Sunday, July 13, 2014

The 5th Annual David Desk Awards

Audra McDonald adds a David Desk to her numerous awards for
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill
Yes, I know it's July already and the season's been over for a month, but here they are--the David Desk Awards. For the fifth time, here are my choices for the top performances in New York theater during the past season. The classifications are my own. The Tonys and the Drama Desks decided Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill was best suited for Actress in a Play while the Outer Critics put her in the musical category. I know the play choice would be in keeping with Jane Lapotaire in Piaf and Tracey Bennett as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, with the musical numbers being part of the main character's performance in concert. But even the Drama Desk has not been consistent with this. Sian Philips was in the running for Best Actress in a Musical in Marlene even though her performance was largely dramatic. That year (1999) there were very few available nominees for the category--Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun and Carolee Carmello in Parade where the only other ones vying for the top award and they tied. I think that McDonald's performance was so dependent on the musical element, she should have been in that category and that's why I placed her there. (Plus when Lonette McKee played the original production in 1987, she was nominated as Outstanding Actress in a Musical). I also felt Marin Ireland in Marie Antoniette was ignored.

So here are my picks for the tops of 2013-14:

All the Way (Robert Schenkkan)
Domesticated (Bruce Norris)
The Night Alive (Conor McPherson)
Nikolai and the Others (Richard Nelson)
Outside Mullingar (John Patrick Shanley)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

B'way Update: 'King and I,' 'Illusionists'

Oscar nominees Ken Wantanabe and Sally Hawkins in
Godzilla or We Need a Paycheck
As summer progresses, more Broadway shows are announced for the fall and winter. One of the most anticipated will be Lincoln Center Theater's revival of The King and I starring Kelli O'Hara and Ron Wantanabe, directed by O'Hara's South Pacific and Light in the Piazza stager Barlett Sher. We just saw Wantanabe in Godzilla on a double bill with Edge of Tomorrow at the Coxsackie drive-in last weekend. I'm still itching from the mosquito bites. I thought Edge of Tomorrow would be as bad as last year's Oblivion because both involved Tom Cruise going through some kind of time-loop or multiple-identity crisis. But it was actually pretty entertaining. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

B'way Update: Tony Aftermath, New Season

Jennifer Hudson at the Tonys:
What is that lady in a silver nightgown doing in our bedroom, boys?

With the Tony Awards handed out, the 2013-14 New York theater season is finally over. There have been a deluge of closings in the wake of that ceremony. Mothers and Sons and After Midnight posted closing notices while big winners All the Way and A Raisin in the Sun will end their limited engagements as scheduled. In a moment worthy of the NBC's crazy Smash, Jennifer Hudson showed up just before the Best Musical category to sing a song from a show she won't be in that hasn't even opened yet (Finding Neverland), dressed totally out of sync with the other characters, all because producer Harvey Weinstein didn't want Sting to be the only one to tout an upcoming production. BTW, next year, I guarantee the Best Score category will be given out on the air because the aforementioned multiple Grammy winner will be a nominee for his The Last Ship (another BTW, did they know that show would have the same title as a sci-fi TV series?)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014-15 Broadway/Off-B'way Season Update

Glenn Close will star in
Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance this fall
Theater awards for 2013-14 are pouring in and so are announcements of new shows for 2014-15. In addition to This Is Our Youth with Michael Cera and Kieran Culken, there are several revivals of plays of which I have strong memories. It's Only a Play is Terrence McNally's inside-baseball comedy set on the opening night of a huge flop. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick will reunite as a bitter actor and nervous playwright. I saw an earlier version of it called Broadway, Broadway during its out-of-town try-out in Philadelphia just before I went away to college in 1977. It starred James Coco and Geraldine Page, and closed out of town. I do remember one joke about Beatrice Straight doing a cabaret act. It resurfaced as It's Only a Play Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1986, again with Coco and Christine Baranski, Joanna Gleason and Mark Blum.

Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance is also coming back, this time with Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan and Martha Plimpton, directed by Pam McKinnon who staged Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf for Steppenwolf and on Broadway. When I was in college in Pittsburgh, there were two simultaneous productions by different groups. I must be getting old because the 1996 revival seems like only a few months ago to me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

B'way Season Winds Down; New One Takes Shape

Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin in This Is Our Youth
As the 2013-14 Broadway season winds down, 2014-15 begins to take shape. Definite productions include Holler If Ya Hear Me, the Tupac Shakur musical; the revival of This Is Our Youth with Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, (pictured in an Australian production of the play) and fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, all making their Broadway debuts along with playwright Kenneth Lonergan; Sting's The Last Ship; and Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Cynthia Nixon in The Real Thing. Shows which have announced but don't have a definite date yet include Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, and the revival of On the Town which is definitely going into the Lyric (formerly the Foxwoods) knocking out the previously-announced King Kong

Here's a rundown of the remaining openings and award events in 2013-14 as well as what's up for 2014-15 and beyond.

