Thursday, December 31, 2020

McTrump: A Shakespearean Farce, Act IV

My Shakepearean tragedy of McTrump is nearing its end. Well, the end of his presidency anyway, since the Trump administration is finally drawing to a close but the Orange Pig is determined not to go gentle into that good night. I started the satire right after Trumpy was inaugurated in 2017 with previous David Desk blog posts, and included references to the Scottish play, King Lear, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Richard III. Links to Act IAct IIAct III, and Act III, Scene 2.

Here is the Fourth Act of McTrump

Scene: The White House and McBiden's home in Delaware on opposite sides of the stage, McTrump is being armored for battle by Giuliani, his groveling, troll-like toady.

McTrump: I have no fear of McBiden. The weird sisters prophesied that no man of liberal born could defeat me. Also that I need not tremble until mailboxes and ballots move to Washington. And that will never be.

Giuliani: Aye, my lord, thou art invincible. Armed with the might of rumor, lies and deceit, thou shalt reign in this divided land another four years.

McTrump: Quiet, sycophant! Spray more tan on my noble visage, tis too pale by half.

Giuliani: Aye, my good lord.

McTrump: And you could use a touch-up on that hair. What about McBiden's troublesome offspring. Hast thou gleaned any dirt on him. Hast been to Ukraine e'en and thy expensive voyage have thus far come to naught.

Giuliani: Do not blame me for Ukraine, McTrump! I was just following orders.

McTrump: Shut up or no pardon for thou.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show: Part 14: Carol's Lost Christmas

It's Christmas again and time for a Carol Burnett Show present and recap. Last year my husband Jerry got me the massive Lost Episodes collection and for my birthday last May he bought me the Best of retrospective. (Episodes and fragments from those collections have appeared in previous posts in this series of Reconstructing the Burnett series, parts 1-13). This bleak yuletide season was made a mite brighter by my 2020 present from Jerry, Carol's Lost Christmas, a single DVD with three episodes from the "lost" years of Carol's variety series. Episodes from Season Six to Eleven had been in syndication as Carol Burnett and Friends for decades, but the first five seasons were controlled by another company and have not been available until recently. This Lost Christmas collection has no bonus material or features, but does include two complete holiday episodes and one nearly complete episode. They are not the best of the series, but they do fill some holes in the Carol canon. 

The previous 13 blog entries in this series have chronicled my reactions to episodes available on the DVD collections, MeTV, YouTube, Amazon and ShoutFactory! The Amazon and ShoutFactory shows are chopped up into 22 minutes. For this entry, I will cover the shows on Lost Christmas (all were watched during Christmas Day) and start to pick up the other episodes not previously mentioned in other posts. Eventually, I'd like to write about every episode available. There are some fragments still missing because of music copyright issues that I would love to find. Once COVID is under control, I plan to visit the Paley Center for Media where there are several complete Burnett episodes which were only partially viewable on Amazon, etc. 

Season One: Dec. 4. 1967: Barbara Eden, Jonathan Winters, Leonard Nimoy
Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman on
I Dream of Jeannie

(Carol's Lost Christmas) Barbara Eden was the star of the NBC fantasy sitcom I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70) where she played a sexy genie whose only wish was to serve her master, Tony Nelson, a dull astronaut played by Larry Hagman. The comedy was supposed to erupt when Tony tried to hide Jeannie from his stuffy commander, Hayden Rourke and his snooty wife. (Perhaps someday I will write a blog comparing Jeannie and Samantha from Bewitched.) Eden did have considerable musical talent which she displayed occasionally on Jeannie. In this Christmas episode from the first Burnett season, Eden does have a fun Greek-inspired number, "Bend It," with the chorus (you can see future Tony nominee Lee Roy Reams among the boys). George Chakiris did a similar number also in Season One. Barbara's only other appearance is a short bit with Carol and Lyle where she uses her alleged magical powers to grant Carol three wishes. Carol's first two wishes are that Lyle flatters and then hugs her, but the last wish is reserved for Barbara herself when Lyle passionately kisses her. ("I gave you two out of three, Carol," Barbara quips.)

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Bury My Heart at Four Seasons Total Landscaping

The infamous press conference at Four Seasons
Total Landscaping
I should be happy at the results of the 2020 Presidential election, but Donald Trump spoils everything. He can't even lose the right way. Instead of graciously admitting defeat and turning over the reigns of power as almost all of his predecessors did, he vomits up vile conspiracy theories, incites violence and death threats against innocent poll workers, and threatens the very foundations of our republic. And, no, MAGA morons, I am not being hysterical. An astonishing 70 per cent of Republicans actually believe his crap that the election was rigged and Biden is not the legitimate winner. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

B'way in Limbo: Tonys Delayed; More Shows Rescheduled

Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge and Slave Play
received multiple 2020 Tony nominations.
The lights on Broadway will remain dim for even longer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the Broadway League announced that all 41 of its member theaters will be shuttered until May 30, 2021. This is the latest in a series of extended closures since the stages closed on March 13. In the wake of this announcement, many shows have had to reshuffle their schedules and the Tony Awards have been pushed back even further. Broadway's highest honors for the abortive 2019-20 season have been delayed numerous times but the nominations were given out on Oct. 15 with Jagged Little Pill netting the most with 15 and Moulin Rouge garnering 14. Slave Play took 12. It was expected that the awards would be handed out online sometime in late fall. But with Broadway shows not returning until June of next year, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin has stated in an interview with Sirius XM host Julie James, "We don't have  a decision date yet. Since we're not opening in March, we have more planning time." 

How much planning time do you need, Charlotte? It's been eight months. On the surface this foot-dragging doesn't make sense. All the other theater plaudits including the Drama Desks, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics Circle, Obie and Lortel Awards, were given out in modest, socially distanced ceremonies online or on New York-1, months ago. But when we consider the raison d'etre of the Tony is NOT to honor the best of the season, but to provide a commercial platform to advertise currently-running shows and stoke the box office, it adds up. Dispensing trophies several months before playgoers can buy tickets lessens the Tony impact to almost nothing. So the producers would rather wait until the awards can result in some cash. Will we have to wait until 2021 for the 2020 Tonys? Probably. I guess the producers of Moulin Rogue did not get the memo, because I just received a lavish promotional book on the show, the kind sent to Tony voters just as we are casting ballots.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Conners' Halloween Episode Questions

 OK, here are my questions from the Conners' Halloween episode:

1. If they were going to be evicted last week, where did they get the money to buy elaborate Halloween costumes and props?

