Saturday, December 5, 2009

Me and Orson Welles--and Me

There are quite a few of us left who are fascinated by Orson Welles--his life and times, his persona, his work. When I saw reviews of the new film Me and Orson Welles, which basically said that they got it right this time, I knew I had to see it. With nothing special to do yesterday, I looked it up and found that it was playing at a few of New York's elegant little art cinemas, so I impulsively planned to go see it. I emailed a very New York friend, of my vintage, and also an aficionado of old-style theatre and films, and asked him to join me at the 3:40 showing.

Yesterday was one of those star-crossed days when nothing quite goes as planned. I didn't hear from the friend and figured he was too busy to check his email, but set off to the cinema palace on the Upper West Side where it was showing. The Light Rail was slow in coming, and then when I took the PATH train I had miscalculated and got on a "B" train when I probably should have found an "A;" that is to say, when I emerged from the subway I was on the wrong side of town and it was already showtime.

I still haven't quite gotten the hang of Manhattan yet. Maybe it's because I've been out of town for two weeks and my circuits are overloaded with information about Lower Alabama; maybe it's because they've changed some of the train routes since I lived here 20 years ago, or maybe--but probably not--it's just that my aging brain is not as quick at processing information, and after 20 years of not thinking about the map of New York City the medulla oblongata has shut down that valve.

I was discouraged coming out of that train near Rockefeller Center instead of near Lincoln Center, but I knew where I was, and after a rather harrowing train ride and walks through various subway stations, I just wanted to come home to Hoboken, by bus. That meant walking through Times Square and seeing all the happy people buying tickets to plays, the lights on the marquees, and all the hustle and bustle of the beginning of Christmas season in New York. My bus ride home was a relief.

Today I woke up wanting to try again. I got an email from the New York friend that he'd received my email in Chicago where he is visiting a sick friend, but that he'd seen the movie and loved it.

So I sorted out things at home and set off for a different cinema palace, which I was certain I could find, in the West Village. I decided to walk to the PATH train, and, timing that walk, discovered I made as good time on foot as I had yesterday on the Light Rail getting to the subway. Maybe better. I felt pretty good, because I knew that I would be only one stop from the movie. I did my homework and looked at maps of how to find it once I got out of the train--this may sound unnecessary, but the Village is a tangle of short, elegant streets peppered with interesting shops and romantic restaurants. It's easy to get distracted and lose your way.

It was raining today, and pretty cold, and the walk was much farther than I expected. At one point I asked an attractive young man where the Angelika was and he just shrugged; I then asked a pretty girl and she said, "Turn left at the next corner and then it's about ten blocks."

"Ten?" I must have looked askance.

"Well, maybe seven," she said. As I walked on I soon realized she was just trying to let me down easy--it was going to be ten blocks more.

That's one of the things I've gotten used to here, walking long distances to get where I need to go. I didn't do that last week when I was in Alabama; I was in a rented car. Walking is much better for my cardiovascular system.

Now I've gone off on a tangent. I was going to write a review of the movie. I'll have to encapsulate it by saying this: Me and Orson Welles is a trip back in time, to another place, another world really, when live theatre was grand and everyone was larger than life. Christian McKay, playing Orson Welles, had the man down to a tee but for the mellifluous voice that Welles used so theatrically even in small talk. MacKay has a fine voice, and all his mannerisms are very Welles-like, so I suppose this is carping. There are wonderful characterizations of other real people too, like John Houseman and Joseph Cotten, and it's a great escape to feel that you're back in the day when these people were young and vibrant.

Coming out of the movie, the rain was turning to snow. I had the long walk back to the subway, and all I could think about was that I was going to make myself some hot chocolate when I got home, and put some of the fresh mozzarella I bought at Fiore's yesterday on toast with some tomato sauce to rig something like a pizza for supper. Rather than walk all the way from the PATH station home, I took the Light Rail and got home and tucked into my comfort food, thinking about Orson Welles and his cohorts and the magic of the production of Julius Caesar in 1937 at the old Mercury Theater.

That's one thing about living in Hoboken--you're never far away from magic.

1 comment:

jacques mullet said...

Hiking in the Big Apple, eh. All that anticipation for a night of
real entertainment ...and ya missed it ? The good part is that you're back where you wanna be with the opportunity to do what you wanna do, I guess. I've been figuring the distance of 10 Apple blocks. My guess is about 1/2 mile.
At a fast clip, that should balance
out the tasty Italian left overs
in energy vs excess.
Sorry for the disappointment. Since you're there in the Ho, another jaunt to the City is but a day's wait, if that. Graham related his acting in an after midnight 'off-off' show. He said it was always fairly full regardless of the time. Of course that was 20 years ago.
Our little TH98 show, 'UG, the Caveman Musical' is coming along.
Two of the lead female singers had to drop because of family issues.
Undaunted, Marcus moved the backup singers into the roles.
One love interest of Ug is Fataltaba(sp); how's that for an eaters name, eh. We find few references to the show and think it has been done only a couple of times. Marcus is perfect for it as stage director and music director. He plays guitar for the rehearsals.
Much of his approach is less on specifics and more spontaneousness. Basic stage positions is all he does, leaving the actors to come up their own
business, which is never the same twice.. That would make me crazy! Our patrons will love the show. As TD/ designer, I am making the most of it. Marcus is more interested in a few special effects than a 'concept'. Concept, that's my job, and it's happening. One of the Street's (farmers) has folks in Kenya. He is also the keyboard player. He brought 2 gnu hides and a zebra hide for set decor
that will add a nice touch to the cave. The songs vary in nature from ballad , to rap, t o Elvis imitation to operatic 3 part harmonies. Maybe,someone will make the show famous up there, even though the printed music score leaves a lot to be desired.
Marcus got lucky with the Ug auditions. Ug actor is a new guy, never before seen on TH98 stage. He is the AT&T district manager for U-verse and can sing.
...I'm gonna get U-verse as soon as it is completely installed. ..
He said that "The Beaux Stratagem"
was the best show he's ever seen , NYC and all! Says he lived all over, too. whoa, eh.
I recommend either of these TH98 shows if they come to stage up there.
I hope you're all readjusted to being a ....mmmmmmm back .
........My bad news is that my old truck died up the road and is sitting there all alone tonight.