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The Commons of Pensacola previews

jbm2
Broadway Star
joined:3/26/11
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 10/23/13 at 12:28am
The commons of Pensacola began previews tonight- anyone go?
Really looking forward to this one...
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WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 10/23/13 at 10:34pm
I was there tonight and thought the acting was better than the play. It's unfortunate that The Commons of Pensacola is premiering in the wake of films like Arbitrage and Blue Jasmine because there's a "been there, done that" feeling with the plot and themes. You see exactly what the play is about and where it's going in the first 10 minutes. That's not to say it's a slog to watch or anything, but there are no surprises or big Other Desert Cities-style reveals to keep you on your toes either.

Blythe Danner's husband was a Bernie Madoff type who was convicted of fraud in New York and was guilty losing the fortunes of her now ex-socialite friends. Stripped of her own money and possessions Danner, like Jasmine, has been forced to relocate and live a humble and humiliating life. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Danner's daughter who has come to visit for Thanksgiving with her much younger boyfriend. (There are some coincidental similarities to Vanya and Sonia like an older sister returning home with her younger hot bf and a Jamaican(?) nurse who I was sure would warn them about Hootie Pie at any moment!)

Danner and Parker have good chemistry and are a believe mother and daughter. Danner does very well with some one liners early one; indeed the first 20 minutes were my favorite as the two traded wisecracks.

The big question with Danner's character was how much, if anything, did she know about the fraud. Examining the complicity and complacency of the wives in these situations was explored so thoroughly and cleverly in Blue Jasmine that this just didn't offer anything new to the discussion.

There were a few subplots with another sister and her daughter, but those characters weren't as developed as the other two members of the family.

There was no intermission and the run time couldn't have been more than 100 minutes. I appreciated that Peet didn't have her characters sitting around blathering about nothing for 20 minutes before any action started, I do think the characters could be given a little more room to breathe and develop.

I assume there will be some rewrites tweaking things here and there during the preview period. I wish them luck.

Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 10/23/13 at 10:41pm
Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself for the most part, Whizzer. I see it tomorrow night and I'm very excited!
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
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WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 10/23/13 at 10:56pm
I look forward to hearing what you think about it.

To anyone debating about shelling out the money to see this, at least the two stars are on stage for most of the play. You get your money's worth in that regard.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 10/24/13 at 11:14pm
I pretty much agree with you, Whizzer.

So, I have my reservations about the writing, but you just can't fault the performers, especially the much-touted leading ladies. They're both excellent, as is the whole cast. Parker is fantastic, bringing a lot of warmth and conviction to the part. In other hands, the role could sort of turn to mush, and come off as bratty. But Parker does a strong job of making sure we understand her characters deeply broken spirit and crushed self-worth. And Danner is every bit her equal, again taking a tricky part and managing to bring it to life in a way that makes us care about her, no easy task given her situation.

Now, for the play. It's not a bad start for Peet as a playwright. The 90 minutes absolutely fly by, the dialogue is well-written, and it's never boring. But that 90 minute running time is also her pitfall. She short-changes us on some character/relationship development, and looking back on it, she doesn't give any of the situations/onstage head-to-heads much time to settle or breathe. Unfortunately, this leads to a certainly enjoyable night of theater that does, however, feel slighter and less-fleshed out than one would hope. The B Story (stories??) here are pretty underdeveloped and mostly unexamined, and it's too bad because they're pretty interesting on the surface. In a rare instance, Peet has written a play that could benefit from more instead of less. The show started at 8:07 and I was on the street by 9:29. And I'd imagine once the usual preview issues (line stumbles, etc) are worked out, it will be running even a few minutes shorter.

Lynne Meadow deserves credit for directing the show with a steady and sure hand, as usual.

Side-note, but for the final scene change tonight, the lights didn't go down and two stagehands walked on and moved the set pieces around. I'm assuming this will be ironed out during previews, but if not, they at least need to dim the stage lights.

There were empty seats scattered around the front two rows tonight (I saw four or five in my sight lines), which makes me wonder why they aren't doing the usual 30 Under 30 promo code for this. I think a couple of people around me got their tickets at TKTS, so if you wanna check that out, it's a good alternative to shelling out $95.

Anyway, the acting is pretty strong across the board and Peet does have a knack for writing dialogue; it's just too bad she didn't flesh the show out some more.
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
Updated On: 10/24/13 at 11:14 PM
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jaxandmci
Stand-by
joined:8/1/11
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/4/13 at 10:58am
I'm with both of you, Whizzer and Wicked. It was great to see Danner and Parker together on stage and I think they both delivered excellent performances. Danner especially--makes we want to watch The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides all over again because she's so damn great! The primary plot was actually more engaging than I thought it would be and provided some interesting moral dilemmas--while those involving the other characters seemed contrived and as if they were added as filler.

