31 May 2009

Interesting Article About PL Travers

In reading a piece about a new documentary coming out about the Sherman Brothers (who wrote the music for MARY POPPINS among other things), I stumbled upon an anecdote detailing PL Travers' (author of the POPPINS books) dissapproval of the Disney movie. A few googleseconds later I was at an article from the NEW YORKER, published shortly after the stage version opened in London. Why struck me most about the article was how much of an empresario and visionary Walt Disney was. I wish this kind of producing still existed--where someone knows the property they want to develop, how it should develop, and who should develop it. I also want to see this Sherman Brothers movie. Those guys wrote some great music over the years (I'm particularly partial to their music for BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS), and if I don't necessarily think they're one of the greatest song-writing teams in the lexicon, they're prolific, and deserving of reconition.

Now for a PETE'S DRAGON tell all...

30 May 2009

Happy Song: Saturday 30-May

GODSPELL is a weird show. I still don't really know what possessed anyone to make a clown version of the book of Mark. But boy am I glad they did. If, as a general rule, I am a "original cast only" purist when it comes to cast recordings, the recording made of the York Theater Company's end-of-the-millenium-revival is a favorite of mine. It's a fantastic cast (all of whom were basically unknown at the time) with people like Barret Foa, Leslie Kritzer, Capathia Jenkins, Chad Kimbell and Miss Sassafrass herself, Shoshana Bean. Here is Ms. Bean having the time of her life with "Bless the Lord My Soul"

Bless the Lord My Soul, from GODSPELL

29 May 2009

This Never Should Have Happened, or A Trio of Anitas

LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY decided to do a piece on the current revival of WEST SIDE STORY. Sure, I would rather they talk about NEXT TO NORMAL (which would be awfully relevant to the housefraus watching, dontcha think?), but whatever, WEST is popular, people know it, yada yada yada. But did they need to do a segment wherein Kelly learns the choreography to "America"? And did we then need to see her perform said choreography on the show? And did we need to keep cutting away from the fabulous Karen Olivo to focus on Kelly's "acting" moments? The good news is, Ms. Olivo is so darn likeable, and you do get to see her perform "America". And any national media coverage devoted to Broadway is a good thing. But still, this is ridiculous.

In better news, here's Debbie Allen doing "America" from the 1980 revival. Bitch. Is. FIERCE. Don't get me wrong, because I love me some Karen Olivo, but this is what I'm talking about. This is the West Side Fucking-Story.

And here's Charlotte D'Amboise (who, after seeing EVERY LITTLE STEP, I love, great job movie) and the company of JEROME ROBBINS BROADWAY. I didn't notice in EVERY LITTLE STEP that Ms. D'Amboise's legs are 13 feet long, but I guess they are. She is SUCH a ballerina, and this is the lightest, ariest "America" I've seen. Sure, it's about as Latina as I am, but this is really about the dance. (In fact, this version is slightly rearranged, cutting a few verses, but keeping all the dance.)

Now go and watch the movie version, because I know you can actually watch this number 5 more times.

28 May 2009


The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (http://www.theaterbloggers.com/) is thrilled to announce the winners of the first annual ITBA Awards for Excellence in Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway theater.

The ITBA (Independent Theater Bloggers Association) was formed in 2009 by a group of the most passionate theater bloggers on the World Wide Web (partial list below). The members of the Association blog about all aspects and all varieties of both commercial and non-profit theater, from big Broadway musicals performed in Times Square, to the most unique forms of entertainment performed off-off Broadway on the Lower East Side, as well as productions all over the country and all over the world. Together they see thousands of productions, and, without being paid or prodded, they write about them.
Ken Davenport, founder of the ITBA, said, “The Association was formed out of a desire to provide structure to the quickly growing theatrical blogosphere, as well as to give the new media voices a chance to recognize excellence in three of the very distinct theatrical markets that make up the New York City theatrical landscape: Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.”

In true “new media” style, there will be no live awards ceremony for the ITBA Awards. Instead, there will be a virtual awards ceremony, with video acceptance speeches for the winners posted electronically in the coming weeks on ITBA’s website, http://www.theaterbloggers.com/.

