Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Notable Passings, 2013, M-R

Milo O'Shea as Friar Laurence
in the 1968 film version of "Romeo and Juliet"
Not only did Peter O'Toole pass away this year, but also Ruth Maleczech of Mabou Mines, Paul Rogers who won a Tony for Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming," porn star Harry Reems, and Milo O'Shea, who I interviewed in 1988 when he played Friar Laurence in "Romeo and Juliet" at the Public Theater with Cynthia Nixon and Peter McNichol as the young lovers. (He also played the role in Zefferelli's brilliant 1968 film version.) I saw O'Toole in the 1987 revival of "Pygmalion" and he seemed to be as high as a kite the entire performance, as he did when presenting an Oscar with Sissy Spacek.
Ruth Maleczech, 74, Obie-winning actress, co-artistic director and co-founder of the avant-garde theatrical troupe Mabou Mines where she played King Lear as a Southern matriarch, received Obies for her design for “Vanishing Pictures” (with Julie Archer) and for performances in “Hajj” and “Through the Leaves,” outside of Mabou Mines, she co-directed “The Tempest” with Lee Breuer, her artistic and life partner, for the Public Theater at Central Park’s Delacorte stage, and appeared in “Henry IV,” “Woyzeck,” “First Love,” and “Belle Epoque.”

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Notable Passing, 2013, H-L

This group of obits runs the gamut from a former stripper to the greatest actress of her generation (Julie Harris) to one of my favorite comic book artists to Trixie Norton (who was also a former stripper). Jane Kean played Trixie of "The Honeymooners" when Jackie Gleason recast the wives of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton with musical actresses so he could incorporate elaborate production numbers and comedy songs; Sheila MacRae was the new Alice. We would watch the Gleason show every Saturday night. It used to come on right after "Sea Hunt" with Lloyd Bridges ("By now my lungs were aching for air.") I saw Kean play Sally in a summer stock production of "Follies" at the Valley Forge Music Fair with Robert Alda, Vivian Blaine, and Selma Diamond. I was about 12 years old and had saved up my allowance to pay for the ticket (It had to be $10 or so.)
Gleason's variety show ran until the early 1970s and CBS  then replaced the middlebrow humor exemplified by Gleason, Lucille Ball, and shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction," and "Green Acres" to be replaced by more sophisticated sitcoms like "All in the Family," "MASH," and the Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore shows. These shows were much more adult, but I did miss the innocent silliness of Ralph and Ed, Alice and Trixie arguing in that tiny Brooklyn apartment. (There were many jokes about Trixie's past as an exotic dancer.)
Harris was also a sitcom actor, appearing in an awful piece of tripe about a family that made pickles. It was ridiculous, but she was brilliant of course and I suppose she had to pay the rent. I only met her once, when she was appearing Off-Broadway in a play called "The Fiery Furnace" and I got her autograph. She was charming and gracious. 
Haji, 67, Canadian actress and former exotic dancer who starred in several Russ Myers sexploitation films including “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” as well as John Cassavettes’ “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” her last film was the memorably titled “Killer Drag Queens on Dope.”
Helen Hanft, 79, leading actress of the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, best known for Tom Eyen’s “Why Hanna’s Skirt Won’t Stay Down,” also appeared in such plays as “Women Benhind Bars,” “In the Boom Boom Room,” and “Gus and Al,” and the films “Next Stop, Greenwich Village” and “Manhattan.”
Julie Harris and James Dean in "East of Eden"
Julie Harris, 87, winner of five Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Play (“I Am a Camera,” “The Lark,” “Forty Carats,” “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln,” “The Belle of Amherst”), one of the American theater’s treasures, she also starred in “Member of the Wedding,” “Marathon 33,” “Skyscraper,” “The Au Pair Man,” “Lucifer’s Child,” “The Fiery Furnace,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “The Gin Game,” and the film version of “Member of the Wedding” (Oscar nomination), other films include “East of Eden,” “The Haunting,” “Harper,” “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” Emmy Awards for “Little Moon of Alban” and “Victoria Regina,” played Lilimae Clements on “Knots Landing” and made several guest shots including “Columbo,” “Medical Center,” “The Big Valley,” and “The Virginian.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Notable Passings, 2013, D-G

Joan Fontaine (l.) with her sister Olivia DeHavilland
Here's part 2 of notable passings in 2013. There are plenty of well known people in this installment including Joan Fontaine, Roger Ebert, James Gandolfini, Edyie Gorme, etc. There is one person who may have been forgotten: Kelly Garrett, not to be confused with the Charlie's Angels character, she was a terrific singer who appeared in three Broadway shows in the 1970s and seemed t be on TV all the time back then. I always loved her powerful voice.

Deanna Durbin, 91, songbird of Hollywood’s Golden Age, she warbled her way through such films as “Three Smart Girls,” “One Hundred Men and a Girl,” and “Can’t Help Singing.”
Roger Ebert, 70, influential film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, in 1975, he became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, co-hosted popular film-review programs first on PBS, then in syndication, these included “Sneak Previews” and “At the Movies” with Gene Siskel, then, after Siskel’s death, “Roger Ebert & the Movies” with rotating co-hosts and “Ebert & Roeper” with Richard Roeper, also of the Sun-Times.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Notable Passings, 2013, A-C

Allan Arbus, Dr. Sydney Freedman of "MASH"
As I get older, it seems more and more people die. But the number of deaths hasn't increased, it's the fact that more and more individuals I was familiar with while growing up are passing away. This year there seemed to be quite a few and I wanted to acknowledge them. Not just the really famous like Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine, but those who achieved a measure of notoriety like the puppeteer on Captain Kangaroo who did the voice for Mr. Moose, the lady who sang the Chock Full of Nuts jingle, and Sally Starr, the kiddie show hostess from the Philadelphia area who used to babysit me, my sister and brother on long afternoons after school before dinner. Not in person, of course, but on the TV. She would dress up in a spangled cowgirl's outfit and introduce Popeye, Courageous Cat, and Clutch Cargo cartoons. 
There are so many, I've broken them up into separate posts: 
Cosmo Allegretti, 86, puppeteer who gave life to such characters as the smart-alecky Mister Moose, the mischevious Bunny Rabbit, and the wise Grandfather Clock on the long-running “Captain Kangaroo” children’s TV series, appeared as an actor in such films as “Prince of the City” and “Author! Author!,” appeared on Broadway in “Requiem for a Heavyweight” with John Lithgow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

'Duck Dynasty' and Utah/NM Rulings

A transgendered Bugs Bunny encounters
 the Duck Dynasty family.
I really can't get too upset about the controversy surrounding this Duck Dynasty guy--I don't even feel like looking up his name--because history is on my side. The very same week that this 67-year-old, self-proclaimed bible-thumper spouted the usual bigoted homophobic thrash in GQ, the states of New Mexico and Utah declared gay marriage legal. Yes, I know the Utah decision was made by a federal judge and is being appealed by the Republican governor and his attorney general. Those two are trying to stop their clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. But for the moment, that means 18 states have gay marriage. The judge's ruling can potentially be applied in other states with a gay marriage ban. (New Mexico had no law one way or the other so that decision is on firmer ground.) This Utah case might go all the way to the Supreme Court and that might lead to national gay marriage. Also on the up side, President Obama is sending openly gay athletes to the Winter Olympics in anti-gay Russia as part of our official delegation. This forced closeted skater Brian Boitano to officially come out.

