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Actors Theatre of Louisville presents play about Leonard Bernstein

Last night I attended a play in Louisville called Score. It was part of the annual Humana Festival of New Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. This is a very prestigious venue for new work that often ends up on or off Broadway. ATL is a superb company that does really interesting and adventurous productions.

Score is a one-man play about Leonard Bernstein. Much of the material I recognized from his series of Harvard lectures which was later published under the title "The Unanswered Question". While I might have been just as happy to have heard the lecture tapes again, this production was pretty astounding. The actor, John Nelis, performed the monologue without intermission for nearly 1-3/4 hours. What was really appealing was the use of subtle and not so subtle choreography. As he spoke he was constantly in motion, often just looking for his cigarettes (ha), but sometimes moving his arms in an expressive conductorly manner as though his thoughts were pouring out like music from a score. This actor is clearly a wonderful dancer. The company often uses strictly coordinated technology in its productions. In this case both music and lighting punctuated the monologue in precisely timed moments. There was a rhythm and cadence to the whole thing that was inherently musical.

It was a great tribute to a brilliant artist. I had forgotten how great an influence the lectures were on me when I heard them broadcast back in the 60's. Definitely worth revisiting.