“Other Desert Cities” and Other Family Drama

I’m making an effort to write about productions and exhibitions that are still open and viewable. This is not. But in the midst of the current political season and with a possible movie adaptation of the play in the works—which I actually support for once—I thought a discussion of this Tony and Pulitzer-nominated production might be pertinent and apropos. So Other Desert Cities. It’s a story where everyone is right until everyone is wrong. It’s all fun and games until someone’s suicide didn’t actually happen. Wait, let’s back up.

"Other Desert Cities" Playbill
Other Desert Cities Playbill

In the trendy world of dysfunction, we’ve seen enough tension over Thanksgiving turkeys and fighting in front of tacky Christmas trees. But the tree glows merrily and is perhaps ironically comforting this time in the fussy, mid-century modern, southern California living room. After some meaningful sentiments, gently tender glances, and private conversations to establish emotional bonds (the familial equivalent of picking dodge ball teams in these narratives), the once peaceful tide changes before the cast heads out to dinner for the holiday (“Why do you think they invented country clubs? So hipsters and their Jewish parents wouldn’t have to cook on Christmas Eve”). The tenser discourse arises following the announcement of a book authored by daughter Brooke, who lives in a charming cottage on the East Coast. Oh, and she’s just recovering from a six-year depression with nothing to show for it but a failed suicide attempt (apparently something simple like “working mom” doesn’t satiate today’s audiences). Originally a novel, what now surfaces in the book is a detailed account of the family’s dark history with the eldest son. And her parents are not amused. It’s unnecessary and unproductive to recount the dark and complex details of the web of lovingly administered deceit and secrecy, but after a young life of political and social angst culminating in accidental involvement in terrorism (oops!), Polly and Weston help him fake his suicide and retreat to northern California for amnesty. The emotional blow quickly evaporates into a conflicted but ultimately tolerant understanding amongst the family members.

"Other Desert Cities"
Rachel Griffiths and Stacy Keach in Other Desert Cities

Having seen numerous of these “family-centric serio-comedies” (more on that later) and coming from a close, connected family myself, it was refreshing to see the characters actually have a few moments of playful banter and loving gestures before the warm consoling morphed into stabbing claws. Really, when you’re all mature adults, what’s a few jokes about being late for an Al Qaeda breakfast meeting for a good laugh after a morning tennis game? It actually wasn’t until the manuscript was physically present that the emotional turmoil began and minimal shouting erupted (that was a nice benefit of having the story be about emotionally-repressive Republicans—they don’t so much shout, but drink). In The Lyonscommented on previously—the characters entered more contentious than presidential candidates who haven’t released their tax returns before the debate on the economy, their combative emotions bolstering from zero to sixty so rapidly as to prioritize this aggression as needing treatment before the alcoholism and blatant homophobia. In this Palm Springs mansion, emotions fester until they are dragged unwillingly out and plopped on a chaise lounge for some uninvited confrontation. In a touching maternal moment, as Brooke explodes in frustration, Polly raises her hand soothingly and says quite simply, “Alight, calm down. We’ll talk about it.”

August: Osage County--"You're invited to one bitch of a family reunion."
August: Osage County—”You’re invited to one bitch of a family reunion.”

Perhaps the theatrical world is becoming jaded to these family-centric serio-comedies when it is revealed that the long-lost son who legendarily committed suicide is actually alive and you think, “Eh, I’ve heard worse.” For example, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (the new production appropriately housed in the same theater as Other Desert Cities), the “mythical” son takes a bit of a step further as a metaphoric weapon used by George and Martha in their emo-intellectual war games aimed at dismantling the very institution of marriage, a seemingly comforting unit of stability in the tense Cold War era. Now that’s messed up. But what makes the genre so accessible is its relatability because everyone has a family, no matter the level of estrangement (or intensity of derangement). (In fact more of both fosters even better dark comedy.) But in this familiarity it’s becoming evident that narrative innovation has grown stale. When an alcoholic becomes a “token” character, pill popping is mundane, and pot smoking is a banal bonding exercise, one must ponder: aren’t there other extremes we can explore? Or is that too terrifying? Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County brought a healthy dose of humor along with the drama, but almost selfishly took any plot of dysfunction to its literary extremity, forcing deeper, darker creativity. But then is the humor even appropriate? I say always.

