I Would Drive 400 Miles
The sunny, long weekend of January 17th was a perfect time for a road trip, and, justifying that I would also be able to hang with my BFF who lives there, I traveled to Los Angeles to catch a preview performance of “Anna Christie” starring our favorite actor, Kevin McKidd, along with the fabulously talented Jeff Perry and Zoe Perry. Having made good time down from San Francisco, I managed to catch the Saturday evening as well as the Sunday afternoon performance I had originally planned to attend.
The Odyssey Theater is small but usually runs 2 plays concurrently and, if you live in the LA area, it would seem worth checking out on a regular basis – posters of previous productions decorating the walls of the small lobby indicated they regular put on interesting plays.
I knew very little about Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” itself, never having seen a production of it, not even the movie version which so famously provided Greta Garbo with her first speaking line in a talkie, “Give me a whisky … and don’t be stingy, baby.” It’s a story of a father and a daughter (Jeff Perry and Zoe Perry completely convincing as father and daughter – imagine that :D ), a story of redemption, forgiveness, fate, and home, with the sea and fog figuring prominently almost as another character.
Kevin confirmed afterwards that the cast had been having a great time together, and it was evident they jelled on and off stage. There’s quite a bit of physicality in Kevin’s role, and it amazed me that he would have the energy to rehearse and perform every week, all the while putting in long hours on the Greys set (as does Jeff Perry on Scandal.)
One of the biggest advantages to seeing the performance in this intimate space was the rare opportunity to be so close to such fine actors at work -- to be able to really see their faces and expressions in a way that would be impossible in a large theater. It also had the impact, I think, of bringing the audience closer into the story. Of course, that leaves the actors nowhere to hide, and lucky for us each one of the performers was more than skilled enough to draw us into their world and keep us there.
As for the space, there really is no bad seat (the rectangular stage juts out diagonally with seats in roughly an L shape around), no spot where your view will be blocked. The director and actors did a great job on staging the scenes in a way that no audience member would feel that they were missing something.
After the performance, I waited for a short while in the lobby with several other audience members and we were lucky enough that, one by one, each of the cast members came out to say hi (I don’t know if they will make this a frequent practice, schedules permitting, or if they did it because it was a preview.) I was able to tell the wonderful Zoe Perry (who successfully banished all thoughts of Garbo from my mind) and Mary Mara that I enjoyed their performances. Then, the door opened and there was fabulous Kevin, smiling and friendly (and casually gorgeous of course.) He chatted with a couple of us for a few minutes and, being a highly biased fan, I was pleased the woman next to me told Kevin she didn’t even realize until after that he was from that TV show, having inhabited this role so convincingly. Kevin appeared very energized by performing in front of an audience for the first time after weeks of rehearsals, was happy that we came and interested in how we enjoyed it. He said the last time he had been on stage in a regular production was about 15 years ago in Stephen Daldry’s production of a play called “Far Away”. As if Kevin hadn’t already been kind enough, he freely agreed to a photo, in which you see that I have a huge grin while trying not to make a fool of myself. Finally, before leaving, I had the chance to shake the very affable Jeff Perry’s hand and congratulate him on a terrific performance.
I also went to the Sunday afternoon performance and enjoyed the play even more the second time around. I was in good company with the audience who gave it a standing ovation. All in all, worth every mile of the 400.
Regular performances begin this Saturday, January 24, and the play runs each weekend, through March 8, so hurry and get your tickets and don’t miss out. Kevin will be happy that you came. Go make Kevin happy!
Link for tickets: http://odysseytheatre.com/
By: Karen S.