Someday Productions LLC and Pillow Talking are pleased to present the following review of AN EVENING WITH TERRENCE MCNALLY at The Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, CT
He and She Said:
Being in the presence of Terrence McNally, one of America’s most influential playwrights, is as they say in the classic MasterCard commercials – priceless. Connecticut’s dynamic, historic The Bijou Theatre, under the direction of Executive Producer Christine Brown and Artistic Director Tony Stimac, presented “An Evening with Terrence McNally,” opening its doors to the Bridgeport community and beyond to share in a night of inspiration and conversation which featured a stimulating look at theatre – past, present, and future. The Bijou is committed to bringing significant, eclectic, and educational theatre and other entertainment works to the public. Today was no exception as the Tony Award-winning Mr. McNally and his husband, Tony Award-nominated producer Tom Kirdahy, took the stage.
The night began with live performances of two plays which had been chosen as the finalists in The Bijou’s inaugural One Act Playwriting Contest. The first was by Wilton, CT resident Melissa Smith-Harris; A Whole New World is an exploration into the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter who reveals a dark secret, giving true meaning to the idiom: a problem shared is a problem halved. The work featured Florence Phillips (Marion), Joanna Keylock (Cassie), Grace Cashman (Kat), and Jason Peck (Luke). The second play, Ukimwi by Tom Coash of New Haven, CT, gives the audience an insightful look into the casual meeting of two strangers in a bar in Cairo, showing us that much often lies beneath the surface. The play featured Joanie Anderson (Ukimwi) and Seth McNeill (John). Each play was thoughtful, well-written, and well-acted. Mr. McNally and Mr. Kirdahy offered the playwrights guidance through both praise and constructive criticism; and as a testament to the hard work of both playwrights, they called it a tie.
The balance of the event consisted of an engaging fireside chat with Mr. McNally and Mr. Kirdahy. The moderator of the evening and sponsor of the contest was Michael Koskoff, successful Connecticut attorney and theatre patron. Questions were served up by Mr. Koskoff and enthusiastic members of the audience.
As playwrights ourselves, we continually are learning and to us, being a part of this event was a true gift. Mr. McNally not only is a playwright, but also is a librettist and screenwriter, whose work and success is beyond compare. Nevertheless, he remains humble, generous, and supportive of others who share his passion for theatre – Mr. McNally is lauded for his socially-relevant works which strive to connect others through his vigorous illustrations of the human condition.
During the chat, Mr. McNally discussed such things as how theatre has changed throughout his lifetime. He spoke about the importance of seeing one’s work come to life and how play writing differs from other forms of art, including screenplays and novels. And while his career has spanned five decades and his myriad works are brilliant, he also expressed that it is the actors who must take the words from the page in order to give them three-dimensions. He called actors his “muses” and wholly embraces their input to his work. He said it is they who often help him to gently “massage” his scripts. Incisive commentary also was offered by Mr. Kirdahy as the two discussed the equal import of both Broadway and other stages.
As we at Pillow Talking are so often asked how it is to work together, we always answer that while we share our work and love for the arts, we do sometimes disagree. We were pleasantly amused by the banter between spouses, Mr. McNally and Mr. Kirdahy, when they gently differed in their perspectives about some aspects of the theatre, noting that those were the kinds of discussions that take place at their home – like in ours!
Thank you so very much to The Bijou for an inspirational evening of theatre by two up-and-coming playwrights and rousing conversation by one of our greatest living playwrights!
The evening was filmed by documentary filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia S. Ross.
For more up close and personal conversation with Terrence McNally, check out Pillow Talking’s Interview with Terrence McNally
Read Pillow Talking’s Review of Anastasia