Judith Light and Stockard Channing in "Other Desert Cities"
Judith Light and Stockard Channing in Other Desert Cities

Through this conflicted family, playwright Jon Robin Baitz presents an intersection of liberalism and conservatism, as demonstrated at this Christmas gathering in 2004. The stalwart Republican regime against the fluid lucidity of the liberal tidal wave. No actual policy is addressed, but rather the lifestyle ideologies of the people themselves—to use Baitz’s word, “portraits.” Although in one of the most profound lines of dialogue, Aunt Silda departs from this as she angrily shouts, “You spend your time supporting a war started by a man whose father you occasionally dine with.” An oversimplification of political motive, yes, but also a well-articulated assassination of political dependencies. Through a purely conservative lens, we see a society of oppression and intolerance; but with its purely liberal foil is revealed an unstructured world of chaos and debilitating irresponsibility. Putting it in the fictional context, Polly, a strong Texas woman who is obsessed with constructed perceptions and mortified at the possibility of people seeing past them, contrasted with her sister Silda, desperate to reveal truth but always a few too many drinks in to take a stand (ideologically or physically). Their tense but symbiotic relationship is captured through a brief exchange viewed here: Polly and Silda jest about fake Pucci. Or to put it more succinctly for the family as a whole:

Brooke: My mother said she’d never speak to me again.

Aunt Silda: I’d take that deal in a heartbeat.

Desperately at odds, but still lovingly (or spitefully) unable to detach. The meaty political analysis is surprisingly nonpartisan in its conclusion, revealing that ultimately everyone strives for the same outcome. So why does it have to be so strenuously difficult to get there?

The cast of Other Desert Cities
The cast of Other Desert Cities. Photos courtesy of Lincoln Center Theater and Steppenwolf Theater

Suggested wine pairing: With November 6th just around the corner, we’re all going to need a lot of whatever the suggestion is. In an attempt to honor Baitz’s nonpartisan approach to political thinking, I will not suggest red or anything produced at a vineyard whose soil was ever tilled by donkeys. A Sauvignon Blanc recommended from New Zealand might invoke imperialist sentiments… A Chardonnay from California might be deemed too liberal for our more conservative readers… Is there still resentment toward France or have we started eating their fries and toast again? It appears that everything is innately politicized—write in whatever you want.

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Dots and Wit: the Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective

Before viewing the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective, I had been completely oblivious to the double entendre on the word “comic” in his work. So let’s take a closer look:

"Magnifying Glass," Roy Lichtenstein, 1963

“Magnifying Glass,” Roy Lichtenstein, 1963

"M-Maybe," Roy Lichtenstein, c. 1965

“M-Maybe,” Lichtenstein, c. 1965

To the average person, “comic book paintings” fairly encapsulates the artist’s oeuvre. He gets swept up with all the other 1960s artists and eclipsed by the Abstract Expressionists, more undervalued because of the pop culture references and lack of supposed ideological backing. Warhol of course garners more credibility because of the cult of “pop” he created around him and the celebrity status he attained (and please, we’re all numb to the serial images of the already over-exposed Marilyn). But the biting commentary on social norms of the era and subtle wit Lichtenstein employed to do so are a true revelation in understanding his place in the art historical spectrum. He started his career in painting with the no doubt artistically satisfying task of painting dial markings on volt and amp meters. Perhaps informed by this unexpected education or perhaps not, he approaches his subjects with reductive minimalism, but happily not the pretentious kind that is increasingly unimpressive. Equipped with a simple color palette and clean lines, he has almost reveled in his role as the quirky middle child of Contemporary Art.

"Alka Seltzer," Roy Lichtenstein, 1966

“Alka Seltzer,” Lichtenstein, 1966

It’s almost unfortunate that he never pursued a career in animation—pair him with an Alan Menken score and imagine the Disney masterpiece! Even his rough sketches—assuming they were actually rough—display a skill in rendering human features more effortlessly than even the Old Masters themselves. Through the aforementioned minimalism, a simple line is contoured into the anguished face of a pilot or a distressed damsel, their thoughts comically lackadaisical to their often dire situations. A personal favorite component surfaces in these sketches: while typically mere details in an excited composition, organic elements with sinuous curves empower static forms giving them added motion and energy, and are somehow vacated of the sinister fear that pervades such forms more famous in the graphics of Art Nouveau (ironic, as Lichtenstein was dealing with the very real terror of the Cold War instead of the nineteenth century equivalent of Y2K). Cartoonish scribble is refined and integrated into masterworks of superhero proportions.

