Tuesday, November 11, 2008
There were about a hundred people bravely chancing the waitlist to get into one of the instantly sold-out "developmental" readings of Yank! at the York. With luck, the show will soon get a full-scale production in New York and all those who were turned away this time will get to discover one of the best new musicals of this decade. Yank! is one-of-a-kind: crafted as if it is a musical from the 1940's, but telling a love story between two WW2 military men that couldn't have been told then. (The Todd Haynes film Far From Heaven is the only pop culture antecedent I can think of.) The cast for this on-book, chairs-in-a-semicircle reading included Ivan Hernandez, last seen in the show during its initial development at NYMF a couple of years ago, along with Bobby Steggert, Nancy Anderson and Jeffry Denman, seen last year when the show played a critically acclaimed limited engagement in Brooklyn at Gallery Players. The show has always been deeply moving, and each revision makes it more so, but I can't deny that recent setbacks to gay marriage rights also helped to make this reading nothing short of heartbreaking. A wise person once said to me that the first two questions that should be asked about theatre are "why?" and "why now?". The answers here are that we need Yank! and we need it immediately.