dec. 2) performance, I wanted to basically Watch The Play. I had not previously read the script, and I have (even now) avoided reports and blogs about the material to prevent spoilers and also to avoid clouding my own interpretation and impressions with the interpretations and impressions of others. I basically knew the general outline of the play, that it followed Kenneth and Sandra in 3 acts at 3 different times in their lives, and that there would be some sort of theme and conflict involving their generation (the baby boomers) and that of their children (my generation as well, the Gen-Xers). To that purpose, I got a front row mezzanine seat for Friday night, not really wanting to have the distRAction of Richard Armitage up close. And this was an effective scheme… I was actually surprised at how well it worked, because I really didn’t pay disproportionate attention to RA’s Kenneth, and found myself almost unable to look away from Amy Ryan’s Sandra whenever she was onstage. [SPOILERS below!!!]

I was surprised at how hilarious I found the play. I didn’t go in expecting a comedy, but discovered that it was very sharply satiric and I was genuinely laughing throughout the play, perhaps a bit less in the 3rd Act, but even then there were moments of dark humor that were laugh-out-loud funny for me. Richard Armitage, as it turns out, has excellent comedic timing, and there were moments even without any dialogue that really had me giggling. I went in really curious about why Armitage chose this particular role, and now having seen it, I have to wonder if the opportunity to “chase comedy” was a factor. The play was not a light comedy, but it did have its share of farcical elements and exaggerated characters, Sandra especially, and it was entirely different fare from anything I’ve seen Richard do to date.

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Act 1. Kenneth, Sandra and Henry. Though Kenneth’s hair was MUCH nicer than this. I’m to understand that early in the run he sported this god-awful wig, but his hair had grown out enough by now that the wig was (thankfully) unnecessary. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

Despite his weaknesses, I did rather adore Kenneth as a character. In Act 1, Richard was able to almost bound about the stage with the sort of loose-jointed energy and enthusiasm of a great big, eager puppy, and I found him quite endearing as the 19 year-old Kenneth. I liked that he did show hesitation (and later, at least a fleeting remorse) when Sandra came on to him, though he wasn’t at all capable of eluding temptation. And I bought in to the idea that he was so young, and thought RA did a great job capturing that essence of youth in many ways, from the voice which occasionally broke high, to the way he slouched and lounged on the couch, to the fawning adoration on his face as he stayed glued to Sandra from the moment she entered the room. He also behaved like a typical youth, surreptitiously kicking stuff under the couch during the tidying session, making sure he affected a pose as carefree and worldly as possible while awaiting Sandra’s entrance, and adopting an exaggerated pout when he let her know that his brother had told him to make himself scarce and use a bucket to piss in, if need be, while Sandra was in the apartment. Well done, Mr. Armitage! This youthfulness was different from anything I’ve seen him do, and really refreshing and probably something we’re unlikely to revisit as fans. What other role would require him to play the 19 year-old ever again?

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Act 2. Amy Ryan stole the show. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

While Kenneth was my favorite in Act 1, I felt that Act 2 really belonged to Amy Ryan and her portrayal of a once again wildly self-indulgent and inebriated Sandra. That “pterodactyl screech” of hers got me every time, and she was so absolutely over-the-top awful as a mother! Both parents were clearly out-of-touch with the children and had trouble keeping up with their parental duty to know the basics (their daughter’s age, which instrument she played, where she was in her schooling… all funny moments that also called for a sympathetic cringe), but it was Sandra who was the most cruelly indifferent to her children’s feelings. The truly hot-in-dad-pants Kenneth was at least “companionable” in his oblivion, but Sandra showed no remorse whatsoever that she’d forgotten to attend Rose’s concert, took alarming pleasure in informing her daughter of her boyfriend’s flirtations, and was so wildly inappropriate at the birthday celebration that I actually gasped out loud during the cake scene. Here it should also be said that Zoe Kazan brought her A-game (in both of her Acts, really) and I literally made sympathetic little noises on her behalf even as I winced and laughed my way through Act 2. Aside from the pterodactyl screech, I especially adored the long moments of silence as the clock ticked down to midnight, and father and 14 year-old son sat smoking across from one another at the table… it was so surreal, and I loved how the audience just snickered all the way through it, then guffawed as Rose entered the room and reacted to the illicit recreations at her horrible party!

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Act 3. Kenneth and Sandra, retirees. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

Act 3 was very unsettling in many ways, and I thought all participants were again excellent. Here again the comedy was an uncomfortable type of comedy, as it became clear that Ben Rosenfield’s adult Jamie was not only completely disconnected from interpersonal relationships, but seemed to be verging on mental incapacity. Drugs, alcohol, trauma-of-youth or a some combination of these made him really a sad figure, though still quite funny in his mannerisms, repetitions and random interjections. Richard’s retired/senior citizen Kenneth was well done. I liked his intonation as he mused about the quality of the wine, and he definitely moved about the stage with a believable (though subtle) stiffness and hesitation while seating himself and rising, a nice contrast to the springing movements of his character in Act 1. (He was still pretty spry for an old guy… and really just as hot… don’t fear the salt and pepper hair, Mr. Armitage… you wore it well!) Once again he showed that amiable obliviousness in his failure to recognize that something was very “off” about Jamie. Truthfully, he reminded me in this sense of my own father, who is as affable as anyone you’ll ever meet, very loveable, but entirely incapable of confronting problematic behaviors on the part of any family member. Sandra, as usual, commanded the stage the moment she entered, captivating me as she did in every act with her high-flown extravagance and egocentrism. One thing I did conclude, on evidence of Kenneth’s similar reaction to Sandra (almost mesmerized from the moment she entered) which occurred in every act, was that he did love and admire this woman, despite her faults. Not perhaps the kind of love that embraces the hard work and mutual selflessness that keeps a marriage intact for the long run, but some kind of love nevertheless. In many ways they were well-suited as a couple, and had they not had children whose lives they clearly damaged, had they been free to pursue their reckless course without those children, I almost could have applauded them.

