Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Paradise Park: Opening Night!

Posted by Sofiya Akilova, Executive Assistant, 5 March 2008

This past Sunday Paradise Park, the third show of Signature’s Charles Mee Series, enjoyed a brilliant and very special opening. The house was filled with the likes of Romulus Linney, Tina Landau, Dylan Baker and Peter Norton, to name a few. Jim Houghton kicked off the evening with a warm welcome to all our guests, and paid tribute to the courageous collagist we were all there to celebrate, Charles Mee!

This happens to be my favorite play of the Charles Mee Series, and it was my fifth time watching the show and I kind of expected to sit back and kick it rerun style, ya know? But to my glorious surprise, I never enjoyed the show more. Maybe it was the couple of glasses of champagne I had during the lobby reception before the show–I’m completely serious about that. When you watch a Charles Mee play I think your inhibition can really stand in the way of fully experiencing it. You kind of can’t come in expecting anything, even if you’ve seen other Charles Mee plays. The barrage of sensational distractions combined with sudden plunges into characters’ painfully personal journeys oscillates so feverishly in PARADISE PARK that I think the less inhibition the more you allow the beautiful chaos to just have its effect on you, without judgment. And then at the end you just sit back and feel the aftershock.

The beauty of the opening night show could’ve also been due to the theatre being filled with people who have worked on, admired, championed, understood, explored, and connected to Chuck’s work. There was just an amazing sense of communion in the audience – yes, we understand this depiction of reality and life, it makes sense to us! At the end there were two boisterous curtain calls. It was a wonderful moment of simple and genuine appreciation for Chuck and all who unfurled the wonders of Chuck’s mind on that stage.

The crowd then proceeded to the after-party over at 44 ½, replete with cosmos, bite-size spoonfuls of risotto and other delectable hour devours, servers in tight pink t-shirts labeled with things like “naughty,” “heaven,” “tasty;” in other words, Paradise.

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