Category Archives: Commentary

HOW ‘THE LION KING’ GOT TO BROADWAY AND RULED FOR 25 YEARS (SO FAR) ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/16; via Pam Green; Photograph: Julie Taymor, who not only directed the show but also designed its costumes, puppets and masks, became the first woman to win a Tony Award for directing a musical. “I like challenges,” she said of the project.Credit…Kenneth Van Sickle.)

A surprising collaboration between an entertainment giant (Disney) and an avant-garde

 

A quarter century is about twice as long as the life span of your average wild lion. But there’s nothing average about “The Lion King.”

In the years since it opened on Broadway, the musical, thanks to 27 productions that have filled 112 million seats and have played on every continent but Antarctica, has grossed nearly $10 billion, more than any other stage show and more than any film.

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SHAKESPEARE PORTRAIT SAID TO BE ONLY ONE MADE IN HIS LIFETIME ON SALE FOR £10M ·

 (Nadeem Badshah’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/17.  Photo:  The portrait is unveiled by conservator Adrian Phippen (right) and Art and Antiques writer Duncan Phillips. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA.) 

The artwork by Robert Peake went on display on Wednesday at Grosvenor House hotel in west London

A portrait said to be the only signed and dated image of William Shakespeare created during his lifetime has gone on sale for more than £10m and is being displayed in London.

The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is offering the piece for sale by private treaty without an auction.

It is the work of Robert Peake, court painter to King James I, and is signed and dated 1608. The artwork went on display on Wednesday at Grosvenor House hotel in west London.

Prior to 1975, the picture hung in the library of a stately home in the north of England, once home to the Danby family. Since then it has been in private ownership.

Those behind its sale claim the connections between Shakespeare and Peake are “extensive” and that the artist was regularly commissioned to paint the portraits of high-ranking members of the court and Jacobean society.

They also noted he was commissioned by the Office of the Revels, which oversaw the presentation of plays, and worked in the premises in Clerkenwell, London, where some of Shakespeare’s plays were rehearsed.

However, only two paintings of Shakespeare, both posthumous, are generally recognised as validly portraying him – the engraving that appears on the title page of the First Folio, published in 1623, and the sculpture at his funeral monument in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare died in 1616, at the age of 52.

Art expert Duncan Phillips, who investigated the work ahead of the sale, said: “There is more evidence for this portrait of Shakespeare than any other known painting of the playwright.

“It is a monogrammed and dated work by a portrait painter of serious status with connections to the artist who produced the image for the First Folio.

“The picture has survived the past 400 years almost untouched by wear and tear thanks to its ownership by a family of Shakespeare enthusiasts who hung it in their library.”

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IN ‘THE CHINESE LADY,’ PREJUDICE AND EXPLOITATION, SEEN FROM A STAGE (BOSTON) ·

(Don Aucoin’s article appeared in the Boston Glober, 11/14; Photo:Jae Woo (left) and Sophorl Ngin in “The Chinese Lady” at Central Square Theater.NILE SCOTT STUDIOS.)

CAMBRIDGE — When it came to the craft of writing, E.B. White’s famous dictum was: “Don’t write about Man. Write about a man.”

That’s the path Lloyd Suh took with “The Chinese Lady,” and it has yielded a small gem of a play about a person who is seen and unseen at the same time.

After premiering in 2018 at Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company and then running at New York’s Public Theater earlier this year, “The Chinese Lady” is now at Central Square Theater under the sensitive and astute direction of Sarah Shin.

Suh’s play was inspired by a real-life figure, Afong Moy, who was brought from China to New York in 1834 at age 14 and put on display in a museum. At Central Square, Sophorl Ngin delivers an expertly shaded portrayal of Afong that traces her emotional arc while also signaling the slow-but-steady dawning of her consciousness. As Atung, her translator, Jae Woo delivers a note-perfect performance.

Over 90 absorbing minutes, with only occasional lapses into overly message-y territory, “The Chinese Lady” essentially distills the history of anti-Asian prejudice and exploitation in the United States — as well as the (very) dark side of the immigrant experience — within Afong’s story.

When we first meet her, Afong is heartbreakingly innocent and chipper. Seated on an upholstered chair at center stage and smiling brightly, she explains — as if there were nothing odd about the arrangement — how her family “sold me for two years of service” to two traders from an American import company. Now she is on display “for your education and entertainment.”

At each performance, Afong enacts various rituals: eating rice with chopsticks, brewing tea, walking around a room on her bound feet. She tells us that the terms of the deal that brought her to the United States were that she would return to her homeland and her family in two years. That does not happen. In “The Chinese Lady,” her servitude lasts for decades.

Those of us in the Central Square Theater essentially function as stand-ins for 19th-century spectators, implicating us in all we see and hear in “The Chinese Lady” — a notion shrewdly underscored by director Shin when Afong tears down upstage curtains to reveal a large, circular mirror. From then on, we watch ourselves watching.

