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Showing posts from April, 2016

Week in Review 4.29.16

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This post has been updated to include the latest Tony eligibility rulings.
Casting News
Filming is complete on the Twin Peaks Showtime "reboot," and the cast has been revealed. Among those who'll appear in the limited series are Oscar winning-musician Trent Reznor (The Social Network); Naomi Watts; Eddie Vedder; frequent David Lynch collaborator Laura Dern (Wild); Virginia Kull (Assistance, The Affair); original Twin Peaks stars, Kyle MacLachlan and Russ Tamblyn (that would be Riff, from West Side Story); and others. Visit Facebook for the full cast list, and Rolling Stone for a brief analysis.
Some casting for Hairspray Live, NBC's December 7 live broadcast of the musical, has been announced. Early in the week, we learned that Jennifer Hudson will play Motormouth Maybelle, and Harvey Fierstein (Casa Valentina) will, once again, play Edna Turnblad. (He originated the role on Broadway.) Later, we learned that Martin Short will play Wilbur, and Derek Hough will play Corn…

Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

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Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed is a long title. It is also a perfect title because it aptly describes act one, Shuffle Along, and act two, all that followed.

Conceived by George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed tells the story of the groundbreaking musical, Shuffle Along, remarkable because it was New York's first commercially successful musical written, directed, produced by, and starring African-Americans. (It went on to play 504 performances, and throughout the run and subsequent tours, performers included Paul Robeson and Josephine Baker.)

The first act focuses on the show coming together. Noble Sissle (Joshua Henry) and Eubie Blake (Brandon Victor Dixon) are songwriters working the vaudeville circuit. F.E. Miller (Brian Stokes Mitchell) and Aubrey Lyles (Billy Porter) are a comedy duo also making the vaudeville rounds. The pairs meet at a stop in Philadelphia, and …

Drama Desk Nominations

Nominees for the 2015-2016 Drama Desk Awards were announced. These awards honor excellence in Broadway and off-Broadway, and are voted on by theater critics, journalists, editors, and publishers. Winners will be announced at that June 5 ceremony. Herein, the full list of nominees. (Note that, because it was considered last year during its off-Broadway run, Hamilton was not eligible this year.)
Outstanding Play
The ChristiansThe HumansJohnKing Charles IIIThe RoyaleOutstanding Musical
First Daughter SuiteDaddy Long LegsSchool of RockShuffle Along...WaitressOutstanding Revival of a Play
Cloud NineDeath of a SalesmanHenry IVLong Day's Journey Into NightA View from the BridgeWomen Without MenOutstanding Revival of a Musical
The Color PurpleThe Golden BrideFiddler on the RoofShe Loves MeSpring AwakeningOutstanding Actor in a Play
Andrew Garman, The ChristiansAvi Hoffman, Death of a SalesmanFrank Langella, The FatherTim Pigott-Smith, King Charles IIIMark Strong, A View from the BridgeOutstandi…

Long Day's Journey Into Night

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For Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night I give you a short review.

The long journey is a day in the life of O'Neill's stand-in family, the Tyrones: patriarch James (Gabriel Byrne); matriarch Mary (Jessica Lange); older son James Jr, or Jamie (Michael Shannon), and younger son, Edmund (John Gallagher, Jr.), who is, most agree, O'Neill himself. (The Tyrone family maid, Cathleen (Colby Minifie), is also around here and there.) In this personal work, O'Neill revisits his family to work through, understand, or maybe exorcise something from his past. Maybe's it's his tumultuous relationship with his father or brother, or maybe (probably) it's his elusive mother, who, in Long Day's Journey Into Night, is a dope fiend who slips in and out of reality.

Plenty of people will tell you that plays are meant to be heard and seen, not read. Arguably, that rings true for Shakespeare, Albee, Pinter, Beckett, and others. Reading another of this sea…

NYCB: Bournonville Divertissments; Moves; Tschai Pas; and Symphony in Three Movements

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New York City Ballet is back in full swing. For the first of my five ballet outings this spring, I got to see four ballets, three of which I hadn't seen in at least two years.


