Monthly Archives: November 2015



(Van Badham’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/24.)

Hugh Jackman’s Broadway to Oz show is an all-singing, all-dancing arena cabaret variety revue. In silver pants and lots of glitter, the action movie star belts out the showtunes, tap-dances, projects the family photo album and soars across the audience on a flying fox – last night, at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, above the heads of a packed, ovating, rapturous crowd.

If the juxtaposition of the star of the X-Men blockbusters reeling off a tender number from Carousel amuses, it’s a joke that Jackman enjoys. He began his career both playing a crim on a TV crime show as well as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast at the Princess Theatre, and much mirth is made in the show by Jackman of his recruitment as Wolverine between the matinee and evening shows of his West End run as Curly in Oklahoma!



(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/21; via Pam Green.)

Here’s a recipe for a terrible play: Characters are rarely in the same room as one another; conversations are typed rather than spoken; one side of a dispute can’t be heard by the audience.

Not great drama but, in 2015 America, the stuff of real life, where the rapid spread of mobile technology has redefined the way people talk, the way they shop, the way they walk down the street.

As a result, it is redefining how they interact onstage and, in the process, challenging playwrights, directors and set designers who are trying to figure out matters as technical as how to let theater audiences know what is being said on screens they cannot see, and as cosmic as what technological change means for human interconnectedness.


(David Jackson’s article appeared in USA Today, 11/25; via the Drudge Report.)

WASHINGTON — The 17 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year are "extraordinary people" who have left their mark on politics, entertainment, athletics and the United States itself, President Obama said Tuesday.

From singer-actress Barbra Streisand to NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson to filmmaker Steven Spielberg to recently deceased baseball star Yogi Berra, Obama paid tribute to American originals with the nation's highest civilian honor during a White House ceremony.

"We celebrate artists, public servants and two legends from America's pastime," Obama said, the latter comment referring to Berra and fellow baseball Hall of Fame member Willie Mays.



(via John Shahan, Chairman, SAC ( and Patricia N. Saffran.)


DEBBIE RADCLIFFE shows how the “Impossible Doublet” in the Droeshout engraving makes Shakspeare look ridiculous!


Watch the video!

Anyone who thinks the First Folio proves William of Stratford wrote the works of William Shakespeare should watch this video:( The video shows clearly that the man depicted in the Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare in the First Folio is wearing an impossible garment! Once analyzed, it is clear that the engraving shows him wearing a doublet in which the right front is actually the left back of the same doublet shown on his left front. As explained in the video, this is not something that could have happened by accident. For some reason, the engraving was designed as a ridiculous caricature. Watch the video and see for yourself, then please forward the link to others. Every Shakespeare scholar, actor, student and literary reporter should see this video. The professional production, narrated by actress Debbie Radcliffe, makes it very clear. Our literary “emperor” is wearing ridiculous clothes! Just look at him!

The Droeshout engraving

The best-known image of Shakespeare is the iconic “Droeshout engraving” on the title page of the First Folio collection of his plays, published in 1623. The First Folio was an expensive production and an unprecedented tribute, so it has always seemed odd that its publishers included such a strange engraving. It is flawed in several ways, as even orthodox scholars acknowledge. Most blame the engraver, Martin Droeshout, and attribute the oddities to amateurish incompetence; but the publishers did not have to accept it and could have found someone else for such a project. The fact that they did not implies they were satisfied.

Now we know that the oddities were deliberate and must have been required by the publishers to alert readers, right up front, not to trust what followed. In 1911, a tailor published an article pointing out that the right side of the front of the doublet in the engraving is obviously the left side of the back. He wrote that it was “not unnatural to assume it was intentional and done with express object and purpose.” Since what is obvious to a tailor is not obvious to others, Shakespeare scholars have ignored it; but now an analysis by Dr. John Rollett, a close-observing scientist, makes it a lot harder to ignore. Rollett’s analysis* makes it clear that the doublet consists of the left front and left back of the same garment – a sartorial absurdity. The engraving depicts the author with two left sides, front and back, and two left arms! Rather than amateurish, it turns out to be a skillfully-executed ridiculous caricature. The man depicted was apparently being mocked!

