Saturday, February 26, 2022

B'way Update: Kimberly Akimbo Transfers, Neil Diamond Musical in Boston

Victoria Clark in Kimberly Akimbo
Credit: Ahron R. Foster
We have the first definite date for a Broadway opening for the 2022-23 season. Kimberly Akimbo, the hit musical version of David Lindsay-Abaire's quirky play about a young woman in an old woman's body, will begin performances Oct. 12 in advance of a Nov. 10 opening at a Shubert theater to be announced. The musical with book and lyrics by Lindsay-Abaire and music by Tony winner Jeanine Tesori (Violet, Caroline, or Change), recently concluded its hit run at the Off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company. The Atlantic cast led by Victoria Clark will repeat their performances for the Broadway run. This should make for an interesting awards season in 2023 since Kimberly will be eligible for 2022 Drama Desk, Outer Critics and the New York Drama Critics Circle awards which include Off-Broadway. But the show will only be eligible for the Tonys in 2023.

The returning cast also includes Justin Cooley in his Broadway debut, Tony nominee Steven Boyer (Hand to God), Ali Mauzey (CryBaby), Bonnie Milligan (Head Over Heels), Fernell Hogan (The Prom), and--all making their Broadway debuts--Olivia Easley Hardy, Michael Iskander,  and Nina White. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

8 Oscar Categories Won't Be Presented Live

Robin Robin is my favorite so far for
Animated Short, but this category
won't be presented live on Oscar night.
Several categories will not be presented live on the Oscars on March 27, like on the Tonys, yet there will be time for a bogus "Fan Favorite" award decided by Twitter users. The missing categories will be presented in a pre-broadcast ceremony. The winners will be announced during the televised show with a list of the nominees flashed on the screen and (presumably) brief excerpts from their acceptance speeches edited into the broadcast. The exiled categories will be Best Documentary Short, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, and Best Achievement in Sound. Why those and not Costume Design, Art Direction, Visual Effects??? This move is prompted by the falling ratings for the annual accolades and has been attempted once before. In 2018, a similar bloodletting of categories was proposed, then quickly abandoned following an industry backlash and threats of a boycott. Those cries have been renewed this year. We'll have to wait to see if history repeats itself and all the categories are restored to on-air status. The Tony Awards have been slicing and disrespecting numerous below-the-title artists for years now in order to keep their show from running overtime. This past year they only presented three awards during the CBS broadcast and presented the rest in a pre-show ceremony on Paramount Plus. Did anyone think of doing that for the Oscars? 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Oscar Nominees: Shorts, Flee, Ascension, plus a Side Trip to LMAD

A scene from Flee, nominated
for Best Animated Feature, International
Film, and Doc. Feature.
The never-ending quest to see all the Oscar-nominated films for 2022 (or as many as possible) continues. The plethora of streaming services has made it much easier to cram as many in as possible before Oscar night on March 27, also the fact that the ceremony is later than in recent years due to the COVID crisis. In addition, it's Presidents Day week which I have off from my job. This past Thurs. night, we watched Flee and killed three birds with one stone. This film about the real-life story of a gay refugee escaping from Afghanistan and settling in Denmark, is nominated in a trio of categories: Best Animated Feature, International Film and Documentary Feature.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Woody Allen's Rifkin's Festival

You know you're in trouble 
when the poster is more
entertaining that the film.
While scanning for movie times for Parallel Mothers (because Penelope Cruz is Oscar-nominated for Best Actress and I want to see all the nominees in the major categories this year), I discovered that Woody Allen's latest (and perhaps last) film, Rifkin's Festival was playing at the Quad Cinema, a tiny fourplex. The film was completed a year ago and shown at the San Sebastian Film Festival, where it happens to be set, but there were doubts it would ever be released in the US because of renewed accusations against Allen by his adopted daughter Dylan that he molested her when she was a child. Rifkin's production and release were also delayed because of the COVID crisis. Allen's previous film, A Rainy Day in New York was dropped by its US distributor when the Farrows began ratcheting up their cries amidst the #MeToo movement. If Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby were becoming pariahs and having their careers cancelled, why not Allen? Rainy Day was released around the world except for the US and was one of the maligned filmmaker's biggest international successes. Friends in Israel saw it and liked it. It finally showed up on streaming services like iTunes last year and it was slightly amusing.

