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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: dave jenkins on October 10, 2008, 10:45:14 AM

Title: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 10, 2008, 10:45:14 AM
Terry Teachout has a very good review of the current Broadway production of A Man For All Seasons. I say it's a good review because I saw the show two weeks ago, and I can heartily endorse everything Mr. Teachout says:

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New York

In 1961, Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons" opened on Broadway and ran for a year and a half -- an impressive run by any standard, and altogether astonishing for an intellectually demanding history play set in the 16th century. Now "A Man for All Seasons" is back on Broadway for the first time in 45 years. Why the long wait? Two words: the movie. Fred Zinnemann's 1966 film version preserves Paul Scofield's famous stage performance as Thomas More, who got his head chopped off in 1535 for opposing the illegal divorce and remarriage of King Henry VIII and was canonized 400 years later. It's one of the best movies ever made from a play, and it brought home six Oscars, one of them for Scofield and all well deserved. Small wonder that nobody dared to revive the play until now.

Why, then, is the Roundabout Theatre Company bucking such long odds? Because it has an ace in the hole: Frank Langella. He hit the jackpot last year with his eerily evocative interpretation of Richard Nixon in "Frost/Nixon," and is returning to Broadway in an equally meaty role. From disgraced president to martyred saint -- how can you lose? Nor does he. Mr. Langella's version of St. Thomas is all his own: urbane, world-weary, more public than that of his great predecessor, which makes it all the more moving when he collapses in fear and desperation midway through the second act, knowing that he may be about to lose his life over a matter of conscience. Better than Scofield? No -- but just as good.

It goes without saying that Langella knocks his big speeches out of the park, especially the oft-quoted one in which he warns his daughter's overzealous boyfriend of the unknowable dangers of "cutting a great road through the law" in order to pursue short-term justice: "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you -- where would you hide, the laws all being flat?" Who would have thought that one of the great moments of 20th-century theater would turn out to be a speech about the law of unintended consequences?

Patrick Page, an old Broadway hand who dazzled me a few months ago in "The Pleasure of His Company" at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, makes a formidable impression in his brief but potent star turn as the mercurial Henry. He's scary in just the right way -- first charming, then threatening, and you never know when he's going to switch from one to the other. Going up against Mr. Langella is like sticking your head into the business end of a cannon, but Mr. Page emerges in one piece.

Mr. Langella and Mr. Page are by far the best things about Doug Hughes's staging, which takes significant liberties with Bolt's original script that go unmentioned in the program. Mr. Hughes has eliminated the character of the Common Man, distributing his various parts among several actors and cutting his sardonic epilogue (the play now ends with a blackout as St. Thomas ascends to the scaffold). The purpose of these changes, I assume, is to make "A Man for All Seasons" feel less like a play and more like a movie, but the result has been to make it more conventional in dramaturgical effect. It doesn't help that most of the supporting parts are played competently but unmemorably.

Taken on its own terms, though, the Roundabout's "Man for All Seasons" is an excellent and persuasive piece of work, in large part because the play itself is so masterly a piece of storytelling. Bolt took a knotty subject, the rule of law, and turned it into an intensely theatrical battle between two stiff-necked giants, one a man of principle, the other a man of passion and power. The result, if perhaps not quite a great play, is at the very least an extraordinarily good one. Rarely has a history lesson been taught so painlessly -- or intelligently.

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Roundabout Theatre Company,
American Airlines Theatre,
227 W. 42nd St., New York
($66.50-$111.50),
212-719-1300, closes Dec.

Teachout's video review, with clips from the show, is here (after a commercial):
http://online.wsj.com/video/a-man-for-all-seasons/C9D5AA19-5CFA-4C36-9334-3036DC8089B5.html
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on October 10, 2008, 11:51:00 AM
Rockin'. I so wish I could see this. Thanks so much for posting.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 12, 2008, 12:10:46 PM
Went to see Kristin Scott Thomas in The Seagull yesterday. Robert McNeil was in the audience. I thought the performance was quite good, but the theater, the Walter Kerr, is a joke. Not only are the seats cramped and uncomfortable, the left side of the orchestra opens almost directly onto 48th St. which means everytime an emergency vehicle goes by the siren drowns out the actors. This happened three separate times during the matinee I saw. Anyway, here's TT's review (I liked it a bit better than he did, apparently):

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OCTOBER 3, 2008

A Noisy 'Seagull,'
By TERRY TEACHOUT

New York

It's been eight years since any play by Anton Chekhov was last seen on Broadway, and 15 since Tony Randall's National Actors Theatre performed "The Seagull" there. So the arrival in town of the Royal Court Theatre's highly praised production of 2007, in which Kristin Scott Thomas ("The English Patient") plays Arkadina, ought to be cause for celebration. Sure enough, Ian Rickson has given us a carefully considered staging, one that makes sense on paper -- yet I never managed to warm up to it, or felt myself drawn into Chekhov's world, in which comedy and tragedy are tied together so tightly that you can't tell them apart.

Not until well into the second act did I figure out what was bothering me. Especially in Christopher Hampton's new English-language version, this is a very British "Seagull," but not in the pale, old-fashioned way: I've never seen a production of "The Seagull" that was played so successfully, even relentlessly, for laughs. Up to a point this is as it should be, but Mr. Rickson's staging is overemphatic and overly detailed, often to the point of outright fussiness. Nobody throws anything away -- every moment is made to register -- and much of the play's poignancy, at least for me, got lost in the resulting clutter. Compared with the Classic Stage Company's recent Off-Broadway "Seagull," which was as intimate as it was immediate, this production struck me as both too big and (so to speak) too noisy.

Three of the performances, however, are decidedly worth seeing. As Arkadina, the great actress who has no room in her life for her less-talented son, Konstantin (Mackenzie Crook), Ms. Thomas is every inch the diva, imperious and always "on." Carey Mulligan is burningly intense as Nina, the stage-struck girl from the provinces who steals Arkadina's lover, then loses him again. And Zoe Kazan, the most interesting young actress in New York, gives us a fearsomely high-strung Masha whose obsessive love for Konstantin is all too believable. I only wish that Mr. Rickson's production had supplied a more convincing context for the work of these artists -- especially Ms. Kazan, who has it in her to become a name-above-the-title stage star.

Again, I didn't think the production was "noisy." 48th Street, though, was noisy.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on October 12, 2008, 02:13:13 PM
Kristin Scott Thomas? :o You lucky bastard. If you got to meet her after the show I'll have to kill you.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2009, 07:59:59 AM
Two great productions on Broadway I've seen recently get nice write-ups in today's WSJ:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124052769963750221.html

I'm basically vouching for what Teachout says for both productions. I can't help adding a few thoughts of my own, however.

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"Mary Stuart" is very good and also reminded me of Shakespeare. Except Schiller and his translator(s) aren't sure, it seems to me, what they want the play to say. Mary is supposed to be the noble figure, Elizabeth the schemer. Why, then, is Elizabeth the more interesting character? It can't just be because the very talented Harriet Walter is in the role. Surely, the Mary part is underwritten. The big confrontation scene--the ahistorical encounter between Mary and Elizabeth that seemed to be Schiller's raison d'etre for the play--doesn't really amount to much. Mary herself comes off as something of a schizophrenic, seeking advantage at one moment, resigning herself to her fate the next. I guess it's human nature, but it seems unremarkable. The calculating Elizabeth, on the other hand, never quite reveals what's going on in her mind (if I recall correctly, she has no soliliquies, only speeches to other players which may or may not reflect her true feelings). Which means, not clear about her motivations, our thoughts are more often trained upon her. So what if she's supposed to be the villain: Macbeth is the only interesting character in "Macbeth", also. At the end of "Mary Stuart" Elizabeth is presented on stage alone; she's banished or killed those about her, and others have fled from her court. She's supposed, I guess, to be a portrait of woman has caused her own self-isolation. But how does that square with the historical record? And the one thing we know about monarchs: they can always get a court if they want one. So Schiller's playing a bit fast and loose with the facts; still, it's an entertaining play, and this current production is a good one. TT is right, though: it's all mind and no heart.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on May 27, 2009, 11:57:09 AM
In today's NY Post:
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JACKMAN, CRAIG TO TAKE B'WAY BY STORM

By MICHAEL RIEDEL

May 27, 2009 --

Here come the hunks!

