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Showing posts from May, 2010

Estancia

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I loved, loved, loved “Estancia,” the new Christopher Wheeldon ballet that enjoyed its world premiere on Saturday night, May 29, 2010, at New York City Ballet. Wheeldon is a brilliant choreographer whose work I already enjoyed; this was the piece I was most excited to see all season and it didn’t disappoint.
“Estancia” was the second piece in last night’s program, so let’s go in order. We begin with “Dances Concertantes,” a Balanchine ballet that, much like Friday night’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” started in the 40s and was revisited and reworked by Balanchine in the 70s. It wasn’t quite as wonderful as “Concerto,” but it was perfectly entertaining.
While watching the ballet, I thought perhaps a better name for it might be Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Ballet: There were four trios of soloist and corps de ballet dancers and one couple of principal dancers (Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia.) Each group was dressed in a different vivid and saturated color so when they mo…

NY Export: Opus Jazz

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Though the New York City Ballet 2010 spring season largely celebrates new works, on Friday night the program was three classic ballets by City Ballet’s founding choreographers. On the bill were Balanchine’s “Donizetti Variations” and “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” and Robbins’s “NY Export: Opus Jazz.”
"Donizetti Variations” was nothing to write home (or on a blog) about. The corps de ballet looked sloppy and their sloppiness was all the more apparent when principal dancers Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz took the stage. The second movement featured only Fairchild and De Luz, and served as some fun fluff to watch. It actually reminded me of “Stars and Stripes” (a Balanchine ballet inspired by and featuring John Philip Sousa’s music, which will be part of City Ballet’s 2010-2011 season); Fairchild and De Luz basically took turns coming out on stage, jumping around and thrilling the audience before engaging in a feisty pas de deux. Their skill and sharpness made clear the differenc…

Media Morsels 5.28.10

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Award Season UpdateTony Award Show Promises a Good Host
It was announced early this week that Tony nominee Sean Hayes will host the Tony Awards, set to take place on Sunday, June 13. This isn’t the first instance of a nominee hosting the ceremony, as Hugh Jackman hosted the year he won for The Boy From Oz. My best guess, though, is that Hayes will not pull a Jackman and win the year he hosts: Among the nominees, I’m pulling for either Sahr Ngaujah (Fela!) or Chad Kimball (Memphis).

In other Tony news, the first slate of presenters was announced this week. On hand to present Tony awards on June 13 will be, among others, Cate Blanchett, Michael Douglas, Lea Michele, Helen Mirren, Matthew Morrison, Chris Noth and Denzel Washington. (In case you’re wondering how some of these folks are connected to theatre: Cate Blanchett starred in a critically acclaimed mini-tour A Streetcar Named Desire; Chris Noth is no stranger to the stage: I saw him in Farragut North (opposite one John Gallagher, Jr.…

City Ballet - Why am I not where you are

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At my second ballet of the NYC Ballet spring season, I saw three pieces: One was new to me, one was a world premiere and one was an old favorite. Overall, all three combined for a very nice afternoon of ballet.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the first piece, Balanchine’s “Walpurgisnacht Ballet,” as much as I would have liked thanks to the evil forces that are the MTA. The trains were running on a different schedule on Saturday, which would normally mean that I would be delayed by five, maybe ten minutes. This time, I was delayed by 40 minutes. I practically ran from the train to the State Theatre, in my snake-skin peep toe heels, flew up the stairs to the fourth ring and made it to my seat just as the curtain was rising. Not at all ideal. I was catching my breath and trying to settle into my seat while the performance began. Fortunately, “Walpurgisnacht Ballet” was just the perfectly pretty and innocuous piece to help calm me down after the MTA ordeal. When I finally settled dow…

The Aliens

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Sometimes a playwright will hit you over the head with “the message.” Sometimes a director will bombard you with gimmicks and distractions. Sometimes actors will ham it up and bring the schtick. But sometimes none of that happens and instead you end up with a beautiful, naturalistic play that takes its time and is funny, poignant and touching That is the case with Annie Baker’s new play, The Aliens.
The Aliens marks Baker’s second collaboration with director Sam Gold and the two seem to work really well together. Like in Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens is paced so wonderfully: Everything happens in due time, and not a moment before; the writing and directing allows the moments to happen - allows the actors to explore each moment and not rush something just to keep the audience engaged. (The audience does remain engaged, anyway!) Slowly but surely, an emotional story reveals itself out of what seemed like nothing. I applaud Annie Baker, Sam Gold and other young artists who are…

Media Morsels 5.21.10

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This week’s Media Morsels will be more links, less commentary since I’ve been keeping pretty busy with a whirlwind week of theatre going. See below for a round up of everything I’ve seen this week, keep checking back for reviews of The Aliens and Benjamin Millepied’s new ballet and stop by next week when regularly scheduled Media Morsels will return!
Review Round UpSaturday: City Ballet - I’m Old FashionedSunday: The Burnt Part BoysMonday: Welcome Home, Dean CharbonneauTuesday: La Cage aux FollesWednesday: FencesThursday: The Metal ChildrenAmerican Idiot in the MediaJohn Gallagher, Jr.: Interview with Playbill.com
What does Johnny listen to on his morning commute?

Christina Sajous Talks About Making her Broadway Debut in American IdiotHair Companion BookPlaywright Annie Baker Awarded
Award Season UpdateTony News and class photo
Outer Critics Circle Awards
OBIE Awards
Peabody Awards
Drama League AwardsWill Swenson Back on Broadway in Priscilla Queen of the Desert2010 Fall Television Line UpNBC

The Metal Children

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Look out Aaron Sorkin, Adam Rapp is fast becoming one of my favorite modern writers. The Metal Children is Rapp’s latest fully produced work and is currently playing at The Vineyard Theatre. And it’s superb.
In The Metal Children, we follow author Tobin Falmouth (Billy Crudup) as he defends his young adult novel, The Metal Children, against a school board in a “small community in the American heartland,” which has banned the book after deeming it inappropriate for the children. (His name is Falmouth - get it?) We first meet Toby in his West Village apartment, which scenic designer David Korins made perfectly cramped and dressed with such detail, right down to the books scattered about Toby’s floor and the bong sitting high atop a shelf. It is here that his agent informs him of an upcoming school board meeting in the small community, to which the English teacher, Stacey Kinsella, has invited Toby. Toby travels to the community and finds that not everyone is as welcoming as Kinsella. He …

Fences

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One of the things about going to see anything, whether it’s a movie, a concert or a play, out in public is that your fellow audience members can shape your experience - for better or for worse. In my years of theatre going, this was perhaps never more clear than when I saw Fences on Wednesday afternoon.
August Wilson’s Fences has never been one of my favorite plays. I read it in college and got through it because I had to, not because I found it particularly compelling. Watching it come to life, and especially with the expert performances this current revival boasts, I came away with a greater appreciation for the work - but I think I would have enjoyed it more, or connected to it more, had the audience behaved differently.
Throughout the play, audience members were vocally reactive to the story. And I’m talking about more than just hooting and hollering with entrance applause for stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (both of whom were terrific.) And I’m also talking about more tha…