Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 6

Reconstructing the missing episodes of The Carol Burnett Shows has been difficult of late. MeTV has advanced to the old Carol Burnett and Friends segments from seasons six through 11 which first aired in syndication during the last year of Carol's show. A YouTube user has been posting some of the lost segments from those first five years but some were taken down, probably because of copyright infringement issues. Amazon Prime has posted only ten segments from the Lost Episodes DVD collections. (Apparently they will be posting more but not until Jan. 22, 2020.) But thanks to a marvelous Christmas present from my husband Jerry--The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection--I am able to continue my all-important quest of putting together as much of Carol's classic series as possible. There are several different DVD packages which Time Life puts out, so it's kinda confusing as to which one to get so you will have the most episodes. I don't understand why they don't just release them season by season. That way you'd know exactly what segments you are getting and in what order, but they probably make more money this way.

With my Christmas present
This Ultimate Collection contains 22 DVDs with 45 episodes as well as over 20 hours of bonus material including the Carol Plus 2 special with Lucille Ball and Zero Mostel as well as the entire Once Upon a Mattress special from 1972 with Carol, Ken Berry, Jack Gilford, Bernadette Peters, Jane White recreating her role as the evil Queen, and Lyle as Sir Studley (be still my heart). The collection comes in a big box containing five DVD collections--The Lost Episodes, Treasures from the Vault, Classic Carol, and two Exclusive Bonus Features sets. Each set has a accompanying booklet detailing each episode. All of the booklets have an introduction explaining why the lost episodes were lost with a funny story about Tim Conway secreting the tapes in question and Carol and Vickie force-feeding him DVDs of his failed series Rango. Several of the individual discs contain feature bonus material. I will go through the episodes not already covered in previous blogs.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Broadway Update: Meryl Streep and Beth Leavel Switch Roles

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
In a rare case of show-biz serendipity, three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Tony winner Beth Leavel, queens of their respective media, will switch roles. It was just announced that Leavel will take on Miranda Priestley the dictatorial fashion editor, in the musical version of The Devil Wears Prada which will open in Chicago in July 2021, presumably followed by a Broadway opening in 2021-22. Elton John will compose the music, Shaina Taub the lyrics, Paul Rudnick the book and Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro directs. Streep won a Golden Globe for the 2007 movie edition.

Meanwhile Streep is playing Dee Dee Allen, the washed-up Broadway star aiming for publicity by supporting a lesbian high-school student, in The Prom for
Beth Leavel
Netflix. Leavel originated the role in the stage version which was named Outstanding Musical by the Drama Desk. There is an extremely funny sight gag involving the DD Award itself. Let's hope it makes the cut for the screenplay and Netflix viewers who are not obsessed with Broadway will get the joke. The Netflix edition will also star Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, James Corden, Awkafina, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key and Andrew Rannells. It will be available for streaming in November.

In other casting news, the potentially controversial Michael Jackson musical, MJ, has announced its lead. The gloved one will be played by Ephraim Sykes who gave a stunning performance as David Ruffin, the most tormented Temptation in Ain't Too
Ephraim Sykes
(he got my Tony vote for Best Featured Actor in a Musical). MJ which features a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, is scheduled to open at the Neil Simon Theater on Aug. 13. There is no word on how the show will address accusations of child molestation against the music legend, if at all. According to People Magazine, the story takes place in 1992 when Jackson is releasing his Dangerous album. The allegations of abuse did not begin until 1993. Convenient, huh?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Prediction for 2020 and Beyond

The impeachment hearings wind down
Prediction as the impeachment hearings end: I have a bad feeling the Supreme Court is going to let Trump end DACA and keep his tax returns. The House will impeach, but the Senate will not remove the slime from office. Moscow Mitch will pitch it that yes Trump did attempt a quid pro quo with Ukraine, but that's not a high crime and misdemeanor. Then the Dems will nominate someone like Warren or Buttigieg who is too scary for old white people in the swing states like Penn., Wisconsin etc. Mayor Pete is moderate, but he's gay. The thought of a gay president, no matter what his politics, will be enough to frighten off voters in the middle, plus he doesn't have the black vote. Younger black voters are angry with him because of his record on race relations and policing as Mayor of South Bend and older black voters are additionally turned off by his openness about his sexuality. Not all, but enough to make a difference.