Crucially, Shin avoids the kind of ham-fisted staging decisions that seriously marred the ending of the otherwise excellent Public Theater production. What Shin has devised for the ending at Central Square is less showy and comports better with the nature of the play.

At first, Afong is touchingly eager to make a connection with Americans (she speaks glowingly of “your first emperor, George Washington.”) Afong sees her role as that of cultural ambassador, a human bridge of understanding between China and the United States. Atung, the translator, clearly knows that the museum’s goal is nothing so noble as that.

Outside that room, history inexorably unfolds: the construction of the transcontinental railroad, starting in 1863 and using primarily Chinese laborers; the 1882 passage by Congress of the Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting Chinese migration to the US. Inside that room, Afong and Atung are growing older. “With each passing hour, I am less and less Chinese,” Afong says.

Their relationship evolves over time, defined by amusing byplay at the start. With the hauteur of a born star, Afong tells the audience several times that Atung is “irrelevant” to the show; his imperturbable responses, which she recognizes as passive-aggression, get on her nerves.

As years pass and they play their roles day after day, including a 40-week tour of the Eastern states, they achieve a certain solidarity, perhaps bolstered by a realization that they are both, in different ways, trapped. But are their fates as inextricably tied together as Afong believes they are?

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NOT TO BE: SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL FUNDING PULLED OVER ‘CANON OF IMPERIALISM’ ·

The title page from an antique book of the plays of Shakespeare

Asia-Pacific

(Eva Corlett’s article appeared in the Irish Times–from Wellington–10/14.)

New Zealand’s arts council has pulled funding for a Shakespeare festival that has been running in secondary schools for roughly three decades. Photograph: iStock

Relevance of event in New Zealand schools is questioned by country’s art council

New Zealand’s arts council has pulled funding for a Shakespeare festival that has been running in secondary schools for roughly three decades after questioning its relevance to the country and because it focuses on “a canon of imperialism”.

Every year, the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand runs the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare festival — a secondary school competition where students perform excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays.

Students are given the scope to direct, compose music, perform and create sets and costumes for their show. It has been a popular event, with more than 120,000 high school students from more than half the country’s secondary schools having participated in the festival since its inception.

The festival regularly secures about $30,000 (€17,400) a year from the government’s arts funding body — Creative New Zealand. But this year, the council has decided to pull the money.

In the funding assessment document, the advisory panel said that while the festival has strong youth engagement, and a positive impact on participants, it “did not demonstrate the relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape”.

The board signalled concerns that the organisation was “quite paternalistic” and that the genre was “located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance”.

One assessor said the application made them “question whether a singular focus on an Elizabethan playwright is most relevant for a decolonising Aotearoa in the 2020s and beyond”.

The board felt the centre did not offer a strong proposal compared with other groups seeking funding.

The centre’s chief executive, Dawn Sanders, said the organisation was dismayed by the decision.

“Creative New Zealand say it is irrelevant to modern day New Zealand — the opposite is true,” she said. “We’re dealing with what people are thinking, the human psyche, competition, jealousy, misogyny and so many things that are totally relevant.”

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‘I THREW MY ARMS AROUND BECKETT!’ – ELECTRIFYING FIRST NIGHTS, BY CIARÁN HINDS, EILEEN ATKINS AND MORE ·

(Dominic Dromgoole’s article appeared in the Guardian 10/26; via Pam Green; Photo: A hallucinatory experience’ … Frances Barber with Amanda Abbington and Reece Shearsmith in The Unfriend. Photograph: Manuel Harlan.)

The author of a new book about the greatest openings in theatre history asks stars of stage to recall their most thrilling first nights – and the occasional disasters that befell them

History has no shortage of explosive first nights and openings. Moments in public art when the concerns of an epoch meet the truths of artists and catalyse a volcanic response. These are the nights when pins can be heard dropping, when time is stretched into unforeseen patterns, when success is grasped or failure faced. For artists they are electrifying. Here are some stories from the frontline.

‘Beckett stood there like a stone but I carried on’

Eileen Atkins, attending Beckett’s Play, 1964
There were three figures on the vast Old Vic stage, all encased in jars. They did the same script twice through. Mad about Beckett anyway, I was overwhelmed by the cleverness and what it did to my brain. It was extraordinary the difference in effect when done at first one pace, then an entirely different one. The whole meaning shifted. Later I was in a car when I saw the director George Devine walking along with a man. I leapt out and shouted: “George, George, I just saw your amazing play.” “Well, say hello to the author,” he said and there was Samuel Beckett. I threw my arms around him and he stood like a stone. I wasn’t going to let him make me feel abashed, so I carried on.

