Monday, February 09, 2009

A show of shows

One of these days, I'll do something with all the ticket stubs I've been saving in little piles around the apartment. (Why I don't just put them all in one pile, I'm not sure yet.) In the meantime, I was indulging in a little thought experiment the other day, while my mind was wandering during a performance of this Saturday night at Carnegie Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus. How many shows -- concerts, plays, dance performances, musicals, revues, etc. -- have I seen in my lifetime? And I mean everything from a Tony-award-winning Broadway production to a free concert in the park. I figured that for the past 10 years, I've seen on average about five things a month -- sometimes more, sometimes less. Add on another 100 performances for the rest of my childhood, and I came up with at least 700. Now, of course, I wouldn't be able to name all of them, although I do have a list of about 100 from this theater club I belong to, but I feel like that number is totally supportable, even as big as it sounds.

Which got me to thinking: If I were ever to become a professional critic of a particular kind of performing art, would I have to largely forgo the variety of other types in favor of my focus area? How many operas, say, does a movie critic end up seeing? Or vice versa? In the meantime, as a happy amateur omnivore, here are three shows I saw recently, enjoyed and would recommend to a friend: Uncle Vanya with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Denis O'Hare, In the Heights with Lin-Manuel Miranda (with whom I share a birthday), and Distracted with Cynthia Nixon. And one opera that blazed only briefly at Carnegie: Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra with Lauren Flanigan.

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