Weighing in on the run-through of THE HOMECOMING

Yankeefan007
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Overall, a very solid run-through of a very bizarre show.

Notables in the audience included Eddie Kaye Thomas and girlfriend/life-partner/wife Ari Graynor, as well as Dan Sullivan's wife Mimi Lieber, and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.

It played Stage 2 at New World, which normally houses CELIA. The spare walls of the CELIA set were fitting for the production, though provided for slight confusion among the cast.

Sullivan welcomed everyone and introduced the cast, to so much applause that they (the cast) had to gesture for everyone to stop. Raul Esparza seemed to be the joker of the bunch, dissolving into laughter a number of times. When Dan Sullivan introduced the time period, Raul looked at the set and said "And we're in Cuba, right?"

Casting-wise, I say most assuredly right now that this could very well end up Raul's Tony (though everyone said the same about Company, so I'll end right there). His dry, sardonic performance soars above everyone else's except Ian McShane, who is also incredible.

Couldn't understand a word Gareth Saxe said, couldn't decide whether his accent was a character choice (he's a boxer, and with his accent, you can assume he was hit in the head too many times). Eve Best doesn't ooze with the sexuality needed to make Ruth a temptress. Michael McKean and James Frain are strong, and McKean makes the most of his thankless part.

The biggest problem were what seemed to be age discrepencies. Best looks much older than Frain. Frain, who playes the oldest son, looks significantly younger than Esparza, who seems to be closer in age (and stature) to Best.

The 2 hour production (guy at the door said Act 1 was 48 minutes, Act 2 was 52) flew by. They made the plea for Broadway Cares, all six holding buckets. Was very surprised and dismayed to see people NOT donate. Don't get me started.

You can tell the cast members can't wait to get on stage. And I, for one, can't wait to see how it turns out fully staged.
Updated On: 11/25/07 at 11:55 PM
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Fantabulous428
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I found the whole thing to be rather uneven, but I'm willing to let that slide since this was their first time running it through in front of an audience. I'll revisit it again once it's all settled in a few weeks (hopefully).

And Yankee, I totally agree about Saxe. Thankfully, most of his lines are repeated by another character soon after he says them. Though I have to say, I'm really curious to hear his normal speaking voice!
I recognize the addiction to being alive.
Updated On: 11/26/07 at 12:02 AM
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jordangirl
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I enjoyed it quite a lot. Well worth the 4 hours spend sitting in the cold and hour and a half+ standing up inside.
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luvtheEmcee
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Ah, you posted just as I bumped the other thread.

I actually disagree about the Tony, at this point. I mean, yes, it's too early to say ANYTHING substantial, and yes, I am biased beyond any sufficient admission, but it has nowhere near the sparkle and beauty and intensity that his Bobby had. I do think he will really nail down this part soon, though, so perhaps my opinion to that affect will change. re: Weighing in on the run-through of THE HOMECOMING I know I hold him to ridiculously high standards. And besides, it's a silly discussion to get into. It's November.

The play is EXHAUSTING. In the best of ways, I think. I cannot stop thinking about it. There's a lot that I don't get, and I love that I don't get it. I love that it leaves your mind chasing its own tail. I agree with you, Yankee, that it flew by. It is a devilishly funny play.

As far as the performances, I thought there was not a weak link in that cast. Some of them need to work on their accents, but I think that will come with time. Gareth Saxe is, as Yankee said, difficult to understand at times, and Raśl is screeching like he did in Taboo... which, I'm sorry, I love the man, but needs to stop. I had never seen Eve Best before, and I think she is an absolute TREASURE. God, she is incredible. Ian McShane is great, too.

Oh... what else. I like Raśl's approach to play Lenny crazy-obnoxious and even rather childlike, but I do think he needs to bring it down a few notches, so that when his character has those moments of quiet intensity, the transition from one to the other isn't as bumpy. But he will get it. I know he will. I think he's gonna be brilliant, but he needs to trust himself, because he is a smart, smart actor, and really shake those nerves. I loved the way the seduction scene was staged -- absolutely brilliant. And even though there are obviously still things to be worked through and kinks to figure out, it's very well directed. And that much said, I think what we saw tonight is the making of something quite spectacular.

I'm thrilled that they did this -- it was fascinating to get a look into a piece of the process we don't normally see, and all for a great cause. You can tell they were excited to have an audience to work with. I'm a total sucker, and gladly turned over more than I'd planned to. re: Weighing in on the run-through of THE HOMECOMING I love love love this play, and cannot wait to see it in full production.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 11/26/07 at 12:22 AM
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NuggetMonkeys
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Yikes. I hate to be contrary, but I found Raul's performance to be one of the weakest in the cast. He was so obviously squirming from nerves (even joking with the audience through the stage manager's "standby" call)... I'm sure he'll settle in, but tonight was no Tony performance.
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LimelightMike
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"Joking with the audience"...

Please, elaborate, please.
RentBoy86
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He seems to aware of himself.

I'm curious to know how the set will be and how costumes and makeup will add into the age descrepency.
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NuggetMonkeys
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In his place at the top of the show...