This year’s winners of the ITBA Awards are as follows:


Reasons To Be Pretty

Written by: Neil Labute
Directed by: Terry Kinney
Produced by: Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Gary Goddard Entertainment, Ted Snowdon, Doug Nevin/Erica Lynn Schwartz, Ronald Frankel/Bat-Barry Productions, Kathleen Seidel, Kelpie Arts, Jam Theatricals, Rachel Helson/Heather Provost and Scott M. Delman

Billy Elliot

Music by: Elton John
Lyrics by: Lee Hall
Book by: Lee Hall
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Produced by: Universal Pictures, Working Title, The Old Vic Company, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jon Finn and Sally Greene


Music by: Galt MacDermot
Lyrics by: James Rado, Gerome Ragni
Book by: James Rado, Gerome Ragni
Directed by: Diane Paulus
Produced by: The Joseph Papp Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Gary Goddard Entertainment, Kathleen K. Johnson, Nederlander Productions, Fran Kirmser Productions/Jed Bernstein, Marc Frankel, Broadway Across America, Barbara Manocherian/Wencarlar Productions, JK Productions/Terry Schnuck, Andy Sandberg, Jam Theatricals, The Weinstein Company/Norton Herrick and Jujamcyn Theatres

The Norman Conquests

Written by: Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by: Matthew Warchus
Produced by: Sonia Friedman Productions, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Thomas Viertel, Dede Harris, Tulchin/Bartner/Lauren Doll, Jamie deRoy, Eric Falkenstein, Harriet Newman Leve, Probo Productions, Douglas G. Smith, Michael Filerman/Jennifer Manocherian and Richard Winkler


Book by: Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones
Directed by: Bill T. Jones
Music and Lyrics by: Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Add'l Music by: Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean
Add'l Lyrics by: Jim Lewis
Produced by: Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay


Written by: Lynn Nottage
Directed by: Kate Whoriskey
Produced by: Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre

Our Town

Written by: Thornton Wilder
Directed by: David Cromer
Produced by: Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian, Tom Wirtshafter, Ted Snowdon, Eagle Productions, Dena Hammerstein/Pam Pariseau, The Weinstein Company, Burnt Umber Productions,

Universal Robots

Written by: Mac Rogers
Directed by: Rosemary Andress
Produced by: Manhattan Theater Source

Suspicious Package

Written by: Gyda Arber & Aaron Baker
Directed by: Gyda Arber
Produced by: The Fifth Wall as part of The Antidepressant Festival

Flux Theatre Ensemble

Members of the ITBA include:

Bill Brown
Donald Butchko
Chris Caggiano
Everything I Know I Learned from Musicals
Zack Calhoon
Visible Soul
Jodi Schoenbrun Carter
Corine Cohen
Corine's Corner
Kevin DalyTheatre Aficionado at Large
Ken Davenport
The Producer's Perspective
Ryan J. Davis
Jeremy Dobrish
Donelle Foreman
Michael Gilboe
Dan Gilloon
Diana Glazer
Leonard Jacobs
Patrick Lee
Just Shows to Go You
James Marino
Broadway Stars
Tulis McCall
Usher Nonsense
Jesse North
Stage Rush
That Sounds Cool
Sarah Roberts
Adventures in the Endless Pursuit of Entertainment

Michael Roderick
One Producer in the City
Adam Rothenberg
Adaumbelle’s Quest

David Spencer
Aisle Say

Ethan Stanislawski

Gil Varod

27 May 2009

Is this really news?

the NYT just published an "article" titled "Forget the Ingenues; Cue the Grown-Ups", which is about the abundance of women of a certain age (over 40) on Broadway. It was a nice excuse to feature this photo (which is missing Jane Fonda because...?):

but is it really news? The Diva has ALWAYs fueled Freudian mommy complexes (hate to take it there, but it's true). What makes anyone think this wasn't the case last year, or for the past decade? Let's look at the past decade of winners (in both categories) and their ages the year they won. (*)Indicates winner played a matriarch of some sort. Mind you this list is just the WINNERS, not the nominees (which the article is ostensibly about).

Best Actress in a Play
2008 Deanna Dunagan*, aged 68
2007 Julie White, aged 46
2006 Cynthia Nixon*, aged 40
2005 Cherry Jones, aged 49
2004 Phylicia Rashad*, aged 56
2003 Vanessa Redgrave*, aged 66
2002 Lindsay Duncan, aged 52
2001 Mary-Louise Parker, aged 37
2000 Jennifer Ehle, aged 31
1999 Judi Dench*, aged 65

Best Actress in a Musical
2008 Patti LuPone*, aged 59
2007 Christine Ebersole*, aged 54 Christine is only a mother in Act 1, but I DIDN'T count Cherry Jones as a mother for DOUBT, so I feel like it's fair...enough
2006 LaChanze*, aged 45
2005 Victoria Clark*, aged 46
2004 Idina Menzel, aged 33 (but Tonya Pinkins* was 42)
2003 Marissa Jaret Winokur, aged 30 (which is twice as old as the character she played. also, Harvey Firestein* was 51)
2002 Sutton Foster, aged 27
2001 Christine Ebersole, aged 48
2000 Heather Headley, aged 26
1999 Bernadette Peters, aged 51

Since 1999, there have only been 2 actresses UNDER 40 to win a Tony for "Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Play", though the musical counterpoint has yielded 4 in the same time frame (though the young'uns were all prior to 2005). So it seems like the Ingenues have done been forgotten.

