Monthly Archives: August 2016

ALEX ROSS ON THOMAS ADÈS’S OPERA ‘THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL’ ·

 

(Ross’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 8/22.)

In Salzburg, Thomas Adès gives Luis Buñuel’s cool, eerie film from 1962 a new, tragic volatility.

The British composer Thomas Adès is as compelling as any contemporary practitioner of his art because he is, first and foremost, a virtuoso of extremes. He is a refined technician, with a skilled performer’s reverence for tradition, yet he has no fear of unleashing brutal sounds on the edge of chaos. Although he makes liberal use of tonal harmony—including opulent, late-Romantic gestures, for which mainstream audiences profess to be starved—he subjects that material to shattering pressure. He conjures both the vanished past and the ephemeral present: waltzes in a crumbling ballroom, pounding beats in a pop arena. Like Alban Berg, the twentieth-century master whom he most resembles, he pushes ambiguity to the point of explosive crisis.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/thomas-ades-the-exterminating-angel

***** SEIRIOL DAVIES: ‘HOW TO WIN AGAINST HISTORY’ (SV PICK, SCT ·

 

(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph,  8/17.)

It has been a good – nay a golden – month for musicals: a robust revamp of Half a Sixpence in Chichester, a knock-your-socks-off adaptation of Groundhog Day at the Old Vic, and up at the Fringe, genius is firing on all cylinders in a show that demands a longer life, not least because it’s about an aristocrat whose existence was scrubbed from the family history books as the blackest of black sheep. 

The great crime committed by Henry Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey (1875 –1905)? He loved cross-dressing, theatricals, extravagance and spending money, so much so that he was declared bankrupt within six years of inheriting the title. “The Dancing Marquess” died penniless in Monte Carlo – but has been reborn in a fittingly fabulous performance by writer-performer Seiriol Davies, who grew up on the island of Anglesey, north Wales, and developed an early fascination with this “odd man out” from visiting the Pagets’ ancestral lair.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/how-to-win-against-history-this-musical-about-a-cross-dressing-m/

***** MINCHIN/RUBIN: ‘GROUNDHOG DAY: THE MUSICAL’ (SV PICK, UK) ·

 

(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 8/16.)

Something extraordinary has happened at the Old Vic. A much-loved, ingeniously funny and clever Hollywood film has made a triumphant theatrical rebirth – in a show that looks, on first viewing, equal to, and perhaps better than, the movie.

Director Matthew Warchus, choreographer Peter Darling and Tim Minchin, the Australian comedian turned musical maestro, enjoyed a runaway success with Matilda: the Musical. But their latest venture is in a different league: sophisticated, smart and more adult in theme.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/groundhog-day-the-musical-is-an-instant-classic–and-could-be-be/

HOW 4 NY FRINGE FESTIVAL SHOWS FOUND FREE REHEARSAL SPACE ·

 

 

 

 

(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/11; via Pam Green.)

FOR audiences, the New York International Fringe Festival experience has improved over the years to include some truly civilized amenities — air-conditioned theaters, for one. But artists with shows in the festival, which begins on Friday, still face a perennial challenge: finding a suitable rehearsal space on what is usually a pretty tight budget. Here are edited excerpts from conversations about how four productions made it work this year at no additional cost.

‘THAT’S MISS FITS, TO YOU!’ Todd Tif Fernandez’s polygender musical about liberation, with nods to Judy Garland, Rosa Parks and theStonewall riots.

REHEARSAL SPACE The basement showroom of the high-end furniture store BoConcept, on West 18th Street in Chelsea.

STEVE ASHER, THE SHOW’S GENERAL MANAGER “One of the producers works at BoConcept. After store hours, we come in, move the furniture and rehearse. When we move the furniture just right, the size of the playing area is about the size of the stage we’re going to be performing on. It’s fabulous furniture, and when you’re sitting offstage, you’re doing it on luxury couches and not on hard folding chairs.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/12/theater/fringe-festival-rehearsal-spaces.html?_r=0

 

BAAYORK LEE, NATIONAL ASIAN ARTISTS PROJECT TO PRESENT ‘AS YOU LIKE IT’–SET IN FEUDAL JAPAN ·

(Robert Viagas’s article appeared in Playbill, 8/16.)

