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Showing posts from October, 2011

Media Morsels 10.28.11

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Sorkin's New Job Writing About Jobs?
According to a report on Collider, the incomparable Aaron Sorkin is in talks to write a Steve Jobs biopic. The film would be loosely based on a recent authorized biography penned by Walter Isaacson. Having worked with the word genius on The Social Network, Sony, who bought the rights to Isaacson's book, is looking to re-team with Sorkin. And Sorkin writing about Jobs isn't so out of left field: In a recent elegiac piece for The Daily Beast, Sorkin wrote about his intermittent phone relationship with Jobs. Since Aaron Sorkin is involved, you can be sure I'll let you know the moment more details are in place.

Matt Taibbi on Occupy Wall Street
My favorite journalist, who, in recent years, has taken a slight break from the campaign trail and focused his attention on financial crises, has been chiming in on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. (He is still covering politics, though: In the latest issue of the venerable magazine, he profil…

Asuncion

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Jesse Eisenberg is best known as an actor, and especially for his acclaimed performance in last year’s The Social Network. With Asuncion, produced by the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and playing by special arrangement at the Cherry Lane Theatre, Eisenberg pulls double duty, serving as both actor and playwright. And he’s pretty good at both. Eisenberg’s Edgar lives with his friend Vinny (Justin Bartha), a Black Studies PhD candidate. Edgar is an unemployed journalist who is too liberal for his own good. (It’s a little difficult to decipher their relationship at first, but later this confusion comes to a head.) Edgar’s sycophantic behavior toward Vinny seems to suit both young men just fine, but their world is turned upside down when Edgar’s older brother, Stuart (Remy Auberjonois), drops in out of the blue and drops off his new Philippine bride, Asuncion (Camille Mana). Asuncion stays with Edgar and Vinny (without Stuart) for several days and forces both, though especially Edgar, to…

Joe Iconis Interview, Part Two

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Last week I brought you the first installment of my interview with writer Joe Iconis. Here's part two, in which we find out what Sondheim’s heart, William Finn’s guts and Kander & Ebb’s swagger have in common. Plus, Joe talks about his artistic and personal heroes.

(Find the first part here, and check back next week for the final installment.Art and commerce. Mutually exclusive, one evilly necessitates the other or some combination therein? (Can there be true artistic expression within commercial constraints?)I think there are magical situations where art and commerce can coexist. Certainly, most of the big musicals of the past ten years have been both commercial and artistic successes. I mean, look at Book Of Mormon—that show remains completely true to itself and there’s nothing about it that feels “corporatized” or homogenized to [help it] succeed commercially. I think that the theatergoing audience is proving more and more that they are open to seeing groundbreaking, off th…

The Blue Flower

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Dadaism is a theatrical form that had a heyday beginning in the early part of the last century. It’s meant to be chaotic and kick “viewers” out of their comfort zones. Remnants of Dada can be found in avant-garde performance art pieces. It’s not particularly my cup of tea, which is probably why I didn’t really like Second Stage’s production of the original musical, The Blue Flower. This musical, written by Jim Bauer and Ruth Bauer, and directed here by Will Pomerantz, focuses on artists and scientists over a period of time, beginning before the Great War and leading up to World War II. It’s told in a flashback, with lots of narration. There are all sorts of characters (in the figurative sense) and more than a little bit of chaos. (It struck me as the kind of musical auteur writer/director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom) would make if he wrote a musical.) The story about relationships, first a two-sided bromance, then a love triangle and then a bunch of different configurations, is i…

We Live Here

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Zoe Kazan is an artist best known for her work as an actor, but this fall, Kazan is represented on the boards with a play she wrote. We Live Here, directed by the estimable Sam Gold and produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, checks in on the Bateman family in the days leading up to one of the daughter’s wedding. It represents a good effort in playwriting, but it’s not such a good play.

The basic plot is familiar enough and, in a generic form, is already rife with dramatic intrigue, which makes some of Kazan’s plot points all the more eye-roll inducing. Allie Bateman (Jessica Collins), whose full first name is Althea, is getting married to Sandy (Jeremy Shamos). They’re at the Batemans‘ where mom Maggie (Amy Irving) and dad Lawrence (Mark Blum) are awaiting the arrival of their other daughter, Dinah (Betty Gilpin). The moment Dinah arrives, you know something’s up and that the sisterly relationship between her and Allie is not so great. But things really get shaken up when Daniel (Oscar Is…

Media Morsels 10.21.11

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Watch The Nutcracker on Your TV!
As part of the Live from Lincoln Center series, PBS will bring George Balanchine's The Nutcracker into you homes on December 14 at 8pm. The live performance of City Ballet's The Nutcracker will be filmed (from eight different camera locations, according to the announcement) and broadcast to your living rooms (or wherever your TV is!) This performance will, of course, feature New York City Ballet principal dancers as well as 50 children from the School of American Ballet. Seeing a performance of The Nutcracker is a nice, family-friendly winter tradition, and now PBS is making it easier to enjoy! (NOTE: If you are in New York, and want to see the dancing snowflakes and Sugarplum Fairy live on stage, head over to the State Theatre between November 25 and December 31. Visit nycballet.com for more information and to purchase tickets.)