23 May 2009

Happy Song: Saturday 23-May

CINDY-ELLA (or I Gotta Shoe) is a British musical from the 1960s that existed both as a TV special and a subsequent stage production. In a quaint and dated way, it offered a retelling of Cinderella using jazzy arrangements of spirituals. Though most of the score consists of pre-existing songs with modified lyrics, it did boast a few original numbers, like this infectious ditty "Look on Me with a Loving Eye". One of these days I'll write more about this show, but for now, enjoy.

"Look On Me with a Loving Eye," by Caryl Brahms nad Ned Sherrin, performed by Cleo Laine (!) and Cy Grant

22 May 2009


As you are probably aware, the entire LIFE photo archive has been uploaded into Googles greedy mits, and can be searched by adding the tag "source:life" to your querie. It just so happens they have A LOT of production photos from the original production of Auntie Mame, which is just a thrill. A bunch of thumbnails are below, or you can persue the 12 pages (!) here.

Because Everyone Loves a Good List...

Theater Afficionado posted this link of "11 Movies That Should Be Musicals" from totalfilm.com. This list, for them what don't feel like clicking on all kinds of links, is as follows:

Blade Runner
The Big Lebowski
Army of Darkness
There Will Be Blood
The Thing
Dazed and Confused
Up in Smoke

It's hard to tell if they're actually being serious about this or not, and regardless, I don't think it's really all that great a list (HEATHERS is the only one I'd really be all that interested in). BUT it does bring up the question: Is there something all that wrong with making musicals out of movies? It seems like a fairly logical medium to steal from, especially as people don't write plays like GREEN GROW THE LILACS anymore, and the rights to novels get snatched up by Hollywood the moment it goes into 2nd printing. (Note: I know absolutly nothing about book publishing or screen rights to novels. I don't even watch ENTOURAGE.) And nowhere has it ever been stated that musicals "should" come from original ideas; musicalizations of one sort of another have always made up a large part of any post-OKLAHOMA theatrical season.

The key is in finding source material that brings out new and interesting musical and theatrical ideas making it an entirely new experience for a potentially completely different audience, as opposed to using derivative music to hit plot points and recycle jokes from "Branded" material in an attempt that attract that movie's audience.

With this in mind (and the fact that I am covering phones for most of the day today and need something to think about), here is MY short list of movies that could be musicals. For the record, all of these would be legitimate musicals, not ironic, exclamation-pointed, FringeNYC shit-shows. Also, some of these are movies I haven't seen in a looooong time, so they might be really bad.

PHENOMENON--you know, that John Travolta movie (that kinda feels a little Scientologisty) about the guy whose brain is so super awesome that he can do crazy shit like make Kyra Sedwick fall in love with him. The first (and, admittedly, only) time I saw the movie (in theaters) I felt like it should be a musical. Partially because it's not a great movie--fairly pretictable and maudlin--but a good score could give it a depth the original lacked. Alternately, one could musicalize POWDER, which is the exact same thing, but with a younger leading man who is albino.

RADIO FLYER--I don't really remember this movie all that vividly, just that it was a coming of age story involving child abuse that I watched a couple of times at my Grandparents and really liked. But, reading the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, it still seems like a good idea, and a musical version might be able to resolve some of the issues critics had with the movie's treatment of fantasy as an escape from abuse. This would be a bleak one...

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY--again, I haven't seen this movie in forever and don't remember specifics so much as the fact that I watched it on a VHS my Grandpa made a bunch of times. But again, judging by the wiki plot synopsis it could be lovely.

Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section, or tweet them! Because Twitter is cool.

19 May 2009


Now that CATS can be done by anyone, anywhere (and is), I wonder how many times this ritual is performed. I also wonder if any of the numerous community theater/summerstock productions of cats will actually update the constumes/make-up, or if they will always look like Feline Flashdance extras. Will there ever be a Broadway "reimagining" of CATS? Will ALW bring it back once one of the Disney show dies?

16 May 2009

Happy Song: Saturday 16-May

GREENWILLOW is Frank Loesser's infamous flop, and pretty much killed Anothony Perkins' chances of musical theater stardom (which is sad). Though not inconceivable that this show failed to find an audience, I am surprised however that the score is not better known. It's one of those scores that grabs you from the first bars of the overture and fails to dissappoint (for the most part) until the end. And it sounds absolutely nothing like anything Frank Loesser has written. And did I mention Norman Bates is in it? The show centers on a young man (Perkins) who has some sort of curse meaning he will ultimately spend his life wondering the earth, and thus isn't really suitable for marriage. SPOILER ALERT: He gets over it. This song, "Summertime Love" is early in the show and sets itself up better than I could, so I'll leave it to you to listen. Enjoy.

