Category Archives: Events

CAROL HALL, ‘BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE’ COMPOSER, IS DEAD AT 82 ·

(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1012; via Pam Green.)

Carol Hall, who helped turn an unlikely inspiration into one of the biggest Broadway hits of the 1970s when she wrote the music and lyrics for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” died on Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She was 82.

An announcement from her family said the cause was logopenic primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia.

Ms. Hall was enjoying moderate success as a singer and songwriter when, developing an idea first hatched during a dinner party conversation, she, Peter Masterson and Larry L. King created “Best Little Whorehouse,” a comedy based on an article Mr. King had written in 1974 for Playboy. It concerned the moralistic efforts to close down a real-life Texas brothel known as the Chicken Ranch (because some customers paid in chickens) that had operated for years.

The show drew mixed reviews — Walter Kerr, writing in The New York Times, called it “an erratic and ambling, if sleekly produced, business.” But the reviews didn’t seem to matter much to audiences. The provocative title, the down-home humor and Ms. Hall’s amiable songs made for a winning package.

(Read more)

Photo: Theatermania

 

‘IN THE TUNNEL’ FROM GESHER THEATRE (ISRAEL) AND ‘I WAS MOST ALIVE WITH YOU’ AT PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS ·

By Bob Shuman

Leon Hadar has written, in the Spectator, that, generally, Israelis like Trump more than American Jews do. They also prefer him to Obama, with young Israeli voters favoring the political right, “raising the prospects for growing tension between Israel and America’s liberal elite and its large Jewish component.”  Hadar  explains further, “in contrast to the so, so smart and metrosexual Obama, the tough and unpolished Trump talks doogri—straight in-your-face,” and he is a “not-politically-correct kind-of-guy. What is there not to love about him?” Trump, many will recall, had tweeted that he had heard Hamilton was “overrated,” in 2016, after Mike Pence visited and had been lectured, at a curtain call, by Brandon Victor Dixon–who played Aaron Burr–as a representative of the cast. The president–apparently not uninterested in theater; he was a producer of the doomed comedy Paris Is Out! featuring Yiddish theatre star, Molly Picon, in 1970–might like In the Tunnel, from Tel-Aviv’s Gesher Theatre, however,  not only because of its Jewish bent.  The show, a political satire from the Cherry Orchard Festival, written by Roy Chen and  inspired by Danis Tanovic‘s film No Man’s Landand which played at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College on October 6 and 7–as part of its North American tour, unlike so many politically correct evenings of American Theatre, also talks doogri.

Performed in Hebrew with English and Russian subtitles, the evening becomes compelling because it not only recognizes how much bull there is in society—from entertainment to advertising and politics, for example–but also because it acknowledges that the fakery has to be there.  Israelis have to be acquiescent to the nonsense of being able to get along because it’s part of the insulation that helps prevent the country from an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian War; the deception is futile, though, because the positions can’t be negotiated.

The audience, during In the Tunnel, is led into a superficial commercial setting, as all-encompassing and chilly as a shopping spree at Zabar’s.  After a mine explosion, two Israeli soldiers and a Palestinian are buried underneath building debris, forced to cooperate as they wait in the hope of rescue.  The setting is a metaphor for the depth of the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, continually becoming more and more dangerous. The young Israeli photographer, seated next to me, laughed in acknowledgment of the humor, mostly male, often puerile, and sometimes out of the gallows (“the one who dies always loses, no matter what side he’s on”).  There can be an unpretentiousness that verges on the rude in the story, but In the Tunnel is straight and authentic; the acting robust and specific.  At the center of the drama are Miki Leon (an injured Israeli soldier), Ido Moseri (the son of a peace activist), and Firas Nassar (a Palestinian fighter), who work well with and off each other; Nassar, especially demonstrates skills as a comic and mime.  The direction is by Irad Rubinstein.   

