Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three More Weeks to see Murder in the Cathedral

(photo credit: Hunter Canning)

Thanks to popular demand, the current run of T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral at the Church of St. Joseph (on Pacific between Underhill and Vanderbilt) has been extended through October 10, 2010. You can see the show at 7:30pm Thursday through Saturday or 2pm on Sunday afternoons. I've blogged this before, but right now, I want to give you the top 3 reasons (in no particular order) you need to go see this play.

1. This is high-quality theater, and it's right down the street. The director and composer have both won major theater awards, the actors have years of experience (and it shows - reading verse lines without sounding like Mother Goose takes extensive training, but when it's done right, it give a person chills), and the costumes, lighting, musicians, and everything else are completely professional. This play could absolutely run off-Broadway (where many of the principal people involved spend their working days) and charge fifty bucks a ticket. Instead, it's $10 ($5 each if you come in a group of four or more) and you can walk there. This is a rare opportunity.

2. The location is stunning,and it makes for a unique experience. See that photo up there? That's not a movie still, that's what this play actually looks like (you can see the heads of the audience poking up amidst the pews). The production itself is site-specific, and the director, designers, composer, and producer have done an amazing job of locating the audience in the heart of the play (it takes place in a Cathedral, after all). There are times in this production when you are very much a part of it - in two separate instances, the characters address themselves to the congregation/audience - and it draws out the themes of the work (religious faith, conflicts of duty, questions of power and privilege) in an intimate fashion that leaves you thinking about them long after you leave. This isn't "seeing" a play. This is experiencing great theater.

3. After catching the second show two Fridays ago, I caught up with Monsignor Harrington, who brought this play to his parish church by suggesting the production to the producer last year. He's the best sort of leader, one who articulates a broad vision of community and wants to bring people of all ages, ra
ces, and creeds together in the beautiful space he has. As he put it, speaking about the play (and I'm paraphrasing, but I think this is close because the comment stuck with me) "Art and culture have been a part of the church for centuries. It's possible to have a spiritual encounter without it being a sacramental experience." He wants to make his church a place where people come to encounter great art, to celebrate with friends and family (he's got an enormous church basement for functions as well as his sanctuary), to meet new people, and, of course, have spiritual experiences in all of these ways. He even suggested hosting an Oktoberfest on his sizeable patio once the space is cleared after the renovations of the church are complete. Of course, community visions like Monsignor Harrington's are only possible if the community responds (and so far it has, hence the extended run), so get out and support this initiative (and if you've got a great idea for an event of your own, let him know!).


  1. Thanks for reminding me. I read your previous post and someone else was saying that this is a great production, so I wanted to attend. Good to know there will be more time to catch them.

    I heard that the lead guy lives in Crown Heights? Know if that is true? If so, it would be another reason to support ;-)

  2. A number of the cast and crew, including the producer (a woman, Hillary Miller) are residents of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. It's probably not a surprise, but our neighborhood(s) house a number of the creative underclass.

    It really is a great show - I loved it!

  3. Nick, thank you for this lovely post! I couldn't have picked three better reasons myself. A few quick additions... we're trying to spread the word about this week's schedule, as there's been some confusion: there is NO Sunday matinee performance this week, October 3. There WILL be a Sunday matinee next week, October 10th, which will be the last show.
    And in terms of this being a very locally grown show, with local folks involved: I used to live in Park Slope, but grew up in Ditmas Park, where I now live again. It's the director, Alec Duffy, who lives on Dean Street, around the corner from the church. And the lead actor, Godfrey Simmons, Jr. does live in Crown Heights. A number of other actors and crew members live nearby, too, in Bed-Stuy, Fort Greene, and a few in...well, Queens!
    Thanks again for the support.