Summertime Love from GREENWILLOW, book/music/lyrics by Frank Loesser, performed by Anthony Perkins (and company)

15 May 2009

Carrie x 3

Certainly there is much to be said about CARRIE: The Musical, most of it being negative or, at the very least, incredibly sarcastic. But I genuinely enjoy Carrie's big Act 2 song "I'm Not Alone". As staged, it's rather silly number in which Carrie uses her powers of telekinesis as she's getting ready for prom to mobilize hair brushes and whatnot and to do a nice little waltz with her prom dress. But the song itself is just delightful. Here's a short clip from opening night in Stratford Upon Avon (which is such a weird place to open this, or any, show)--the final 2 minutes. (The song, with all the dancing and what not, was almost 7 minutes long. Why? Whyyyyyyyyy?)

Well, time has passed, and young women needed new material for their books, so they've started to bring this out. The first is young Natalie Weiss with a more reasonable 3.5 minute cut of the song. She has a lovely voice and has some sassy fun riffs around the 3min mark (as in, you'll watch from 3min to the end about 5 times). PS: this video has been viewed over 61,000 times.

As YouTube viewing begets YouTube viewing, watching Ms. Weiss led me to an alternate video of a young woman named Ellie Borzelleri. She doesn't have the same sarsaparilla riffs that Natalie did or the low notes for "somebody's by my side as I face the unknown," there are a few slightly pitchy moments, and her gesticulating is a bit awkward. But I love the tone and resonance of her voice (I think that's the right word for it), and find her performance to be somewhat more genuine than Natalie's. This video has "only" been viewed some 800 times. (Technically it's 824, but I don't want to count MY viewings.)

Here's the kicker, she's SIXTEEN in this video. According to her Facebook Fan Page--yes, I "became a fan" of Eleanor Borzilleri, don't mock--she turned 17 less than a month ago. She just finished her High School's production of FOOTLOOSE. Can I get a capital What-The-What?

And don't forget, tomorrow is Happy Song Saturday!

14 May 2009


Sorry to be painfully predictable, but I am pretty damn excited about GLEE. I mean, a TV show on a major network (Fox even) about a "glee club" (which is really a show choir, but I guess they thought THAT sounded too gay) in "Lima, OH" (aka Southern California with a title card that says "Lima OH" the presumed occaisional joke about how there's nothing to do or something). And it has Broadway people in it? Somewhere in my youth or childhood, there must have been something good.

Also, click here to listen to a full version of "Don't Stop Believing"

13 May 2009


Rocco Landesman (the set designer's ex-husband) has just been named Chairman of the NEA. The NYTimes article goes into a number of reasons as to why this is an exciting but quizical choice--he took a chance on shows like ANGELS IN AMERICA (though that statistic is a little misleading, as ANGELS had been produced in LA and London previously to considerable acclaim), but he also started the $480 "premium" ticket and is generally commercially minded. In any case, he is clearly someone who doesn't mind thinking about things in a new way, which will only benefit the essentially impotent NEA. (To be perfectly frank, I didn't realize they even HAD a chairman until today. I mean, seriously, what do they do?). My question is not how will a commercial producer in a non-profit sector shake things up, but rather, how will having a THEATRICAL producer shake things up? Of the 9 previous chairpersons, only 1 (the first) has been a true theatrical producer. Others have been laywers, writers, composers, or Jane Alexander (I know, right?). But can Rocco use his post to get more suuport for, specifically, the performing arts? Should he? How equipped is he to assess the needs of the other arts? And again, does any of this really matter? Will the NEA become vital and central figure in the American Arts scene? Or will it just be another grant (with more hoops to jump)?

12 May 2009

The Strangest Human Being

Some are born infamous, some achieve infamy, and others thrust their infamy on you. I have encountered one such person. I will call her Amanda Lauren (which is not her real name. She goes by it, but it's not her real name). The most infamous story (which perhaps you have even heard yourself and thought to be an urban legend) goes something like this:

We were in an intermediate level acting class taught by the wonderful Phil Soltanoff. The class was more composition based than it was about scene work or "normal" theater, and exercises/assignments took on varied shapes and colors. One week the assignment was to do a "presentation of self". The framework of the assignment was intentionally loose ("work with your understanding of the assignment"), and results varied. As might be expected at a liberal arts college in its last throws of granola-hippy-culture, one girl (who was an avid member of the Ultimate Frisbee Team which was known for having "naked points" on Fridays) chose to include naked jumping jacks in her presentation. Which was fine, even expected. I mean, we were in our early twenties and being asked to test boundaries. Someone had to do it. And nudity was just not that uncommon at Skidmore College.

The next class. Phil begins the class by saying, "Let's do rants. Just get up here and do a 30 second rant about something." So there were rants about Saratoga snow, annoying roommates, etc. Then Amanda took the floor.