April 16--Of Mice and Men (Longacre)
April 17--Act One (Vivian Beaumont)
April 20--Violet (American Airlines/Roundabout)
April 20--The Cripple of Inishmaan (Cort)
April 21--The Velocity of Autumn (Booth)
April 21—Your Mother’s Copy of the Kuma Sutra (PH/Peter Sharp)
April 22--Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Belasco)
April 22--Outer Critics Nominations Announced by Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams (Friars Club)
April 23--Casa Valentia (Friedman/MTC)
April 23--Drama League Nominations Announced by Christopher Seiber and Judith Light (Sardis)
April 24--Cabaret (Studio 54/Roundabout)
April 25--Drama Desk Awards Nominations  Announced by Fran Drescher, Robert Lopez and Kristin Andersen-Lopez (54 Below)
April--Annapurna (New Group/Acorn)
April 29--Tony Award Nominatons Announced by Lucy Liu and Jonathan Groff (DIamond Horseshoe Night Club/Paramount Hotel)
May 4--Lortel Awards Hosted by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman (NYU Skirball Hall)
Nay 5--NY Drama Critics Circle Awards Announced.
May 5—The City of Conversation (Mitzi Newhouse/Lincoln Center)
May 16--Drama League Awards Hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Marriott Marquis)
May 19--Obie Awards Hosted by Tamara Tunie and Hamish Linklater (Webster Hall)
May 22--Outer Critics Circle Awards (Sardi's)
June 1--Drama Desk Awards Hosted by Laura Benanti (Town Hall)
June 8--Tony Awards Hosted by Hugh Jackman (Radio City Music Hall)
June 9—Fly By Night (Playwrights Horizons)
June 17—When We Were Young and Unafraid (MTC/City Center Stage I)
June 19--Holler If Ya Hear Me (Palace)
June--Macbeth (Kenneth Branagh) (Park Ave. Armory)
Sept. 11--This Is Our Youth (Cort)
Oct.--On the Town (Lyric)
Oct. 5--The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Barrymore)
Oct. 26--The Last Ship (Neil Simon)
Oct. 30--The Real Thing (American Airlines/Roundabout)
2014 (Sometime)—Dames at Sea, Liberace Musical, Titanic, The Elephant Man, The Color Purple
Fall 2015--Fiddler on the roof
2015--Winter--Noises Off, The River
2015-16--Houdini, Night Mother, The King and I (Lincoln Center)
Future--Disney's Frozen, Soul Train, Pretty Woman

Sunday, March 30, 2014

On the Job Search Part 5: You Never Know

New lesson on the job search: even if an interview doesn't seem exactly right for you, do it anyway. This weekend I had a job interview with a major retail chain. I have very little retail experience, but I did have some client relations on a previous job, so I figured I'd play that up. The interviewer was the store manager for the franchise. I was up and positive and he said he liked my energy. He didn't think I was the right fit for an in-store position, but he thought there might be something for me in marketing which would employ my writing skills. I also commented that I had some event planning on my resume. He responded there was community outreach and event planning involved  I had gone into the interview prepared to take on a job in which I had little experience, but it turned out there was a possibility for a position employing my skills.Even if nothing comes of it, I'll have made a connection.

So it only shows to go you (as they sang in that song from Movie Movie), take an opportunity for an interview if it comes up.

After this interview I had a life coaching session at a community center. While they were playing Hitchcock's The Birds in the large gathering room next door as part of the afternoon movie program, the coach dispensed some useful information:

Build your connections on LinkedIn and find people who work for the firms you want to apply to. Then ask if they have a employee referral bonus program.

Because of rapidly changing technology, people will have to change their careers--not just their jobs, but careers--three to five times in their working life. As old skills becomes obsolete, new ones are created. A few years ago, who even heard of SEO. (That's Search Engine Optimization, grandma.) Now it's a requirement for any media-related job.

On information interviews, ask What do you like about your job, what do you NOT like, What do you recommend to someone who wants to get into your field?

Take a look at any previous jobs you enjoyed and break them down into the elements you liked doing. The find positions which contain the most number of elements that made you happy. We call it "work" rather than "fun" or "play." But that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy it as much of it as possible.

Friday, March 21, 2014

On the Job Search Part Four: Elevator Pitch

In an interviewer with a recruiter, I received this advise on networking:

1. When you meet a potential contact at a networking event, at a party, or even on the bus, have your elevator pitch ready. If you haven't heard of it, the "elevator pitch" is your presentation speech which can be spoken in the time it takes ride an elevator. Also, it's gotta be interesting enough to distract anyone from those newsflashes now in all elevators. I actually look forward to reading those headlines, recipes, and advertisements for MeTV. But I digress--Your elevator pitch should say Who You Were, Who You Are, and Who You Want to Be, all in about 30-45 seconds.

2. If the pitch leads to conversation, don't say "I need a job, help!" Try finding common interests to discuss such as what was on TV last night. Then...

3. Have a business card ready and when you present it say, "I would appreciate 20 minutes of your time to help me on my job search." Then see if you can give them a call to set up an information interview. You aren't asking for a job, but for information. This person may not have a job, but they may someone who knows someone who does.

4. Don't spend more than 30 mins. a day on your computer. The recruiter said that according to a survey she saw in the New York Times, about 60-70 percent of those asked found their jobs through networking, 20 to 30 percent through agencies and placement services, and only 5 percent through postings on the Internet.