In his new review of Dada Woof Papa Hot, New York magazine’s Jesse Green writes, “When a play trains its basilisk gaze on a demographic you belong to, it may seem as if the playwright took notes inside your head.” But Green’s demographic – middle-aged, gay white male New Yorkers – isn’t the only group that received a moment of recognition at last night’s opening of this Peter Parnell play at the Mitzi E Newhouse Theater.
There is also the Maplewood, New Jersey contingent. In the play, that location is equated by Alan, played by John Benjamin Hickey, as the quintessential suburban spot to which middle-aged gay men retire with their children when they want more space than the big city offers. When Alan said that line at the performance, I detected a knowing laugh or two in the audience. And, as I was leaving the opening-night party, I discovered from whence they came. (I will leave aside the possibility that they arose from LCT’s director of marketing, Linda Mason Ross, and her husband, Sean Ross, who live in Maplewood.)
It was outside the bash that Patrick Breen, who in the play portrays Rob, introduced me to his sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and David Kremen. They revealed that they live in Maplewood. “We got a good laugh out of that line,” Patricia Kremen said. “There are a lot of show biz and news people who live in our town, so it’s not that surprising it would turn up in a play.”
Among the other demographics represented at the party, which took place at P. J. Clarke’s and which featured seafood (oysters! lobster rolls!) alluded to in the play’s Fire Island beach scene, there was the James Bond group. Or should I say the James Bond individual: Ralph Fiennes, who is M in the new Spectre. At the party, the bearded Mr. Fiennes stayed fairly tucked away in a corner at the table of Mr. Hickey. (The actors are old acquaintances.)
Other bold-face opening-night revelers included Andrea Martin, who is getting ready for her Broadway turn in Noises Off and whose performance in LCT’s production of Act One will be seen this Friday on PBS, and Andy Cohen, who took a break from Watch What Happens: Live on Bravo to watch what was happening live at the Newhouse.
The challenges of acting live were ever-present at opening night, according to Alex Hurt, who plays Jason in the Parnell play. He told me that there at been “a couple of gremlins” during the performance – one of them involved a cue light – but that they were nothing major and that he, and his fellow cast members, were thrilled to have made it through previews and on to the main part of the play’s run. “We’ve had good audiences,” Hurt said, “and we’re looking forward to having more of them.”
Including a few more folks, I suspect, from Maplewood.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.