But what's more disgusting is the Duck guy's stupid comments about African-Americans being happier before the Civil Rights era. Now if he had just said that would he have received as much support from the Christian community and the Duck viewers? I wonder if these right-wingers screaming about freedom of speech felt the same way about Martin Bashir and the Dixie Chicks?

This whole thing made me think of that Warner Brothers cartoon where Bugs Bunny encounters two long-bearded hillbillies (who look suspiciously like the Duck Dynasty clan) and foils them by dressing in drag and leading them in a violent square dance.

So like Megyn Kelly's white Santa brouhaha, who really cares what Papa Duck says? He's apologized and been suspended. Let him have his show back so he can collect his millions for crappy Walmart T-shirts. Like Bugs Bunny, I'm going to win in the long run.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Film Awards Season Overview: 'Gravity' vs. '12 Years a Slave'

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in
12 Years a Slave
The film award season has already started and the battle lines are drawn: 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are the main contenders for Best Picture, with Her a possible spoiler. I can't believe Gravity is actually a possibility to take the top Oscar. Special effects, OK. Maybe even Best Director. But the Best Picture Award over the masterful 12 Years? My partner points out that Gravity is an "up" picture (no pun intended) with Sandra Bullock triumphing over adversity in the end (just like Tom Hanks in Capt. Phillips and Robert Redford in All Is Lost). Yes, Chiwetel Ejiofor does escape from his bondage at the end of 12 Years, but the film is so dark and uncompromising in its depiction of a national disgrace many would rather forget, it may be bypassed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

B'way Update: Parsons and Spinella in 'Autumn'

Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella in The Velocity of Autumn at Arena Stage
Credit: Teresa Wood
The long-delayed production of The Velocity of Autumn is finally coming to Broadway. The two-character play by Eric Coble about an elderly woman threatening to blow up her Brooklyn brownstone if she can't stay there, has been on the "upcoming" list for what seems like decades now. Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella will repeat their performances from the original Arena Stage, Washington DC production when the show begins previews at the Booth Theater (currently home to The Glass Menagerie) on April 1 in advance of an April 21 opening. Spinella plays her son who tries to negotiate with her not to light the match. BTW, Spinella will be appearing the CSC production of Brecht's A Man's a Man opening Jan. 30 for a limited run through Feb. 16. Parsons leaps to the head of the list of frontrunners for the Best Actress in a Play Tony since she is 86 and has never won one before, though she's been nominated four times (The Seven Descents of Myrtle, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Miss Margarida's Way, Morning's at Seven.) Her biggest competition are two other "mothers": Tyne Daly in Mothers and Sons and Diahann Carroll in A Raisin in the Sun.That means the only announced Broadway show without a theater is The Realistic Joneses which will probably go into the Cort once Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land ends its limited run. So I updated the my Broadway/Off-Broadway calendar and added a few new shows:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

'Mothers and Sons' Finds a Home; B'way Season Almost Complete?

Tyne Daly and Manoel Felciano in
Mothers and Sons
at the Bucks County Playhouse
(Credit: Mandee Kuenzle)
Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons has finally found a home. The drama which had its world premiere at the Bucks County Playhouse earlier this year will begin previews at the Golden Theatre, formerly occupied by the short-lived A Time to Kill, on Feb. 23 and then open on March 24. Tyne Daly will star as the mother from McNally's one-act and teleplay Andre's Mother, several years later. She plays an unexpected call on the partner of her son who died of AIDS, and has a cultural shock when she realizes the man is now happily married to a new partner with a young son. 

That makes the Broadway season almost complete. The long-awaited Houdini with Hugh Jackman looks as if it's been put off for another two seasons. The only major show which had announced for this season and still has no theater is Will Eno's The Realistic Joneses which features an all-star cast (Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracey Letts, Marisa Tomei). I don't know where they are going to go. They could take the Booth if The Glass Menagerie does not extend again. Or the Cort once Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are finished waiting for Godot in no man's land. 

Here's an updated list of the upcoming Broadway and major Off-Broadway openings through the end of the season and beyond: 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Franco and Foster Join 2014 Bway Roster

James Fracno will star in Of Mice and Men 
on Broadway
Add James Franco and Sutton Foster to the growing list of hot stars coming to Broadway in 2014. Franco will be making his Broadway debut along with Chris O'Dowd of Bridesmaids in a revival of Of Mice and Men to be directed by Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County). Foster stars in a revival of the musical Violet which was such a hit at the Encores! Off Center series earlier this year. Violet fills the spring slot in Roundabout Theatre Company's schedule which was left vacant when The Real Thing with Ewan McGregor was pushed ahead to 2014-15. That Franco is a busy guy, while filming The Interview, he had time to make a shot-for-shot parody of a Kanye West video with his co-star Seth Rogen. Plus he's working on several movies including a film version of The Sound and the Fury and a bio of avant-garde author Charles Bukowski.

Other big names coming to Broadway include Denzel Washington, Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Michelle Williams, Alan Cumming, and Bryan Cranston. The Breaking Bad star will headline All the Way, Robert Schenkkan's play about President Lyndon Johnson and the civil right movement which was a hit at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. March and April are getting pretty crowded now, see the updated schedule below:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Cable TV Observations

So I was watching Comic Book Men the other day and during the commercial AMC is advertising its Thanksgiving Week lineup. First on Turkey Day itself Gone With the Wind. OK so far. Then on Fri., The Godfather Saga. Even better. The next day--a Hitchcock marathon. There were clips of Vertigo and Rear Window. Fantastic, maybe AMC will be returning to its original mission and live up to its initials (American Movie Classics) instead of just showing zombies and mad men. But then we got to the final day of the Thanksgiving weekend and how do they cap off this cinemaphile's feast? A Steve Segal marathon!!?? NOOOOO!!!!

Robert Osborne and Mark Cousins introducing
The Story of Film on TCM
Credit: David S. Holloway, TCM 
Speaking of classic movies, I've been faithfully DVRing TCM's showing of the British documentary series The Story of Film: An Odyssey on Monday nights. I've been DVRing because lately they show it at 2 in the morning. When the series first started, the doc would air at 10PM and movies referenced in that week's episode would be screening around it. Maybe the ratings for the Story have fallen off and the programmers are placing it in a slot it can't do too much damage. I'm really enjoying learning about all these obscure Russian, African, and Asian films and listening to narrator-historian Mark Cousins' lilting Irish accent. But he really needs to dress a bit better during the intros with Robert Osborne.

