Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Saying Farewell To Our Town

Saying Farewell To Our Town

Yesterday, it was announced that the current Off-Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town will close September 12, 2010.

David Cromer's stunning revival has been nothing short of transcendent stage entertainment since it first arrived in New York City from Chicago in February 2009. Prior to its present incarnation at Off-Broadway's intimate Barrow Street Theatre in the West Village, Cromer first mounted Our Town during The Hypocrites' 2007-08 Season and then again from September 30 through October 26, 2008.

Once the production hit the Big Apple, the director became the toast of the town and the revival became an award-winning sensation. Our Town began previews at Barrow Street on February 17, 2009, and then opened on February 26. Cromer would earn Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Director, and the show itself would win the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Production in 2009.

This past December 16, after playing its 337th performance, Cromer's Our Town made theatre history by becoming the all-time longest running production of Wilder's enduring work.

Personally, I was absolutely blown away by the production when I first saw it a year ago last spring. Its mesmerizing images still linger in my mind. As a result of seeing this version of Our Town, a show that I admit to having long since dismissed after seeing it one too many times, I could not stop talking about how Cromer and his team had completely converted me to a believer in the play's unspoken charms. Seeing it also made me actively seek out other shows with Cromer at the helm.

On that point, there's another mind-blowing Cromer revival still playing in suburban Chicago. That's A Streetcar Named Desire. If you're anywhere near Chicago, you can't afford to miss this excellent production. Coincidentally, it too is set to close, in this case on August 12 after three extensions. Curiously, the production space at Glencoe's Writers' Theatre is not unlike that at Barrow Street, and high profile reviews would suggest that New York producers may have been contemplating a transfer, if not to Barrow Street, then to a venue very much like it. Personally, I would love to see Streetcar take Our Town's place.

Whatever the future holds for Streetcar, Our Town's life is drawing to an inevitable, yet celebratory close. Helen Hunt will serve as the stage manager through Sunday, August 1 (I'll be in the audience for the Saturday matinee). On August 3, Michael McKean will return to the role he first assumed earlier this spring. Then on August 24, David Cromer himself will usher out the show he brought to breathtaking life right through its September 12 closing.

Here's to Our Town -- truly one of the best and most innovative shows I've seen anywhere over the last ten years.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 28 July, 2010, Anonymous Chris said...

I've already purchased a ticket to see it when Cromer returns, in the same seat I saw it over a year ago with Cromer. I'm incredibly excited, to say the least.

At 28 July, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Chris, That's exciting. And great to hear from you! It's been too long!

At 28 July, 2010, Anonymous Tuli Reno said...

I was hoping Our Town would play on forever so I could see it every time I came to New York. I saw it twice, first with Mr.Cromer and then Steve Kunkel who was very good, also. I had no idea what to expect the first time. I remember when Mr. Cromer came out and started talking, I wondered who he was until he got to the latitude and longitude and then I remembered these were the opening lines in the play so he must be the Stage Manager. Silly me. As I wrote to you before, I saw Streetcar in Glencoe and I agree, if Our Town has to end, it would be a good replacement. Tuli Reno


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