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Act 3. Rose and Jamie, adults. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

I think Rose as a character deserves a paragraph of her own for Act 3. I did sympathize with her to an extent, but couldn’t help feeling that she became very off-putting when, at the age of 37, she essentially blamed every poor choice she ever made on her parents, and demanded they buy her a house. What?!?! Just buy her a house outright, as if a house would somehow make her into a happy person, which is an unreasonable expectation in and of itself. As I discussed with Hariclea after the play, at some point one has to take responsibility for one’s own decisions. It would be like me, looking at my student loans (which will likely take another couple of decades to pay off), and castigating my parents for not insisting that I choose medical school rather than veterinary school, for a similar investment of time and money but quadruple the salary! I chose instead to follow my dream, and if I’m not as well-off as my parents were at this stage, well- my life to live! Rose was absolutely right that they were shitty, narcissistic parents and I’m sure that both children really were never the same after that fateful birthday party… no doubt whatsoever. We discover in Act 3 that Rose was so distraught by the events of the evening that she actually attempted suicide moments after she turned 16. However, the irritated-at-Rose part of me begs to point out that her actions, while coming from a very valid state of emotional devastation, had to have ALSO contributed to Jamie’s trauma of the evening and her own observation that he was “never the same”… this is borne out by his strong agitation when it finally dawned on Jamie, in Act 3, that Rose’s feelings were hurt by the discovery that brother and father had made a trip into London for a musical, and hadn’t ever thought to call her while they were in town. This was possibly the most alert moment of Act 3 for Jamie, and it was an acute distress when he realized that she was upset. He settled down again and wandered out to sunbathe, but later, when the family was gathered and shouting, he burst back on the scene in a state of incoherent panic.

I was somewhat surprised to learn at the celebrity series Q&A (on Sunday) that Richard sympathized with Rose to the extent that he, Richard, would have bought her the house. Taking care of the down payment, co-signing the loan, some sort of compromise… yes, why not? Or helping her in another way, maybe paying for her to go back to college for a more useful degree or enter a trade school to set her on a new career path… this also would have appeased me, as it would still require Rose to take some responsibility for her future prospects. But to just buy a house outright, out of a guilty conscience? I’m not sure I agree with this and again, I’m not sure a house alone would turn her life around.

It was also interesting in Act 3 that for the first time, Sandra rather than Kenneth seemed to have qualms about pursuing a purely selfish path in retirement. She seemed to be momentarily considering whether she could afford to buy Rose the house after Rose and Jamie left the room, though she dismissed it almost immediately. Then Kenneth essentially suggested he sell his lovely home, Sandra abandon her ailing husband, and the two of them go gallivanting around the globe together, leaving the hapless Jamie and hopeless Rose to struggle on without them! All along it had been Kenneth who seemed to have some modicum of proper parental feelings, even if he was ineffectual at following through or reigning her in, but in Act 3, she was (at least fleetingly) more cognizant of the children’s predicament than he was. Whether Kenneth and Sandra ultimately decide to up and go is left to the viewer to interpret, and my personal feeling is that neither of them would really leave comfortable homes behind permanently. I suspect that Sandra would probably have a torrid affair with Kenneth, perhaps run off on a nice, long, adulterous vacation, but ultimately not spend a happily-ever-after with him.

A few more impressions… I really liked the wardrobe choices and set designs. Needless to say, Armitage was appealing whether half-dressed, business-dressed or in funeral-wear, and Sandra’s wardrobe was also great at conveying her love of style and “fabulousness” in each era. In Act 3 it was awkward seeing the dowdy, well-worn funeral garb that Rose was wearing compared to the glitter and diamonds of her mother. As to the set designs, Act 1 (in Henry’s flat) showed a low-ceiling, grimy walls and boring, unattractive furniture with little to no décor. Act 2 (in Kenneth and Sandra’s home in Reading) did not have a ceiling, but the height of the ceiling was suggested by taller walls, that it was a multi-story abode was shown by a staircase in the hall, and the room boasted modern artwork and furniture that appeared to be teak, all of which could have belonged in my own parent’s home at the time. Act 3 had yet higher walls, giving the impression of quite loftily high ceilings, glass doors and windows leading onto what one imagines to be a beautifully manicured/landscaped estate with mature roses in bloom, and the furniture and décor on the interior was quite high-end and tasteful.

The entire cast, I felt, really delivered in their roles. Alex Hurt as Kenneth’s rather stodgy brother Henry was a little less memorable, but I think it’s supposed to be that way. The world, after all, simply revolves around Kenneth and Sandra, doesn’t it? Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan were fantastic on keeping their characters cohesively “themselves” through 3 different time frames, and Zoe Kazan and Ben Rosenfield were really well-cast and broadcast their characters’ vulnerability (the fragility of youth in Act 2, and the vulnerability of two separately damaged adults in Act 3).  Every one of them had excellent comedic timing and projected emotions and impressions so forcibly. One could almost taste Henry’s vexation, Kenneth’s exuberant idealism and lifelong devotion to recreation, Sandra’s marvelous self-absorbtion, Rose’s mortification and fury, and Jamie’s ultimate detachment from reality.

