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Showing posts from May, 2011

City Ballet: Slaughter, For the Love of Duke and the West Side Suite

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Saturday night marked City Ballet’s Tribute to Broadway, with a program featuring Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, For the Love of Duke and the West Side Story Suite. (It also marked Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins’s momentary return to the stage.) It was a gloriously fun night of dance (and a perfect introduction to ballet for the pointe-shy) that celebrated the wonderful theatrical possibilities of dance and the choreographic wonders that can be found on Broadway stages. We begin with Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, a Balanchine ballet. I had seen this before and knew it would be entertaining. Indeed, it was. Slaughter is ever so slightly tap heavy and so made me long for Anything Goes. (In fact, throughout the night, I would be longing for either great dance shows currently on the boards or just your traditional Broadway musical, replete with big dance breaks and a full orchestra backing them up.) According to the repertory notes, “the original Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was created for t…

Media Morsels 5.27.11

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Theatre Award Season UpdateTony Presenters Announced - Among the starry presenters set to appear on the Tony broadcast on June 12 are Viola Davis, Patrick Wilson, Joel Grey and James Earl Jones. Visit tonyawards.com to find out who else will be presenting!

Drama League Awards - Winners included War Horse, The Book of Mormon, The Normal Heart, Anything Goes and Mark Rylance. Visit Playbill.com for a full list of winners. Visit Broadwayworld.com for photos of both the women and men.

Drama Desk Awards - Winners included (again) War Horse, The Book of Mormon, The Normal Heart, Anything Goes as well as Sutton Foster, Norbert Leo Butz, Peter and the Starcatcher and See Rock City and Other Destinations. Visit Playbill.com for a full list of winners. Visit Broadwayworld.com for full photo coverage, including arrivals, part one and part two and the press room.

Outer Critics Circle Awards - These award winners were previously announced but this week the winners were honored during a celebration a…

The Importance of Being Earnest

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Who doesn’t like a good, old fashioned, zesty satire, written with a palpable love of language and rapier wit? That’s what you get in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, given a superb production by Roundabout Theatre Company. At 116 years old, this Trivial Comedy for Serious People (as is its subtitle) is still as relevant and funny as ever. The notable aspect of this production is that director Brian Bedford (whose keen knack for timing is on display here) doesn’t just direct the piece; he also stars as Lady Bracknell. This isn’t some campy performance, a drag show just for fun. My guess is that Bedford simply wanted to play the old broad. And it works so well because the whole play plays on people’s perceptions of what is appropriate and acceptable, and has every character pontificating on the merits of judging what’s on the surface, rather than something deeper. (To wit: Gwendolen asserts, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.”) It’s …

ABT: Classics to Premieres

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I’m a season subscriber to New York City Ballet and since moving to New York that’s where I’ve exclusively gone to get my ballet fix. But then American Ballet Theatre’s spring season was announced and I learned that there would be a world premiere Christopher Wheeldon ballet. I knew I couldn’t miss this. And so on Tuesday night I made my way to Lincoln Center; instead of heading in to the State theatre, I entered the Metropolitan Opera House, where ABT is performing.

Tuesday evening’s program was Classics to Premieres and consisted of two world premieres, one US premiere and one classic from the ABT repertoire. We begin with a world premiere.

Alexei Ratmansky’s Dumbarton was up first. (Ratmansky is ABT’s Artist in Residence.) You may recall from that in the fall I saw Ratmansky’s Namouna and didn’t care for it. I was gearing up to dislike Dumbarton, set to Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks,” so I was pleasantly surprised when I wasn’t completely turned off. I still can’t decide if I loved it…

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

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It is, indeed, raining men at the Palace Theatre in New York, currently home to Priscilla Queen of the Desert. This splashy, movie-to-stage jukebox musical chugs (and, sometimes, like the titular bus, clunks) along for a colorful night of theatre. You know, dear readers, that a show like Priscilla isn’t exactly my kind of show. But, it stars Will Swenson, who I loved so much in Hair, and it’s Tony season so on Monday night two friends and I headed over for the camp-fest that is Priscilla. And I have to tell you: I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it, either, but entering into Priscilla’s world with the appropriate expectations made for an entertaining romp.At rise, Tick/Mitzi (Will Swenson) is a drag performer who promises the son, Benji, he’s never met that he will travel from Sydney to Alice to see him. Benji’s mother has offered Tick a performance slot at her casino in exchange for his making the trip. So Tick enlists the help of Bernadette (Tony Sheldon), older than Tick and a pionee…

