An interjection about live theater: a friend and I met in NYC on Saturday October 27 (which turned out fortuitously to be the last clear day pre-Sandy) to see 2 shows that both of us wanted to catch:

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The acclaimed Steppenwolf production, already seen in Chicago and DC. I am familiar with the play but somehow had never seen it onstage before. Despite its original reputation (at least to my young ears at the time) as a long grueling dark night of the soul, this was a fast-moving entertaining 3 hours (including the 2 intermissions) in which dramatic grip and ominous undercurrents didn't preclude the glee in gamesmanship and the sparks of dark humor that are also part of it. Tracy Letts and Amy Morton (respectively the playwright of August: Osage County and its premier cast member to my mind) deserve every bit of praise they've been getting. They, director Pam Mackinnon, and Madison Dirks (Nick) pull off that ultimate illusion of making us think its unfolding all by itself before our eyes without premeditation. I'm so glad to have seen it.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Roundabout Theatre revival of the 1986 musical by Rupert Holmes. Sumptuous-looking, great cast (most of whom are starring players in their own right), and just great fun. As most of you probably know, this is framed as a Victorian music-hall production (which gives them license to kill in terms of inserting extraneous songs and bits -- it's all part of this troupe's presentation), and it stops midway through Act II with the announcement that this is where Dickens laid down his pen and died. So the audience gets to vote on the identity of the detective Dick Datchery, and then on the murderer (and finally gets to match up a romantic pair). At our performance, Datchery was Helena Landless, the murderer was sweet Rosa Budd, and the final loving couple were ancient opium-dealer Princess Puffer (Chita Rivera) and the boy Deputy. Good times.