Raul: Jeeze. This is scary. We thought this was a good idea, but now that we're up here -
Stage Manager: Standby!
Raul: Okay, okay...
Vary My Days.
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Fantabulous428
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You missed one re: Weighing in on the run-through of THE HOMECOMING

Raul: Line!
*audience roars with laughter*
SM: Standby!
Raul: Okay, okay...
I recognize the addiction to being alive.
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misschung
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"I don't know how to light these things..."
The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go --doesn't it?
April Saul
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Hey, this was a lot of fun! It actually did occur to me that Raul might be nominated for a Tony; it was hard to take your eyes off him while he was on stage. They really did look like they'd been practicing nonstop, like they told everybody--although nobody here yet's mentioned the one moment that the entire cast cracked up and couldn't stop laughing. After waiting for hours in the cold--hey Jordangirl, it was nice to meet you!--I still felt it was worth it, even though I will definitely give this play a read before I go back again, there's a lot there to think about. I don't know how much this will change, or what the critics will say, but there was just such a sense of joy for the performers in being able to finally do this for an audience, and on our side for getting a peek in such an intimate setting. And I actually ran into Raul before the show and got to tell him that the strike looked to be settled any moment; he seemed so happy to hear it that I hope I wasn't wrong! Just an all-around treat, and a happy coincidence for me that I actually had a ticket for today's 3 pm performance at the Cort, and wound up being able to catch it anyway...I'm dismayed to read that folks weren't contributing afterward; I wasn't watching other people, but anybody who didn't put at least a twenty into those buckets should be ashamed of themselves!
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misschung
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I felt bad passing the other cast members in the lobby, because I'd already given money inside the theater. I can understand if some people gave less based on what they could afford, but at least give something!

This whole evening really was a brilliant idea, for a great cause. I hope they raised a good amount of money
The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go --doesn't it?
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luvtheEmcee
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Hah, I know, when I saw them all out there, I realized I should have split my sum up amongst them as opposed to just dropping a single bill into the first bucket I saw, so it didn't look like I wasn't donating. re: Weighing in on the run-through of THE HOMECOMING

ETA: Not single as in one-dollar. Single as in one. I gave more than a dollar, but I just realized that this post could read as me being way cheap.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 11/27/07 at 01:20 AM
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Wanna Be A Foster
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For all of you who waited for hours in the cold, I applaud you. I didn't think I was going to get a ticket, because I couldn't make it there as early as I had hoped. I showed up at 7:30 and got two tickets. My friend and I ended up in the front row on the left.

The standout performances for me were Gareth Saxe and James Frain. Saxe was totally unpredictable, very human. He really embodied his character. I felt the same way about Frain's performance. A very detailed, chameleon-like portrayal.

Raul was very good, but he sort of felt out of sync with the rest of the cast. From the performance I saw tonight, I doubt he will win a Tony for this role, especially if he is in the same category as Saxe or Frain.

Michael McKean gave an understated performance in what might otherwise have been a throwaway role. Very good work here.

I have to head to bed now, but I'll have more to share tomorrow.

Brava and thank you to the cast for sharing this piece with us tonight as a benefit for BC/EFA.
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I certainly don't remember the cast cracking up...
I remember them laughing once, but it was still in the play...
They never broke from the play.
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luvtheEmcee
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No, they all did once. I can't remember what line they were laughing at, but everyone was sitting down. Raśl laughed first, and then it kind of went around the cast. Some just masked it better than others. :P
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NuggetMonkeys
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It was something about when Lenny and Joey had sex with the two girls. "Yes you will. And nevermind about that contraceptive protection."
Something like that.
I would still maintain that they didn't break from the show.
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luvtheEmcee
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No, that's not the one I'm referring to. I'm looking through the script to see if I can jog my memory as to when it was, but so far, to no avail.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 11/26/07 at 01:46 AM
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Let me know if you think of it.
I just don't remember that happening...
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Cages or Wings
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Yeah there was another moment where everyone broke. Ian McShane laughed so hard that he cried. It was in the second act. The scene where they plan for Ruth to stay with them. And happened right after Ruth came out and sat down. I can't remember the specific line, but that was the scene where they all lost it i think.
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misschung
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Yeah Ian's face was bright red, lol
The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go --doesn't it?
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luvtheEmcee
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I think it was the beginning of Act Two, somewhere around the part where Lenny asks Teddy about his teaching. Lenny was on the couch, closer to downstage... I think Joey was sitting next to him? And I think Max and Ruth were in the two forward-facing chairs.

It will probably come to me as soon as I turn my computer off for the night. re: Weighing in on the run-through of THE HOMECOMING It definitely happened, though -- the audience was laughing with them, which perpetuated it in the first place. :)
A work of art is an invitation to love.
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frogs_fan85
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It was the line about using the table for fire wood that got the entire cast going.
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jordangirl
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April Saul, it was great to meet you too! :)

There was also the moment when Eve went "out" the wrong arch for the stairs and had to turn around.

I was glad to see it on stage. I'd gotten the play from the library and read it, and that had me kind of neutral about it. But for me it's definitely one I needed to see in action to get.

And misschung ~ I divided what I had because I'd wanted to put my donation in Eve's bucket, but Raul was kind of blocking the steps (which I found kind of obnoxious they'd let him do that when we couldn't even sit down next to the glass wall because of the "fire hazard"! The stairs were definitely more of a fire hazard. Oh well). It wasn't much, but it was what I could do right now.
Experience live theater. Experience paintings. Experience books. Live, look and listen like artists! ~ imaginethis
LIVE THAT LESSON!!!!!!
Yankeefan007
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In the script, the line reads "Joey: Chop it up for firewood. (Lenny looks at him and laughs.)

Raul did laugh, but then he lost it and everyone else started laughing, as well. Perhaps there's an inside joke with that line, perhaps it was the first time Saxe said the line that way, perhaps Raul was legitimately listening to the conversation and found it so funny he couldn't stop.

That said...

Funny, the reason I thought Raul was the most interesting because he was so over-the-top. I didn't attribute it to nerves (never even occurred to me that he'd be nervous), I just figured it was a conscious character choice. I couldn't take my eyes off him, every time he was on stage (Ian, either.) He could get away with it as that character, and the choice to be such a man-child worked well in the space. How much he'll have to notch it down in the Cort remains to be seen.

And I, for one, thought it worked. And it's still one of the strongest featured male performance I've seen this season.
Updated On: 11/26/07 at 06:53 AM