‘The silences that night were spellbinding’

Anne Reid, The York Realist, Royal Court, 2003
I had no idea this was such a good play. The first time I read it, I thought: “Oh no, not another northern mother. Boring.” I was 64 and I’d never worked in London before. Peter Gill directed it so beautifully. Everything was specific in its choreography: this is the height to hold a teapot, this is how to take off and hang a coat. Whatever the action, he said if you take your time and present it, the audience will find it interesting. And he was so definite about pace: play the first scene legato, the second pizzicato – he really knew the music of a scene. The silences in the theatre that night … spellbinding! Later, we went to the Royal Court bar and as Peter walked down the stairs everyone burst into applause.

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‘CAT’ BACK FOR UNPRECEDENTED OFF BROADWAY RE-ENGAGEMENT–FROM RUTH STAGE ·

“(Tennessee) Williams would probably love Matt de Rogatis’ Brick.” – Juan Ramirez, The New York Times

“Brilliant…intense…funny!” – Dave Carlin, CBS

“An innovative Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” – Harry Haun, The Observer

Ruth Stage Sets Dates For Unprecedented Off Broadway Re-Engagement

 

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof By Tennessee Williams Directed by Joe Rosario

 

Previews Begin February 24th Opening Night March 5th Must Close March 31st
 

Theatre at St. Clement’s

423 W 46th Street – NYC

 

Limited 42 Performance Re-Engagement www.ruthstage.org

 

On the heels of a 35 show run this past summer, Ruth Stage has announced that their provocative and controversial modern staging of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will return to New York City in early 2023.

Directed by Joe Rosario, the Off Broadway premiere of the Tennessee Williams masterpiece, concluded its run on August the 14th playing to sold out audiences and standing ovations.

“Very happy” with the Off Broadway premiere production, the Tennessee Williams estate has yet again given their blessing to the maverick theater group, Ruth Stage, and an unprecedented re-engagement license has been issued. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will play at the Theatre at St. Clement’s (423 W 46th St.) for an additional 42 performances with previews beginning on Friday February 24th 2023. Opening night is scheduled for Sunday March 5th, 2023. The production will close on Friday night March 31st, 2023.

Tennessee Williams’ sultry, southern storm of a play about greed, deceit, self-delusion, sexual desire and repression, homophobia, sexism, and the looming specter of death won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955. Ruth Stage’s modern and haunting interpretation is set in an estate in the Mississippi Delta of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon. The play examines the relationships among members of Big Daddy’s highly dysfunctional family, primarily between his son Brick and Maggie the “Cat”, Brick’s wife.

Matt de Rogatis will reprise his critically acclaimed role as “Brick” in the new production.

Further casting and design team announcements will be made in the coming weeks. Tickets, priced between $39 and $125, are on sale now and can be purchased at either www.ruthstage.org/cat or www.telecharge.com.

Matt de Rogatis (Brick) Some previous New York City credits for Matt de Rogatis (Brick) include “Frederick Clegg” in the United States premiere of The Collector at 59E59, “Richard III” in Austin Pendleton’s Wars of the Roses (124 Bank Street Theater), “Tom” in The Glass Menagerie (Wild Project) and “Roy” in Lone Star (Triad). He was last seen on stage as “Brick” in Ruth Stage’s summer 2022 Off Broadway premiere of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Theatre at St.

Clement’s). Find Matt on social media @themightydero and www.mattderogatis.com

Joe Rosario (Director) is a writer, producer, actor and director from the New York City area. As an actor he has appeared on The Sopranos, Ed, Law and Order, Sex and the City, Law and Order SVU, Oz, 100 Centre St, Hope and Faith, and the original pilot Thunderbox. Joe has also appeared numerous times on The Chappelle Show and The View in various comedic skits and was a re-occurring character on the Late Show with David Letterman. He has also appeared in over 50 commercials. Rosario is also an award winning filmmaker and producer. His films and scripts have been official selections at over 50 festivals including Cannes, Barcelona and the New York International Film Festival. His feature length drama, Snapshot, starring Zach McGowan of Shameless, was one of his winning submissions. A resident of New Jersey, Joe is also an accomplished acting teacher and he coaches many actors seen on TV and film. Rosario directed the summer 2022 Off Broadway premiere of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Theatre at St. Clement’s in New York City.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) explored passion with daring honesty and forged a poetic theatre of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical The Glass Menagerie brought what Mr. Williams called “the catastrophe of success,” a success capped by A Streetcar Named Desire, one of the most influential works of modern American literature. An extraordinary series of masterpieces followed, including Vieux Carre, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending and the classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

(Production logo and photo: Ruth Stage)

 

EDDIE IZZARD RETURNS TO NEW YORK WITH CHARLES DICKENS’ ‘GREAT EXPECTATIONS’ (12/9-1/22) ·

(via Kenya A. Williams, BoneauBryanBrown)

EDDIE IZZARD RETURNS TO NEW YORK WITH

CHARLES DICKENS’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Performances Begin December 9 

Opening Night December 15

Limited Engagement Ends on January 22 

 

Six Weeks Only at The Greenwich House Theater 

 

New York – Eddie Izzard will return to the New York stage this December for six weeks only playing 21 characters in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, a classic tale of convicts, mystery, friendship, rivalry, unrequited love, revenge, and redemption for six weeks only at The Greenwich House Theater (27 Barrow Street).

