Monthly Archives: July 2016

MCLEAN: ‘C.S. LEWIS ONSTAGE: THE MOST RELUCTANT CONVERT’ (SV PICK, CHI) ·

(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 7/25.)

The British intellectual C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a man of many pursuits. A novelist, poet, literary critic, essayist, broadcaster, lecturer, academic (who spent much of his life at Oxford and Cambridge) and medievalist (who shared his interest in this period with his friend J.R.R. Tolkien), he is perhaps best known as the author of “The Screwtape Letters” (a satirical tale in which all the temptations and failings of a human life are examined from the viewpoint of devils) and “The Chronicles of Narnia” (a series of seven fantasy novels that stand as a classic of children’s literature).

In 2008, actor-adapter-director Max McLean brought his production of C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” to the Mercury Theater Chicago, where it became a huge (and surprising) box office hit. Now, in his new one-man show, “C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert,” McLean chronicles the writer’s journey from determined atheist to Christian believer with such wit, grace, braininess and economy that those on either side of the “God spectrum” are sure to delight in it.

http://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/witty-map-of-the-road-to-belief-in-one-man-show-about-c-s-lewis/

A ONE-MAN SHOW ABOUT JACK LEMMON, PERFORMED BY HIS SON ·

 

(Karin Lipson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/22; via Pam Green.)

When Jack Lemmon, the Oscar-winning actor, died of cancer at age 76 in 2001, his son, Chris, began writing down memories of the complex man he called Pop. This “search for catharsis,” as he describes it, coalesced in a 2006 memoir, “A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father,” and eventually, a one-man stage performance that developed over the course of a decade.

Following a London run, Mr. Lemmon is now bringing the newest reworking of the show, “Twist of Lemmon,” to the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington on July 28.

The show includes photo stills, film clips and Mr. Lemmon, 62, often at a piano. An accomplished pianist and composer, he performs works that “grow directly out of the narrative,” he said in a phone interview from Connecticut, where he lives.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/nyregion/a-one-man-show-about-jack-lemmon-performed-by-his-son.html

ROWLING/THORNE/TIFFANY: ‘HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD’ (SV PICK, UK) ·

 

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/26.)

“Keep the Secrets” is the injunction on badges handed out as we leave the theatre. It’s a motto that makes life hard for us hacks, but I am happy to divulge that John Tiffany, as director of this pair of two-and-a-half-hour plays, has masterminded a thrilling theatrical spectacle.

It is also one that will make much more sense to hardened Potterheads than to anyone who is not a member of the global cult. What we have is a brand new work by Jack Thorne based on an original story by himself, Tiffany and JK Rowling: a venture that I approached in a state of benign semi-innocence. I’ve read one of the seven Potter books and seen a couple of the eight films, and enjoyed them without becoming an addict. At times during the day, I felt as if I had wandered into Henry VI Part II without having seen the preceding plays.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/jul/26/harry-potter-cursed-child-review-palace-theatre-london

SIMON CALLOW: CLAP CLAP: A BRIEF HISTORY OF APPLAUSE ·

Listen on BBC Radio 4 at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07lffnh

Simon Callow explores one of the earliest and most universal systems people have used to interact with each other – the clapping of hands.

Applause in the ancient world was acclamation. But it was also communication. An early form of mass media, connecting people to each other and to their leaders – instantly, visually and, of course, audibly.

Applause today is much the same. In the studio, in the theatre, in places where people become publics, we still smack our palms together to show our appreciation – to create, in cavernous spaces, connection.

But we're also reinventing applause for a world where there are, technically, no hands. We clap for each others' tweets, we Like, we link and we share content to amplify the noise it makes.

Clapping was formalised, in Western culture at least, in the theatre. During the Roman Empire when theatre and politics merged, one of the chief methods politicians used to evaluate their standing with the people was by gauging the greetings they got when they entered the arena. In later times of course there came the role of the Claquer, hired to clap at the right times during a performance.

The programme concludes with an account of how applause is being reinvented by the digital age. With the help of trend forecaster Faith Popcorn (who coined the term cocooning in the 1990s) Simon explores how we have become an Audience of One – and what this means for applause.

This is the story of how we liked things before we Liked things.

Presenter: Simon Callow
Contributors: Megan Garber, Ian McMillan, Llyr Williams, Peter Jones, Faith Popcorn and Dr Richard Mann.
Producer: Llinos Jones

A Terrier production for BBC Radio 4.

‘THE NEW YORKER’ THEATRE LISTINGS, 8/1 PLAYDECK ·

 

OPENINGS AND PREVIEWS

BUTLER

59E59

Richard Strand’s play, directed by Joseph Discher, tells the true story of General Benjamin Butler’s moral crisis when three escaped slaves arrived at Fort Monroe in 1861 seeking sanctuary. Opens July 27.

GET TICKETS

CATS

Neil Simon

Trevor Nunn’s long-running production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” returns, featuring Leona Lewis as Grizabella. In previews. Opens July 31.

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GHOST QUARTET

Maria Hernandez Park

The Bushwick Starr presents a free, open-air staging of Dave Malloy’s chamber musical, which weaves together four tales set over seven centuries. July 29.

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KURT VONNEGUT'S GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER

City Center

“Encores! Off-Center” stages Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s little-known first musical, based on Vonnegut’s 1965 novel, about a millionaire (Santino Fontana) who decides to lavish his fortune on an impoverished town after reading the work of a utopian novelist (James Earl Jones). July 27-30.

