Chris Rawson's Broadway Journal, Day 3: ghosts for real and on stage

Saturday, 05 May 2012 11:54 AM Written by 

Friday, May 4, PG Broadway ShowPlane (No. 95!), Day 3

Why don’t the Broadway theaters have varied matinee days, the way they do in London’s West End? Over there, shows split between Wednesday and Thursday matinees, and there are a couple on Tuesdays and even Fridays (everyone has a matinee on Saturday). Very few have matinees on Sunday, but even so, you can easily see 10 West End shows in the same week where you can see only 8 on Broadway.

OK, that’s the annual complaint, now out of my system.

So for the PG ShowPlane on Friday, Our Fathers Who Art Gullivers Travels always plan an optional morning tour, generally using Joyce Gold, a one-woman encyclopedia of things Manhattan (and probably the other four boroughs, as well). We bused up nearly to the top of Manhattan to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, billed as the oldest surviving house in NYC, built in 1765 as a country estate, 10 miles north of what was then the city.

Along the way, Joyce made the miles speed by with a continuous commentary on the sights (and sites) we passed, filling this occasional-guide with awe. Then at Morris-Jumel we had an indefatigable guide in Margaret Oppenheimer (whether of the Funds or not, I do not know) – an art history Ph.D. and volunteer docent, as perky as she is knowledgeable. Personally, I took special pride in that the lady of the house in its early years was born in Providence, R.I. (my home town), albeit in circumstances that forced her into something like prostitution before she assiduously climbed the social/financial ladder, even spending a brief time as the wife of Aaron Burr.

Then off to a very good group lunch at Marseilles, back in mid-town, and then (for me) a chance to pick up my granddaughter Ella at school and visit the family before heading back to midtown for theater.

Tonight’s play was a new musical, “Ghost,” based on the movie of 20 years back. It had one of those really juicy, memorably negative reviews from the N.Y. Times, but it’s fared better with other critics, it’s running well in London and the PG group (me, too) generally had a good time. The great attraction is some innovative projection techniques that swirl you through the canyons of NYC and also allow figures to de-materialize as required – that, plus a Tony-worthy performance by Da’Vine Joy Randolph as the psychic medium (played in the movie by Whoopi Goldberg).

Ensemble member (and swing) Mike Cannon, a North Hills native and Point Park graduate, was on stage that night, and afterward, he and p.r. whiz Emily McGill of the Pittsburgh McGill theater family spoke to our group over drinks at Sardi’s.

More about all this later!

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