Sharon Fogarty's play, "Putnam," considers the excesses of fame, providing its cast with the opportunity to portray the famous. There is a crossover between achieving fame and providing the world with valuable personal offerings. The untimely death element follows closely along the path to fame. Perhaps untimely death follows along all our paths, particularly those on the paths less travelled. In "Putnam" Sharon rejects the connection between fame and untimely death (Note: I have replaced the word "disaster" with the term "untimely death."). Her view was that the death was a ruse and that the "famous" faked their deaths to continue pursuing their life's purpose, whatever that might be. She considers the charged careers of Marilyn Monroe, Billie Holiday, Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Janis Joplin.
I will jump immediately to the pleasures of the play. John Lennon, the composer, the songwriter, was inspired. His work inspired others, and I mean that in a nearly technical way. There is a school of composition arising from his inspiration and Sharon furthered it by writing a beautiful song in his style. Al Quagliata gave a very pleasant performance seated with the fictitious Mr. Putnam as they drew with crayons on paper plates. The cast offstage did the "Ahhh" back-up vocals so typical of the dreamy side of John Lennon. Lennon did a beautiful job expressing love as a universal state of being and Sharon furthered it. This scene is a beautiful theatrical moment.
Rather than approach head-on the dramatic material put forth by Sharon, I will now list some John-Lennon-inspired breakthroughs, those of which I am aware, and these are highlights for the artists who did them. Billy Joel's "Laura," and ELO Adrian Lynn's "My Shangrila has gone away.... fading like the beatles on hey jude??? Judy Judy Judy..."
Putnam's Lennon moment followed a psychedelic Janis Joplin moment, convincingly created by Linda Kobylinski (She sings as Mathilda and Samamama in the Prepare to Meet Your Maker Soundtrack.). The feeling of nostalgia it created may simply be of the Strawberry Alarmclock cameo in the film "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (to some of you this reference will not be obscure). More recently, I attended a party in an abandoned building next to the Williamsburg Bridge, which means I have a real psychedelic '60's nostalgia that dates from a mere two months ago. Anyway, Mike Meyers has made this nostalgia his niche so for a dose of it you know where to go.
Hey, Mike Meyers is famous.
So riding on the wings of fame can provide the boost needed to fly on your own.
Sharon's play rides on the wings of the famous while providing a fictional character who lacks the iconographic mannerisms of the celebrity. Maybe if she assigned a real person, I don't know, like Bono -- who is actually one step away from nonentity in my mind, replaced by impressions of Brian Pilten covering Bono's amazing "One Love One Life Love is a something or other..., an ember, ... a temple?" It sounded like Bono's answer to Sting's "Every Breath... Every Move ... I'll be Watching..."
Bono. He's surely famous. Give Putnam Bono's iconographic mannerisms... Bono must have some magnetism, I mean, Werner Herzog attended to him, I think... In fact, seeing someone immitate Bono will increase one's appreciation of Bono.
The pleasure of the play is to see how well the cast's personal magnetism filtered through their "immitation" of the stars...
As for the folks they immitated, good thing they are famous because they can continue to inspire us. They inspired the cast...
I saw the Sunday performance of June 2nd, 2002.