We Got What We Needed

Which is to say, plenty of good ink. You’ll check out the website to see what Peter the Marxist, Examinerist, and Jewish Weekist all have to say about Judy Gold. In short, they dig her a lot. She’s funny as hell and a pro with a heart and something to say and a journey that’s all about Coming Out, as an ethnic mom. The unanimously good reviews (also from TV’s Faiga Levine, Rich Massabny, and always-first-out-of-the-box, Bob Anthony) disagree as to whether Judy’s dramatic stretches, where she personifies her interview subjects, becoming a Chinese-American convert to Judaism, a Holocaust survivor (or the daughter of one), or an ambivalent, non-practicing Jew married to someone much more observant — whether these sections are of the same caliber as Judy’s solo rants in her stand-up persona, or when she’s inhabiting her mother’s spirit.

Now in my own progam notes, I come squarely down on the side of championing Judy’s prowess as a transformative actress. The artistry of the piece comes from a big performer with a big ego slipping into the skin of other women to be rather selflessly respectful of their cadences, their internal rhythms and beliefs. I wouldn’t have brought the show down if I weren’t completely persuaded by the integrity of this act of transformation, and by the talent evinced in the acting out of these sections.

But i can report that on opening night, at least, these sections did not convey to the audience in ways that they had earlier in preview week. Meaning the ever-evaluating crowd did not take in those sections with the same electric connection with which they were enjoying the funnier sections. The dramatic interviews frequently did not end on a comic button, but lingered. The opening night audience was less impressed by the lingering; they lost a tiny bit of confidence, or joy, in the piece.

But that was, to my mind, unique to that performance. Other evenings, these sections of the show provide the right and effective depth and balance to the in-your-face ethnic stereotype explosions.

Audiences are sensitive to mutable dynamics. Dynamics are a function of alchemy; very live and, in some cases, sensitive elements that come together to create impressions; atmospheres. And some nights, these crystalize into perfectly realized undulating evenings of perfect proportion. And sometimes the elements don’t come together perfectly. Sunday night was not a transcendent evening. We had that on Saturday night with our standing ovation. We’ll get it back.

But the reviewers won’t be there. Never mind, a new audience will be.

And the box office, you ask?

Thanks for asking. It’s doing very well. We sold $4,000 in tickets yesterday, the day of the review. That for us, is a very good day. We’re at a $42,000 advance (and that maybe a bit low) on our way to a nut of $77K. Do I share these details? Should I? I just did. And yes, that’s a lot of money to expect; to budget for. But hey, we’ve got expensive shows all season long. So we’re hoping for happy times and strong sales for the next 4 weeks.Off to New York tomorrow to see 2000 YEARS by Mike Leigh at the New Group, SAND by Trista Baldwin at the Women’s Project, and maybe Mamet’s NOVEMER, or something else good, in additions to meetings with a couple playwrights, three directors, the Shubert Foundation and, best of all, my daughter, Izzy, just back from Israel where she had the proverbial time of her life (touring-wise, that is) with 30 cohorts from Oberlin. Can’t wait to see that girl. Oh, and seeing NO CHILD at Woolly tonight with my class.

As it’s been for a while now, more theater than you can shake a stick at.


2 thoughts on “We Got What We Needed

  1. Pingback: 25 QUESTIONS Closes With Huge Surge! « The Theater J Blog

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