National Asian Artists Project, Baayork Lee's New York-based theatre company that seeks mainstream acceptance for Asian-American actors and other theatre artists, is collaborating with the Obie-winning Prospect Theater Company to present Honor, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, with the story relocated to the feudal Japan.

Scheduled for 8 PM September 10 at the TimesCenter in the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue at 40th Street, Honor will be offered in a concert-style presentation as part of NAAP's Rediscover Series and Prospect's IGNITE Series.

The musical has music and lyrics by Peter Mills, and book by Mills and Cara Reichel.

The cast will feature Raul Aranas, Cáitlín Burke, Eymard Cabling, Karl Josef Co, Steven Eng, Ariel Estrada, Brian Jose, Whit K. Lee, Mel Maghuyop, Toren Nakamura, Manna Nichols, Koh Mochizuki, Diane Phelan, Romney Piamonte, Toshiji Takeshima, Robert Torigoe and Scott Watanabe.

http://www.playbill.com/article/honor-shakespeare-play-is-musicalized-and-relocated-to-japan

***** NICK MOHAMMED: MR SWALLOW’S HOUDINI (SV PICK, SCT) ·

 

(Brian Logan’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/16.)

Overlooked for an Edinburgh Comedy award nomination two years ago, when his spoof Dracula musical first sunk its fangs into the world, Nick Mohammed surely won’t be so unlucky this time around. Of the shows eligible, Mr Swallow’s Houdini is the most giddily enjoyable I’ve seen, a faux-musical about the life of the great escapologist, again ring-led by Mohammed’s camp, chatterbox alter ego, and featuring extraordinary feats of escape alongside the blithering, convention-shredding comedy.

In short, you get a helluva bang for your buck. It’s a three-man show – Mr Swallow is backed by usual sidekicks Mr Goldsworth (David Elms) and Jonathan (Kieran Hodgson), decked out in oriental tunics for no discernible reason. It’s Goldsworth’s futile job to keep Mr Swallow’s popcorning mind on track, as he derails the opening number to tell us about a woman he recently met at the circus, gets sidetracked by a chat about the urethra, or steps out of character to marvel at a magic trick he himself has just performed. “Oh, piss off! No! No way!”

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/aug/16/mr-swallow-houdini-edinburgh-festival-review-nick-mohammed

THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE–AT POLONSKY SHAKESPEARE CENTER (BROOKLYN)–ANNOUNCES CAST FOR GOLDONI’S ‘THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS’ ·

Steven Epp, Joan Marcys

(Via Bruce Cohen; photo of Steven Epp by Joan Marcus)

Cast Announced for New York Premiere
of
THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS
By Carlo Goldoni 

Adapted by Constance Congdon, Translated by Christina Sibul
Further adapted by Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp

Featuring Steven Epp
Directed by Christopher Bayes

Previews Sunday, November 6, at 7:30pm
Opens Thursday, November 17, at 7:00pm

BROOKLYN – Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director, Theatre for a New Audience, announces the complete cast for the New York premiere of The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, the first play in its four-production 2016-2017 Season at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place.

        The Servant of Two Masters, adapted by Constance Congdon from a translation by Christina Sibul, features Steven Epp and is directed by Christopher Bayes.  The Servant of Two Masters begins previews Sunday, November 6, at 7:30pm for an opening on Thursday, November 17, and a run through Sunday, December 4.

        Performing in The Servant of Two Masters are Liam Craig (Brighella), Steven Epp (Truffaldino), Melanie Field  (Smeraldina), Andy Grotelueschen  (Pantalone), Eugene Ma  (Silvio), Jacob Ming-Trent  (Dottore), Orlando Pabotoy  (Florindo), Adina Verson  (Clarice), and Liz Wisan  (Beatrice). Christopher Curtis and Aaron Halva play original music.

         Written in 1745, The Servant of Two Masters is one of the great dramatist Carlo Goldoni's most popular plays, preserving in scripted form the antic energy, ribald humor and improvisational immediacy of the commedia dell'arte.  
        