After the play was over, I booked it on out of there and, thanks to prior friendly tutelage, queued up right near the front of the Stage Door, the first of our group of 4 to arrive. I loved the buzzing excitement and anticipation, though I hadn’t yet had enough time to process my impressions of the play and probably didn’t contribute very intelligently to discussions other than those of the most superficial nature (like how nicely tailored Kenneth’s pants appeared, particularly from the rear, and other observations along those lines!) Although I knew that theoretically Armitage may or may not appear on any given night, I admit it was a quite a let-down when he failed to appear that Friday evening for reasons unknown. I did see a very good-looking figure of a man wearing a beanie exit the theatre, and had a fleeting thought that he had celebrity-level good looks, and later learned that was Sebastian Stan of Marvel fame. Pretty sure I’d rather have seen Armitage flash past, and we did loiter a bit, wondering if he might come out a side garage-door style exit, but no dice.

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We bounced back quickly, though.  Armitagebesotted, DaphneHS and I were wide awake and rather buzzed from the couple of hours spent in the presence of Richard Armitage. Hariclea was understandably exhausted from her transatlantic travels and the preceding stress and uncertainty, but nevertheless agreed to pop over to Times Square to see the sights…The City at Night. This would most certainly not have happened had I been on my own- I’d have been far too intimidated to venture off alone at such a late hour! But Besotted and Daphne made for wonderful tour guides and it was fantastic to have the perspective of locals and be given insights that would never have occurred to me. Fascinating to hear about the history of Times Square and the transition from what was once a theatre district to more of a red light district, with half the businesses topless bars, to the far more family-oriented and commercialized version that exists today. Looking around at the brightly digitized billboards on every building, I would have thought it was “just the New York Way” – but Besotted said no, that the signs were actually legislated and required to meet certain criteria as to size, moving images, color! Her knowledge of the area and the history of the streets and buildings was so interesting and enjoyable. As it was late and Hari, especially, was knackered, we said our goodbyes, and Daphne arranged to come for us in the morning for yet more sightseeing before the matinée.

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Back at the hotel, Hariclea pretty much fell straight to sleep as by then she’d been at least 24 hours without it, and while I was also quite tired, I experienced the same euphoric insomnia I’d had after attending The Crucible in 2014… too wired and energized and filled with thoughts about the play, the Armitage, all of it. The following morning, Daphne arrived and off we went again. She escorted us around Rockefeller Center, where we ogled the famous Christmas tree, watched the ice-skating, lit a candle inside the stunning St. Patrick’s cathedral, went along window-gaping on 5th Avenue, saw the now rather infamous Trump Tower, and sat for awhile on a sunny bench, enjoying crisp weather and late fall color in the surprisingly large and beautiful Central Park.

Then it was time for the Saturday Dec. 3 matinée, and I was in the front row, center section for this one. Now having familiarity with the play, I allowed myself the pleasure of really studying Armitage, and I’m pretty sure that for this (and for all the performances) I sat with a stupid grin on my face the entire time. It’s easy to tell the regular theatre-goers from the Armitagers. Some patrons’ heads move naturally back and forth as dialogue is exchanged, while others heads move in whatever direction Kenneth is moving! I chatted with Hariclea, Daphne and others of our ilk during intermissions. It was really amusing to discover that every one of us blessed with this near-stage proximity had noticed that famous left nipple make itself apparent through the sheer fabric of his shirt when the alarmingly attractive senior citizen Kenneth removed his jacket in Act 3, for instance. =) I also found myself clinically obsessing over a particular area of Armitage anatomy (it’s not the one you might think) every time the man made certain gestures, and this continued through subsequent performances until my conclusion as to the nature of the incongruity was drawn.

One of the reasons we’d selected this weekend for attendance was the fact that there was to be a Celebrity Series Q&A session after the matinée, but I was again to be profoundly disappointed, especially in light of having that front row center seat for the event, when all the cast except for Richard appeared. Prior to the Q&A, I did see a short man, in profile, waiting briefly for admission at the entrance to the backstage area, but he disappeared before I could be sure of his identity. I thought it looked rather like Leland Orser of Berlin Station, but never saw any mention of this by anyone else including Orser. However at the time I wondered if Richard skipped the Q&A in favor of catching up with a friend…

I don’t remember too much about that Q&A except for that Hariclea had the first question and it was a good one, but I keep having a mental block as to what the question was! Too much interference from other events of the weekend, no doubt! I was surprised at the difference in persona of Amy Ryan, who was fairly quiet and laid back, in contrast to her wildly commanding stage presence. Zoe Kazan, who was undoubtedly marvelous in her performance, was sort of strangely eating a cup of oatmeal and seemed less than excited to be there. She made the mistake of saying “MacBeth” aloud, which is apparently a huge superstitious taboo in theatre-world, and was made to run offstage and cleanse herself somehow, then ask for permission to return, lest that evening’s performance be doomed. LOL

We three went off to dinner at a nearby Brazilian restaurant and enjoyed reliving the performance and speculating about whether that evening, the last realistic opportunity for a Stage Door Runner event, would prove fruitful. We also continued our conversations comparing and contrasting our daily routines, as its hard for me to imagine what life is like living in that enormous city and equally strange for them to imagine having 10 acres of land and all sorts of animals! The more time we spent together, the more I really wanted to celebrate how amazing it is to truly befriend and connect with women of so many different cultures and lifestyles through our shared admiration of this one actor.

