Last night was one of those magical NYC nights when I could forget about my woes for a couple hours and live out one of my life-long dreams of seeing Alec Baldwin on Broadway.
Those who know me best know that I have loved Alec Baldwin for a majority of my life. Ever since I was a little girl and I saw Beetlejuice, I was hooked. As I grew older, my love for Baldwin increased tenfold, with his hosting appearances on SNL, his role on 30 Rock and his performance in The Departed solidifying my epic love of this man.
Last night, I was fortunate enough to get a rush ticket for Orphans.
I purposefully didn’t do any research on the play and didn’t read any reviews so I could go in fresh and a blank slate.
That being said, I had unfairly high expectations because of my love of Alec Baldwin (and Ben Foster… jfc, I could write an Ode to Foster, whom I have been an epic fan of since Liberty Heights… do not even get me started how underused he was in X-Men: The Last Stand), but I was not disappointed.
Orphans is about two brothers, Treat (Foster) and Phillip (Tom Sturridge) who live alone and try to make ends meet. Treat is a petty thief and mugs people of their money and accessories to support his younger brother Phillip, who is a smart kid but has some sort of mental disorder. Phillip’s got a childlike nature about him and is quick to follow others, but is also capable of independent thought and action/reaction when given a chance.
One night, Harold (Baldwin) follows Treat home and passes out drunk. Treat discovers Harold has money and tries to use that wealth to get a ransom from his colleagues… but no one cares enough about Harold to pay it.
Instead, Harold offers Treat a job working for him. Treat balks, saying he doesn’t work for anyone – let alone Harold (who keeps referring to Treat as “son”), but eventually he caves.
This play was really dark – both in comedic and dramatic aspects. The relationships between pairs of characters, as well as the surrogate father/sons aspect of the play were really fascinating.
It’s always intriguing to watch a pair or small group of men onstage because females (or lack thereof) still makes a huge impact on the story. (Treat and Phillip’s mom was dead, though her coats still hung in their front closet whereas Harold mentioned a woman back in Chicago.) There were a few “what would you do” and “you need to address your feelings” moments in the play that allowed Foster to shine on stage. I don’t know if I felt more moved by his performance because it was him or because of the arc his character had. It’s powerful watching someone descend into a completely broken state of vulnerability.
I was not very familiar with Tom Sturridge (though reading through his bio, apparently I’ve seen a lot of his film work…), but I was equally impressed with his performance. He had the most physical role of anyone, as Phillip was often leaping onto furniture or the banister. He would crouch down to occupy a small amount of space or stretch out like a cat. He used his hands and fingers to imitate other people’s gestures and would change his voice to mimic those on TV or pretend he was someone else. (For some reason, he reminded me a lot of Andrew Garfield… )
And, of course, Baldwin. He seemed well suited for his role – very authoritative, but almost patronizingly so. He used his booming voice and firm demeanor to get what he wanted and charm Phillip. I was enamored right away (like Phillip) and could have used some “encouragement” but by the end of the show, I was more concerned with Treat than anyone else.
This was a mind fuck of a play (pardon my French). It really had you all over the place, emotions-wise, but hit you in the feels more often than not. I didn’t cry (probably because I was still in shock from being in the same room as/seeing Alec Baldwin and Ben Foster), but I definitely felt something as I was watching.
I was grateful for the opportunity to see this play and I will definitely be mulling over its meaning and themes.
After the show, I went to the stagedoor. I was fortunate enough to be the first one there, so I got a good spot up front at the barricades. (Insert your own Les Mis joke in there if you must…) Though Ben Foster did not sign for anyone (sadness!), Alec Baldwin signed for some people… and I was lucky enough to get an autograph for myself and my sister (I was going to surprise her, but I already told her… we love Alec).
I then escaped from the barricades and started walking toward the train, taking Shubert Alley as a shortcut when I saw a mass of people waiting outside the Booth for Bette Midler. So, I had some time – I joined them.
While waiting for Bette, JOE MANTELLO walked by me. (He directed Wicked, Assassins, Glengarry Glenn Ross, 9 to 5, The Other Place, Three Days of Rain, etc…) I almost shrieked – that’s how excited I was. But, I kept my cool (you don’t know how hard that was). And, then a few minutes later, Bette came out. I didn’t see her show, but I took a picture of her (she signed for a few people, but I was nowhere near her), but it was just really cool to see her in person!
And that was my night!
It’s little pockets of excitement like that that makes me love living here. I love live theater with every fiber of my being and I genuinely love and respect the craft of the people who make it.
(Oh – I also saw Joy Behar in person yesterday and ended up walking next to her for a block while I was on my way up Broadway. She seemed nice – someone else recognized her too and said Hi – but I didn’t say anything.)
P.S. I guess I should address the whole Shia LaBeouf thing. Honestly, I couldn’t see him as Treat and was grateful the part was recast. Ben Foster was PERFECT for that role and has more of an older brotherly feel than I don’t think LaBeouf would have been able to pull off within the context of this play. That’s not to say he wouldn’t have been able to contribute something of value… I just think that Foster’s presence was a necessary part of why this play worked as well as it did.