"I just wanted to say that I was really offended that _____ got naked in class last time. Really, I couldn't get it out of my mind the rest of the day, and I was disgusted." Stunned silence. Everyone was trying not to look at naked girl, who was a very warm soul and didn't seem to care all that much. But the rest of us were rather indignant on her behalf. But Amanda wasn't done. "And I know that it's winter, and people get lazy or whatever, but you really need to work on your maintenance."

After she dropped the m-bomb, everything becomes a blur. Did we break out into hysterics? Did our jaws hit the floor? Was there mass rebellion? I vaguely remember Phil saying something along the lines of "That was a very honest response, and you are entitled to share that opinion," which was a good save I suppose.

I realize this story loses a lot when read instead of told, because most of the humor is found in Amanda's incredibly idiosyncratic/bizarre manner of speech and deportment. For years I have been telling incredible stories about her, and have managed to do a pretty decent impersonation of her, but was never able to truly capture the spirit of Amanda Finkletein...er, Lauren. Until now. Because she posted a video of herself on YouTube. Doing Stand-Up. And no, this is not an "act" or a character she created. This is how she talks and moves. All the time. It's 6+ minutes, but I believe you will be too entranced to look away.

10 May 2009

Princess And the Frog Trailer

I think Disney might be getting this one right...

Mother's Day

This is about an appropriate Mother's Day Themed song as I could find, "My Best Girl" from MAME. I have a lot of affinity for this show, and this song in particular. I was hoping to find a clip of this number from the movie version which, though pretty dismal most of the time, did this scene quite nicely (or so I remember). In fact, this number ushered in a shift in the movie, after they were through with the overblown production numbers that were out of Lucy's range and focused on the book scenes and more intimate numbers. The supporting players throughout were excellent and Ball occasionally touching. Again, or so I remember. It's been awhile. The only appropriate YouTube clip I could find (i.e. with a kid and a grown up) was from a NJ Community Theater Production. It isn't phenomenal, but it's sincere and kinda sweet. Enjoy, and call your mother.

09 May 2009

Saturdays are for Happy Songs

I have just decided that I should devote every Saturday to a song that makes me really happy, and I can't think of a better kick off song than "Rothschild and Sons". I love Bock and Harnick, they are hands down my favorite Golden Era songwriting force, and though I occaisionally hold some resentment towards THE ROTHSCHILDS (I consider it their Yoko), I find it a fascinating a tuneful score. I could probably write a thesis on it, and have, in fact, considered going to Grad School simply to give me the opportunity to do that. But I'll save that for later. In the meantime, just enjoy this song, which makes me want to strut around in high waisted pants, thumbs in my lapels (or under my armpits) elbows out bobbing back and forth a little. I can listen to this forever. I would even go so far as to call it a "Desert Island" song. I may have now set the bar of expectations a little high for a song whose pleasures are still rather simple, but I hope it brings your joy.

Click Here to listen to "Roschild and Sons" from the Original Cast Recording, featuring Hal Linden, Paul Hecht, David Garfield, Allan Gruet, Timothy Jerome, and Chris Sarandon

07 May 2009

Good Job Cleveland?

Though I am a Cleveland native, I never thought I'd say this, but good things are happening in Cleveland lately. Apparently the Cavs are going to win the Basketball World Series (or whatever it's called). The Cleveland Clinic just did a fuckin' FACE transplant, and today they began Domestic Partnership Registry. Sure this last one may just look like a lame game of catch-up whilst ME and IA are kicking some serious ass, but we're talking about CLEVELAND, you know, this place:

06 May 2009

more Signs

About 3 weeks ago I posted an article about a disturbing sign posted outside the Dekalb stop in Brooklyn. When I got home that day, the sign was gone. Well today, a NEW sign was up:it reads (as far as I could tell from the picture):

Freedom OF Speech Freedom of Press Freedom To protest
Please do not remove this poster
A Doctor name Dennis Blanchette is also threating to kill my 13 year old daughter Allexis with the Device he has illeagilly place in her Tonsil when she was down My name is Marlene Chambers I'm being abuse and murdered by a Dr Wendy Oliviar from brooklyn Hospital who was paid to do a hit job by Dennis' son mother who Drive a black Rodes Jeep and rumer has it she work for New York Police Dept so no one takes my complain seriosuly all they do is lock me up and let me loose all I own including custody of my daughter an no [ resolve?] has been reached Instead they pretend the Device does not exist inside my Head/Tonsil/throat

Dr Wendy Chamber put the Device inside my throat during a breast implant removal surgery December 2001 at New York Methodist Hosp She's using it to pretend I have an Ilness then prescribe a Drugs then Kill me as if I dies From the make believe illness. Diseases are genetics, microorganism or environmental there should be no technology in hte mouth acting on the Brain's Hypothalamous to deregulate the body's stability and make a healthy person appear [???] this is sabatoge, fraud and genocide. the medical Society is a terrorist they laugh and spit at me through the Device inside my throat right by my left hear drum.

