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Showing posts from May, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West

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I've never been a fan of Westerns; not that I've particularly disliked them, I've just never had a taste for them. But I have always been a fan of Blazing Saddles, and for a while I have been a Seth MacFarlane fan. So when I learned the two would be melding, creating a Western with MacFarlane's comedic sensibility, I was excited.

A Million Ways to Die in the West, set in 1882, is written by the same trio behind the hit Ted: MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. MacFarlane once again directs, and this time he is the star and not just the voice behind the star. He plays Albert Stark, a sheep farmer who is a self-proclaimed nerd. He's your typical Western tough guy, and when he talks his way out of a duel instead of shooting his way out, his girlfriend, Louis (Amanda Seyfried), dumps him in favor of the slick Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Enter Anna (Charlize Theron), who arrives in Old Stump and quickly strikes up a friendship (and maybe more?) with Albert, even …

Week in Review 5.30.14

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Theatre Award Season
Tony Awards—The first round of presenters/performers for the Tony Awards, taking place on Sunday, June8, and hosted by Hugh Jackman, has been announced. Viewers can expect to see Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), who is looking to return to Broadway in a revival of The Elephant Man, and Patricia Clarkson, who is set to join Cooper in the revival; Carole King, who will likely perform with Jessie Mueller and the cast of Beautiful; Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), who will make her Broadway debut next season in The Real Thing; all the Zacharys who made their Broadway debuts this season: Zachary Quinto (The Glass Menagerie), Zachary Levi (First Date) and Zach Braff (Bullets Over Broadway); Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar), who might or might not bring along a chair; and many more. Read this press release for the full list of stars and read this press release for details about performer. Note that the releases state that TonyAwards.com will feature red carpet coverage beginnin…

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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"Whether you like it or not," Hedwig is on Broadway. The John Cameron Mitchell–Stephen Trask punk rock musical (which was a cult–hit off-Broadway and on the big screen) has taken over the Belasco Theatre under the direction of Michael Mayer and with beloved entertainer Neil Patrick Harris donning Hedwig's many wigs.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch allows us to be the audience as Hedwig (Harris) tells her story (aided by her backing band, The Angry Inch), from her time as a young boy in East Berlin to a botched gender reassignment surgery (what's left is the angry inch) as she fled Germany for the United States, and all the way through her coupling, uncoupling and search for redemption with a now-famous rock star (who, Hedwig claims, stole her songs). But what Hedwig's story is really about is her quest to find her other half—her true love.

What visionary director Mayer (American Idiot) makes perfectly clear in his staging is that Hedwig might have already found what she…

Act One

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A life in theatre. Act One is a theatre story for theatre lovers, but like all good plays it’s about something much more universal: pursuing a dream.
I haven’t read Moss Hart’s eponymous autobiography, from which this James Lapine play is adapted (Lapine also directs the play). That is to say that I can’t speak to the play’s fidelity to the source material, but I don’t think that matters.
What matters is that Hart had a dream, and with tenacity and some remarkably lucky breaks, he carved out a fulfilling and rich life for himself. 
We watch as Moss (Santino Fontana) falls in love with the theatre and sets out to become a contributing member of the community. He talks his way into a producer’s assistant job and starts making connections. While working various assistant-level jobs and working in the Catskill Mountains during the summer, he continues to write, and with the help of his friends and an adventurous producer, is connected to the great George S. Kaufman (Tony Shalhoub), who, alre…

Too Much Sun

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Linda Lavin and playwright Nicky Silver return to the Vineyard Theatre in Too Much Sun, an acerbic  play with dramatic detours, directed by Mark Brokaw. (The trio successfully collaborated on The Lyons, which premiered at the Vineyard a couple years ago.)

