But! the theater! If you're Michiganish and are going to see "The Suit" at the Power Center Friday or Saturday night (closes Saturday! best to nail it down now), lucky you! Stripped down stage set (a handful of chairs (brightly colored), a garment rack, a table), four beautiful, talented performers and three wonderful musicians, whose music weaves through the monologues, dialogues. A mournful accordian wonders onstage, a trumpet summons New Orleans, a guitar is nimbly strummed and plucked. Love, betrayal and carefully kept garments, set against the backdrop of later apartheid era South Africa (based on a short story by Can Themba, who wrongly predicted that the beautiful tale would make himself and his wife both rich; it was instead banned, and he eventually died from complications from alcoholism). Sounds heavy, I know. But it is surprisingly light, in its experience. The cruelty, yes, is as fresh, and intimate, as the hope of beauty. But beauty there exists.
****Inside (well, in Sochi), Bolero, beautiful landings, but the legs are getting tired: a triumph for Carolina Kostner of Italy! Outside: THUNDER SNOW.WHA????. Michigan, we give. we surrender.****
When the female lead, Nonhlanhla Kheswa (playing Matilda), first breaks into song, it was the first-best present of yesterday. She started in Lion King on Broadway at 16, so no wonder, but we (partner-in-crime/Javier) didn't know that. Watch the first video here, for a lovely snippet from the performance. Could she be more beautiful, more composed? Numerous presents followed. I have seen *so* many fantastic shows since taking up with the ever-so-busy boyfriend last January, but this was definitely close to the top. The story was deceptively simple, as the best stories often are: and the pared down actualization of it had the feel of the best folk tales and story books. Poetic, multi-faceted, true.
But a moment in acknowledgment of the further presents, by no means limited to this highlight: Jordan Barbour, as the friend of our male protagonist, Philomen, sang one of the most unexpected -- and to my mind, best -- renditions of "Strange Fruit." I do not say this lightly. This is a song I never want to hear singers other than Nina Simone or Billie Holiday perform. People overestimate themselves, throw vehemence at an already powerful song, and butcher it. Barbour, however, sang it softly, conversationally; as if encountering it for the first time, but knowing it to be true. I got to speak with him afterwards, and he said this was a song he and Peter Brook have continually gone back and forth on -- he had to pull back from prior training, to sing it simply, to "let the words of the song be the guide." He said they had just, um, intensely discussed it over the past week. And moreover, through their global tour, across all the musical numbers, they vary it constantly: maybe it would be sung a capella, or with trumpet, or, or, or. Such agility, for both the actors and musicians alike.
So anyway, if you count yourself lucky, you should be in the audience tomorrow or Saturday night. We're more likely to regret what we haven't done, rather than what we have, right? And this includes opening yourselves to these life-giving works of art, whether performance or quietly (/not so quietly) hanging upon a wall.
Visit an official take from the NYTimes here, but maybe if you're going to see this weekend, don't look! SO nice to be more surprised, right?
- "Meadowland: Stolen Jazz" Kheswa and her Martians, lovely weekend soundtrack
- Acting reel for Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays Philomen, to Kheshwa's Matilda
- Plus his twitter account, not because if short, epic brilliance, but OMG check out his photo backdrop! Scroll down! Period dress or Alice in Wonderland? Please tell me. I'd take it either way.