Monthly Archives: March 2017


(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/29.)

Paul has made a killing with a computer game he invented in a fit of pique at his dad, who thought he was wasting the advantages a privileged childhood had bought him. In the game, Killology, players score extra points for demonstrating creativity in the way they torture their victims. Feed them through a mincer feet first? Go up a level. Paul says the game is deeply moral because points are deducted if you look away from the screen while inflicting pain.

Alan is trying to overcome his own horror as he plots retribution on the man he holds responsible for murdering his son. But did he neglect his own duty, leaving his son unprotected and with no idea what it means to be a man? Then there is young Davey, raised in poverty by his mum. He is left negotiating his violent neighbourhood, where everyone turns a blind eye to the bullies who hold sway. “You can’t tell your mum the streets are full of psychos and it’s pure fluke you get home alive every night,” he reasons.

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Production marks the 50th anniversary of playwright’s death

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble announces that Joe Orton’s dark comedy Entertaining Mr. Sloane will begin performances May 4th and will run for 13 performances only through May 14 at The Wild Project  in NYC.   

Craig Smith directs a new staging of Joe Orton’s dark comedy, Entertaining Mr. Sloane with Phoenix Theatre Ensemble resident actors: Elise Stone, Antonio Edwards Suarez, and John Lenartz; and introduces newcomer Matt Baguth (pictured), as Sloane.

In Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Orton’s controversial comedy concerns a landlady (Stone) who invites the titular “attractive, mischievous and dangerous” man (Baguth) back to her house where she and her brother (Suarez) “compete for his favors.” The stranger’s past, however, threatens to catch up with him as the siblings’ elderly father (Lenartz) recalls when they last met. The breakthrough comedy for young Orton premiered in England in 1964.  Orton was brutally murdered three years later by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell–2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of Orton’s death.   

Set and Lights are being designed by Tony Mulanix, costumes by Debbi Hobson, original music and sound design by Ellen Mandel, assistant director is Karen Case Cook, stage manager is Oscar  Klausner, and vocal coach is Josh Moser.  Performances are at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street, in NY’s East Village.

What:   Entertaining  Mr. Sloane by Joe Orton

When:   May 4–14; performances Tues-Sat @8:00 PM;  Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00 pm; Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm.

Full Schedule: Thurs 5/4 @ 8pm; Fri 5/5 @ 8pm; Sat 5/6 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun 5/7 @ 3pm; Tues 5/9 @ 8pm; Wed 5/10 @2pm; 8pm; Thurs 5/11 @ 8pm; Fri 5/12 @ 8pm; Sat 5//13 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun 5/14 @  3pm.

Information:;  212-465-3446

Tickets:   Tickets are $30 each; Call 212-352-3101 or visit

Where: The Wild Project @ 195 East 3rd Street (Avenue A and Avenue B)

Transportation: By Subway: F Train to 2nd Avenue; by Bus A14 to 4th Street and Ave A; 8th Street Crosstown.

Press: Craig Smith

Photo Caption:  Matt Baguth as Sloane in Entertaining Mr. Sloane at Phoenix Theatre Ensemble 


Robi Ludwig, Psy.D. is a nationally known psychotherapist, award-winning reporter, and author. She is a relationship contributor for Investigation Discovery Network’s Scorned, and has hosted TLC’s reality show One Week to Save Your Marriage and GSN’s Without Prejudice? Dr. Ludwig is a regular guest on CNN, Fox News, and Headline News, discussing psychological and lifestyle issues as well as the criminal mind. She has appeared on Today, Entertainment Tonight, 20/20, World News Tonight, Nightline, The View, Fox and Friends, Steve Harvey, The Wendy Williams Show, and is on the medical board and a contributor for BELLA Magazine. She also writes for the Huffington Post. Dr. Ludwig lives in New York City.

Dr. Robi Ludwig helps SV’s Bob Shuman through the golden years, in a two-part interview—Part 2 will be published 4/4.   

What led you to write Your Best Age Is Now—and when did you discover aging was something you were interested in?

It was really my own personal experiences that led me to write about midlife and aging: I perceived how age was being discussed during certain TV interviews, what the information about aging really was out there, and how the myths about midlife were not jiving or in sync with what I was seeing. Midlife, typically, is described as a time of loss or losing it, yet I was seeing much more positive and youthful examples of midlife and aging, both in my daily life and in my professional life. I felt the need to write about them.

How about if people are fine with their aging—they just don’t think society knows how to deal with it. 

I think that’s great! If a person is fine with aging I say, “Go, you!” My book can be for people who are fine with aging, too. I just have observed, in general, that our culture makes it hard to age, because of the very internalized and incorrect biases our society holds onto so tightly.