 

Performances begin on December 9 with a December 15 opening. The strictly limited engagement ends on January 22, 2023. Tickets are now on sale at www.eddieizzardgreatexpectations.com.

 

Dickens’ novel was adapted for the stage by Mark Izzard and is directed by Selina Cadell. The design team is Tom Piper (set), Tyler Elich/Lightswitch Inc. (lighting), Tom Piper and Libby da Costa (costume stylists), and Didi Hopkins (Movement Director).  It is produced by WestBeth Entertainment and Mick Perrin Worldwide.

 

Actor, comedian, and multi-marathon runner Eddie Izzard’s boundary-pushing career spans all of these with record-breaking comedy tours and critically acclaimed film, TV, and theatre performances.  But few know that acting was her first love. This show offers the chance to see Eddie in a solo performance of the master storyteller’s beloved epic, Great Expectations.

 

Eddie, who is dyslexic, had never read a great work of literature, but knowing that she was exactly 150 years younger than Dickens (7 Feb 1812 to 7 Feb 1962) decided to start by reading Great Expectations. She was then inspired to develop it as a solo performance for the stage.

 

Eddie said, “Charles Dickens loved performing his own works in America, and so I thought it would be a wonderful idea to launch Great Expectations here. I always feel at home in New York, and I believe if Charles Dickens were alive today, he would feel at home too.”

 

Director Selina Cadell said, “I find the combination of Eddie Izzard’s idiosyncratic wit and Charles Dickens’ ingenious storytelling irresistible and am looking forward to sharing it with New York audiences.”

 

Great Expectations is the 13th novel by Charles Dickens. Published in 1861, it depicts the education of an orphan nicknamed Pip. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens’s weekly periodical, All the Year Round. Set in Kent and London in the 1820s to 1830s, it contains some of Dickens’s most celebrated scenes, starting in a graveyard, where the young Pip is accosted by the escaped convict Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is full of extreme imagery – poverty, prison ships and chains, and fights to the death – and has a colorful cast of characters who have entered popular culture. These include the eccentric Miss Havisham, the beautiful but cold Estella, and Joe, the unsophisticated and kind blacksmith. Dickens’ themes include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil. Great Expectations has been translated into many languages and adapted numerous times into various media. Upon its release, the novel received near-universal acclaim. During the serial publication, Dickens was pleased with the public response to Great Expectations and its sales; when the plot first formed in his mind, he called it “a very fine, new and grotesque idea”.

 

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations running time is approximately two hours including an intermission. 

 

BIOGRAPHIES

 

Eddie Izzard’s Broadway credits are A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Tony Award nomination) and Race. Her London stage credits include The CryptogramEdward II900 Oneonta, and Joe Egg. She is currently developing a one-woman performance of Hamlet. Eddie’s film credits include Stephen Frears’ Victoria & Abdul opposite Dame Judi Dench, ValkyrieOcean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen, Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe, Mystery Men, Shadow of the VampireThe Cat’s Meow and Six Minutes to Midnight. TV audiences also saw her as Dr. Abel Gideon in Bryan Fuller’s series, “Hannibal.” Izzard starred in and served as an executive producer on the critically acclaimed FX Networks series, “The Riches.” Her other notable films for television include “Castles in the Sky,” “Treasure Island,” and the Emmy winning “Lost Christmas.” Izzard made her West End stage debut in 1993 in the solo show Live at the Ambassadors, for which she received an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement. That was followed by a succession of critically acclaimed shows: Unrepeatable, Definite Article, Glorious, Dress to Kill, Circle, Sexie, Stripped, Force Majeure, and Wunderbar. Eddie is the recipient of two Emmy Awards (for Dressed to Kill) and an Emmy Award nomination for the documentary, Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story. Her autobiography Believe Me entered the top ten in the New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller lists. She performs her comedy shows in four languages and since 2009 has run 131 marathons to raise money for Sport Relief and her ‘Make Humanity Great Again’ fund.

 

SELINA CADELL (Director) is a director, actress and coach. Theatre directing includes Love for Love (RSC), The Life I Lead (West End), The Double Dealer (Orange Tree London), The Rivals (Arcola London), The Way of the World (Wilton’s London), The Rake’s Progress (Wilton’s London). Films include The Turn of the Screw (Best Opera Film 2021 Critics Circle Award). Acting/Theatre includes Top Girls (NYC) /Obie Award, Stanley (NYC), Madness of King George (NYC), Twelfth Night, Cherry Orchard (NYC), A Monster Calls (London). TV includes “Midsomer Murders,” “Queens of Mystery,” “Poirot,” “Doc Martin” (Mrs. Tishell). Selina runs an opera company with Eliza Thompson, Operaglass Works.

