We’re having an awesome time in New York City, and the latest escapade is no exception – a Wednesday evening spent with Isaiah Sheffer at Symphony Space. For those of you who listen to the Selected Shorts podcasts, as interesting as the short stories are, and as great as it is to hear them read by famous name actors, the one I’m truly star-struck by is Sheffer.
So that’s why I’m happy to tell you that he’s very nice in person. His voice from the stage is just like listening through earbuds. And then – imagine this – at intermission, he’s just standing there, chatting to people! After jostling around and looking for a way to take his picture without him noticing, I screwed up my courage, went up to him, and asked for permission to snap him with my iPhone. He couldn’t have been more gracious, even asking me my name and where I’m from, letting me know that he hoped to be coming to Steppenwolf soon. So that’s my moment near the spotlight.
The program itself was excellent, a trio of music-inspired or music-related stories, and to pull the threads even tighter, each story had a related musical performance. Laurie Anderson was excellent reading the mesmerising story by Hannah Tinti, Milestones, inspired by a Miles Davis piece of the same name.
Then on to a beautiful rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust by Kelli O’Hara (lately of South Pacific), followed by an excerpt of City of God by E.L. Doctorow performed by James Naughton. FYI, Ms. O’Hara is married to Mr. Naughton’s son (Greg Naughton).
The final reading was Kelli O’Hara reading Wunderkind by Carson McCullers, following a performance of Beethoven’s Sonata N. 12 in A flat Major, Opus 26 – one of the pieces that the 14 year old girl was failing to master in the short story.
Highlights for me were Stardust (what a beautiful song!) and Hannah Tinti’s Milestones. The short story tells the tale of two men – one man rising in an elevator, bound and determined to quit his job and change his life, and the other, a humbler man with a more challenging life, coping the best he can… and falling, falling down the outside of the skyscraper, waiting for his safety belt to catch him… right up to the moment he lands in the fountain, full of splashing water and lucky coins, in the plaza below. You know what’s happening… but the suspense kills you, anyway. Catch it on the podcast!.