Daniel Craig, a k a James Bond, and Hugh Jackman, aka Wolverine, will team up in a new play this fall on Broadway, The Post has learned.

The drama, "A Steady Rain" by Keith Huff, is about two Chicago cops whose lifelong friendship is put to the test when they become involved in a domestic dispute in a poor neighborhood.

MORE: Theater Blog

Craig, whose Bond movies "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace" are among the highest grossing films of all time, will be making his New York stage debut. He started off in the theater in London, playing bit parts, but he has not appeared in a play in several years.

Jackman won a Tony Award in 2004 for his role as Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz."

Although the musical received mixed reviews, Jackman became a box-office sensation, shaking a pair of maracas and flouncing around the stage in tight leopard pants.

"The Boy From Oz" regularly grossed more than $1 million a week. Jackman became the most sought-after leading man in the theater, though he's turned down every offer to star in another show until now.

"Everybody wanted him to do a musical, but he wanted to do a serious play," a theater source says.

Barbara Broccoli, who oversees the James Bond movie franchise, is producing "A Steady Rain." She arrives in New York from Europe this weekend to scout out Broadway theaters, sources said.

The daughter of legendary James Bond producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli produced "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" on Broadway in 2005.

It was a $10 million flop.

She should do better this time around.

Theater sources say Craig and Jackman have the potential to match Broadway's biggest box- office champ, Julia Roberts, who sold over $10 million worth of tickets in just 12 weeks in the play "Three Days of Rain" in 2006.

Although "A Steady Rain" is harsh and harrowing, one Broadway wag pre dicted that even those theatergoers whose tastes run to splashy musicals will want to see it.

Said the wag: "Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in police uniforms? All the boys will be there!"

michael.riedel@nypost.com
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on June 19, 2009, 05:34:40 PM
I saw the Broadway run of this last winter; I'm sorry I won't have a chance to go to Hartford before it closes there.

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JUNE 19, 2009

Improving on Perfection

By TERRY TEACHOUT



Hartford, Conn.

You can’t be sure how good a work of art is until you’ve seen it more than once. I saw Horton Foote’s “Dividing the Estate” for the third time last week, and it looked better than ever—though I have no doubt that a good-sized chunk of the credit this time around goes to Lois Smith. Ms. Smith, whose performance in the Signature Theatre Company’s unforgettable 2005 Off-Broadway revival of Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” was a high-water mark in my playgoing life, has taken over Elizabeth Ashley’s role in Hartford Stage’s production of “Dividing the Estate,” which is otherwise a straight transfer of the Lincoln Center Theater staging seen on Broadway last winter. Ms. Ashley is, of course, a tough act to follow, but Ms. Smith does so triumphantly. In fact, she might just be better than her celebrated predecessor—and that’s saying plenty.

More about Ms. Smith in a moment. But first a word about the play, a black comedy about a quarreling small-town family whose aged matriarch (Ms. Smith) obstinately refuses to sell the Texas farm on which she lives and divide the proceeds among her grasping children. Foote, who died in March at the age of 92, didn’t go in for straight comedy any more than did Chekhov, his master, and the laughs in “Dividing the Estate,” of which there are more than I can count, do nothing to conceal the play’s essential seriousness. It’s a hard-headed tale of the corrosive effects of disappointment on the human soul, and my guess is that it will be remembered a century from now as a classic of American theater.

It’s been 13 years since Lois Smith last appeared on Broadway (“The Trip to Bountiful” was supposed to transfer there, but no theater was available at the time). That alone is reason enough to go to Hartford to see her. She seasons the role of Stella with a savory pinch of mischief—you can tell that she enjoys toying with her offspring—that heightens the pathos of her character’s imminent rendezvous with death. Her Stella is neither Gothic nor grotesque, merely human, and the relish with which she clings to what remains of her long life is unutterably poignant.

The other members of the ensemble cast have been working together since this production first opened Off Broadway in 2007, yet they show no signs of ennui. If anything, they’ve managed to improve on what I previously thought couldn’t be bettered. It’s no surprise that Hallie Foote, the playwright’s daughter, is masterly as Mary Jo, the pinch-faced child who has been pickled in the brine of greed, but everyone else in the cast is up to the formidably high standards set by Ms. Foote and Ms. Smith. Though I hesitate to single anyone out for individual praise—they all deserve it—I can’t pass over Arthur French, who makes something very special indeed out of the seemingly ungrateful role of Doug, the nonagenarian servant who longs to be buried in an expensive coffin.

In order to make use of the set designed by Jeff Cowie for the show’s Broadway run, Hartford Stage has installed a temporary proscenium stage inside its shallow thrust-stage auditorium, thereby putting much of the audience unusually close to the performers. The added intimacy of this arrangement makes it easier to relish the fine detail of Michael Wilson’s immaculate direction. No doubt future directors will think of other ways to stage “Dividing the Estate” that will be just as good, but I doubt that I’ll ever see the play again—and I expect to see it many times in years to come—without remembering this wonderful production.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on September 06, 2009, 08:48:05 PM
Hmmm: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/theater/06lyal.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 02, 2009, 11:22:56 AM
In today's WSJ:
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Serious Entertainment, Chicago-Style

    *
      By TERRY TEACHOUT


New York

Chicago has come to Broadway—with a great big bang. Two new plays by Chicago-based writers, Keith Huff's "A Steady Rain" and Tracy Letts's "Superior Donuts," opened across the street from one another this week. Not only are both shows set to become box-office hits, but both are characteristic of Chicagoland theater at its gritty, no-nonsense best. The difference is that while "Superior Donuts" is a straight Chicago-to-New York transfer of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production, "A Steady Rain" is a made-for-Broadway remounting that features two movie stars, Daniel Craig ("Quantum of Solace") and Hugh Jackman ("X-Men"), whose real-life accents are unmistakably un-American.

Why does this matter? Because Messrs. Craig and Jackman are playing a pair of beat cops from the South Side of Chicago, the first slightly bent and the second crooked as a twice-bought pol, who talk the spiky talk of the streets where they grew up ("I known the guy since kinnygarten"). In a two-man play, especially one written by a sharp-eared Chicago author whose father-in-law and brother-in-law were policemen, American audiences have a right to expect the actors to sound like the characters they're playing. Mr. Craig, a British actor with classical training and a wide variety of stage experience, manages this tricky task with cool aplomb, tunnelling so far inside his part that it's easy to forget who's playing it. Mr. Jackman does his damnedest to keep up, but Australian vowels occasionally peep through the nasal snarl of his ersatz Chicago accent, and though he gives a strong, satisfying performance, you're always aware that it is a performance.

Not that this diminishes the gut-level impact of "A Steady Rain," an irresistibly forceful exercise in noir-style tandem storytelling in which the hushed audience watches Mr. Jackman's character hurtle headlong toward the abyss of self-destruction, seemingly unable to stop himself from doing all the wrong things at all the wrong times. Mr. Craig, who plays his softer-spoken partner, makes the most out of what appears on paper to be the less flashy of the two roles. I wouldn't exactly say that he steals the show from Mr. Jackman, but I bet he's the one you'll be thinking about on the way home from the theater.

John Crowley ("The Pillowman") has staged "A Steady Rain" with a crisp, curt directness that sits somewhat awkwardly alongside Scott Pask's overelaborate set and Mark Bennett's self-consciously brooding incidental music. No doubt "A Steady Rain" will be taken up by regional theaters across America, and I wouldn't be surprised if most of them present it less expensively—and more effectively. Me, I'd rather watch it performed on a small-house thrust stage with no set and no music, but don't let that quibble stop you from coming to see "A Steady Rain" on Broadway. Mr. Craig's performance is devastatingly credible, and Mr. Jackman isn't all that far behind.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 10, 2009, 09:49:32 AM
On the Jude Law Hamlet:
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OCTOBER 9, 2009

A 'Hamlet' With Few Surprises

By TERRY TEACHOUT

New York

Another "Hamlet," another movie star. When Shakespeare's best-known tragedy was last seen on Broadway, Ralph Fiennes played the title role and the production was a transfer from London. Fourteen years later, Jude Law is playing the title role and the production is a transfer from London. Few Broadway producers would dream of putting cash into a home-grown Shakespeare staging: They'd rather buy British, and they won't even do that without a Hollywood-issued flop-insurance policy.