2. Doesn't Mary have any black relatives and why don't they pitch in and keep her company while her Dad DJ has to work so hard and stay late at his job? It seems her mother's side of the family isn't involved in her life at all. How does she feel about Black Lives Matter and living in a white household?

3. What is this new job DJ has and how did he get promoted so fast? Wasn't he begging for work and trying to set a motorcycle repair business with his dad going just a few months ago?

4. Does Ben, Darlene's boyfriend, have a job? Didn't they both decide they can't get their dumb true-crime magazine going in the time of COVID, so shouldn't Ben be looking for work? And is David still paying child support?

5. Dan still hasn't figured out that Emilio is living illegally in the Lunch Box?

6. Why doesn't Darlene write a blog to satisfy her creative writing urges?

7. If Darlene, Ben, and Becky had no money last week, how could they pay rent to Dan to save the family from being evicted?

8. The election was only three days away in the episode and nobody says who they are voting for. How come? They were all over the primary in a live episode and the 2016 election nearly split the family up (Roseanne and Jackie didn't speak to each other for months), so how come they're not talking about it except in generalities with Dan and Darlene's Big Issues Debate to cap the episode.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

'Thanks to Amy': The Next Surefire B'way Hit

Amy Coney Barrett with her husband and
seven children before her evil master 
and his devil bride.
During the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, I had a flash of inspiration for the next sure-fire, Tony and Pulitzer-winning, non-musical hit. It contains all the elements of a snob Broadway drama, usually presented by Lincoln Center, first at the Off-Broadway Mitzi Newhouse and then transferred to the larger Vivian Beaumont after rapturous reviews. This play will have it all: interracial casting, liberal viewpoint, a single set depicting a tastefully designed living room interior of an upper-class American home, and an explosive ending. Of course, the play cannot open until the corona virus pandemic is over, but by then, the issues raised will still be relevant or even more so if Barrett is confirmed. Here's the synopsis:

Thanks to Amy, a new American play

The time is Thanksgiving, 2040.

The setting is the well-appointed living room of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. (NOTE This is all fictional and satirical, hon!)

At rise: Two African-American servants are watching the television news about the latest health report of 94-year-old President for Life Donald J. Trump who is on a ventilator but insisting on yet another rally to boost his ego. Back in 2020, newly-appointed Justice Barrett voted with the conservative majority to side with Trump's lawsuit to disallow all mail-in ballots because of suspected, but unproven fraud. Barrett wrote the majority opinion, establishing the precedent that the President is always right and cannot be indicted or tried for any crimes, past, present or future. 

In 2024, Trump brought another suit for a third term due to interference with his first term from nefarious Democrats and enemies of the State Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, and Nancy Pelosi. (All named in the suit have fled to Canada.) Again, the Supreme Court sided with Trump. In 2030, Trump brought another suit demanding to be named President for Life just like his pals Putin, Xi, Kim Jung Un, Duarte, etc. Again, Barrett sided with the majority.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Films of 1971

There are many books, articles and essays on particular years in film designated as seminal or highly influential. 1939 is seen as the zenith of the Golden Age of the Hollywood Studios. Several volumes have been published on 1967 as the harbinger of the independent film. I just saw a book on Amazon about 1991 as an important year. For me, 1971 was probably the watershed in movie appreciation. Many of the films I either saw that year or that were released then and I saw later, had special significance for me. Some were the work of my favorite directors who were at their peak artistically (Altman, Bogdanovich, Kubrick). Some expressed the transition from childhood into the beginning of maturity. Some deal with frank sexuality. The Oscar ceremony honoring that year's films (held in 1972) were the first Academy Awards I can remember being allowed to stay up and watch until the end. 

Timothy Bottoms and Cloris Leachman in
The Last Picture Show

My most significant 1971 movie was The Last Picture Show. Though Peter Bogdanovich's sensitive study of life in a tiny Texas town lost the Best Picture Oscar to William Friedkin's intense, jagged police procedural The French Connection, it did receive 8 nominations and won for Best Supporting Actor and Actress.  Picture Show was Bogdanovich's big breakthrough and was hailed as the greatest film by a young director since Citizen Kane. I was only 12 at the time of its release and I knew I wanted to see it. Maybe because of the cast which included Cloris Leachman, who I knew and loved for her role on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Maybe because it had received such spectacular reviews and I wanted to see a grown-up film. But the movie was rated R and an adult had to accompany me. (They don't still have those ratings, do they?) My dad agreed to take me and though there were some explicit nude and sex scenes, I understood the gist of the film and appreciated its themes of desolation and loneliness. We saw it at the Gateway Cinema near King of Prussia, PA and I can recall the manager asking my father if he knew the nature of the film and that it was for mature audiences. My dad said he understood and that it was okay for me to see it. So I am grateful to him for indulging me and deeming me mature.

Monday, September 7, 2020

State of the Election: Post Office, Boat Parades, etc.

Labor Day Random observations on the state of the election as summer ends:

It's pretty clear what Trump is up to. With his constant badmouthing of mail-in voting and interference with the post office, he hopes to skew the election his way. His nonstop, baseless claims that mail-in balloting is rife with fraud is a signal to his zombie base to vote in person and risk their lives due to COVID. It seems to be working. Polls show only about 30 percent of Republicans plan to vote by mail. Meanwhile approximately 70 percent Democrats plan to use absentee or mail-in voting. Trumpy's plan is have the lead on election night via in-person voting, then Biden will surge ahead in the days that follow as the mail vote is counted (some states allow up to three weeks for mailed-in ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked on election day.) He'll claim victory on election night and say the subsequent votes are illegal. He'll go to court and drag this thing out as long as possible, casting doubt on the results. I hope I'm wrong, but 2020 will make 2000 look like a model of order and decorum. If it goes to the Supreme Court as in Bush-Gore, I think Roberts will want to protect his legacy and vote for Biden if the votes breaks that way.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Binging on John Ford, Part Two

Lee Van Cleef, Lee Marvin, James Stewart,
and John Wayne
in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

Continuing a John Ford binge. Ford uses visuals to tell his stories brilliantly, his characters are true to themselves and there is a certain majesty in that. But his America was mixed up with myth. The most telling line in all of his films comes at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. When the newspaper publisher finds out the titular shooting was done not by esteemed senator Jimmy Stewart, but unknown John Wayne, he says "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

I avoided The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence for the longest time. I had ordered the DVD from Netflix months ago and never got around to watching it. It sat on my DVD player gathering dust until I got so bored with the second season of Community before they got to Inspector Space Time, I finally succumbed and watched.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Binging on John Ford, Part One

John Ford (c.) on the set with James Stewart and John Wayne.