In the mornings, I tend to channel surf while slurping my instant oatmeal. The Hallmark Channel is currently going through its endless rotation of Christmas movies, so they're not showing Golden Girls reruns. That leaves me at a loss. The political news is too depressing to watch Morning Joe (thanks a lot, Obama). So this morning I found Jeff and Cole Casserole, a really weird, low-budget comedy show on Logo, featuring two kooky gay guys talking about Jessica Lange and Joyce DeWitt. My kind of show.

Photoshopping Ryan Reynolds

This image of Ryan Reynolds has popped up on the side of my Facebook newsfeed. It's advertising a link to a muscle-building article on Matrixfitness.com promoting some kind of steroid, or supplement or something. The article features numerous photos of celebrities like Reynolds, Mel Gibson, The Rock, and others beefing up for movie roles. In the article's photo, Reynolds is nowhere near as bulked up as he is in this thumbnail. (He's playing a superhero in a sequel to Blade evidently. He looks like the Hulk in this tiny photo.) So it's pretty clear this image is photoshopped. False advertising, Matrixfitness!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Project Runway Season 12: Episodes 10 & 11: Nuts and Chocolate

Ken with his Superfan client.
He's finally gone. No more petting the kitty.
Well, at least we're rid of Ken and his diva ways. Last week the highlight was a bitchfight between Ken and Alexander. Keep in mind that Ken has already had altercations with Sandro, Helen, Alexandria, and Sue, and his mama knows about the "other Ken" who comes out of the bathroom once in a while. After a hard day of being nice to Project Runway Superfans, all the designers' nerves were on edge. Since Jeremy was gone, Braden and Alexander had to move in with Ken and Justin. Just before the move, Ken tells the camera he feels secure in his set-up with just Justin, who is cowering in the corner and turning off his hearing aide. This is foreshadowing, y'all. Then Alexander knocks on the door to be let in to his new home. Ken refuses to answer since he's busy ironing a pair of cut-off shorts and blocking the front hallway. After several moments Alexander enters and Ken refuses to move right away, as if he's in prison and marking out his territory, When Ken finally moves, Alexander angrily knocks over the ironing board and the iron. Ken explodes and, just as with Sandro a few weeks ago, the fourth wall is broken and a production person is called into the shot. Ken continues to scream into the commercial break and is presumably hauled off in a straight jacket.

I think Sandro and Ken should be paired in their own reality show and call it Rage on the Runway.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Project Runway Season 12: Episode 9: Plaid Is Rad

Ken about to go over to the dark side.
I really thought we were finally rid of the grand diva Ken this week on Project Runway. Last week in real life, eight PR designers showed at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week--the actual final three and five decoys so no one would know the true identity of the finalists, but there were nine contestants left on the show. Ken was the only one still in the running not to get a show at Fashion Week, so I naturally concluded he would get aufed this week. But that's not what happened.

The episode starts with Heidi promising the contestants the morning off and they are given a (presumably) free brunch at an eatery called Juliette. As they are sipping their coffee, Tim walks in and announces the challenge which is to design for the Modern Southern Woman--by a coincidence, the customer for Belk, the company which just happens to sponsor the accessory wall in the workroom (This is their first season, it was always Bluefly before this). Ken thinks he's got this one in bag because he lives in Birmingham, Alabama and designs for these ladies all time.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Broadway Season Update

Harvey Fierstein
The fall theater season is kicking off and announcements for March and April openings are pouring in. Aladdin, Cabaret, Rocky, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch have now set definite dates and theaters, crowding the spring 2014 schedule in the race to make the deadline before the Tony Awards. In addition, Manhattan Theater Club has just filled its late spring slot at the Samuel J. Friedman with Casa Valentina, a new play by Harvey Fierstein, his first non-musical in almost 30 years. (The last was Safe Sex, a trio of one-acts which had a brief 1987 run as an attempt to follow up on the smash success of Torch Song Trilogy.) The new play is set at a 1962 Catskills resort which caters to straight men whose favorite pastime is dressing and living as women.Gender bending has been popular on Broadway (Kinky Boots, La Cage, etc.) in recent decades and with this show and Hedwig and Kinky Boots still running, there will be plenty of cross dressing. As gays and lesbians gain more acceptance, transgendered people are becoming the last American minority you can legitimately discriminate against. (There is still a lot of bigotry and racism out there against all "others" including us gays, but the trans community has it especially hard.) Here's an updated list of Broadway and prominent Off-Broadway openings: 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Project Runway SPOILER ALERT One of Our Designers Is Missing

Heidi Klum, Zac Posen, Nina Garcia,
and guest judge Kerry Washington at New York Fashion Week
On Fri. Sept. 6, eight designers from Project Runway had their ten-look collections shown at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. This includes the final three designers plus five decoy collections. The idea is not to give away who the final three are by including all the contestants who are still in the competition on TV at the time of the fashion show. But somebody made a big mistake. Eight designers showed at Fashion Week, but nine were still in the running as of Sept. 6. Perhaps this is because Tim Gunn used his save option to keep Justin on the show a while back and the producers were gambling on Gunn waiting until near the end to save someone. If you haven't seen the reports on the runway show or counted who's missing, here is a hint: Pet the kittie. Anyway this Thurs. that designer will probably be aufed and he (or she) will have another hissy fit.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Project Runway Season 12: Episode 8: The Return of Poopy Pants

Tim Gunn should have worn that referee outfit
during the fight between Helen and Ken.
Heidi Klum is into poopy pants. We learned that on this week's Project Runway when the gorgeous host of the show revealed she actually liked Alexandria's second set of drop-crotch pants. These were made for the sportwear challenge and Alexandria did the same thing two weeks ago. None of the other judges including returning Michael Kors was smitten with the bizarre bottoms. But Heidi's yes vote saved her from elimination.