Per Rollett, the video concludes that “by clothing the figure in a ridiculous and nonsensical garment, the publishers were most likely indicating that the person ostensibly depicted, Shakspere of Stratford, was not the true author of the plays that followed.” Rather, the video asserts, the engraving “seems deliberately designed to alert observant readers, right on the title page, to be skeptical about taking everything in the Folio at face value and to keep an eye out for other anomalies.” If so, there are in fact several other anomalies in the First Folio that call the attribution of the plays to Shakspere of Stratford into question, as is well known. For example, on the page facing the engraving is a ten-line poem by Ben Jonson addressed "To the Reader.” It begins:

                This Figure, that thou here seest put/  It was for gentle Shakespeare cut

Rather than a picture of Shakespeare, we see a “Figure” that was cut “for” him. A frontispiece engraving of an author should be of him, not a figure made for him. The poem ends by saying “Reader looke/ Not on his picture, but his Book.” Rather than affirming the authenticity of the engraving (its ostensible purpose), it undercuts its own message, telling us that the engraving should be ignored in favor of the plays, where the real Shakespeare is to be found. Since we now know the engraving is in fact a ridiculous caricature, this interpretation is supported. Jonson evidently knew the engraving was bogus, so he said to ignore it.

Orthodox scholars say no one doubted Shakespeare’s identity until the mid-19th century (a claim that is totally false – several people hinted that they had doubts during Shakspere’s lifetime), but here we have Jonson and the publishers of the First Folio undermining the attribution to the Stratford man right up front in the First Folio, supposedly the strongest evidence in his favor. Nor is his coat of arms anywhere in the Folio – an egregious omission. That could have been an oversight, but the Impossible Doublet could only have been deliberate. If there is any other way to interpret the engraving, we would like to know what it is.

John Shahan, Chairman, SAC (

*Rollett's analysis first appeared here in 2010, then in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?, and in William Stanley as Shakespeare.



(via Michelle Farabaugh/BBBway)

Only 9 Weeks Remaining on Broadway

An interactive American Sign Language experience will be held at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre prior to the Tuesday, December 1st performance of Deaf West Theatre’s acclaimed production of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening. Producer and Deaf West Theatre Artistic Director D.J. Kurs, along with members of the cast, will lead an inside look into the process of translating the lyrics of Spring Awakening into American Sign Language. Signed words and lyrics from the show will be taught, followed by a sing- and sign-along.

Beginning at 5:00PM, ticketholders for that evening’s performance may check in at the theatre. The event will be held from 5:15-6:00PM. That night’s show begins at 7:00PM. Tickets from $89 for the class and performance can be purchased at by using the code “ASL.”

Spring Awakening, directed by Michael Arden and choreographed by Spencer Liff, is currently playing on Broadway in a limited engagement through Sunday, January 24 only at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th Street).

“If you can’t get tickets to Hamilton, this is the show to see.” -Charles Isherwood, The New York Times / WQXR


The complete cast of Spring Awakening is Robert Ariza, Miles Barbee, Katie Boeck, Alex Boniello, Joshua Castille, Lizzy Cuesta, Daniel N. Durant, Treshelle Edmond, Sandra Mae Frank, Kathryn Gallagher, Sean Grandillo, Elizabeth Greene, Russell Harvard, Amelia Hensley, Van Hughes, Lauren Luiz, Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Camryn Manheim, Daniel Marmion, Academy and Golden Globe Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Marlee Matlin, Austin P. McKenzie, Andy Mientus, Patrick Page, Ren, Krysta Rodriguez, Daniel David Stewart, Ali Stroker, Alexandra Winter, and Alex Wyse.


The production’s creative team includes Dane Laffrey (scenic and costume design), Ben Stanton (lighting design), Gareth Owen (sound design), Lucy Mackinnon (projection design), and Carol F. Doran (hair and wig design). New York casting by Telsey + Company/Craig Burns, CSA. Original casting by Beth Lipari and Bruce Newberg.

Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name and featuring an electrifying pop/rock score, Spring Awakening follows the lives of a group of adolescents as they navigate their journey from adolescence to adulthood in a fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll. An extraordinary creative team including Michael Arden and Spencer Liff has reinvented the groundbreaking musical about lost innocence and the struggles of youth in true Deaf West style.

Spring Awakening is produced by Ken Davenport, Cody Lassen, Hunter Arnold, David J. Kurs, and Deaf West Theatre, with Carl Daikeler, Sandi Moran, Chockstone Pictures, Caiola Productions, Marguerite Hoffman, H. Richard Hopper, LearyTodd Productions, MarKolTop Productions, R&D Theatricals, Brian Cromwell Smith, Invisible Wall Productions, Monica Horan Rosenthal, and Associate Producer Kayla Greenspan. 

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Openings and Previews

The Color Purple


Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, and Danielle Brooks star in a revival of the 2005 musical, based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and directed by John Doyle. In previews.

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Fiddler on the Roof

Broadway Theatre

Danny Burstein plays Tevye, the shtetl patriarch, in Bartlett Sher's revival of the 1964 musical, based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem. In previews.

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Vineyard Theatre presents a new musical by Matthew roi Berger, Randy Blair, and Tim Drucker, about a boy who goes to weight-loss camp in Pennsylvania. In previews. Opens Dec. 3.