So what are the backers of Mr. Law's "Hamlet" getting for their money? A perfectly respectable, perfectly predictable modern-dress version whose been-there-seen-this minimalist décor, created by Christopher Oram, is the theatrical equivalent of a little black dress: Everybody has one and they all look alike. The whole cast, in fact, is dressed in black (except for Ophelia, who is black). Black leather jackets, black pea jackets, black shirts and ties . . . you get the idea. The set is an abstract castle whose sole ornament is a pair of proscenium-high doors that slide open and shut at frequent intervals, much like the elevators in a high-rise office building, and the mist-filled stage is illuminated by narrow shafts of chilly bluish-white light.

It would be inordinately difficult to make anything surprising happen in this enervatingly familiar space. Michael Grandage, who directed the Donmar Warehouse premiere of "Frost/Nixon" that came to Broadway two years ago, barely even tries. A few new touches pop up here and there, some smart (the killing of Polonius is seen from his point of view) and some silly (snowflakes fall on the sorrowful Dane as he delivers his soliloquy on suicide). For the most part, though, Mr. Grandage rings the standard changes on "Hamlet," and his competent actors stick no less carefully to the middle of the Shakespearean road. Only Peter Eyre, who plays the ghost of Hamlet's father and the Player King, makes you sit up and pay attention, speaking his lines in a cadaverous bass voice so ripe and resonant that you can almost feel it in the soles of your feet.

Mr. Law, a well-trained actor with extensive stage experience, gives a performance that struck me as a polished first draft, full of bright glints of wit and lithe physicality (he is a superlative swordsman) but lacking in vocal variety. If I'd seen him playing his first Hamlet on a regional stage, I would have thought myself lucky and marked him down for good things in the future, and I suspect that he would also have made a much stronger impression in a more interesting production.

The audience at Sunday's matinée showed every outward sign of loving everything about this "Hamlet." They sat in rapt silence and laughed in all the right places. Indeed, it was evident that many of the people who had been lured to the Broadhurst Theatre by the prospect of seeing Mr. Law in the flesh were also seeing the play for the first time. Good for them—and good for him. I can think of worse ways to make the acquaintance of so sublime a work of art. If, on the other hand, you've already been around the track with "Hamlet," I doubt that this comfy canter will tell you anything you don't already know.

OTOH, a colleague of mine saw it a week ago and said it was the first production of Hamlet that had brought him to tears. Perhaps Mr. Teachout, as a well-seasoned critic, has become a bit jaded. I guess I'll have to see for myself . . .
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on October 10, 2009, 10:02:28 AM
Quote
They'd rather buy British, and they won't even do that without a Hollywood-issued flop-insurance policy.

Americans and Shakespeare are pretty hit-or-miss, from my view, if Branaugh's films proved nothing else. Can't say I have a problem with that.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on November 26, 2009, 10:53:02 AM
Went to see Jude Law's Hamlet yesterday and enjoyed it pretty much. It wasn't overwhelmingly good, nor bad, either. I enjoyed this write-up of the production better, though. It's by Kevin D. Williamson and appears in the November issue of The New Criterion:

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T. S. Eliot called Hamlet the “Mona Lisa of literature,” and he suspected that “more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they found it interesting than have found it interesting because it is a work of art.” In his brief notes on the play, “Hamlet and His Problems,” Eliot argued that the great temptation is to take Hamlet the character, rather than Hamlet the play, as the relevant question at hand. Which is to say, Eliot saw Hamlet endure into the age of psychology.

Shakespeare had no language for psychology and, having art at his disposal, needed none; in our own leaden times psychology has largely supplanted art and religion, and so the temptation to treat Hamlet as an exercise in psychoanalysis—one that marginalizes the remainder of the drama—is near irresistible. Every performance of Hamlet ends up being directed by Sigmund Freud, with Hamlet reduced to a bag of neuroses. It is easy to imagine any number of theatrical strategies for mitigating that modern problem and grounding Hamlet more firmly in the world of Hamlet; one might, for instance, lay some emphasis on those underlying aspects of the play that Shakespeare inherited from earlier versions of it, which were straightforward revenge dramas in which there was no doubt that Hamlet’s madness is a ruse and nothing else. One might, through careful casting and direction, enlarge Gertrude, Claudius, and Polonius, establishing a fuller human context in which to examine Hamlet’s paralysis. Or you could say, “To hell with all that” and produce a profitable mediocrity with a thermonuclear-grade movie star in the title role.

Beginning and ending with Jude Law alone on stage, Donmar’s Hamlet may be the Hamlettiest Hamlet you will see (short of Guy Roberts’s current production at Houston’s Classical Theatre Company, which reduces the tragedy to a one-man show). Hamlet is, famously, Shakespeare’s longest role, at about 1,400 lines, and the Depressive Dane’s melancholy mug is all over the action at Elsinore. Nobody ever thought there wasn’t enough Hamlet in Hamlet, but the director Michael Grandage apparently thought there was room to shoehorn in a little bit more Jude Law, and so this version, unlike Shakespeare’s, opens with Hamlet, alone and brooding, on a set illuminated by a single beam of light. In effect, Mr. Law makes a celebrity cameo appearance at the beginning of his own play, as though the audience couldn’t be kept waiting until Scene 2 for his arrival. He doesn’t say anything, of course—Shakespeare left no words for this fleeting prologue—but it’s a pretty good advertisement for what you’re going to get: This isn’t Hamlet, it’s Jude Law in Hamlet.

Which isn’t so bad. Mr. Law is not incompetent, but casting him probably was an artistic mistake, even if it was a commercial coup. The play already is unbalanced—for that, blame Shakespeare—but the troupe of workaday tragedians surrounding Mr. Law are annihilated utterly in the black hole of his celebrity, which warps the stage and everything emanating from it. Mr. Law might have been balanced by stronger casting in the other roles; consider how cockeyed a play God of Carnage might have been if the cable mafioso James Gandolfini had not been balanced by Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis. (And if we must have movie people in Shakespeare, bring back Bill Murray as Polonius!) As one astute observer put it, this Hamlet sees Mr. Law surrounded by nothing but interchangeable Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns. And so Mr. Law is left to carry Hamlet by himself, but his shoulders are too slender for the task. His Dane is not so much melancholy as manic-depressive: Manic in action—skipping about the stage, up, down, over, under, shouting, hooting, and howling—but depressive in content.

Put plainly: Jude Law is a damned weepy Hamlet, practically a Juliet. This is a shame. His face is a machine built for sneering; its planes are an architecture of contempt. In his films, he has shown himself something of a virtuoso in communicating very fine shades of disgust. Promising stuff for a Hamlet, who is an engine fueled by loathing. And Mr. Law is very fine when he avails himself of that talent, as in Hamlet’s “play me like a pipe” rejoinder to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But mostly Mr. Law cries like a little girl. He blubbers. He caterwauls. He gets a little misty. Polonius starts to look like Conan the Barbarian by comparison. As a man contemplating murder—regicide of his stepfather-uncle, no less—Mr. Law’s Hamlet is difficult to credit. (Somebody teach him to fence!) And since this production offers us little else but Jude Law in Hamlet, Mr. Law’s failure must be Hamlet’s failure.

Happily, Mr. Grandage’s ambitions apparently began and ended with securing a movie star for the title role. Having made a prince out of his star, he’s shown himself content to put on a mostly dramatically defensible performance. The confrontation between Hamlet and his mother is highly sexualized in the customary postmodern fashion—tedious Dr. Freud!—but there are no gross accretions, no removal to the Jim Crow South or lesbian wheelchair races or whatnot. Hamlet is Hamlet and, if that sounds like damning with faint praise, have a look at what’s been done to poor Romeo and Juliet over the past twenty years—and the Houston production mentioned above places Hamlet as a patient in a mental hospital. Though Mr. Law may be a little fuzzy on Act I, Scene 1, he’s not entirely out of his tree when he describes the play: “No modern additions. Undiluted Shakespeare.” A few edits here and there aside, that’s fair enough.

