Friday, June 24, 2011

Now. Here. This.

Photo Credit: Dirty Sugar Photography
If all those hot-ass people in the picture look familiar, they's the same team that brought [title of show] to Broadway a few years back.  Susan Blackwell, Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Heidi Blickenstaff, Larry Pressgrove, and Michael Berresse have collaborated on a brand new show, very different from their previous creation but also, very much like it.  They'd been work-shopping it at the Vineyard Theater on 15th St. for the previous two weeks and while it's current incarnation is now over, there is no doubt that you haven't missed it.
Now. Here. This. once again focuses on the four lead actors playing themselves but instead of focusing on the creation of a musical as they did in [title of show], they roll out their individual histories and backgrounds, all pointing to the importance of being present, at this moment.  Thus Now. Here. This is about enjoying that very moment in the darkened theater with the actors, watching them relate different but shared experiences in their past that all lead up to the show the audience was experiences.  It held remarkable similarities to the meta approach they took with [title of show].
Even though the show is still in work-shop form, the team presented a fully formed, well-paced musical that moved swiftly from vignette to vignette but tied together in many layered ways though never forgetting to keep the audience in the "now-here-this-ness" of the show.  The individual humor of the four actors was clearly present throughout but under their expert control, they were also able to guide the audience down some serious moments from their childhoods, being frank and uninhibited in the content and expression.
At the end of the show, the director, Michael Berresse, was clear that there wasn't a clear pathway for the show going forward.  They very much wanted to work shop the show for a live audience which is common in the theater world, and from there, see where it would go.  I'm encouraged and believe that Now. Here. This has some strong legs to stand on and very much look forward to the next venue it dives into so that for anyone who missed this version, there will be ample opportunity to catch it again.

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