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MEN ON BOATS

Peter Jay Sharp

Jaclyn Backhaus’s play, presented by Playwrights Horizons and Clubbed Thumb, is a stylized retelling of an 1869 expedition in which John Wesley Powell and a crew of explorers charted the Colorado River. In previews. Opens Aug. 1.

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QUIETLY

Irish Repertory

In Owen McCafferty’s drama, set in Northern Ireland following the Good Friday Agreement, two men meet in a Belfast bar forty years after a violent incident. Jimmy Fay directs. In previews. Opens July 28.

GET TICKETS

http://www.newyorker.com/goings-on-about-town/theatre

MARNI NIXON, REST IN PEACE (1930-2016) ·

 

(Margalit Fox’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/25.)

Marni Nixon, the American cinema’s most unsung singer, died on Sunday in Manhattan. She was 86.

The cause was breast cancer, said Randy Banner, a student and friend. Ms. Nixon, a California native, had lived in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, for more than 40 years.

Classically trained, Ms. Nixon was throughout the 1950s and ’60s the unseen — and usually uncredited — singing voice of the stars in a spate of celebrated Hollywood films. She dubbed Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” among many others.

Her other covert outings included singing for Jeanne Crain in “Cheaper by the Dozen,” Janet Leigh in “Pepe” and Ida Lupino in “Jennifer.” “The ghostess with the mostest,” the newspapers called her, a description that eventually began to rankle.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/arts/music/marni-nixon-singer-soprano-dies-86.html?_r=0

BAAYORK LEE, ‘A CHORUS LINE’ ORIGINAL, PASSES DOWN BROADWAY TRADITION TO ROSS LYNCH AT HOLLYWOOD BOWL ·

 

(Hayley Levitt’s interview appeared on Theatermania, 7/23.)

Lee hands Disney star Ross Lynch his theatrical debut with a side of theater history.

"We started the term 'triple threat,'" said Baayork Lee, A Chorus Line's original pint-size ballerina Connie Wong. Since originating the role in 1975, Lee has carried on the work of A Chorus Line creator Michael Bennett by choreographing or directing over 40 productions of the game-changing musical, which follows a group of chorus dancers through a soul-bearing audition. Over the course of this long tenure, she's employed thousands of those triple threats she and the show's first company indirectly helped to mold — a field that now includes the starry cast of her Hollywood Bowl mounting, running for three performances from July 29-31.

http://theatermania.com/los-angeles-theater/news/a-chorus-line-baayork-lee-ross-lynch-interview_77876.html

WRIGHT/FRANKEL/KORIE: ‘WAR PAINT’ (SV PICK, CHI) ·

 

(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 7/18.)

There has been much chatter recently about the lack of leading roles for women in Broadway musicals. Yet for every Sweeney Todd, Phantom and Hamilton there also has been a Mama Rose, an Evita, a Carole King and the Big and Little Edies of “Grey Gardens” fame.

Now, with “War Paint,” the world premiere musical at the Goodman Theatre about the rivalry between mid-20th century cosmetics moguls Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, two terrific female roles have been added to the canon courtesy of the “Grey Gardens” team. And putting their indelible lipstick marks on these titans of face creams and other beauty potions are Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, a pair of Broadway divas uncannily suited to their characters: fierce rivals who turn out to be two faces of the same coin engaged in a “civil war” that raged from the 1930s through the early 1960s.

http://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/war-paint-a-musical-whose-beauty-is-far-more-than-skin-deep/

FIVE OF THE BEST… THEATRE SHOWS THIS WEEK (UK) ·

 

(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/22.)

Titanic | The Book Of Mormon | Bugsy Malone | The Flying Lovers Of Vitebsk | Young Chekhov: Platonov, Ivanov & The Seagull

Titanic

In recent years, most shows that have docked at the Charing Cross Theatre have sunk without trace. Now, however, it has a hit with Maury Yeston’s 1997 musical charting the hopes and dreams of the passengers on the Titanic. Thom Southerland’s production, first seen at Southwark Playhouse in 2013, is genuinely affecting without capsizing into the mawkish.

Charing Cross Theatre, WC2, to 13 Aug

The Book Of Mormon

Even Mormons see the joke in this irreverent but essentially wholesome musical from the makers of South Park. A clever show about a group of Mormon missionaries in Africa, it’s full of enjoyable numbers that neatly pastiche Broadway musicals. It’s not ground-breaking and it is expensive, but this is an undeniably great night out.

Prince Of Wales Theatre, W1, to 15 Oct

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/jul/22/five-best-plays-this-week

WEBBER/RICE: ‘JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR’ (SV PICK, UK) ·

 

(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/22.)

It might not qualify as a miracle, but with help from choreographer Drew McOnie, designer Tom Scutt and a first-rate cast, director Timothy Sheader is turning water into top quality wine with his revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock musical, originally released as a concept album.

For all its gorgeous, giddy, lyrical moments, this can’t always transcend its late-60s rock antecedents and sometimes seems a trifle dated, but Sheader successfully locates its heart in Scutt’s rusty, rough and ready design, with its cruciform walkway. He fearlessly negotiates some of the show’s camper excesses, and sometimes embraces them: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper gets a witty look in, and it’s a masterstroke to have Judas’s hands stained with silver, like a glittery Lady Macbeth constantly confronted with the evidence of his guilt. Sheader’s production constantly pays reference to its origins as an arena show – Judas hangs himself using his microphone and cable.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/jul/22/jesus-christ-superstar-review-regents-park-london-rock-opera-musical