Friday, March 12, 2010

Yank! Is a doodle-dandy!

Yank! is running uptown at the York Theatre, in the basement beneath a very impressive skyscraper on stilts.  The York Theatre, I did not know, takes pride in presenting only musicals!  Its creative director, a very funny Jim Morgan, opened YANK! by letting us know there would be brief nudity.  "Last night that got an applause!" he added, to applause.  "Yank will also give you thoughts worth pondering.  If you don't want those, go and see MAMMA MIA."  Bravo.  How insulting was/is Mamma Mia?  
Yank!  Is a WW2 love story tagged, "Some stories don't make it into the history books".  It's gotten great buzz and BTW that love story is GAY.  Look closely at the poster!  The producers downplay that and go on about how it's a love story that transcends "gay", but that's what you must say these days to make a gay show marketable.  So it's not gay.  It's two servicemen in love set in World War 2.  Fair?

The musical begins with a boy in San Francisco finding a journal in a junk shop detailing the army life of Stu (Bobby Steggert)---who falls for his squad mate Mith (Ivan Hernandez aka "Hollywood" for his good looks.  Yes I'm already having thoughts worth pondering!)
The cast features 12 actors (when's the last time you saw a show with 12 actors off-Broadway?  Hot.) including Nancy Anderson who is every woman.  Seriously, she plays every woman!
Nancy must be the actress having most fun off (or on) Broadway!  Well, maybe it's a face-off between her and the actress in 39 steps.  In fact, for a love story YANK! is way too much fun.  Until the end when wham, bam, bash! It hits you in the face.  Let's just say (to steal a lyric from the show) that it ends not good, not bad, but true.

Even Bam loved it, and that's saying something.  It did bother me (I'm such a stickler for this kind of thing) that the writer used terms like gay folk, fag, and closet case which struck me as anachronistic.  Were those terms around then?  Remember TITANIC, when they wouldn't let poor Kate Winslet out of steerage and into the elevator and when she finally did get into the elevator she flipped the guy off?  Do you really think they were flipping people off in 1912?  Totally took me out of the story.  I did some research today (can you call Wikipedia research?) and found gay and fag as we know and use them today may have been in use in the 1940's.  A heartwarming discovery.

Actual thoughts worth pondering?  There must be so many stories like this that have died with those who lived them!  Not just world war 2, but all the way back.  Stories that would have been drowned, buried, burned at the stake.  The two (very) elderly men beside me in the packed theatre could have been WW2 survivors, and I was so happy that they were able to see a story like this.  Finally.

It also made me admire men who "pass" as straight and (even today) had/have the courage to come out of the closet because (at their own peril) they don't have to.  I (ahem) never really had a choice.  Yank! also made me miss a time when our lives were so forbidden that the community valued each member, and taught one another how to cope and survive.  There's something we've lost in winning the cultural war.  It's the left hand of acceptance that today we segregate ourselves based on style, class, age, etc.  Camaraderie has become too cool for school, even when still faced with discrimination.

One of the best lines in the play comes between the two lovers when they dream of the future.  "Maybe things will be different," he says.  "Not right now but maybe in 1948, or 1950." Ha!

Go see YANK! and support this kind of theatre.  It's been extended though April 4th.

1 comment:

Bob Frank said...

There's a dvd from 2004 titled "Bob and jack's 52 Year Adventure". about two soldiers from the Korean War who fell in love. I haven't seen it yet but it's supposed to be good and it mirrors this topic just a few years later.