BROADWAY TO REMAIN CLOSED THROUGH JUNE 7, APPARENTLY ENDING 2019-2020 SEASON IMMEDIATELY ·

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock (10581536w)
New York’s governor ordered all Broadway theaters to shut their doors in the face of ongoing coronavirus concerns.
Coronavirus outbreak, New York, USA – 12 Mar 2020

(Greg Evans’s article appeared on Deadline, 4/8; via the Drudge Report.)

Broadway will remain closed through June 7, a two-month extension of the current coronavirus shutdown that would seem to retroactively end the 2019-2020 Broadway season with the March 12 shutdown.

The extension announcement was made today by the Broadway League, the trade group representing theater owners and producers, which had been in discussions with theatrical unions this week.

No mention was made in the League’s announcement of officially closing the Broadway season – theoretically, at least, the 2019-2020 season could be extended but the logistics would seem to make that an unlikely option.

“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”

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OPERA STAR BOCELLI TO SING FROM EMPTY DUOMO IN MILAN ·

(From Reuters, 4/7; via the Drudge Report. )

MILAN, April 7 (Reuters) – Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s most famous tenors, will perform from Milan’s empty Duomo cathedral on Easter Sunday in a livestreamed concert intended as a symbol of love, hope and healing amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Bocelli will be accompanied only by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, playing one of world’s largest pipe organs and performing a repertoire of sacred works including Pietro Mascagni’s Sancta Maria.

The concert will be streamed on Bocelli’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/andreabocelli at 1700 GMT on April 12.

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PATRICIA BOSWORTH, ACTOR TURNED CELEBRITY BIOGRAPHER, DIES OF CORONAVIRUS ·

(Stacy Perman’s article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, 4/4; photo: Patricia Bosworth, left, with Audrey Hepburn in “The Nun’s Story.” [Patricia Bosworth]).

Patricia Bosworth, known for her role opposite Audrey Hepburn in the 1959 film “The Nun’s Story,” her biographies of Hollywood luminaries and her own celebrated memoirs, died in Manhattan on April 2. She was 86.

Bosworth’s stepdaughter, Fia Hatsav, told the New York Times that the author died of pneumonia brought on by the novel coronavirus.

A member of the Actors Studio during its golden era under Lee Strasberg, Bosworth studied alongside Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Jane Fonda. In the 1950s and ’60s, she appeared in a number of Broadway plays, including “Inherit the Wind,” along with such TV shows as “Naked City” and “The Patty Duke Show” and films.

During the 1960s, Bosworth gave up acting to become a journalist, writing for the New York Times and magazines including New York, Mirabella and Working Woman — largely about the entertainment business and the many luminaries she befriended at the Actors Studio. In 1994, then-editor Tina Brown hired her as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.

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LIFE SKETCHES (SHORT SCENES AND MONOLOGUES): “AT THE DOG PARK” (5) ·

By Bob Shuman

Photo of Juno (Junie)

SCENE: A dog park in the Bronx. There are two benches. The first is near the entrance to the run—the second is toward the opposite end.

MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on one side of the bench closest to the entrance of the dog run. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, LANTERN. CHRISTIE, late 50’s (male), is standing in the run reprimanding one of his two Jack Russell terriers, JASPER. The other dog, JUNO is digging a hole, near MARY JANE, which Lantern has started. There is a large container of water near the front of the run. A sunny day. April.

MARY JANE wears a glove on the hand she throws her ball with; CHRISTIE wears surgical gloves and a thicker glove on .

(Suddenly:)

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper, seeing he has taken the green ball from Lantern.) You’re a little thief!

MARY JANE:: When Lantern was younger, he would do that.

CHRISTIE: Stealing the ball right from under Lantern’s nose.

MARY JANE: He used to do it if he found a ball he liked better than his.

(Pause.)

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) I thought you wanted your orange ball.

MARY JANE: They’re playing a little game (with the green ball).

CHRISTIE: Come on—get your own. It’s right over here. (The dogs have no interest.)