"Varoom," Roy Lichtenstein, 1963

“Varoom,” Lichtenstein, 1963

And the dots. Simple and seemingly unsubstantial, but really a witty and adorable supporting chorus to underscore and unify Lichtenstein’s boldly dramatic themes and undercutting commentary. Not as submissive as the aliens in “Toy Story” nor as diabolical as Gru’s minions in “Despicable Me,” but with an attitude and a snark all their own—like a fleet of sedated Flubber. With a humble beginning like Lichtenstein’s, they were first produced with a plastic bristle dog-grooming brush—no doubt applied with OCD-inducing, systematic diligence—before he developed an aluminum stencil for their application and they became a staple in the artist’s work, like a lorax, a sneedle, or a Foona Lagoona Baboona in a Dr. Seuss book. (Unfortunately the gradated dots of his later work were less successful, but since I am otherwise a fan, I won’t dwell. Although I will give him props for the skin tones and depth of features achieved in his later nudes—a bit pixilated, but we will prevail.) It’s hard to believe that they are not derived from Seurat’s divisionism given their color, shading, and ultimate depth they provide a piece, but Lichtenstein was clearly not a colorist, unless you count the primaries.

A fun Art History exam would be to present a series of Lichtenstein paintings and then identify the source of their inspiration. These are not his iconic works, but they are done in his iconic style (mostly). Test your knowledge by guessing this one: (Hint!)

"Washington Crosses the Delaware I," Lichtenstein, c. 1951

“Washington Crosses the Delaware I,” Lichtenstein, c. 1951

(The above piece, which I have lovingly dubbed “Washington Paddles the Delaware,” is perhaps best appreciated with this musical accompaniment as background music.) When asked of his parodies, Lichtenstein commented, “The things that I have apparently parodied I actually admire.” However, stripping the paintings of their historical ethos reminds us why art exists in the first place: creative exploration and expression. Despite his talent and inspired vision in the evolving but seminal culture in which he worked, this grounded mentality was invariably present in his art, as he once retorted with the modest comment, “Brushstrokes in a painting convey a sense of grand gesture; but in my hands, the Brushstroke becomes a depiction of grand gesture.” It’s refreshing when someone is spared from possessing demonic artistic ego.

The exhibition itself speaks volumes, so pay it a visit before it closes in early September.

"Entablature," Lichtenstein

“Entablature,” Lichtenstein

Suggested wine pairing: Lichtenstein had a penchant for being simple and subversive; try something also praised for being “bright and zesty and crisp”: an Albariño. Perhaps a bit exotic in name, but hopefully with a similarly refreshing power behind its punch (equally as advisable with sarcasm, but less so with hot dogs).

"Hot Dog," Lichtenstein, 1963

“Hot Dog,” Lichtenstein, 1963

Pinterest and the Tyranny of Taste

(Disclaimer: I wish I could claim authorship to that title, but its brilliance is derived from Jules Lubbock’s The Tyranny of Taste: the Politics of Architecture and Design in Britain, 1550-1960, a rather dry read about British design during its most boring periods.)

PinterestSo I set up a Pinterest. Exciting, no? My mind is spinning from all the repinning. Another social media outlet to check obsessively and another password to forget instantaneously. But with Pinterest, social media bursts through the layers of the social strata and invades the aesthetic realm (the filters of Instagram add more of a cataract feel than artistic value). Just how Facebook and Twitter are barometers of sociability, Pinterest is arguably a measure of taste—as the number of Twitter followers indicates how people feel about your abbreviated thoughts, followers on Pinterest is a commentary on your aesthetic. When you first sign up, you’re automatically assigned to follow ten people selected by Pinterest based on their high numbers of followers. Who are these people and why are they forced into my consciousness? Are they groundbreaking, aesthetes or just people who have exorbitant amounts of time to spent on the Internet? (The latter is correct.) I currently have 2 followers (only one was obligatory through friendship); meanwhile everyone with an Eames chair pictured somewhere has at least 100 (to me, an Eames chair is like a skinny tie: it demarcates taste and style, but no one who uses it for that reason knows why).