Yes, Wicked, that awkward scene change near the end was still there and while the lights dimmed slightly, it was very disruptive. It would have made more sense to make the stagehands just part of the story. They could have been the production crew preparing the living room for the documentary filming (with Danner and Parker present) instead of having them tiptoe silently around the stage dressed in black with their big headphones and mics and radios and wires, moving furniture around and pretending to be invisible. What made it even more awkward was that my performance was being followed by an announced discussion with the cast and crew and I think many members of the audience thought they were setting up for that since the sofa was being moved to the front edge of the stage. People started leaving in droves and since the exits are reached from between the front row of seating and the stage, poor Danner and Parker had to do that final scene with people walking right in front of them. People were still leaving and walking along the front of the stage when the cast did their curtain call. It was incredibly rude.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and very fast 80 minutes or so, although I saw Domesticated that evening and found it significantly better.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/4/13 at 11:23am
A very poor play, and a waste of the talents of everyone on stage.

I know it's all about supply and demand, but to charge --- and get -- nearly $100 for an off-Broadway play? And one as bad as this?

Sobering.
Mark-o
Stand-by
joined:8/19/13
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/4/13 at 11:48am
Beyond bad!
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BwayGeek2
Stand-by
joined:3/9/11
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/4/13 at 12:48pm
I think it will be worth seeing simply for the fact that it is her debut as a playwright. Not to mention the two lead actresses are dynamite and I am sure they will do a great job even if the play itself could use further developing.
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Matt Rogers
Broadway Star
joined:10/4/04
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/4/13 at 07:50pm
A play that could "use further developIng" might want to think twice about charging a hundred bucks for the tickets for an off-Broadway supposedly non-profit house. I get it. They have the stars, so they will charge what the market will bear, but still. It's a little obnoxious.
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AC126748
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/06
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/5/13 at 11:58am
I know it's all about supply and demand, but to charge --- and get -- nearly $100 for an off-Broadway play? And one as bad as this?


The prices jump up to over $100--$105, to me exact--at some point during the run, as well. I think it's obvious that they're trying to make some cash off Parker's name, but has an Off-Broadway, non-profit theatre ever charged over $100 for a ticket? I can't think of any off the top of my head.
"You travel alone because other people are only there to remind you how much that hook hurts that we all bit down on. Wait for that one day we can bite free and get back out there in space where we belong, sail back over water, over skies, into space, the hook finally out of our mouths and we wander back out there in space spawning to other planets never to return hurrah to earth and we'll look back and can't even see these lives here anymore. Only the taste of blood to remind us we ever existed. The earth is small. We're gone. We're dead. We're safe." -John Guare, Landscape of the Body
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jaxandmci
Stand-by
joined:8/1/11
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/5/13 at 02:10pm
As a subscriber, I only paid $65 to see it (and got excellent seats). I would have paid $105 to see Danner and Parker but $65 was a better option.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/5/13 at 02:40pm
Danner was better than I expected, Parker as affected as usual, and the play has nothing to offer that hasn't been seen (better) many many times before. Based on this utterly pedestrian effort, I wouldn't say Peet has much of a future as a writer, unfortunately, but I've been known to underestimate the public's love of mediocrity before.

Updated On: 11/5/13 at 02:40 PM
Gina3
Swing
joined:7/20/13
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/5/13 at 09:30pm
I would agree with @newintown. I saw the play over the weekend and thought Blythe Danner was pretty good, but SJP was just OK. The writing, unfortunately, was quite pedestrian. I read in the New York Times that she had guidance from her husband, who is a writer for GAME OF THRONES, and from playwright Neil LaBute. I'm not sure they gave her good advice.
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Joviedamian
Broadway Star
joined:11/9/10
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/5/13 at 09:46pm
".... I think it's obvious that they're trying to make some cash off Parker's name..."

True, but we also have to think about how much Parker is getting paid for this play. There is a good reason why a non-profit may have such high prices; to support Parker's salary for this show. Non-profits don't have a lot of money to spend on star salaries so, maybe this was the way to get it. Plus, if she is that big of a draw, people will pay it.
sadephram
Stand-by
joined:7/27/09
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/6/13 at 03:45am
If anyone wants to make up their own mind, I'm selling a ticket for Dec. 10th :
http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.php?thread=1066150
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VotePeron
Leading Actor
joined:5/2/13
The Commons of Pensacola previews
Posted: 11/8/13 at 08:36am
Is there a rush for this? I'd love to see it without spending so much $$