We began with Bournonville Divertissements, which was paired with La Sylphide last spring. These are selections from August Bournonville's repertoire, and feature music by Holger Simon Paulli and Edvard Helsted. (Based on Bournonville's choreography, Bournonville Divertissements was originally stage by Stanley Williams; it was later staged for NYCB by Nilas Martins.) As divertissements should be, all four movements are presentational, mostly meant to be pretty and pleasant and fun.

The first movement is "Ballabile," led by Erica Periera and Troy Schumacher, and it's the most presentational of all. From my view, it actually looked a little sloppy, and like the men were having trouble partnering with the women. Of course, that's part of the choreography (all I had to do was watch the …

Waitress

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It's been said before, including on this blog, but it's the truth: music is better than words. I remember when the Adrienne Shelly movie Waitress, starring Keri Russell, came out. There was buzz around it, and around Russell's performance, yet I never saw it. In anticipation of this musical adaptation, I watched the movie a few months ago, and was underwhelmed. I thought it was just fine, but remembering the buzz around its 2007 release, I couldn't understand the enthusiasm.

But there's something that music can do that nothing else can, and that's why telling a story with music—that is, musical theatre—is such an incredible art form.

All the main beats from the movie are there, thanks in no small part to a great book by Jessie Nelson. Waitress tells Jenna's story. She's the titular waitress, working at Joe's Diner. (Owner Joe (Dakin Matthews) is a regular at his roadside diner.) She has a knack for making delicious and creatively-named pies. She…

Week in Review 4.22.16

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Pulitzer Prize for Drama
To no one's surprise, Hamilton won the Pulitzer Prize for drama this week. Hamilton is only the ninth musical to win the Pulitzer, after Of Thee I Sing, South Pacific, Fiorello, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Chorus Line, Sunday in the Park with George, Rent, and Next to Normal. The finalists in the same category were Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's Gloria and Stephen Karam's The Humans, which is now on Broadway. Visit pulitzer.org to see the full list of Pulitzer winners and finalists in all categories.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses Returning to Broadway
The 2016-2017 Broadway season will include a revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. This production is an import from London's Donmar Warehouse (its artistic director, Jossie Rourke, directs the play), and boasts a translation by Christopher Hampton (who often translates the great Yasmina Reza's work). Janet McTeer and Tony winner Liev Schreiber (Spotlight) will star as La Marquise d…

American Psycho

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I had never read Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho, but I had seen the movie, liked the movie, and was excited for the musical stage adaptation. I walked out of American Psycho the musical thinking that it was too sanitized. I was expecting something bloodier, more gory, more violent. The next day, I re-watched the movie (I had never returned the videotape). While there were a couple more violent sequences, and the violence felt more intimate (and therefore more brutal), it wasn't the Tarantino-esque blood fest I remembered. And so while I realize my expectations were unfounded, I find I'm ambivalent about this production. There are elements to praise, but it doesn't thrill like a thriller should.

In much the same way John Hughes and his films captured the 80s teenager, novelist Ellis captured the late 80s yuppie. That flush urbanite who was too cool for school, snorted cocaine out of boredom, and went on a killing spree after hours.

Well, maybe not everyone …

Outer Critics Circle Nominations

The nominations for the Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Awards were announced today. These awards honor excellence in both Broadway and off-Broadway. The OCC includes critics covering New York theatre for out-of-town outlets. Note that Hamilton was not considered this year as it was considered (and awarded) last year, for its off-Broadway iteration; only new elements of the Broadway production were considered. In addition, at the request of the show's producers, Shuffle Along... was not considered this year because of the OCC nomination deadline; it will be considered next year. Winners of this year's awards will be announced May 9 and feted May 26. Herein, the full list of nominees (unless otherwise noted, categories include Broadway and off-Broadway):

Outstanding New Broadway Play
EclipsedThe FatherThe HumansKing Charles IIITherese RaquinOutstanding New Broadway Musical
American PsychoBright StarOn Your FeetTuck EverlastingWaitressOutstanding New Off-Broadway Play
The ChristiansFamil…