Showing posts from March, 2013

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

“If everyone was on anti-depressants, Chekhov would have had nothing to write about,” announces one of the characters in the hilarious new Christopher Durang play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which is now playing a limited run at Broadway’s Golden Theatre. Durang is a frequent translator of Anton Chekhov’s works and this is sort of his comedy-of-the-absurd love letter to the playwright. If you know Chekhov’s work (like The CherryOrchard or Uncle Vanya, recently adapted by Annie Baker), as well as other classics (Greek, Shakespearean and otherwise), you’ll relish the nuances and allusions that abound. If not, you’ll still howl at the absurd characters populating Durang’s play.

The show is slightly meta, referencing theatre mores and acting techniques, yet it’s not over kill. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Vanya… is clever and funny. And by using a quasi show-within-a-show device (Masha is an actress), Durang’s characters are given license to be as wacky and zany as they lik…

Media Morsels 3.29.13

Aaron Tveit to Play Concerts at 54 Below in May
That's right: for the first time ever, Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Catch Me if You Can, Les Miserables) will play solo concerts at New York's newest cabaret venue, 54 Below, located under Roundabout's Studio 54 theatre, which is itself built upon the remnants of the famed Studio 54. Tveit will play four shows, each of which starts at 11pm: Friday, May 3, Saturday, May 11, Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18. Tickets go on "presale" on April 2, and will be available for the general public beginning April 5. More information is available on 54 Below's website. Tveit will sing covers of his favorite songs, musical theatre standards and signature songs from some of his own shows (like, maybe, "Goodbye," from Catch Me? Watch below!). What do you hope to hear this ridiculously talented star of stage and screen sing?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Back on TV
The founder of hitRECord (the online communal creative-collabor…

Media Morsels 3.22.13

Tony Awards News
Big news: the Tony Awards will take place on Sunday, June 9, and will return to Radio City Music Hall! You may recall that due to scheduling conflicts, for the last two years theatre's biggest night was held at the Beacon Theatre. But this year, "Broadway's Night of Nights" (as it's called in the official press release), will return to the famed movie theater. (Note: because of the larger venue, this year theatre lovers will be able to purchase tickets to the big game.) Other important Tony dates: nominations will be announced on Tuesday, April 30, following the Thursday, April 25 Tony eligibility cut-off date.

In other Tony news, the Tony administration committee met again to determine shows' eligibility. The two shows under consideration were Cinderella and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The committee ruled that Cinderella's Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana (Cinderella and Prince Charming, respectively), will be eligible in the Lead Actor/Actress…

Hands on a Hardbody

“If you want something, keep your hands on it,” say the dreamers in the new musical Hands on a Hardbody. Inspired by the eponymous documentary by S.R. Bindler, the musical looks at the contestants in a hands on a hardbody contest in Longview, Texas, and aims to find out just why they’re holding on.

A hands on a hardbody contest is one in which you place your hands on a truck—a hardbody—and you cannot remove them. You always have to have at least one hand on the truck. Like a filibuster, you can’t lean, you can’t stretch; all you can do is stand there and hold on for dear life. (In this contest, there are 15-minute breaks every six hours.) The last man standing wins the truck.

But as we learn in this musical, with a book by Doug Wright (a Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winner for I Am My Own Wife), lyrics by Amanda Green (Bring It On) and music by Green and Phish’s Trey Anastasio, winning the truck is just the beginning. For each of the ten contestants, winning the truck means something more: …

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Please welcome guest blogger, Melissa Spinner. Melissa is a Digital and Creative Communications Specialist in Philadelphia and loves the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She made a special trip up to New York just to see the latest Broadway adaptation of one of her favorite movies, and because I know how much she loves the film, I asked her to share her perspective on this stage version.
It takes a brave woman to portray the character of Holly Golightly on stage after Audrey Hepburn's spotless performance in the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Emilia Clarke of HBO's Game of Thrones was just the woman for the job in this new stage adaptation of Truman Capote's classic novel. Starring in the play alongside Clarke as Holly Golightly is Cory Michael Smith (Cock, The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World) as Fred, and Cheers star George Wendt as bartender Joe Bell.
If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, allow me to give you a brief synopsis: Breakfast at Tiffany…

Media Morsels 3.15.13

The Last Five Years—Behind the Scenes
In this latest look behind the scenes of the stellar New York revival of The Last Five Years (it officially opens April 2; look for my review that night), Betsy Wolfe talks about the show's structure, Adam Kantor discusses New York City as a character in the show and writer-director Jason Robert Brown directs the actors through the closing number, "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You." (Good news: while it's still yet to open, the show has been extended for a second time. The show will now run through May 12.)

