Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
A slow week let me do something I haven't done in years: see a show a second time, away from the pressures, the hoopla, and what Walter Kerr called the "catastrophic importance" of opening night.
I went back to The Tempest, outdoors at the Old Globe, to see what my critical raving the first time was all about.
And not without trepidation. Some productions grow, some grow a lot; others, even after a promising opening, can warp or splinter into over-acted moments and scene-thievery.
The Tempest, which had a polished first night, has flowered. To a person the cast is relaxed and obviously enjoying the ensemble effort. The moods, the wonderful music, and the spectacle — especially a big blue cloth that becomes a sail, a wave, or a tent — flow effortlessly. One of the most fluid theatrical efforts I've seen in some time.
And what a treat to see a quality production once it's settled in! Pace often rules opening nights. It's either a steeplechase or knee-deep in linoleum or the one trying to overcome the other — which may have been the norm in rehearsals. Dramatic values often vanish in the process.
The Tempest moves at a pace both sprightly and stately. It honors the words and the actions.
And individual performances have grown. On opening night, Winslow Corbett (Miranda) and Kevin Alan Daniels (Ferdinand) were tentative, as if more intent on not making a mistake — a common first-night strategy — than embracing the role. Now they fill the stage with youthful innocence, vigor, and warmth.
Miles Anderson's Prospero is the best I've ever seen. He has deepened his relations with the others, especially Ben Diskant's athletic Ariel, who, in a perfect choice, wants to but doesn't quite trust his master's promise of freedom.
It was odd sitting in a theater without a pen and notepad. To the credit of this excellent production, I never felt the need for either.