Craig Lucas wants his characters to “bone up” on the Old Testament’s Job in I Was Most Alive with You, which closed at Playwrights Horizons on October 14.  Only to them does the story seem obscure, despite passages included in religious study, college world literature syllabi, and secular adaptations, allowing all kinds of Christians, as well as Jews, and beyond, to have familiarity with the devastating losses of an “upright” man.  (Actually cascading images and examples are emphasized more in the book, rather than complex, character-driven plot development.)  For Broadway, Neil Simon wrote a play, God’s Favorite, based on Job, in 1974. Like Lucas, he would not take steps to a final catastrophe, which is where the dramatic line heads (although, in the Bible, the Lord “blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning”).  Here, the author, decides on a “have it your way” finish, which may be his solution for pleasing the audience. 

I Was Most Alive with You doesn’t seem authentic, like In the Tunnel, because, except for many Christians, it’s a big tent of a show and wants to be adulated so much: by Jews and women; minorities and gays; deaf people and those in recovery, for example.  It can both remind of Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam on the old Dick Van Dyke Show, as well as Ingmar Bergman’s repeated monologue in Persona.  The Job role (played by Michael Gaston) is strangely unsatisfactory, in writing and execution–not the least of which because he doesn’t try to communicate with God–although the fine deaf actor, Russell Harvard, as his son, is able to lift the rendering toward tragic space; likewise Marianna Bassham, as his mother, has the power to concentrate an audience and Lisa Emery is likable as the family friend and writing partner.  If only Lucas had realized that less could be more. 

He can find it in himself to forgive drinkers and drug-takers, batterers and those promiscuous, but for the white male Christian demographic, he writes a flash tirade, spoken by Lois Smith, as family matriarch and producer:  “If someone got sick in our church, we shunned them.  Fired from a job, look away.  I don’t think my Dad would have crossed the street if you were on fire, he’d have hurried along.”  Such a horrible, if not offensive, view of Christians. 

After the play was over, this reviewer, who so memorably recalls Reckless, from the ‘80s at Circle Rep, felt drawn to dig out Joni Mitchell’s idiosyncratic, secular take on Job: “The Sire of Sorrow,” which helped her album Turbulent Indigo win a Grammy in 1994.  The same music was later recorded for her Travelogue (2002). Whether politically correct or not, doogri or not—she gets it right.

(c) 20018 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

I Was Most Alive with You

With Beth Applebaum, Marianna Bassham, Tad Cooley, Lisa Emery,  Kalen Feeney, Harold Foxx, Michael Gaston, Seth Gore, Russell Harvard, Amelia Hensley, Anthony Natale, Lois Smith, Alexandria Wailes, Gameela Wright

Directed by Tyne Rafaeli

In the Tunnel 

Written by: Roy Chen inspired by Danis Tanovic’s film No Man’s Land; Directed by: Irad Rubinstein; Set design: Michael Kramenko; Costumes: Oren Dar; Music: Roi Yarkoni; Lighting: Avi-Yona Bueno (Bambi); Sound: Michael Vaysburd; Movement: Amit Zamir; Assistant director (stage speech): Yonny Lucas; Assistant director: Yanna Adamovski; Executive Producer: Roman Kvetner

Cast – Tzlil: Ido Moseri | Iftach: Miki Leon | Hisam: Firras Nasser | Mansur/Josef, stage manager VO2/The Knesset MP: Assaf Pariente| Karnit, narrator of “Sunflowers” program: Karin Saruya | editor of the program VO/Thomas Handfiller, representative of the UN: Ori Yaniv | High-ranking politician: Alexander Senderovich | Nutrition expert in “Sunflowers” | program/Ricado Cabarel, sapper from UN: Paulo E. Moura | Dickla, border Guard official on a checkpoint/Hadassa/Mother of Tzlil/Daughter of Iftach : Noa Ar-Zion.

Photos (top to bottom):   Representative of the UN (Ori Yaniv), Israeli soldier Iftach (Miki Leon) and Hisam, Palestinian Hamas member (Firras Nasser); the cast of  I Was Most Alive with You (Joan Marcus)

 

 

 

IS SHAKESPEARE HISTORY? THE PLANTAGENETS (BBC RADIO 4) ·

Listen: Is Shakespeare History?  