I never really "got" Westerns. When I was a kid, I would run from the room when my dad would turn on
Gunsmoke instead of Laugh-In or settle in for a long John Wayne oater (as they say in the crossword puzzles) on a Saturday afternoon. But, as an adult who wants to expand his taste and appreciation of all forms of cinema, I've viewed several horse operas, especially the works of the master of the genre, John Ford. 

Like the Western itself, I've avoided Ford because to me he always represented the kind of toxic masculinity that horrified me as a child. The star of many of his most famous efforts, John Wayne, also exemplified this type of behavior: unexpressive emotionally, arch conservative, revels in all-male environments such as the military or the prairie, speaks with his fists. "Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness," said Wayne as the tough-as-nails cavalry captain in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, While filming Mister Roberts, Ford hauled off and socked leading man Henry Fonda in the jaw. On the set of his films, Ford would often pick out a target and mercilessly ride and bully him, like a fraternity brother. I rejected this template for being a man and still do, but Ford has long been regarded as one of the greatest helmers in film history and my education would be incomplete if I did not at least view his top works. (Orson Welles said he viewed Stagecoach 40 times in preparation for Citizen Kane. Ford is also the only director to win five Oscars.) So during this COVID summer with no theater or new movies to go to, I launched a Ford festival through TCM DVRing and Netflix DVD harvesting. The results of this Ford binging have deepened my respect for his mastery of visual storytelling and the complexity of his historical and political views. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

2020 Tonys to be Presented Digitally This Fall; Other News

Like a child late to a birthday party, the Tony Awards are finally arriving at the accolade-dispensing festivities. The 74th annual Tonys will be presented digitally in the fall. There were no specific dates or details on the platform in the press release issued by the Broadway League, the organization of theater owners and producers which co-presents the ceremony with the American Theater Wing. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters closed, cutting short the season and the number of shows eligible for prizes. While all the other NYC theater awards including the Drama Desks, Outer Critics Circle, Obies, and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, presented their trophies either online or by press announcements through May and June, the Tonys stayed mum. 

The question now is how will the Tony voters will be able to make fair and accurate judgments. Many Tony voters are out-of-town road producers who don't see all the nominees until after the nominations are announced in early May. Since the shows are all closed many of the electorate won't even be able to view all the candidates. At the time of the pandemic shutdown, only a handful of new musicals and one musical revival (West Side Story) had opened. Of the five new musicals, one (Girl from the North Country) had only just opened. The other four are Jagged Little Pill, Lightning Thief, Moulin Rouge and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. David Bryne's American Utopia did not invite Tony voters and was not eligible. There is more variety and scope in the play division with ten possible new candidates and four revivals. Of the new play potential nominees, none were running at the time of the shutdown. Only The Inheritance had been playing relatively soon before the shutdown. Matthew Lopez's two-part update of Howard's End closed on March 11 and the theaters all went dark on the very next night. There is speculation West Side Story and Girl will not be eligible since they opened so close to the shutdown and not many voters got to see them. (See the list below for a complete list of the truncated 2019-20 Broadway season).

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

B'way Update: 'Diana' Preems on Netflix Before B'way

Jeanna de Waal in Diana: The Musical
Credit: Little Fang
Another COVID-postponed Broadway musical has announced plans for reopening, but with a twist. Diana, the bio-musical about Great Britain's beloved late princess, will now premiere on Netflix before opening on Broadway on May 25, 2021. The show will be filmed in the Longacre Theater next month without an audience and premiere on the streaming service sometime in early 2021 (no specific premiere date has been announced.) Diana began preview performances at the Longacre on March 2 and was to have opened on March 31, but all Broadway theaters closed on March 12. Diana will be the first production to return to Broadway since the closure, if only for one filmed performance. (A current production of Godspell at the Berkshire Theater Group in Pittsfield, Mass., was the first professional regional production to open. The show is playing in an outdoor tent in the theater's parking lot and features socially distanced actors and attendees.) Actors Equity has approved safety procedures for Diana, including initial and recurring testing, isolation protocols for the actors and stage managers, and adjustments to the theater's air-conditioning system to insure proper ventilation.

The Broadway cast will return to their original roles including Jeanna de Waal as Diana, Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles and two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth. Christopher Ashley, artistic director of San Diego's LaJolla Playhouse where the work premiered in 2019, stages Diana. The team behind Memphis, librettist-lyricist Joe DiPietro and composer-lyricist David Bryne, are the authors.  

This will also be the first instance of a Broadway musical premiering on a streaming service before it opens on Broadway. Numerous shows have appeared on TV and streaming after they have opened including the megahit Hamilton which boosted subscriptions for Disney Plus when it was streamed recently. 

In other news, Sing Street, another delayed Broadway production, has announced it will open in the winter of 2021 or in 2022. All of these plans are contingent on a COVID vaccine being widely available, otherwise prospects for attendance would be dim.

Tentative Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule for 2021-22

March 15--The Minutes (Cort) (previews March 1)
April 13--Plaza Suite (Hudson) (previews March 19)
April 14--American Buffalo (Circle in the Square) (previews March 22)
April 15--MJ (Neil Simon) (previews March 8)
April 22--Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes) (previews begin March 22)
May 20--The Music Man (Winter Garden) (previews April 7)
May 25--Diana (Longacre)
Spring 2021--Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
1776 (Roundabout/American Airlines)
Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)
Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Letters of Suresh (Second Stage/Kiser)
...what the end will be (Roundabout/Laura Pels)
Exception to the Rule (Roundabout/Steinberg Center)
What to Send Up When It Goes Down (Playwrights Horizons)
Selling Kabul (Playwrights Horizons)
Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons)
Wish You Were Here (Playwrights Horizons)
Fall 2021--Untitled Play by Lynn Nottage (Second Stage/Hayes)
Birthday Candles (Roundabout/American Airlines)
Winter 2021-22--Sing Street; Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/American Airlines)
2021--Our Town
Future--Death of a Salesman; Funny Girl; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who's Tommy