MARY JANE: Look at how nicely Junie is enjoying the sun. (And Junie is sunning herself.)

CHRISTIE: Let Lantern have his own ball, for a change.

(Silence. MARY JANE and CHRISTIE begin throwing the green ball for Lantern and Jasper to fetch. )

MARY JANE: Lantern almost got out of the back run yesterday. He was headed toward the field–Natan had to get him back in.

(Silence.)

(MARY JANE and CHRISTIE sit on different benches, looking over the park.)

MARY JANE: The white cars are Enforcement. They’re the ones who disperse crowds. The green trucks are park maintenance.

CHRISTIE: The tennis nets are gone. I saw that this morning.

MARY JANE: Did they take the hoops down in the basketball courts? Just look. Are the hoops still in the baskets?

CHRISTIE: (He looks through the fence across the street.) Yes.

MARY JANE: They’re closing parks in New York City because people aren’t social distancing. One woman was having a children’s birthday party with twelve guests.

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Get the orange ball.

MARY JANE: Washington State, they listened. California has been doing a very good job. But in New York they won’t.

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) You’re a little thief.

MARY JANE: I don’t want them to put locks on the run. I don’t have anyone else who can walk him now–Gina has an underlying condition.

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Leave Lantern alone.

MARY JANE: (About underlying conditions.) I’ve learned that I have three: heart, diabetes, high blood pressure—and now they consider obesity one. 

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Stop barking at Lantern.

MARY JANE: I left the gate ajar this morning so no one will have to touch it.

(Jasper barks at Lantern. Subsides.)

CHRISTIE: There’s a story about an epidemic. “Pale Horse, Pale Rider.” Takes place in Colorado, during the early 1900s. I read it in college. Always remembered it. Really good.

MARY JANE: (Seeing Lantern at the keg of water.) Lantern, stop acting so crazy.

CHRISTIE: What’s going on over there?

MARY JANE: He’s been acting this way all morning.

CHRISTIE: He’s knocking over the water.

MARY JANE: (To Lantern.) Enough.

CHRISTIE: (Christie picks up the water jug and pours water into the tin bowl.) I’m sorry, Lantern. I’ll get you water. I thought you had it.

(Lantern drinks, followed by Jasper.)

MARY JANE: Did you hear from your school?

CHRISTIE: I heard from them about two weeks ago. The course seems to be going online. I still seem to have it.

MARY JANE: I don’t know whether it’s true, but in Wuhan–I heard it in two places–they’ve found people with the virus locked in their rooms, from the outside.

CHRISTIE: So no one can get out.

(Pause.)

CHRISTIE: (To Jasper.) Why do you keep bringing me the green ball? What’s wrong with the orange one?

MARY JANE: Emergency services will leave you if they can’t find a pulse. They won’t make any attempts to revive you. They used to try to resuscitate you and take you to the hospital.

CHRISTIE: I didn’t hear that.

MARY JANE: Now, if you’re dead, you’re dead.

(Silence.)

CHRISTIE: What’s the matter Lantern?

MARY JANE: (About Lantern.) Sometimes I think he doesn’t get enough oxygen to his brain.

CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) That was so nice that you dug that hole for Junie to lie in.

MARY JANE: (Lantern is lying in front of the gate.) He wants to go. Look at him. He wants to leave.

(Silence.)

CHRISTIE: Lantern’s trying to get out—he wants to get out of the gate.

MARY JANE: You come back here.

CHRISTIE: Juno. Jasper. You stay here.

(CHRISTIE closes the gate.)

MARY JANE: (About Lantern.) He’s out of the fence.

CHRISTIE: Lantern, come back here!

MARY JANE: I’m afraid he’ll run into the street and get hit by a car.

CHRISTIE: Lantern, get back.

MARY JANE: Help me get him.

CHRISTIE: He’s running.

MARY JANE: They’ll lock the fence at the run.

CHRISTIE: Do you see him? Look at him go. Out on the field. He has the orange ball. He’s running.

MARY JANE: Lantern, come here!