Even if it's Biden, he won't be "flashy" and "energetic" enough for Trump's moronic diehard supporters. Trump will be re-elected. Maybe the Senate will flip and both houses of Congress will be Dem. Trump will get crazier, confident that he can get away with anything even if the Senate is Dem. He'll do something else impeachable and we'll go through all of this again.

I pray that I'm wrong.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 5

MeTV has made the transition from previously unaired early Carol Burnett Show segments (from Seasons 1-5) to the long-in-syndication Carol Burnett and Friends (Seasons 6-10). Will they show segments from the final season 11 when Dick Van Dyke was a regular for part of that time? Anyway, for Part Five of my reconstructing Carol's beloved series, we pick up various airings from Amazon, YouTube and MeTV.

Season OneOct. 16, 1967: Phyllis Diller, Gwen Verdon, Bobbie Gentry, William Schallert
(L.to r.) Carol, Phyllis Diller, Bobbie Gentry and Gwen Verdon
as the Beatles
Found on YouTube. Broadway dance legend Gwen Verdon and country-western star Bobbie Gentry are given solo spots and not integrated into sketches, as was the custom with most of the musical guest stars in later seasons. Bobbie sings her hit "Ode to Billy Joe," which Carol would later reference in the infamous Went With the Wind sketch ("Why Billy Joe McAllister, I thought you jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge!"). Gwen performs a bizarre dance to the Simon and Garfunkel hit "Feelin' Groovy (The 59th Street Bridge Song)." (A bridge theme?) The chorus boys, who include Lee Roy Reams before he broke out and became a featured player in such Broadway shows as Applause and 42nd Street, are costumed by Bob Mackie as if they are in Dr. Seuss cartoon wielding Seussian instruments while Gwen is bedecked with flowers like a hippie goddess. Phyllis Diller delivers her usual comedy schtick of being unattractive and a horrible housekeeper. All three guests join Carol in a tribute to the Beatles, costumed as the Fab Four on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. They march through the studio audience, a rare staging for the show.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

2019-20 Broadway/Off-Broadway Update: Creative Casting

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick
will star in a revival of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite
Creative casting distinguishes two new Broadway productions. Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are not the first two stars that come to mind when thinking of leads for Neil Simon's 1968 three-part comedy Plaza Suite. The real-life couple are comedic talents but they're not exactly versatile. The play, consisting of three one-acts set in the same suite in NYC's swankiest hotel, features six very different people. I can see the Brodericks as the second set of visitors--a shallow Hollywood producer and his high-school sweetheart--and maybe even the third--the crazed parents of a bride who refuses to leave the bathroom on her wedding day. But that's a stretch. I'm having trouble envisioning them as the first couple, an estranged middled-aged pair on the brink of splitting up. It's not that they couldn't play these roles. It's just hard for me to imagine them as late middle-aged (even though they really are) and sad. I also wonder if they will be updating the script since it is chock full of late 1960s references modern audiences might not get (Anybody remember Metracal? It was a diet drink and got a laugh back then.) When I directed a production for an Equity showcase in Brooklyn, we changed all the movie stars' names in the second piece and increased all the prices of the wedding expenses the father constantly spouts in the third. John Benjamin Hickey makes his Broadway directorial debut of this revival which opens at the Hudson Theatre on April 13.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 4

More recaps and reviews of The Carol Burnett Show based on clips, segments, etc. from the previously unavailable first five seasons. 