Mr. Law also shares this observation: “When he wrote Hamlet, Shakespeare was at his height in editing the narrative, in pushing the story forward cleanly and crisply.” And that’s the sort of thing, along with some of his line readings, that makes one wonder whether Mr. Law is paying attention at all. Clean and crisp narrative structure? In Hamlet? The same Hamlet in which the leading character is bundled away in Act IV to be executed in England, only to make his daring escape during an ill-explained but conveniently timed off-stage attack by pirates who turn out to be strangely humanitarian corsairs who, accepting the promise that Hamlet someday will do them a good turn, not only set him free, sans ransom, but get him back to Denmark ricky-tick, just in time for Ophelia’s funeral? The Hamlet in which Gertrude’s death comes about as the result of a plot contrivance worthy of Gilligan’s Island? “Morn in russet mantle clad” Hamlet? Not exactly high and tight, even by Shakespeare’s liberal standards of plot framing. (Shakespeare’s genius is that none of that much matters.) That looseness is why simply casting a celebrity in the lead role is an insufficient approach to Hamlet: The material is wildly uneven, with extraneous scenes and inconsistent characters. Putting Jude Law in last year’s Prada and making it snow in the Broadhurst Theatre isn’t enough: Hamlet demands intelligence.

Or maybe it doesn’t. The audience at the Broadhurst was enraptured. Far from experiencing buyers’ remorse, these remorseless buyers were snapping up whatever Jude Law wanted to sell them. They hadn’t come to see Hamlet; they’d come to see Jude Law. I suspect he might have juggled to their great satisfaction. But to the extent that Broadway makes a purely commercial calculation in these matters, it is fair to judge them on purely commercial grounds: and there are few, if any, $100 tickets on Broadway that will provide as satisfactory a return on one’s investment as any number of $20 seats across town.

Williamson is a bit mean here. Jude Law wasn't quite the whole show, the other actors did well (especially Kevin R. McNally as Claudius), and the killing of Polonius was staged in a way I'd never seen before (the audience is with him behind the arras, watching Hamlet and his mother through the opaque material; the arras then collapses when Polonius is stabbed). But Williamson's experience with the audience is pretty much what I observed--a lot of starf*ckers and potential starf*ckers.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on December 22, 2009, 04:43:05 PM
Am going to this tomorrow. Sounds like it's gonna be great:

Quote
    * FEBRUARY 27, 2009

The Genius of David Cromer

    *
      By TERRY TEACHOUT

New York

What are the true classics of American theater, the shows that have decisively survived the test of time and now look to be of permanent significance? While I can think of a fair number of plays that are credible candidates for the top-five list, only two, Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie" and Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," strike me as absolutely inevitable. That David Cromer should have directed both of these plays in close succession might well seem presumptuous, but Mr. Cromer appears to have the imaginative wherewithal to put his stamp on any number of classics. Like the haunting "Glass Menagerie" that he staged in January for Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Mr. Cromer's rethinking of Wilder's 1938 masterpiece, which has opened Off Broadway after a much-praised run in Chicago, is a re-creative landmark, at once arrestingly original and essentially faithful in its approach to the author's well-loved text.

As usual with Mr. Cromer, most of what happens in this production is pretty much what the author had in mind, only more so. Wilder's purpose in writing a play without scenery, as he explained in 1939, was to stimulate "the cooperative imagination of the audience" by offering it a deeper, more poetic realism, one not dependent on the old-fashioned traditions of naturalistic stage design. Accordingly, Mr. Cromer and Michele Spadaro, his set designer, have rebuilt the interior of the Barrow Street Theatre as a three-quarter-round performance space with aisles wide enough to allow the performers to pass among the spectators. (The original Broadway production was performed in a conventional proscenium-stage theater.) The "stage" is the floor, the "set" eight chairs and a pair of wooden tables that look as though they'd been pilfered from the basement of a small-town church. No attempt of any kind is made to suggest the outward appearance of Grover's Corners, the turn-of-the-century New Hampshire village where "Our Town" is set. Even the "costumes" worn by the cast are nondescript modern-day street clothes identical to those worn by the members of the audience.

The result is a performance that doesn't feel like a performance at all. It's as though the actors were simply showing us the play, an illusion underlined by the fact that Mr. Cromer has cast himself as the Stage Manager who narrates "Our Town." He speaks his lines in an unsentimental, utterly matter-of-fact way, thereby giving the impression that he is not playing a character but merely being himself. (I actually saw him strolling through the lobby before Monday's preview, wearing the same outfit that he wears onstage.) Mr. Cromer's seemingly artless anti-acting is central to the effect of this production, in which the wall that separates illusion from reality becomes as porous as the one that separates the actors from their audience.

The other actors follow Mr. Cromer's lead effortlessly. All are unaffected and natural, and all give the equally uncanny impression of being not trained performers but ordinary folks that one might meet on the street. Yet their characterizations are sharply detailed and often unexpected: Jennifer Grace, for instance, plays Emily not as a radiant angel but as a pigtailed prig who is slow to grow up and slower to grow wise. I could single out other members of the cast for special mention -- Lori Myers and James McMenamin are exceptionally fine -- but each one is worthy of high and particular praise, not least because none of them resorts to the too-easy charm that can turn Wilder's tough-minded realism into soft-hearted nostalgia.

Mr. Cromer and Ms. Spadaro have inserted a head-turning surprise into the last act, one that I have no intention of spoiling. All I'll say is that they've deliberately departed from Wilder's stage directions in a radical way of which I think he would have unhesitatingly approved, one that heightens to an almost painful pitch Emily's climactic revelation that human beings lack the power to "realize life while they live it . . . every, every minute." Never before have those oft-quoted words had so jolting an effect on me as they did at the end of Mr. Cromer's production of "Our Town."

I don't use the word "genius" casually, but David Cromer may fill the bill. To have made something so new out of so familiar a play is remarkable enough. To have brought off such a feat without doing violence to the original is a sure sign of something more than mere talent. I don't know a more gifted stage director, or one who, at the age of 44, holds out the promise of still greater things to come.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 18, 2014, 11:22:32 AM
The reviews are in for Act One, the play based on playwright Moss Hart's acclaimed autobiography. The play officially opened, at Lincoln Center, on April 17th; DJ and I saw it on April 9th (my first play ever, on Broadway or off).

Here they are: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/190151-The-Verdict-Critics-Review-Act-One-Starring-Tony-Shalhoub-Santino-Fontana-and-Andrea-Martin

Most of the reviews are negative. Of the 14 reviews there posted by Playbill thus far, I believe that only around 5 are positive.

One opinion that is shared by almost every critic is that Tony Shalhoub - who plays three roles - is awesome in his role as George S. Kaufman.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 18, 2014, 12:33:00 PM
Yeah, Shalhoub as Kaufman was good. Of course, it was very similar to the portrayal of his Monk character . . .
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 19, 2014, 06:40:58 PM
And most of the reviews also praise the performance by Santino Fontana (who plays Moss Hart in his 20's)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 20, 2014, 11:47:04 AM
I just remembered, you should check out Shalhoub's performance in Pain & Gain. It absolutely makes the film.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 20, 2014, 12:05:55 PM
Will do, thanks!
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 26, 2014, 02:27:39 AM
On Sunday, DJ and I (after a 16-ounce ribeye and double order of french fries for him; and a 16-ounce ribeye and triple order of french fries for me) saw an Off-Broadway play entitled "The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock." The 4-person play (I am not entirely sure if it takes itself seriously or if it is meant to be tongue-in cheek) is basically a Freudian investigation into what made Hitch, Hitch.
The actress who played the dual roles of Hitch's wife and mother was an amazing, incredible, awesome, unbelievable actress. The others were all good (the guy who played Hitch had a decent Hitch-imitation accent, but was way to skinny!)
I am sure DJ (aka the self-appointed defender of Hitch's personal legacy ;) ) will discuss it in some more detail.
I am not on the computer now so I can't provide links to reviews, but if you are interested you can Google them. I believe the final day the play (which came from the British stage) will be showing in New York is today, Monday, Memorial Day.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 27, 2014, 01:01:35 AM
Here is a NY Times review for "The Lovesong of Alfred J. Hitchcock"