Helen miraculously won again for a not-very-exciting outfit. Her win from last week is probably what drove Ken into a jealous, hissy-fit rage and to call his church mother Down South for consolation. But let's start at the beginning with Tim Gunn in a super-cute referee's outfit blowing his whistle and waking the designers in the early morning hours. (They did that a couple of weeks ago for some other field trip.) Once again Ken starts the episode by bitching about the activity. Last week it was going camping and now it's sports ("I don't do sports.") Alexander reveals his only athletic pasttimes are fucking and drinking (I'm sure that's what he said though the Lifetime censors bleeped him out.) Once they arrive at some field somewhere, probably in Central Park, the designers have to team up to run an obstacle course; the winners chose fabrics first and get an extra hour of sewing to design a new activewear look for one of Heidi's thousands of labels.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Project Runway Season 12: Episode 7: Much Ado About Nothing

Bitchy Ken should have won this time.
Three basic black dresses were the top choices on this week's Project Runway and the judges went for the most boring of all. The challenge was to create an outfit to complement a pair of fabulous shoes from the Marie Claire fashion closet. Helen, Alexandria and Ken were the top three and each created a simple, black garment which faded into insignificance beside the footwear. I don't care for bitchy Ken as a person, but his was definitely the most interesting. It had a fascinating texture and was well-constructed. Helen's was basically a shift with a cape and Alexandria's was a Victoria's Secret nightie with some lace on the top. Yet Helen's cape won. You could see Ken was seething at not winning and, according to the preview for next week, his jealousy will spill over when he spews Sandro-like venom at Helen. Poor Helen, she should realize as soon as a male designer defends or befriends her, he'll turn faster than a plunging neckline. (Couldn't come up with a better fashion metaphor.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Evolution of 'The Carol Burnett Show'

Lately my favorite YouTube subjects are clips from The Carol Burnett Show (1967-78). Someone has even posted full episodes which can be found in a DVD Collectors set. Unfortunately, the copyright to the first four or five years of the show is shared with a different company than the one distributing the DVDs, so those shows are much harder to come by. But those are the ones I especially would like to see since I was too young to stay up late and watch them when they first aired. By the time Burnett was on Saturday nights at 10 PM, my sister, brother, and I were allowed to watch the show every week. One magical season in the early 1970s the entire CBS line-up was classic-All in the Family, MASH, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and then Carol.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Project Runway Season 12: Episodes 5 and 6: Ken as the New Diva?

Glamping in the woods
I've been on vacation in upstate NY and New England for the past two weeks, so I haven't been as obsessed with Project Runway, but I caught up with the last two episodes last night on my laptop and sad to say, I miss drama queens Timothy and Sandro. Yeah, I know, all I did for the first four episodes was bitch about them and now that they're gone, I complain about it. Ken almost took Sandro's place as combination bat-shit nutjob and attention-sucking diva in Episode 5, but he settled down in Episode 6. There's weepy treacle and bitchy catfights, a glamping trip (this is one of my new least favorite made-up words), and a pair of drop dead, drop-crotch pants, but nothing could match the climax of Sandro having a Russian fit and destroying camera equipment or pathetic Timothy clutching a stuffed unicorn while sobbing over his model's letter.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Broadway Season Update: Carole King, Dames, and Tyne Daly

Tyne Daly and Manoel Felciano in Terrence McNally's
Mothers and Sons at Bucks County Playhouse
Credit: Mandee Kuenzle
New Broadway season updates: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has moved up its opening and announced a theater; a revival of Dames at Sea directed by Randy Skinner will open sometime in 2014; The Bridges of Madison County has settled on an opening date; and Tyne Daly will star in Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons, opening in the spring. No specific dates yet. This play premiered at Buck County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, earlier this summer and concerns the mother of a gay man who died of AIDS 20 years ago visiting her son's former lover who is now married to another man and has a young son. It's acceptable to be gay now, but the mother doesn't quite see it that way. The characters are based on those in McNally's one-act play Andre's Mother which was part of the Off-Broadway revue Urban Blight at Manhattan Theatre Club. McNally later expanded the story for a TV script which starred Sada Thompson and Richard Thomas and aired as part of PBS's American Playhouse. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing. I have a feeling this will be the play to beat for the 2014 Tonys. It's topical and emotional and only about 80 minutes. Below is an updated calendar for the NY 2013-14 theater season: 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Project Runway Season 12: Episode 4: Tie the Knot...Around Sandro's Neck

Sandro losing it
I was so confused by the opening of this week's Project Runway I didn't know which end was up. We opened with the climactic screaming match between Ken and Sandro with the latter stomping out into the street outside Parsons and threatening to smash the camera following him. This is the clip we've been seeing in promos all season and at first I thought this was all a reaction to the end of last week's episode. But then we flashback to "36 hours earlier" and learn this was just to whet your appetite for the big heapin' slice of drama pie to come.

The real action begins with everyone ruminating on Timothy's departure on the end of episode 3 then we cut to the workroom and find out this week's challenge consists of using bowties as a take-off point for a dress. The inspiration is from guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his Tie the Knot organization which sells bowties and gives to proceeds to the fight for Marriage Equality (which still needs to be fought; this weekend in upstate NY, I actually saw a bumper sticker with M = and then a stick figure of a man and woman; the elderly couple owning the car were at a yard sale and I felt like asking them "So is your marriage endangered because of mine?").

Monday, August 5, 2013


The Big Bang Theory is among the few CBS shows I care about.
I really don't care about the war between Time Warner and CBS. TWC blacked out all CBS programming as well as Showtime which CBS owns. It's summer and there's nothing good on anyway. But if this drags out into the fall when there'll be new episodes of The Amazing Race and The Big Bang Theory, there will be hell to pay. TWC has just put an offer on the table that CBS be offered a la carte and the Big Eye network can charge whatever it wants. Of course that will be rejected. CBS knows they'll lose millions of viewers if it means we'll have to pay an extra $5 just to get Big Brother and 2 Broke Girls. The digital landscape is changing every day. No longer are the big broadcast networks giving their shows away for free and earning their money from advertisers. TWC is telling complaining customers CBS programs are available for free on the web, but then CBS blocked TWC subscribers from accessing their shows on their laptops. (If CBS did agree to a la, I would pay it just during new episodes of The Amazing Race and watch The Big Bang Theory during that period and then cancel it once TAR ended. I would catch up with Big Bang or watch on DVDs through Netflix.) I think both CBS and TWC are coming across as greedy corporate media hogs charging exorbitant prices from us poor entertainment leeches.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Project Runway 12: Episode 3: Dysfunction Junction

Alexandria and Dom's
super-cute sweater dress should have won IMHO.
I half-agreed with the Project Runway judges this week. They got rid of someone who should have been eliminated a while ago, but that person didn't make the worst dress this time. It all started when Heidi Klum burst into everyone's room at the fancy hotel (not the Atlas Apartments) and wakes all the designers up for their next challenge which involves a field trip. Ken is shocked out of his mind and pulls off his sleep mask like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's to reveal a second mask of skin cream. So that's his beauty secret. Side note: there are far fewer pajama-party scenes with the contestants dishing each other over white wine this season. Much more time in the workroom and on the runway, perhaps this is to make room for the "upclose" segments after the the runway show.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is Denzel Washington Younger Enough?

