Sunday, March 3, 2019

Racism Resurgence: Neeson and Northam

Agnes Moorehead on "The Wild Wild West"
(I couldn't find a picture of her on "The Lone Ranger")
When I was a kid, I remember watching a rerun of The Lone Ranger TV series with Agnes Moorehead guest-starring as a ranch owner who hated all Indians because her family had been massacred by an Apache war party. After saving Tonto from Agnes' wrath, the Lone Ranger set her straight about her hatred. I said to my mother, "I don't understand. I would feel the same way as Agnes Moorehead if my family had been killed by Indians. I'd hate all of them." My mother explained that you shouldn't judge an entire race of people by the actions of some, even if it those actions hurt you very badly. I was only about 10 at the time, but the lesson stuck with me.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

B'way Update: McDonald and Shannon in Frankie and Johnny

Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon
January and February are traditionally slow months in the New York theater with few openings, especially on Broadway--only Choir Boy and True West during these first months. But there are a bunch of shows which have announced openings in March through April, that frantic period before the Tony Award cut-off date, and into May and the summer for the 2019-20 season. Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Man of Steel) will star in a revival of Terrence McNally's two-character comedy-drama Frankie and Johnny in the Clare de Lune, set to open in May at a Shubert theatre to be announced. Making her Broadway debut will be director Arin Arbus (The Skin of Our Teeth). The play centering on a waitress and a short-order cook finding romance after lives of unhappiness first appeared Off-Broadway in 1988 with Kathy Bates and Kenneth Walsh. Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer starred in the 1991 film version which expanded beyond the play's single apartment setting and included additional characters played by Nathan Lane, Kate Nelligan, and Hector Elizondo. Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci headlined a 2002 Broadway revival (I still remember Tucci yelling at an audience member to turn off their cell phone after it rang the second time and Falco taking a minute to get back into character.)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Weekend at Universal

The last time I was in Orlando had to be almost 20 years ago because I distinctly remember making a joke about going down there to help count hanging chads--a reference to the heinous Bush-Gore debacle of 2000. It was also December because there were Christmas themed events and performers in holiday costumes at the theme parks. My partner and I went to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and all four Disney parks. It was loads of fun so when my brother Jonathan, a huge theme parkgoer suggested we spend the Martin Luther King Day weekend at Universal, I jumped at the chance. There had been many changes in the park since I was there last, chiefly the new Harry Potter rides, and I liked Universal more than Disney. The former struck me as more adult-oriented and Disney was more for kids and families.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

MacTrump A Shakespearean Farce Act III

Keeley Hawes, Judi Dench, and Phoebe Fox
in BBC's TV version of Richard III
The MacTrump saga continues. For a switch, this scene focuses on the women in Trumpy's life, much like the one in Richard III where his mother, wife, the deposed Queen Elizabeth (his sister-in-law), and mad Queen Margaret join together to curse the "bunch-backed toad."

Act III, Scene One

Scene: The entry hall of the G7 Summit Meeting, several months after Act II. Theresa May and Angela Merkel stand center stage.

Merkel: How canst thou treat this ill-mannered swine as a seasoned statesman?
Know you not his boorish behavior where women are concerned?

May: Chide me not, lady. My counsels differ from thine.
Thou are not head of a conservative party leading a divided land.
Art not dealing with withdrawal from the Common Market.
McTrump is the key to mine triumph and must be coaxed and flattered.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Broadway Update: Lane and Martin to Star in Mac's Gary and Network Moves

Andrea Martin and Nathan Lane
The weirdest press release of the year just came into my mailbox. At first I thought it was a joke. Tony winners Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin will be starring in a new comedy called Gary, A Sequel to Titus Andronicus by Obie-winning performer-playwright Taylor Mac. Weird title, huh? But it's legit. The show will be directed by another multiple Tony winner George C. Wolfe and begin previews at the Booth Theatre on March 5 with an opening set for April 11. (The Booth will play host to American Son with Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale in a limited run in the fall. Also, Glenda Jackson's King Lear has announced an April 11 opening but no theater. So somebody will have to change their dates.)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

B'way Update: 'Network' 'Glengarry' News; Dziemianowicz Out at the Daily News

Bryan Cranston in the London production of Network
The new Broadway season just got more exciting. In addition to Glenda Jackson playing King Lear and Elaine May appearing on a Broadway stage for the first time in 50 years in The Waverly Gallery, Tony-Emmy-Golden Globe winner Bryan Cranston will recreate his Olivier-winning performance as crazed newscaster Howard Beale in a transfer of Ivo van Hove's stage version of the Oscar-winning Network. Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) adapted Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay. Previews begin Nov. 10 at the Cort Theater in advance of a Dec. 6 opening. No announcement if the rest of the cast will be American or British. Michele Dockery (Lady Mary on Downton Abbey) took on the Faye Dunaway role of a ruthless network exec in London. She would certainly qualify as an international star. In one of van Hove's staging coups, audience members were seated on stage enjoying a five course meal prepared in an onstage kitchen. Characters would play scenes amidst the diners. There was nothing in the press release stating if the onstage restaurant would be recreated for the Cort, but the elaborate video design and numerous giant screens and cameras will no doubt make the transatlantic trek. Network was prescient in its vision of a reality-TV-mad society where rage and flash outweighed honest journalism. In the age of Trump, Beale's rants should resonate deeply.

This just in: Tootsie has announced specific dates and a theater: previews begin March 29 at the Marquis and it opens on April 23. Also Amy Morton (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Chicago PD) will direct an all-female version of David Mamet's profanity-laden Pulitzer winner Glengarry Glen Ross, set to open on Broadway next May. This should be interesting since all the characters are  testosterone-fueled real estate salespeople and casting them with women will shatter many stereotypes.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

On Digital Programs

The "cover" of the
Carmen Jones digital program
Along with the admonishments to turn off cell phones and unwrap their hard candy, theatergoers attending the Off-Broadway revival of Carmen Jones at Classic Stage Company are getting an unusual greeting from the volunteer ushers. "The theater is going green," they tell the patrons, "there are no paper programs. You can go online to CSC's website and view the program digitally." This came as a bit of a shock to me since, up until recently, I have saved the theater program from every single show I have ever seen--and many I haven't. I used to scour the Broadway Flea Market, used book stores and antique places in upstate NY for Playbills of significant shows, sometimes even historic flops like Dude and Carrie. But lately I've been purging my collection. Do I really need the program from the Alaska Rep production of Mrs. Warren's Profession or the 37th Off-Off-Broadway revival of Three Sisters?

But for the shows I did see, it's difficult to part with the paper reminder. If there is no physical program, it feels to me as if the experience did not exist or that it wasn't official. That's a bit irrational on my part, but it's how I feel. It's a hard habit to break and digital programs may be the wave of the future, just as digital books, the internet, and I-phones are killing print journalism, physical tomes, and photo albums.