Season Three:
Jan. 10, 1970: Nanette Fabray, Nancy Wilson
Carol and Nancy Wilson
Venerated jazz singer Nancy Wilson appeared on several episodes and I believe she was a regular on a short-lived, now-forgotten summer comedy series called Comedy Tonight which starred Robert Klein, Peter Boyle and Madeline Kahn. She and Carol are great together in a duet of that 1960s song "Come on People Now" (I think that's what it's called). Nancy cracks up during As the Stomach Turns with Nanette as a kleptomaniac, Harvey as a prissy theater person (again!) and Vicki as Marion's missing daughter showing up with a baby which Nanette steals and dumps in her shopping bag instead of Carol dumping it in the umbrella stand (as usual). For the finale, Carol, Nanette and Nancy don hippie outfits and pretend to be young girls singing about being hip mothers smoking, drinking, and doping with their babies. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 3

Someone is deleting episodes of The Carol Burnett Show from YouTube. While I was on vacation in Mexico, I found several episodes from the first five seasons. Most were posted by the same person, but now they are gone. The person may have been contacted and told to delete them for copyright violations.

Season Two: Nov. 25, 1968: Garry Moore, Durward Kirby
Found on YouTube. Garry Moore was at one time a major TV personality, hosting his own variety series as well emceeing the popular panel show I’ve Got a Secret. Carol first hit it big on Garry’s
Carol with Garry Moore and Durward Kirby
show where Durward Kirby was his second banana. I knew Moore best as the host of the syndicated To Tell the Truth which used to come on every afternoon at 5:30 with Bill Cullen, Peggy Cass and Kitty Carlisle. Durward I only knew as the punchline of a joke on Rocky and Bullwinkle when the moose and squirrel were searching for the famed chapeau, the Kirwood Derby (Get it?) Here Carol pays tribute to her mentors by having them on as guests. In this segment she reprises two classic sketches from the Moore show, the Princess of Moravia and the safety first skit. In the former Carol is a monarch filming a toast and drinking wine in honor of a dignitary. She gets drunker and drunker while Garry as the newscaster tries to get her to sober up. In the latter sketch, Carol is a secretary to safety executive Durward who ironically burns her with his cigarette, stabs her with a pencil, pours hot coffee on her and ultimately pushes her out of a window. Would such physical violence get laughs today? In another sketch, the Old Folks Burt and Molly are visited by Garry and Durward in drag as two old biddies who enjoy a nip now and then. The four exchange jokes about Humphrey and Nixon who just won the presidency. The irony drips as Nixon is praised as a poor boy rising from nothing to become Chief Executive. (I don’t know if this sketch was not shown on MeTV for being dated.) Additional strange topical references include a pre-Jeffersons-Isabel Sanford as Blondie demonstrating integration on TV shows and an African-American newscaster calling his Caucasian co-anchor Whitey. So that they have something to do Vicki and Lyle strum guitars and sing a duet of “Call Me,” making me think of telephone commercials. Lead dancer Don Crichton is given a featured finale spot with film clips of him with Julie Andrews in the then-current film Star. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

2019-20 B'way/Off-B'way Update: LSD, Cary Grant, Princess Di & Barry Manilow

As the summer dwindles down, the number of announcements for the upcoming Broadway and Off-Broadway season begins to pick up in volume. In the past few weeks, eight new shows have been confirmed for Broadway runs plus a number of Off-Broadway productions have been released or we’ve gotten more information on casting and dates. There was concern in some quarters that there were no new musicals featuring original scores on the Broadway schedule. Only tuners with catalogues of legendary musicians such as Bob Dylan (Girl from the North Country), Tina Turner (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical), Alanis Morrisette (Jagged Little Pill), David Bryne (American Utopia), and everybody whoever wrote a hit song in the last 40 years (Moulin Rouge), were to be on the boards. But now we have four tuners eligible for the Original Score Tony.