As much as it may seem a stretch to connect this apparently recurring incident to NEXT TO NORMAL, I actually think it's quite relevant. I've been thinking about this post by Chris Caggiano which asserts the belief that N2N displays an "anti-psychiatry bias". I don't know exactly how I feel about that assertion. If the show is anti-anything it's anti-pharmaceutical solution, which is a viewpoint I tend to agree with (or, to meet Caggiano halfway, a bias I tend to share). But yet, when confronted with such extreme metal illness as exhibited in the poster above, my first instinct is to (glibly) think the author is "off her meds" or that someone needs to "up the dosage". But is the patient happier in this crazed sign-making stage than in a medicate situation? That must be the case, otherwise, why would anyone go off their meds? But what must her daughter think when the difference between medicated and unmediated behavior (again, this is making a HUGE assumption that Marelene Chambers has ever been offered medication or any sort of therapy) could be the difference between having a mother and being in foster care?

And the more I go through this loop in my mind, the more I realize this is the precise loop that N2N dramatizes so successfully. It lets us simultaneously empathize with Diana's reluctance to feel imprisoned by pills and treatments that, from her point of view, stifle her emotions, creativity and identity while also sharing her family's exasperation at having to deal with the alternative (aka, reality).

05 May 2009

Not related to TONY

...except, in an oblique way, kinda related to that Patty Griffin song, "Tony" (which has to be the most depressing song ever performed by a Skidmore College A Capella group...or any A Capella group...or anyone ever). This has already been making the rounds, and is probably old news, but it just made me smile so much that I had to share. It will explain itself within 15 sec, so just watch (with sound)

In case you didn't believe me...

...about reading Tony nominations from twitter, it has been blogged about here:

and there's even a pic of me (with friend Brenden) reading the nominees (and looking like hell)


This morning I woke up REALLY early, was on the train by 7:15am to meet my friend Brenden in Times Sq for the "Live Feed" of the Tony Nominations. It wasn't a live feed at all but rather a stream of CBS This Morning (which has, what, 8 viewers?) who DIDN'T TALK ABOUT THE TONY AWARDS. It was about 8:35, and CBS was in the middle of a piece about road rage (seriously) when a woman screamed "You're nominated for a Tony!" and hugged a little boy. That's when the 20 or so die hard theater fans realized (a) that little boy was one of the Billies and (b) we were going to miss the Tony Noms. Luckily, I had started to follow the Tony Awards on Twitter, so I started reading the live Tweets of nominations. Eventually the people in charge read off a full list of noms to the soggy/weary crowd. They are certainly interesting, but before I go into the nitty gritty, here's a pic of Billy1 and his mom. I have to say, that made the whole ordeal worthwhile, having never witnessed anyone realize s/he was nominated for a Tony (or anything), let alone someone so young:

Now onto the nominations. I won't go into the design awards, but a full list of nominees can be found here. As with last year, I'll go into what the "tizzy" will be, and the likely winner.

Best Play
Dividing the Estate(Author: Horton Foote)
God of Carnage (Author: Yasmina Reza)
Reasons to Be Pretty (Author: Neil LaBute)
33 Variations (Author: Moises Kaufman)
Tizzy: Some people might have thought IRENA'S VOW or AMERICAN PLAN would get the nom over the divisive 33 VARIATIONS.
Prediciton: By all accounts it will probably go to CARNAGE, with PRETTY being the strongest competition (which may get support for being American, the underdog and it being Labute's B'way debut).

Best Musical
Billy Elliot, The Musical
Next to Normal
Rock of Ages
Shrek The Musical
Tizzy: Really? ROCK and SHREK? I think everyone assumed 1, or both, of those, would get shut out. But Ben Brantley's damning review of 9 to 5 really did a lot of damage. I think a lot of people were also hoping [title of show] would eek out a surprise nomination in the category (and it probably deserved it).
Prediction: BILLY is the big hit of the year, but by filling the other candidates with snow-ball-in-hell nominees, the stage is set for a NORMAL upset. People said this last year about PASSING STRANGE vs IN THE HEIGHTS, but NORMAL has a serious edge in being an original American musical with an intersting and inspiring road to Broadway in a season full of imports, movie knock-offs, and imported movie knock-offs. And BILLY, though the box office winner and a major JERSEY BOYS level attraction is yesterday's news while NORMAL is a recent surprise hit with lots of buzzworthy, viral, new medial stuff going on (like tweeting the plot of their show) But BILLY has money...and kids.

