Monday, March 26, 2007

Stern College's play, "Made Up:" An Off-Broadway Triumph

New York, the city that never sleeps, offered for three nights last week a marquis featuring my daughter--my beautiful bachorah-- starring in her college play. Yes, that's STARRING, not only holding the lead part, but lighting up the stage with her presence, delivering the most difficult of lines--mostly sentence fragments--with personality that developed with her character's ascent.

I'll flip over all the cards, as my husband is wont to say, in an archaic reference to the beloved TV show, "What's My Line:" The play was produced by Stern College, and playwright Chai Hecht created a bizarre plot in which my daughter, playing Nattie Barton, a reticent 19-year-old makeup girl for a TV talk show, becomes the leader of a cult that, via her charisma, grows to hundreds of thousands of followers. The most virulent of these insist she's the Messiah, and aim to prove it by shooting her--to demonstrate her immortality. Unfortunately, Natty was preceeded by several "false Messiahs" who resigned their posts by proving their own unworthiness--first by killing another and then taking their own lives.

But never mind that, the jerky bits of sentences expressing pregnant thoughts bumps the audience along (early on, one false Messiah does express exasperation with the incomplete and frustrating half-starts in Nattie's speech pattern). And ultimately, there's a scary climax that, over the three days' performances, becomes somewhat comprehensible.
I did view every performance offered. Had to. I had a bit part in the play.
My part was, appropriately enough, an audience member for a talk show who proffers cult-leader and guest Natty an admiring question: "How do you keep your figure?" This ponderous query was preceded with its own jerky repartee that was the devil to memorize, adding to my admiration for the eight women who so seamlessly interrupted and interjected and paused and pondered their way through the plot. Delivering sensible, complete sentences in a logical order is difficult enough, but to keep straight seemingly unrelated fragments, the intelligence requirement elevates exponentially.

All in all, participating in and watching the three evenings' entertainment, expertly directed by professional Reuven Russell, was more fun than I could have anticipated. The Schottenstein Cultural Center was pretty darn close to Broadway, and gave the feel of a "real" off-Broadway production, and watching my daughter command the stage was a life-peak.
And during the days? Let's just say that cheapo clothes emporiums on Broadway anywhere south of 24th street probably saw my middle daughter's thrilled and delighted face as she sifted through racks of trendy styles, mother (me) in tow. The one store I can personally recommend to any female who enjoys a staggering array of fabulously-priced costume jewelry is Accessories Palace, on Broadway near 32nd Street. I strolled the aisles there, tray of bargains in hand, gleeful grin and delighted words evident, until daughters were nagging me to go.

And then, there was the kosher food. Pizza--we in the northwest corner of the country are woefully without freshly-made kosher pizza, and at Circa and Jerusalem 2, we were able to replenish our pizza-starved appetites on thick crusted or exotica-topped choices. To live in New York and be Jewish is to drink of grease and goodness. Costs a bundle, but ummm, it's yummy.

So, as promised, that's the summary of my New York getaway. Oh, I could have mentioned our first day there, a Sunday, when our entire family enjoyed the Morgan Library (breathtaking medieval art) and a harbor boat tour to get up-close-and-personal with Lady Liberty. I could have saluted the friends we got to schmooze with (two girlfriends of my daughter's even joined us for a slumber party) and waxed eloquent about the street life and the ankle-deep snow we encountered (which soon became endless dripping from above that, with steadfast aim, plopped on head and even lip). But no, the trip's centerpiece was the play, "Made Up," and that was one production eminently worth traversing flyover country for.


  1. The acting and actresses were truly incredible, and - as you said - memorizing half-sentences is next to impossible. I cannot fathom doing so, especially in the short time they were given.

    The play itself was a bit on the... err... odd side, and while I caught on after a while, I noticed that not everyone else did. Ah well - it was still quite enjoyable, particularly the second half, and the sets and acting were superb. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to see some of our friends and meet some wonderful people who we've heard quite a bit about! ;)

    All in all, it was quite the night, and while we didn't come quite as far, it was definitely well worth the trip. :)

  2. Well, I was unfortunately not able to attend this much-anticipated event but after reading three reviews about the play itself, I'm not so sure I would have enjoyed it, except to extol the talents of the brilliant lead actress. All three reviews made repeated references to the fragmented nature of the playwright's prose and the "weird" or "bizarre" plot line -- even just reading about it sort of creeped me out. I would venture to say that it was the skill of the director enhanced by the aptitude of the ensemble that gave the play its weight and ultimate impact.

    I was far more impressed by Light's describing the "grease and goodness" that is the Big Apple -- a well-turned phrase, that. In talking with another family member, it seems a thoroughly fine time was enjoyed by all on that weekend. And major kudos to Bright's young star, of course, in adding to her already stellar resume credits.

    Well, Passover beckons, with all its attendant preparation and hectivity. Chag Sameach ... and I'm sure I'll meet you, dear Light, along the byways and blog-waves. Have a safe sojourn!

  3. Ezzie, thanks for your review, and another highlight for this blogger was meeting the infamous Ezzie and bride, whose impact on the blogging world cannot be underestimated. If you'd seen the play three times, as I did, you might have gleaned a bit more from the contents, though for me, the thrill was viewing the young star in all her stellar glory.
    Doubletee, I will confess I stold "grease and goodness" from the source of all intellectuality, my spouse, who unfortunately has in the past used the phrase to describe--ahem, a blemished facial complexion.
    And a Pesach kasher v'sameach to all! We're off for La-la land!