The weirdest and most interesting sounding one is neither a jukebox musical nor an adaptation of a hit movie. Flying Over Sunset focuses on the unlikely trio of  movie icon Cary Grant, playwright-diplomat Clare Booth Luce (The Women), and author Aldous Huxley (Brave New World). What did they have in common? All three experimented with LSD. The show, set in the 1950s, chronicles their experiences during crossroads in their respective lives. James Lapine, librettist-director of such groundbreaking works as Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George and Falsettos, writes the book and stages with Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) composing the music and Michael Korie (War Paint, Grey Gardens) writing the lyrics. David Yazbeck (Prince of Broadway, On the Town) is Grant, Carmen Cusack (Bright Star) plays Luce, and Harry Hadden-Patton (My Fair Lady, Downton Abbey) is Huxley. Previews begin March 12, 2020 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre with an April 16 opening set. Sounds totally different from your typical Broadway fare.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 2

More reconstruction and reviews of The Carol Burnett Show from MeTV, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, so I don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on DVDs. In watching these reruns--both the ones I remember and those I've never seen--the more outlandish satiric sketches such as the old-movie spoofs and As the Stomach Turns, the soap opera parody, hold up better than the sitcom or one-note bits like Carol and Sis or Zelda and George. I also noticed that these variety shows afforded performers an opportunity to burnish their brands and become better known to the entire American public. Everybody knew these people. With today's niche marketing, the youth market only knows hot pop and rap singers, while older folks like me are ignorant of them.

MeTV is now into Season Five of The Carol Burnett Show. That was the last season that contained previously unreleased material. Season Six marked the start of the episodes in the syndicated Carol Burnett and Friends which began airing when the series was still on CBS in its 11th and what would become its last season. So will MeTV continue with Season Six once they reach the end of the "Lost Episodes" or will they go back to the beginning of Season One? I hope they do the latter because I didn't start watching until just recently. They began the reruns in April when I was busy teaching high school. I'd hate to have to go through six more seasons before they went back to the start.

Oct. 12, 1970: Nanette Fabray, Ken Berry
Carol and Lyle in Flight 13 to Nowhere
Found on YouTube. Mostly routine sketches. Once again Carol and Nanette are secretaries competing for boss Harvey's attention as they did in a Season One show. The Old Folks was a recurring bit with Carol and Harvey as senior citizens. Harvey always wants to have sex, grabbing Carol's knee and Carol shuts him down with a wisecrack. This time, for variety, the pair are vacationing in Florida and the sketch ends with a sweet song. Ken Berry sings "Mister Bojangles" in an elaborate production number with the dancers.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 1

Harvey Korman, Vickie Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner
surround their star Carol Burnett
In 2013, I wrote a blog post about my love of The Carol Burnett Show and how much I enjoyed viewing clips from the show's 11-year run on YouTube. At that time, the first five seasons were not generally available because a different company had the rights to those shows while the the ones from seasons 6 to 11 played endlessly in syndication in half-hours called Carol Burnett and Friends. These shows I remember because they are from the days I was old enough to stay up late and watch Carol on Saturday nights at 10PM. Only recently have the earlier episodes became available in a DVD collection called The Lost Episodes (it only includes 16 episodes out of over 100.) That was about two years ago. I knew if I waited long enough I would not have to shell out a couple hundred bucks to buy this massive collection. Amazon Prime has been streaming 13 of these segments and this summer MeTV has been rerunning them at 11PM in half-hours just like Carol Burnett and Friends, expect they have occasionally included the musical numbers which the former packages excised. They even sometimes stretch a single one-hour original show over two 30-min. blocks, but still leave some things out so they can sell more elder-targeted products like medication, insurance, walkers, wheelchairs, med-alert bracelets, and canes.