Aaron Tveit on Graceland
The new USA Network series Graceland, which stars Aaron Tveit and Daniel Sunjata, will begin airing this June, but folks at Austin's SXSW festival got a sneak peek: the show premiered there on Monday night, and the cast participated in a Q+A session afterward. Both and The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Tveit, and talked to him about his interest in the show, an upcomin…

The Flick

Annie Baker has an amazing knack for presenting the seemingly mundane and revealing something much more beautiful and interesting than we originally thought. And that knack is on full display in her newest work, The Flick, skillfully directed by her frequent collaborator, Sam Gold.
The Flick takes place in a small, single-theater movie theater in Worcester County, Massachusetts. This is a theater that still shows actual films, that is, movies shot and projected on 35mm film, not digital. Theaters like this are a dying breed, a fact some of the workers at the Flick bemoan. 
The Flick employees we meet are Sam (Matthew Maher), Avery (Aaron Clifton Moten) and Rose (Louisa Krause). (Alex Hanna also appears briefly in the production as The Dreaming Man and Flick employee Skylar.) Sam is in his mid-thirties, lives at home in his parents’ attic and is the most veteran of the three theater employees we meet. Avery is the newbie, a 20-year-old who is enamored of film and can solve any six-degree…

Media Morsels 3.8.13

The Newsroom at the Paley Center
The cast of The Newsroom, along with producer Alan Poul and creator and writer Aaron Sorkin, visited the Paley Center for a great discussion moderated by actual newsman Piers Morgan. It includes "origin stories" of the characters and how the actors helped shape them, and includes Sam Waterston saying of Sorkin's writing, "Aaron writes the music of American speech perfectly." I agree! The Newsroom is shooting its second season now and will return to HBO in June.

Theatre Updates: Casting News and Movie Stars Treading the Boards
James Franco (127 Hours, Freaks and Geeks and one-time Oscars host) is branching out into some new territory once again: on The Colbert Report, the multi-hyphenate actor told Stephen Colbert that he will star in a Broadway revival of Of Mice and Men. He'll play George. Playbill has more.

Playwright Adam Rapp (The Metal Children) was supposed to make his Broadway acting debut in the upcoming The Big Knife. U…


“Life isn’t fair. Government should be.” That’s just one pearl of wisdom from the late great Governor Ann Richards, whose zest for both life and public service are the subject of Holland Taylor’s Ann. (The actress wrote this homage to Richards.)

Directed by Benjamin Endsley Kind, the play drags here and there and the ending feels a little indulgent, but ultimately it’s forgivable because Taylor is quite engaging as the feisty, quotable and hard-working Texas governor, and because the governor herself stands as a paragon of womanhood.

As I listened to “Ann” talk about her upbringing, I was struck by how different the world was then. I realized how much I and other women of my generation take for granted all the possibilities at our feet. Ann mentioned that her daddy told her she was smart and that she could do anything, but she also mentioned that teaching and nursing weren’t considered careers back in her day but rather extensions of what women should be doing anyway.

That’s almost a …

The North Pool

Rajiv Joseph’s The North Pool is a wonderfully written well-made play, a two-hander that is faithful to the classic play conventions of time and location. At just 85 minutes, it plays out over real time in an efficient manner, with not a single unnecessary moment.
Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Animals Out of Paper) expertly builds his play, innocuously planting seeds here and there that grow into huge, deep, important plot points as the play progresses. There are twists throughout, but everything is earned. What makes The North Pool an even greater achievement is Joseph’s wordsmith skills. It is becoming rarer and rarer these days to see plays that show just now much a playwright relishes language. Thanks, Joseph, for sharing your likes with us.
From the moment we meet Vice Principal Danielson (Stephen Barker Turner), we think we know him - the VP who’s trying to be the students’ friend. (Costume designer Paloma Young also helps, dressing him in slouchy and wrinkled pleat-fro…

Media Morsels 3.1.13

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Oscar Recovery

Are you still reeling from Sunday? Here are some follow up tidbits: My Oscar Wrap Up, including red carpet coverage and the full list of winners, and my Pinterest Oscars board

Possibly because of host Seth MacFarlane, possibly because of the slate of nominees or possibly because of the entertainment promised, Oscars ratings were up this year. As Rolling Stone reports, this year's broadcast was "the most-watched Oscars telecast since 2007...when Ellen DeGeneres hosted and Martin Scorsese's The Departed won Best Picture."

The Hollywood Reporter's awards guru, Scott Feinberg, provides analysis of the night, laying out the reasons certain people walked home a winner and others did not.

GQ makes its selections for best and worst dressed men at Vanity Fair's Oscars soiree

The Hollywood Reporter lets us in on the secret moments that happened on the red carpet while the cameras weren't watching

Now t…