The fun starts with the prologue, which sees stage actress Audrey (Lavin) rehearsing Medea. After she storms off the stage, we quickly move to Kitty (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Dennis (Ken Barnett)'s summer home, where Kitty is chatting with neighbor Lucas (Matt Dickson). Kitty and Dennis's summer plans go up in smoke when Audrey, Kitty's mother, drops in, direct from Medea rehearsal. Eventually, Audrey meets and sets her sights on Lucas's father, Winston (Richard Bekins), while Gil (Matt Dellapina), Audrey's agent's assistant, is dispatched to bring her back to the stage. Emotions run high as history and inner-most secrets are revealed.

Though the direction was just a beat behind, I was engaged throughout, wond…

Tony-Themed Tasty Treats

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Herein, some playful suggestions of what you might serve at a Tony Awards party. (I've book-ended the list with my two favorites!) For some treats, I've linked to recipes I can vouch for; for others, the recipes haven't been tested by me just yet. Some of the recipes included are my own. Enjoy!
Will You Still Love Me Tamale (shout out to Beautiful); from Marcela Valladolid, corn tamales
Of Rice and Minestrone Soup (shout out to Of Mice and Men); from Mario Batali, minestrone with rice and beans
Oatmeal Raisin in the Sun Cookies (shout out to A Raisin in the Sun); scroll down for the recipe I've been using for years
Lady Fingers at Emerson's Bar and Grill (shout out to Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill); from Emeril Lagasse, homemade lady fingers
After Midnight Snacks (shout out to After Midnight); any leftovers will do, or whatever your favorite nosh is!
Cous Cous Valentina (shout out to Casa Valentina); my "recipe": cook cous cous according to package …

Week in Review: 5.23.14

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Theatre Award Season
Drama League Awards—The 80th annual Drama League Awards were presented last Friday, and critical and fan favorite Neil Patrick Harris walked away with the Distinguished Performance Award. His show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, also won for Distinguished Revival of a Musical. Meanwhile, The Glass Menagerie won for Distinguished Revival of a Play; A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder won for Distinguished Production of a Musical; and All the Way won for Distinguished Production of a Play. Broadway.com has photos of the event, as does Broadwayworld.com: the ladies and the men.

Obie Awards—Celebrating off-Broadway excellence, the 59th annual Obie Awards (Obie as in O.B., off-Broadway) were presented this week. Among the winners were John Ellison Conlee, for his work in The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence, and Sydney Lucas, for her work in Fun Home, making her the youngest Obie winner ever. Broadway.com has the full list of winners, and Broadwayworld.com h…

American Hero

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Who are today’s heroes? Bess Wohl’s play, American Hero (directed by Leigh Silverman (Violet)), tries to explore that question by checking in on the lives of three “sandwich artists” working at a sub shop. 

At rise, the three artists are being interviewed by their potential employer, the franchise owner, Bob (Daoud Heidami (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo)). Sheri (Erin Wihlemi (The Great God Pan)) is 18, shy and meek. Ted (Jerry O’Connell (Seminar)) is married with children, and the MBA is looking for work after being fired from his high finance job. Jamie (the always winning Ari Graynor (The Performers)) is a young single mom with attitude to spare. They find themselves in a bit of a pickle when Bob disappears on the day of the shop’s grand opening.
The set up is mostly an excuse for Wohl to delve into a character study, trying to find out what we’re made of, and what it means to be heroic in the modern world. Both the situation and the interpersonal entanglements that ensue test ever…

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

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Yawn. Despite being critically acclaimed and the most nominated Broadway musical of the season, I was thoroughly bored while watching A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. Nearly everyone else in the audience was howling with laughter. I recognized all the comedic moments (there's even a great farce number at the top of act two—I enjoyed that), and I can say that the quality of the show—a well-balanced book (by Robert L. Freedman) and score (by Steven Lutvak), efficient scenic design (by Alexander Dodge), theatrical period costumes (by Linda Cho) and good performances by the cast, led by Tony nomineesJefferson Mays (The Best Man) and Bryce Pinkham (Ghost, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson)—but I just didn't like it.

Directed by Tony nomineeDarko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide... is a campy show told in flashback as Monty Navarro (Pinkham) writes his memoir. Monty had a humble upbringing but upon his mother's death, he learns that she was a D'Ysquith, a royal family…