The Saturday Dec. 3 evening performance went off without a hitch, probably a relief for the cast after the forbidden utterance by Kazan earlier that afternoon! Hari and I had adjacent seats for this one, on the left side front row, where we did have a really nice sprawled-leg view of an interesting hip wiggle by youthful Kenneth, and also a high-flying robe at one point that really gave a nice view of that muscular lower back! Daphne was across on the right side that evening but she also appreciated that flash of back, and commented immediately upon it at the first intermission. (You can see we were all quite comfortable ogling, and reminiscing upon our ogling, by this time!) I was by now quite sure of the little anatomical anomaly I had noticed, and in this performance I was also rather taken by the expressiveness of the young Kenneth’s feet and toes!

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My newly autographed fan art!

When it was over, I made haste for the Stage Door once again, and it really wasn’t long before Himself arrived. I was right near the front of the line again, and this time I was determined to remember what I said to Richard Armitage because I cannot recall at all what I might have said to him in London. So I held out my metallic print of the Iconic Richard Armitage that Guylty and I had months ago collaborated upon, and I said, “Richard, I really enjoyed the play!” I was looking at his face, and as I can only surmise that it was NOT the utter brilliance of my conversation that gave him a momentary pause, maybe it was the one-of-its-kind autograph item that caused him to briefly glance up from his signature and straight into my eyes, completely electrifying me with that flash of blue, and he smiled and said thank you, before moving on to Hariclea beside me! I was dazzled for a few moments and by then he was halfway down the line, but I belatedly remembered to turn on my phone and snap a quick picture of his posterior for posterity. =) Then I got myself in gear and hustled down and tried for some other photos but none were worth a damn because he was in full-on Stage Door motion and moving far too fast.

 

 

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Daphne, who really had devoted her entire day to us already, now offered to take us back to Rockefeller Center to view the enormous Christmas tree at night, and I gladly set off with her while Hariclea opted to wait for us in the comfortable lobby of the Hotel. The crowds near the skating rink and the tree were mind-bogglingly dense, and I had a giggle when I overheard a woman ask a food cart operator where she could find the big Christmas tree, and we were literally standing right in front of it. The man raised an eyebrow and kind of pointed backwards over his shoulder with a wry expression as the woman gasped in embarrassment. Ah, New York City and these little moments. I could relate, though. It’s a lot to take in. *snickers*… On our way back, we caught a really cool laser light show along the side of Saks 5th Avenue, then headed back to the hotel lobby where we reviewed our Stage Door Photos, giggled and fangirled together until 1 am!

Daphne was truly so, so generous with her time. Sunday morning she arrived again, on very little sleep I’m sure, as we all found it hard to come down from the high of the previous evening, and escorted us via subway ride to the World Trade Center Memorial. This was such a moving, haunting monument, and the many people gathered there were very somber, as was fitting. I had read about the concept of the Memorial- the huge square pools built upon the footprints of the towers and flowing downward in a waterfall, a vertically negative space where once the towers had stood… but seeing it in person brought tears to my eyes and made swallowing painful as I contemplated the magnitude and read name after name etched around the perimeters. Afterward we stood at the foot of Freedom Tower and gazed upward, then walked through the mall located inside the architecturally stunning Oculus, sharing our stories of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001.

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Yum!

When we returned to the theatre district, we stopped briefly to contribute our wishes to the confetti that will be released on New Years over Times Square, then we met NycPat and friends, who had arranged for a really delicious lunch/brunch at a French restaurant (I had a crepe with duck confit filling that pretty much blew my mind!) and there we discussed a plethora of topics, including the NYC theatre scene, various stage door experiences with different actors, Richard Armitage, the cost of living in NYC, and of course Pat and I did also exchange pet rescue stories. Once again it was so delightful having the opportunity to put faces to names, and I was once again struck by how fun, warm and welcoming the NYC contingent of Armitage peeps have proven to be.

On the way into the theatre, the security guard joked to Daphne that she ought to bring a different purse next time so he could have something new to look at during the bag check. Then one of the ushers waved Hariclea in without giving her the usual spiel about the number of intermissions, saying she already knew the drill! I was thankfully more anonymous and in possession of a front row, right side seat for this final Sunday matinée, and I really kept my eyes shamelessly glued to Kenneth for the duration… it was my last opportunity to thoroughly study Mr. Armitage (until the next play, at any rate!) This performance was subtly different in Acts 2 and 3, something we all noticed and later commented upon. Kenneth was much more forcibly angry with Sandra during Act 2, and far more menacing when he confronted her with his suspicions of adultery. And Armitage brought the passion out again in Act 3 at the end, where the chemistry and attraction between Kenneth and Sandra really radiated in the final moments… *fans self*… I was in no doubt where they were headed (the bedroom!!!) as the lights went down.

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Illicit Celebrity Series photo op, titled “The Thumb”

Richard came out first for the Celebrity Series Q&A and I felt that he was the most “interactive” with the audience… although initially, he seemed distracted. Hmmmmm. He actually had to ask an audience member to repeat her question once! I also was a little distracted after I had to endure an embarrassing tap on the shoulder from the usher at one point when I tried to capture some little photos and an ill-advised video. *coughs* But on the bright side, one of my photos had a really fine thumb shot! Anyway, Hari asked the first question, as she had done the day before, and was a bit mortified when the host recognized her and proudly proclaimed it! Then to make matters worse, Hari’s question received rather a flippant brush-off from Zoe Kazan, and I really wished that Richard had taken the question instead.

