Monthly Archives: April 2018

LERNER AND LOEWE: ‘MY FAIR LADY’ AT LINCOLN CENTER (SV PICK, NY)  ·

(Jesse Green’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/19; via Pam Green.)

Poor Eliza. It’s not enough that her own father sells her for five pounds to the bully phonetician Henry Higgins. Or that Higgins strips her of her ragged clothes and Cockney accent so she can become a refined if useless lady.

No, the former flower girl is also a failure of feminism, if recent criticism is to be believed.

Don’t believe it.

The plush and thrilling Lincoln Center Theater revival of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” that opened on Thursday at the Vivian Beaumont Theater reveals Eliza Doolittle as a hero instead of a puppet — and reveals the musical, despite its provenance and male authorship, as an ur-text of the #MeToo moment. Indeed, that moment has made “My Fair Lady,” which had its Broadway premiere in 1956, better than it ever was.

It was always good, of course, one of the gleaming artifacts and loveliest scores of the Golden Age of American musical theater — a canon now being contested, with cause, for its unenlightened sexual politics.

Continue reading the main story

Photo: The New York Times

‘BE MORE CHILL’: HOW AN ANXIOUS-ADOLESCENT MUSICAL FOUND ITS FANS ·

(Elisabeth Vincentelli’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/13; via Pam Green.)

Before “Be More Chill” even starts previews at the Pershing Square Signature Center on July 26, it will already be one of the most popular new musicals in America, with a passionate fan base that dwarfs the number of people who have ever seen the show.

All this after a barely noticed monthlong run in New Jersey three years ago. And a little cast album that could.

When the show’s songwriter, Joe Iconis, and co-star, George Salazar, did a joint cabaret evening at Feinstein’s/54 Below this month, audience members flew in from Paris, Berlin and London. A dad got behind the wheel to ferry his daughter from Michigan. A pair of friends drove from Florida.

(Read more)

SIR BEN KINGSLEY, EARLE HYMAN, LIEV SCHREIBER, JAMES EARL JONES, STACY KEACH, ESTELLE PARSONS, AND OTHERS TALK ABOUT SHAKESPEARE ·

(from the Folger Shakespeare Library; via Pam Green.)

How Shakespeare Changed My Life

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 95

Hear Sir Ben Kingsley, Earle Hyman, Liev Schreiber, James Earl Jones, Stacy Keach, Estelle Parsons, and others open up about their experiences with Shakespeare’s plays. Actor/director Melinda Hall interviewed these actors (and others), as well as writers, directors, linguists, and even a Holocaust survivor for her web-video series How Shakespeare Changed My Life. On this podcast episode, Melinda talks about the origin of the series, what she’s learned from it, and where it’s headed. She is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

IBSEN: ‘THE WILD DUCK’ TRANSLATED AND ADAPTED BY CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON ·

Listen

David Threlfall, Samuel West and James Fox star in Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece – as strong on comedy as profound, tragic drama. A family creates an imaginary forest in their loft room for a wounded wild duck.But will someone come to shatter their dreams?

Translated and adapted by Christopher Hampton

Hjalmar ….. David Threlfall
Gregers ….. Samuel West
Werle ….. James Fox
Gina ….. Lise-Ann McLaughlin
Hedvig ….. Lauren Cornelius
Ekdal ….. Clive Hayward
Relling ….. Michael Bertenshaw
Mrs Sørby ….. Georgie Glen

Solo flute played by Martin Feinstein

Director: Peter Kavanagh.

AT FIRST PERFORMANCE OF ‘MY FAIR LADY,’ THE DRAMA WAS OFFSTAGE ·

 

 

(Charles Rizzo’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/13; via Pam Greedn.)

NEW HAVEN — The snow was coming down. The turntables didn’t turn. The star refused to perform. The cast was dismissed, thinking that that night’s show would not go on.

Yet “My Fair Lady” opened improbably, triumphantly, to its first paying audience on that Saturday, Feb. 4, 1956, at the Shubert Theater here, making the night the stuff of theater legend.

Continue reading the main story

 

“COST OF LIVING” BY MARTYNA MAJOK WINS 2018 PULITZER PRIZE FOR DRAMA ·

(from the Washington Post, 4/16.)

The complete list of 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners.

JOURNALISM

Public service

The New York Times and the New Yorker

Breaking news reporting

Staff of the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press-Democrat

Investigative reporting

Staff of The Washington Post

Explanatory reporting

Staffs of the Arizona Republic and USA Today Network

Local reporting

Staff of the Cincinnati Enquirer

National reporting

Staffs of the New York Times and The Washington Post

[The Washington Post wins 2 Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on Russian interference and the Senate race in Alabama]

International reporting

Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Manuel Mogato of Reuters

Feature writing

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, freelance reporter for GQ

Commentary

John Archibald of Alabama Media Group (Birmingham, Ala.)

