Monthly Archives: January 2016

BETTE MIDLER, GLOWIN’, CROWIN’, GOIN’ STRONG AND READY FOR ‘HELLO, DOLLY!’ ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/20; via Pam Green.)

Bette Midler has never seen “Hello, Dolly!” onstage.

Sure, she’d seen the movie, and she was generally familiar with the story, but when the producer Scott Rudin started calling her some months ago, asking her to consider starring in a revival of the musical on Broadway, she realized she needed to do some homework.

She went to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to watch a film of Carol Channing in the 1995 revival, and to YouTube to watchclips of Pearl Bailey in the 1975 revival. She watched “The Matchmaker,” a 1958 film starring Shirley Booth, which is adapted from the same Thornton Wilder play that inspired the musical.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/theater/bette-midler-glowin-crowin-goin-strong-and-ready-for-hello-dolly.html

‘THE NEW YORKER’ THEATRE LISTINGS, 2/1 PLAYDECK ·

 
OPENINGS AND PREVIEWS

BURIED CHILD

Pershing Square Signature Center

The New Group revives Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama from 1978, directed by Scott Elliott and featuring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan as a rural Illinois couple with a family secret.

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THE GRAND PARADISE

The Grand Paradise

In this immersive work devised by Third Rail Projects, audiences are transported to a disco-era tropical resort that claims to house the Fountain of Youth. Previews begin Jan. 28. Opens Jan. 30.

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THE HUMANS

Helen Hayes

Stephen Karam's disquieting family drama moves to Broadway with its original cast, including Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell. Joe Mantello directs.

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I AND YOU

59E59

Lauren Gunderson's play, directed by Sean Daniels, follows a pair of teen-agers collaborating on a school project about Walt Whitman. Opens Jan. 27.

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LABAPALOOZA!

St. Ann's Warehouse

St. Ann's Puppet Lab presents its annual festival of experimental puppetry, with works covering everything from Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray's friendship to the adventures of a tiny dot. Jan. 28-31.

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MIKE BIRBIGLIA: THANK GOD FOR JOKES

Lynn Redgrave Theatre

The comedian and monologist ("Sleepwalk With Me") performs a new solo show, about the dangers of going too far with humor. Seth Barrish directs. Previews begin Feb. 2.

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O, EARTH

HERE

The Foundry Theatre presents a play by Casey Llewellyn, which touches on transgender politics, gay pop culture, and Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town." In previews. Opens Jan. 31.

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PRODIGAL SON

City Center Stage I

Manhattan Theatre Club premières a play written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, about a teen-age boy from the Bronx who transfers to a private school in New Hampshire; the cast includes Robert Sean Leonard.

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SENSE & SENSIBILITY

Gym at Judson

Bedlam revives its minimalist staging of the Jane Austen novel, adapted by Kate Hamill and directed by Eric Tucker.

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SMART PEOPLE

Second Stage

Kenny Leon directs Lydia R. Diamond’s play, which follows four Harvard intellectuals on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election.

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SOJOURNERS

Peter Jay Sharp

In Mfoniso Udofia’s play, directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, a Nigerian immigrant longs to return to Africa, while her husband is seduced by the American dream. In previews. Opens Jan. 28.

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UTILITY

Rattlestick

The Amoralists stage Emily Schwend’s play, directed by Jay Stull, about a woman who is overwhelmed by her two jobs and three children. Previews begin Jan. 28. Opens Feb. 1.

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WASHER/DRYER

Beckett

Ma-Yi Theatre Company presents a farce by Nandita Shenoy, directed by Benjamin Kamine, about a Manhattan couple who have just eloped in Las Vegas. In previews. Opens Feb. 2.

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WOMEN WITHOUT MEN

City Center Stage II

The Mint produces Hazel Ellis’s little-known play from 1938, set in the teachers’ lounge of an Irish girls’ school and performed by an all-female cast. Jenn Thompson directs.

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

 

DAVID HARE: HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE ADAPTATION ·

(Hare’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/23.)

Soon after becoming a playwright, I resolved to have nothing to do with adaptation. There were two reasons. First, I wasn’t any good at it. My early version of Pirandello’s The Rules of the Game, written when I was 23, and performed by Paul Scofield and Joan Plowright for the National Theatre, decisively proved that I knew nothing about Pirandello and still less about adaptation: it was inept. But I had also gone into it with a puritanical belief that dramatists should write their own plays, not hitch a free ride by adapting other people’s. Nothing in the world was harder than telling a new story. Reconfiguring old ones was going to be far less important work.      

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/jan/23/david-hare-adaptations-the-master-builder-chekhov-old-vic

BRECHT: ‘MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN’ (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/19; via Pam Green.)

Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage doesn’t fit the mold of a conventional heroine, or even the mold of a conventional antiheroine. But Kecia Lewis, who plays the role in the Classic Stage Company’s terrific production of “Mother Courage and Her Children,” certainly deserves some sort of badge of honor. Ms. Lewis’s commanding performance would be impressive under any circumstances, but the drama surrounding her undertaking the part makes the achievement all the more remarkable.

As theater watchers are likely to know, Ms. Lewis stepped into the production at the last minute when the star who was first cast, Tonya Pinkins, departed just two days before the originally scheduled opening, eventually citing the traditional artistic differences with her director, Brian Kulick, albeit with nontraditional rancor. When I saw the show on Saturday, Ms. Lewis had given just four performances.