Out of curiosity, more than anything else, I resolved to see Rifkin on a cold, drizzly Super Bowl Sunday with my friend Diane. After all, I have seen every one of Allen's 48 earlier works, so of course I had to include this one. Rainy Day had a few moments of fun and wit, but Rifkin is totally lacking in either. The screenplay is a sad retread of numerous Allen schtick-tropes with only one or two genuine laughs. Mort Rifkin (Wallace Shawn), the latest in a long line of schlubby, late middle-aged Allen stand-ins is a pretentious writer and former cinema studies professor attending the San Sebastian Festival with his gorgeous, younger wife (Gina Gershon), a publicist. She is escorting her client, an even more pretentious and handsome French film director (Louis Garrel). Naturally, the publicist and the director are having an affair and Mort manages to find an even younger and even more ravishing love object, a Spanish doctor (Elena Anaya) treating Mort's hypochondriac symptoms. (Shades of Hannah and Her Sisters). Of the latter Allen films, only Whatever Works contains a protagonist ultimately hooking up with an age-appropriate woman. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Additions to Oscar and Gilded Age Lists

Benedict Cumberbatch
in The Power of the Dog 
which leads the 2022 Oscars noms with 12.
The Oscar nominations came out last week and I've seen eight of the ten Best Picture nominees thanks to streaming services. It looks like for the first time, I might be able to see almost ALL of the nominated films in ALL of the categories including International Film, Animated, Documentary and the Shorts. iTunes, Netflix and Amazon have many of them available, so I will feel like real insider on March 27.

Oscar Nominees/Buzzed Movies Seen:
West Side Story (in the actual cinema, Kaufman Astoria on a Monday afternoon, we were the only ones in the theater)
The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
The Lost Daughter (Netflix)
tick...tick..Boom! (Netflix)
Don't Look Up (Netflix)
Passing (Netflix)
Being the Ricardos (Amazon)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple Plus)
CODA (Apple Plus)
Belfast (iTunes)
Nightmare Alley (HBO Max)
Dune (iTunes)
King Richard (iTunes)

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Subway Encounter

I'm still dealing with pain issues from being hit by a car just before Christmas. The six broken ribs seem to have healed, but now pains in my back and the third of three MRIs reveal several herniated discs. 

But I am managing to get to some shows to review. Luckily it's a slow time before the pre-Tony onslaught of openings in the spring. On my way to the city to see the operatic version of Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel at Lincoln Center, I ran to catch the E train which was about to pull out of the station in Jackson Heights. I got into an empty car just as the doors were closing. Normally I would avoid such a situation because of the inevitable homeless person driving other riders away, but there was no choice. The doors closed and I was trapped in the car with the worst smelling derelict ever encountered. It was a bearded old man at the other end of the car surrounded by cast-off fast food wrappers and a foil blanket, stinking to high heaven. There was one other passenger who joined me as far away from the homeless guy as possible. We were stuck until the next express stop.

"I feel badly for them," my fellow traveller said, "but there really should be someplace for them to go."

"He's probably been living here for a few days," I responded.

"The shelters aren't safe. It's worse than being on the street I hear. The government should do something for them. They should help."

"It won't because people like Donald Trump think the government shouldn't help people."

"All politicians are the same. They're all corrupt and don't care about anybody."

Here is where we differed. I said, "No, you're wrong. Republicans are much, much worse than Democrats. They are not all the my opinion. That's what I think. Republicans don't want to help anybody and are only interested in staying in power and lining their own pockets."

He didn't disagree.  We got to the next express stop, the doors opened, we ran to the next car, and parted ways.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

B'way Update: Hangmen Resurrected; Shakespeare in the Park Season

A scene from the March 2020 production of 
Credit: Joan Marcus
Hangmen, Martin McDonough's dark comedy about a public executioner and his family, will open on Broadway after having been pronounced dead. The play had begun previews in March 2020, but was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced soon thereafter that the production, along with the long-running musical Frozen and a revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, would not be resuming performances at all. Hangmen had transferred to the John Golden Theater after a successful 2018 Off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater Company and winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. This new incarnation will begin performances at the Golden on April 8 with an opening scheduled for April 21 for a limited, ten-week engagement.

Directed by Matthew Dunster, the cast will be headed by Alfie Allen of Game of Thrones, opposite David Threfall, best known for his performance as Smike in the London and New York production of Nicholas Nickelby. The cast also includes Drama Desk and Olivier Award winner Tracie Bennett (Rainbow's End), Owen Campbell, Jeremy Crutchley, Gaby French, Josh Goulding, John Hodgkinson, Richard Hollis, John Horton, Andy Nyman, and Ryan Pope, with Sebastian Beacon, Peter Bradbury, Katie Fabel and Colin McPhillamy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tony Winners and Oscar Buzz for tick...tick...Boom!

Andrew Garfield with director
Lin-Manuel Miranda filming
at the Strand Book Store
Credit: Netflix
In the last blog post, I listed all the Tony winners and nominees on the first episode of The Gilded Age. (There were no new Tony winners to report in last night's second episode, but Kristen Nielsen as Mrs. Bauer did get to do some sobbing because she owed some tough guy $50.) Before watching that sophomore effort of the HBO Julian Fellowes series, I finally caught up with tick...tick..Boom on Netflix which is also stuffed with Tony recipients and nominees. This adaptation of Jonathan Larson's posthumously-produced autobiographical musical is a top contender for Oscar nominations according to internet buzz. Here is a list (below) of the strong Oscar favorites that I've seen so far. At first, I thought I wasn't going to get caught up in the Academy Awards this year, but then, just like last year, a whole bunch of the potential nominees became available on streaming platforms, so I figured, why not see as many as possible. The Oscar noms will be out Feb. 8.