Afterwards, Hariclea had to catch a plane, so we went back to collect her baggage and shared some final giggles about how we three had all noticed Richard Armitage’s left nipple during his final bow, and how we all managed to get some unsettling attention during our fangirling activities that afternoon. After a slightly tearful goodbye to Hari, Daphne had Christmas shopping errands to run in Bryant Park, where there was a really nice outdoor market, and I went along and wound up buying all sorts of little gifts for the family. We took a spin through Grand Central Station,  then had dinner and more laughter as we reviewed stolen photos and aborted video footage, and shared another really engaging conversation.

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Flight home Monday morning… Until Next Time!!

Wow, was this ever long! Nada for 2 months and then some 5000+ words! As you can probably tell from my excited ramblings, I absolutely loved the city, I loved the play, I loved Richard in the play, and most of all, I loved sharing the entire experience. It was one of the most wonderful weekends of my life, and I’m so thankful, and so blessed, to have partaken of it with friends.

Once Again Pondering The Beard…

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This is how I’d Love, Love, Love to see a young Kenneth. *fans self*

Yeah wow… back in fangirl mode… just like that! So with Richard’s upcoming role as Kenneth in the off-Broadway Roundabout Theatre Company production of Love, Love, Love… we know that the script begins in 1967 or thereabout, with Kenneth as a young 20-something, and progresses through several acts as the character ages into a baby boomer with adult children of his own.

So I’m wondering if the beard will be absent, since it seems like maybe he’d look a little younger without it in the early act? And pondering his 1960’s look, I’m sure the costume will have a hippie vibe, but will he wear a wig of some kind for that younger, long-haired Sixties look?

I kind of hope he won’t have the beard… not in any way a beard hater, but just that his Proctor character had a beard, and as I was lucky enough to see him in the flesh (and found Himself-Bearded very mouth-watering, I might add!)… well, I’d really rather have a closer look at his clean-shaven lips, this time. #fangirlconsiderations

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Yes, I need to see this up a little closer.

Like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

scruffyOr his slightly scruffy and stubbled lips… I’m not really picky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My favorite stage door photo… yeah, I could probably work myself up to seeing this again.

But if the character of Kenneth DOES have a beard… well… that’s a problem I guess I’d love to have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dayum

Speaking of beards, and scruff, and long hair, and hot men with blue-grey eyes, I disappeared into one of those “show-holes” the past few weeks watching the AMC series Hell On Wheels, a drama series following the building of the transcontinental railroad. I confess, I have been Seriously Distracted by this series- not only is it an interesting time period, with clashing cultures between Union and ex-Confederate soldiers, freedmen (former slaves), Native Americans, and later in the series, Chinese immigrants… it’s a really good story with characters I love and hate and love to hate… and, well, there’s Cullen Bohannon, played by the seriously gorgeous and basically entirely heavenly Anson Mount. Take a look.

 

 

Cullen Bohannon

Am I right?

And as Cullen Bohannon? Ye gods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Er, anyway… that was a little off topic. But just to, you know, emphasize that I DO like a man in a beard. But back to Richard Armitage.

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I. Would. Die. (Happily)

Top hope for Love, Love, Love? I have to say it would look something like this… longer hair, a little scruffy, and no beard. Is it too much to wish for?

Finally!! Confirmation on Love, Love, Love!!

FinallyAfter weeks of depression over the events in the news together with NO NEWS on Love, Love, Love… it’s confirmed! Best thing I’ve heard in a while! More info here, courtesy of Richard himself on twitter.

To be honest, while a lot of people have been applauding RA’s recent bout of political tweeting, it’s made me uneasy. Not because I have different views (or any view, really) on Brexit, but because I’ve personally always liked the fact that RA is not constantly spouting political views, which historically I have found very aggravating and obnoxious with other actors.

My fear, I guess, is that as politics heat up in the U.S. in the upcoming presidential election, RA may very well indeed start championing a particularly corrupt candidate which will no doubt be very off-putting for me. Grrrrh. I can only hope that by the time December rolls around and I’m off to New York City, I’ll have come to terms with whatever outcome of the election (nothing good will come of it no matter what happens, I fear!) and I’ll have learned to ignore him and/or un-followed his tweets.

It’s still a day to celebrate!

Expressionism in Theatre, #RichardArmitage?

 

expressionisttheatre

“I am hopefully going to go back on stage, probably directed by Yaël Farber again, sometime in 2016 or 2017. We’re developing an idea together and it will be a much more expressionistic, physical approach to theatre, which is the sort of theatre I’m really interested in. I can’t say what it will be but we have a play in mind, quite an ancient play.” – Richard Armitage with yet more clues about the future stage collaboration with (“probably”… what does “probably” mean?) Yaël Farber (source).

Richard has dropped another couple of hints in the excerpt above, namely that the next stage production he’ll be involved in will be an ancient play, and that they intend to adopt an “expressionistic” approach. This was in addition to his comments in another recent interview that hinted they plan to “push the physicality” of the theatre genre. I must admit, I’m incredibly intrigued by these statements.

expressionistpaintingsSo what, I asked myself, would expressionism in theatre look like? In terms of artwork, I’ve always thought of expressionists as artists whose work distorts the image in ways that enhance the viewer’s gut response, usually by dramatic color choices, exaggerated brush strokes, and often jarring or angsty subject matter. Translating that sort of thing to theatre, though… I was having a hard time imagining it. And maybe I still am.

So I googled “expressionism in theatre” and found out that there is/was indeed a movement that began in Germany that brought elements of expressionism to theatre. I came to this blog, which gave some descriptions of the movement in terms of its characteristics and techniques.

A few highlights, taken directly from that page:

Its atmosphere was often vividly dreamlike and nightmarish. The mood was aided by shadowy, unrealistic lighting and visual distortions in the set.