Best Book of a Musical
Lee Hall, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal
David Lindsay-Abaire, Shrek The Musical
Hunter Bell, [Title of Show]
Tizzy: Not a lot of surprise here (aside from SHREK which I was under the impression everyone hated, even if I kinda liked it). It was nice to see [tos] included.
Prediction: This might be voters opportunity to say "we like [tos]. Otherwise it will go to N2N, which deserves the award.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Music: Elton John,Lyrics: Lee Hall Billy Elliot, The Musical
Music: Tom Kitt, Lyrics: Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal
Music & Lyrics: Dolly Parton, 9 to 5: The Musical
Music: Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire, Shrek The Musical
Tizzy: Poor [tos] wasn't nominated, and people might take umbrage to SHREK's inclusion, though I personally find a lot to admire in the score.
Prediction: I think this will go to N2N, since it probably won't be able to overtake BILLY in the end. And Elton John already has a Tony he doesn't deserve for the shit-pile he put together for AIDA, nor have I heard anything (positive or otherwise) about the BILLY score, other than that it's Elton John's best (which is like saying Sarah Palin did a good job at the debates simply because she had previously set the bar for performance so low).

Best Revival of a Play
Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Mary Stuart
The Norman Conquests
Waiting for Godot
Tizzy: The fact that they narrowed down the 15 potential nominees to 4 is really impressive. I am surprised SPEED THE PLOW didn't take the MARY STUART slot, since following it's trials and tribulations was the most entertaining thing to happen to the industry in years.
Prediction: Probably GODOT simply because, when done well, it's just a fucking good play. But NORMAN may have an edge simply by being such a fun and involved event.

Best Revival of a Musical
Guys and Dolls
Pal Joey
West Side Story
Tizzy: These were the only 4 shows, but I'm annoyed that G&D is still running...
Prediction: It seems like WSS is a lock, but I've been hearing mixed things about it, whereas HAIR has gotten nothing but unqualified raves and is a show that most people (myself included) considered unrevivable, simply because the task of harnesses the energy of the period in any sort of authentic way is so daunting.

Best Special Theatrical Event
Liza's at The Palace
Slava's Snowshow
Soul of Shaolin
You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush
Tizzy: I suppose there's someone out there who thought CIRQUE DREAMS: JUNGLE FANTASY was robbed...
Prediction: Will Ferrell had a hit just by showing up, but he'll have to pry that Tony out of Liza's cold dead hands.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Jeff Daniels, God of Carnage
Raúl Esparza, Speed-the-Plow
James Gandolfini, God of Carnage
Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King
Thomas Sadoski, Reasons to Be Pretty
Tizzy: Harry Potter wasn't nominated. Nor were either Nathan Lane or Bill Irwin for GODOT, but again, there were 24 possible contendors.
Prediction: Geoffrey Rush has made a hit out of Ionesco during a goddamn recession. Give the man a Tony. Raul will win someday (though he does have serious edge in dealing with all that went down with the otherwise ignored PLOW)

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Hope Davis, God of Carnage
Jane Fonda, 33 Variations
Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage
Janet McTeer, Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter, Mary Stuart
Tizzy: No Tovah.
Prediction: My instinct is telling me Janet McTeer, but the GODs and the MARYs may cancel each other out, leaving the field wide open for Fonda (who turned a play with luke-warm reviews into a Tony nominated Best Play in a crowded season).

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish ‚ Billy Elliot, The Musical
Gavin Creel, Hair
Brian d'Arcy James, Shrek The Musical
Constantine Maroulis, Rock of Ages
J. Robert Spencer, Next to Normal
Tizzy: An American Idol loser is now a Tony nom? The couldn't have given that to Jeff Bowen, whose score for [tos] wasn't nominated?
Prediction: I don't really see anyone taking d'Arcy James down except for those little boys. But, you know, Brian does 8 shows a week and has been doing this since before those kids were born, so I would hope that gives him an edge.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Stockard Channing, Pal Joey
Sutton Foster, Shrek The Musical
Allison Janney, 9 to 5: The Musical
Alice Ripley, Next to Normal
Josefina Scaglione, West Side Story
Tizzy: Stockard Channing? Really? They couldn't have given one of the other 9 to 5 gals a shot? Not that it matters because...
Prediction: Alice Ripley can start rehearsing her speech. Just listen

