Honestly, I had just about given up hope that the Downtown Cabaret would ever again stage anything I would be remotely be interested in seeing.
Now I get a postcard in the mail promising the “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in June. A fairly recent (originally) off-Broadway Tony-award-winning hit that actually launched the career of my favorite Modern Family actor.
Let’s hope others feel the same so theaters will be encouraged to offer better things on stage. Is the Playhouse on the Green rewarded when they stage quality choices? I don’t think so or else they wouldn’t be doing stuff like “Rocky Horror” or “Barnum.” Encourage their more ambitious work! Their upcoming David Mamet play “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a nice choice, and I know they had planned a staging of the highly emotional play “Equus,” but their penis quota probably ran out when they played to the crowd with “Full Monty.”
Also, their Web site hints broadly that they will be staging “Rent” this summer. Not a bad choice for local theater — I’m not asking for the Long Wharf, after all. My tastes are fairly middlebrow, too, but I’d prefer to think of it as upper middlebrow. Anyway, I hope it pulls in enough people to satisfy their box office.
Because if it doesn’t, it’s back to the same tired Smokey/Plaid-type musical revues, Catholic school sendups and one-offs with people who are really just rehearsing for a bigger tour.
Sometimes old reliables that might make a REAL theater snob roll his eyes comes off well. Through the years I loved “La Cage,” “Sweet Charity,” “Buddy Holly” “Sleuth,” “Love Letters” and “Six Degrees” and last year’s “Five Angry Jurors” was an entertaining as could be, all with local actors.
And I’m the first to admit my tastes don’t always mesh with my neighbors’. At a Barnum Fest show at the Klein one year, there was a two-part presentation: a famous female illusionist who I loved but had the audience bewildered. The second act was a Neil Diamond tribute band, which the crowd went wild for. Hey, they were good but not something that would have gotten me out of the house for the evening.The crowd went for the act that offered the familiar, the comforting, the nostalgic. They were a little freaked out by the man in the dress, even if her music was also taken from an established and familiar songbook.
It’s just that I get impatient when I sense the lowest common denominator is Bridgeport’s most prominent fan base.