City Ballet: Divertimento No. 15, Polyphonia and La Sonnambula

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New York City Ballet is back, dear readers. After going into hibernation for the end of winter and the start of spring (or, more precisely, after performing at the Kennedy Center and other out-of-NYC locations), City Ballet is back for the last mini season of the 2011-2012 season. And that’s a good thing because on Saturday afternoon they were in top form. The program was a Balanchine/Wheeldon one and included, in order, Divertimento No. 15 (Balanchine); Polyphonia (Wheeldon); and La Sonnambula (Balanchine). You might be able to guess that I was most excited for Polyphonia and that I enjoyed that the most. However, I was pleasantly surprised by La Sonnambula which, in addition to being Balanchine was a narrative. Usually not my cup of tea but I liked this. But we start with Divertimento No. 15, choreographed by Balanchine to Mozart’s music. I had seen this before and didn’t have a favorable reaction. The second time around was much better, in terms of execution, though I still had a s…

Sister Act

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So here’s the thing about Sister Act: I’m not the show’s target audience. This is going to sound totally snotty, but the show is aimed at undiscerning, mass audiences, not sophisticated, discerning avid New York theatre goers, who see multiple shows a month (sometimes multiple shows each week), and who regularly see more daring and bold works. That’s not to say that Sister Act (directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast) is bad, but it’s not for me. Almost everything about the show was fine. The score was fine; the book was fine; the choreography was fine. Nothing was impressive, save for a couple of numbers. And the performances were all good, but the talented cast didn’t have much to do with the sub-par material. Moreover, as unfair as this is, I couldn’t help but compare Sister Act to other shows, now that it’s Tony season. For example, Sister Act earned a Best Score Tony nomination and Catch Me if You Can did not. Having had such fun at Catch Me, I couldn’t unde…

Media Morsels 5.20.11

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Theatre Award Season Update
Several awards were presented this week. Here's a round up:
Astaire Awards (the only award to recognize excellence in dance on stage and film)
Sutton Foster and Norbert Leo Butz took home honors for their dancing in Anything Goes and Catch Me if You Can, respectively, and Susan Stroman took home the award for best choreography on stage for her work on The Scottsboro Boys. Visit Backstage.com for the full list of winners, and check out Broadwayworld.com's photos from the evening.

Outer Critics Circle Awards (recognizing excellence on and off-Broadway)
Winners included War Horse, The Book of Mormon, The Normal Heart, Anything Goes, Josh Gad, Sutton Foster and Mark Rylance (for Jerusalem, not La Bete). In addition, The Whipping Man was honored with the John Gassner Award, presented to a new American play. Visit Playbill.com for the complete list of winners.

Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards
Fans vote on these awards. I think they got it wrong in several cat…

Media Morsels 5.13.11

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Tony and Theatre Award Season Update
The Tony Awards have a host, and it's a good one. Neil Patrick Harris will once again serve as host for Broadway's biggest night. (He (successfully, in my opinion) hosted the Tonys in 2009.) According to Playbill.com, Harris said of the gig, "I'm honored and stoked...we've got a fantastic mix of live performances, a few secret surprises and, since they're closed for retooling, we're using all the rigging equipment from Spider-Man. What could possibly go wrong?" Yes, dear readers, it's going to be a good show! (Although, I should note, that Spider-Man just resumed previews this week.)

New York Drama Critics' Circle: The NYDCC announced their winners this week. They've named Good People best play; Jerusalembest foreign play (it's imported from London); and The Book of Mormon best musical. They have also bestowed special citations upon The Normal Heart; Mark Rylance for his work in both La Bete and Jerus…