 

MARK IZZARD (Adapter). Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is not Mark and Eddie’s first collaboration. In 1972 at Bede’s School in Eastbourne, UK Mark penned a play which might possibly have been called Hey! Watch That Fork! in which the all-boys cast donned jackets and ties over their pajamas and told a haunting story of death and cuisine. Serving as promoter and box office manager, Eddie (the younger sibling) sold tickets. Fast forward to recent years and the pair continues to work together including Mark translating Eddie’s shows into French, German and Spanish, as Mark is pretty fluent in those languages, being a qualified translator, and he speak it better than the other one.

 

DIDI HOPKINS (Movement Director) is one of the foremost practitioners of Commedia dell’Arte and works physically and visually in theatre. She worked with writer Richard Bean’s Broadway success, One Man, Two Guvnors, and has worked with director Selina Cadell at the Royal Shakespeare Company as movement director on Restoration Comedy. She was co-founder of Beryl and the Perils who were the ‘hottest thing part from the weather’ (Village Voice), performed at WOW festival, Central Park, TNC, the Mudd Club. The National Theatre made five films about her work in Commedia.

 

TYLER ELICH, LIGHTSWITCH (Lighting Designer). Tyler has always been drawn in by the energy an audience creates when sharing a live experience together. Since working in the theatre in high school he knew he wanted to be a part of that energy and turned that into a career when graduating from Ithaca College with a BFA in Lighting Design. That passion for creating a powerful shared experience has allowed Tyler to work in many different areas including rock concert touring, television broadcasts, corporate product launches, million square foot conventions, and special events. Tyler is a lifelong learner and treats every new project with enthusiasm and extreme attention to detail.

 

TOM PIPER (Scenic Designer/Costume Stylist) was Associate Designer at the RSC for 10 years and has designed over 30 productions for the company. He is Associate Designer at Kiln theatre London. Theatre work includes Medea (EIF/NTS); Girl on an Altar, White Teeth (Kiln); Faith (RSC/Coventry City of Culture); Nora: A Doll’s House (Young Vic); The Histories (RSC Olivier Award for Best Costume Design); As You Like It (RSC Armoury’s NY); Cyrano de Bergerac (NTS); Carmen La Cubana (Le Chatelet, Paris); Red Velvet Tricycle Theatre/St. Ann’s Warehouse NY); Orfeo (Royal Opera House); Tamburlaine The Great (TFNA, NY); The Great Wave (RNT). Turn of the Screw (Wiltons/OperaGlassworks film); Richard III, Tempest, As You Like It; The Bridge Project at BAM. Design credits: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London and received an MBE for services to Theatre and First World War commemorations. Exhibition credits: Alice Curiouser and CuriouserWinnie-the-PoohCurtain Up (V&A, Lincoln Center NY); Shakespeare Staging the World (British Museum).

 

LIBBY da COSTA (Costume Stylist) is a London based costume designer who trained at the prestigious London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Art. Over the course of her career, Libby has had the pleasure of working for a diverse range of clients, creating unique and powerful designs for television, film, commercials and now theatre! Libby recently designed the feature film Doctor Jekyll, the story of Jacqueline Hyde where Eddie played the lead role, Nina Jekyll. Whatever the brief or project, Libby combines her passion, insight and years of industry experience to realize any vision with imagination and flair. Libby has been seduced by the fast-paced, creative lifestyle involved in this line of work and is never afraid of a challenge. She is a storyteller and fantasist and through her costumes the characters are born. From contemporary through to period, Libby has worked with costumes that date back to as early as 1744.

 

WESTBETH ENTERTAINMENT (Arnold Engelman, Founder/President) has consistently delivered critically acclaimed, financially successful, groundbreaking productions for over 40 years. Beginning as The Westbeth Theatre Center and morphing into WestBeth Entertainment, developing and introducing artists and talent to North American audiences is a big part of WestBeth’s history. From Billy Connolly to Eddie Izzard, The Jim Henson Company to John Leguizamo and Trevor Noah to Hannah Gadsby, WBE has been the creative catalyst, partner and producer of some of the most innovative performances and productions on the continent in venues throughout North America including Madison Square Garden, The Hollywood Bowl, Toronto’s Massey Hall, Chicago’s Chicago Theatre and New York’s Radio City Musical Hall. WestBeth’s most recent productions include Professor Brian Cox’s Horizon‘ tour of North America, Eddie Izzard’s Wunderbar US and Canadian tours, Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas’ Off-Broadway run and Brian Henson’s Puppet Up! Uncensored for multiple runs in Los Angeles. Other productions include Eddie Izzard’s first US book tour for his memoir Believe Me, a New York Times Bestseller, North American debut of Australia’s comedy group Aunty Donna, Hannah Gadsby’s North American debut of Nanette, Dylan Moran’s Off The Hook North American Tour, Noel Fielding (of The Mighty Boosh and “The Great British Bake Off,”) North American debut tour An Evening with Noel Fielding, Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure American tour performed in all 50 states; Billy Connolly’s High Horse tour, the Off-Broadway debut run of comedian Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime; Eric Idle’s What About Dick? Filmed for Netflix; John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown on Broadway, the West End, in Colombia, South America; and the national tour; off-Broadway, Australian tour, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Las Vegas runs of Brian Henson’s Puppet Up! Uncensored.