Unopened Productions from 2019-20 with no new dates yet
The Lehman Trilogy
Mrs. Doubtfire
How I Learned to Drive

Long-Running Shows and Opened 2019-20 Shows 
Ain't Too Proud
The Book of Mormon
Come from Away
Dear Evan Hansen
Girl from the North Country
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Jagged Little Pill
The Lion King
Mean Girls
Moulin Rouge
Phantom of the Opera
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
To Kill a Mockingbird
West Side Story

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Richard Burton Diaries

I came across Richard Burton's Diaries at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library months ago and ran through the index, eagerly searching for quips and quotes on the likes of Lucille Ball ("A machine of enormous energy, which driven by a stupid driver who has forgotten that a machine runs on oil as well as gasoline and who has neglected the former, is creaking badly towards a final convulsive seize-up"); Andy Warhol ("He looked like a cadaver when still and a failure of plastic surgery when he moved which was seldom"), and other fascinating figures ranging from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to James Baldwin to Tito to Rex Harrison and his then-wife, an abrasive Rachel Roberts. I always meant to read this volume, but its 650-plus pages daunted me. The COVID crisis gave me lots of free time, so I bought a hardback copy at the Strand (once it was opened for business, it was like a ghost town when I finally went) for $12.50.

Burton is a tragic figure. These diaries (published in 2012) reveal him to be witty, superbly intelligent, incredibly literate (he reads voluminously), but he's also erratic, easily bored in his work and relationships, ultimately succumbing to booze and the pressure to maintain an opulent lifestyle at the cost of his art. As a young man, he was thought to be the natural successor to Gielgud and Olivier as the world's greatest classical actor with the potential to also be that rarest of creatures--a gorgeous movie star who was also a master interpreter of any role put before him. But his career ended in alcoholism and an abundance of shoddy projects. Born Richard Jenkins, Burton yearned to escape the crushing poverty of his childhood as the son of a Welsh coal miner. He took the name of a mentoring teacher and discovered his facility for learning, language and literature. His stunning good looks, personal magnetism, and sonorous voice led him to the stage and eventually Hollywood.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Vacation: Finger Lakes

Here we are in the fifth month of a pandemic and no end in sight. There have been occasional forays
out of our Queens apartment, but largely it's been confinement city. Normally during the summer, we try to take a trip or two. Months ago, my husband and I had talked about a trip to France and I was planning to drive to Canada and take in the Stratford and Shaw festivals, but that's clearly out now. But we did have a welcome respite with a week-long trip to the Finger Lakes region. Since we were staying within New York State and infection rates are way down here, we figured it would be okay as long as we were careful and followed safety rules. We've been there many times before, but this time, we really explored and found many interesting distractions.

We stayed at a lovely Air BnB run by friends just outside of a lakeside town called Skaneateles, a funny name used as a joke on Rocky and Bullwinkle decades ago. There were cruises around the lake on a modified schedule and with reduced capacity. In all the previous visits, we had never taken a boat trip before, so we opted for the mail boat, a three-hour cruise around the lake (the captain made the obligatory Gilligan's Island joke). Not all the lake houses are accessible by roads, so some have to have their mail delivered by boat. A crew member crawls out on the prow and leaning out hands to the letters to the homeowner or places them in a mailbox on the dock. There were only about 25 passengers and we were required to be keep our masks on if we stood up and moved about. Being on the water was so refreshing and relaxing.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Broadway Update: Second Stage and 'Funny Girl'

A scene from Lynn Nottage's FLOYD'S at the Guthrie Theater
in August 2019.
Credit: T. Charles Erickson
The future of Broadway is still in doubt. In an interview with Billboard, a respected music producer whose credits include shows for Lady Gaga and Nine Inch Nails, predicted live concerts would not return until 2022 (so live theater would also be included in that forecast.) Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin has been more optimistic, but she has said that while theaters may open next year, tourism might not come back in full force until 2024.

Nevertheless, more announcements of Broadway productions for spring and fall 2021 are being made. Second Stage has set next autumn for the vague opening of a new, unnamed play by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage to start performances at the Helen Hayes Theater. The press release described the work as "a stirring new play" in which "a truck stop sandwich shop offers its formerly incarcerated kitchen staff a shot at reclaiming their lives. Even as the shop's callous owner tries to keep them under her thumb, the staff members are given purpose and permission to dream by the enigmatic, zen-like chef and his belief in the possibility of the perfect sandwich." This sounds exactly like Nottage's play FLOYD'S (the name of the female owner of the shop) which premiered at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater in August 2019. Why the name change and what will the new name be? Perhaps the switch is because the producers want to avoid confusion with George Floyd, the African-American man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck. Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

In Tribute to Carl Reiner: TV's Funniest Moments

With the recent passing of Carl Reiner at the age of 98, I began thinking of my favorite moments of TV comedy and he was responsible for many of them. As the creator and main writer for the classic Dick
Van Dyke Show, Reiner delivered many of the biggest laughs of my childhood. As Alan Brady, the tyrannical top banana Van Dyke's character wrote for, he had several of the show's funniest bits. The first season you could only see the back of Alan's head, but in later seasons, you saw all of Reiner. He would often mock his own baldness. One of the most hilarious moments of the show was when Alan was holding up an empty glass for his boot-licking brother-in-law Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon). "What's the matter, Alan? Are you thirsty?," Mel asked.

"No, Mel, I want a glass of dust," Brady angrily shot back.

The delivery and the sarcasm made another otherwise so-so gag into a merciless putdown.

Reiner was also a versatile sketch comedian, appearing on such shows as The Carol Burnett Show and Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. He did voice-overs for the Linus the Lion-Hearted cartoon series in the 1960s, as did Jonathan Winters and Sheldon Leonard.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

'Town' and 'Out' Set for B'way 2021

Announcements continue for the (projected) Broadway reopening in 2021. The Broadway League announced on Monday, refunds and exchanges will be granted up until Jan. 3 of next year. Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters have been closed since March 12 due to the corona virus pandemic. Several productions announced previews and openings beginning in March. The League also said there would be "rolling" openings in early 2021 but so far, the earliest show with a specific date is Tracey Letts' The Minutes which begins previews at the Cort Theater on March 1.

Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson
in Take Me Out.
Credit: Catherine Wessel
Second Stage's revival of Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg's 2002 play imagining an openly gay major league baseball player who comes out during a championship season, will begin previews at the Helen Hayes Theater on March 22 with an opening set for April 22. The production was originally set to throw out its first pitch on April 21 of this year. The cast is headed by Jesse Williams (Grey's Anatomy), Patrick J. Adams (Suits), and Drama Desk winner Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family). Scott Ellis (Tootsie, She Loves Me) directs. The original production opened at London's Donmar Warehouse in 2002 and then transferred to Public Theater Off-Broadway. The subsequent Broadway transfer won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play and Best Featured Actor for Denis O'Hare.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Woody Allen's Apropos of Nothing

Woody Allen is one of my favorite filmmakers. I have seen almost all of his films from Take the Money and Run to Wonder Wheel (even the abysmal Amazon mini-series Crisis in Six Scenes). (I'm only missing the second half of Hollywood Ending on DVD which I will get to eventually and I'm pretty sure I've seen What's New Pussycat and What's Up Tiger Lily, but I have to double check if I only viewed bits and pieces or the whole running time of both films.) Friends in Israel have seen A Rainy Day in New York and liked it.

I've also read his collections of New Yorker pieces--Getting Even, Without Feathers, Side Effects--and seen most of his plays on and Off-Broadway. (I was too young to see Don't Drink the Water and Play It Again, Sam, I missed the Floating Light Bulb, but I've read them. Everything else including his one-acts paired with short works by Elaine May, Ethan Coen and David Mamet I've seen.) So I was excited to read this memoir, particularly to get Allen's version of the whole Soon-Yi/Mia Farrow/Ronan/Dylan molestation accusation mess that's been going on for 30 years.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Roundabout Sets 2021 Dates for 'Trouble,' etc.

A scene from a 2014 production of Trouble in Mind at
Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ
Credit: T. Charles Erickson
The floodgates of Broadway announcements have been opened. Earlier this week we had new spring 2021 dates for The Music Man, The Minutes and American Buffalo, all pushed back from earlier dates due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Roundabout Theater Company has joined in with adjusted previews and premieres as well as new productions. The company will present the first Broadway production of Alice Childress'  comedy-drama Trouble in Mind, to be directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The play which played Off-Broadway in 1955, is tailor-made for this moment as it deals with racism in the theater. The main character is a middle-aged African-American actress cast in a New York production of a drama about lynching in the South. She comes into conflict with the white director-producer over the validity of the script written by whites. Trouble is scheduled to play the American Airlines Theater in the winter of 2021-22. In the wake of nationwide protests against police violence against minorities, many artists of color have been sharing their experience of racism in the theater and calling for change.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

New Broadway Openings for 2021

While New York City is slowly reopening from the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of Broadway and other stages is still far in the future. But there is a glimmer of hope. Several Main Stem productions have announced new dates for previews and openings, all in 2021 and the earliest dates are March 1. The Minutes by Tracey Letts will begin previews at the Cort Theater on next March 1 with an opening set for March 15, one year after its originally projected premiere. The dark comedy about a secretive town council meeting has had a bumpy road to Broadway. After its Steppenwolf Theater Company debut in Chicago in 2017, the play was set to open on Broadway in 2018, but was delayed. The 2020 production was to have been directed by Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro (Letts' August: Osage County) and feature the playwright, Armie Hammer, Ian Barford (Letts' Linda Vista), Blair Brown, Cliff Chamberlain, K. Todd Freeman, Danny McCarthy, Jessie Mueller, Sally Murphy, Austin Pendleton, and Jeff Still. 

The fourth Broadway production of David Mamet's American Buffalo is now set to begin previews at Circle in the Square on March 24 with an opening slated for April 14, also a year from its original debut. The three-character play about small-time crooks planning a heist of a coin collection stars Laurence Fishburne, Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss. Neil Pepe directs. Previous productions have starred Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, and John Leguizamo. 

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show: Part 13

New York is entering Phase 2 of reopening, but we may as well still be in lockdown. You can't eat indoors at a restaurant, browse in a bookstore, or stroll through a museum. I'm definitely not going to a movie theater anytime soon and Broadway appears to be off limits until at least spring 2021. One museum I definitely will visit once this ends is the Paley Center (formerly the Museum of Broadcasting.) A search of their archives of old TV shows turned up several complete Carol Burnett Show episodes available only piecemeal on MeTV, Amazon or ShoutFactory. Until then, there is still plenty of Burnett bounty to analyze in our continuing series of reconstructing the show. For this blog, I thought I would concentrate on presenting a broad range of episodes from across the entire 11 year run.

Season Three
Sept. 13, 1968: Jim Nabors
Jim Nabors and Carol in Hollywood Canteen
During the Q&A, Harvey accepts his Emmy and delivers a long-winded speech. There is a super-brief commercial take-off with Harvey as a Russian chess champion playing against Jim. Then Carol as the ancient Stella Toddler is assaulted and battered during a dedication of a theater named for her. She eventually winds up under the corner stone. The Stella Toddler character was not as funny as Tim Conway's Old Man, and I never found him that funny. The majority of the episode is devoted to movie send-up of generic WWII homefront films. Hollywood Canteen features Jim and Harvey as GIs attached to USO girls Carol and Vicki. There are five specialty songs, written by Ken and Mitzi Welch, climaxing into a Goodwill-and-Brotherhood number, There Will Never Be Another War, which erupts into violence as stereotype-costumed nationals engage in hand-to-hand combat. My favorite is a geisha attacking a Greek soldier with chopsticks.

Oct. 6, 1968: Steve Lawrence, Edward Villella, Rock Hudson
(MeTV/Amazon/ShoutFactory) The only two sketches in the pared-down edition were quite interesting for different reasons. In the first, a Carol and Sis vignette, Roger (Harvey) is insanely
Carol with Rock Hudson
jealous of Lyle again--a trope to be played dozens of times, but this one was slightly askew from the usual. The scene opens with Carol expecting a visit from an interior decorator and a plumber as Roger is leaving for a golf game. Roger goes on a homophobic rant, imitating a stereotypical swishy decorator and declaring he doesn't want one of "them" in his house. Enter hypermasculine Lyle in a sober business suit as Mr. Bruce, the decorator. Immediately, Roger forgets his golf game and fears Carol may be seduced by this hunk of man. In order to grill Mr. Bruce on his sexuality, he gets Carol out of the room to fix coffee--this act in itself is a fascinating example of male privilege. Roger asks Bruce if he would like some java and then insists Carol go and make it.

