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Showing posts from September, 2014

You Can't Take It With You

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Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's family farce You Can't Take It With You is being revived on Broadway, and what a treat it is for audiences. Over the course of three acts (don't wince; the run time is only two hours and fifteen minutes, including two intermissions), we meet the Vanderhof family, who are the definition of eccentric.

Patriarch Martin Vanderhof (James Earl Jones) has a charming outlook on life, and his pursuit of what makes him happy (rather than what makes him money) has been an example for his family.

(The family includes Martin's daughter, Penelope (Kristine Nielsen), and her husband, Paul (Mark Linn-Baker); their children, Essie (Annaleigh Ashford) and Alice (Rose Byrne); Essie's husband, Ed (Will Brill, who appeared in the Moss Hart bio-show, Act One); family friend and Paul's "colleague," Mr. DePinna (Patrick Kerr); the help, Rheba (Crystal Dickinson) and Donald (Marc Damon Johnson); and Essie's ballet teacher and family frien…

Week in Review 9.26.14

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An American in Paris Casting
Full casting has been announced for the Broadway-bound production of An American in Paris, Christopher Wheeldon's full stage adaptation of the beloved Gershwin movie musical. Perennial gypsy and extraordinary dancer Charlie Sutton (Kinky Boots) is among those who will join Robert Fairchild (A Place for Us) and Leanne Cope in the musical, which will premiere in Paris this winter. Wheeldon (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, A Place for Us) will then bring the show to Broadway's Palace Theatre. Broadway previews begin March 13, 2015, with opening night set for April 12. Visit Broadway.com for the full cast list.

Casting Awards
Speaking of casting news, the nominees for the Casting Society of America's Artios Awards have been announced (in some categories; nominees for feature films will be announced later this year). Among those nominated are casting directors responsible for Act One; Masters of Sex; Beautiful; Veep; Hedwig and the Angry Inch;

This is Where I Leave You

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Just a quick note to let you all know how much I enjoyed the film adaptation of the Jonathan Tropper novel, This is Where I Leave You. (Tropper adapted his novel for the screen; the film is directed by Shawn Levy).

Bravo to casting director Cindy Tolan for assembling such a winning ensemble. Jane Fonda (The Newsroom) is the Altman family matriarch, Hilary, and when her husband dies, she tells her children it was their father's dying wish to have his family sit shiva together. And so, the children gather.

There's the eldest son, Paul, played by the terrific Corey Stoll (House of Cards). His wife is Alice (Kathryn Hahn), who also happened to date one of Paul's younger brothers, Judd (Jason Bateman). Judd is going through his own tsuris, having just found out his wife had been cheating on him with his boss. Paul and Judd's sister is Wendy, and the typically acerbic Tina Fey turns in a touching, sincere performance as the grieving sister whose marriage to Barry (Aaron Laz…

Rock Bottom

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Raunchy, bawdy, salacious—a potent but dangerous combination that can turn awful quickly. Or they can form something exciting and honest and wildly + wonderfully outrageous. Fortunately for audiences, Rock Bottom follows the second path.

Bridget Everett's one woman show (she does have a live band and back up singers—all terrific) comes on like a freight train, and keeps going and going, with Everett leaving everything on the stage. Typically, I'm turned off by raunchy humor and such colorful and vivid language. Yet I was completely enthralled with Everett as she shared herself with us.

In trying to figure out why this night was different from all other nights, I have concluded that I was engaged because (1) I knew going in this wasn't going to be the kind of sweet cabaret I might expect from, say, Laura Osnes; and (2) Everett seems to come by her raunchiness and bold + brash sensibility honestly. Rather than seeming to employ vulgarities in order to shock the audience or s…

Week in Review 9.19.14

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New York City Ballet on Broadway
The New York Times checks in with NYCB principal dancers Megan Fairchild, Robbie Fairchild and Tiler Peck, who are all starring in Broadway or Broadway-bound musicals this year. Megan will portray "Miss Turnstiles" in the revival of On the Town, now in previews. (The musical is based on Jerome Robbins's Fancy Free, which marked the choreographer's first collaboration with Leonard Bernstein.) Robbie is set for An American in Paris, a musical adaptation of the Gene Kelly movie, directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon (A Place for Us, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). The musical will debut in Paris this winter and then take up residency at Broadway's Palace Theatre in the spring. (Previews begin March 13, 2015; opening night is April 12.) And Peck takes on the title role in Little Dancer, a new musical inspired by the works of Edgar Degas. Little Dancer, debuting this fall at the Kennedy Center (October 25-November 30…

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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Like all his other narratives, in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, everything is told through dance. As in Wheeldon's Estancia, These characters don't miss an opportunity to dance a feeling (to Joby Talbot's score), making it a much more enjoyable and beautiful ballet.