 

MICK PERRIN WORLDWIDE (Producer). Mick Perrin is a UK based producer/promoter/agent with a company he began over 20 years ago. Mick spent his youth playing in various punk bands around the UK and was the original STOMP production/tour manager. A long career in tour management turned to promotion, with the first ever UK arena tour with Eddie Izzard’s Sexie Tour. Mick Perrin Worldwide currently tours over 50 artistes across 45 nations and is a major producer of comedy talent at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, first introducing the likes of Bo Burnham, Trevor Noah, Simon Amstell, and Brett Goldstein. Awards include an Emmy (Eddie Izzard’s “Dress to Kill,)” Olivier Award for La Clique, Olivier Award for La Soiree, and a Chortle Award for Off-Stage Contribution. www.mickperrin.com

 

Greenwich House was founded in 1902 with a mission to help New Yorkers lead more fulfilling lives through social and health services and cultural and education programs. Annually, nearly 15,000 people are served at their Senior Centers, Music School, Pottery, After-School and Summer Camp, Nursery School and clinics addressing behavioral health for seniors, adults overcoming addiction and for victims of child abuse. http://www.greenwichhouse.org.

 

www.eddieizzardgreatexpectations.com

‘THE MOORS’ REVIEW – DELICIOUSLY DARK BRONTË PASTICHE ·

(Arifa Akbar’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/16/22; via Pam Green; Photo: Captivating … The Moors. Photograph: Steve Gregson Photography.)  

The Hope theatre, London
The characters might be the Brontës themselves or they might be from novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, mashed-up with wandering strays from a zombie movie

Agoverness arrives in a remote corner of the Yorkshire moors to find a household of oddballs. She has been wooed there by Branwell – the dissolute brother of the Brontë sisters – but there are only his sisters here and a house that creaks with creepy mysteries.

Inspired by the letters of Charlotte Brontë and boldly directed by Phil Bartlett, this black comedy by American writer, Jen Silverman, is a homage to the Brontës and a gothic pastiche in one.

The characters might be the Brontës themselves, stranded in Haworth and playing a sinister game of make-believe. Or they could be characters from several Brontë novels (most obviously from Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights), mashed-up with wandering strays from a zombie movie.

It takes a while to realise we are enveloped inside Sophia Pardon’s atmospheric set, sitting in the round with gravel beneath our feet. The charred walls of the house are behind us and the characters sit among us, staring dead ahead. Julian Starr’s sound design brings sometimes eerie, sometimes schlocky melodrama with screeching violins and organ music. The moor outside is evocatively conjured as a savage place of quicksand and endless wilderness.

Best of all, the actors captivate with lines that waver between humour and horror. Their performances are all the more astonishing given that they are recent drama school graduates.

Emilie (Meredith Lewis) is the callow governess with a beautiful singing voice; Agatha (Imogen Mackenzie) is the head of the household in lace and black lipstick with the dark allure of a Heathcliff figure. There is a fame obsessed sister, Hudley (Kenia Fenton), a hammily dead-eyed maid (Tamara Fairbairn) and a talking mastiff (Peter Hadfield), complete with leather collar and black nail varnish, along with a moorhen (Matilda Childs). They keep us hanging on their every word, even when the plot is pushed to the furthest edges of weirdness.

(Read more)

 

TOM STOPPARD’S ‘LEOPOLDSTADT’ (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

