The Elephant Man on Broadway awakened me in a way I have not been in a long time. With a strongly talented cast and powerful story, all under the direction of Scott Ellis, this show left me breathless.
I was so moved by the show’s tale about how one man’s differences made him more of an outsider and spectacle to society than allowing him to just be….that is until one doctor takes him in and while he’s using him for a study, he treats "The Elephant Man" with the dignity and respect we all deserve.
Bradley Cooper’s performance was mesmerizing! I have only seen a few Bradley Cooper movies, but after seeing Bradley on stage in The Elephant Man, I want to see more. Bradley’s dedication to this story is inspiring. From his hand gestures and posture to his vocalization, I was not seeing Bradley Cooper up on that stage, I was seeing "Joseph Merrick," a.k.a. "The Elephant Man." Bradley embodied this character.
There are so many plot points that I was able to relate to in this show. Similar to "Joseph Merrick," I know what it’s like to be on the outside and looked at as a spectacle. While I’ve never been caged up in a traveling freak show, I have felt like a caged animal people look at and make fun of. Pick any day from elementary school through high school, and I can give you the name of a kid who made fun of me. While I’ve finally found the self-esteem and confidence I lacked as a child, I still have my days of feeling like a joke, but now I just laugh along with everyone instead of getting upset.
I also identified with "Joseph’s" struggle to survive. Being born premature in 1975, I literally had to fight for my life. Technology wasn’t what it is today, and no one thought I would survive, especially the nurse who was by my mother’s side and told her it was okay they didn’t have a name picked out for me because I wouldn’t make it anyway. But I did survive and surprised the doctors over and over again. With a diagnosis of being deaf, I somehow miraculously regained my hearing about age 3. The first time I heard the phone was quite a day for my family and later in life I overcame my learning disability. "Joseph Merrick" may not have been as lucky as me, but he fought the best fight he could.
The other part of the play I found very interesting was the similarity between Bradley Cooper and "Joseph Merrick’s" life in relation to the fact that "Joseph Merrick" was put on display for all to see and every night when Bradley Cooper leaves the stage door, he is put on display by the hundreds of fans waiting to get a glimpse of him, an autograph, or even a picture. I wonder if Bradley brought any part of this experience into his portrayal of "Joseph Merrick?"
Alessandro Nivola was terrific as "Dr. Treves," the doctor who takes in "Joseph Merrick" to study him. Patricia Clarkson took my breath away as "Mrs. Kendell," the actress who is one of the few genuine people to take a real interest in "Joseph Merrick." It was quite touching watching their relationship unfold. Patricia brought a nice mix of comedy/drama to her role. I love when a character can make me laugh one minute and then have me emotional the next. She had some really beautiful scenes that Scott had directed perfectly.
My other favorite part of seeing The Elephant Man was getting to see Scott Lowell live on stage. I have been a big fan of Scott’s since being introduced to him through Showtime’s Queer As Folk where he starred as "Ted Schmidt." Scott played a variety of roles in The Elephant Man, which gave a wonderful glimpse into the many talents of Scott Lowell. I hope to get to see Scott in more stage productions, especially on Broadway! (If you missed my interview with Scott Lowell about The Elephant Man, click here to read it!)
This production of The Elephant Man is truly one of the best Broadway shows I’ve seen. From the acting to the staging to the direction, everything worked seamlessly! The Elephant Man, which plays at the Booth Theatre (245 West 45th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue), has a limited run through February 15 only, so get your tickets while you can! This is the one show you need to see!! Click here for tickets!
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