Lately, I have been DVRing the MeTV shows so I can fast forward through these ads. (I only started this recently and MeTV has just finished with the fourth season, so I must wait till they start over to get to the first three seasons.) I also just finished reading Burnett's In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox which includes a complete list of all the episodes and the guest stars and writers. Some fragments of these early shows are vaguely familiar, but most of them I'm sure I have never seen before. It's like discovering long-buried comedy treasure. So through YouTube, MeTV, Amazon, Carol's book and my own memory, here is a breakdown of all the episodes I've been able to recreate so far and my reviews of them.

Friday, July 26, 2019

2019-20 Broadway and Off-Broadway Updates

Since the last update, new on and Off-Broadway productions for 2019-20 have been announced, plus several Off-Broadway theater companies have revealed their seasons. In the past including these theaters' rosters has been a challenge since they seldom have booked specific opening dates, only the beginning of previews. In order to give as complete a calendar of the New York theater season as possible, starting preview dates are listed when no opening date has been announced

Mark Murphey, Jack Willis as LBJ and Peter Frechette
in The Great Society at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Credit: Jenny Graham
The biggest recent Broadway show to be added to the list is The Great Society, Robert Schenkkan's sequel to All the Way, his Tony-winning history of Lyndon Johnson's early presidency. Like All the Way, Society premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and later played the Seattle Repertory Theater. This second play focuses on LBJ's efforts to pass Civil Rights legislation through a reluctant Congress and his simultaneous tribulations of the Vietnam War. Bryan Cranston won a Tony for an impressive performance in the lead role in All the Way. Brian Cox will now take over the role with Richard Thomas (The Waltons, The Little Foxes) as Vice-President Humbert Humphrey, Grantham Coleman (Much Ado About Nothing) as Martin Luther King, Tony winner Frank Wood (Side Man) as Senator Everett Dirksen, Marc Kudisch (9 to 5, Finding Neverland) as Chicago mayor Richard Daley, Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Holiday Inn) as Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and Gordon Clapp (NYPD Blue) as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Previews begin Sept. 6 at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater. The opening date has not yet been announced.

Friday, July 19, 2019

MacTrump: A Shakespearean Farce: Act III, Scene II

Let us continue with my Shakespearean parody of the Trump circus: (previous installments Act One, Act Two, Act Three Scene One)

The curtain rises on a gloomy cave with three forbidding figures surrounding a boiling cauldron. At first they appear to be the three reporters from Act One who were in reality the three witches. Then lightning strikes and they slowly morph into Vladimir Putin, Kim Jung Un, and the Saudi Crown Prince.

All Three: Double, double, toil and trouble
Media burn and racism bubble
Unleash the hate with a viral stream
Ripping bullets and victims' scream

Witch 1 (Putin): Energize the brew with a cyber hack
Leave no trace of Wikileaks' track
Flavor with poisonous blaze
And ripped-out livers of despised gays

Witch 2 (Kim Jung Un): Add vapor trail from nuclear missile
Blood pricked from sharpened thistle
Saliva from Trump's ass-kissing smacks
Crumbs from his Cheetos, French Fries, and Big Macs

Witch 3 (Saudi Crown Prince): Throw in limbs from chopped up writer
Oil contract and Middle-East igniter
Veil worn by hypocritical First Daughter
Souls of victims of our ravenous slaughter

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Tenth Annual David Desk Awards

Paul Alexander Nolan and Teyonah Parris in Slave Play.
Credit: Joan Marcus
We're well into the summer and I've finally gotten around to posting the winners of the 10th annual David Desk Awards for excellence in Broadway and Off-Broadway theater for the 2018-19 season. Slave Play, one of my choices for Best Play, had a run at New York Theater Workshop and is transferring to a limited 17-week Broadway run at the Golden Theater with previews beginning Sept. 10, and opening Oct. 6. At 30, playwright Jeremy O. Harris will be the youngest black male dramatist to make his Broadway debut. How will Broadway audiences take this dangerous, risky work which boldly faces racial tensions and anger in unconventional ways. It's not a safe, comfortable melodrama like last season's American Son. It's not British and loaded with snob appeal like The Ferryman which was a magnificent show, but since it dealt with Irish people and their problems, rich white Yankee liberals did not have to face their own prejudices and national dilemmas.