With Carol in the kitchen, Roger asks Mr. Bruce highly personal questions. Is he married? Does he live with his parents? Does he have a roommate? Bruce reveals he played pro football and you can tell from Harvey's subtextual acting and Lyle's reactions, the presumably straight decorator thinks this weird husband is coming on to him. (That potentially fascinating angle is not explored.) Eventually, Roger cannot control his envy and tells Mr. Bruce his wife will be doing the decorating herself. Just as he leaves, Lyle asks Carol if the couple have any children. She replies in the negative and Lyle says, "It figures." Does that mean he thought Roger was a closet case?

Roger apologizes profusely to Carol for his behavior and is about to leave for his golf game when the plumber arrives--Rock Hudson! Before Carol can ogle the gorgeous plumber, Roger rushes him off to the dripping sink. End music! Carol proceeds to drool over Hudson in a post-sketch chat while he plugs a war movie he just finished--The Hornet's Nest (1970, a war-movie bomb just like Robert Goulet's Underground, also plugged on Carol's show). Ironically, the closeted gay Hudson was playing a super-manly threat to a hetero hubby.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Semantics Matter: Thoughts on Hashtags and Slogans

Defund the Police.
Black Lives Matter.
Anti-Cop Movement.
Needless Laws.
Street chalk art of George Floyd in Queens, NY.
These are all powerful choices of words and can be misinterpreted--sometimes deliberately. In the age of Twitter Hashtags, pithy statements can lead to misunderstanding, oversimplification and confusion. The slogan Defund the Police began appearing last week after the international protests against police brutality erupted in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands, or knees, of Minneapolis police officers. I'd never heard if before. It means taking money from police budgets and distributing it to communities and social program to prevent the conditions which cry out for police action. It also addresses the fact that police are often called into situations they aren't trained for such as domestic disputes, drug addiction, and homelessness. When I first heard it I thought it literally meant take all the money from the police and eliminate them altogether. And some advocates do take that extreme position (we saw a discussion on this topic on the NewsHour earlier this week.) The Minneapolis city council has voted to dismantle its police department. What does that mean exactly? Camden, New Jersey, passed a similar resolution in 2012, dissolving its corrupt police dept. and replacing it with a new one, instituting reforms and emphasizing its role as a part of the community rather than as an occupying army. Crime has dropped by close to half (Source: This city disbanded its police force seven years ago. Here's what happened next CNN, June 9, 2020)

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Eleventh Annual David Desk Awards, plus Thoughts on B'way Reopening

Today normally would have been one of the best days of the year, Tony Award Day! But because of
the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway theaters have been shut down since March 12 and are not likely to
reopen until January 2021 at the earliest. In a May 25 interview with Tim Teeman of the Daily Beast, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin was cautiously optimistic about the Main Stem lights being relit. But she stressed social distancing and playing to half-empty housing would not fit with the Broadway economic model which requires packing in as many bodies as possible for maximum profit. A few shows such as Plaza Suite, MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical and 1776 have announced opening dates for the spring of 2021, but those may be aspirational like Trump saying he wanted packed churches on Easter.

Without a vaccine or even treatment for the coronavirus, theatergoers will probably be reluctant to return. What would Broadway look like without a vaccine? It might mean closing the entire Times Square area off from cars so that the side streets from 42nd to 50th could be used for long lines of patrons to get their temperatures checked and handed face masks as well having their bags searched. (The latter practice started just a few years ago in the wake of various terrorist threats.) Getting into the theater could become just as time-consuming as going to the airport with patrons making sure to show up two-to-three hours before curtain time.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part Twelve

As we end week 12 of lockdown and week one of protests and curfew, it's time for the Carol Burnett Show Reconstruction to continue. I was all excited because ShoutFactory! had announced they were going to make all 11 seasons of Carol's variety series available for streaming for the first time on June 1, preceded for a weekend-long marathon of episodes on May 30 and 31. The press release implied that we would be getting different, previously unseen material, stating Carol herself went over the masters of the original episodes with people from Shout Factory! I eagerly awaited the marathon and it turns out all segments they have are exactly the same as those 22-minute, hacked up ones already available on Amazon and MeTV. What a disappointment. Shout Factory! was not being completely truthful. Amazon did have the same episodes as Shout Factory!

This means I may never find every minute of every episode of all 11 years. Oh well. Returning to reviewing segments, the theme for this blog is movie satires. These segments include Carol's parodies of Mrs. Miniver, Love Story, The Seventh Veil, Waterloo Bridge, A Star Is Born, the Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple series.

Season One
March 4, 1968: Imogene Coca, Mel Torme
(Best of DVD) Not one of the better early efforts of the series. Carol and Imogene indulge in cat-fight comedy as rival political wives. Harvey and Mel do movie monster schtick along with Carol and Pat Paulsen makes a cameo as the frightening couple's baby. Paulsen was one of the briefly famous
Carol and Imogene Coca as rival political wives
comics of the late 60s who disappeared after his 15 minutes were up, along with Tiny Tim (who had 30 minutes.) With a deadpan worthy of Buster Keaton, Paulsen ran a mock campaign for the 1968 Presidential election from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, satirizing the corruption of politics. His gimmick was his lack of charisma, claiming he couldn't possibly do a worse job than those in power. He had a short-lived half-hour comedy show.

The extended finale revolves around the upcoming Olympics with the USA team (Mel, Carol, Lyle) battling it out against the Russians (Harvey, Imogene) with specialty numbers written exclusively for the show. We get to see Lyle in a skimpy track suit.

Friday, May 29, 2020

2020 Drama Desk Award Predictions

Normally at this time of year, I would be making Tony and Drama Desk Award predictions. But the Tonys have been indefinitely postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shuttering of all 41 Broadway theaters. In all likelihood, Broadway's top honor will not return until 2021 since the Main Stem will probably not be open again until next year at the earliest. If so, they might expand the eligibility window to combine the truncated 2019-20 season with whatever opens next spring. Voters will no doubt be invited back to returning shows such as West Side Story, Girl from the North Country, Moulin Rouge and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Shows that have closed such as The Inheritance and Grand Horizons will be out of luck, because they will have to rely on the memories of the voters who saw them. Closed productions are usually shut out of the Tonys even in "normal" times.

