I attended A Catered Affair last night. I'm so glad I went before it unfortunately closes on July 27th. It was so many things and I was completely touched by it. At the stage door, Harvey Fierstein asked me, "Cry a little, did you?" "Harvey! It was more than a little!" It's the story of a blue collar family in the 1950s. Their beloved son has been killed in a military. Their daughter, more or less ignored, is ready to get married. She chooses to have a simple civil ceremony. One thing leads to another, mostly because of social pressure, and "a catered affair" is planned. It causes nothing but trouble, however it forces them to come with terms of who they are and what they mean to each other. John Bucchino's lyrics were so powerful and I still can't get over the unbelievable performance of Faith Prince. She said at the stage door that it was "the role of a lifetime." She said it takes a lot out of her though, especially on a two show. You could have fooled me. By the way, Faith said that they filmed for the Lincoln Center archive at the matinee yesterday. Tom Wopat was equally astonishing. He played it like an old loyal dog who's bark is worse than his bite. But when he finally lost it, watch out. Harvey, who also wrote the book, based on the 1956 movie The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine and Debbie Reynolds, was there to provide comic relief of a not-so-closeted gay uncle. I also found him tender and wise though. The show was funny and sweet, but also so sad and so moving. In the end, it was hopeful and I loved that the family seemed to find each other and healing from their hurt over having to make choices. I loved the connection of past choices to current choices, even when they believed that they were wrong choices or that there was no choice. Once there was realization that perhaps they might the right choices for the time, resentment fell away and there was only hope left.
Director John Doyle was loitering at the stage door. I wanted to talk to him, but he was on his cell phone the entire time. I've saw his Sweeney Todd 22 times on Broadway, once on tour, his Peter Grimes at the Met and now A Catered Affair. I think there is common ground to be found within each of these shows, especially in the downtrodden character development. I would like to know what it is that interests him and if he has some sort of affinity for the downtrodden.
There was one other stagedoor moment that was quite priceless. A young woman had various Dukes of Hazzard paraphanalia for Tom Wopat to sign. Before he came out, she called somebody and told them she was waiting for Luke. When she asked him to sign her stuff, he said, "Oh great, Dukes of Hazzard crap." She sadly explained that she had to get his autograph now because she would be unable to attend this year's Dukesfest. He rolled his eyes and moved on. I guess there are fans for everything. I must confess that our family tv was tuned to the Dukes regularly and I myself always was partial to Luke.