In other City Ballet news, check out these gorgeous photos of the beautiful dancers making up the company. Photos were…

Joe Iconis Interview, Part One

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Joe Iconis likes to silently hug people.

Besides that, Iconis is a prolific musical theatre writer. His Bloodsong of Love will receive an industry-only workshop this fall; he and the family are putting together a spook-tacular Halloween jamboree; and you can rock out 24/7 to the Original Cast Recording of Things to Ruin, Iconis's song cycle which has played several venues throughout New York City.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the talented artist, and here I'm pleased to bring you part one of the interview. Check back next week for part two.
Talk about your song writing process. What generally comes first, a lyric, the music or an idea, or can they not be separated? Moreover, as William Miller asks in Almost Famous, “Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Do you have to be sad to write a sad song?” Finally, do you find joy in writing even when you’re “on deadline”?

I’ve always wanted to be interviewed by William Miller. Great kid. My process changes dependi…

Media Morsels 10.14.11

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West Side Story Back on the Big Screen
Fans of the seminal musical will thrill to know that in honor of the movie's 50th anniversary, West Side Story will be screened in movie theaters nationwide on Wednesday, November 9, at 7pm. Though it began life on stage, many folks know West Side Story from its movie adaptation, starring Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood as the star cross'd Tony and Maria. (Rita Moreno played Anita, once again tackling on screen a role originated on stage by Chita Rivera.) This is one of those Fathom, one-night, one-time events, so read the press release for more details.

The Muppets
You know that The Muppets, the new Muppet movie from Jason Segel, is coming to theaters next month, right? Well, they just released the track listing for the movie's soundtrack and it looks awesome. Included on the album are old Muppet standards, like "Mahna Mahna," brand new sure-to-be Muppet standards and Muppet covers of pop songs, like "Smells Like Teen Spi…

The Lyons

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When I walked into the Vineyard Theatre to see Nicky Silver’s new play, The Lyons, I noticed that the house music was jazzy but mostly reminiscent of TV sitcom theme music. I then noticed that the “curtain” for the show was a black screen with “The Lyons” emblazoned on it. Finally, I saw that the play was broken up into two acts, the second of which had three scenes. The first act and act two’s three scenes all had titles, as would a sitcom episode.

This all turned out to be fitting: The Lyons does play a bit like a sitcom, and is one of Silver’s most laugh-out-loud funny plays. It’s dark comedy, to be sure, but very funny, nonetheless, as we watch the Lyon family duke it out to see who becomes king of the hospital room.

At rise, Ben Lyons (Dick Latessa) is in a hospital bed and his wife, Rita (Linda Lavin), is chattering on about how she wants to redecorate their 30-year old living room. Ben and Rita’s adult children come to visit: Lisa (Kate Jennings Grant) is divorced with two childr…

The Ides of March

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“Integrity matters. Dignity matters.” That’s what Governor Mike Morris, the candidate in The Ides of March, believes. But is there really a place for either in politics, and specifically in elections?

The Ides of March focuses on Stephen (Ryan Gosling), a wunderkind press secretary, who is working with his mentor, Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman), as the two try to make Pennsylvania governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) the Democratic nominee for president. (The film takes place over the course of about a week in March - during the primary season - in the battleground state of Ohio.) Stephen’s loyalties are tested when a rival campaign manager, Tom (Paul Giamatti) tries to poach Stephen. And, since this is politics, there’s an attractive intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), thrown into the mix.

It’s an intriguing set up, though I came to it with a biased point of view: The Ides of March, directed by Clooney, is adapted from Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North. Willimon, when he was in his ear…

City Ballet: 2&3 Part Inventions; Liturgy; La Sonnambula; and Fearful Symmetries

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We had a four-piece, mixed repertoire on Saturday afternoon at New York City Ballet, with all four of City Ballet’s major choreographers represented: 2 & 3 Part Inventions, by Jerome Robbins; Christopher Wheeldon’s Liturgy; the Balanchine narrative, La Sonnambula; and Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins’s Fearful Symmetries.

2 & 3 Part Inventions is set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s piano studies, written, according to repertory notes, "to help [Bach’s] son in the playing and handling of two- and three-part pieces.” Somewhat following suit, Robbins choreographed this piece in 1994 for the School of American Ballet’s annual Workshop Performance. And the execution of the ballet continues the learning theme: the soloists and corps de ballet members dancing the ballet seem not quite ready for prime time. All eight dancers could stand to work on their sharpness and precision.

As for the ballet itself, it is Robbins-esque in the way the movements show the music, something I’ve alwa…