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Theater Notes: Two satisfying nights in the theater

By Staff | Dec 23, 2015

Two nights in a row, lucky me and all the people who were there, too. One was a musical revue celebrating Frank Sinatra, at The BIG ARTS Schein Hall, the other an outlandish and challenging play at my favorite courageous theater.

The Sinatra revue had all the gray heads in the audience mouthing the lyrics of the 23 songs listed in the program and about four or five more that the trio just wanted to sing.

Who were they? Three gifted musicians, Lee Lessack (his parents live on Sanibel), Brian Lane Green, and John Boswell. You might say there was a fourth member who made the music reach the rafters, and that was the big Steinway Piano that Mr. Boswell tamed and clearly loved, because his playing was outstanding.

The boys did all the famous standards spanning that magnificent six decade career. It was clear they owed Blue Eyes for his contribution to the whole American Song Book. Their harmonies, their duets and their solos, made the evening the celebration it was. The audience did a champagne toast to “The Voice.” And to the three competent and talented singers who made it an outstanding evening.

This was the first of a whole series of what I felt were “Rainbow Room Concerts.” It was the place to be seen and heard in New York in it’s heyday. Meg Ryan was there in “Sleepless in Seattle” and so was Barbara Streisand in “Prince of Tides.” Maybe they’ll be back. But, we have it right here on the Island, thanks to The BIG ARTS programmers.

The next three of the six “ More Music Events” are: “Simon and Son,” the most celebrated Father and Son Piano team in America, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m.; “Livingston Taylor,” yes, James’ brother Jan. 16, at 8 p.m., and “Slocan Ramblers,” Canada’s youngest Bluegrass sensation. I’ll be at all three. I urge you to call the box office fist and get tickets: (239) 395-0900, or www.BIGARTS.ORG

The joy of that evening tumbled into the second delight. “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues,” at The Laboratory Theater of Florida. Right up front, this is not your goody goody two shoes Christmas Show. It’s a whole lot more, outlandish and confronting, funny as hell, and a real tour de force for the eight actors lucky to be cast in it.

I sat there, marveling at each entirely different monologue. What fun it must be to play in this show. The plot is simple and might turn off some prudes, because Santa has been accused of some sexual boundary problems. They each tell their take on it. And those are a riot. I had eight favorites as I sat there. That’s how good they were. It won’t be everyone’s mug of egg nog, lots of strong language and at least a 100 sexual one liners, but go, and see for yourself what courageous theater looks like. It will be a sell out. Order soon. The box office is: (239) 218-0212, or www.laboratorytheaterflorida.com.

And if you can’t make the Reindeers before it closes on Dec. 20, plan ahead to see their next feature. Jan 8 to 23. “The Velocity of Autumn.” Ms. Trossbach, the artistic director, saw the play in New York, and was persuasive enough to get this Florida Premiere for us. It’s a play about an 80 year old artist battling for her independence when her family wants her in assisted living. I, personally, wouldn’t miss it for any reason, even if they try to stick me in assisted living. Limited seating. Order now.