Did you laugh at Jimmy Kimmel’s joke at the Oscars when he said, “we are very welcoming to outsiders here in Hollywood—we [only] discriminate against them based on their age and weight?”  Isn’t he right?  Are we dealing with real discrimination or is it in our heads?

I do think Hollywood is particularly guilty of age and weight discrimination because it tends to be youth-obsessed and movies are a business that caters to visual perfection and fantasy. Having said that, cultural ideas, even if they are biased and incorrect, can creep into the social consciousness of our collective psyches and create arbitrary expiration dates, which can be very dangerous emotionally–both for individuals and our society.

How would you describe what your book is about?

Your Best Age Is Now highlights some of the distortions about midlife and aging and combats them with the latest science. I also have midlife mentors, in each chapter, who are quite inspiring—they discuss how they live life passionately and successfully. We all need role models!  So my book offers a program for people to follow, so they can inspire themselves to fight ageism with new and more accurate information–and in doing so, open up life possibilities 

What mistakes do you see women making regarding their ages that bother you?

The biggest mistake I see people make is when they go into a self-attack regarding the aging process. They may be experiencing getting older as a way to rule themselves out of the kind of lives they want to experience.

Can’t women age gracefully anymore?

Women can absolutely age gracefully, and many do. But the biggest part of aging gracefully is first to be able to age gracefully in your mind. The rest of the process can–and often does–happen from there.

But you’re well-educated and successful—isn’t this subject different for someone like you?

I think there is a universality to the human experience, even if you’re well-educated and successful. Everyone wants to remain relevant, no matter how well-educated or successful he or she appears to the outside world.

For those who have worked in other careers or raised a family, how can they respond to the presumption that their “experience is from some time ago and might not translate well into a role in the present day”?

The midlife worker, who has taken time out from the working world, will need to get back up to speed. When it comes to a career someone is looking to get back into, this can be done by reading and becoming informed. It might also mean taking some new courses. But what’s nice about midlife workers, who have taken some time out, is that they have so many more connections than they did when they were younger. And many of these connections can be helpful when segueing back into the work world.

Isn’t it better for companies to have younger employees, though—wouldn’t the bottom line be less and wouldn’t it be easier to pass on corporate ways of working?

I think there is a place for all workers and that the right employees should be hired on more than just age criteria. Employment should be based on hiring the best person for the job, her relevance, how she is staying current, how she is passionate about the work, and what value she–or he–adds to the company or team.

The most amazing transformation you’ve seen in a client or acquaintance regarding aging?

The most amazing transformation I’ve seen was with one of my clients, who considered herself unlucky and a failure at love.  She changed her mind, found the man of her dreams during midlife, and went on to live the life she always wanted to liveShe’s never been happier or felt more satisfied.

Thank you so much.  We’ll look forward to next week.

Read Part 2 of the Dr. Ludwig interview:

View Your Best Age Is Now, from HarperOne, on Amazon:

Visit Dr. Ludwig’s Web site:

(c) 2017 by Robi Ludwig, Psy.D (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.


(Michael Coveney’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/27.)

David Storey, who has died aged 83, was an unusual literary figure in being as well known for writing novels as he was for writing plays, never claiming that one discipline was harder or easier than the other, but achieving distinction in both, often overlapping, fields. He sprang to prominence with his first novel, This Sporting Life, in 1960; his 1963 movie adaptation, directed by Lindsay Anderson, and starring Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts, was an outstanding example of the new wave of British film, in its raw black-and-white northern realism and its brutal story of a miner turned professional rugby player and his widowed landlady.

Storey, the big and burly son of a Yorkshire miner, played rugby league for Leeds in the early 1950s while also studying fine art at the Slade school in London. His recurring themes, on stage and page, were defined by this dual experience; and by the conflict between his roots in the north and a sense of powerful dislocation in the south, as well as feelings of guilt and atonement in family life.

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(Eric Grode’s article appeared in the New York Times, 3/22.)

Carol Channing, who created the title role in the 1964 smash hit musical “Hello, Dolly!,” has been called many things: “a walking alarm clock,” “a moon-mad hillbilly,” “an Al Hirschfeld caricature in the flesh,” with “a vocal range from deep foghorn to squeaky hinge.”

But one thing she has never been called is a type.

“Everyone is unique,” said Carole Cook, who in originating the Australian production in 1965 became just the second woman to play Dolly Gallagher Levi. “But some are uniquer than others.”

So what happened when the irreplaceable Ms. Channing said, “So long Dearie” to the role?

She was replaced. Again and again and again.

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Top photo: NewNowNext



(Julia Rybinda’s and Anastasiya Karagodina’s article appeared on Russia Beyond the Headlines, 3/27.)

