This week began with my sister and her family visiting from Virginia. On Monday night, we hauled it over to the East Side to see Closer Than Ever at the York Theatre's home at Lexington and 54th. First of all, the whole experience reminded me of being a kid… in the sense that I used to get cast recordings, memorize them and then see the show. There was something so thrilling about finally getting to see the staging for something I had listened to again and again. Well, usually I would get the cast recording for a show, memorize it and see it within a year. In this case, I got the cast recording for Closer Than Ever on cassette tape and listened to it on my signature Walkman for a whole summer. I memorized it as usual, but instead of seeing it within a year I wound up not seeing it until 23 years later! I told you I have adult ADD.
Anyhoo, I loved it. A lot of musical revues I've seen have actors that come off looking generic because there's no dialogue to solidify their characters. Or the actors come up with a lot of shtick to make themselves unique. In Closer Than Ever everyone is so likeable without resorting to non-stop bits and each has a distinct, different energy (or "flava" as the kids say). After the show, I saw Richard Maltby, Jr., who wrote the lyrics and directed it and I complimented him on how great the staging was and how each actor was able to shine without pushing. He told me that he told the actors they each have an interesting story to tell and to remain modest. Hm...it sounds like a combination of a screenwriting class and Parochial school, but it worked. During the show, I was sitting next to my 15-year-old niece, Eliana, and my sis Nancy was sitting in back of us with her husband. Throughout the show, Eliana and I kept hearing sniffing every ten minutes because Nancy kept holding back tears. I totally was right with her, tears-wise. The tears in the eyes weren't because the songs are so sad, but because of the humanness of each one — plus the delicious harmonies!
By the end of the show, Nancy had an enormous crush on Sal Viviano, one of the actors. We went backstage and Nancy introduced herself with typical Rudetsky-no-boundaries-style. "Hi! I'm Seth's sister… and I think I totally want to marry you," she said while shaking his hand. "And, to add to the awkwardness of that comment," she remarked while gesturing the person in back of her, "this is my husband Allan." Brava. In conclusion, get thee to the York! And if you don't know the brilliant Closer Than Ever score, watch these deconstructions here and here.
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