But to the matter at hand, here are my picks for the tops of the last season: 

Fairview (Jackie Sibblies Drury)
The Ferryman (Jez Butterworth)
The Lehman Trilogy (Stefano Massini, translated by Ben Power)
Mary Page Marlowe (Tracey Letts)
Slave Play (Jeremy O. Harris)
What the Constitution Means to Me (Heidi Schreck)

The Prom
Twelfth Night

Thursday, July 4, 2019

2019-20 Broadway Season Forecast

July is here and that means the 2018-19 Broadway season is officially done with and the next one is underway. Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, the revival of Terrence McNally's 1988 two-hander, was the first official production of the season, opening in May. The summer is pretty slow this year with only two Broadway openings confirmed--Moulin Rouge, the stage version of Baz Luhrmann's gaudy and superficial 2001 film musical and Sea Wall/A Life, a transfer of a pair of solo pieces starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge which played the Public Theater earlier this year. Tea at Five, the one-woman play starring Faye Dunaway as Katharine Hepburn, was supposed to open sometime during the summer, as was an all-female staging of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. But neither ever secured a theater and their future is uncertain. Tea at Five is now playing Boston's Huntington Theater through July 14.

Here's a rundown of announced Broadway openings for 2019-20:

Charlie Cox, Zawe Ashton, and Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal.
Credit: Marc Brenner
Betrayal: Harold Pinter's reverse-chronicle triangle drama returns to Broadway for its third revival with Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox making their Broadway debuts after a smashing success in London's West End. (Original: 1980 with Raul Julia, Blythe Danner, and Roy Scheider, Reprised in 2001 with Liev Schreiber, Juliette Binoche and John Slattery, and in 2013 with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Rafe Spall). (Jacobs/Sept. 15)

Derren Brown: Secret--The magician and mentalist brings his Drama Desk winning show to Broadway after a run at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2017.

The Height of the Storm--Manhattan Theater Club opens its Broadway season with this drama by French playwright Florian Zeller starring Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce repeating their London performances as a couple who, not unlike the protagonists of Zeller's plays The Father and The Mother, face uncertainty and despair after decades of marriage.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

2018-19 Tony and Drama Desk Predictions

Eva Noblezada, Andre De Shields and Reeve Carney in Hadestown
Credit: Matthew Murphy
Once again the Tonys (presented June 9) and Drama Desk Awards (given June 2) will have significantly different results. In previous seasons, the two accolade-dispensing organizations would honor almost the same recipients and the DDs were seen as a theatrical equivalent to the Golden Globes with the Tonys playing Oscars. The essential difference between the two prizes is the Tonys, given out by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League, are only for Broadway shows while the Drama Desk, composed of New York-based theater critics, journalists and editors, includes on, Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions in their celebration of the best of Gotham stages. Because of this discrepancy, if a show moves from Off-Broadway to Broadway in separate seasons, it would be up for a Tony but ineligible for a DD award since it was in contention previously.

This year, the prime example is Hadestown which played Off-Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop in 2016, had a London staging and now is at the Walter Kerr. The Outer Critics Circle, which gives out separate awards for Outstanding Play and Musical for on and Off-Broadway and considers both for everything else, judged the modern adaptation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth different enough to be under consideration in all categories, winning Broadway Musical, Score, Director of a Musical and Featured Actor and Actress. The Drama Desk has deemed Hadestown eligible only in categories which feature new work for the Broadway production, so new cast members, Rachel Chavkin's direction and design elements are eligible, but not Anais Mitchell's score and book. The New York Drama Critics Circle membership was divided on the question of the show's eligibility and had a vote by email to determine its status. The result was a tie and Hadestown was deemed ineligible.

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.