 In Our Time

In the first of two programmes marking In Our Time’s 20th anniversary on 15th October, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Shakespeare’s versions of history, starting with the English Plantagenets. His eight plays from Richard II to Richard III were written out of order, in the Elizabethan era, and have had a significant impact on the way we see those histories today. In the second programme, Melvyn discusses the Roman plays.

The image above is of Richard Burton (1925 – 1984) as Henry V in the Shakespeare play of the same name, from 1951

With

Emma Smith
Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford

Gordon McMullan
Professor of English at King’s College London and Director of the London Shakespeare Centre

And

Katherine Lewis
Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Huddersfield

Producer: Simon Tillotson

LAURIE METCALF AND JOHN LITHGOW TO STAR ON BROADWAY IN ‘HILLARY AND CLINTON’ ·

(David Rooney’s article appeared in the Hollywood Reporter, 10/4; via the Drudge Report.)

Set during the 2008 Democratic primaries, the play about the complex workings of a marriage reunites Metcalf with producer Scott Rudin and playwright Lucas Hnath, whose ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ won the actress her first Tony.

Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow, both two-time Tony Award winners, will team up on Broadway to play the power couple who have been a prominent part of the American political landscape for the past quarter-century in Hillary and Clinton.

(Read more)

Photo: Newsmax

ANSEL ELGORT TO STAR IN STEVEN SPIELBERG’S ‘WEST SIDE STORY’ ·

(Borys Kit’s article appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, 10/1.)

The ‘Baby Driver’ star has nabbed the male lead in the upcoming musical.

Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort has nabbed the male lead in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming take on West Side Story.

The actor will play Tony, a role first portrayed by Larry Kert in the original 1957 Broadway musical. Richard Beymer played the part in the classic 1961 movie.

Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner has written the adaptation of the musical originally penned by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim with music by Leonard Bernstein.

Spielberg has spent the better part of the year looking for stars for his movie, with actors needing to be able to sing, dance, and, of course, act their hearts out for the story that transposes Romeo and Juliet into a 1950s New York setting featuring white and Puerto Rican gangs.

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DEATH OF CHARLES AZNAVOUR AFTER A LONG AND BEAUTIFUL BOHEMIAN LIFE ·

French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour poses during a photo session in Paris on November 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET

(Michael Naulin’s article appeared in Le Figaro, 10/1.)

DISAPPEARANCE – The legendary Franco-Armenian artist died at the age of 94. With songs such as Take me , I already saw myself or La Bohème , the eternal Charles Aznavour has gone through times, generations and borders.

 “Singer of the most important variety of the twentieth century”. This is the title awarded in 1988 to Charles Aznavour by the American channel CNN and the Times . More than 1200 songs in seven different languages, shows in 94 countries and more than 100 million records sold worldwide. But also more than 60 participations in feature films. Very discreet about his private life, the singer – who died in the night from Sunday to Monday at the age of 94 – was married three times and had six children, three of them with his last wife Ulla, with whom he had been married for more than 50 years.

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»READ ALSO – Bohemia , Take me , Yesterday again … The most wonderful songs of Charles Aznavour

Photo: Le Figaro

 

 

THERESA REBECK: ‘BERNHARDT/HAMLET’  (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Jesse Green’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/25.)  

Is it chance or synchronicity that brings “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” a muscular comedy about a woman unbound, to Broadway at this grim transitional moment in gender politics?

Either way, Theresa Rebeck’s new play, which opened on Tuesday at the American Airlines Theater, is so clever it uplifts, so timely it hurts.

That’s a depressing thing to say about a story set in 1899 in that temple of chauvinism, the French popular theater. Janet McTeer stars as Sarah Bernhardt, then in her mid-50s and aging out of the dying courtesan roles that made her world-famous. As far as Shakespeare is concerned, she is caught in the gap between Ophelia and Gertrude.

So why not try Hamlet?

Enter the men: Edmond Rostand (Jason Butler Harner), one of France’s greatest young dramatists; Alphonse Mucha (Matthew Saldivar), the Art Nouveau illustrator of Bernhardt’s gorgeous posters; and Louis (Tony Carlin), a critic so parsimonious with praise I suppose it’s only fair that he’s given no surname.