In my previous post while discussing the Stein Collection, I mentioned the role of tastemakers. I suppose it’s not fair to make grand assertions like that and then not back them up, but the Stein’s were part of an elite circle of taste and culture makers, and what they have collected survives as the defining perspective of the era, even it was not shared by the masses (this of course prompts questions about the avant garde and its place in society, but I don’t have time for that because I have pinning to do). To call this observation original, however, is an egregious inflation of my intellect; Pierre Bourdieu beat me to it with Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, his analysis of taste as a systematic weapon for the regime of the elite—its tyranny, if you will. As a free website as accessible as Google or perezhilton.com, the previous statements are probably positive reinforcement for Pinterest’s democratizing effects and my skeptical comments are becoming an overly harsh condemnation of the site. It is after all just intended as an arena to share “stuff” you find visually appealing with friends. But who can attract the most “friends” potentially shifts the power of and who is a “tastemaker,” and provides a quantifiable measure legitimizing their position—mine is 2. This is not a complaint, but an observation of the phenomenon of social media. This also may be an overestimation of the cultural influence of Pinterest, but if you are persuaded, prepare for a world of hipstered, Instagrammed, Brooklynized modernism—a place where you try to project sophistication and erudition, but never quite manage to feel clean. Think Urban Outfitters, but with some discernment. If you wish to antidote that, judge me or humor yourself: Pinterest.

Suggested wine pairing: The aforementioned hipsters drink PBR, but I would never dare go down that treacherously unappetizing road. In the interest of culinary taste, let’s refer back to the iconic purveyors of modern aesthetic taste, the French: a red Bordeaux in a fancy glass (plus a foreign language pun on this conversation!).

The Past Six Months: Art and Design

In part two of our season premiere, art & design:

@MetAmericanWing: The expanse of the Met never ceases to amaze, as evidenced by this iconic juggernaut:

"Washington Crossing the Delaware," Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1851

“Washington Crossing the Delaware,” Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1851

Even the frame is imposing. Just when you think you’ve explored everything the Met has to offer, they open two new wings (this with the Islamic wing, which I regrettably have not seen because I have been literally unable to find it). The reinstalled American Wing is not quite the labyrinth of the European galleries, but that continent does have centuries of heritage on us in that regard. And while not my personal taste, I do commend the sincere inclusion of artists like Frederic Remington who are usually relegated to small, regional museums due to the lack of widespread rock star luster (and East Coast snobbery). Take a moment to hike up to the second and third floors of the faux-façade to experience the period rooms—delightfully more inhabitable and less pretentiously guarded than the French Regency rooms. But beware of their shocking realism and your seemingly gargantuan height. People have evidently grown exponentially over the centuries, because the rooms have been installed to a historically accurate scale and my modest height of 6’1” required extensive ducking amidst the low-hanging beams.

Proscenium, Radio City Music Hall

Proscenium, Radio City Music Hall

@RadioCityMusicHall: America’s Showpalace! It is a house performed by such musical luminaries as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, and of course, Justin Bieber. It is not only one of the country’s most famous theaters, but perhaps more importantly a quintessential exposé of American Art Deco, significantly the United States’ first own design style. The building is a glossary of the Art Deco vocabulary—I won’t bore you with the art historical details, but it transports you back into a more decadent era, when entertainment merited such a cathedral, as it was not reality television (which I am watching right now). So for those of you with aspirations to win a Tony Award or an MTV Video Music Award, here’s your view:

Stage View, Radio City Musical Hall

Schiaparelli

“Portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli,” George Hoyningen-Huene, 1932

@ImpossibleConversations: If you ever wondered who was responsible for people being horribly dressed in the 1990s, blame Miuccia Prada. “Ugly Chic,” as she calls it, is the cornerstone of her design process: “It’s about bad taste—which is part of life today.” Can’t say I disagree with that. She challenges standards of beauty blah blah blah—doesn’t everyone think they do these days? Prada’s supposed foil—and the other end of this “Conversation” analogy—is Elsa Schiaparelli, arguably the fashion equivalent of Surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

"L'Officiel," Elsa Schiaparelli, October 1937

“L’Officiel,” Elsa Schiaparelli, October 1937

With how seriously the fashion industry takes itself today, none of her designs would make it down the masochistic runway. While paired with Prada, someone like Jeremy Scott would perhaps be a more accurate contemporary parallel to Schiaparelli, as he too navigates his career with tongue firmly lodged in cheek and a delightful twinkle in the eye. The exhibition’s “conversation” is a little forced, edited and styled to more conveniently make the point, but ultimately it is an exciting fashion show, even if some comparisons seem too similar for two completely independent minds to have conjured them.

