Wednesday night, the plans for the In-Law Invasion went into full swing, as they took us to the French restaurant Marseilles on 9th Avenue before seeing “The Best Man” on Broadway. I had the Hummus Tahini for an appetizer (it didn’t quite live up to The Hummus Place’s delicacies), but the Salmon with asparagus and wheatberry salad was light, healthy (or so it tasted), and very filling. We didn’t even have dessert, since the Scottish Stout beer Pete had (and I tasted) was a meal unto itself!

The Hummus Tahini

Salmon & asparagus

After dinner, we saw “The Best Man,” which checked two items off of my bucket list – seeing James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury in person on stage. I’ve been geek-filled with James Earl Jones ever since “Star Wars” (of course, who could say no to that voice), and Angela is the Grande Damme of musical theater – I first saw her in “Harvey Girls” and “The Pirates of Penzance” movies, and loved her via DVD in “Sweeney Todd” and other filmed stage performances. I almost saw Lansbury in “A Little Night Music,” but her cover went on instead the night I saw it (who was excellent!). It was amazing to see the two of them prove the reasons behind their long careers – they looked like they were having a great time both as the characters, and as actors on stage. They had the “biggest” personaes on stage, but made them real, made them likeable, and made them instantly recognizable chess pieces within the confines of the play itself.

Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” originally opened on stage in 1960, and it was fun to watch how things have changed in politics since then…and yet how much things have sadly stayed the same in the government arena. John Laroquette, in a lovely turn away from the a-holes he has portrayed in my movie and television memory, plays someone flawed but principled…and let’s leave it at that. Candice Bergan plays his wife in an understated and yet perfect manner – about the only issue I had acting-wise was Kerry Butler, who seemed to take too much of her character into charicature. And Eric McCormick was fine – he tries to fight back against the obviously one-sided slants against his character (in the script) in stride and earnestly makes some great points with it. Unfortunately, we didn’t see Michael McKean on stage, as he is currently recovering from a broken leg (car accident!). All in all, though, a great evening of witty, smart, political intrigue, and some soul-searching about what it means to really “win” in the American goverment.

Then last night, Pete & I saw “Clybourne Park,” which we won tickets to (and coincidentally we were available for!). How Stuff Works is an online encyclopedia and collection of articles, as well as a series of podcasts, that are excellently informative without being boring. I’ve been a big fan of them for years, even before they were picked up by the Discovery conglomerate, and luckily none of their personality and spunk has been lost in the takeover. In any event, I was listening to the Stuff You Missed in History podcast episode of “Clybourne Park,” and they announced that How Stuff Works on Twitter (@howstuffworks) was having a contest to win tickets. So, I entered and won! We saw the show then got to have a behind the scenes Q&A with the carpenter, the props head, and the technical stage manager on how the set was conceived built, and transformed during intermission. The play itself is fabulous – issues about race that transgress from 1960’s into modern times are discussed, actors play multiple (yet similar) roles from one act to the other, and the wit and humor are both meaningful and bitingly crude. It is a marvelous “other universe” take on “A Raisin in the Sun” -one character actually bridges both plays, and I was glad that Pete & I watched the 1961 movie with Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee starring, over the previous weekend. It gave some great context to “Clybourne.” Pete’s one issue with the play was that it pointed out the issues and difficulties in dealing with the race conversation, but offered no alternatives or solutions. However, it was a really fun, eye-opening, and in some moments ghostly show, full of callbacks and deja vue.

Tonight we eat at Sardi’s and head into Musical territory with “Nice Work if You Can Get it.” Then, Saturday is a blast to my past with “Evita,” followed by a trip down the old fly-trapper (or is it tourist-trapper?) “Spiderman” on Broadway on Sunday! More later…

Pete and I pose at the ingenious photo opportunity outside the theater