Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

Today we lost one of the giants. I got to see him on stage when he played the Stage Manager in the 2002 Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Here's what I wrote about him:

Newman, at the play's literal heart as the Stage Manager, comes to life in a brief scene in which he pretends to be the owner of a drugstore; and by the time we've arrived in the cemetery in the final act, he has found his bearings. Taking us on a tour of the gravestones, he tells us about the Civil War veterans buried beneath them:

... had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they'd never seen more than fifty miles of it themselves. All they knew was the name, friends--the United States of America. The United States of America. And they went and died about it.

Newman weighs each word as he speaks it, and a concept that we take so much for granted that it's beyond hackneyed suddenly acquires mass, and density, and meaning.

Very glad I had the chance to see him in his last stage role.


David Johnston said...

I got to see him at the Westport County Playhouse in this role (because a friend who worked there scored the tickets for me.) My friend Carter Jackson was in it, too. I feel very grateful to have gotten that chance.

Christine said...

I didn't get to see Mr. Newman in this role, but I had the honor to play the role for our local community theater The Stonington Players, Stonington, CT in 2006. How wonderful that our director, Regan Morse, had the vision that would allow me, a woman, to play that role. I've always admired Mr. Newman and wanted to do both Mrs. Morse and Mr. Newman proud. I hope I did. It will be one of the roles I will always treasure.