Feb 25, 2008

So I am watching the TV movie version of Raisin in the Sun, on right now, starring the same cast as it did on Broadway -- Sean Combs, Audra McDonald, Phylicia Rashad and Sanaa Latham -- and it's so cool and weird because my good friend Eric worked on the show and his good friend David was the executive producer, the one who came up with the idea to put this dusty play on Broadway in the first place and who fought and fought to get it all to work, and I remember when it all happened, it was like one second Sean Combs had agreed to star and then suddenly here was the ad campaign and here were the posters rolled out on the subway cars and rehearsals started and I'd hear stories about them, about the actors and especially about Sean Combs and how hard he was working, having never done anything like this before but being very hungry for it, and then next thing you know that play was up and running, just in a flash. And I saw it when it was in previews and then maybe a couple months later and I think in total I saw it about five times, and each time it got better and Eric would tell me about the little tweaks that were happening, and we watched as Sean Combs grew into his role (all the other actors were just consistently perfect, but he wasnt up to the big moments at first). Once we went on a Sunday afternoon just because Sean Combs was sick and his understudy played the role, so Eric and I sat on the back curving stairs and watched and talked after about how different the play was with the understudy's lean anger versus Sean Combs' more lazy charm. I'm not gonna lie: it was pretty inspiring, watching this guy take such a risk and tackle such a tough role and work so hard for it (and I mean that man worked hard) no matter what people said.

So anyway, it was cool and magical, really, watching this whole thing take place from arm's length, and Raisin in the Sun became a hyuuuuge hit on Broadway and brought audiences who'd never been to a play before, and people laughed and hooted and hollered and cried, and reacted to the story, which is very very sad and very very funny, in these open-hearted (and loud, and obnoxious) ways. Oh, and one afternoon I went with Eric to this question and answer session with the cast that had been set up for a group of school kids, and here were all those regal actresses who can break your heart clean open sitting on stage but the moment Sean Combs walked out -- all dorky and in this big t shirt and sort of shambling to his chair, real shy seeming -- those kids went CRAZY. Like something you would see on TV.

So now it is a TV movie, but the first TV movie to premiere at Sundance, and it so weird seeing the same words and the same actors but the story all flipped around and in close up. And it's so good!! And Sean Combs, is so good!! And I know I sound some smitten, but that kind of I-may-not-know-how-to-act-but-Im-going-to-learn-and-Im-going-to-do-it-on-Broadway-and-give-it-everything is pretty inspiring. At the time, I would tell Eric that Puff Daddy might possibly be my hero, and Eric would wholeheartedly agree.

In other news, last night my friend Rob and Autumn came over to watch many episodes of Make Me a Supermodel and the Oscars and the Edith Piaf actress might possibly be my hero as well, not only for dressing like a mermaid but for being able to thank life and to thank love without sounding like a mental case. AND THAT IS SOME IMPRESSIVE!

I was also really happy that the lovely lovely song from Once won, even if it was all cheesed up and those guitars hanging in the background looked stupid. And who doesn't love an Irish man who doesn't pronounce his h's and yells at everyone to make art!

The end.