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/10/theater/the-freudian-lovesong-of-alfred-j-hitchcock.html?_r=0

and here is a NY Times article about the making of the play http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/theater/the-lovesong-of-alfred-j-hitchcock-at-59e59-theaters.html

The NY Post, in a very brief review, gave it 1.5/4 stars http://nypost.com/2014/05/08/unhitch-from-the-lovesong-of-alfred-j-hitchcock/

Here is a review from the UK Guardian (the play was first in UK before coming to Off-Broadway) the reviewer gives it 4/5 stars
 http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/oct/01/the-lovesong-of-alfred-j-hitchcock-review

Here is a review from the Financial Times, which gives it 3/5 stars http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/9a8d827c-d537-11e3-9bca-00144feabdc0.html#axzz32tvkrBIu

The reviewers liked Martin Miller's performance as Hitch. His Hitch accent isn't amazing like Toby Jones's in The Girl, but the performance is very good. DJ and I particularly loved Roberta Kerr, who played both Hitch's mother and wife. There are a bunch of behnd-the-scenes YouTube videos about this play, here is one (more are in the "related videos" panel on the side) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWII8UZmDNE
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on May 27, 2014, 04:53:16 AM
Thanks for posting all those links, Drink. I will eventually get around to checking them out.

I enjoyed the piece; it was clever. Of course, it didn't even pretend to be biographical: it used the device of "the screenwriter," for instance, a single character that Hitch collaborates with on all his movies. He's not even a composite because we have records of how those story conferences proceeded and what we get in the play is very different from what has been reported by, say, John Michael Hayes or Evan Hunter. But then that isn't what the play is concerned with anyway. As the Hitch character says at one point, "It's all one film." And that's the play's conceit: the one film to reveal the one life. It's complete BS, but I knew the play would take some such approach going in.

Two things I found particularly enjoyable, though: spotting all the references (and knowing that Drink was missing many); also, getting pithy takes on scenes in Hitch's films that provided new food for thought. In one of the story conferences, the writer and Hitch are hammering out a scene between a mother and her daughter-in-law (or future daughter-in-law). There's some talk about a broken glass. The writer decides the glass should be a cup, it's more domestic. Then the writer posits the idea of the daughter-in-law "healing" or restoring the cup for the benefit of the mother. I was wondering what was going on until I realized two things simultaneously: the scene was furthering the play's thesis that there was this tension between Alma Reville and Emma Hitchcock (Hitch's mom), at least in Hitch's mind; AND the characters were working up an important scene in The Birds. The first bit didn't interest me, but I was intrigued by the observation about the scene in the film. I had never before thought of that scene in that way, but on reflection I realized it was a valid approach. Yes, you can argue for a "cup motif" in the film. After the birds come down the chimney in the Brenner home, there's a scene where the sheriff comes. Lydia starts tidying up. Melanie sees that Lydia is really rattled and starts to help. Part of what needs tidying are broken tea cups. Later, when Lydia goes to Dan Fawcett's farm, the image of broken teacups (actually hanging teacup handles without the cups) is a foreshadowing of the horror she will find there. In both cases, the bird attacks are associated with an assault on domesticity. After she returns from the Fawcett farm, Lydia, terribly upset, takes to her bed. Melanie decides to make her a cup of tea. She brings it to Lydia, up to her room, and the scene plays out with a good deal of dialog that helps establish backstory details and character traits. It's also a scene where the two women get to know each other better. But I had never thought before that the actual bringing of a teacup could be symbolic (the symbol of domesticity, restored and functioning) or that it was significant that Melanie was the one passing the cup to Lydia--and yet, yeah, why not? And that entire line of thought came to me as I was watching the play. There were other ideas, too, several having to do with Vertigo that I will have to cogitate on more.

But anyway, the play was really stimulating, and that's certainly a good thing. B.S. thesis aside, I'm very glad I saw it.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 07, 2014, 10:53:38 PM
DJ and I saw an awful play called The Maids, talking about it a little in the RTLMYS thread, starting here http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=7645.msg173236#msg173236 , I am gonna copy that discussion here so we can continue it in this thread:

------------
dave jenkins:
Drink and I attended an atrocious performance of Jean Genet's The Maids last night. Afterwards I had to get it out of my head, so I went home and watched this:

The Maids (1975) - 6/10. Two women, Solange (Glenda Jackson) and Claire (Susannah York), work for a third (Vivienne Merchant), whom they despise. While their mistress is away, the two maids do some bizarre role playing, Claire taking the part of the absent woman, and Solange keeping to the role of a servant. The role playing consists largely of hurling abuse at each other. Solange, presumably, says everything she's ever wanted to say to her employer, and Claire, presumably, voices what she takes to be the woman's true attitude toward her subordinates.  The volleying back and forth of invective soon becomes tiring, but then the mistress comes home and there's a brief respite (it turns out her actual invective is cloaked in false pleasantries and backhanded compliments). Then the woman leaves again and the two maids go back to their role playing, which by now is hysterical and rather boring. The play is flawed but in this production the performances--especially the one by Ms. Jackson--are very good. [Drink, you can actually understand all the dialog in this.] AmazonPrime members can stream the film free here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009SGFN4A/

-------------------

drinkanddestroy:

Maybe Broadway was counting on people liking it cuz the actresses run around in underwear; do all sorts of sexual-related stuff like sticking a rose up their skirt, humping the bed, and spraying perfume on their panties; and every other word is either "fuck" or "cunt." Maybe that's why those 2 idiots in front of us loved it so much .......

--------------------


dave jenkins:

Even the idiots had to shut up after a while, no doubt because they couldn't understand Ms. Huppert's accented English any more than we could. What a weird production. What was with all those video images of the actresses' shoes?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 07, 2014, 11:14:20 PM
Quote


dave jenkins:

Even the idiots had to shut up after a while, no doubt because they couldn't understand Ms. Huppert's accented English any more than we could. What a weird production. What was with all those video images of the actresses' shoes?

What DJ is referring to is that there was a huge screen above the stage, and there were cameras filming the action – some small hidden cameras, some - like on the other side of a glass wall – they made no attempt to hide, and looked ridiculous.

IMO, at times the video camera was useful, to help you see things that you can't see with the naked eye, like when an actress turns away from the stage, or sometimes when it helps you see their faces - which most audience members can't see if they're not sitting front-center – and there are times the actresses retreat to a bathroom in back of the stage, etc. But at times, they got way too artsy and cute, like the camera would linger on random items, like a shoe or a flower. Yeah, I get it, it's probably lingering on these items to emphasize that they are symbols  – symbols of either the mistress's affluence (e.g., flowers, fancy patent-leather stilettos) or the maids' lack thereof (e.g., simple black mid-heeled shoes, etc.), and hence their jealousy and the reason they envy/loathe the mistress. But still, it was ridiculous.

One of the (many) fundamental difference(s) between plays and movies is that in a play, you see the whole stage, whereas in a movie – even, of course, in a movie based on a play – the camera tells you what part of the story to watch, even while other things are happening. So, to the extent that the camera shows us what, as I discussed above, we couldn't see with the naked eye, that was good IMO. But when the camera starts doing useless annoying shit, lingering to items needlessly, that, to me, is a director telling us what to look at, maybe he is trying to audition to direct a re-make of the movie or something. But that is not what plays are supposed to be about, and much more importantly, it was stupid and annoying.


RE: Isabelle Huppert's French accent: (Nevermind the fact that a tall, blond, Anglo-Saxon chick is supposed to be the sister of a short, sark-haired, French-accented girl who clearly looks like 15 years older) : I generally have no problem understanding French accents, including Huppert's. And when she spoke normally, I understood her in this play, too. But then she has some incredibly long monologues, like ten straight minutes where she just rambles uninterrupted as fast as she can. It went on so long and ridiculously that DJ speculated it may have been partially improvised. I absolutely couldn't believe that any character would be allowed to ramble like that - whatever accent it may have been in – on and on and on, meaninglessly. After a while, I stopped paying attention. I just spaced out. was just looking at my phone and waiting for the clock to keep ticking and the play to end.