But the Drama Desk is still going ahead with their award presentation on NY-1's On Stage show on Sun. May 31 with Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), James Corden, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Beanie Feldstein (Hello, Dolly!), Santino Fontana, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Krakowski, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Ashley Park, Andrew Rannells, Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!), and Susan Stroman. Broadway and Off-Broadway are considered for all categories. Here are my predictions in the major slots along with my preferences (Disclosure: I am a Drama Desk voting member and have already cast my ballot)

Prediction: The Inheritance
Preference: Heroes of the Fourth Turning
Kyle Soller, Paul Hilton, and John Benjamin Hickey
in The Inheritance
Credit: Marc Brenner
The DD includes both Broadway and Off-Broadway in all of its multiple categories, but they usually go for the Broadway choice. With the shortened season, four of the five nominees in this category are Off-Broadway, but the voters will probably go for the only Broadway entry, The Inheritance, Matthew Lopez's two-part saga of the post-AIDS gay community loosely based on E.M. Forster's classic novel Howard's End. I voted for Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Will Arbery's drama of a reunion of graduates from a conservative Christian university in Wyoming, which had a short run at Playwrights Horizons and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The 2020 Tony Awards Fantasy Clip Show

The 2019 Tony Awards
CBS is breaking my heart as we enter the ninth week of lockdown (NYC is still in quarantine while the rest of the country rushes back to the beaches, malls and nail salons.) The Eye network had announced the 32nd season of The Amazing Race--my favorite TV show as you can tell from past recap-blogs--would premiere on this Wed. May 20. When I tried to DVR it, the listing was absent. It turns out they are pushing back the whole series until sometime later in the year because the network is saving a strong ratings performer like TAR for the fall or winter just in case there are no new shows in production because of the coronavirus.

CBS is also not running the Tony Awards. That's not their fault. The Broadway League and the
Joel Grey in Cabaret
American Theater Wing have opted not to present the awards at all because of the pandemic, unlike the Drama Desks, Outer Critics, Obies, Lortels, New York Drama Critics Circle, and Drama League which are going forward to honor the truncated 2019-20 season on various virtual and TV platforms. So I don't blame CBS, but they could have come up with a better substitute than a sing-along broadcast of the movie version of Grease. Why not a clip show of highlights from previous Tonycasts? I suggested the idea on Twitter and Facebook and the response was a resounding yes. Here are my suggestions and those of some Twitter and FB friends on what we would have included for ALL the previous nationally televised Tony shows. OK, the show would probably run for five hours if everything here were shown, but this is just a fantasy. Note: I tried not to go for the obvious every year and didn't always pick whatever show won Best Musical. Some years, they didn't even include numbers from the nominated shows.

1967--Wilkommen from Cabaret--Joel Grey

1968--Before the Parade Passes By from Hello, Dolly--Pearl Bailey

Jack Crowder, Sherri Peaches Brewer,
Pearl Bailey, and Winston DeWitt Hemsley in Hello, Dolly!
1969--Turkey Lurkey Time from Promises, Promises--Donna McKechnie, Baayork Lee, Margo Sappington

1970--Always Mademoiselle from Coco--Katharine Hepburn, George Rose

1971---(25 years of Tony-winning musicals) Shall We Dance? from The King and I--Yul Brynner, Patricia Morrison; Before the Parade Passes By from Hello, Dolly--Carol Channing; If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof--Zero Mostel

1972--You Can Dance With Any Girl At All from No, No, Nanette--Helen Gallagher, Bobby Van

1973--Magic to Do from Pippin--Ben Vereen

1974--Upper Berth sketch from Phoenix 55--Nancy Walker, Harvey Lembeck, JJ Barry, Charles Nelson Reilly

1975--The Story of Lucy and Jessie from Follies--Alexis Smith; Everything's Coming Up Roses from Gypsy--Angela Lansbury

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show: Part Eleven: Salute to Character Actors

More news on the Carol Burnett Show front as we enter week 8 of lockdown. For my birthday, my
husband Jerry got me the 50th Anniversary Best of DVD collection which includes several episodes not on the Lost Episodes collection he got me for Christmas. The 50th Anniversary set was released in 2017, a half-century after Carol's debut in 1967 and includes segments from the entire series. So there are several from seasons 6-11 which have been in syndication for years as well as earlier ones not seen in their entirety since the original broadcast. In addition, the Shout! Factory website has announced they will be making available the entire 11-year run, launching with a marathon run of episodes on May 30-31. The press release states several of the episodes have not been available for decades and that Carol went over all the masters of the shows with Shout! Factory which would indicate that they would be showing complete episodes, not the hacked-up, edited half-hours MeTV and Amazon had been offering. One of the major issues seems to be the copyrighted musical material and that it has always been too expensive to include all the musical numbers. (Even some of the segments in the DVD collections are not the whole shows because some musical stuff is missing.) We'll find out in June if it will be possible to FINALLY watch the entire, unedited series. Here is a rundown of segments offered on my newly-acquired DVD collection and those on Amazon and MeTV. This blog salutes various character actors and performers such as Pat Carroll, Jane Connell, Alice Ghostley, Ronnie Schell, and Rich Little who were staples of TV during the 60s, 70s and into the 80s and 90s.

Season Two
Sept. 23, 1968: Jim Nabors, Alice Ghostley
Jim Nabors returns for the first episode of the second season. In the butchered MeTV/Amazon
Alice Ghostley (r.) with Elizabeth Montgomery on Bewitched
version, Jim and Carol are near-sighted strangers who refuse to wear their glasses on an almost-literal blind date. Good physical comedy with the two crashing into walls and missing each other as they attempt to snuggle. Alice Ghostley who is best remembered as Esmeralda, the clumsy magical nursemaid on Bewitched and the senile Bernice on Designing Women, appears as Roger's disapproving sister Mimi in the Carol and Sis sketch. Mimi would later be played by Kay Medford and Pat Carroll in similar bits. Those are the only two sketches we see. Isabel Sanford shows up in a maid's uniform during the goodbyes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Theater Awards and Streaming in the Age of COVID