Tom Stoppard’s Olivier Award-winning Best New Play Leopoldstadt—his 19th on Broadway–which opened October 2, at the Longacre Theatre, is epic, the English way, with huge scope  and significance, about the need to win,  and  to always find a way to win:  in relationships, in assimilation and even, as much as possible, against the ultimate horrors of the last century.  There is too short a glance at Eastern European absurdism that informs previous plays by the author, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Dogg’s Hamlet, which may have been appropriate (some contend the form was a reaction to the existential effects of World War II), given his devastating theme:  the destruction of a Viennese and Galician family, from their lives in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Austrian independence; from the Anschluss to immigration to new lands in the West.  Instead, in Patrick Marber’s first-rate production,  a measured cinematic approach seems to have been a guide, as if Freddie Young’s technically sharp, crystal-clear camera could be brought in for perfect scenic composition (the settings are by Richard Hudson, with Costume design by Brigitte Reiffenstuel and lighting design by Neil Austin; project design, using period photography,  is by Isaac Madge and sound  design and original music are by Adam Cork), with  allusions, in terms of writing,  to Anna Karenina, Chekhov,  Hedda  Gabler, Woyzeck, and probably more classic work–Brecht should be mentioned, as well, for some might conjecture that events of this scale, in the theatre,  may need to happen through one great Mother Courage figure, instead of a family.  The characters in the play—and there are 38 of them, including young actors—a number of whom are interested in Freud and psychoanalysis, are not necessarily likable or sympathetic, and many are cunning, perhaps due to the fact that the momentum of the story does not allow enough time with each—they’re opportunists overwhelmed by barbarity.

For theatregoers, Tom Stoppard means erudite fun at the most sophisticated levels, but although expert at keeping his play moving–with language more windy and literary than imitative of real speech (and with excellent monologues)–there’s not much intrinsically funny here, in a dark documentary-like work about survival skills, literal survival skills, probably more appropriately examined in film. There may be a comic joke about a cigar cutter, which promises to let loose mayhem, a Freudian slip or provocation to be found, a suppressed or false memory, which the Viennese doctor might find amusing, but the serious subject also forces the viewer to examine contemporary societal splits and abysses, discussed , for example, by John Murray Cuddihy in his The Ordeal of Civility (1974), whose thesis is expressed by Chilton Williamson, Jr. as:   “Jews and the modern West have been at odds with one another for [more than] the past 150 years, as a tribal and essentially premodern people confronted a civilization representing secularized Christianity . . . and . . . celebrants of the illusory “Judeo-Christian” civilization have deliberately disguised the schism . . .  prevent(ing it from) . . .  coalescing (157).”  The divide continues, in the public eye, from blatant antisemitism, where synagogues need to be monitored on holy days, to the mindless, escapism of social media chattering, chronicled as recently as the present, as celebrities like Kanye West, Candace Owens, and Whoopi Goldberg  express off-the-cuff opinion in cancel culture.  Antisemitism is an endless polarizing, immobilizing subject, in a country that, by all accounts, has been very good to and for Jews, but has never asked or expected them, to explain themselves, with self-reflection, before American society in the way that African-Americans have been asked to do, for example, in the Million Man March (and that may be a source of contention).  Yet, high profile cases, in the Jewish community, are not unknown and have profoundly upset the country, such as, in the recent past, those concerning Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell.  A playwright could choose to self-identify as “British,” instead of “coming out” as Jewish, for reasons, personal and myriad, but the irony is not lost, that a largely realistic, historical drama, like Leopoldstadt, is an example of what the ‘60s and a playwright like Tom Stoppard, helped drive out of fashion, only to be refound again, now, in the present day, perhaps like his heritage.  

Bluffing, as a theme, does come up in Leopoldstadt, from a card game, to counting numbers, to a family business, and the family’s definition of its religion.  Because of Stoppard’s stature as a major artist, as well as a character in the play, who apparently knew little about his own family, theatregoers might question how much subterfuge is being used about his past and what he knew about himself. “Mathematics is the only place where one can make yourself clear,” intones one of the scholars in the play, but theatregoers may still be perplexed about how Stoppard thought of himself and when, before his admission, and to which version of the self he is referring to (of course, being Jewish in the entertainment field is nothing unusual or stigmatizing—similarly, no one raised an eyebrow when Carol Channing exposed the fact that she was of African-American lineage, in her autobiography).  There is always a hide-and-seek game in fiction with real characters—are we watching fiction or autobiography? Also,  to what extent is the fiction protective, and can one have it both ways, or many ways, when readers or audience members might be asking for less rationalized alternatives to reality and more clarity? Nevertheless, assuming that authors will write more conservatively as they age, there are real reasons to admire Leopoldstadt, none the least to “never forget”—and for the ensemble work of the actors, including David Krumholtz, Faye Castelow, and Jenna Augen, to only choose three.  A work of this sheer expanse and literary quality is so hard to find anywhere, whether an author is young or old, Jewish, Buddhist, or a Christian Scientist:  Where else today could another script be found, for example, where one would actually want to have had a traditionalist, like David Lean, render it on screen?

Recommended.

Copyright © Bob Shuman; all rights reserved.

Press:  Michelle Farabaugh, Angela Yamarone, Boneau/Bryan-Brown

(Photo from the London production.)

John Murray Cuddihy’s book The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Levi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity is discussed in The Conservative Bookshelf by Chilton Williamson, Jr. (Citadel Press, 2004).

(via BBB, Adrian Bryan-Brown / Michelle Farabaugh / Angela Yamarone )

★★★★★

“Magnificent!

Sir Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece. GO!”