Criticism

Jerry Saltz of New York magazine

Editorial writing

Andie Dominick of the Des Moines Register

Editorial cartooning

Jake Halpern, freelance writer, and Michael Sloan, freelance cartoonist, for the New York Times

Breaking news photography

Ryan Kelly of the Charlottesville Daily Progress

Feature photography

Photography staff of Reuters

BOOKS, DRAMA AND MUSIC

Fiction

Less,” by Andrew Sean Greer

Drama

“Cost of Living,” by Martyna Majok

History

The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea,” by Jack E. Davis

(Read more)

KRISTEN SCOTT THOMAS AND THE LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR PERFORM ‘PERSEPHONE’ BY STRAVINSKY ·

Listen

Persephone begins at:  1:13:37

Composer Thomas Adès is fast becoming known as a conductor to be reckoned with, not only in his own music but also in a wide range of repertoire. This not-to-be missed concert begins with the suite from Powder her Face, the darkly comic opera which in 1995 helped established Adès as one of the UK’s leading composers.

‘I’ve never had any luck with sacristans,’ says Gerald Barry, whose youthful organ playing antagonised congregations and clergy alike. Barry’s new concerto, played by virtuoso Thomas Trotter on the spectacular instrument of the Royal Festival Hall, partly draws on memories of his Irish childhood. But don’t expect at pastoral idyll. Barry was also inspired by a picture of a cat to put the ‘fight for atonality against tonality into the concerto’ which ends with organ and orchestra (including 21 metronomes) joining in the hymn, Humiliated and Insulted.

The concert finishes with a rare performance of Perséphone, Strarvinsky‘s restrained and austere 1930s retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone whose descent to the Underworld to become the wife of Pluto plunges the world into winter and whose return to the living brings spring. Dame Kristin Scott Thomas narrates.

Martin Handley presents, live from the Royal Festival Hall.

Thomas Adès: Powder her Face Suite
Gerald Barry: Organ Concerto (London premiere)
Stravinsky: Perséphone

Thomas Trotter (organ)
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas (narrator)
Toby Spence (tenor)
Trinity Boys Choir
London Philharmonic Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Thomas Adès (conductor).

OLIVIER AWARD WINNERS, 2018 (FULL LIST) ·

(Rose Hill’s, Jill Robinson’s and Helen Thomas’s article appeared in the Sun, 4/9.)

Who were the nominees and winners at the Olivier Awards 

2018?

Hamilton swept the board, winning awards in several categories…

  • BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
    • Michael Jibson for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre – WINNER
    • Ross Noble for Young Frankenstein at Garrick Theatre
    • Jason Pennycooke for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
    • Cleve September for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
  • BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
    • Sheila Atim for Girl From The North Country at The Old Vic – WINNER
    • Tracie Bennett for Follies at National Theatre – Olivier
    • Rachel John for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
    • Lesley Joseph for Young Frankenstein at Garrick Theatre
  • OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC
    • Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Music and Orchestrations by Dan Gillespie Sells, his debut as a musical theatre composer and orchestrator at Apollo Theatre
    • Follies – The Orchestra, under the Music Supervision of Nicholas Skilbeck and Music Director Nigel Lilley at National Theatre – Olivier
    • Girl From The North Country – Music & Lyrics by Bob Dylan, Original Orchestrations & Arrangements by Simon Hale at The Old Vic
    • Hamilton – Composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda at Victoria Palace Theatre – WINNER

(Read more)

Photo: Secret London

‘THE LUCKY ONES’: A CHILDHOOD EDEN SEARED BY VIOLENCE. SET TO MUSIC? ·

(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Time, 4/6; via Pam Green.)

There’s a line near the start of the new musical “The Lucky Ones” that’s a deliberate hedge — an explanation of the rules of the show that also leaves those rules a little murky.

“This is a true story,” Shaun Bengson tells the audience from the stage of the Connelly Theater in the East Village. “Even the parts that never happened.”

And with those words, Mr. Bengson and his wife, Abigail — the other half of the folk-rock duo the Bengsons, the indie-theater darlings who created the show for Ars Nova — attempt to draw a cloak of privacy around themselves and the people they love.

Ms. Bengson, 35, has a tale to tell about the autumn she was 15, when her family shattered and the seemingly safe Eden she grew up in was lost forever. Yet she is terrified of compounding anyone’s anguish.

Continue reading the main story

ROGER HENDRICKS SIMON TALKS WITH TANIA FISHER: 40 YEARS OF THE SIMON STUDIO (Part 2) ·

Tania Fisher interviews Roger Hendricks Simon

You have an impressive list of celebrity students, or those that you’ve directed–Do you experience any major differences or difficulties working with acting students who might be new to the industry?