Theater and the arts continue despite the coronavirus pandemic. Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday was
Performers in Take Me to the World:
A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration
commemorated with Take Me to the World, a spectacular web-based quilt of performances presented by on April 26 and now available on YouTube. Though live performances on or Off-Broadway may not return for months, the annual award-dispensing free-for-all goes on, in different forms. The only prize-giving entity not heard from as of yet is the biggest of them all, the Tony Awards. This shows the fundamental difference between the Tonys and all other awards. While the Drama Desks, Outer Critics, Obies and Lortels are voted on by relatively small groups of Gotham-based critics and some industry insiders who will have seen all the eligible shows, a significant portion of the Tony electorate is made up of out-of-town road producers who come into New York at the end of the season to view as many candidates as possible. With no shows on, these people can't vote for anything. (The rest of the Tony voters are NYC producers, the board members of the various theatrical unions and about 20 members of the New York Drama Critics Circle.) In addition, the Tonys are not only a ceremony to honor artistic excellence, they are also a commercial TV venture to push Broadway's product. Again if there are no shows to push, CBS and the producers have no reason to put on a show, even a digital one with presenters and winners Zooming in.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Quarantine Diary 1: Incident at DD and RNC Call

As we end the fifth week of the COVID-19 quarantine, a dull lethargy has set in. The New York Times recently ran an article stating some Gothamites have given in to despair and just given up. I don't quite feel that way. I don't believe this state of affairs will continue forever. Sooner or later a vaccine
Judy Woodruff's bookcase
or treatment will be developed and people will feel safe enough to venture into movie and Broadway theaters. It's not going to happen by Memorial Day as Vice-President Mike Pence--or as we like to call him Race Bannon--cheerily predicted to Geraldo Rivera on Fixed Noise. (Where does he get this sunny optimism from? It's not based on data or statistics.) A return to "normalcy" may take a few years. There will be many deaths and economic hardships, and but eventually, gradually people will probably be packing into subways like sardines without a thought in their heads about climate change or pandemics. But citizens are getting a bit antsy. Two recent incidents are examples of the threads beginning to fray.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

B'way May Not Reopen Till Sept. or 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and its effect on the theater world will be felt for months and possibly years. Though parts of the country have begun making moves to "reopen" their economies and ease restrictions, large public gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, and live
When will the Broadway lights shine again?
theater, will likely be the last elements to return to normal. All Broadway theaters are closed until at least June 7. But in a recent interview with Deadline, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin averred that the date was never a definite marker for reopening. "We just said we were exchanging and refunding tickets up to June 7," she clarified. There is no certain date for reopening Broadway and St. Martin went on to say that September or later was a more realistic goal. First, it would be necessary to get permission from Governor Andrew Cuomo, then at least additional six weeks would be needed to prepare. Meanwhile, the mayor of Los Angeles and the governor of Ohio have stated there will probably not be live entertainment in their respective jurisdictions until at least 2021. The renewal of Broadway and other performing venues depends on testing and vaccines. Without preventive treatment for the highly contagious coronavirus, public events with more than 10 people would be dangerous. Even as the number of infections and hospital admissions decreases, there is still a risk there could be a resurgence of cases and deaths.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

NYDCC Vote 'Heroes' and 'Loop' Top Shows

Heroes of the Fourth Turning and A Strange Loop, two Off-Broadway productions presented by Playwrights Horizons, were voted Best Play and Best Musical respectively by the New York Drama Critic Circle. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the organization of New York-based theater critics met for the first time on the Zoom platform on April 15 and considered productions which opened before
This year's NYDCC Meeting on Zoom.
I'm on the extreme left, second row
Credit: Zach Stewart
March 12, when all Broadway theaters were closed. (Off-Broadway soon followed.) Both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows were considered. Sixteen voting members were present with four absent. The awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on April 28. Special citations were voted to David Byrne and the Broadway production of American Utopia; Deirdre O’Connell for career excellence including her performance in Dana H.; and the New York theater community for perseverance in the face of loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heroes of the Fourth Turning, written by Will Arbery and directed by Danya Taymor, had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons on Oct. 7, 2019 and closed on Nov. 17, 2019. The play focuses on a reunion of graduates from a conservative Christian university in Wyoming

A Strange Loop, book, music and lyrics by Michael R. Jackson, directed by Stephen Brackett, had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons on June 17, 2019 and closed on July 28, 2019. The musical follows a young African-American gay man as he explores his past while working at his day job as an usher at The Lion King and writing an autobiographical musical.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Wheel of Ventilators, a Comedy Sketch

Scene: The White House Briefing Room

Never forget that Trump is a reality TV host and not a real leader
--or a doctor
Mike Pence's Voice: And now it's time for America's favorite new game show--Wheel. Of. Ventilators. And here is your host--that stable genius and your favorite President, America's cheerleader--Donnnnald J. Trump.

(Orchestra plays upbeat version of Hail to the Chief. TRUMP enters.)

Trump: Good evening, everybody. Welcome, fake news media and everyone in the studio audience (Three people clap.) Recently, we decided to make these daily COVID-19 press briefings more fun. Even though my ratings were through the roof--I mean, Super Bowl, Bachelor finale, JR Getting
Shot, that level, you know what I mean. Even though we had such great ratings, I wanted something catchier, more entertaining. So I decided, why not make the whole thing a game? You know, audiences love that. And I'm a cheerleader. That's what I do. People like that Yamiche Alcindor woman from PBS or somewhere, always asking negative, depressing questions. What a downer, right? Can't she lighten up a bit? Before we get started, I want to thank this evening's sponsors, the makers of the new miracle drug hydroxychloroquine (He holds up a bottle of fish tank cleaner), the MyPillow Guy, and my daughter Ivanka who along with my son-in-law Jared, will be reading the questions for our contestants.

(Jared and Ivanka enter. Three people clap.)

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show: Part Ten (Quarantine Edition)

We are now at the end of week three of lockdown/quarantine in NYC. Broadway theaters will not reopen until at least June 7, schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester, millions of people have lost their jobs or been furloughed, too many idiots STILL approve of Monster Trump's awful performance, and we need to review more of the missing Carol Burnett Show episodes.

Season Two
Sept. 30, 1968: Carol Channing
The two Carols as each other
A promising opening with the two Carols answering questions is followed by two routine sketches in the MeTV/Amazon edited version. In the first, Harvey is a presidential candidate delivering his umpteenth stump speech while exhausted wife Carol cannot stay awake to save her life. Then Carol Channing makes a dazzling entrance in a jewel-encrusted mini-skirt as a Lorelei Lee-like golddigger after elderly millionaire Harvey's money while our Carol as his neglected secretary-nurse-companion fumes. It would have been fun to see the Carols sing a duet. I did find a picture of them impersonating each other and it may be this was one of the musical numbers on this episode. IMDB does list details about some of segments and such a sketch is not included. It's possible the picture is from a Carol Channing special with Burnett as her guest.