CHRISTIE: He’s turned around. He’s on his way back! You were beautiful, Lantern.

(End.)

(c) 2020 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

THE PAGE’S THE THING – TAKE IT FROM SHAKESPEARE’S EARLIEST READERS ·

(Emma Smith’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/1.)

With theatres closed, now is the time to find pleasure in Shakespeare’s texts. His first fans used them for chat-up lines – and read the plays without the baggage of Bardolatry

That Shakespeare wrote for the theatre and that his plays should be enjoyed on the stage not the page has become the standard rallying cry of directors, teachers and academics. “I don’t think people should bother to read Shakespeare. They should see him in the theatre,” Sir Ian McKellen advised in 2015. And if actors bring Shakespeare to life, according to Royal Shakespeare Company director Greg Doran, the benefits are mutual: advocating a “Shakespeare gym” earlier this year, Doran suggested that without proper opportunity to perform Shakespeare, the craft of acting itself could “diminish or get lost”.

But this is a modern perspective. Powerful advocates for Shakespeare in the past were less convinced by the medium of theatre. Samuel Johnson, the great 18th-century lexicographer and editor of the plays, felt that while comedy was often better experienced in the theatre, tragedy rarely was. Charles Lamb, who with his sister Mary wrote the popular children’s Tales from Shakespeare, suggested that “the plays of Shakespeare are less calculated for performance on a stage than those of almost any other dramatist whatever”. When we watch King Lear, he suggested, we see merely the mundanely pitiful “old man tottering about the stage with a walking-stick”, but when “we read it, we see not Lear but we are Lear”. Deep engagement with the plays meant private study, not public spectacle.

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HEAR BOB DYLAN’S ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING NEW SONG ‘MURDER MOST FOUL’ ·

(Brian Hiatt’s article appeared in Rolling Stone, 3/27; Photo: Rolling Stone.)

Bob Dylan, who hasn’t released an original song since 2012’s Tempest, unexpectedly dropped a previously unheard, nearly 17-minute-long new track, “Murder Most Foul,” late Thursday night.

Dylan didn’t say exactly when the song was recorded, but his delicate vocal delivery resembles the way he’s been singing in his live shows in the past couple of years. “Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years,” Dylan said in a statement. “This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you.”

This dizzying, utterly extraordinary song — as allusive as it is elusive — starts off seeming like it might be a straightforward recounting of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but expands into an impressionistic, elegiac, increasingly apocalyptic journey through what feels like the entire Sixties (complete with references to the Who’s Tommy, Woodstock, and Altamont) and then perhaps all of 20th-century America, especially its music.

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WHAT TO STREAM: A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A FAILED STEPHEN SONDHEIM PRODUCTION   ·

(Richard Brody’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 3/27; Photo Source: Atlas Media via Pam Green.)

March 27, 2020

The coronavirus lockdown adds wild emotional lurches to the movie-viewing equation: What to watch for pleasure, at a time of distress and worry? And what to watch when the regular rhythm of new releases has all but stopped? I’ve noticed, anecdotally, that movie enthusiasts with whom I’m acquainted have pursued a wide range of selections in lockdown times: some have gone for Hollywood classics, familiar or not; others have sought out wide-release movies of recent decades that they’d missed the first time around, or yet others are watching modern masterworks of international cinema. Some viewers head for easygoing movies of warm emotion and handy optimism. I haven’t been able to make up my mind, so I’ve rather been yielding to happenstance and watching movies that adventitious prompts have brought to mind.

Prompted by a tweet from Odie Henderson, a fellow-critic, referring to his review in the Village Voice, from 2016, I recently watched the remarkable documentary “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened.” It’s about the greatly anticipated production and immediate failure of the Stephen Sondheim/Hal Prince musical “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981; it’s directed by Lonny Price, who was one of the lead actors in that original production. (I didn’t review the film at the time, because of a familial and personal connection to Price; we grew up around the corner from each other in Queens.) Price’s film is a fascinating and moving combination of a backstage musical documentary and a first-person story of youthful dreams and long, knocked-around life arcs.

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