"Woman with a Hat," Henri Matisse, 1905

“Woman with a Hat,” Henri Matisse, 1905

@TheSteinCollection: Exhibits of collections from the perspective of the amasser harbor increasing fascination, such as the Met’s prior exhibition of the collection of influential gallery owner Alfred Steiglitz, as their distinct personalities emerge from the mounted walls. It also proves that art survives based on the whim of the tastemakers. The paintings themselves were almost underwhelming in how iconic they are—basically the Modern Art lecture from Art History 101.

"Gertrude Stein," Pablo Picasso 1905-06

“Gertrude Stein,” Pablo Picasso 1905-06

Numb to the smattering of $25 million+ artwork (one ill-placed sneeze might knock off a few mil.), one of the most impactful features was the presence of floor-to-ceiling photographs of the original rooms the paintings once called residence. These images not only contextualized the paintings and their collectors, but also broke the cadenced monotony of painting after painting after painting…after painting that is sometimes the unfortunate side effect of white-walled museums, instead creating a celebratory paradise for the work of Picasso and Matisse.

Willem de Kooning

“Composition,” Willem de Kooning, 1955

@ArtOfAnotherKind: Is it too irreverent to call the Guggenheim Museum an architectural whipped-cream dollop? Prairie School fans are gathering their pitchforks. As a Guggenheim novice, most time was spent enamored with the architectural flow rather than the exhibition itself—and there were Impressionist paintings I should have been impressed with! The exhibition itself is a winding tour of Abstract Expressionism as shaped by differing Post-War cultures, and was the perfect guide for an introduction to the Guggenheim since these paintings work best as decorative accents (oops, did I say that?). But the re-visitation effect of cycling back down the rabbit hole, afforded by the aberrant architecture, grants the opportunity to re-ponder the amazing canvases on view.

Mathieu_53.1373_ph_lg

“Painting,” Georges Mathieu, 1952

Suggested wine pairing: Well, my strategy has been to find the largest bottle at the cheapest price—keeping it classy. At least it’s not in a box.

The Past Six Months: Theater

Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. I apologize for the extended absence—I know all my followers (both of you) have missed my commentary dearly. It has been a tumultuous semester that hasn’t left much time for superfluous blogging. To comment on the cultural escapades of the past six months, a summary of each in the form of a quasi-tweet (with far more characters than Twitter’s sadistic 140). For the theater revue:

"Sons of the Prophet" Playbill

“Sons of the Prophet” Playbill

@SonsOfTheProphet: It’s jarring but highly entertaining to witness a comic analysis of the psychology of suffering. This Pulitzer-Prize finalist is a condensed but thought-provoking ride addressing many of today’s most relevant and perplexing issues with subtly and finesse. The story chronicles a family—descendants of the spiritual advisor Khalil Gibran and experiencing the recent loss of its patriarch—as they reluctantly deal with increasing exposure from the highly public death, personal health issues, care of elderly family members (comically and relatably portrayed), conflict-of-interest romantic relationships, pushy publishers with burgeoning alcoholism, and the maintenance of a decidedly private family history. And it’s all done in one act; the only critique would be this solitary, lonely one act. The sophistication of Stephen Karam’s writing and the sensitivity of the acting coalesced into a beautifully funny play asking the most complex questions of the human condition. I found myself thinking about it almost daily for literally months since its January 1st closing. So let’s have a séance to pray for a Broadway run, original cast intact and not too emotionally scarred.

"Wit" Playbill

“Wit” Playbill

@Wit: One must feel sorry for Cynthia Nixon having her fame derived from appearances in things like “Sex and the City 2: Carrie Needs to Shoe Shop on Another Continent to Realize that Even in Marriage She’s the Same Self-Absorbed Narcissist She’s Always Been.” Her acting talent far surpasses simply being an intelligently sarcastic red head; her performance as the stoic and cancer-ridden Dr. Vivienne Bearing in Wit makes one think bald is the best state for her head. Nixon skillfully navigates each line, applying the appropriate emotional pressure at the core of each scene while comically punctuating where needed. And that punctuation is very needed. Although this was the first revival of Wit (and first Broadway production), I think time will reveal that this is the new “it” role—à la Mama Rose—for actresses looking for a career-validating performance (and one of the most well-written plays in the American theater canon).