DJ, if I'd have known you were hating it, too, I would have suggested we leave! I was DYING to leave, but I didn't wanna make you leave if you were enjoying it, you didn't say anything. Next time we go to a play, lemme know if you are miserable, too. Same thing with that last movie we saw. I mean, do you always stay till the end of something even if you aren't enjoying it? Or would you walk out?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 07, 2014, 11:27:04 PM
BTW, The Maids has previews from August 6th, officially opens on Aug. 8th, and closes Aug. 16th. DJ and I went on the night of the 6th, so we must have seen the very first preview (unless they had a matinee that day?) According to this Playbill article http://observer.com/2014/08/after-the-oscar-cate-blanchett-has-it-maid/ there was high demand for the show, which led to the adding of an additional matinee on Aug. 9th.

I'm upset that there is high demand: the play is so bad, I wish it was a miserable failure and everyone involved went broke

here is a NY Observer article about Blanchett and The Maids http://observer.com/2014/08/after-the-oscar-cate-blanchett-has-it-maid/ since the official opening is Friday, I wouldn't expect any reviews until Saturday. In the meantime, you can check out this review http://www.theguardian.com/stage/australia-culture-blog/2013/jun/09/the-maids-review-stc-blanchett from a year ago, when the play was being shown in Sydney - it's the same company, same actresses/sets/video/producers etc., just put on at the Sydney Theatre instead of the NY City Center, so I assume that what this critic saw is pretty close to what DJ & I saw. And this guy gave the play 4/5 stars. But I can't bash him too much, cuz after all, it was a different venue, a year ago, and who knows if it wasn't different then.
I would like to see what the NY critics rate this. I mean, I guess there are a few things you can say nice about – the acting isn't bad, the set is nice, the video is sometimes used in a good way, etc. But overall, this was absolute shit. And btw, DJ and I – sitting in the lower level, near the back corner – at times had to strain our ears to hear Blanchett; I thought they were only using natural voices, DJ thought they were using hidden mics, but whatever it was, Blanchett's volume was at times too low.

BTW, I never thought I would do this, but at the end, when the actresses took their bows, I booed as loud as I could. Of course, the idiot crowd cheered, like they always do. Probably a bunch of 75 year- old men – excited about seeing chicks in underwear so they get their once-a-month boner – and their wives happy that that night they'll be getting their once-a-month action.
When one of the actresses turned in our direction, I gave two big thumbs down, I am sure that the third one – not Blanchett or Huppert, the other one – looked in my direction and saw me. If they know they are a bunch of pieces of shit, then I am happy  ;)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2014, 07:57:01 AM
BTW, I never thought I would do this, but at the end, when the actresses took their bows, I booed as loud as I could. Of course, the idiot crowd cheered, like they always do. Probably a bunch of 75 year- old men – excited about seeing chicks in underwear so they get their once-a-month boner – and their wives happy that that night they'll be getting their once-a-month action.
When one of the actresses turned in our direction, I gave two big thumbs down, I am sure that the third one – not Blanchett or Huppert, the other one – looked in my direction and saw me. If they know they are a bunch of pieces of shit, then I am happy  ;)
NY audiences are notorious star-f***ers; I've never been to a performance in Manhattan that didn't get a standing ovation (and although I've never seen anything as bad as The Maids before, I've seen several lame productions). But Drink, you are arguing against your idea of leaving early--the opportunity to express your displeasure at the show, which you took at the end, allows you to deepen your enjoyment of the total experience. If we'd walked out early, you'd have missed your chance to boo and signal thumbs-down.And you wouldn't have had the satisfaction of complaining to the guy running the sound mixer either.

A better case can be made for walking out of films--you've paid less, and there are no live persons to interact with at the end (why do people sometimes clap at the end of films?). But I am an eternal optimist; no matter how bad something is, I keep hoping that things will turn around and get better. That hope usually sustains me until the end.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2014, 08:12:56 AM
Drink, you've indicated you don't mind musicals, so maybe I've found our next event. This is from the Times a week ago:
Quote
"Band Wagon" At City Center

The Tony Award-winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell will star in a new production of "The Band Wagon," to be staged by City Center as an Encores! special event in November. The production will be directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. It opens on Nov. 6 and runs through Nov. 16. This will not be a revival of the 1931 Broadway show; instead, it will be a staged version of the 1953 MGM film, which drew more expansively on the Arthur Schwartz-Howard Dietz song catalog but also had a sharper-edged plot, thanks to the screenplay, by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The Encores! version will use a book by Douglas Carter Beane based on the Comden and Green screenplay, and using scenes from the screenplay that were not filmed.

I'm a big fan of the film, so I'd like to see this. I'm not sure what Encores! is (a TV program? one of those services that provide live simulcasts to cinemas?), but maybe we won't actually have to go to City Center to see this. Still, going back to City Center would be fun (although getting tickets might be hard). Anyway, keep this one in mind. If you're gonna see a musical, you might as well make it one of the best.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on August 08, 2014, 09:17:48 AM
Nov. 6th is my birthday (cough, cough)

Yeah, I'd go to  a musical but not for any more than we paid for The Maids.

I suppose people cheer the actresses for their effort. Generally I agree. I mean, I didn't like Act One, but the cast did a good job, and anyway, why not cheer for the effort, make them feel good, ok. so I cheered. I agree with cheering in general.

but when you HATE HATE HATE movie, even if it's not the fault of the actresses (and I have no problem with these actresses from The Maids) but the fault of the dumbass script or direction or whatever, when you HATE something you have to boo. When the actresses take their bow, it's really the play taking a bow - the director doesn't come out for a separate bow. So I booed the play.

Definitely, if you are gonna cheer even when you hate it, what's the point?

at movies, I have cheered in very rare exteremly awesome circumstances - indicating I loved the movie; not thanking any actors who can't hear me.

RE: leaving early: I disagree, even booing isn't worth staying there. how many times are you hating a play/movie and then stick it out and end up loving it? very very rarely. not worth it IMO
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on August 08, 2014, 10:04:43 AM
Nov. 6th is my birthday (cough, cough)
You'd better get that cough attended to, or you may not make it to your birthday.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 19, 2014, 02:06:34 PM
Teachout has some interesting comments on the new production of "On The Town": http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/
Quote
When did you last see a big-budget musical that made you want to shout with joy? If you’ve been feeling anxious about the lukewarm state of American musical comedy, get ready to get hot again: The new Broadway revival of “On the Town” is everything a great show should be.

“On the Town,” in which Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jerome Robbins tell the tale of three wide-eyed sailors with just 24 hours to see New York for the first time, came to Broadway for the first time in 1944 and instantaneously made stars out of its prodigious creators (their average age on opening night was 27). But MGM botched the 1949 film version by scrapping most of Bernstein’s brash, bittersweet music, and “On the Town,” in part for that reason, has never had a commercially successful Broadway revival. As a result, it’s not nearly as well known as the other major musicals of the ‘40s and ‘50s, meaning that Masschusetts’ Barrington Stage Company has taken a huge risk by transferring its 2013 revival to New York. Will it buck the odds and become a hit? I’m no producer, but anyone who isn’t thrilled by this tinglingly well-staged production needs a heart transplant.

