Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reflections about...Arcadia on Broadway Performance Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 8 PM

It finally happened. I finally got to see Arcadia on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theater! I had been looking forward to it and was so excited about it when the day finally came. When we got to the theater, I was so thrilled and in awe to actually be there. It made it real for me. We had really nice seats as well. Because my father had helped me out with the contest, I decided to invite him along to have the other ticket and also considered it as part of my Father's Day gift to him. It was time well spent with him. :)

I really loved the play! The cast, crew, scenery, and music all put together made for a very nice production. As opposed to when I first saw it, which was my freshman year of college for a class in the Alexander Kasser Theater itself, I found myself understanding it more. (In fact, the Ethel Barrymore Theater reminds me a bit of Kasser due to its shape and size.) This time around I had already done my research, read it, and learned more about it, so I wasn't completely clueless. Let's be honest. The play has a tendency to be confusing lol. However, it also has a tendency to be very intelligent as well, which I really appreciate and why I like the play in the first place! What is interesting as well is that I was able to compare and contrast the production on Broadway to the one at my school, and in many ways it was similar, thus bringing back memories. :)

What was really admirable was the enthusiasm of the actors. They were so passionate about their characters' intentions and also seemed more relaxed and at ease with each other than what I recall seeing in my school's production. For example, the characters of Hannah Jarvis and Bernard Nightingale sport this rivalry and in many ways I considered Bernard the villain of the story because of how I have seen him portrayed and described and what he says and does in the play. At times I thought they hated each other because of their differing beliefs and personalities and how the often butt heads. However, this time around, Lia Williams and Billy Crudup, who each portrayed Hannah and Bernard respectively, seemed to still argue about their respective beliefs but were more friendly about it. They often laughed and were extremely lighthearted. Even the "insults," didn't seem to sting as much. When one seemed to fail, the other one showed compassion. Hannah didn't belittle Bernard's every move in a way that made her seem condescending and Bernard wasn't as harsh with his critiques. They both wanted to see the other succeed and joked and bantered in a way that friends would, not enemies.

Even when it comes to the relationship between Bernard and Chloe, Bernard was a little more likable in the Broadway version. At the end when Bernard was about to leave, he and Chloe parted on okay terms after he revealed to her that she will not return to London with him. However, in Montclair's production, they included an act that isn't in the script. In Montclair's Arcadia, Chloe slapped Bernard for his rejection because he acted more inconsiderate of her feelings, which is another reason why I feel that the characters' relationships with each other was more on the rocks in the Montclair version than in the Broadway version. It was an interesting addition and I liked it for being unique, don't get me wrong, but it definitely makes a difference when it comes to how one perceives the relationships between characters. It certainly adds a different aura to the final outcome and what you witness on the stage.

I also found myself liking Valentine, played by Raul Esparza, more this time around. Allow me to remind you that I am an English major and Valentine's field is in the mathematics and science department, so obviously I wouldn't connect much with him as I do with other characters. Upon first meeting Valentine, I did not understand him or his purpose in the play at all considering his work while Hannah and Bernard focus more on literature and history. I didn't see the connection, and once I did, I still didn't fully understand what Thomasina discovered, which is what Valentine eventually determines. Don't give me credit though. I still don't now after seeing it on Broadway. I just kind of get it better now than I did. Regardless, I liked Valentine on Broadway because he was so laid back and comical at the same time. I probably understand him a bit better now too, which helps.

What was really cool was finally seeing the show live after seeing clips of it on YouTube. There's something about seeing a show live and seeing performers right there in front of you. It's like, "They are real!" (I feel the same way anytime I attend a "So You Think You Can Dance" Tour lol.) It also gave me a chance to reminisce about my freshman year when I first saw the play with friends and had to write a response paper about the show (which I am thinking about sharing on this blog). It was actually the first show I saw at the Alexander Kasser Theater as a student at MSU, which itself had a magnificent cast, crew, scenery, and music as well, so it is one of my fonder college memories, the main reason why I wanted to attend the Broadway production so badly. :)

Oh yeah, and did I mention that THE MERYL STREEP WAS THERE THE SAME NIGHT I WAS??? She and her daughter were there to support her other daughter Grace Gummer, who played Chloe. That woman is a New Jersey legend and one of my favorite actresses so I am so honored to have been in the same theater with her at the same time! It was funny because when I saw her before the show started walking in with her ticket I thought she looked familiar but it didn't dawn on me right away. Then I was like, "Oh my gosh, that's Meryl Streep!" People were getting her autograph during intermission but I wanted to take a picture with her after the show and perhaps talk with her and do one of my video interviews. But, sadly, she left during curtain call and I wasn't able to find her. Regardless, she was still there, sat a few rows in front of us and on the aisle like us, and walked right by me at one point!

Just in case you don't believe me, I provided you with the status update on the Arcadia on Broadway Facebook page about Meryl Streep's presence to prove it to you. (I edited it for privacy reasons.)

The last point I'd like to make is that I really like the theme music as well. It's so cheery and catchy! It gets stuck in your head, but you don't mind. ;) It is actually the background music of this video and is played at the beginning, middle, and end of the show.

I don't often visit the city, which is surprising considering my theatrical self, because I often like to stick to theaters in New Jersey considering on this side of the river there is not as much hustle and bustle. However, Arcadia and New York City has inspired me to try to see more shows. It is exciting there, after all. In fact, next week I am going to be seeing Jersey Boys with my friend Lauren and her family, so I will probably reflect on that performance as well. :)

I even have some multimedia content for you! Click here to see the numerous photos I took. For the documentary film I took of my experience, which includes ferry rides and Sardi's Restaurant and Grill, please click here.

Thank you so much to the marketing team at Arcadia on Broadway for creating the "My Arcadia Photo Upload Contest" and to all those who liked the photo! I had been interested in seeing the Broadway play since I first heard about it and when it first premiered, and had also wanted to see another production of it since I saw it at school, so I am extremely grateful for being able to see it before it closed. It was a really close call too, because I saw the play only a few days before the last showing. :D 

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