We knew Denzel Washington was toying with the idea of starring in a revival of A Raisin in the Sun, but it looks more definite now. While promoting his new movie 2 Guns, he's told reporters the Lorraine Hansberry drama will begin Broadway previews by March. Washington at 58 is nearly twice as old as the lead character Walter Lee Younger originally played by Sidney Poitier. The  role was last played by Sean ("P Diddy") Colms on Broadway in 2004 and in a TV movie adaptation in 2008. Phylicia Rashad and Audra MacDonald won Tony Awards for that production. Washington can probably pull the age difference off. He won a Tony in 2010 for the revival of August Wilson's Fences, the age discrepancy worked in the opposite direction then. He seemed too young and not angry enough for Troy Maxson, the retired baseball player forced to haul garbage for a living. He's been thinking about directing Fences as a movie. There have been no official press statement about Raisin, so it's still in the maybe stage.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'Winslow Boy' Announces Dates

Roger Rees
Of course as soon as I post an updated listing for the Broadway season, there's a change. Roundabout Theater Company's revival of The Winslow Boy, Terrence Rattigan's drama, had previously been listed without a specific opening. I just got the email saying previews will begin Sept. 12 at the American Airlines Theater with an Oct. 17 opening. The previously announced Roger Rees will be joined by Michael Cumpsty (LA Law, 42nd Street, 1776), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Color of Money, Man of La Mancha), and Alessandro Nivola (A Month in the Country, A Lie of the Mind). Rees last appeared on the Broadway stage replacing Nathan Lane as Gomez in The Addams Family and is currently represented Off-Bradway as a director with Peter and the Starcatcher which he co-directed with Alex Timbers.

Updated 2013-14 Broadway/Off-B'way Schedule

Laurie Metcalf will star in
Bruce Norris's new play Domesticated.
Here's an expanded look at the 2013-14 New York theater season including Broadway and Off-Broadway. Most exciting on the Off-Bway horizon: the musical based on Little Miss Sunshine; Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf in Bruce Norris's new play Domesticated; and Mr. Burns, a weird play from Anne Washburn about a post-apocalyptic future with no electricity where people re-enacted episodes from The Simpsons for entertainment. I read the script for the American Theater Critics Association's New Play Award last year and I can hardly wait to see how it looks staged. This list is by no means complete. I'll add updates as we go along.   

July 14--Luis Bravo's Forever Tango (Walter Kerr)
July 24--Let It Be (St. James)
Aug. 4--First Date (Longacre)
Aug. 8—The Great Society (Clurman Theatre)
Aug. 15--Soul Doctor (Circle In the Square)
Sept. 12—The Old Friends (Signature Theatre Company)
Sept. 12—Fetch Clay, Make Man (NYTW)
Sept. 15--Mr. Burns, a Post-Electronic Play (Playwrights Horizons)
Sept. 19--Romeo and Juliet (Richard Rodgers)
Sept. 26--The Glass Menagerie (Booth)
Oct. 5--Big Fish (Neil Simon)
Oct. 10--A Night with Janis Joplin (Lyceum)
Oct. 20--A Time to Kill (Golden)
Oct. 24--The Snow Geese (Samuel Friedman)
Nov. 3--Betrayal (Barrymore)
Nov. 3--After
Midnight (Brooks Atkinson)
Nov. 4—Domesticated (Mitzi Newhouse/Lincoln Center)
Nov. 10--Twelfth Night/Richard
III (Belasco)
Nov. 12—The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters (PH/Peter Sharp)
Nov. 17--The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Walter Kerr)
Nov. 18—Small Engine Repair (Lortel/MCC)
Nov. 21--Macbeth (Vivian Beaumont)
Nov. 21—The Commons of Pensacola (MTC/City Center Stage I)
Nov. 24--Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land (Cort)

Mid-Nov.--Little Miss Sunshine (Second Stage)
TBA--The Winslow Boy (American Airlines)
Dec. 8 or 9—The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence (Playwrights Horizons)
Jan. 16--Machinal (American Airlines)
Jan. 23--Outside Mullingar (Samuel Friedman)
Mid-Feb.--The Bridges of
Madison County (Gerald Schoenfeld)
March 2—Stage Kiss (Playwrights Horizons)
March 18—Tales from Red Vienna (MTC/City Center Stage I)
March 23--Les Miserables (Imperial)
March 27--If/Then (Richard Rodgers)
April 11--Bullets Over Broadway (St. James)
April 17--Act One (Vivian Beaumont)
April 21—Your Mother’s Copy of the Kuma Sutra (PH/Peter Sharp)
May 5—The City of Conversation (Mitzi Newhouse/Lincoln Center)
Spring--The Real Thing (American Airlines)
Spring--Houdini (Theatre TBA)
Spring--Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Theater TBA)
Spring--Rocky (Winter Garden)
Spring--Holler If Ya Hear Me (Theater TBA)
June 9—Fly By Night (Playwrights Horizons)
June 17—When We Were Young and Unafraid (MTC/City Center Stage I)
Maybes for Broadway--All the Way, Disgraced, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Revisionist

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tivoli: A Short Story

We had found Tivoli the night before, searching for someplace to eat dinner before the opera in the next town to the south in the Hudson Valley area. The performance of the rarely-performed Oresteia by Taneyev was at a college campus as part of an arts festival (here's my review), but there were no nearby restaurants. So our weekend guest who was seeing the opera with us found a number of culinary choices on his Smartphone. We drove for maybe 20 minutes on Route 9G before the turnoff to the tiny town which contained a cluster of city-style eateries including the Japanese one we finally settled on, an avant-garde theater company, and a used-book store in what looked like a broken down old house.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Project Runway 12: Episode 2: Not Again!

Sandro needs to just shut up!
My first reaction after this week's Project Runway was No! No! NOOOO! Just check my Facebook and Twitter. OK, I can see that neither the Eco-Terror Timothy or Nasty Sandro deserved to be eliminated. Their looks were both passable. But once again, the judges aufed the wrong designer. A perfectly acceptable contestant who let go in favor of a head case.

The challenge was pretty routine--make an outfit to show off expensive jewelry. Most of the workroom shots were basically Sandro acting like a bitch. First he can't remember anybody's name. Alexander is Red Hair, Jeremy is Irish Guy (even though he's English). Then he gets into a screaming match with Ken--I don't even know over what. Justin is so lucky, he can turn off his hearing aid to shut them out. To top it off, Sandro can't figure out how to work a steamer and actually pulls a production techie into the set demanding instruction. The stunned techie just stammers "I have no idea" and scurries back behind the scenes. That's gotta be a first where the "real" world of the production crew spills into the "unreal" world of the reality show. (Just like in this Off-Broadway musical I saw last week Nobody Loves You at Second Stage, but that's another story.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Project Runway 12: Episode 1: Eco-Terror

