Friday, November 7, 2014

What I'm Watching

In the science-fiction classic Childhood's End, author Arthur C. Clarke imagines mankind's last generation before reaching the next evolutionary level. As humanity discards the earth and is about to take up with extraterrestrial super-intelligent beings, there are tens of thousands of TV channels to amuse us as a sort of farewell present. I think we've reached that plateau since there are now literally millions of shows that can be watched anywhere anytime on hundreds of difference platforms. I am participating in this media frenzy like everyone else but I'm not as bad as the folks on The People's Couch who will watch anything their Bravo overlords tell them to. (But I do like them because they are the only people on TV were respond to my Tweets, especially the Zeno family.) Right now I am following animated original series on Netflix and Hulu as well as new shows on Amazon and Itunes (from Pivot). And let's not forget my standbys Doctor Who, The Amazing Race, and Project Runway.


On Hulu I recently started watching The Awesomes, the service's first original animated series. Its premise of a bunch of bumbling, second-tier superheroes attempting to break into the top tier has been attempted before. DC had a comic book in the 60s called The Inferior Five featuring a crowd of superpowered goof-ups. Seth Meyers of Late Night stars as the voice of Prock, Professor-Doctor Awesome whose only super power is his intelligence and the ability to stop time, but every time he does it, he gets a nosebleed. plus his arm is constantly in a cast. It's genuinely funny, and one of the few series on Hulu you can get for free without having to buy Hulu Plus. But they include commercials. I've grown used to living without these annoying ads so I turned on AdBlocker. But now I have a blank screen on my computer for four minutes during the breaks. It really interrupts the flow worse than the ads. I suppose I could turn off the Adblocker but I'm too lazy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

B'way Update: 2015-16 and Twice-Told Tales

Andrea Martin at the 2013 Tony Awards
The trend for twice revived shows continues into 2015-16. The latest announced show for the next Broadway season follows the trend of plays or musicals receiving their second revival within the memory of old farts like me and which I have seen at least twice before. It's like I'm reliving my first few years in New York. Roundabout Theatre Company will be staging Michael Frayn's Noises Off which opened on Broadway in 1983 and was staged again in 2001. Andrea Martin stars in the Dorothy Loudon-Patti LuPone role. Among the other recent and current twice revived productions (original dates followed by their double restagings) are La Cage Aux Folles (1984, 2004, 2010), The Elephant Man (1979, 2002, 2014), A Delicate Balance (1966, 1996, 2014), Les Miserables (1987, 2006, 2014), The Real Thing (1984, 2000, 2014), Into the Woods (1987, 2002, 2012--Central Park, 2015--Laura Pels).

Additional announcements for 2015-16 include Al Pacino in a new David Mamet play called China Doll, Keira Knightley in a new adaptation of Therese Racquin (also from Roundabout), the revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and On Your Feet, the Gloria Estefan musical. 

Updated rundown:
Oct. 29--Lips Together, Teeth Apart (Second Stage)
Oct. 30--The Real Thing (American Airlines/Roundabout)
Oct.--Father Comes Home from the Wars (Public); Grand Concourse (PH)
Nov. 3--The Oldest Boy (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Nov. 6--Sticks and Bones (New Group at Signature Center)
Nov. 11--Lost Lake (City Center/MTC)
Nov. 16--The River (Circle in the Square) 
Nov. 16--Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature)
Nov. 17--Side Show (St. James)
Nov. 18--By the Water (MTC/City Center Stage II)
Nov. 19--Allegro (CSC)
Nov. 20--A Delicate Balance (Golden)
Nov. 23--A Particle of Dread (Signature) 
November--Straight White Males (Public); Pocatello (PH);Punk Rock (MCC/Lortel)
Dec. 4--The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible (Marquis)
Dec. 7--The Elephant Man (Booth)
2014 (Sometime)—Dames at Sea, Liberace Musical, The Color Purple 
2015 (Sometime)--The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Jan. 13--Constellations (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 15--Honeymoon in Vegas (Nederlander)
Jan. 22--Into the Woods (Roundabout/Laura Pels)
Jan. 2015--Hamlet (CSC); Hamilton (Public)
Feb. 23--Big Love (Signature)
Feb. 24--The World of Extreme Happiness (City Center/MTC)
February 2015--Placebo (PH); The Liquid Plan (Signature); The Nether (MCC/Lortel)
March 3--John and Jen (Keene Company)
March 5--Fish in the Dark (Cort)
March 12--On the 20th Century (American Airlines/Roundabout)
March 28--The Audience (Schoenfeld)
March--The Heidi Chronicles (theater TBA); The Total Bent (Public); Iowa (PH)
April 2--Skylight (Golden)
April 7--Hand to God (Booth)
April 8--Finding Neverland (Lunt-Fontanne)
April 9--Wolf Hall, Parts I and II (Winter Garden)
April 12--An American in Paris (Palace)
April 14--It Shoulda Been You (Brooks Atkinson)
April 15--The King and I (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
April 21--Doctor Zhivago (Broadway)
April 22--Fun Home (Circle in the Square)
April 23--Airline Highway (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Spring 2015--Amazing Grace
May 21--The Sound and the Fury (Elevator Repair Service at the Public)
May 2015--Dr. Faustus (CSC); What I Did Last Summer (Signature); Permission (MCC/Lortel)
Oct. 5--On Your Feet (Marquis)
Oct. 29--Therese Racquin (American Airlines/Roundabout) 
Fall 2015--China Doll, Fiddler on the Roof, American Psycho
Jan. 14, 2016--Noises Off (Roundabout)
2015-16--Children of a Lesser God, Houdini, Gigi, Night Mother
Future--Bandstand, Disney's Frozen, Soul Train, Pretty Woman, The First Wives Club, Magic Mike, Freaky Friday, King Kong, Miss Saigon, The Visitor 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

