Wednesday, March 8, 2017

From One Generation To Another, But In The Same Theater

In spite of the need to pay attention to our present political situation, I think I'm going to take a break from politics here for a little bit, and write about more pleasant topics.

The fall of 1972 was kind of a revolutionary (pardon the pun) year in my life:  I saw the film version of the Broadway musical "1776" and visited my first Broadway theater, and fell in love with both.  I had been interested in theater before that, even taking an acting class at Center Stage in Baltimore. But, for some reason, that was the moment I really fell in love with theater, especially theater in New York.  Maybe it was the leading men involved.  In the case of my first Broadway theater, the now-departed Morosco, it was Alan Bates in Simon Gray's "Butley."  And, of course, in the case of "1776," it was William Daniels as John Adams.

Daniels has had a long career and a significant number of memorable roles, which he talks about in his soon-to-be published autobiography.  But he spent two years on Broadway playing Adams and, though he had been working for a while, it was probably the beginning of the phase of his career as a star.  And all of those two years were just around the corner from where the Morosco was, at the 46th Street Theater (now the Richard Rodgers).  So, for those two years, it was his professional and artistic home, in a role where (as he note in the linked article) he was almost always on stage .

Thanks to landmarking, nearly all of Broadway's historic theaters are now protected, so the Rodgers is still with us.  How amazing is it that it is once again the home of a Broadway musical about the founding of our nation, "Hamilton."  And what a wonderful moment it must have been for both Daniels and Lin-Manuel Miranda to meet backstage, in the same building where both of them became stars.

I've written about all this previously, but it's worth doing so again, if for no other reason (apart from taking my mind off Trump) than the fact that it points up the way in which historic structures unite us across time, in the same space.  To borrow a phrase from Hebrew, L'dor V'dor (from one generation to another).  May the Rodgers and other theaters do that for many years to come.

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