The Independent

Leopoldstadt,

Stoppard’s 19th Production on Broadway,

Previews Begin Wednesday, September 14

Opening Sunday, October 2

In a Limited Engagement at the Longacre Theatre

 LeopoldstadtPlay.com

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Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard’s Olivier Award-winning Best New Play, is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Patrick Marber and produced by Sonia Friedman ProductionsRoy Furman, and Lorne Michaels.

 

Leopoldstadt’s full 38-member company, which includes several members of the original West End company and 24 actors making their Broadway debuts, will feature Jesse Aaronson* (The Play That Goes Wrong off-Broadway), Betsy Aidem (Prayer for the French Republic), Jenna Augen* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Japhet Balaban* (The Thing About Harry on Freeform), Corey Brill (“The Walking Dead,” Gore Vidal’s The Best Man), Daniel Cantor* (Tuesdays with Morrie off-Broadway), Faye Castelow* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Erica Dasher* (“Jane By Design”), Eden Epstein* (“Sweetbitter” on Starz, “See” on Apple TV+), Gina Ferrall (Big RiverA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Arty Froushan* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Charlotte Graham* (The Tempest at A.R.T.), Matt Harrington (Matilda The Musical), Jacqueline Jarrold (The Cherry Orchard), Sarah Killough (Travesties), David Krumholtz (“Numb3rs,” Oppenheimer), Caissie Levy (The BedwetterCaroline, or Change), Colleen Litchfield* (“The Crowded Room” on Apple TV+), Tedra Millan (Present LaughterThe Wolves), Aaron Neil* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Theatre World Award winner Seth Numrich (TravestiesWar Horse), Anthony Rosenthal (Falsettos), Chris Stevens*, Sara Topham (Travesties), three-time Tony Award nominee Brandon Uranowitz (Assassins, FalsettosBurn This), Dylan S. Wallach (Betrayal), Reese Bogin*, Max Ryan Burach*Calvin James Davis*, Michael Deaner*, Romy Fay* (“Best Foot Forward” on Apple TV+), Pearl Scarlett Gold*, Jaxon Cain Grundleger*, Wesley Holloway*, Ava Michele Hyl*, Joshua Satine*, Aaron Shuf*, and Drew Ryan Squire*.

* indicates an actor making their Broadway debut.

Leopoldstadt’s limited Broadway engagement begins previews Wednesday, September 14 ahead of a Sunday, October 2 opening night at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street).

Perhaps the most personal play of Stoppard’s unmatched career, Leopoldstadt opened in London’s West End to rave critical acclaim on January 25, 2020. A planned extension due to overwhelming demand was curtailed due to the COVID-19 lockdown seven weeks later. In late 2021, the play returned for a further 12-week engagement. Both runs completely sold out and Leopoldstadt received the Olivier Award for Best New Play in October 2020.

Leopoldstadt will mark Tom Stoppard’s 19th play on Broadway since his groundbreaking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead opened 55 years ago. Stoppard has won four Best Play Tony Awards, more than any other playwright in history.

Set in Vienna, Leopoldstadt takes its title from the Jewish quarter. This passionate drama of love and endurance begins in the last days of 1899 and follows one extended family deep into the heart of the 20th Century. Full of his customary wit and beauty, Tom Stoppard’s late work spans fifty years of time over two hours. The Financial Times said, “This is a momentous new play. Tom Stoppard has reached back into his own family history to craft a work that is both epic and intimate; that is profoundly personal, but which concerns us all.” With a cast of 38 and direction by Patrick MarberLeopoldstadt is a “magnificent masterpiece” (The Independent) that must not be missed.

Leopoldstadt’s creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award winner Richard Hudson (The Lion KingLa Bête), costume design by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting design by three-time Tony Award winner Neil Austin (Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildCompanyTravesties), sound and original music by Tony Award winner Adam Cork (RedTravesties), video design by Isaac Madge, movement by Emily Jane Boyle, and hair, wig & makeup design by Campbell Young & Associates. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Maureen Kelleher, and UK casting is by Amy Ball CDG.

Co-producers of Leopoldstadt include Stephanie P. McClelland, Gavin Kalin, Delman Sloan, Brad Edgerton, Eilene Davidson, Patrick Gracey, Burnt Umber Productions, Cue to Cue Productions, No Guarantees, Robert Nederlander, Jr., Thomas S. Perakos, Sanford Robertson, Iris Smith, The Factor Gavin Partnership, Jamie deRoy / Catherine Adler, Dodge Hall Productions / Waverly Productions, Ricardo Hornos / Robert Tichio, Heni Koenigsberg / Wendy Federman, Brian Spector / Judith Seinfeld, and Richard Winkler / Alan Shorr.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets are on sale online at Telecharge.com or by phone at 212-239-6200.

For 10+ Group Sales information contact Broadway Inbound at broadwayinbound.com or call 866-302-0995.

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