Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Nance

Some of the best news I’ve heard recently was that the Broadway show The Nance had been filmed and was going to be run on PBS sometime in the next TV season.

I had seen the show during its run and my reaction was to state that it was not only great but it also restored my faith in theater. What I meant by that last statement was that as lapsed frequent theater goer my desire to go to the theater was killed by too many big budget movie retread musicals, Family dramas that are essentially the same or the theatrical equivalent to inde mumblecore films. There are more complicated reasons, not to mention the fact that the cost of going has shot out of control, but for the most part I’ve stopped going to the theater because I stopped being entertained or entranced or made to feel anything.

The Nance entertained me, It entranced me, it moved me.

The story of the Nance is that of Nathan Lane’s burlesque comedian. He is a gay man who makes his living playing a highly effeminate character type known as a Nance. As the film opens Lan is drifting into a relationship with a young man who has just arrived in the city. As his personal life is improving, dark clouds are on the horizon professionally. The city is looking to close down the burlesque theaters because they are dens of iniquity (hookers plied their trade in many of them) and anything off color or not normal (hints of homosexual characters) are targets.

What transpires is the show.

What transpires is theatrical magic and look into humanity that had been lacking in most recent Broadway shows.

I loved it on every level. It’s a joy to behold, even as it breaks your heart.

Nathan Lane is a revelation. Don’t get me wrong I love Lane, but having seen him on stage any number of times I find that unless he loves a role he walks throw his performances. He not only is capable of phoning it in, but phoning it I from three states away. With the Nance Lane is spot on and real. You can tell he loves the role and it means something and so he invests it with something from every fiber of his body If you’ve ever wanted to know why Lane is often considered one of the greatest actors working today- look no further.

I love that the show shows us Burlesque for what it was. I love that it shows us classic routines that started there and ended up in the movies.

Mostly I love the shows heart. I love that even though its about Burlesque and a gay man, it also is a human story that could work transplanted elsewhere. This is the story about not only finding love, but also what we will do if people tell us that we can't do what we love to do. Yes this is a story based on what happened in New York in the 30's but at the same time its a story with bigger implications for all of us.

I absolutely loved this play a great deal. I know when it was done all I could think was that it had to be made into a movie. Its too good a story not to be seen by as many people as possible. Thankfully it has been recorded and will be broadcast in the New Year.

Maybe the play that restored my faith in theater can restore my faith in TV as well.

See The Nance when it plays on PBS.

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