It's the very first episode of Project Runway's 12th season and already the judges have f**ked up. They eliminated the wrong person. They elected to keep a goofball who definitely deserved to go because he made the stupidest dress. He was spared for the sole reason that he will cause drama in future segments. That person is Timothy, a pretentious flake obsessed by "sustainable" fashion with minimum carbon impact so the unicorns will not be endangered. (Earth to Timothy: Unicorns are mythical.) That means no makeup or hairstyling for the model and she goes barefoot. But that doesn't mean Timothy himself can't look fabulous by stealing the girl's high heels and wearing them. It just gets crazier. His dress was an awful raggedly thing that looked like a melted cheese sandwich with too much brown mustard. Not only that, he had a whole insane backstory with choreography for the garment--something about World War II and origami and Hiroshima victims--pointless as well as offensive. If you have to explain the dress, forget it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

More New Broadway Plays Possible

Update to yesterday's Broadway update:

Bryan Cranston
In yesterday's NY Times, Patrick Healy puts a more positive spin on the new play situation for the 2013-14 Broadway season than I did. In addition to original works The Snow Geese and Outside Mullingar, he points out two adaptations of books--Act One and A Time to Kill--will be coming to Broadway. You could count those as new plays, so that makes four. Healy also writes that a few new plays are being eyed by producers for possible Broadway production, all by Pulitzer Prize winners. These include Disgraced, the Pulitzer winner for 2012 from Ayad Akhtar; Domesticated by Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park); and All the Way, a study of LBJ's struggle to pass Civil Right legislation by Robert Schekkan (The Kentucky Cycle). I've read the script of All the Way when I served as part of the New Play Committee for the American Theater Critics Association. It's a fascinating piece and it would make a rarity for Broadway--a large-cast new play. It will be produced at American Repertory Theatre this fall with Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, so his TV chops might help a New York transfer. There's another LBJ play playing Off-Broadway this August called The Great Society which also hoped to make it to Broadway, but the producer told the Times in a separate story by Healy he would wait for the reviews. Other possibilities include a Broadway transfer of the National Theatre of Great Britain production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which was broadcast to cinemas around the world, and Jesse Eisenberg's The Revisionist which starred himself and Vanessa Redgrave when it played Off-Broadway last season. So here's an updated Broadway list including maybes:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Broadway Updates

Debra Messing will make her Broadway
debut in a new play by John Patrick Shanley
Broadway updates: Brian F. O'Bryne (Doubt, Frozen) and Debra Messing (Will & Grace) will co-star in Outside Mullingar, a new play from John Patrick Shanley, produced by MTC at the Friedman (At last another new play to join the only other one announced for the season so far--The Snow Geese, also from MTC).

Bullets Over Broadway and If/Then have definite dates and theaters (See below). If/Then will take over the Richard Rodgers when Romeo and Juliet finishes its limited run.

A Night with Janis Joplin, a regional hit, will play the Lyceum.

Here's an updated list of the opening so far:

July 14--Luis Bravo's Forever Tango (Walter Kerr)
July 24--Let It Be (St. James)
Aug. 4--First Date (Longacre)
Aug. 15--Soul Doctor (Circle In the Square)
Sept. 19--Romeo and Juliet (Richard Rodgers)
Sept. 26--The Glass Menagerie (Booth)
Oct. 5--Big Fish (Neil Simon)
Oct. 10--A Night with Janis Joplin (Lyceum)
Oct. 20--A Time to Kill (Golden)
Oct. 24--The Snow Geese (Samuel Friedman)
Nov. 3--Betrayal (Barrymore)
Nov. 3--After Midnight (Brooks Atkinson)
Nov. 10--Twelfth Night/Richard III (Belasco)
Nov. 17--The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Walter Kerr)
Nov. 21--Macbeth (Vivian Beaumont)
Nov. 24--Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land (Cort)
TBA--The Winslow Boy (American Airlines)
Jan. 16--Machinal (American Airlines)
Jan. 23--Outside Mullingar (Samuel Friedman)
Mid-Feb.--The Bridges of Madison County (Gerald Shoenfeld)
March 23--Les Miserables (Imperial)
March 27--If/Then (Richard Rodgers)
April 11--Bullets Over Broadway (St. James)
April 17--Act One (Vivian Beaumont)
Spring--The Real Thing (American Airlines)
Spring--Houdini (Theatre TBA)
Spring--Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Theater TBA)
Spring--Rocky (Winter Garden)
Spring--Holler If Ya Hear Me (Theater TBA)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tony Committee Grows to 46, Declared a Separate Country

A meeting of the 2013-14 Tony Nominating Committee
There are so many people on the 2013-14 Tony Nominating Committee, they have been declared a new country and are filing for membership in the United Nations. This time of year, during the summer doldrums, the Broadway League usually quietly announces the new members of the committee that decides who gets nominated for the Main Stem's biggest honor. But this year, the big story was the huge number of them. It shouldn't come as a surprise, the electorate has been steadily increasing while the number of Tony voters--those who chose the winners--has been decreasing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Liberace and the Closeted 1960s

Liberace explores dualities on Batman
We got a peak at Liberace's real life in the recent HBO telefilm Behind the Candelabra. He also popped up as a guest star on a  DVD of a Laugh-In episode I bought for 50 cents at a used book store. And of course there is the infamous episode of Batman where he played the dual roles of Chandell, a variation on his public persona of a flamboyant pianist, and Harry, Chandell' gangster twin brother. The HBO film exposes the schizophrenic nature of the star's career and personal life and America's wink-wink attitude about homosexuality and "fabulousness" during the peak of his prominence from the 1950s through the '80s. In the Steven Soderbergh-directed feature, which was deemed too "gay" to be released in theaters, we see Liberace's schmaltzy stage act hiding his true same-sex-saturated lifestyle. His managers knew the truth, but covered it up, fearing homophobic attitudes would ruin his lucrative career. There's a telling scene where the pianist is pontificating for an adoring group of chorus boys that Jane Fonda and Ed Asner should stay out of politics. Performers are not here to change the world, he says, just to entertain. It was clear Liberace wanted to stay in the closet and the idea of changing anyone's mind about gayness was out of the question.

Michael Douglas will probably win an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance. Matt Damon as his boyfriend will be submitted as a Supporting Actor so he can win too, but his role was equally prominent.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Snowden Praises Homophobic Russia

Last night I was listening to NPR on my car radio while driving upstate. After the Fabulous Beekman Boys finished talking about gooseberries, there was a news report that exiled NSA leaker Edward Snowden emerged from the gift shop at the Moscow airport to hold a press conference. He announced he was seeking temporary asylum in Russia which he called a champion of human rights. I nearly crashed into a guardrail. Obviously Mr. Snowden has been too busy browsing through vodka shot glasses and nesting dolls to hear that Vladmir Putin, the macho crime boss of Ruskieland, has passed draconian antigay laws. It is now a crime to hold a gay pride rally, espouse progay sentiments, or even wear rainbow suspenders in public. In addition, gay or progray foreigners can be detained for 14 days and then expelled from Vodkaville if they so much as do a Bette Davis imitation or start singing Lady Gaga songs. (Good thing I cancelled my St. Petersburg trip.) So much for human rights, Mr. Leaky Faucet. I supposed this hero of freedom (Snowden) doesn't consider gays eligible for equal treatment.