Moreover, since these are Alice's adventures in Wonderland, and the creatures she encounters are wondrous, the music and choreographic styles can vary and go almost anywhere. So we have, for example, a Mad Hoofer and Caterajah (those would be a tap-dancing Mad Hatter and an Arabian nights-ish caterpillar). There's also a brief dalliance into a Sweeney Todd–like sausage factory that is definitely more grim than wonderful, but throughout the choreography and vision is unified, imaginative and a feast for the senses.

In particular, the garden scene that closes act two is visually stunning. After taking a bite of the mushroom given to her by the caterpillar, Alice finds he…

Week in Review 9.12.14

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Justin Peck Featured
Dance magazine features NYCB soloist and rising choreographer Justin Peck on the cover of its September issue. In the feature article, which you can read online, Peck talks about balancing his work as a dancer and a choreographer; being inspired by music; and his mentors, including Christopher Wheeldon and NYCB Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins. After you've read the article, head to nycballet.com to purchase tickets for the 2014-2015 season, which will feature two new Peck ballets (the first, Belles Lettres, is set to premiere this month), and an encore performance of Everywhere We Go.

SNL Comings and Goings
Several changes to the long-running sketch comedy show were announced this week.
Three new writers, Natasha Rothwell, Streeter Seidell and Jeremy Beiler, have joined the team.

Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, Moneyball) and recent Emmy winnerSarah Silvermanwill host the first two episodes of the new season, September 27 and October 4.

After a brief stin…

This Is Our Youth

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Set over 30 years ago; written about 20 years ago; feels totally current. The angst, the identity crises, the longing to rise above your parents and figure out what makes you happy... It's all the same. Methods, cultural references and technology might be different, but that's superficial. This is our youth.

Set on the Upper West Side in March 1982, Kenneth Lonergan's long-gestating This is Our Youth takes a look at disaffected, upper-middle class (maybe wholly upper class) Jewish young adults, who are not quite ready for the "adult" part of that descriptor.

Lights come up on Dennis (Kieran Culkin), who is pulled out of his TV-watching trance when Warren (Michael Cera) rings his buzzer. Warren has been kicked out of his home by his father and is looking to crash with Dennis, who is definitely Warren's weed connection, and possibly his friend. The two pontificate on life, and think up Ponzi-like schemes to get money and girls. Enter Jessica (Tavi Gevinson), wh…

Bootycandy

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I don't know about you, dear readers, but I like seeing how the sausage is made. Going behind the scenes of various industries, whether it's government, a TV show or the creative process, I like knowing how things work, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed Robert O'Hara's Bootycandy, now playing at Playwrights Horizons.

O'Hara directs his play, which is a series of short plays/vignettes. There is not a linear plot and there is not a traditional, through storyline. While the character Sutter (Phillip James Brannon) recurs in several scenes, it's not until the last couple of scenes of Bootycandy that we fully understand that we're inside the sausage factory, watching the artist at work.

This can make it little more difficult to "unpack" the play, but as Sutter (a sort of stand in for O'Hara) says in the play, it should be difficult; it was difficult to write the play so it should be challenging for audiences to respond fully. Again, I like plays li…

Week in Review 9.5.14

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Kennedy Center Honorees
The 2014 Kennedy Center Honorees have been announced. Al Green, Tom Hanks, Patricia McBride, Sting and Lily Tomlin will be honored at the 37th annual celebration of the arts. The gala performance will be held December 7, and an edited broadcast will air on CBS on December 30 at 9pm. (Tune in - it's always an entertaining, often illuminating celebration.) The timing of the honor coincides with the arrival of Sting's The Last Ship, which is bowing on Broadway this fall. (Previews being September 30; opening night is set for October 26.) Who do you think will be on hand to honor these luminaries? Playbill has more about the Kennedy Center Honors.

Coming to the Boards
A couple of new productions were announced this week, as were rumors of an Aussie transfer:
Broadway will welcome the West End hit revival of David Hare's Skylight, with stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis) in tow. Bowing at the Golden Theatre, Skylight begins previews M…