For a theater reporter, I see surprisingly little of the season's smaller entries. This is a shortcoming. The problem is there is just not enough time to see everything and there is so much I feel I "need" to see (for conversation sake if nothing else). And, I must admit, too many days of theater in a row leaves me confused and somewhat shaken. I cannot attend shows seven days a week like some of my peers--I need a break. This means that there is a lot of notable stuff out there that I miss. But I rarely miss a Transport Group show.
The fact that I attend Transport Group productions on a fairly regular basis may seem inexplicable to many of you reading this. Why them? Honestly, one major reason is that they frequently employ Donna Lynne Champlin and I'm a supporter. I also appreciate that their shows are generally done earnestly, without a level of artifice. But, even more than that, I like that they do unusual musical pieces. I enjoyed seeing the Transport Group mounting of First Lady Suite and I don't think any other major theater company in New York would have presented it in such a way. I didn't love The Audience--I thought the idea was great, the show not so much--but I am happy it was produced. Their current production, See Rock City & Other Destinations, is another admirable entry. The show is problematic, but it is interesting. That is more than I can say about many things I see.
Often I attend shows that I am sorry for attending about 20 minutes in. This is true regardless of stage size or company--it just happens. I can't remember why I hated Wilder at Playwrights Horizons as much as I did, but boy do I remember wanting to leave the intermission-less tuner. There was just no point to me sitting there watching it. I was palpably aware of that fact while sitting through it. While I am fairly sure Transport Group's Normal was just as bad, if not worse, than Wilder, it was at least something. I remember it. I'm not sorry I saw it for, if anything, it left me thinking after I left the theater.
Now, of course, Transport Group doesn't have tons of money. They have more than off-off-Broadway entries, but less than the majority of off-Broadway companies. They do a lot with a little though and I never find stagecraft lacking. Actually, I often like small scale musicals better when they are produced like small scale musicals. (I swear The Great American Trailer Park Musical was better without the set!)
See Rock City & Other Destinations has its share of strong moments. There are a few destinations I could have lived without visiting, but that's life. Overall, I recommend seeing this or another Transport Group musical. They're different. They're good for a change.
Follow Cara Joy David on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CaraJoyDavid