B'way Update: Will 'Heidi' Take Over the Jacobs?

Will Elisabeth Moss in The Heidi Chronicles
move into the Jacobs once Once vacates?
Just felt like doing an update. Once has announced it will close at the Bernard Jacobs on Jan. 4, 2015. So what will go into that house? The only show announced for spring with no theater yet is The Heidi Chronicles with Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men. So I'd bet that revival will pounce on this desirable theater, right on 45th St....The new Birdman film starring Michael Keaton as a former action star headlining a Broadway show was filmed in the St. James. The trailer looks fascinating. Keaton had a similar real-life career track when he starred as Batman, but he has yet to tackle the Main Stem.

Updated rundown:
Oct. 14--Found (Atlantic)
Oct.16--On the Town (Lyric) 
Oct. 19--The Belle of Amherst (Westside)
Oct. 20--Billy and Ray (Vineyard)
Oct. 23--Disgraced (Lyceum) 
Oct. 26--The Last Ship (Neil Simon) 
Oct. 29--Lips Together, Teeth Apart (Second Stage)
Oct. 30--The Real Thing (American Airlines/Roundabout)
Oct.--Father Comes Home from the Wars (Public); Grand Concourse (PH); The Fortress of Solitude (Public Theatre)
Nov. 3--The Oldest Boy (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Nov. 6--Sticks and Bones (New Group at Signature Center)
Nov. 11--Lost Lake (City Center/MTC)
Nov. 16--The River (Circle in the Square) 
Nov. 16--Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature)
Nov. 17--Side Show (St. James)
Nov. 18--By the Water (MTC/City Center Stage II)
Nov. 19--Allegro (CSC)
Nov. 20--A Delicate Balance (Golden)
Nov. 23--A Particle of Dread (Signature) 
November--Straight White Males (Public); Pocatello (PH);Punk Rock (MCC/Lortel)
Dec. 4--The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible (Marquis)
Dec. 7--The Elephant Man (Booth)
2014 (Sometime)—Dames at Sea, Liberace Musical, The Color Purple 
2015 (Sometime)--The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Jan. 13--Constellations (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 15--Honeymoon in Vegas (Nederlander)
Jan. 22--Into the Woods (Roundabout/Laura Pels)
Jan. 2015--Hamlet (CSC); Hamilton (Public)
Feb. 23--Big Love (Signature)
Feb. 24--The World of Extreme Happiness (City Center/MTC)
February 2015--Placebo (PH); The Liquid Plan (Signature); The Nether (MCC/Lortel)
March 3--John and Jen (Keene Company)
March 5--Fish in the Dark (Cort)
March 12--On the 20th Century (American Airlines/Roundabout)
March 28--The Audience (Schoenfeld)
March--The Heidi Chronicles (theater TBA); The Total Bent (Public); Iowa (PH)
April 2--Skylight (Golden)
April 8--Finding Neverland (Lunt-Fontanne)
April 9--Wolf Hall, Parts I and II (Winter Garden)
April 12--An American in Paris (Palace)
April 15--The King and I (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
April 21--Doctor Zhivago (Broadway)
April 22--Fun Home (Circle in the Square)
April 23--Airline Highway (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Spring 2015--Amazing Grace
May 21--The Sound and the Fury (Elevator Repair Service at the Public)
May 2015--Dr. Faustus (CSC); What I Did Last Summer (Signature); Permission (MCC/Lortel)
Oct. 5--On Your Feet (Marquis)
Fall 2015--Fiddler on the Roof, American Psycho
2015-16--Children of a Lesser God, Houdini, Gigi, Night Mother, Noises Off (Roundabout)
Future--Bandstand, Disney's Frozen, Soul Train, Pretty Woman. The First Wives Club, Magic Mike, Freaky Friday, King Kong, Miss Saigon 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

