There are teachers in this world that teach and then there are those that you know are driven by a love and desire to shape minds, impart wisdom, and truly care.
When I saw the 1989 film "Dead Poets Society" I recognized professor John Keating because I was lucky enough to have several like him when I was in school. Teachers that thought outside the box in how they taught. That took extra time because they loved their students so much. I was drawn into Robin Williams' performance in that film along with all of the young men (many who went on to so many more films in their lives).
Skip ahead to 2016 and Classic Stage Company, an off-Broadway theater in New York City, is producing a stage version of the show written for the stage by the film's screenwriter Tom Schulman and directed by the always smart John Doyle. I don't like to write about shows that are still in previews, but I'm breaking my rule because if you're in the NYC area - you need to be doing the lottery daily to see this show.
|Jason Sudeikis & Cast|
I didn't think it would be able to translate to the stage, but for me it was a perfect translation. I also spoke to patrons afterwards who had never seen the film and everything made perfect sense to them. And why shouldn't it under the careful watch of Mr. Doyle. A simple set. Immersive theater where the audience is part of the school. Clever lighting and sound. All thanks to Scott Pask, Japhy Weideman and Matt Stine.
However I'm sure deciding to do this for the stage was a tough decision as people's minds would think of Robin Williams' beautiful performance in the film. I have to say - boy, did they find their captain with Jason Sudeikis. I didn't think of Mr. Williams ONCE while watching. Sudeikis has made the role his. He is witty, he knows how to play the drama, he is genuine (and so comfortable on stage in his NY stage debut), and you can tell he loves these boys. He is the entire package.
|Robin Williams in Film|
The rest of the cast is just as wonderful. I love David Garrison in everything that I see. I'd never seen the rest of the cast, but I'm sure I will in the future. Zane Pais, Thomas Mann, Cody Kostro, Bubba Weiler, William Hichman, Yaron Lotan, Stephen Barker Turner and Francesca Carpanini are all incredible actors - giving their all and taking us to the time of 1959 that doesn't feel all that different from the 80s when I was in school.
Thank you to Classic Stage Company for producing this and sending me out with a lump in my throat. And thank you to those teachers I had that taught me to go against the grain and to just be ME!