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July 13, 2014
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Good night, Irene!


All it takes is one minor disaster to remind me of how dependent I have become on technology. Even though the hurricane could have been much worse, we still took a hit here in the mountains and I couldn’t help but think of Gilligan, his island... and how the song might have gone, were it today: “No phones, no lights, no Internet... ”

There are plenty of “luxuries” I can do without, but no Internet? Egads. As the cancellations began pouring in, I scrambled to make preparations for the worst and quickly made my way over to the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBplayhouse.org) for their final presentation of the season, the Fats Waller musical revue, “Ain’t Misbehavin.’”

While hardly a “disaster of epic proportions,” truth be told, I found it fraught with problems. I spoke briefly with original Broadway cast member Charlayne Woodard over the weekend and expressed my concerns. “Honestly, it is not an easy show to do,” she told me. “It takes experienced actor’s who can sing, to pull this show off.”

With a tremendous catalog of songs to inspire the show, I initially felt that nothing could go wrong, but quickly discovered that hitting the right notes is simply not enough. Although the young cast members certainly have strong vocal abilities, the show is less than cohesive and failed to strike a chord with me.

Not wishing to emulate Irene and tear it up, suffice it to say that without an excellent piano backing up the show, songs like “Mean to Me,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Honeysuckle Rose” were overshadowed by the ennui that seemed all-pervasive. Troy Scarborough’s cartoonish, exaggerated caricature of Waller left me befuddled and I was distracted by Kate Mincer’s tragic costuming choices and hideous wigs.

Before the Internet abandoned me, I noticed that another review called this production “delightful.” Potato-potahto springs to mind as I survey the mess that Irene has wrought on the Catskills, grateful that this show is the exception for the FBP season, rather than the rule. I hope that the hurricane has stirred things up over there and that this weekend, the joint will be jumpin’.

As my schedule changed course with the capricious winds, I crossed the wine festival off my list, scratched out the NY Pops no-show at Bethel Woods and, stumbling through the darkened house, stubbed my toe in the first of several Irene-related injuries that I sustained while wondering whether I should brave the storm to see Stevie Nicks (I did not) live in concert, again at Bethel Woods. Friday night was beautiful, so I walked down to the lake to observe the fireworks that always delight toward the end of the summer season.

Bashing my leg into the truck, I screamed, cursed the darkness and howled, as if in preparation for the storm, whimpering all the way home to nurse the injury, which had swelled (not unlike the rising tides) enough to cause concern.

While I still had power, I checked the path of destruction that Irene had left in her wake as she made her way up the coast, threatening the Hudson Valley. As the lights flickered once again, it occurred to me that only the weather had the awesome power to make me feel so vulnerable, isolated and alone. I wandered from room to room, making sure the flashlights were in place and literally walked into a wall, tearing my arm from its socket. I wailed like a banshee, wondering aloud whether karma was not working its magic spell on me after accusing “Ain’t Misbehavin’” of being clumsy.

As I tore my shirt off to inspect the damage to my arm, I sprained my index finger and squealed. Limping to the bathroom, I stopped to pick up the cell phone, which was (just like the land line) dead. Giving in to despair, I slumped against the wall, and felt a sliver of epic proportions enter my backside and make its way up my spine, which finally... made me cry. Unable to walk, incapable of lifting a feather, with my eyesight blurred by a torrent of tears, I attempted to shake my fist toward the heavens and listened to the gusts as they shook the cabin before swallowing a tranquilizer, an aspirin and a sleeping pill.

Just before drifting off, I sighed and admitted that the storm had gotten the better of me, and had also veered a bit, wreaking havoc, slightly out of control. Praying that I would wake to sunny skies, I counted my injuries, rather than sheep, and thought of Little Richard, who also shook, shimmied and cried as he made his voice heard over the din, howling those immortal words: “Good night, Irene!”