Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Broadway Update: Theatre Responds to Trump

Headlong and Almeida Theater's stage version of 1984
is coming to Broadway
Donald Trump has only been President two weeks, but theater is already responding to his controversial (to put it mildly) regime. Many have compared Donald and his spokespeople Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer's offering "Alternative facts" as truth to the doublespeak of the tyrannical dictator Big Brother in George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984 which is enjoying a resurgence lately (I wonder why.) A stage version of Orwell's classic will be presented on Broadway in a limited production, opening on June 22 at the Hudson Theatre, now home to the also limited engagement of Sunday in the Park with George (more on that production and its decision to stay out of the Tony race in a future blog.) This British production of 1984, originally presented by the Headlong and Almeida will arrive with an American cast under the auspices of producers Sonia Freedman and Scott Rudin. A previous stage version played the Joyce Theater Off-Broadway in the 1990s as part of a regional American theater festival.
John Hurt in the film version of 1984
There have been two movie adaptations. Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling and Michael Redgrave starred in the 1956 version and John Hurt (who just passed away) and Richard Burton headlined an even starker edition released in year of the title. With claims of fake news and imaginary terrorist attacks coming from the Trump administration, Orwell's prophetic work is more relevant than ever.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

B'way Update: 'Butterfly' and ' Prada'

Clive Owen will star in M. Butterfly
on Broadway this fall
Clive Owen, last seen on Broadway in Harold Pinter's Old Times, will return in a new production of David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, directed by Julie Taymor in her first Broadway staging since being dismissed from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. (Her interpretation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream played Off-Broadway.) M. Butterfly will open Oct. 26, 2017 at a theater to be announced. The original 1988 production wmade a star out of B.D. Wong as Song Liling, a Chinese opera singer engaged in an affair with a French diplomat played by John Lithgow. Based on a true story, the 20-year relationship shocked international circles when it was revealed Song was really a man. This new production will new include new material based on information about the case that has come to light since the original staging which won the Tony and Drama Desk Award for Best Play and ran for 777 performances (a rare long run for a non-musical).

Also in the works, but in a much earlier stage of development, is a musical version of The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisenberger's autobiographical novel about an assistant to a high-powered fashion magazine editor not unlike Vogue's Anna Wintour. Sir Elton John, whose previous theatrical musical ventures include Aida, The Lion King and Billy Elliot, will write the music. Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey, I Hate Hamlet, Addams Family Values) will make his debut as a musical book-writer and lyricist. Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt starred in the 2000 film version.
Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt
in the film version of The Devil Wears Prada

Monday, December 5, 2016

Don't Call Hamilton Curtain Speech Bullying

Brandon Victor Dixon of Hamilton addresses Mike Pence
The tempest in a teapot over the speech delivered by Hamilton cast member Brandon Victor Dixon to audience member and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence appears to have finally died down. It has elicited a firestorm of comments on both sides of the political aisle. The hashtag #BoycottHamilton trended on Twitter, but it appears the box office has not been significantly affected. A pro-Trump audience member get rowdy at a Chicago performance, but there have not other reports of a major backlash. On a public bus I was standing right next to a group of young people talking about Broadway in general and how difficult it is to get tickets to the hip-hop Tony winning show. "But it may be easier now because some people are calling for a boycott because of the lecture they delivered," said the young man.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Let's Fake a Deal!

Monty Hall from the old Let's Make a Deal show.
Trump is copying the format.
The news has been depressing me so much lately that I have foresworn cable channels like CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Never mind that I don't have cable anymore, I could have gotten access through YouTube. So now my default viewing when there is nothing worth watching on broadcast channels and I'm too lazy to surf through all the choices of Netflix and Amazon is Buzzr, a game-show haven where I can watch visions of the past including What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, and I've Got a Secret. An hour-long block of Let's Make a Deal is on at 8, but even that comfortable echo from my childhood makes me think of our hellish new political landscape.

Announcer (Paul Ryan): These suckers...I mean people, dressed as they are have come from the four corners of the world to the marketplace of America on LET'S... FAKE...A DEAL...and now here's TV's big dealer...Monty Trump!

(Orchestra plays theme music: Let a Winner Lead the Way. Monty Trump enters. Audience cheers)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts IV: The Selling of the Presidency

(Right) First Daughter and Jewelry Hawker in Chief
We are now in a shit storm of Trump coverage, every single thing he and his Kardashian-like relatives do will be the source of a thousand Tweets and Facebook posts. After the 60 Minutes interview, Ivanka Trump was hawking the $10,000 bracelet she wore on the broadcast (as seen as TV!) She has since apologized and blamed it on a subordinate's mistake. To be perfectly fair, Trump did say he would not be taking a salary as president (UGH! just writing Trump and president in the same sentence makes my flesh crawl.) That has not been reported or commented on in my liberal elitist circles too much, so I will give him credit for that. Look, I'm giving him a chance! But we'll see if he follows through. There is also a report that he tried to use his influence to get the value of his Trump Hotel in Washington, DC knocked down several million dollars so he won't have to pay as much tax on it. And BTW, where are his tax returns?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts III: Cabinet of Horrors

Trump's closest advisors
My emotions are in turmoil about the election. We are being asked to "normalize" Trump. Now if it were Kasich, Jeb Bush or even Rubio, I wouldn't be in such despair, but Trump goes beyond that. I do accept that he's won, but if I support him and wish him well, it would be like supporting all the racist, crude, disgusting things he said and did during the campaign (and everything before that). It would be saying, "It's okay to be racist and to discriminate against Muslims and make fun of disabled people." It's okay for a MALE, buffoonish, sexist crude oaf with questionable business practices and violent tendencies to be my president instead of a highly qualified FEMALE who may have made a mistake with her email (a mistake which many of her predecessors as Secretary of State evidently also made). BTW, ain't it ironic Pence is trying to keep his emails secret?


Monday, November 14, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts II: Obama Is the Better Man

Regardless of your politics, you have to admit Obama is just a better person than Trump. Quick example: Before the election, a pro-Trump protestor heckled the current president at a Clinton rally. Obama chided the crowd for yelling at the protestor and told them to respect their elders and this man's service to his country since he seemed to be a vet. He said "Don't boo.. vote." The epitome of graciousness. This is all on video. A day later, Trump distorts the President's remarks at his own rally saying Obama screamed at the protestor and carried on like a crazy person. WHAT? The difference between a dignified adult (Obama) and a lying child who twists the truth for his own purposes (Trump).

But never mind that. The Wall Street Journal reports that in their first meeting after the election, Trump hinted he didn't realize the scope of the job. Evidently, he thought he could just phone it in and play golf on the weekends. He implied Obama will be helping him, meeting with him more than most exiting chief executives do with their successors ("We'll be seeing each other many, many times"). Translation: Trump is begging Obama to hold his hand since he has no freaking clue what he is doing. For the good of the country Obama will do it. He is going to help the man who called him the "founder of ISIS" and cast doubt on his administration by demanding to see his birth certificate and accusing him of being born outside the US. Remember all that crap about Trump promising their were "experts" in Hawaii who were going to prove it? And nothing ever happened. Now Obama is going to help this creep be a better president because it will help our country. Can you imagine Trump ever doing anything like that? The man who said the most important thing in business is to screw your enemies ten times worse than they tried to screw you.

Obama is a hero for helping Trump and the Trump supporters will never admit it.