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In Jane Martin’s play, directed by West Hyler, a movie star cast in a Broadway production of "Hamlet" goes looking for his Ophelia. Previews begin Nov. 27. Opens Dec. 1.

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Invisible Thread

Second Stage

Diane Paulus directs Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews’s musical, in which a young New Yorker volunteers in Uganda. Opens Dec. 2.

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New York Theatre Workshop

Ivo van Hove directs a new musical by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, inspired by “The Man Who Fell to Earth" and starring Michael C. Hall, Cristin Milioti, and Michael Esper. In previews. Opens Dec. 7.

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Marjorie Prime

Playwrights Horizons

In Jordan Harrison's play, directed by Anne Kauffman and set in the near future, an elderly woman uses artificial intelligence to review her life story. In previews.

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New York Animals

New Ohio

Bedlam presents a new play by Steven Sater (“Spring Awakening”), featuring songs by Sater and Burt Bacharach, in which four actors play twenty-one New Yorkers on a rainy day. In previews. Opens Nov. 29.

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Oh, Hello On (Off) Broadway

Cherry Lane

The comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney revive their characters Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, two Upper West Siders known for the fictitious prank show "Too Much Tuna." In previews.

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Once Upon a Mattress

Abrons Arts Center

Jackie Hoffman and John (Lypsinka) Epperson star in the Mary Rodgers musical about the princess and the pea, revived by Transport Group and directed by Jack Cummings III. In previews.

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These Paper Bullets!

Atlantic Theatre Company

Billie Joe Armstrong and Rolin Jones wrote this musical adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing," reset in Beatles-era London and directed by Jackson Gay. In previews.

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(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/16; via Pam Green.)

CHICAGO — The sound of an orchestra tuning up signals the start of “Good for Otto,” the new play by David Rabe having its premiere at the small Gift Theater here. It’s a smart touch from the director, Michael Patrick Thornton, for Mr. Rabe’s moving drama does have a symphonic quality, although an apt analogy would be mournful Shostakovich rather than something jubilantly lyrical from, say, Schubert.

As exciting as it can be to discover fresh new voices, it can be just as heartening to see a veteran playwright return to powerful form, as Mr. Rabe unquestionably does in this sprawling drama about mental illness. (The play is based on material from the book “Undoing Depression,” by Richard O’Connor.) With an amplitude that almost overwhelms — the play, with a 15-member cast, runs a full three hours — Mr. Rabe digs into his subject with a depth that almost feels bottomless.

The expansiveness at times can be a little oppressive — we are still meeting new people with new problems late in the first act — but the play’s near-epic nature is integral to its strength. We come to share, in a small way, the sense of laboring under an unbearable burden that plagues the central character, a counselor and administrator at a mental health clinic in the Berkshires.


(Chris Gardner’s article appeared in the Hollywood Reposted, 11/20; via Pam Green.)

Ava Gardner, Meryl Streep, Ellen Page and Maggie Smith are included.

Sir Ian McKellen acted in a film with the great Ava Gardner.

The 1981 film, titled Priest of Love, cast the Mr. Holmes star as author D.H. Lawrence and Gardner as artist Mabel Dodge Luhan. McKellen recalls that while Gardner, then in her 50s, was quite great, her trailer on the Mexico set was not.

“At lunchtime, it was used as the toilet for all the crew. It was appalling and I said so,” he remembers. “She said, ‘Don’t worry, Ian, don’t worry.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to get better accommodations than this. Will you promise me that you will call your agent the minute you get to the hotel?’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘I will not. I won’t call my agent. I’m going to call Frank.’ It seems that if you’ve been married to Frank Sinatra, you don’t need an agent. Two days later, the biggest fuck-off trailer you’ve ever seen arrived.”

The anecdote had the Thursday night audience inside L.A.’s Fine Arts Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard howling with laughter — and there was plenty more of it during McKellen's "Women I've Filmed With," his second outing with the monologue retrospective he debuted at the recent Mill Valley Film Festival.


(from the AP, 11/22; via the Drudge Report.)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Authorities have arrested 12 people who tried to block the entrance to a theater performance in Poland they deemed pornographic.

The case highlights the cultural conflict that is already brewing between secular Polish society and a new conservative pro-Catholic government that took power last Monday.

Scuffles broke out late Saturday in Wroclaw when members of a Catholic organization tried to stop theater-goers from seeing "Death and the Maiden." The Polski Theater in Wroclaw says on its website that the play explores the relationship between torturer and victim and is based on the "Princess Dramas: Death and the Maiden I-V" by the Nobel Prize-winning Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek.)