Monthly Archives: April 2011



(From the Austrian National Tourist Office, 2011.)

It’s one of the most popular films in cinematic history and has shaped the image of Salzburg in many countries across the globe – and still does today.” Deputy Landeshauptmann (state governor) Mag. David Brenner, who has supported the project right from the start, is just as delighted: “We have at last succeeded in bringing the musical to Salzburg for the very first time. We signed a contract with the owners of the musical rights, the ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization’ in New York, which allows us to bring the musical here to Salzburg, where the story of the von Trapp family really happened.” Von Maldeghem continues: “Where else does the musical belong, if not on the stage of the Salzburg Landestheater! I’m thrilled to be able to bring this piece of Salzburg history home.”The musical “The Sound of Music” has been acclaimed by audiences across the world for decades. Ever since its Broadway premiere in 1959, the musical “The Sound of Music” by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein (libretto) has conquered the world. It enjoyed spectacular acclaim for years in the entire world – from the Broadway in New York, to London, all over Asia, Australia, Southafrica and many more countries. Dates:From Oct. 23, 2011  till  June 8, 2012


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(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/28.)

They're billing this at Stratford as Shakespeare's "Lost Play" Re-Imagined. The inverted commas are well placed, since it's a matter of surmise how much of it is really by the Bard himself. But what we get is an extraordinary and theatrically powerful piece, adapted and directed by Gregory Doran from a variety of sources; one that should both please audiences and keep academic scholars in work for years.




(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/27.)

They sit on chairs at opposite ends of a traverse stage. They could be gladiators squaring up to each other, but this man and woman are lovers. She (Vinette Robinson) is small and fragile; he (Jack Gordon) is wired and watchful. The music pounds like a wildly beating heart. They circle each other, they hurl words like hand grenades, they tear each other apart with terrible tenderness. "Your mouth … it's such a wet thing. I could squeeze a bullet between those lips." Their sad eyes are haunted by violent desire and violent loss.




(Feingold’s article appeared 4/26 in the Village Voice.)

Having myself been born somewhat before yesterday, I've encountered Garson Kanin's 1946 comedy, Born Yesterday (Cort Theatre), more than once, onstage as well as in the 1950 George Cukor film, which preserves Judy Holliday's acclaimed stage performance. So I know where the work's shortcomings are buried. But I've never seen a production that kept them buried more effectively than this new revival, directed by Doug Hughes as snappily as if Born Yesterday had been written yesterday and just shot out of somebody's computer printer this a.m.




(Mark Lawson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/23.)

This week, I spent six hours watching Shakespeare plays: as much as four hours of which may not have been written by Shakespeare. The RSC is celebrating the reopening of its spectacularly renovated theatres in Stratford with productions of Cardenio, a previously unperformed work connected with their resident dramatist, and the latest revival of Macbeth, a boldly counter-intuitive choice for introducing a new venue, given the deep theatrical superstitions surrounding it.




Openings and Previews 

Event: Baby It’s You!

Venue: Broadhurst Theatre

A new musical, based on the story of the pioneering music mogul . . .


Event: Be a Good Little Widow

Venue: Ars Nova

Stephen Brackett directs Bekah Brunstetter’s play, about a new widow who must . . .


Event: By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

Venue: Second Stage Theatre

The world première of a new play by Lynn Nottage (“Ruined”), about . . .


Event: Carson McCullers Talks About Love

Venue: Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Suzanne Vega wrote and stars in this play, in which McCullers sings . . .


Continue reading


 (Manohla Dargis’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/21; via Pam Green.)

FOR Lynn Nottage, the aha moment that led to “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” her new play about race, sex, fame and the dream — and crushing reality — of Hollywood, was unexpected. She was watching “Baby Face,” a delectably sordid 1933 studio film about an Übermensch in silk stockings played by Barbara Stanwyck, who climbs to the top one bed at a time.

But it wasn’t the star who caught Ms. Nottage by surprise, it was the woman next to her: Theresa Harris, the African-American beauty with the honey voice and sly look who was holding her own against Stanwyck and taking up precious screen space.



As a drug counselor in High, at the Booth Theater (the show closes tomorrow after eight performances), Kathleen Turner is able to delineate a recognizable, positive Roman Catholic nun who can’t sing or fly.  You can quarrel with a lack of subtlety or variety in Sister Jamison Connelly’s handling, but this is a performance with command and humor—the actress may remind you, in fact, of a Catholic you actually know.  The Pope might like Turner, too–coming at a time when the Vatican is trying to more fully “engage” and become more “interactive” with the Church worldwide (why wouldn’t he be intrigued by a husky-throated star helping to break down the old theater types?).  Although I see issues with the male nudity (I’m not sure if this is the right way to sell the show to this audience), he might chuckle at the abandon with which the central character uses profanity:  Catholics don’t mind the humor or the grittiness, and they get that they can be the last exit before the highway ends (they also make up the "largest single religious denomination in the United States," according to the National Council of Churches).  Recall Oscar Wilde’s “‘long and difficult path’ to the Promised Land,” written about in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper,  “a path which led him to convert to Catholicism, a religion which, as he remarked in one of his more acute and paradoxical aphorisms, was ‘for saints and sinners alone—for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.’” Turner gets a good laugh quoting St. Augustine, along similar lines: “Give me chastity and continence—but not yet!”  The problem with this play, as far as I can make out, though, is that early or late, Catholic-oriented or not, the audience isn’t given a debatable issue to contend with, for our own self-examination.  Yes, Sister Connelly does lie at one point and Father Michael Delpapp (the fine, Tony-nominated actor, Stephen Kunken) holds a secret, but the two are not in enough opposition—we’re not sure what the playwright, Matthew Lombardo, wants to detonate. 

Evan Jonigkeit will be a name on casting agents' lists from now on, if he’s not already; he comes through on a role that’s probably too big (as if Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker was being played by James Dean). Lombardo seems to want to build the next Trump towers, or vehicles, for major talent (his Tallulah Bankhead comedy, Looped, starred Valerie Harper last season). This dramatist is perfect for a television series concept—for example, a salty Catholic nun who handles drug cases—the works of writers like Sidney Sheldon and Henry Denker come to mind when comparing High because of the interest in the handling of plot points.  But for the subtlety of a one-shot play, for that poetry, for that intimacy, it’s not only about reseeing who a nun really is or can be, or about an actor taking off his clothes on the stage.  It’s more like what Colleen Dewhurst said about performing in front of the audience:  “I strip for you; you strip for me.”

© 2011 by Bob Shuman                



(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Time, 4/22.)

The story hasn’t changed. How could it have? It’s history now, the sort of history that repeats itself endlessly.

Yet the touring production of “Black Watch,” a group portrait of Scottish soldiers in Iraq that was first seen here in 2007, still feels as fresh and raw as the recruits portrayed by its young, open-faced new cast members. These lads of the Black Watch, a centuries-old regiment of the Scottish Highlands, are as spontaneously foul-mouthed, exuberant, angry and frightened as they were four years ago. And stationed once again at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, they are more likely than ever to break your heart.




(Michael Coveney’s article appeared in the Independent, 4/15)

Just in time for the royal wedding, we've tightened our belts, arranged a street party and put on a really good show. Not only that, the happy couple have moved among us and shared in the national mood.Yes, the Queen and Prince Philip really do make an unscheduled appearance in the front room of Gilbert and Joyce Chilvers. The year is 1947 and times are hard. So the Yorkshire village has arranged a banquet and plans to defy the meat inspector by killing a pig.