(Read more)

Photo: Chicago Tribune

 

 

AN EVENING WITH ANGELA CARTER (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

Listen 

Two iconic radio plays, first produced in the 1970s, now given brand new productions.
Introduced by Fiona Shaw as Angela Carter.

VAMPIRELLA
A young Englishman, travelling by bicycle through Transylvania, finds himself at the mercy of a ‘lovely lady vampire’ and her governess.

THE COUNTESS … Jessica Raine
THE COUNT … Anton Lesser
HERO … Oliver Chris
MRS BEANE … Doon Mackichan
SAWNEY/GATEKEEPER/PRIEST … Kevin McMonagle
BOY … William Gidney
YOUNG COUNTESS … Tilly Meeson
VILLAGERS/PEASANTS … Pip Williams, Rose Reade, Lucy Mangan, Tré Gordon

Director/Producer – Fiona McAlpine
Sound Design – Wilfredo Acosta

COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS
Carter’s hallucinatory documentary drama about the murderous Victorian painter, Richard Dadd.

CARTER … Fiona Shaw
RICHARD DADD … James Anthony Rose
SIR THOMAS PHILLIPS … Pip Torrens
FRITH … Keith Hill
OBERON … Robert Pugh
TITANIA … Monica Dolan
PUCK/ROBERT DADD … Tom Forrister
SHOPKEEPER/FAIRY FELLER … Noof McEwan
CRAZY JANE … Jasmine Jones
LANDLADY … Tilly Vosburgh
DOCTOR/HOWARD … Nicholas Murchie

Violinist – Madeleine Brooks
Director – Robin Brooks
Producer – Fiona McAlpine
Sound Design – Wilfredo Acosta

Radio 3 presents new interpretations of two radio scripts by Angela Carter, originally written and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in the 1970s. Both these scripts embody the combination of stylistic daring, playful wit, dazzling language, and high intellectual seriousness which is a hallmark of Carter’s best work. These productions will be introduced by Fiona Shaw, playing Carter, so that she may explain in her own words how she came to write them, and why she felt so strongly attracted to Radio drama as a medium.

VAMPIRELLA, Angela Carter’s first radio play was produced by Glyn Dearman, and broadcast in July 1976. As Carter describes it: the “lovely lady vampire’ skulks in her Transylvanian castle, “bored with the endless deaths and resurrections”, and caged by “hereditary appetites that she found both compulsive and loathsome”. A young British officer arrives, who kills her with the innocence of his kiss, and then goes off to die in a war “far more hideous than any of our fearful superstitious imaginings”.

COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS tells the story of the painter Richard Dadd, who murdered his father and was confined to Broadmoor, where he created the Fairy paintings for which he is now famous. Carter uses the story, and animates the fairy figures themselves, in order to explore how “the distorted style of the paintings of Dadd’s madness, together with his archetypical crime of parricide, seems to be expressions of the dislocation of the real relations of humankind to itself, during Britain’s great period of high capitalism and imperialist triumph.”

Photo: BBC Radio 3

THE NEW YORK INNOVATION THEATRE FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES THE RECIPIENTS OF THE 2018 IT AWARDS (FULL LIST) ·


(Visit the IT AWARDS: www.nyitawards.com)

New York, NY: On Monday, September 24, 2018 Innovative Theatre Foundation, the organization who for the past 14 years has been dedicated to celebrating Off-Off-Broadway, presented 26 awards and four honorary awards for outstanding achievement in theatre at the 14th Annual New York Innovative Theatre Awards Ceremony, at Centennial Memorial Theatre (120 West 14th Street, NYC). If you were unable to attend, watch a replay online at www.nyitawards.com/live.