Settings avoided reproducing the detail of naturalistic drama, and created only those starkly simplified images the theme of the play called for (sounds familiar- thinking of Soutra Gilmore’s stark and simplistic set designs for The Crucible at The Old Vic, right?)

Characters lost their individuality and were merely identified by nameless designations, like The Man, The Father, The Son

Crowds are also impersonalized, and move with mass rhythmic movements, often mechanically

The style of acting known as the ‘ecstatic’ style, it was intense and violent, and expressed tormented emotions. Actors might erupt in sudden passion and attack each other physically

All this, and knowing what a genius Yaël Farber is at “re-imagining” a classic such as The Crucible and presenting the play in a way that stays true to the script yet feels so much more visceral, so much more evocative, has made me all the more eager for whatever it is Richard Armitage has in store for us in 2016 or 2017. The juxtaposition implied by staging an “ancient” play in a modern “expressionistic” style… it’s a fascinating idea. Add in Richard Armitage in “enhanced physicality mode” and, well….

I don’t care where, or when… I’ll be there.

 

I Wonder What Enhanced Physicality Would Look Like, #RichardArmitage

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“I can’t tell you what it is, but it will definitely have a much more physical base to it. One of the things I love about theatre is the limitless way that you can kind of use the body, so we’re gonna push the physicality of that kind of theatre a little bit more.” – Richard Armitage on his plans for future stage collaboration with Yaël Farber (Source).

Wow. Hold on to your hats, ladies. Sounds like whatever the project is, we might be in for a wild ride! I mean, I thought his physicality as John Proctor was something to behold. If that’s not physicality, then what is?

 

Just Concluded The Crucible Family Night

Whew- busy week! I’ve been avoiding blogging for a week now, trying to be a responsible adult, catching up on dictating my charts at work, chasing documents for the accountant, arranging and rearranging my latest quilt on the design wall, sheltering from Oklahoma tornadoes, enduring power outages, and running the kids here, there and everywhere… but I thought I’d share a quick update on the Armitage-related doings.

Confirming what we all already knew, I did spend another small fortune in pursuit of my Richarding interests. After finding out that I couldn’t satisfactorily watch The Crucible on my large screen TV in any other way… even if I timed it well and did use the Samsung SmartTV DT app for my measly 48 hour window, unfortunately the quality of our wireless out here in the boondocks would not allow streaming to the TV without crap quality and ridiculous buffering… so I opted to invest in the laptop. Hubby didn’t ask the price, just asked that I not inquire about any new bass guitar that might appear in the near future.

As if I were the type to even notice a new bass guitar! He finally broke down and asked if I’d seen his new bass several weeks ago, the one he’d hinted about hiding in plain sight when I outed myself about the blog, and the answer was “Oh, you did buy that bass? Where is it?” (It was on the bass stand in the craft/music room we share, and I’d been in that room piecing my latest quilt for 2 weeks without ever catching on, even when he was in the room, practicing on the damn thing… my bad!)

So, yes… I’m the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro, and I have to say, I love it. It’s pretty nice to have access to my Richarding when the kids are monopolizing the desktop in pursuit of Minecraft on YouTube, or Hubby is browsing his mineral auctions or his political sites. I’m liking it a lot. I wrote my latest spoof from the comfort of the couch on my new laptop, and it’s a lot faster than the desktop. My one disappointment was figuring out that the Giffing Tool is not available on iOs. This means I’ll have to pursue my new Giffing habit at work or horn in on the desktop occasionally, but I suppose I’ll make do. I was able to install the DT desktop player and download The Crucible, though, and so we invited family over for ribs and theatre night this evening.

Hubby has been perfecting his smoking techniques lately, and has wanted to have the family over to try his amazing baby back ribs, and that was a big draw for the men. Don’t know that they were too interested in the theatre aspect of the evening, but most men will come for ribs. LOL. Even my brother was initially game, but he then opted out at the last minute, citing the need to study all weekend. Turns out his study partner is a girl, and he sheltered with her on Wednesday, when severe tornadic storms blew through, over at her place. All night. And now needs to study over at her place, all weekend. Right. So evidently even the lure of smoked ribs was not enough to overcome this newfound academic dedication. Lol.

Happily, the kids were shuffled off to the Gymnastics Play Night, a parent’s night out initiative at the local gymnastics academy, and we were free to watch The Crucible free of constant interruptions, disputes, requests, spills, and so on. The laptop-HDMI-TV method worked exactly as it should, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.

OK, so the stepdad nodded off in Act 1 and missed its entirety. That’s his usual MO for any movie, so no disrespect to Richard. He did wake up and watch Act 2 when Mom loudly announced Richard was about to take his shirt off, and I endured a bit of ribbing from everyone, not to mention Hubby flashing his left nipple at me just when the shirtless John Proctor stretched out and I was enjoying that lovely side-view. Yes, he did. Luckily Mom was rather intently watching the onscreen nipple performance when Hubby did that. =)

I particularly enjoyed an interlude during the set change between Acts 3 and 4, when I checked to see if anyone was sleeping, but didn’t have a good view of Mom, whose face was obscured by a couch cushion.

“Is she sleeping?” I asked Hubby.

Mom sat up indignantly. “No, I’m not sleeping!”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you slept during The Crucible…” I goaded her.

Hubby, adopting Judge Danforth’s strident tone, demanded, “DID you, or DID you NOT sleep on The Crucible Front Row? WHAT SAY YOU, Goody Brown?”