Of all the key shows from the golden age of American musical comedy, “On the Town” most successfully blended frivolous ends with sophisticated means. Bernstein himself said that “the subject matter was light, but the subject was serious,” and for all the screwball silliness of its cotton-candy plot, no one who saw “On the Town” could possibly ignore the dark shadow that World War II cast across the stage: Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie (Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Clyde Alves) have only one day in which to find their true loves (Megan Fairchild, Alysha Umphress and Elizabeth Stanley) before they must sail off to war, and very possibly to their deaths….
Even if you hate musicals in general or have no interest in this production in particular, you've gotta check out this trailer for the show (they do trailers for stage shows now?). CJ and Drink, I'm talking to you! http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=on+the+town+trailer+youtube&FORM=VIRE10#view=detail&mid=EE893C11ECF5117A4DA9EE893C11ECF5117A4DA9
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on October 19, 2014, 06:09:33 PM
While not so prestigious, Pittsburgh's O'Reilly Theater has a production of The Glass Menagerie running through November 2nd. It's getting good reviews in the local press, so I might check it out next weekend. O0
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 20, 2014, 09:40:30 AM
I wouldn't be against trying out a musical if it isn't too expensive; I may be narrow-minded, but I'm not close-minded. Besides, it's fun to go out. It doesn't bother me all that much if the movie/show isn't good; it's nice to go out once in a while, have a drink and chat about movies. So, I'd be down if you wanted to go out sometime :)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 20, 2014, 10:37:48 AM
While not so prestigious, Pittsburgh's O'Reilly Theater has a production of The Glass Menagerie running through November 2nd. It's getting good reviews in the local press, so I might check it out next weekend. O0
By all means. TGM is clearly one of the great American plays of the 20th Century. I saw a David-Cromer-directed production on Broadway a couple years ago and it was fabulous.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 20, 2014, 10:53:30 AM
I wouldn't be against trying out a musical if it isn't too expensive; I may be narrow-minded, but I'm not close-minded. Besides, it's fun to go out. It doesn't bother me all that much if the movie/show isn't good; it's nice to go out once in a while, have a drink and chat about movies. So, I'd be down if you wanted to go out sometime :)
I'm not usually a big musical fan either, but if there's something that sounds interesting I'm sometimes willing to go to one. I went to Les Miz two weeks ago with students (we have Theater Day every year) and, although it isn't something I'd pay to see myself, I found it pretty entertaining (and didn't fall asleep once). Currently, there are 3 musicals that I have some interest in seeing: Mathilda (because it's Roald Dahl, and very well-reviewed), On the Town (which I can get discounted tickets on--but still incredibly expensive), and The Band Wagon (because I like the film). The Band Wagon is cheapest but maybe the least interesting of the three (it doesn't, after all, have Astaire or Cyd Charisse). The other thing is, choosing a musical means NOT selecting a straight dramatic play, and I'd almost always rather see one of those (it there's a decent one). Well, I'll work on this awhile and see what I can come up with . . .
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 20, 2014, 12:14:20 PM
Yes, straight drama is best for me, as you know ;)

And I have zero preference for Broadway over off-Broadway; of the 3 plays we've seen, my favorite was the one off-Broadway one.

Btw, I haven't seen the movie of THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Is it good? Should I put it in my queue?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 20, 2014, 12:51:10 PM
Btw, I haven't seen the movie of THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Is it good? Should I put it in my queue?
Do you mean the one with Katherine Hepburn? It's not so good.

UPDATE: I guess there's an earlier one with Jane Wyman and Kirk Douglas from 1950, but I haven't seen that. I don't think it's ever been put out on a legit DVD, so it's hard to see. IMDb has some info on it, and it sounds like they messed with the ending, so it may not be worth watch anyway.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2014, 08:13:57 PM
I like the Hepburn version fine. The Wyman-Douglas one is terrible. The Joanne Woodward one is... okay.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: cigar joe on October 22, 2014, 06:21:28 AM
The best THE GLASS MENAGERIE I've seen was on one of the Playhouse 90 productions in B&W on TV in the early 60's don't remember the actors, will do a search.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: cigar joe on October 22, 2014, 02:36:10 PM
The best THE GLASS MENAGERIE I've seen was on one of the Playhouse 90 productions in B&W on TV in the early 60's don't remember the actors, will do a search.

It must have been this one

The first television version, recorded on videotape and starring Shirley Booth, was broadcast on December 8, 1966 as part of CBS Playhouse. Barbara Loden played Laura, Hal Holbrook played Tom and Pat Hingle played the Gentleman Caller. Booth was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Amanda.

We still had a B&W TV then
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on October 23, 2014, 04:48:49 AM
We still had a B&W TV then
So did my family. I think we didn't go color until the 70s.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on October 25, 2014, 03:45:57 PM
Caught today's matinee performance of The Glass Menagerie. Almost as exciting was finding one of my college friends works there as an usher, so we went out for drinks afterwards. O0

The staging was pretty straightforward: they had everything on one set and stayed close to Williams' text, save a few bits of ad libbing. Menagerie definitely works better onstage than any of the film versions I've seen.

Lynne Wintersteller as Amanda was great: she had good dialect, rapid fire abrasiveness, generating big laughs and periodic annoyance. Her Act Two entrance in some horrible, egg-colored plantation dress got huge laughs. Tom's actor (Fisher Neal) mugged a bit during the comic sequences but made a nice, snarky counterpoint. Jordan Whalen's Jim was really excellent. Only Laura's actress (Cathryn Wake) seemed off; she delivered every line in the same trembling tone, even when Jim starts breaking through her shell.

Overall though, a really good production. The Post-Gazette reviewed it here:
http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2014/10/14/Stage-review-Glass-Menagerie-has-a-memorable-Amanda/stories/201410140021 (http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2014/10/14/Stage-review-Glass-Menagerie-has-a-memorable-Amanda/stories/201410140021)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on April 25, 2015, 07:11:46 PM
Caught a production of Carly Mensch's Oblivion at the City Theatre tonight. It's an alienated teen drama with a twist: the parents are super liberals, the kid pisses them off by finding Christianity. There's also a budding filmmaker who worships Pauline Kael, a funny joke on its own. Clever and amusing, though not as deep as it thinks. The actors were excellent, especially Julia Warner as the teen girl (who, I'm shamed to admit, is two years my junior! Groggy's getting old).

http://www.citytheatrecompany.org/play/oblivion/ (http://www.citytheatrecompany.org/play/oblivion/)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: Groggy on May 09, 2015, 08:40:37 PM
The Pittsburgh Public Theater's currently running an excellent Othello, which I caught today before hitting the Pirates game. (Baseball and theater in the same day - my cup runneth over.) This one had some Broadway-caliber actors in it: Iago was played by Jeremy Kushnier, whom I (shamefully) know from the original Broadway cast of Footloose. Jessica Wortham was the real standout as Emilia, a role that generally gets lost in the shuffle.

A fairly straightforward production - the PPT doesn't tend towards abstract reinterpretations of classics - but it was great seeing my favorite Shakespeare play live.

http://triblive.com/aande/theaterarts/8238809-74/othello-kushnier-iago#axzz3ZhfyteCy (http://triblive.com/aande/theaterarts/8238809-74/othello-kushnier-iago#axzz3ZhfyteCy)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on July 27, 2015, 10:50:07 AM
I decided to see one last show before heading west for my vacation. I chose The Flick by Annie Baker, a recent Pulitzer recipient. The subject matter—film viewing—appealed to me. Also the fact that for a Sunday night performance there was a discount.

The setting is Worcester County, Massachusetts, Summer 2012.  We are introduced to employees of a seedy cinema, the Flick. There is Sam, mid-30s, a loser in a loser’s job, Rose, the projectionist, a young woman with issues, and the new hire, Avery, a college student taking a term off from college.
 
The Flick is one of the few theaters left in the state that hasn’t converted to digital projection.  But times are tough (as Sam says, “The last time we had a sell-out was for Slumdog Millionaire.”) It’s only a matter of time before the owner goes digital, or sells out to allow a new owner to make the conversion. Avery is passionately opposed to the idea—he chose to work at The Flick because it still projected film. At one point he writes a letter imploring the owner to stay with 35mm even though he knows his plea will be in vain.

The conceit of the stage design is that the audience is where the cinema’s screen is, and that we are looking full on at the theater seats and, above them, the glass windows of the projectionist’s booth. Most of the scenes consist of Sam and Avery chatting about films as they do their walk-throughs after screenings. Scenes are punctuated by the light from the projector shining directly onto the audience (which bothered some people around me) while movie music plays. I guess these were excerpts from actual scores, but I didn’t recognize any (However, there is one scene where a pair of employees stay after hours and screen one of the many titles the theater owner has, over many, many years, neglected to return to the distributor. For this scene I was more than a little gratified to note the opening bars to The Wild Bunch).

This is a long play. The first half is an hour and 40 minutes, the second, an hour and 15. The thing is, the length isn’t due to an excess of dialog or an over-complicated plot. Instead, most of the time is down to the lines of the individual actors, which are delivered slowly and surrounded by long pauses. It’s as if all the characters were in a kind of exaggerated stupor, or had seen too many films by Jarmusch/ Kaurismäki/ Roy Andersson. This is, I imagine, an effect calculated to produce mirth, and the play did get a lot of laughs (though few from me).

