the music was stuck in my head, and it didn’t feel all that bad: thoughts on ‘jersey boys,’ my dad, and fame
last night, for my dad’s birthday, i took him to see jersey boys. this was great and exciting on several levels. first, this is the first real Grown-Up gift i’ve bought for my dad. when the idea struck, he was tres resistant – no, it’s to expensive, i don’t want you to spend money on me, your company is enough – but we all know was bullshit that is and people love money being lavished on them. (remind me to tell you later about the metrocard dad gave me for my birthday, and how it amends that thought on money & gifts. sigh.) but as dad objected and objected (not doth-protesting too much, though), i insisted – hey, man, i’ve got a real job now, i can afford this, so stop your whining cause we’re going to Broadway! – and he relented. so that’s exciting thing number one. (though when he insisted on paying for dinner… i admit, he didn’t have to insist very hard at all.) all of the other exciting things are pretty much wrapped up in the experience of seeing a good show with your dad and a few circumstantial additions that i’ll get into, don’t you fret.
exciting thing number two – a dinner conversation, me and my dad, with no awkward silences. granted, i spent a good five or ten minutes raving about alias and reenacting the season four finale (she’s real quiet, a good five seconds of just looking at him like, what?, and then BAM!), but still. i love my dad, but dinners that are just the two of us tend to have… silences. (and we know i love silences.) so i was a little apprehensive. but it turned out great. we bonded over our love of ‘the biggest loser.’ total trash, i know. (total trash – do i mean the show, or me and my dad? ooh, mystery. layers.)
exciting thing number three – the show was actually really kinda good. a jukebox musical, the four seasons – rollicking, right? but as much as i hate the jukebox musicals on principal, from the bottom of my idealistic soul, this was really fun. of course, when i came home and said, ‘it was really good,’ i wasn’t working from a category that includes actual plays, but i enjoyed myself immensely. the music was good, the singing was good, the actors were good. and, admirable for a jukebox musical, the plot wasn’t contorted around songs, songs weren’t fit to the plot – the story was the seasons’ story, and the songs were the songs they sang. diagetic, as we say. (i probably misspelled or misused that.) it worked really well. and the book itself, though prone to lame-ass zingers and one-liners, moved along well and quickly, and wasn’t poorly written. the best review: i was never bored. (oh so sad that that’s notable.)
it was, though, tres amusant, to see a sold-out house of middle-aged ladies screaming and clapping for four twenty-something broadway boys. there was a bit of an air of them thinking it was the real four seasons. it was not, though, tres amusant to be in a sold-out house of middle-aged ladies who did not know not to talk in the theatre. even less amusant – i’d forgotten, and got to be reminded, of the fact that my dad’s a talker, too. not a mid-scene harry, what did he say? talker, but a mid-song, mid-applause, this is great!, full-voice talker. (of course, the mid-scene talkers are full-voice, too.) this is, i suppose, slightly less awful than talkers in the middle of bug (it’s a seizure!) or doubt, and there was, i’ll grant, an air of a concert about it – not quite mamma mia loud, but loud. but still. inexcusable. and, when i shushed him (him: this is great! me: yes, but shh.) (and i don’t care if he’s my dad – full-voice theatre talking gets sushed) he objected! me: yes. shh. him: oh, it’s okay. as if i was being some sort of theatre-talking-prude about the whole thing. lighten up, i can talk loudly in the middle of a show. relax. argh! we all know how much i love to be told to just calm down, and then when i wasn’t even being at all uncalm, and it was, fer godsake, my dad being a rude theatre patron… well, that was not one of the exciting things of the evening.
back to the happy. exciting thing number four, which will segue us into reflections on fame and how i’m not altogether well in the head – john lloyd young. john is starring as frankie valli in jersey boys. john is making his broadway debut. john also went to brown, and came to talk to my senior seminar class, back when he was but a wee struggling actor. (though he, small boy, will always be wee.) for those of you not from brown – senior seminar is one of those rare wise moves on behalf of the brown theatre dept – first semester senior year, all theatre concentrators – right, theatre majors – take this once-a-week class. every friday a brown theatre grad comes back and tells you (us) what they’ve been doing out in the real world with their super-useful degree. (lucky for us i was smart enough to augment my useless concentration with that creative writing thesis. cha-ching!) john was part of what katie and i thought of as the hot guys streak in senior seminar – a two-guest streak of john and playwright dan o’brien, whom i don’t love any more because his play at second stage was weak. aaaanyway, john came to senior seminar, an engaging guest, and talked about being a wee struggling actor. cut to a year later, i’m working at chez gage, and jly’s (along with, yknow, every actor in new york) sending us his postcards. (he’s always been a little networky, but as we see, it worked.) so he stayed in my consciousness… and then, checking playbill as was (is) my habit (was my job – became my habit), lo and behold, there was john’s picture, with an article announcing that he’d be starring in jersey boys. i was happy for him, but not super-impressed, not really expecting the show to be any good. not even sure it’d make it to broadway. but it did. and many months later, a few weeks ago, some folks in the office, including bernie telsey, casting director extraordinaire, were talking about how it had all this good buzz. good buzz? i think to myself. a crapass jukebox musical getting good buzz?? (that’s when it occurred to me to take my dad for his birthday. before the nytimes rave, thankyou.) so then, of course, the nytimes review, which was generally positive, but a brantley-to-john love letter (like, putting him in the pantheon with kristen chenowith, norbert leo butz, and the conductrix from two gents).
so, suffice it to say, i’m really happy for john. this isn’t like someone very dear to me (i’m looking at you, posner) making their big break, but he’s no stranger, either. and this is a huge break, and he’s getting rave reviews, and his career is poised to be really amazing. (not to mention that he’s really very talented. i heart his bright little big voice.) i e-mailed him last week, mostly to congratulate him, and also mentioned (why not) that i’d be coming to see the show. he wrote back (like, two hours later, freak), and mentioned that, if i wanted, i should hang around to say hi after the show. and i did.
to be continued…
(really. it’s already obscenely long. more later, on meeting jly, broadway stah.)