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Showing posts from March, 2011

How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

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How to Succeed in (the Theatre) Business Without Really Trying:Table of ContentsChapter One – Choose a Musical RevivalChapter Two – Fill Your Stage with Lots of Bright ColorsChapter Three – Cast a Movie Star in the Lead RoleChapter Four – Watch the Box Office ExplodeChapter One – Choose a Musical Revival
Musicals are more popular than plays, and revivals, no matter how irrelevant they may be to the present or how ill-adored they are, are a “brand” name, a recognizable commodity. This means tourists, who are the majority of theatre goers, are more apt to see it. They know it so they figure it must be good. (This is why the terribly boring Phantom is still running.)This revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser; book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert) is being presented, ostensibly, because this year represents the 50th anniversary of the show. (The plot of How to Succeed is fairly simple: Finch att…

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

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Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is really an indie-film character study parading as a stage show. While the performances and the play itself are compelling, and while playwright Rajiv Joseph paints an interesting portrait of the psychology of war, this production suffers from playing in too big of a house, losing the intensity intimacy could have brought. (I suffered from sitting near a vent and being freezing for two hours. Not fun.) In Joseph’s latest play, his first on Broadway, he delves into the minds of a handful of people affected by the war, in Baghdad circa 2003. We first meet the titular Tiger, played with zeal and skill by Robin Williams, in the Baghdad zoo. He is guarded by two American soldiers, Tom and Kev (Glenn Davis and Brad Fleischer, respectively), and begins to tell us of the trials and tribulations of being locked up and of the (dis)order in the animal kingdom, thanks to some lions, all named Leo. As the play, directed by Mois├ęs Kaufman (The Laramie Project), goes…

Media Morsels 3.25.11

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The Foo Fighters Are Coming! The Foo Fighters Are Coming!
Ladies and gents, the new Foo Fighters album, Wasting Light, is just a few weeks away from being released. (The record "drops" on April 12. (Prior to the drop, the Foos will appear on SNL on April 9.) In the current Rolling Stone, Dave Grohl says of the album, "It's bitchin'." Who's going to argue with that?) Recently, the band premiered the documentary Back and Forth at SXSW. This flick chronicles the band's "life," from when Dave started it all on a demo right up through recording Wasting Light in Dave's garage. The doc will be screened in several movie theatres throughout North America on April 5th, (sadly, the New York gig sold out before I could get tickets) and following the screening will be a live performance (via the celluloid) from the Foos themselves! I'm so excited for the record and really looking forward to (eventually) seeing the movie. Visit foofightersfilm.co…

The Motherf**ker with the Hat

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Upon arriving home from seeing Stephen Adly Guirgis’s new play, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, I updated Facebook status with this: “Just motherf**king sat through The Motherf**ker with the Hat. Do not try this at home, kids.” And that’s my warning to you, too, dear readers. While this limited run is still in previews (it officially opens April 11), and that means changes are still being made (to wit: in the program, it is printed that the show will run with one 15-minute intermission; there was an insert in last night’s program superseding that, saying the show will run without an intermission), but I’m afraid that another two and a half weeks of previews won’t fix what ails this motherf**king play.
The Motherf**ker with the Hat was originally supposed to be produced off-Broadway at the Public theatre. In fact, the Public and its frequent collaborator, the LAByrinth Theater Company, are producers of the Broadway bow. Perhaps off-Broadway this would play better, or at least have an eas…

Catch Me if You Can

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If I had to describe Catch Me if You Can in one sentence, it would be this: It’s a fun musical with a lot of heart, albeit one in which the fantastic performances transcend just-good material. That’s not to say that the material, specifically the book and the score, is bad, more so it is to say that in comparison to other new musicals opening this season it seems a little lacking, and also that the performances are really terrific.
Catch Me if You Can tells the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Aaron Tveit), a man who, at just 16, ran away from home, became a successful forger and conned his way into careers as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all before turning 21. After being caught by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Norbert Leo Butz), Abagnale served some time and then went to work for the bureau, where for over 35 years he served as an expert in stopping the kinds of crimes he used to commit. Abagnale wrote about his life’s story and the juicy, conman parts were the subject of the 2002 L…

Media Morsels 3.18.11

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American Idiot - Cast Update
On Sunday, original Broadway cast member Start Sands, who played Tunny, as well as Wallace Smith and Davey Havok, played their performance in American Idiot. On Tuesday it was announced that linebacker original Favorite Son Joshua Henry will return to the role he originated in Berkeley and Broadway. Henry will be joined David Larsen as Tunny and P.J. Griffith (through March 20) as St Jimmy. (Billie Joe returns on April 5 for the final three weeks of performances.) Make sure you catch all the Idiots over at the St James before the show closes on April 24. Visit americanidiotonbroadway.com for tickets.

Happy Opening, Arcadia!
The revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia opened on Thursday night. (Ben Brantley mostly liked it.) Take a look at these production stills from the production, starring Billy Crudup and Raul Esparza, among many talented others (like the lovely Bel Powley), and then check out these stills from the 1995 production, which also starred Billy C…

Anything Goes

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“Times have changed,” sings Reno Sweeney to begin the titular song in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that a great show from 1934 is a great show today: Cole Porter’s music stands the test of time and his beloved show is warmly welcomed back into port in 2011.

I worked on a community production of Anything Goes about 12 years ago so I fancied myself quite familiar with the show. When I first looked through the Playbill, I noticed that “I Get a Kick Out of You” was in a different place than I remembered; the character "Bonnie” was now “Erma;” and “Heaven Hop,” “Let’s Step Out,” “Let’s Misbehave” and “Take Me Back to Manhattan” were no where to be found. I began to worry.

No worries, though: This is a wonderfully fun show of pure escapism and with the changes (or perhaps because of them) the show, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, sails smoothly at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The production I worked on used the script from a 1960s…

Media Morsels 3.11.11

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American Idiot
I am deeply saddened to tell you, dear readers, that American Idiot is closing. (I'm thinking of starting a support group.) The beautiful, heart wrenching, important show that started as a Green Day rock opera and evolved into a full-fledged musical, enjoying an extended world premiere run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre before previewing (March 24th) and opening (April 20th) on Broadway will shutter its doors on April 24, 2011. Slumping sales, particularly when Green Day frontman and American Idiot writer Billie Joe Armstrong is not playing St Jimmy, have finally caused the Broadway run to come to end. American Idiot will be greatly missed but it will be launching a national tour this fall so this phenomenal show will still be around for folks to thrill over. (To inject a final boost into the box office, Billie Joe is returning for the final three weeks of performances.) When American Idiot closes on April 24, it will have played 27 previews and 421 regular performanc…