To which Mom cried, equally dramatically, “I were JET-LAGGED, Mister! I were jet-lagged, but I am awake NOW!”

And so on… it was a fun evening, and good reviews all around, for both the smoked ribs and The Crucible. Hubby and stepdad broke into loud applause when it was over, which I suspect may have been precisely because it was over, so I made a point of complimenting Richard’s nipple just to get Hubby’s goat! Mom thought that was outrageous, and I almost told her then and there that there was a lot more to be said about that nipple, and it was to be found on my blog… SURPRISE!… but I decided at the last moment not to go there, mainly because we needed to be responsible and pick our children up from Gymnastics Play Night, and needed to get on the road if we weren’t to be *those parents*, the ones whose kids are very last to be picked up. (That happened to me once, at Girl Scout Camp… my folks had the pick-up date wrong and had to be called when every last kid except me was gone, and they didn’t show up. It was the most excruciating and embarrassing 3 hours of my childhood, waiting around with the camp councilors as Mom and Dad sped 200 miles across New Mexico to fetch me, knowing that they all probably had party plans but had to sit around babysitting The Lonesome Girl Scout instead.)

However, it’s back to the design wall at Mom’s quilting loft tomorrow, and I’m quite sure Mom will be there, ready to offer her two-cents on my design, and I may just tell her about the blog then.

We’ll see. =)

The Download Experience #TheCrucibleOnScreen

It’s been a bit of a doozy. But not really an unexpected doozy. I’d feared that the DT website would completely crash, but unlike some of my more sensible sisters, I still had to jump in and purchase The Crucible on day 1. In fact, even though it was announced that the long-awaited download would become available at 8AM in my time zone, I found myself *just checking* the DT website at 7am when I stepped out of the shower. It appeared to have the option to purchase, so I purchased it, there in my bathrobe, and started the download.

Now, I suspected that the HD download at home was going to take at least 24 hours, because Much Ado About Nothing over the weekend took 26 hours, and that was presumably not occurring during an Armitage Army Onslaught. The joys of rural country living! I had higher hopes for my download #2 out of 3 at work, since I have a much faster connection there in town, so I started it as soon as I booted up my computer and installed the desktop player at 8am yesterday. The work download kicked off pretty fast, and got up to over 50% after one hour, but I can only assume that the whole world soon came online and joined the queue, because it got really slow after that and was only at 72% by the time I left work. Got home and had a whopping 23% on the home computer. LOL. Way to go, Armitage Followers!

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Yes, John. Your Followers. Anyway, this morning the home computer was still slowly chugging at about 45% when I left for work, but the work computer was all finished and ready for me. I then downloaded the Conversation, and that took only about 20 minutes. I had a slow morning and ended up watching the Conversation after my surgical procedures were done, and at 11:45am, just as I was about to shut my office door and break early for lunch, the office manager arrived and said we had a walk-in. Actually, it was an elderly client who had a 2pm appointment but didn’t want to drive in the rain later, so she just decided to come on in and get her appointment done during the doc’s lunch. $#!+&@#*($!!

So, with a heavy heart, I went and did my two annual exams and the assorted “oh, by the way, can you do this and this and this as long as we’re here, and I have a question or two about the stray cat I feed” until it was 12:45pm and my lunch was basically over. The one good thing was I had nothing until the 2pm appointment, and that was now finished, so I went back to the office, grabbed my protein shake, closed the door, and sat down for Act 1.

The HD quality was fantastic- much better than the quality Hubby and I had streamed at the college a couple of weeks ago. I was just able to finish Act 1 and do a few of my Richarding rituals over at the forum, when afternoon appointments started up again, but I left work a bit early and came home just in time to see the home download was at 99%. I had an early dinner, the kids being on spring break and off fishing with Hubby and G-Pa, and by the time I finished eating, the download was finally finished, after a whopping 34 hours!

Interestingly, the HD quality was noticeably different at home. There were fractional glitches in the soundtrack and occasional hiccups in the visuals as well. Not at all as good as the work computer had been, and not even as good as the streaming at the college had been. Not sure why this should be the case, but I figure the DT support team is a bit overwhelmed at the moment, so I decided to let that slide for now. I soldiered on, a bit annoyed but still emotionally invested and just glad to have quiet time with John Proctor. Or, not always all that quiet, as John will shout from time to time. Amazing timing, as just as the lights went out on Elizabeth at the finale, I heard stomping feet on the front porch, and the children were home with their exuberance and exaggerated fish stories.

All in all, not a bad day. I’m planning to write about my views on Proctor’s decision in Act 4 at some point, but I think I’ll watch it at least once more before I try to compose my feelings.

Digital Theatre Responds to My Query

Well, as several stated, Digital Theatre did respond, and it would seem that the support staff guy, Jonathan Ware, is up and at ’em pretty early on a Monday, as I got the email at about Midnight Sunday. So thumbs up to him, and to his adept handling of my rather pissy letter. But thumbs down to the false advertising (in my perception, anyhow) on the part of Digital Theatre. As you’ll recall, I was unhappily surprised when I learned that for a purchase of either an SD or HD download of one of their productions, you have a one-time redemption code for viewing on the Samsung SmartTV. Of course, not many may even have this type of TV, so possibly only a small fraction of the fandom will be affected or disappointed as I am, but it does seem that the TV App is indeed a one-time deal, or at least, a 48 hour deal, and then it’s back to the computer viewing. Here’s Jonathan’s response:

Hi JHolland

Thanks for your note, and your useful feedback. I’ve forwarded this onto our Marketing Team to look into.

