But the most significant celebrity death I want to note is that of composer Jerry Bock, who wrote the music for several of the best musicals of the 1960's, along with lyricist Sheldon Harnick. Fiddler on the Roof was, of course, the most successful and was, in fact, the first musical I ever saw on Broadway. I have a particular fondness for a few other Bock and Harnick musicals - Fiorello, She Loves Me, and The Apple Tree. Goodbye, old friend.
My theatre going has continued. Friday night I saw Hair at the Kennedy Center. It's hard to remember how radical this musical was when it opened in 1967. The only thing I particularly remember was that everybody talked about the actors stripping at the end of Act I. That was really pretty underplayed in this production. If I hadn't remembered the buzz about it from my childhood, I'd almost not have noticed. The other radical aspect was the lack of much of a plot. Essentially, the whole thing can be summed up as "a would-be hippie named Claude gets his draft notice and isn't sure what to do." Normally, that thin a narrative line would annoy me, but I found the show enjoyable by thinking of it as more of a rock concert than anything else. Claude's interactions with his parents provide some good theatrical moments. The tribe playing up to a couple of straight tourists would also work well if the scene were edited some. The need for editing comes up again in the long hallucination sequence in the second act. But the music is enjoyable and the high energy made it fun to see. I want to note the excellent performance of Paris Remillard as Claude, who stood out amongst a generally fine cast. Steel Burkhardt was effective as Berger, but that makes him hard to actually like since the character is really a self-absorbed jerk. The one weak spot was Katie Rockwell as Sheila, who substituted volume for accuracy in her singing. I will note that it would probably be best to sit in the rear orchestra, as there were times when several cast members were behind my seat in row P.
Finally, I went to Signature Theatre today to see a new comedy titled Walter Cronkite is Dead. This show, writtedn and directed by Joe Calarco, involves two women, Margaret and Patty, who are stuck at Reagan National Airport due to bad weather and end up sharing a table at a bar. Patty is a loud Southerner, while Margaret comes across as more refined. Gradually their stories come out and it turns out that neither of them is quite what they seem to be at first. This was definitely my sort of comedy, where the humor comes from the characters rather than the situation. I will note, however, that a lot of the humor seems specific to Washington and I'm not sure if an audience unfamiliar with this region will get some of it. And, of course, the basic premise doesn't make a lot of sense since any sensible person flying to either London (Patty) or Moscow (Margaret) would be taking a non-stop out of Dulles, not chancing a connection from National. People who are not frequent flyer geeks like me will be able to just let that go more easily. My enjoyment was also helped by two excellent performances - Sherri L. Edelen as Patty and, especially, Nancy Robinette whose timing and deadpan expression were right on the mark at Margaret. All in all, I was reminded of why I subscribe to Signature.