Joe Stalin--I mean Vlad Putin--has said Snowden can stay in Gulagtown if he doesn't harm the US. Snowden reportedly plans to go to South America at some point.  

There have been calls for boycotting the upcoming Winter Olympics scheduled to be held in Sochi. I'm all for it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Zesty and Hot Commercials

Since this blog gets the most pageviews when I talk about interracial relationships on TV commercials--here's another one with an ambiguous message. It's for a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich. Have you seen it? A very attractive African-American young woman and an average-looking white guy are driving in a car. She's eating the sandwich. It's early in the morning--breakfast time, get it--and they're dressed for work. She says in a flirty voice "This Dunkin Donuts Breakfast Sandwich is like you. It's kinda hot...but it's not too hot." To which the white guy replies in a suggestive voice, "Bingo." So what are they saying and who are these people to each other? Are they dating? Co-workers sharing a ride? Casual acquaintances who just picked each other up at the Dunkin Donuts? Is she suggesting he's safe enough to date but not to sleep with? And why would that please him? Is she saying, If you were too handsome, I'd be scared off, but you're just right for me. And is that why he says Bingo? And what has any of that got to do with a fattening sandwich? Will they get together and brave possible negative YouTube comments and maybe buy other Dunkin Donuts delicacies?

So far they has not been a storm of controversy over this one like there was about the Cheerios commercial with the multiracial family. But that depicted a married couple, here it's not even clear if these two have hooked up yet.

I've had the most all-time page clicks for my blog on the Jingos ad featuring a possible match up between a white slacker store clerk and an African-American teenage girl. That was in September of last year, since then this DD spot and the Cheerios ad are the only ones featuring an interracial couple. There was that Kindle commercial with the gay man vacationing with his husband. I notice One Million Moms has not protested about any of these. They did get bent out of shape over a Kraft salad dressing print ad that featured this really hot guy who's nearly naked except for the product placed in a strategic position. That must have been an interesting photo shoot. The conservative group wants to boycott Kraft unless they drop the campaign which includes ads with the model getting his clothes removed by the zestiness of the salad dressing. These Moms need to find something else to do if they think their kids will be warped by a hot guy exposing his chest. Are they afraid some of their sons will get as excited by Mr. Zesty as the Moms themselves?

Unfortunately, the commercial that's been sticking in my head the most these days is that Tena Twist one for adult diapers. The jingle will not get out of my brain. Maybe it's because I've been watching too many Golden Girls reruns.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Gay Marriage and Big Gulps: Liberty vs. Morality

For some, your right to drink a Big Gulp
 is more important than my right to gay marriage.
Thoughts for the day after independence day: On Rachel Maddow's show last week, Texas state senator Wendy Davis, the one who did the filibuster to stop the restrictive anti-abortion law, revealed that Governor Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have banned texting while driving. His reason? It would infringe on the liberty of Texas citizens to recklessly endanger themselves and others. This is carrying libertarian thinking a bit too far. It reminded me of an archconservative relative who refuses to wear a seat belt because he feels the law forcing him to do so is an egregious example of government overreach. Similarly, you see that Sarah Palin and her ilk get all bent out of shape when New York mayor Mike Bloomberg bans the sale of huge sugary soft drinks, but are OK for people to have as many firearms as they like without background checks. Now if you think I should be able to text and drive, drink enormous sodas, and smoke cigarettes in public places, shouldn't I be able to marry my husband and live our lives as we see fit?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More New Shows for Broadway 2013-14

John Grisham, Neil Patrick Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Tupac Shakur and maybe Angela Lansbury will be joining the diverse ranks of stars and creative types lighting up Broadway in the coming season (Still not a lot of new plays though.) John Grisham's A Time to Kill has been turned into a play by Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood). After a run at the Arena Stage, it's been picked up for an engagement at the John Golden.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

James Gandolfini: An Actor Who Challenged Himself

Like most of you, I became aware of the late James Gandolfini through The Sopranos. But the moment when he most impressed me was in a crappy movie called Terminal Velocity. I can't even remember the plot, but I saw it on a bus. That's right, not even on an airplane, a bus. Charlie Sheen was the star which shows you how long ago this thing was made. Sheen plays some kind of daredevil and Gandolfini was a lawyer or agent or some kind of desk jockey who is supposed to seem bland and ordinary next to the dashing Sheen. The only thing I remember about the movie was one moment when Gandolfini says to Sheen, "Flashy guys like you don't think very much of regular guys like me and that's okay." He was so honest, simple, and direct that he totally stole that scene and the movie from the handsome, but shallow Sheen who has since descended into a sitcom version of himself. (Winning!)

Gandolfini's tragic early death robs us of more detailed, truthful performances. On The Sopranos he created a complex man who was a sensitive seeker after his inner self as well as a brutal killer. I'll never forget the episode where he says to his Uncle Junior, "Don't you love me?" and Dominic Chianese just looks at him. Every hurt and slight in the twisted Soprano family history is written on both their silent faces.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Goodbye 'Smash'

The Smash Finale: Bye, Bye Ivy and Karen
I was so busy covering the end of the real Broadway season and the real Tony Awards, I kinda lost interest in the fake Broadway of Smash. Then the whole misbegotten series ended with barely a whimper. There the last five or six episodes were, sitting in my DVR for about a month. I couldn't bring myself to watch them until just recently. In a way I didn't want my love-hate relationship with the series to end. But then I saw Andy Mientus, the young actor who played Kyle, on the subway and I knew I needed closure. And so do you, my dozen or so blog-readers. I'll try to recap the horror as quickly as possible. We left off with Episode 211 The Dress Rehearsal:

Episode 212: Opening Night
Bombshell finally opens. Suddenly Tom no longer wants to be a composer, he just wants to direct. But Julia wants to make a musical out of The Great Gatsby with Tom. (It's already an opera and a lousy Baz Luhrman movie so why not?) The entire cast of Hit List is invited to the Bombshell opening night. Of course Eileen would give away that many comp tickets at the last minute. Tom hooks up with Kyle (cradle robber) and Derek sleeps with some dancer who accused him of sexual harassment (foreshadowing trouble ahead).

