Monthly Archives: December 2014


(Susannah Clapp’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/28.)

It has been a season of strange theatrical beasts. None of them is more imaginative than Jabberwocky. Once again the Little Angel theatre makes the miniature spellbinding. Steve Tiplady’s production, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poem, is a substantially revised version of the theatre’s 2004 production, with the set and puppets designed as before by Peter O’Rourke. The difference is that this time there is no script other than Carroll’s own words; lines of the verse are dropped in fragments throughout the action.

The Little Angel recommends Jabberwocky for anyone aged six and upwards. I recommend it for everyone. It begins with a wooden mannequin, small enough to sit on a puppeteer’s finger, and with a low-voiced recitation of Carroll’s poem. It goes on to create the nonsense stanzas with geometric shapes, acidic colours and a pared-down musical accompaniment. The result is uncanny and enchanting. Oh, and comic too.



(Zachary Woolfe’ article appreared in The New York Times, 12/25; Via Pam Green.)

In a chilly room deep within the Metropolitan Opera on the morning after Thanksgiving, a rehearsal was about to start. Susan Stroman looked over at the pianist and spoke a phrase that had quite possibly never before been heard in the high-art precincts of the Met.

“Hit it,” she called out, and the music began.

The language of Broadway has come uptown. For a new production of Lehar’s fizzy operetta “The Merry Widow,” to be uncorked on New Year’s Eve, the Met has turned to Ms. Stroman, who has won five Tony Awards for hit shows like “The Producers,” “Contact” and “Crazy for You” but has struggled over the last few years through a flurry of flops. The company is learning her exotic vocabulary of high kicks and jump splits, and is also adjusting to that operatic rarity: a dual director-choreographer.

(Read moe)



(Michael Schulman’s article appeared in the New Yorker 12/14.)

For the past year or so, a certain segment of the population—musical-theatre fans who were children in the eighties and thought they were too good for Andrew Lloyd Webber—has experienced a punishing range of emotions about the new movie “Into the Woods,” based on the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical of the same name. The emotions include anxiety, rage, anticipation, possessiveness, nostalgia, suspicion, denial, and dread. More than once, I’ve heard the show’s own lyrics used to explain how “Into the Woods” devotees feel about the adaptation. “Excited and scared,” as Little Red Riding Hood has it.

As a member of this small but fervent demographic, I’d like to explain why we’ve been so tense. Part of it is that “Into the Woods” is easy to get wrong. The musical weaves together fairy-tale figures like Cinderella, Jack (of the beanstalk), Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, Rapunzel and the witch, and more than one handsome prince. Two new characters, a baker and his wife who’ve been cursed with barrenness, help to tie everything together. By the end of Act I, everyone’s wishes have come true: Cinderella gets her prince, Jack gets the giant’s harp, the baker and his wife get a child, and so on. In Act II, it all falls to pieces. A second giant goes on a killing spree. The princes cheat. The couple resorts to blaming and bickering. The characters question their original wishes and what they stole and whom they sold out to fulfill them. Nobody quite lives happily ever after.


(Paul Chi’s article appeared in the New York Post, 12/23.)

Now that Liza Minnelli has recovered from back surgery, it’s back to the stage.

The entertainer, 68, made a surprise appearance at Cortés Alexander’s annual holiday show at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal on Monday in Hollywood to support her longtime friend.

She performed “I Love a Violin” with Alexander and received a rousing welcome back.

“She’s feeling really good,” a source told us about Minnelli’s health. She broke her lower back while picking up her dogs and has been recuperating in a rented Beverly Hills home since September.



(from The New York Times, 12/23; via Pam Green.)

Ruby Dee

b. 1922

A lesson in grief and resilience, on-screen and in the streets.


By Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

There is the Ruby Dee of my childhood: In black and white, in “A Raisin in the Sun,” the grainy old movie that my middle-school teacher showed us to prepare us for our fall production of the play. As Ruth Younger, the young wife and almost matriarch of a hard-pressed black family living on the South Side of Chicago, Dee was supposed to appear worked over, resigned, deferred. We were just children, but my teacher told us to look hard at her acting. Did we see the flesh she gave to the role? We should try for that when it was our turn on the stage.

I remember lying on the hard carpet of our classroom and looking into Dee’s eyes. I struggled to understand why a woman as self-assured as Dee would dare show her vulnerabilities — her undone hair, her tenderness, her despair — with such abandon. But when Sidney Poitier, playing the role of Walter Lee Younger, her husband, a man “wacked up with bitterness” because of his low lot in life, berated her for being just a defeated, defeating colored woman, what upset me most was not the painful lie behind the insult but rather how impossibly misdirected his comments were. Dee, even in that shapeless, shabby robe and sorrowful role, steamed.

She could shoot daggers or tantalize, and all the while her eyes remained fixed. They projected an electric, heavy intention that went way beyond mere stagecraft. Ruth as played by Dee was a disavowal of all the easy, uncomplicated stereotypes projected onto black women.


(Mark Kennedy’s article appeared on the AP, 9/22.)

NEW YORK (AP) — Sony may have scrapped the release of the movie “The Interview,” but it will be in at least at one theater in New York City — onstage, that is.

Treehouse Theater said Monday it will put on a free reading of the film’s script on Dec. 27, giving “an opportunity for people to come together in the name of free speech, in defiance of all who have threatened it.”



(Eriq Gardner’s article appeared in the Hollywood Reporter, 12/11; via the Drudge Report.)

The U.S. government still wants to get its hands on Edward Snowden, the former CIA officer who has detailed the extent to which the NSA spies on citizens. Here's a timely question: Would the federal government ever do anything about Citizenfour, the Oscar-contending documentary that features Snowden?

So far, the Barack Obama administration has given the film a pass, but on Friday, one former government official decided that enough was enough.

Horace Edwards, who identifies himself as a retired naval officer and the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, has filed a lawsuit in Kansas federal court that seeks a constructive trust over monies derived from the distribution of Citizenfour. Edwards, who says he has "Q" security clearance and was the chief executive of the ARCO Pipeline Company, seeks to hold Snowden, director Laura Poitras, The Weinstein Co., Participant Media and others responsible for "obligations owed to the American people" and "misuse purloined information disclosed to foreign enemies."

It's an unusual lawsuit, one that the plaintiff likens to "a derivative action on behalf of the American Public," and is primarily based upon Snowden's agreement
with the United States to keep confidentiality.