Last night, I had the absolute privilege of seeing "Dead Poets Society" Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company. It was the first night the show was performed in front of an audience and it was fantastic. I have only seen the movie once, but as someone who holds both an English and teaching degree, I felt a connection to it immediately. When I heard it was being staged with Jason Sudeikis playing Mr. Keating, I was 100% on board immediately. Then I heard Thomas Mann from "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (another excellent film) was playing Neil Perry and I couldn't contain my excitement any longer. Here is how my night unfolded:
The theatre itself is quaint and intimate. Two sides of the stage have only 4 rows and the front view of the stage has about 10 rows. Every single seat in the house is an excellent view. The set design was gorgeous. As a huge book lover, the floor to ceiling book shelves with a chalkboard AND a rolling ladder (just ONCE I want to slide across a bookshelf on one!) were a dream come true. It is everything I want my future classroom to be. Before the show, there were no playbills, which confused me. That is until the cast came out and handed us the playbills themselves. The six "students" came out in their private school uniforms and handed everyone playbills, while I sat in complete shock at how chill the whole thing was.
The show itself was every bit as amazing as I had hoped. The play is only an hour and 40 minutes, so a lot had to be condensed from the movie. One of the scenes towards the end did a very good job of seamlessly intertwining 3 different scenes while still packing an emotional punch. It didn't feel like pieces of the story were missing. The actor who played "Nwanda" had a part where he sang and it pleasantly surprised me and definitely stood out. Every one of the six actors who played students had moments where they were able to showcase just how talented they are. There was no weak link and my eyes couldn't decide who to watch. The supporting actors also did a fabulous job.
Obviously, Jason Sudeikis is a key to the success of this play. He did not disappoint. I believed him as a passionate, free-thinking teacher. Especially because the role is one of the beloved Robin Williams' finest, Sudeikis had big shoes to fill. He more than successfully followed in Robin Willams' footsteps and his performance is not one to miss. He also adorably flubbed trying to say the word "amoeba," and recovered by making the noise everyone commonly makes when they're trying to say a word and can't spit it out. But this shouldn't have and didn't fluster him. As every teacher knows, we all do that same thing at LEAST once a day. It made me smile.
Afterwards, we waited around to see if we would be able to speak with the actors. The front lobby doubles as a coffee house and it was raining, so the small space was filled with the frenetic energy of excited theatre goers and actors who just performed their play for the first time. Everyone was standing around casually chatting and the actors playing students squeezed past me, so I was able to congratulate them and they seemed wonderful.
Jason and his wife, Olivia Wilde, were talking to everyone and were very genuine. (Side note: She was in the audience and I didn't even notice until after. She is unbelievably gorgeous in person, even without makeup, and her hair was amazing.) As my best friend and I waited to speak with Jason, Thomas Mann started to make his way to the front of the lobby. I stopped him to talk because I was equally excited to see him as I was to see Jason. I told him that I had just re-watched "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (It got rave reviews at Sundance; go see it) and that the play was the 3rd time he had made me cry. He laughed and said he loved making people cry followed quickly by "Nah I'm joking." He was such a sweetheart. Incredibly humble and kind, even though apparently I stopped him on his path to his father who he later introduced to Jason. Whoops.
After I was able to get a picture with Thomas, it was time to meet Jason. It was freezing, so I was wearing a wet sweatshirt from my university's honors program. It has a cheesy line about success being someone you achieve, not something you're born with. The line actually goes well with the play, but when Jason Sudeikis asks you what it says, you get embarrassed by it. After I was like "Oh nothing!" I was able to segue nicely into talking about the shirt that I had actually worn on purpose. I was wearing an Edgar Allan Poe (a dead poet, ba dum tsh) shirt with a Tell Tale Heart on it. When I told Jason that he goes "Oh so you dressed in character!" It was awesome. I got to tell him also that he's made me cry too many times between "The Last Man on Earth" and the play. Then both my friend and I got pictures and we complimented him some more and he thanked us for coming. It. was. amazing. I am forever grateful when my favorite celebrities aren't jerks, and last night was one of the better experiences I've had.
Moral of the story: GO SEE "DEAD POETS SOCIETY" AT THE CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY. There are limited seats left, but it's worth it! It was a night I will never forget. http://www.classicstage.org/season/dead-poets-soci...
Blurriness be damned, I'm a sucker for adorable actors in Newsie caps (and their gorgeous wives in the background :D ) Funny story: All of my pictures with celebrities are of me on the right side except for this one. It was pointed out to me that Jason and I are both lefties, so we both naturally put out our left arms. Thought that was interesting.
Me with Thomas Mann. He was pretty awesome while I fangirled at him.