I almost didn’t go back after the interval, but I decided to stay and I’m glad I did. The second half was better, shorter, tighter.  It introduced recognizable dramatic elements: there is a love declaration, a betrayal, and something of a final reconciliation. Several things set up in the first half pay off nicely in the second. Throughout the play Sam and Avery have been playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (etc.), and this is used to good dramatic effect at a critical juncture late in the play. We’re also told that Avery has the dialog in Pulp Fiction memorized: the play’s climax is actually Avery ‘s recitation of Samuel Jackson’s final speech from the film, an inspired appropriation wonderfully re-purposed.

At the end there is even a Red Sox baseball cap, worn backwards, that makes a statement, almost cinematically.

This is playing at The Barrow Street Theatre in the Village. It’s just been extended through (I think) January, so visitors to NYC this fall with a penchant for the cinema should take it in. The theater is small, even intimate. Interesting people show up in the audience (I spotted Richard Kind , of A Serious Man fame.  I wanted to rush over to him and shout, “Dude! How’s the sebaceous cyst? Is the Mentaculus real?” Somehow, though, I was able to restrain myself).
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on August 05, 2015, 01:42:03 PM
Great news for me. For others, not so much. https://tickets.artscenter.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=5819&utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PACAugust2015Newsletter&utm_content=version_A
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on March 20, 2016, 03:15:09 PM
Frank Langella is coming back to Broadway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EktgSSqytB8&index=1&list=PLVEQenvARs7E28967yPXMipMDTK-nv5zv

I'm going this Thursday. Drink, I got a ticket for you too: show up before 8 and you're in!
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 20, 2016, 06:26:11 PM
Frank Langella is coming back to Broadway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EktgSSqytB8&index=1&list=PLVEQenvARs7E28967yPXMipMDTK-nv5zv

I'm going this Thursday. Drink, I got a ticket for you too: show up before 8 and you're in!

I'm in. I have a whole new breakup story to tell you about ... apparently, I am not as clever with the femmes as I like to believe. But any crap ya go through is worth it if you have a good story to tell  ;)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on March 21, 2016, 05:04:40 AM
Uh . . . couldn't we just discuss the Book of Esther instead?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 07:18:14 AM
Breakups are better stories than marriages  ;)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on March 21, 2016, 02:01:36 PM
Not when the marriage includes large-scale executions and mob-style rub-outs.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 05:10:12 PM
Not when the marriage includes large-scale executions and mob-style rub-outs.

The mob puts people in bottom of the river; they don't hang 'em high  ;)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 22, 2016, 09:12:08 PM
Suddenly, I am scared to be alone with a guy who has that new signature
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on March 23, 2016, 07:44:23 AM
Huh? Whatever do you mean?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on March 24, 2016, 04:48:36 AM
Drink, buddy, see you tonight for our date. This is gonna be fun. Frank Langella. Treading the boards. And declaiming! I don't know why, but I'm feeling it's gonna be WAY more interesting than, say, a Q&A with Spike Lee.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 24, 2016, 12:08:20 PM
Something tells me this'll cost more than $15.

We're going to a French steakhouse afterward. n_l, if you want REAL French steak, hop a plane and come along. I'm buying (the steak, not the plane ticket).

 >:D >:D >:D
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on March 25, 2016, 09:57:14 AM
Well, I enjoyed the show--not sure about Drink. Langella and company were very good and the play is interesting. It's essentially a piece where the main character is slipping into senility and we see things from his point of view. Objective and subjective reality slide back and forth. It's sometimes difficult to be sure what is real and what is imagined or remembered, a confusion the audience shares with Langella's character. Confusion of time is also part of the equation. There's a running bit with the guy's watch--very Leoneine--which he keeps misplacing. Things are never so confusing that the audience loses the thread, though, and the final scene provides a bit of definite reality on which everything else can be anchored. In some ways this reminded me of Cronenberg's Spider. I hated Spider, though (just another puzzle film that, once unraveled, contains nothing of interest), and liked this a lot. I guess the difference has to do with the characters. I had zero sympathy for the lead in Spider, but the guy Langella plays interested me a lot.

Hey, Drink, did you notice Langella's toenails? Those feet put Godzilla's to shame! Scary.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 25, 2016, 12:16:59 PM
How many of you sonsabitches ever sat in row AA of a Broadway theater?

DJ, we may be getting too highbrow for these boards ........
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 10, 2016, 08:17:06 AM
I get a week of vacation . . . starting now. Which means I'll be going to Broadway this week for a matinee. I've already got my ticket. It's a production of Long Day's Journey Into Night with (drum roll, please) . . . Jessica Lange! . . . Gabriel Byrne!! . . . Michael Shannon!!! . . . and more!!!! Sorry, Drink, you can't go--it's in the middle of the work day. Also, it's a comedy [note to board: I know it's not really a comedy, I'm just telling him that].

Btw, Drink, I think opening night for The Father is later this week. Be sure to check for the reviews!
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 10, 2016, 08:28:58 AM
No night shows?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 10, 2016, 08:30:48 AM
I gotta tell you about a new girl. She is Brazilian and tall with blonde hair and blue eyes and her name is Gisele  :)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 14, 2016, 09:16:19 AM
I gotta tell you about a new girl. She is Brazilian and tall with blonde hair and blue eyes and her name is Gisele  :)
So now you think you're dating Gisele Bündchen? Man, that Dream Theory of yours is starting to take over your life!
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 14, 2016, 10:35:02 AM
I do not know her last name, but I assume it is not Bundchen.

But she is indeed a tall Brazilian named Gisele with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Thus far, we have not gotten past the texting stage. Her life seems to busy for me. Smart girl.
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 14, 2016, 02:12:32 PM
Thus far, we have not gotten past the texting stage. Her life seems to busy for me. Smart girl.
Next you'll be telling me she spells better than you. Say it isn't so!
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on April 16, 2016, 03:15:11 PM
Drink, here's the review roundup for opening night (which was Thursday): http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Review-Roundup-THE-FATHER-Starring-Frank-Langella-Opens-on-Broadway-Updating-Live-20160414
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 18, 2016, 08:31:59 PM
Drink, here's the review roundup for opening night (which was Thursday): http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Review-Roundup-THE-FATHER-Starring-Frank-Langella-Opens-on-Broadway-Updating-Live-20160414

Thanks! I will check 'em out  :)
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 20, 2018, 01:02:05 PM
When Miss Korea was in town recently, we saw two Broadway shows:

The Phantom of the Opera - I'm not much into musicals - first time ever seeing a musical for me - the music and singers are good. She'd previously seen "Phantom" in UK - she said the Broadway version is better.

We also saw a drama, "American Son" http://www.playbill.com/article/american-son-starring-kerry-washington-steven-pasquale-and-jeremy-jordan-opens-on-broadway-november-4


This 90-minute show  - in real time; no intermission - is about a black woman (Kerry Washington) waiting in a Florida police station for news of her son who went out for a drive that  night and has not been heard from; she worries perhaps that he got into a problem with police. This play is obviously a response to recent news of a rash of police incidents with black civilians. DJ would probably dismiss this as liberal crap. But the play was good. Washington and Eugene Lee are great.

Reviews of "American Son"

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/theater/american-son-review.html

https://variety.com/2018/legit/reviews/american-son-review-kerry-washington-broadway-1203017628/
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: dave jenkins on December 20, 2018, 04:06:41 PM
DJ would probably dismiss this as liberal crap.
Crap, anyway. I hate drama done in "real time." Playing with time is the best thing about drama--why fuck with its best feature?
Title: Re: On Broadway and Off
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 20, 2018, 04:30:16 PM
Crap, anyway. I hate drama done in "real time." Playing with time is the best thing about drama--why fuck with its best feature?

eh, please.

The "real time" thing here is not a gimmick. It works well naturally.

BTW, this theater is in Schubert Alley - right near the one playing To Kill a Mockingbird. Written by Aaron Sorkin, starring Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. Any interest in seeing that?