woulda thunk that James Michener’s 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning
novel Tales of the South Pacific was brimming with
hit-musical potential? But in the hands of Richard Rodgers,
Oscar Hammerstein and World War II veteran Joshua Logan,
South Pacific became one of the greatest musicals
to grace the Broadway stage.
musical, which candidly explores issues of war and racial
prejudice, garnered the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1950.
From “Bali Ha’i” to “Some Enchanted Evening,” its songs
have become standards around the world. The original Broadway
production swept the Tony Awards with 10 wins, including
Best Musical, Best Score and Best libretto.
And the show’s 2008 Lincoln Center revival lived up to the
South Pacific legacy, winning five Drama Desk Awards,
seven Tonys and the praise of Broadway’s top critics.
The Newark Star-Ledger called it “a show you will
remember forever!” And this week it’s your chance to catch
the wave, when the national tour of the Lincoln Center production
sails into Schenectady.
Pacific opens on the mainstage at Proctors (432 State
St., Schenectady) on Wednesday (April 14) and runs through
April 18. Tickets range from $20 to $65. For more info,
or to purchase tickets, call 346-6204.
midnight at David Sedaris’ Paris home, one week before a
whirlwind North American reading tour will take him to 34
cities on 34 consecutive nights, and he’s busy making preparations.
“I have a list of what to pack. I’ve already started my
ironing. I’m wrapping birthday presents that I will mail
when I get to the United States. And I’m washing all the
windows because it’s bad luck to leave the house with dirty
windows.” When asked about this superstition, he concedes
that it’s really born of his own tendency toward voyeurism.
“The house across the street from me has really filthy windows,
so I can’t look into them, and it drives me crazy. I just
don’t want [the neighbors] to have the same feeling.”
top of his busy work, the humorist and best-selling author
of Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,
and When You Are Engulfed in Flames—not to mention
countless contributions to NPR’s This American Life—is
finalizing a new book of fiction that he’ll be road-testing
and revising while on tour.
wrote this thing maybe five years ago, a little story about
a cat who goes to a baboon to get her hair cut,” he says.
“Like a fable, it had a moral and was short. When I started
writing more of them, I decided to set some rules, like
no character can have a name. Then I wrote one about a cat
who joins an AA program in prison and the morals got a little,
um, fuzzier.” The book, slated for release in October, is
called Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary—“bestiary”
being Sedaris’ preferred term to “fable,” as “the morals
haven’t really changed. You could rewrite ‘fables’ and modernize
them, but they’re all the same lessons: Don’t be greedy;
work hard. A bestiary is just a story where animals do human
things.” For example, in one story, an Irish setter ponders
the flavor of his wife’s hysterectomy.
Currently, Sedaris has written 28 bestiaries but is looking
to whittle that number down to 15 for the book. His reading
series, which comes to the Palace Theatre on Monday, is
crucial in determining which make the cut. Known as much
for his distinctive voice and radio persona as for his books,
Sedaris admits he writes for oration and relies on both
the laughs and awkward silence of an audience to know what’s
working in a new story. “You can feel people drifting off,”
he says. “You can tell when they don’t understand. The reaction
can be different on different days of the week or the order
in which you read something.” Now that he lives abroad,
Sedaris says there are issues of cultural resonance that
also need to be taken into account.
It may strike some as odd that Sedaris, a celebrated social
critic and satirist of American culture, now resides in
France, but the author appreciates the peculiar perspective
it allows him.
an underground mall here in Paris called Les Halles,” he
says. “It’s a horrible place, but I went there the other
day to see a movie, and they had these life-sized posters
of nude men embracing, hanging from the ceiling. I thought,
‘Good for you, France. No American mall would ever put up
a big photo exposition celebrating gay love.’ In the first
photo, one guy is about 20, the other is 40. In the next,
one is 40 and the other has thin hair and liver spots. And
I thought, ‘Especially, no American mall would celebrate
gay love with such an age discrepancy.’ The last one had
a boy age 12, and finally I saw a sign that said, ‘Fathers
and Sons: A Celebration’! Sometimes you don’t realize how
American you are until you leave. I was completely wrong,
and it was just in my way of thinking.”
Despite the grueling schedule, Sedaris says he truly enjoys
reading before an audience. “You can only read something
for the first time once, but nothing feels better than that.
When I’m working on something I want to change it every
night I’m on tour so I can think, ‘Oh, I’ve got that new
line on page seven. Let’s see if that works.’ I was looking
over what I read last time I was in Albany. I read three
things I’d never read before, one of which I threw away
and two that I changed a lot. So, I thought, maybe if I
was in that audience I’d say, ‘Forget it. I’m not going
back to see him.’ But I never want to be afraid to try new
David Sedaris will read from new work and favorites when
he comes to the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany)
on Monday (April 12) at 8 PM. Tickets are $40 and $44. Call
465-3334 for more info.