The ceremony was hosted by trans performer and writer Becca Blackwell; directed by 2014 Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award recipient Kevin R. Free; with script contributions by writer, director, and performer Joey Rizzolo. Presenters included Moe Angelos (The Builders Association), Beowulf Boritt (Scenic Designer), Leon Dobkowski (Costume Designer), Magie Dominic (Writer), Kit Goldstein Grant (Composer/Lyricist), Eva Kaminsky (Actress), Dorothy Lyman (Actress/Director/Producer), Charles Morey (Playwright), John Arthur Pinckard (Producer), Josh Prince (Choreographer), Everett Quinton (Actor/Director/Playwright), Charles Rice-Gonzalez (Writer), Bill Solly (Composer/Lyricist), G. Benjamin Swope (Lighting Designer), and Charles Turner (Actor).

The 2018 recipients were awarded from a pool of nominees that include 157 individual artists, 53 different productions, and 52 different theatre companies. Nominated productions were seen on stages in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. To date, the IT Awards have honored over 2,500 artists, over 700 productions and over 650 companies.

“We have studied the birth of Off-Off-Broadway for many years and this is a great opportunity to bring together two of our favorite Indie Theatre institutions, the Caffe Cino and the NY It Awards. We could not be more humbled to be receiving an award in honor of Joe and the Caffe Cino.” ~ Ralph Lewis, Co-Artistic Director of Peculiar Works Project

WINNERS:

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE

Denali Bennett, Victoria Bundonis, LaDonna Burns, Denise DeMars, Tia DeShazor, Susan Cohen DeStefano, Christine Donnelly, Andrea Dotto, Dan Entriken, Jonathan Fluck, Spencer Hansen, James Harter, Marcie Henderson, Greg Horton, Kathleen LaMagna, Andrea McCullough, Sharae Moultrie, Ben Northrup, Rusty Riegelman, Bruce Sabath, Carolyn Seiff, Cliff Sellers, Lauren Alice Smith, Lucy Sorlucco, Tina Stafford, Noah Virgile, Mandarin Wu

Follies, Astoria Performing Arts Center

OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE

Valerie Redd

You / Emma, Wandering Bark Theatre Company in association with IRT Theater  

Photo: Samantha Fairfield Walsh

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE

Todd Ritch  

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, 5th Floor Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE

LaDonna Burns

Follies, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Photo: Feinstein’s/54 Below

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE

Ryan McCurdy

Greencard Wedding, Goode Productions  

Photo: Clyde Fitch Report

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A LEAD ROLE

Maggie Low  

Chickens in the Yard, Adjusted Realists  

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY/MOVEMENT

Sara Brians  

Follies, Astoria Performing Arts Center

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR

Mark Lewis  

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Sea Dog Theater  

 

Photo of Becca Blackwell by Kevin Yatarola

Press: Kampfire

4 RUSSIAN THEATER PERFORMANCES TO SEE IN U.S. AND UK CINEMAS THIS SEASON ·

(Alexandra Guzeva’s article appeared in Russia Beyond 9/14.)

The Stage Russia project continues to bring classic novels by leading theaters to big screens worldwide, all with English subtitles.

Don’t have the chance to visit Russia but you’re interested in the country’s rich theater tradition? Did you know that you can watch Russian theater productions in a cinema near you? Since 2016 Stage Russia HD has been bringing the best performances from leading Russian stages to cinemas worldwide.

The next season will soon open with a Shakespeare production, and will bring an experimental musical to a Tolstoy novel.

“These are timeless works that lend themselves to many reinventions,” said Eddie Aronoff, Stage Russia HD founder. “Similar to NT Live and the Metropolitan Opera HD, which have presented a variety of versions of classic titles (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, La Traviata, La Boheme, among others), we feel it’s entirely relevant to offer access to the full breadth of Russian theater in all its incarnations.”

  1. King Lear

In staging Shakespeare, director Yuri Butusov tries not to simplify the bard’s deep meanings. This is a metaphorical story about the collapse of a family, the collapse of a country, and the collapse of an individual and how they all are connected to each other.

The Satirikon Theater’s production features great actors and its artistic director, Konstantin Raikin, as King Lear. This role earned him Russia’s main national theater prize, the Golden Mask, for best male role. Maryana Spivak, a star of Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” is playing Cordelia.

In cinemas from Sept. 20; find the nearest to you on the website www.stagerussia.com

(Read more)

Photo: Viktor Dmitriev