Monday, April 8, 2013

Fifth Ann-iversary!-- Ann on Broadway.

Thanks to The Culture Mom, we were able to spend our fifth anniversary on a Broadway style date! (Well, it wasn't on Broadway, it was Lincoln Center, but what the heck! And as it turns out, the Vivian Beaumont Theater IS a Broadway theatre, even though it's not that close to the theatre district.)

We got tickets to see Ann, a one woman show about former Texas Governor Ann Richards, written and performed by well-known television actress Holland Taylor.  Taylor has been a television staple for over 20 years, including turns on television shows such as 2 1/2 Men, Bosom Buddies, and The Practice, and movies such as Romancing The Stone and The Truman Show.

(PLEASE NOTE: We received free tickets to the show, in hopes that I would write about it.  Opinions expressed are not influenced by the free-ness of the tickets.)

Before I go on, let me just say how pleasant it is to go on a date with your wife!  (well, my wife)  We don't do it enough.  We talk about doing it more, but it just doesn't happen.  I need to find a way to make it happen more often.

We ate at a delicious Indian place near Columbus Circle called Sapphire.  After dinner, we strolled over to Lincoln Center, did some people watching and just hanging around, and then into the theatre. (By the way, the show has been extended until September 1 so you can probably get great tickets via Ticket Liquidator.)

My wife really liked the show, and at the end about half of the crowd gave Holland Taylor a standing ovation.  While I liked the show, and thought Holland Taylor did a brilliant job acting as Ann Richards, I wasn't quite feeling the love for the play as a whole.  Here's why:

Holland Taylor as Ann Richards Photo by Ave Bonar
The play has a great central idea, that Ann Richards, even DECEASED, is still giving talks at little high schools/colleges, etc. in Texas.  It's brilliant as an idea, because she was known as a workaholic, do-everything kind of person that managed to be personable and "small-towny" while at the same time being hard as nails and a ruthless politician.  I think that there may have even been a joke about her circulating that she'd be speaking at these kinds of things when she's dead.  Certainly it's a standard politician meme, and here it seems to come true.

Unfortunately, we don't get clued in that she's dead at the onset, so it becomes a little weird at the end when she starts talking about her funeral.  And about a third of the way through, they seem to abandon the premise of "speaking at a high school graduation" and suddenly she's in her office and doing all kinds of officey things.  At the very end, they fly in the graduation set again, and I had a moment of cognitive dissonance when I realized that she was supposed to have been dead the whole time.  I wish the director would have embraced the concept of her being dead a little more, and right from the get-go.

Actual portrait of former Texas
Governor Ann Richards, Dallas News
As I said above, Holland Taylor did a wonderful job as an actor.  I completely bought her as Ann Richards, and I felt she got her warmth and toughness down just perfectly. The monologue (which does feature the voice of another character, in the office section) has some wonderful parts, including some very funny phone conversations with Bill Clinton and an assistant who is afraid of coming in because he forgot to do something.  There's also some drama-filled sections, as she decides whether or not to give a death-row inmate a stay of execution.  But there are some repetitive parts to the monologue also, and Ann rambles and ambles all over the place.  Some judicious editing could reduce the show by about 25 minutes or so, and do away with the intermission.  Then I think the show would move from enjoyable to compelling.

Ultimately, it was a pretty enjoyable evening at the theatre, and a memorable Ann-iversary.

Ann runs at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center through September 1.

Go to the play's website for more information:

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