Wednesday, May 29, 2024

“Audiences are buying tickets from Europe” for Virtual Theater Event of the Summer: Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin, Directed by Bob Balaban


If you thought “Hamilton” was the only big theater experience of the summer, guess again. Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin are starring in a virtual performance of Bernard Slade’s evergreen, “Same Time, Next Year,” directed by our pal, the great Bob Balaban, and presented by East Hampton’s Guild Hall. Tickets are $100, and the show is set for this Sunday, July 12th.

“Audiences are buying tickets from Europe,” says Josh Gladstone, artistic director of Guild Hall, the center of cultural activity in the Hamptons. (Their free art shows are to die for.)

Gladstone says, “Balaban brought the idea to us” — as only the multi hyphenate actor-director-writer can do. Balaban works hard as ever from his home in Sagaponack, developing content for when “the gates are lifted,” and looking to help the community. With an idea for supporting Guild Hall, he enlisted Alec Baldwin, who invited Julianne Moore, and the result is this, a benefit staged reading which will go out on Zoom.

In a normal summer, Guild Hall would be packed on a daily basis with theatre, music, readings, art. But this year, the gorgeous interior of the famed theater is empty, and cash registers are not ringing. Gladstone is confronting the challenge of keeping its virtual doors open. He says, “This is our third Zoomed show. Alec Baldwin supports so many cultural projects out east, and Julie wants to, but usually has scheduling difficulties; now she is out in Montauk, and everyone is free.”

He explains: “[Moore] was able to give us an afternoon, set us up in her pool house laundry room. Alec set up in his master bedroom suite. That’s where he could close the door on four kids under the age of 6 running around, and Hilaria is pregnant. With Zoom virtual backgrounds, we are ready for public airings on the 12th.”

This show is taped, as opposed to a Tennessee Williams reading back in May that was live, starring Mercedes Ruehl, Harris Yulin, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Tedra Millan. Says Gladstone: “Bob wanted to do post-production on Zoom, with music, video graphics—we are all learning how to do this together.”

On selecting this show, Balaban added, “It’s a 1976 comedy with real intelligence, with references that don’t ground it in any specific period. The hardest part was getting dates: when could we get together? The reading is magical: you do see people turning pages. No scenery or costumes. The actors don’t know their lines. But with Zoom, you wouldn’t know if it is live or not. I put in an intermission. I had the luxury of cutting close up to close up and back to a twosome. You get the intimacy without them being close. We dressed it up more like a movie, and like reading a book, the audience is immersed; it comes to life. Does it have enough of a heartbeat? Yes. Do they have chemistry? Yes. In the end, that’s all that matters.”





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