Monday, March 30, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W13: What We Lost, Whom We Lost, What Will Return

I'm not sure what to write for these at the moment. The instinct is to keep going, to keep producing something, if only a brief chronicle of what it is to be here right now. I'm sitting alone at home, in self-enforced quarantine because I'm 98% certain I caught COVID-19 (stay calm, I'm fine right now, I don't have a fever, I can breathe fine, yes I have people checking on me, and I love you too. Sidenote: losing your sense of smell is unnerving as hell). The times are strange, people are sick, people are jobless, people are scared. People are making art. People are dying.

Last week, the Broadway productions of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Hangmen announced that they would not be returning when this is over. Meanwhile some productions have elected to defer their runs to the fall season, including Lincoln Center's Intimate Apparel and Flying Over Sunset and Roundabout's Birthday Candles and Caroline, or Change. I note that the delayed-but-returning productions so far announced are produced by two of NY's biggest not-for-profit theater companies. Another not-for-profit, City Center Encores!, has canceled the remainder of its season, while NYTW and CSC are suspending but holding out hope to return. We don't yet know the fate of the majority of the commercial productions. Theater award ceremonies like the Tonys and the Outer Critics have delayed to unspecified dates. I'm sure there will continue to be further developments, and I'll try to chronicle them here.

Beloved theater interviewers have presented star-studded remote video specials/series for charity. Rosie O'Donnell hosted a one-night only return of her popular talk show, and Seth Rudetsky introduced a new series, "Stars in the House," both projects raising money for The Actor's Fund. Patti Lupone took us on a tour of her basement, and I'm wondering if Jonathan Tolins will write a sequel to Buyer and Cellar for Michael Urie. NTLive and Met Opera have begun streaming their archived content online. I've also heard there's a good Amadeus streaming soon courtesy of Syracuse Stage, starring Jason O'Connell.

Stephen Sondheim turned ninety years old, and the theater community assembled a video montage of long- and short-distance well-wishes.

But then we lost Terrence McNally to the virus on March 24. I don't know if I can find the words for this.  His contribution to American theater was vital, a career spanning six decades and winning numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Tony. He wrote not just the books to stellar musicals like Ragtime and The Full Monty, but also the iconic plays Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, Lisbon Traviata, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. His chronicling of the gay experience in America was groundbreaking. His voice was special. His spirit was generous. I don't have the words. We shall not see his like again.

McNally wasn't our only loss. Two days later, beloved character actor Mark Blum also passed away from coronavirus complications.

And now, with your patience, someone assembled a video montage of some of Buzz's best moments in Love! Valour! Compassion! This role was written specifically for Nathan Lane, who has performed in many McNally plays over the years.

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