"Venus in Fur" Playbill

“Venus in Fur” Playbill

@VenusInFur: Fun, kinky, creative—not the typical adaptation of a book, and not a place to bring your parents, unless family dinners usually involve someone dressed in leather lingerie or a spiked dog collar. David Ives’s approach to this stage adaptation of the book as a simple casting session with the source material as its spine refreshingly antidotes the scores of movies plopped on stage under the guise of “a musical” whose songs sound like they were composed by a songwriting computer. And from this simple premise that theater folks know so well evolves a complex matrix of sexual politics, creative desperation, and humorous manipulation. Oh, and produces a Tony for its captivating leading lady, Nina Arianda. Vanda (the human manifestation of Venus in the play) enters with a bolt of lightning, which seems like obvious divine mediation, but the rest of the play flirts seamlessly between reality, theater, and the supernatural. It manages to never veer into the vulgar or explicit, despite being about S&M, which is refreshing, but perhaps a little too PG, especially since Venus is involved…

"Anything Goes" Playbill

Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes”

@AnythingGoes: Sutton Foster. The end. The woman conveys more comedy in one glance than most sitcoms in their entire run. Anyone who can tap dance for ten minutes and then belt out the last note of the song as if it were the first deserves any award we can throw her way. And she will catch it, even if mid-splits. (True fans watch the full ten minutes, which should just make you happy because tap dancing heals all wounds—perhaps the Middle East should try it.) I saw one of her final performances (probably forever), and the audience was comprised of mainly theater nerds and old gays, so it may have well just been a rock concert. It has been fun watching her illustrious stage career of indelible performances, from 1920s sassy broad to 1930s sassy broad (with a tom boy and an ogre princess sandwiched in). The Broadway world will miss her as she ventures into the only entertainment medium dying faster than live theater: broadcast television.

"Clybourne Park" Playbill

“Clybourne Park” Playbill

@ClybournePark: All those racist jokes that make people squirm come to full explosive fruition in this hilariously eye-opening, Pulitzer-Prize and Tony-winning time warp set in a single living room in Chicago at opposite ends of a fifty-year period. Act one, occurring in 1959, has a “Mad Men”-esque hindsight is 20/20 feel as you flinch at the politically incorrect invective and the characters’ blatantly racist motives—tense with uncomfortable giggles. Act two, flashing forward to 2009, emancipates any restraint as a brilliantly comic, farcical registry of contemporary race relations in our supposedly post-racial America. After each joke in Act two, you can feel the rest of the audience brace themselves as you all collectively think, “Is everyone else going to laugh at that too, or I am going to look like the philistine jerk?” Cue uproarious laughter. If you can distract yourself for an instant from the verbal bullets being fired onstage, take a moment to observe how the audience responds to each of the racist jokes told by the characters—it’s probably more indicative of people’s thoughts on the issues than even the play itself.

"The Lyons" Playbill

“The Lyons” Playbill

@TheLyons: Any play described as “an acerbic comedy” will find me in its audience. What would happen if Lucille Bluthe from “Arrested Development” and the grandpa from “Little Miss Sunshine” were married and cancerous? Act One of The Lyons. Linda Lavin’s hilarious performance as Rita serves as the play’s only sustaining force (all other acting being insufferably over the top and characters overly pugnacious), but she certainly is a powerful force. Think Karen Walker from “Will & Grace” actually interacting with her step-children. In elevating such a character to a leading role, the plot takes disparate refuge in a sea of jabs, jokes, and sass. But since I only paid $20 for my ticket, who’s complaining! And it’s possibly the most quotable show of the season, for those not overly sensitive: “My, you’re cranky. This cancer has made you really unpleasant.”

Stay tuned for Part 2—the survey of Art & Design—soon! In the mean time, suggested wine pairing: In the opening number of Anything Goes, Reno Sweeney sings, “I get no kick from champagne/Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all/So tell me why should it be true/That I get a kick out of you?” How sweet…but DON’T LISTEN and drink that champagne. (She also mentions cocaine, but you’re on your own with that one.)