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Off Broadway

Marvin’s Room: Across the Great (but too vast) Divide

Marvin’s Room: Across the Great (but too vast) Divide

Janeane Garofalo, Lily Taylor, Marvin's Room, Scott McPherson

Lily Taylor (MCC’s Dead Eye Boy) and Janeane Garofalo (the film: The Truth About Cats and Dogs) are the stars that have to work hard to overcome the obstacle that they are placed within. They inhabit two estranged sisters brought together by disease, even when it was Marvin’s illness that caused one of them to flee so many years ago. Taylor’s Bessie is quiet and thoughtful, constantly thinking of others, even in her own moment of crisis. She is the one who stayed behind, giving up her adult life for the sake of her father and her aunt’s care. Although Marvin himself is left unseen throughout this play, the always amazing Celia Weston sparkles as the crippled but kind Aunt Ruth. Every little squeal and sigh register in a way that so many other moments do not.
Janeane Garofalo, Lily Taylor, Marvin's Room, Scott McPherson

Taylor plays Bessie, the care giver in a straight forward approach with a gentle voice and calm demeanor, but also as no angel with moments of subtle viciousness slyly being lobbed at her sister, Lee. The history is heavy there between the two, and although we are never given the big explosion, we are given an authentic conflict, etched in pain and jealousy. Garofalo is born to play this overwhelmed wisecracking sister, who overcomes here aversion to her familial dynamics and returns to Florida to see if she is a bone marrow match for her sister’s battle with Leukemia. She’s awkward and abrasive, especially in regards to her attempts to mother her two sons. These interactions are almost painful to watch, when it isn’t funny. The older and more troubled son, Hank, played in a brooding brilliance by Jack DiFalco (YEN) brings the pain and anguish to the piece, especially in the touching way Bessie and him slowly battle their way into a fairly trusting truce. Sidelined and watching is the sweet Charlie, played solidly by Luca Padovan (School of Rock). They all come together well, especially with the assist from Weston and Taylor. The simpleness of their phrasing illuminates the piece, and DiFalco brings it home in the end. I almost cried. Almost.
Janeane Garofalo, Lily Taylor, Marvin's Room, Scott McPherson

Directed well, although not inspiringly, by Anne Kaufman (A Life, Marjorie Prime), she somehow finds traces of intimacy on the acres of open space. This beautiful and funny play was based upon McPherson’s experiences of cared for his partner, cartoonist and activist Daniel Sotomayor, who died from AIDS. The trials of a caregiver who is also in need of caregiving himself is a sad but real story the echoes through the AIDS epidemic. Here in Marvin’s Room we are witness to the complexities that come with that scenario. McPherson himself died in 1992 of AIDS at age 33 and this sweet caring story is one of the many gifts he left behind. The design, it seems, is not a gift given to the actors or the production, it is more the culprit and a vast one. Luckily for us, the cast is solid enough to span that wide horizon and still, someone, draw us in.

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Off Broadway

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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