Posts

Showing posts from November, 2012

Media Morsels 11.30.12

Image
Thanksgiving Week Wrap Up I hope you all had a family- and food-filled Thanksgiving! Herein, I'll bring you up to date on some notable happenings and announcements from last week (scroll down to learn what happened this week): Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher) will direct a Broadway revival of The Philadelphia Story. The revival will be produced by Roundabout Theatre Company (so you can expect some starry names among the cast) at its American Airlines Theatre in fall 2013. Playbill has details.

Green Day, according to Rolling Stone, will release a documentary of the making of their triple album Uno! Dos! Tre!, called, appropriately, Quatro! The flick will be released in 2013 but VH1 viewers got to catch a glimpse of some highlights this Wednesday.

The Leap of Faith original Broadway cast recording, as previously reported, will be released digitally on December 4 and on CD on December 18. Last week, the producers announced the track listing, which…

Dead Accounts

Image
"The truth is complicated," pleads Norbert Leo Butz's Jack in Theresa Rebeck's stellar new dark comedy about "families and felonies."
At rise, the big-shot New York-dwelling Jack returns home to Cincinnati. He pontificates about the virtues of the Midwest, disparaging New York with a zeal that is tinged with wistfulness. Though he decries the expensive, unnatural pleasures of New York City (Manhattan, really; he doesn't deign to go to Brooklyn), it seems like he still loves it and more than anything else, he's trying to convince himself that running away from his problems is the right thing to do. 
Meanwhile, his put-upon sister (a fine but shrill Katie Holmes) and his well-intentioned but overbearing Midwest mother (a spot-on Jayne Houdyshell (Follies)) try to piece together what's brought the prodigal son back home... and where his new-found fortune comes from. His old friend Phil (Josh Hamilton) lets slip a detail and when Jack's wife Je…

Murder Ballad

Image
Tale as old as time. A story of jilted and cheating lovers is nothing new, but the story playing out through a true rock opera set in a Lower East Side dive bar is, and Murder Ballad pulses with the fresh exuberance of its players’ throbbing hearts.

Murder Ballad marks the inaugural production of Manhattan Theatre Club’s Studio at Stage II and it’s a hell of a way to start. The new musical (written by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash) centers on Sara (Karen Olivo). When we meet her, she’s with Tom (Will Swenson) but the two have a tumultuous relationship and Tom won’t commit. Enter Michael (John Ellison Conlee). Sara and Michael begin a life together (on the Upper West, naturally), but Tom and Sara never leave each other’s hearts. Guiding us through all this (and making an appearance as a character later in the show) is “narrator” Rebecca Naomi Jones.
But like I said, the story is nothing new. Even the act of telling us right up front that one of these people ends up in grave—the show is c…

Lincoln

Image
Sometimes, it’s good to see the sausages get made. When we’re in a state of political gridlock, it is particularly important to see what can be done when people work together for the good of the nation - whether or not the nation is ready for it. 
(For the uninitiated, in the The West Wing season one episode “Five Votes Down,” Leo, the chief of staff, says to his staff who are advocating to let the public in on the process of passing a bill, “There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make ‘em: laws and sausages.”)
And in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, we have, essentially, a look inside the sausage factory. (Or, more accurately, the process of getting a Constitutional amendment passed by Congress, and, in particular, the House of Representatives.) Smartly written (with a surprising amount of humor) for the screen by accomplished Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning scribe Tony Kushner, Lincoln is adapted from presidential historian and author Doris Kearns…

Media Morsels 11.16.12

Image
The Newsroom Update Season two of The Newsroom is now in production and there are three new cast members (in recurring, not regular, roles): Patton Oswalt,  Rosemarie DeWitt and Grace Gummer (Arcadia). (As a side note, I think DeWitt and Kate Arrington (Grace) should play sisters.) Oswalt and DeWitt previously shared the small screen on Showtime's darkly funny The United States of Tara. As noted in The Hollywood Reporter, "Oswalt will play Jonas Pfeiffer, the new VP of human resources at...Atlantic Cable News, while DeWitt will portray Rebecca Halliday, a litigator brought in to defend the network in a wrongful-termination lawsuit." Sorkinese fans will see traces of Aaron Sorkin's previous TV shows in these characters and scenarios. Meanwhile, Gummer, according to Broadway.com, will play a reporter following Mitt Romney's campaign. (Remember: The Newsroom is set in the recent past.) The second season (which will not include mention of the General Petraeus inciden…

The Performers

Image
Aaaay! Who doesn't like hearing Henry Winkler talk about porn? And who doesn't like seeing Cheyenne Jackson in nothing but a skimpy pair of briefs? For all that and more, check out the new American comedy, The Performers.