B'way Update: Spring is Gettin' Springier

A scene from the Royal Shakespeare Company's
production of Wolf Hall
Credit: Keith Pattison
That title comes from the Blossom Dearie song "A Fine Spring Morning." As more productions confirm their openings, the warmer months of 2015 are filling up in a race to beat the Tony deadline. So far March has three definite shows while April has seven, eight if you can the separate evenings of Wolf Hall as two. Overall, 2014-15 has 30 definite productions, far short of last season's 42. There are still a few which might be coming in such as Amazing Grace. Let's take a look at some of the recently announced candidates for Tony glory. The aforementioned Wolf Hall, a two-part historical drama about Henry VIII and his devious counselor Thomas Cromwell, is based on a best-selling series of novels and was a smash hit in London--two factors which spell automatic snob hit. Finding Neverland has been in a holding pattern for months, but the musical about the genesis of Peter Pan has been cleared for a landing at the Lunt-Fontanne once Motown vacates. The knives are out for this show since producer Harvey Weinstein forced his way onto last season's Tony Awards with an excerpt featuring Jennifer Holliday in a sparkly gown singing to a bunch of little boys in Victorian pajamas. Weinstein garnered some publicity recently by subjecting New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel to the ice bucket challenge. Doctor Zhivago is another musical which has been on the "Upcoming" list for years. The material sounds perfect for a Broadway musical--sweeping romance, epic revolutionary battles, a familiar title. Plus there has been a run on Russian shows lately with Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and the gorgeous Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. But great Slavic source material is no guarantee of success. Let's not forget the flop 1992 musical Anna Karenina which closed after only 46 performances. Fun Home was a hit Off-Broadway and may be the show to beat when it transfers to the Circle in the Square. It's subject matter of a lesbian coming to terms with her closeted gay father may be a bit much for family audiences, and Tony voters may want to go for the safer comedy of Honeymoon in Vegas or the nostalgia of An American in Paris.   

Friday, September 12, 2014

Directors Double--and Triple--Dip

Scott Ellis is one of three directors
 to have more than one show on Broadway this season
A former editor of mine used to say "Three times and it's a trend." So we officially have a new Broadway trend: directors having more than one show on in the same season. Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County, Of Mice and Men) staged the revival of This Is Our Youth which opened last night at the Cort to great reviews (here's my review roundup for NewYork.com) and will be helming Larry David's new comedy Fish in the Dark. Youth premiered at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company earlier this year so Shapiro has time to start planning for the Larry David piece. Pam McKinnon won a Tony for Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and gives her spin to the playwright's A Delicate Balance. She'll also be directing another revival this spring: Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles. Scott Ellis is staging You Can't Take It With You and The Elephant Man this fall, which played the Williamstown Theatre Festival two summers ago so Ellis had breathing room to work on the Kaufman and Hart classic starring James Earl Jones, Rose Bryne, Elizabeth Ashley and the always-hilarious Kristine Nielsen and Julie Halston. Ellis will be pulling triple duty this season since he'll also be directing Roundabout's revival of On the Twentieth Century opening in January 2015. It will be interesting to see who gets nominated for Tonys and for which show and if anyone will be competing against him or herself.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

B'way Update: Season Starts

Tavi Gevinson and Micahel Cera in This Is Our Youth
Photo: Michael Brosilow
As Cole Porter wrote "Another Openin', Another Show/In Philly, Boston, or Baltimo'" (Did anyone call the Maryland city Baltimo' except for Porter just for a rhyme?). Those lines from Kiss Me Kate were going through my head as I got out of the subway last night and walked to the Cort Theatre for the press preview of This Is Our Youth, the first Broadway show of the fall season which opens tomight. It's always a thrill even though I've been going to Broadway as a critic for 30 years. Recent additions to schedule include Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in a revival of Skylight; Airline Highway by Lisa D'Amour whose Detroit was a highlight of the Off-Bway scene two years ago; The Heidi Chronicles with Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs, Bryce Pinkham, and Tracee Chimo; Finding Neverland which is scheduled to fly into a Nederlander theatre this coming spring--theoretically without Jennifer Hudson in the sparkly gown she wore during the number from the show at the Tony Awards. Here is an updated rundown of 2014-15 and beyond: 

Friday, August 22, 2014

More Summer Stock and TV Memories

Peggy Cass
Since my last post, I've remembered more productions seen at the long-ago-demolished Philadelphia Playhouse in the Park: Tom Poston and Marian Mercer in Lovers and Other Strangers, Jean Marsh of Upstairs, Downstairs in Twelfth Night, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Meg Wynn Owen (also of Upstairs, Downstairs) in a musical revue based on the works of James Thurber called Out on a Limb, Peggy Cass in An Almost Perfect Person, and Steve Allen and Marcia Rodd in The Wake, a play by Allen about an Irish family not unlike the actor-playwright's own in early 20th century New York.