         "Reviving The Servant of Two Masters demands masterly comic instincts, as the slapstick details of its immortally zany tale must be reinvented for every age," said Mr. Horowitz.  "Christopher Bayes's and Steven Epp's hilarious adaptation has been hailed as the wittiest and cleverest English-language version in decades.  These veterans of America's celebrated Theatre de la Jeune Lune company honor the legacy and tradition of commedia by rendering it utterly contemporary, relying on improvisation, and a spirit of dauntless playfulness." 
        
         This adaptation of The Servant of Two Masters had its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2010.  It subsequently played at the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington D.C., and won a Helen Hayes Award for Steven Epp (Best Actor) and a Helen Hayes nomination for Christopher Bayes (Best Director).  The Servant of Two Masters has also played at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis (2012), ArtsEmerson, Boston (2013, Elliot Norton Award nominations for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Actor) and Seattle Rep (2013).
        
        The creative team includes composers Aaron Halva and Christopher Curtis, set designer Katherine Akiko Day, costume designer Valérie Thérèse Bart, lighting designer Chuan-Chi Chan, sound designers Charles Coes and Nathan A. Roberts, hair and makeup designer Dave Bova, properties supervisor Eric Reynolds, fight director Rick Sordelet, casting director Deborah Brown, and production stage manager Sonja Thorson.
        
        Endowment support for The Servant of Two Masters is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation Fund for Classic Drama.        

Box Office

         Subscriptions for Theatre for a New Audience's 2016-2017 season include a Four-Play Package for $220, various Three-Play Packages for $174 each, and a Flex Pass Package for $240.  Subscriptions may be purchased at www.tfana.org/season or by calling (212) 229-2819, ext. 10, Monday – Friday 1:00pm-6:00pm.
        
        Single tickets for The Servant of Two Masters, $85-95, will go on sale in next month.  A limited number of premium seats will be available for $110 each.  New Deal tickets for ages 30 and under or full-time students of any age are priced at $20 each and can be purchased when single tickets go on sale. 
        

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RICHARD FORD, JOYCE CAROL OATES, DAVID HARE AND MORE ON THE RISE OF DONALD TRUMP ·

(From the Irish Times, 8/15.)

A selection of writers pick the books that best make sense of the US election, and the ones that predicted the rise of a Trump-style candidate

Richard Ford

My old mentor and friend Shelby Foote used to say that a person couldn’t understand the US without understanding the American civil war. As a Mississippi kid who was glad the south had lost the war (100 years before) and who felt that slavery was a blight on American history we would do well to try to “live beyond”, I thought Shelby’s insistence was a lot of hooey intended to prove the south’s undeserved centrality to all things American. In my naive view, the south and “southern values” were a garish anomaly, not typical of what America stood for – those values expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

I maintained this view until I unexpectedly experienced the American right wing’s irrationally hostile opposition to the Obama presidency. From questioning – completely without justification – Obama’s birth and religion, to opposing virtually all Obama’s policy initiatives, to slandering the president personally, to denying his actual right to hold office, the right wing formally and informally waged a campaign not only to discredit our legally elected head of state but, in essence, to erase him.

 

(Read more)

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/richard-ford-joyce-carol-oates-david-hare-and-more-on-the-rise-of-donald-trump-1.2756773

FYVUSH FINKEL, REST IN PEACE (1922-2016) ·

 

(from Variety 8/14; via Pam Green.)

Fyvush Finkel, an Emmy Award-winning actor who is best known to contemporary audiences for his roles on “Picket Fences” and “Boston Public” but who spent most of his early career on Gotham’s Lower East Side performing in the Yiddish theater, died Sunday in his Manhattan home. He was 93.

His son, Ian, confirmed the news to the New York Times, and said Finkel had been suffering from heart problems.

While Finkel was popular in his niche stage community, he broke out into the mainstream in 1964 with the national production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” in which he played Mordcha the innkeeper; in 1981 he took on the role of Tevye the milkman in a national touring production. Soon thereafter he landed a part in “Little Shop of Horrors” Off Broadway and won an Obie Award for his work in the New York Shakespeare Festival revival of “Cafe Crown.”

(Read more)

http://variety.com/2016/tv/people-news/fyvush-finkel-dead-picket-fences-boston-public-1201837290/