The current version of the our Samsung SmartTV app is the first time our productions have been available off the desktop and in the living room. As this is the first stage of the App’s roll out, the ability to view films on the SmartTV is a one-time bonus for anyone purchasing an SD or HD Download. As you’ll have read, upon redemption the production is available to view in your library for 30 days, with an active period of 48 hours upon the first playback. Within this period, you can you [suspect he meant “view”] the production as often as you like.

We hope to offer unlimited access to our productions through our Samsung SmartTV app in the future. In the meantime, your films remain available as always straight from DigitalTheatre.com, the Desktop Player and our IOS app.

Best
Jonathan


Jonathan Ware
Support Officer
DigitalTheatre.com

So it was a prompt reply, and a good job at placating a politely irate consumer, but the fact remains, it isn’t really represented as such on their website. Only after you actually attempt to stream to the TV do you find out that it’s a limited time frame, and therefore I think it would be best for them to change the wording on the website to reflect that it’s a “one-time bonus” rather than a regular feature. Here’s my response:

Well, thank you for responding, Jonathan. I’m disappointed, and think the website ought to make it clear that it’s a “one-time bonus” because it’s misleading. Only after I actually attempted to stream to the Samsung Smart TV App was I aware that there were to be any limitations. I do hope that DT will work out a new system, perhaps just making new redemption codes available when each expires, and even if that were to change the price, I would have willingly paid extra for the comfort and convenience of watching the TV compared to sitting at the computer while (no doubt repeatedly) viewing The Crucible. 
Thanks,
JHolland
P.S. Hope the servers don’t crash on Tuesday. The  Armitage fandom is pretty worked up! =)

 

SO… maybe time to shop laptops.

On the plus side, Hubby reacted to this new plan with merely a threat that he’ll be shopping for his fourth bass guitar if I proceed. LOL

Digital Theatre Woes

 

Well, my level of frustration with Digital Theatre hasn’t reached such an epic level as Zee’s, but I will say this… it’s pretty likely that the service is not all that I’d hoped it would be. Let me explain.

Today I decided to do a bit of a trial run. We’d had a very modest TV for almost a decade, and we’ve never been the type to buy something (such as a “SmartTV”) simply because it exists and we have to have the latest technology. I didn’t have a smart phone, much less a smartTV, until just last year, and that was only because I needed a smart phone as part of the new security system I installed at the vet clinic when we purchased the practice. No, we’ve made do with a pay-as-you-go cheapo cell phone for years, and the only reason I got a cheapo cell phone was because I was previously employed at a vet hospital where the doctors rotated being on call 24/7. Prior to that I didn’t feel I needed that newfangled technology, the cell phone. LOL. We don’t have a gaming system, we have one older computer in the house, and up until recently, our TV was a modest 20-something-inch TV with no HD.

So it was really quite a deviation from the norm for us when we decided we could finally afford a nicer, bigger television… and I campaigned for a Samsung SmartTV because ever since September, I’ve been plotting how I’d watch The Crucible on my own TV, and I knew that there was such a thing as a DT-App for this type of TV. Our Christmas gift to each other was therefore a really nice, much larger, much smarter Samsung Smart TV, and I don’t regret it at all… it’s wonderful to be able to watch our favorite shows in HD.

But then today, Hubby and I worked out how to download the Digital Theatre Samsung SmartTV App (the TV is smarter than us… took a damn long time to even find the app store on this insanely complex TV!) I went ahead and made a practice purchase from  DT… David Tennant in Much Ado About Nothing came highly recommended by Perry, and I’ve been mildly preoccupied with Tennant anyway after glomming Broadchurch and several other Tennant television shows over the past few weeks. When I got down to the nitty-gritty, I found out that after purchasing my Download of MAAN, it gives you a “redemption code” which is then entered into the Samsung Smart TV DT App. Then you have 30 days to watch it, and if I understand correctly, once you start watching, you have 48 hours to complete it.

Then what? Well, apparently you have the one redemption code for the TV per download purchase. Not rental… purchase. That’s right. Apparently I’ll be able to stream it to my computer whenever I please once it’s in my library, but not to my TV. I hope I’m not disseminating mis-information. To make sure, I sent the following e-mail to DT Support, and we’ll see what they have to say:

I just want to make sure I have this right. I’m intending to purchase The Crucible and decided to do a practice run by purchasing Much Ado About Nothing. I have my Samsung Smart TV app, and I’ve entered the TV redemption code. Am I to understand that even though I’ve purchased this download, I’ll only ever have ONE opportunity to watch it on my large screen TV? I can’t watch it as many times as I please? I do understand that I can watch on my computer screen by streaming whenever I want, but if I can’t watch The Crucible over and over on my TV screen, I’m going to be extremely disappointed. If I’m misunderstanding, please explain how I can watch it on my TV whenever I want. And if I’m not misunderstanding, then may I suggest you get a new price tier for some kind of download with unlimited TV viewings? Because expecting hard-core Richard Armitage fans to limit themselves to one viewing is pretty far-fetched. Thanks- JHolland

If Zee’s experience is anything to go by, I’ll probably never hear back. But I sure hope I’m wrong. One and done on The Crucible is just NOT going to work for me, and while, unlike Zee, I’ll probably settle for the computer streaming to get my fix, it’s going to be a HUGE let-down, after campaigning for months for this TV in anticipation of The Crucible being available eventually.

Sorry for the rant. If any of you know of some way around this… am I going to have to get a freaking laptop and some kind of cable? That sounds pretty complex for a techno-phobe like myself, though I’m sure the long-suffering Hubby would be willing to help me.

Sigh.