The difference is how to integrate them into the company.  Working with a big name you deal with what they offer you–they might want to be just a regular name in the cast. Others want to be treated as special.  You have to be aware of who you’re working with and be able to deal with them accordingly.

When I worked on Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street 2” as Bernie Jacobs, I was sitting at the same table as Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, Shia LaBeouf, and Frank Langella.  We all sat around a table reading and working on the material, and we were all equal.  All they wanted from me was for me to do my job and all I wanted from them was for them to do their jobs.  Oliver (Stone) would give notes; we’d read it again.  The only difference between that project and doing the same work on an off-Broadway production was the tray of Nova Scotia salmon!  Really good actors when they’re working–that’s what they do.

The kid that’s new doesn’t have training or experience–and is working with those that do–is at a disadvantage unless he understands that he can learn from them.  He can get in there and be at the table with them.  It’s more than just having talent.  That’s why you have to train and gain experience.  Someone who’s just talented and not experienced is at a disadvantage–they have to be confident and look like they belong there at that table, and try not to look green.

There’s that old saying “Those that can, do, those that can’t, teach.”  But you seem to be constantly doing both; acting and directing in movies and plays. Where do you find the energy for all of this?

I hated that expression and that was always my fear because I always had a passion for teaching.

But I also felt it was totally unfair to great teachers, even those who were not practitioners, because there are some teachers who are not practitioners.  I just preferred those who were working at the same time.

When I come in to the Studio I’m excited to teach what I did that week—regarding my experience as a director, what I professionally experienced that week. I’m eager to share it and that to me is exciting.  If I was a student, I would want my teacher to come and share with me his experience of what he just got off the set doing.

My teaching reminds me how to do what I’m doing, and it’s keeping me fresh.  The ideas that I’m coming up with, as a teacher and sharing with my students, I’m also sharing with myself—I’m reminding myself that’s what I need to do in the other work that I’m currently involved with.  I learn a lot from my students, too, and from the directors and writers in the studio.  They’re giving me things I can use as a teacher, as well as work with professionally.

I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on one of your classes and I was overwhelmed by the real feeling of respect and genuine support your students have for each other.  How do you manage to manifest that kind of comradery in such a competitive and ego-driven field?

I really work hard at that.  I do know how it happens.  It happens through hard work to try and make it personal with everybody there, and that’s very exhausting, but it’s a positive exhausting, although you have to like it.  Everybody there is actually special.

I happen to think that what we do is very important. I also think, OK, we don’t save lives, doctors save lives, but someone once said to me we do.  If you go to the theater or the movies and come out with an exhilarating feeling, you’re saving a life.  It’s what we do.  It’s what we do as actors and writers.  What we do is a healing thing: mentally, physically, and spiritually and therapeutically.  The whole act of doing what you love:  your joy, enlightening people–that’s special.  You are blessed that you have the talent to do it and thankful that you have the opportunity to do it, but on the other hand, it’s not nuclear science, it’s not medicine.  So part of the atmosphere is it has to be fun, joyous.  It has to be enjoyable and always to be full of pain or suffering.

In terms of the atmosphere, it’s hard work to get a balance–sometimes there’s too much fun going on!  You need to be relaxed to work, and it’s important to create a relaxed atmosphere, but not too relaxed, so people are  able to work.

What do you want your students to get out of your classes?

A respect for the kind of work that goes into what we do. A love of the work that we do.  An excitement, I guess, of what we can potentially do.  An awareness that much of what we do is not always fun–it’s not always even going to be good.  Usually, it’s more likely that it’s not going to be that good because a lot of people expect a great life for actors and envisage it’s all about having fun and parties, and I want people to come out of the studio realizing it’s hard work and frustrating at times; it’s not always going to be smooth. It’s going to be rocky, uneven–it’s going to have some difficult moments.

I want them to come away with respect–just like everything else, any work is not always going to be fun, even if you have a passion for it.  It’s not always going to be glamorous; very few people will end up making a real living from it, so you have to come away just loving the process.  In the end, if you don’t love the process of it, you’ll quit–because the rewards often don’t come.  You have to love it or you’ll be disillusioned.  I like my students to appreciate a realistic point of view–it’s not just an art, it’s a business.  It’s mostly a craft, and it’s mostly a business and very little of that pertains to true art.  The real art is the icing on the cake.

Roger Hendricks Simon is the Artistic Director and Founder of The Simon Studio.  For more details and class information contact Roger direct.   Ph: 917 776 9209 or email rhsstudio@gmail.com

Visit the Simon Studio 

(c) 2018 by Roger Hendricks Simon; edited by Tania Fisher.  All rights reserved.  Photos courtesy of the Simon Studio and Tania Fisher.

Read Part 1 of an article on Simon 

Read Part 2 of an article on Simon