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BRIAN FRIEL’S ‘DANCING AT LUGHNASA’ DONEGAL COTTAGE TO BE PRESERVED ·

(Peter Murtagh’s appeared in the Irish Times, 1/18.)

The Donegal cottage that was the setting for Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa is to be preserved and will form eventually the centrepiece of a planned Brian Friel Centre, in honour of the playwright who died last year.

The cottage has been bought by Joe Mulholland, the former RTÉ executive and director of the MacGill Summer School, working with Francis Brennan, a Glenties estate agent and long-time admirer of Friel’s work.

Ownership of the property is to be vested in a Brian Friel Trust which Mulholland is setting up and on which both men will sit. The other members are RTÉ chairwoman Moya Doherty; Orlaith McBride, director of the Arts Council; Noel Pearson, theatre and film producer; Tom Kilroy, playwright; Mary Finan, public relations executive and Gate Theatre board member, Joe Dowling, theatre director; Michael McDowell, barrister and former politician, Séamus Neely, chief executive of Donegal County Council; and Mary Friel Bateman, one of Brian Friel’s daughters.

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/stage/brian-friel-s-dancing-at-lughnasa-donegal-cottage-to-be-preserved-1.2500087

MICHAEL FRAYN: ‘NOISES OFF’ (SV PICK, NY) ·

 

(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/14; via Pam Green.)

“Where are we?” asks the dazed-looking woman in a maid’s uniform, her voice throaty with fatigue. Looking around with confused wonder, she seems to have just awakened from a yearlong nap, or gone through a carwash without a car.

Here are a few clues, Dear: We are on the stage of a provincial theater somewhere in England. We are in the immediate vicinity of several plates of sardines. Also nearby are several doors, grown rickety from serial slamming.

As many theatergoers will by now have guessed, this woozy figure, an actress by the name of Dotty Otley, here played by the glorious Andrea Martin, is smack in the dizzying middle of “Noises Off,” the heady, headlong and (sorry, alliteration haters) altogether hilarious farce by Michael Frayn, which opened on Thursday at the American Airlines Theater, providing generous doses of heat-generating laughter as the winter chill finally sets in.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/15/theater/review-michael-frayns-noises-off-returns-to-broadway.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_cu_20160120&nl=theater-update&nlid=68469194&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

CONOR MCPHERSON: ‘THE WEIR’ (SV PICK, SCT) ·

 

(Mark Brown's article appeared in the Telegraph, 1/20.) 

This revival confirms Conor McPherson’s play's status as a modern classic

They like a good Irish play at the Lyceum. This time last year they were staging an acclaimed production of Faith Healer by the late, great Brian Friel. They now begin 2016 with a fine staging of The Weir, Conor McPherson’s highly original, modern classic.

Ever since it premiered at the Royal Court in London in 1997, this strangely affecting piece has been insinuating its way into the minds and emotions of audiences. Set in a pub in the rural northwest of the Irish Republic, the play appears, at first, to be little more than four local men trying to impress Valerie, a young woman newly moved over from Dublin, with provincial ghost stories.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/the-weir-edinburgh-lyceum-review-emotive-and-memorable/

‘RENT’ OFF-BROADWAY ANNIVERSARY (1/25)—BLAST-FROM-THE-PAST INTERVIEW ·

 

(Michael Portantiere’s article appeared 1/14 in Playbill Online, 1/14; via Pam Green.)

"Editing Without Betraying Jonathan's Conception" — The 1996 Interview About Rent's Finishing Touches

As the 20th anniversary of Rent's Off-Broadway debut approaches, we look back to our 1996 interview with musical director Tim Weil, who talked about putting the finishing touches on the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical after Jonathan Larson's unexpected passing.

Life imitates art often enough that people of the theatre might well be tempted to involve themselves only in romantic comedies with happy endings. But when Jonathan Larson chose to write a rock musical based on a famous opera, it wasn't The Elixir of Love or The Marriage of Figaro that sparked his creative flame. Rather, it was La Bohème — Puccini's immortal vision of love and death amidst a group of struggling young artists in Paris circa 1830, itself an adaptation of a novel by Henry Murger — which served as the model for Rent, winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for drama. The central tragedy of the story was replicated when Larson died in his apartment from an aortic aneurysm on Jan. 25, a few hours after the final dress rehearsal of his crowning achievement at the New York Theatre Workshop.

http://m.playbill.com/news/article/editing-without-betraying-jonathans-conception-the-1996-interview-about-rents-finishing-touches-379288

HOW TO AUDITION FOR SHAKESPEARE: ACTORS DEMONSTRATE TIPS ·

(Esther French’s article appeared on Folger.edu, 1/13.)

Laura Wayth confesses that she’s never read any of Shakespeare’s plays. But she’s listened to the plays performed over and over, and it’s her keen ear that informs her advice to actors in this episode of Shakespeare Unlimited.

Wayth is Assistant Professor of Theatre at San Francisco State University and the author of a “how-to” book called The Shakespeare Audition: How to Get Over Your Fear, Find the Right Piece, and Have a Great Audition.

In this episode, she exhorts actors to learn how to read Shakespeare’s verse so that they understand the rhythm of each line, the importance of punctuation, and the way that one piece of text should vocally build upon another.

http://shakespeareandbeyond.folger.edu/2016/01/13/how-to-audition-for-shakespeare-actors-demonstrate-tips/