Like any other story, The Performers is about relationships. What sets this apart from other plays of its ilk is, in addition to a truly hilarious script by emerging playwright David West Read (Dream of the Burning Boy) and spot on performances from the entire six-person cast, that this is set in the world of adult filmmaking.

The action of  The Performers takes place, mostly in real time, in Las Vegas on the night of the Adult Film Awards (think: the AVN Awards David Foster Wallace wrote about in his essay "Big Red Son," included in Consider the Lobster,) which are exactly what they sound like. We first meet adult film star Mandrew (Jackson) as he is being interviewed by his high school buddy Lee (Daniel Breaker), now a New York Post contributor. Le…

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Image
This is the fun kind of theatre: a totally bawdy, raucous, cheeky and tart musical, filled with the most wonderful awful puns. It's a show within a show (adapted as a choose your own theatre adventure venture from the eponymous, unfinished final Charles Dickens novel) whose plot-related intrigue is almost secondary to the fun divertissements sprinkled throughout the show.
When you walk into Studio 54 in Manhattan, you're really walking into the Music Hall Royale in London, where the troupe of players mingle throughout the audience and get the party started. Then the Chairman (Jim Norton) enters and calls the show to order. Our guide throughout, the Chairman tells us about Dickens's novel and what's to be expected of us - the audience - as the show within the show (that would be The Mystery of Edwin Drood) unfolds. Convoluted love triangles (with the gender-bending casting of Stephanie J. Block's Miss Alice Nutting as Edwin Drood adding to the fun), politically inco…

Glengarry Glen Ross

Image
I can't stand David Mamet, and good actors - some of the best in the business - can't make this production of Glengarry Glen Ross palatable. There's no energy or intensity.

The action of the play concerns a groups of salesmen, all of whom are trying to, metaphorically speaking, sell each other on something. What they are literally selling - I have no idea. They all talk about leads but we don't know what leads are. With only a vague understanding of the leads and the fact that said leads help the salesmen, there are no discernible stakes. For their part, the assembled, hard-working actors (Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, Richard Schiff, David Harbour, Jeremy Shamos and others) can't sell the show.

Direction-wise, Daniel Sullivan had his work cut out for him. There's no doubt that this troupe can deliver great performances (as is evidenced by their respective bodies of work), but with regard to the staging, how do you make two people sitting and talking interesting…

Media Morsels 11.9.12

Image
President Barack Obama Re-Elected Ladies and gentlemen, the election is behind us and we have a winner: the American people. Not only did Americans vote President Obama into a second term, they also voted several women into office (including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay women elected to the Senate.) Three states voted for marriage equality (MD, ME and WA), with one, Minnesota, voting against a ban on marriage equality, and two states voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use while one, Massachusetts, voted for medical marijuana. It's all a terrific outcome, in my opinion, and in these last few days since the election I've been thankful for the right to have my voice heard in this Republic.Visit my Tumblr  and Playbill for other Election Day reactions. (On a related note: Vice President Joe Biden will make a cameo on the November 15th episode of Parks and Recreation. Rolling Stone has details. Rolling Stone also has Matt Taibbi&#…

Annie

Image
What a mixed bag this revival of Annie is. I was in the show as a kid (believe it or not, I played Daddy Warbucks) and I love the movie (Carol Burnett's turn as Miss Hannigan is one of the best comedic performances in history) so I have a lot of sentimental and nostalgic love for the show. On the other hand, there are several questionable production choices.
Let's be clear: families will love this. It's a good production of a family-friendly show that everyone knows. When families visit New York for the holidays this year, they'll flock to the show, and rightfully so. It's a good old fashioned musical with fun and memorable songs. But throughout, I found myself watching the story of little orphan Annie through two different sets of eyes.
Watching it as the 11 year old who was starring in her camp production, I loved this revival. My friend and I were singing and dancing in our seats and thrilling over our favorite songs. Annie's journey from rags to uber riche…