Friday, June 21, 2013

AP's Arts Decision and the Slow Death of "Niche Culture"

Off-Broadway plays like Detroit at Playwright Horizons
will no longer be reviewed by the AP.
Credit: Jeremy Daniel
In a recent email, AP theater critic Mark Kennedy explained the wire service would be severely restricting its news, reviews, and features on Off-Broadway, opera, and dance. Kennedy explains the AP's clients who run their stories are fine with reviews of music (presumably pop, rock, etc., none of that classical crap), books (presumably best sellers), movies (blockbusters), and TV (reality). But they actually resent reviews of high-toned, elitist stuff like opera, dance, and Off-Broadway. OK, I added the adjectives, but resenting Off-Bway? Maybe these resentful newspapers feel their readers can't get to Off-B'way so why should they run reviews. Evidently Broadway is still OK. But how long before AP starts cutting reviews of Main Stem shows with no major names in them? Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? They never heard of Tracy Letts in Podunk, North Dakota, so forget it. I suppose if Kim Kardashian starred as Medea Off-Broadway, they'd review that.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Recent Subway Encounters: Two Poems

Two diverse NYC subway events:

A disheveled young man stands in the middle of the car
He asks our forgiveness for interrupting
His voice is tired
He tells us he is homeless and unemployed
But he has a job interview at a restaurant the next day
He's had a run of bad luck
He's been sleeping on the subways
"They don't let you lay down, so you can only get about four hours of sleep."
He'd like to get a shower and some sleep
But the cheapest hostel he can find costs $38 for the night
Anything we can spare
He's had food poisoning recently and had to go to the hospital
That just about wiped out all his money
He stands by the doors in the middle of the car
Not moving
He's not experienced at panhandling
The veterans know to keep their pitch short and simple
Then move through the car, asking each passenger
Some of the more desperate stand in front of each rider for several seconds
This young man just stands waiting for us to come to him
Two or three people get up and give him a dollar or two
He gets off at Union Square

A young actor from a recently cancelled TV series
(Andy Mientus, Kyle from Smash)
Gets on the train with a woman friend
They chat and find a seat
I debate with myself if I should say something to him
As I reach my stop, I go over to him and say "Hi, I was so sorry when your character was killed."
And I'm not lying, I was.
He says "Thank you" with a smile.
I exit to have lunch with a friend

I know I stopped blogging about Smash several episodes before the series ended. I will write a wrap-up once I can bring myself to watch the season finale.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

2013-14 Broadway Season: Hawke to Star in Scottish play

Ethan Hawke studying for his next Broadway role
Lincoln Center Theater just announced its season for 2013-14. The hot news is Ethan Hawke will be playing Macbeth,bringing to four the number of Shakespearean productions this Broadway season (Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Richard III being the others). And we just saw Hawke in Before Midnight, but I ain't going to The Purge. It looks scary. (We should have been tipped off he would essay the Thane because he hosted a segment of Shakespeare Uncovered on the play.) Other Macbeths I've seen: Alan Cumming, Patrick Stewart, Tom Gualtieri (in That Play: A Solo Macbeth), Liev Schrieber, Raul Julia, Alec Baldwin, Orson Welles, Jon Finch (Roman Polanski's film), Ian McKellen, Nicol Williamson, John Douglas Thompson, whoever played it in Sleep No More (there was more than one).

So much Shakespeare is exciting, but a really troubling Broadway trend is the lack of new plays. So far, only one has been announced--The Snow Geese from Manhattan Theatre Club. But it's still early. Here's a rundown of the 2013-14 season as of now:

July 14--Luis Bravo's Forever Tango (Walter Kerr)
July 24--Let It Be (St. James)
Aug. 4--First Date (Longacre)
Aug. 15--Soul Doctor (Circle In the Square)
Sept. 19--Romeo and Juliet (Richard Rodgers)
Sept. 26--The Glass Menagerie (Booth)
Oct. 5--Big Fish (Neil Simon)
Oct. 24--The Snow Geese (Samuel Friedman)
Nov. 3--Betrayal (Barrymore)
Nov. 10--Twelfth Night/Richard III (Belasco)
Nov. 17--The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Walter Kerr)
Nov. 21--Macbeth (Vivian Beaumont)
Nov. 24--Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land (Cort)
TBA--The Winslow Boy (American Airlines)
Jan. 16--Machinal (American Airlines)
Mid-Feb.--The Bridges of Madison County (Gerald Shoenfeld)
March 23--Les Miserables (Imperial)
March 27--If/Then (Theatre TBA)
April 17--Act One (Vivian Beaumont)
Spring--The Real Thing (American Airlines)
Spring--Houdini (Theatre TBA)
Spring--Rocky (Winter Garden)
Spring--Bullets Over Broadway (St. James)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Awards Roundup for 2012-13

Andrea Martin at the Tonys
Last night's Tonys finished off the 2012-13 award season. As I did last year, I tallied up ALL the NYC award winners and recipients--just for giggles. This season the prizes were spread around without one performer dominating all the shows as Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit, Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens, and Geoffrey Rush in Exit the King have done in years past. There were several top award-and-nomination grabbers with the most being five citations.

Sharing top quintuple honors are Bertie Carvel for Matilda; Tom Hanks for Lucky Guy; Shuler Hensley for The Whale; Rob McClure for Chaplin; Laura Osnes for Cinderella; Billy Porter for Kinky Boots; and Andrea Martin for Pippin.

The rundown lists nominees in lower case and winner in CAPS. If different awards organizations have placed actors in different categories, I just put them wherever I thought they belonged. For example, Kristine Nielsen was considered a leading actress by the Tonys, but a featured actress by the Outer Critics. I judged her as a leading lady of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and put her there.

The breakdown is Astaire=Astaire Award for dancers; CD=Clarence Derwent Award from Equity for newcomers; DD=Drama Desk; DL=Drama League; LL=Lucille Lortel Award for Off-Broadway; Obie=Obie Award for Off and Off-Off-Broadway; OCC=Outer Critics Circle; RS=Richard Seff Award from Equity for veteran performers; Tony=Tony Award; TW=Theater World Award for newcomers.

Actor in a Play
Alec Baldwin, Orphans (dl)
Reed Birney, Uncle Vanya (dd)
Danny Burstein, Talley’s Folly (dl, ll)
Bobby Cannavale, The Big Knife, Glengarry Glen Ross (dl)
Brandon J. Dirksen, The Piano Lesson (dl, ll, OBIE, TW)
Jesse Eisenberg, The Revisionist (dl)
Daniel Everidge, Falling (dd, ll)
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy (dd, dl, occ, tony, TW)
Shuler Hensley, The Whale (dd, dl, LL, OBIE, occ)
Nathan Lane, The Nance (dd, DL, OCC, tony)
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?(DD, dl, occ, TONY)
Matthew Maher, sustained excellence (OBIE)
Aasif Mandvi, Disgraced (ll)
Seth Numrich, Golden Boy (dl)
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (dl, occ, tony)
Paul Rudd, Grace (dl)
Michael Shannon, Grace (dl)
Tom Sturridge, Orphans (dl, OCC, tony, TW)
Paul Thureen, Blood Play (OBIE)
Stephen Tyrone Williams, My Children! My Africa (dl)