Tag Archives: theatre

Texas treat

What I would have given to have been able to take notes as I watched the play Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards, at the Kennedy Center this week.

In fact, I had tucked a notepad and pen into my purse, thinking I might be able to capture a memorable line or two for later use. But I was so riveted to the stage (figuratively, of course) that I abandoned the notepad and lived in the moment—for two and a half hours of this one-woman play.

The play is the brainchild and product of movie, television and stage actress–and now playwright–Holland Taylor, also newly deemed my favorite actor.

After having met and admired former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Taylor was inspired to memorialize Richards in a play about her life, à la Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of Mark Twain. She began the endeavor following Richards’ death in 2006.

There’s little arguing that Richards was both an inspiring and polarizing political figure in the United States in the 1980s and 90s, though people around the world were amused by her colorful use of language, her unique and thoughtful perspectives and her unbridled passion for changing the world around her.

I knew about Ann Richards even before she commanded national attention because I worked in the government affairs office of a large Texas corporation when she was State Treasurer.

A memorable line in her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention was only one of hundreds characteristic of her, many of which I heard for the first time at the Kennedy Center.

Regardless of what anyone thought of Governor Richards, I can’t imagine a soul on the planet who wouldn’t fall head over heels for Holland Taylor’s portrayal. The posture, the mannerisms, the accent—specific to her little part of Texas—were traits flawlessly mimicked, with the help of Tom Hanks’ dialect coach, and the late Stella Adler, the acting instructor with whom Taylor worked for much of her career. The hair—which the late columnist Molly Ivins called “Republican hair” and which my mother used to say looked like Richards had it done at Dairy Queen—was the work of noted wigmaker Paul Huntly.

Ann closes at the Kennedy Center January 15, so there’s still time, and worth the scramble, to last-minute get tickets. If you miss it in Washington, the play heads to Broadway next.

Here, have a peek:

I went with four of my former lobbyist cronies. Now that’s our idea of Girls’ Night Out.

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Filed under Politics, Theater

Divine misery

It was a fitting backdrop.

Gloomy skies. Hovering gray clouds. Damp, chilly air. Persistent rain, following a month of persistent rain. Profound fatigue. Even a sinus headache. Miserable. Just miserable.

And perfect. Perfect for going to see Les Misérables.

I had given the tickets to my husband for Father’s Day.

We had never seen the show. It was coming to The Kennedy Center on its umpteenth tour, so I thought it was time to see what the 25-year-plus sensation was all about.

I hope it’s safe to divulge that I knew next to nothing about the play. Granted, it’s said to be the longest-running musical in the world, the third longest-running show in Broadway history, based on one of the most notable novels of the 19th century. I should have done my homework but, because the weekend sneaked up on me, I didn’t read up as I normally do before seeing a show.

A friend was kind enough to give me a synopsis over lunch on Friday—between bites and meeting agenda items. Otherwise, I might have surmised that Victor Hugo penned an entire story around a Susan Boyle hit.

After an insufficient night’s sleep, a long morning at church and a big lunch, the first act of yesterday’s matinee was an exercise in foggy frustration, as I struggled to piece together, ce qui au nom de Dieu, was happening on stage. The novel—1900 pages in French, 1400 in English—is composed of 365 chapters, so I cut myself un petit peu de slaque.

I found that the music itself created a story through sheer emotion, even without the lyrics; in fact, my husband and I agreed it was the best score of any Broadway production we’d seen. Otherwise, we’d have been tempted to walk out at Intermission for as well as we could follow the plot.

But we hung in. Between acts, we re-read the program synopsis and hoped for the best. Besides, we had great seats.

The curtain rose on the second act and all became sharply clear. My headache even went away. The social and spiritual themes came  to light—grace, forgiveness, sacrifice, redemption, love. I cried as the finale was sung, first by Jean Valjean and then by the ensemble. I put on the CD last night and played the song several more times.

I might need to see Les Miz again. In the meantime, I now have one more selection to add to my funeral playlist: “Finale,” and isn’t that fitting as well?

Subject for another day: Do you have your funeral music picked out?

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Filed under Music, Theater