Stephen King writes commentary for Entertainment Weekly, which I sometimes find annoying in its cloying “regular guy” attitude but appreciate at the same time because, you know, he’s Stephen King and he hasn’t really had to do anything to earn his pesos for a decade or two. His latest piece includes something that strikes a particular chord for the critic in me with its reminder to appreciate the joy “art” generates and its admonishment of those who seem critical for criticism’s sake (hello, Mr. Neman!).
As with so many things, the piece immediately made me think of the local theater scene. I reflected on the simple genius of the Barksdale’s offerings at Hanover Tavern. I may have sighed a heavy sigh when I first read that oldies like “Barefoot in the Park” were going to be produced there. But, damn that was a funny show. Same reaction – and same result – with “Odd Couple.” The folks at Barksdale obvious recognize that some shows – no matter how old and potentially dated – generate joy. You leave a good production of “Barefoot” feeling happy, it picks you up and sends you off in the world feeling like the world is a hopeful place.
I often have to battle with my inner snob and I can’t help but look forward to more cutting-edge and challenging material (both “Urinetown” and “Mr. Marmalade” on Richmond’s Fall slate have my interest peaked). But I also have to remind myself that I could probably be happy seeing “Godspell” once a month for the rest of my life (maybe alternating with “Les Miserables”). As Mr. King would say, some shows simply kick ass.
Which also made me think that I should compile a list of theatrical moments of the last ten years or so that gave me a joyful reaction on par with the one that Mr. King describes in his piece. Stay tuned loyal readers (both of you...) for that one.