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‘Ghost-Writer’ at MetroStage

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Paul Morella, Susan Lynskey, and Helen Hedman

“Ghost-Writer” opens this week at MetroStage, and we are looking forward to this exceptional play by a very popular contemporary playwright, Michael Hollinger, with one of our favorite directors and three of DC’s finest actors. It is a play about the act (or art) of creation, always an intriguing topic, with a little mystery, history and touch of a love story mixed in. A literary figure dictating his latest novel to his typist, drops dead, yet the typist continues typing to complete the novel much to the consternation of his (jealous) wife, his publisher and the public. Interestingly, playwright Hollinger is a violinist turned playwright so there is always an element of music to his plays. There is a rhythm to the typewriter that is an integral part of the story.

Since this is the final show of the season, a little retrospective is in order. The greatest strength of our work is the artistic integrity and value of the theatre experience that we offer our patrons. First and foremost, I choose plays and musicals that I believe have value — they are always enriching due to an exceptional use of language and/or music by the playwright and composer. They are on some level academic/historic/illuminating, and they are also always entertaining, which is a fundamental reason why patrons choose to go to theatre. The season opened with “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” a renowned collection of songs that cover all aspects of the human condition. The piece, which originated in the late 1960s, has a huge following committed to Brel’s work, and our production took the words and music and the joy and despair encountered in our lives and reflected in the songs to new levels, ending on a message of hope. Artistically it was all that I had imagined it could be, receiving six Helen Hayes nominations and three Awards.

“A Broadway Christmas Carol” was an entertaining alternative to the traditional “Christmas Carol,” and patrons loved having this new tradition to look forward to. Our world premiere of “Ladies Swing the Blues a jazz fable”was a tremendous success, paying tribute to the contribution of alto sax player Charlie Parker as told through the music and lives of Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Peggy Lee and, of course, Parker himself. As a world premiere it contributed to the development of the work that included both new arrangements of standards and original music with always the possibility that there will be other productions to follow. “Ghost-Writer” completes the season with “a little gem” of a play that meets all our criteria of exceptional use of language, great roles for actors, and an interesting historic context while at the same time touching on universal themes of creativity and, of course, love.

In sum, the shows this season were based on important historic periods, emphasizing the diversity of our world and the humanity that holds it together. By choosing these themes and producing this work in the intimacy of our 130-seat theatre, we offer memorable theatre experiences using this art form for the highest purpose possible.