It is natural for humans to animate and anthropomorphize anything they touch. Puppetry is a special case in that it breathes life into what are essentially inanimate objects. Every puppet protagonist has its own unique character and lives its own life. People love them and talk to them. Even the puppeteers themselves struggle to explain the magic between them and their alter egos. Who pulls the strings (quite literally)? Are the puppeteers the actual puppets? Where does the puppeteer end and the puppet begin?

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Photo:  Svetlana Skover









Listen at:

Tim Rice has written the lyrics for some of the most successful musicals of our generation: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat … Jesus Christ Superstar … Evita … For 45 years he has been creating hit songs, collaborating first and famously with Andrew Lloyd Webber, then with Abba, Elton John, Freddy Mercury and Madonna. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, thanks to the success of his songs in Disney movies The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. A three-time Oscar winner, he has been knighted for services to music.

In Private Passions, he talks to Michael Berkeley about the process of lyric-writing, about why it’s an extraordinary experience to work with Elton John, and about what it is that makes a successful song lyric. He also reveals that his early ambition was to be a pop star, and that he started out as a singer – in fact, he recorded a single.

Music choices include a satirical operetta by Offenbach, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony, The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius, Malcolm Arnold’s Peterloo Overture and Britten’s arrangement of the folk song The Plough Boy. And Tim Rice ends by revealing which is his favourite musical of all – music his father introduced him to as a boy: My Fair Lady.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Production for BBC Radio 3.




(Philip Oltermann’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/23.)

When Lars Eidinger first appeared as a careerist Nazi officer in the BBC’s recent TV show SS-GB, some drama critics snapped their pencils in despair. Here was one of Europe’s finest young actors, already hailed as one of the great Hamlets of the 21st century, cheapening himself as a cartoon Nazi, complete with creaky leather trench coat, shiny boots and skull-and-crossbones cap. And all that for a series with a whiff of Brexit agitprop about it, as the new German rulers of Britain rhapsodise about “citizens of a united Europe” while plotting expansions for Siemens and Bosch.

But by last Sunday’s final episode of this alt-history of the second world war, something had changed. Eidinger’s SS officer, Oskar Huth, who had stormed into post-Battle of Britain London as a snappy workaholic, had quietly transformed into a world-weary existentialist, overcome by the futility of it all yet stoically refusing a blindfold as he faces the firing squad. It was an audacious heist of a performance: even the Daily Telegraph thought the Nazi had stolen the show.

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Photo:  Schaubuhne


(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 3/22.)

“It is not about the plays, it’s about the building!” So insists Willy Hayes, cofounder and resident playwright of the Irish National Theatre of Ireland, as he tries desperately to guard its future against a calamitous opening night in 1904. If that line brings the house down at the actual national theatre, nearly 13 years since the debut of Corn Exchange’s marvellous creation, it’s because it is now about the play and the building. Together at last.

Michael West’s witty and nimble alternative history of the founding of the Abbey, developed with its original ensemble, was first staged in parallel with the national theatre’s own blighted centenary, by a company on the outside looking in. Today, at this close proximity, director Annie Ryan’s production is razor-sharp, yet it seems surprisingly fresher and more affectionate towards its inspiration.

It helps that the performance, delivered in Corn Exchange’s head-spinningly energetic version of Commedia dell’arte, finds an artful correspondence with the world of the characters. Whether these fantastic actors briskly summon up a squeaking trolley, a spooked horse, a street riot, or an unpleasant squelch on the cobblestones, just as the Yeatsian playwright and his company struggle to create a mythic play “for Ireland”, the delight of the show is to see people building up their world right in front of you.

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(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/21.)

Amagical transformation has taken place. Aside from its sensational climactic ballet, the 1951 Hollywood movie on which this show is basedoffers a ludicrously stagey vision of Paris filled with cheery gendarmes and chirping kids. But Christopher Wheeldon, as director and choreographer, and Bob Crowley, whose sets and costumes have a touch of genius, have created a show that not only offers an eclectic range of Gershwin songs but is also a riot of colour and movement.

From the start, as swastika-adorned banners turn into the tricolour, we are reminded that we are in the newly liberated Paris of 1945; it is still, however, a city of breadlines and vengeful attacks on collaborators. But Craig Lucas’s book does everything to give substance to the movie’s paper-thin story. We still see an ex-GI and would-be artist, Jerry Mulligan, falling in love with Parisian Lise. But there are now two rivals for Lise’s affections, in the shape of an aspiring nightclub singer, Henri, and a war-maimed composer, Adam. The pivotal role of Milo, a rich American woman in love with Jerry, has also been enhanced, so that she now finds herself financing a new ballet in which Lise will star.

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