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
John Glover, Waiting for Godot
Zach Grenier, 33 Variations
Stephen Mangan, The Norman Conquests
Paul Ritter, The Norman Conquests
Roger Robinson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Tizzy: None that I could think off. Another crowded pond.
Prediction: Stephen Mangan for his titular conquests.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Hallie Foote, Dividing the Estate
Jessica Hynes, The Norman Conquests
Marin Ireland, Reasons to Be Pretty
Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit
Amanda Root, The Norman Conquests
Tizzy: see above
Prediction: I just want it to be Angie so bad I can't, in good conscience, recommend anyone else.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
David Bologna, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Marc Kudisch, 9 to 5: The Musical
Christopher Sieber, Shrek The Musical
Will Swenson, Hair
Tizzy: No Aaron Tveit? Maybe that will help keep his ego in check.
Prediction: Christopher Sieber won over even those who hated his show. Listen here.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Jennifer Damiano, Next to Normal
Haydn Gwynne, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Karen Olivo, West Side Story
Martha Plimpton, Pal Joey
Carole Shelley, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Tizzy: Does Martha Plimpton even need to do a show to get nominated? I really wish Susan Blackwell was on this list.
Prediction: From what I hear Hadyn is pretty damn good. But Karen Olivo has those legs and that hair (and that role) and could snatch it from her.

Best Direction of a Play
Phyllida Lloyd, Mary Stuart
Bartlett Sher, Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Matthew Warchus, God of Carnage
Matthew Warchus, The Norman Conquests
Tizzy: Well, with about 376 elidgeable directors, did Warchus really need to get nominate twice?
Prediction: Warchus, probably for NORMAN, since he did 3 times the work.

Best Direction of a Musical
Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Michael Greif, Next to Normal
Kristin Hanggi, Rock of Ages
Diane Paulus, Hair
Tizzy: Joe Mantello is usually nominated for directing traffic and was totally shut out this year despite helming 2 (poorly reviewed) musicals.
Prediction: Daldry, though I think it should go to Paulus for getting HAIR "right".

Best Choreography
Karole Armitage, Hair
Andy Blankenbuehler, 9 to 5: The Musical
Peter Darling, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Randy Skinner, Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Prediction: Well, if a musical about Ballet can't win this award...

04 May 2009

To help with your Tony Nom Predicting...


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tomorrow morning is one of my favorite days on the calendar...TONY NOMINATIONS day. This year should be interesting because--in spite of a doomed economy and the typical "theater is dead" naysaying--there were a shit ton of new shows on the boards this year, so few shows will be nominated just for showing up (except Revival of a Musical I suppose...unless I'm forgetting one? HAIR, WSS, G&D, PAL JOEY). But there is some real suspense as to what will be nominated in major categories, like Best Musical. Will SHREK get shut out? Will those scrappy kids from [tos] be one of the nomination committees 4 favorite things? And there are literally too many play revivals for me to wrap my head around (like those Mamets, and that play Katie Holmes was in, naked Harry Potter, Kristin Scott Thomas, and the 27 revivals currently playing). And to think of narrowing down the acting awards...I just can't, I can't. I'm sorry, it's been a long winter and my brain is just not capable of that level of computation. And these questions are, in many ways, more interesting than the outcome of the ceremony itself (spoiler alert: BILLY ELLIOT, GOD OF CARNAGE), pregnant as they are with possibility (for some) or scattered dreams (for Haley Joel Osmet).

With so much on the plate this season (and so much of it with ardent admirers...and detractors), there could very well be rioting in TIMES SQUARE (where they are telecasting the nominations on a ginormous screen).

01 May 2009

Worth Revisiting

When I first discovered this (because of someone I was subscribed to on YouTube, whose account is now suspended) I--and rightly so--thought it was the greatest thing I ever saw. And thus I e-mailed everyone I knew with the link. That does seem antiquated, doesn't it? About a year later I found it again (the original version has disappeared) and posted it on Facebook. I don't know how much time has passed since then, but I don't care. This video is my favorite thing ever to make its way to the internet. And something that is particularly pointed in light of Ms. Bea Arthur's passing (which I have not addressed here simply because I do not have the words to do so. But she will be loved and missed for the rest of my natural life.).

A guided tour through what I love about it is posted below the video, but I suggest you watch it once, just for you.

Now watch it again, paying attention to the follwing:
1) Nell Carter's nostril flair and should move on the word "spirit" (19sec)
2) The way Nell Carter says the word "family" (throughout)
3) Nell's phrasing on "tree" @ 30sec
4) Charlotte Rae's cookie tray; her gusto on the "free" (59sec)
5) Bea from 1min9sec - 1min 38sec (with Nell joining, briefly, at 1min27sec)
6) Nell/Marla conversation @ 1min38sec ("Not only do I love your show, chile, I LOVE your singin'" "Get outta here.")
7) Marla's harmony w/young Carlton (aka Alfonso Ribeiro) @ 2min
8) Alfonso's "Don't you know that this dreaaam" @ 2min6sec
9) Soleil Moon Frye's mugging juxtaposed to Nell's solid vocals (begins at 2min17sec)
10) Nell's fierce vocal descant beginning at 2min30sec, particularly the "weeee belieeeeve @ 2min40sec)
11) the fact that Bea and Marla are holding empty aluminum platters for the last 40 seconds of the song...just becuase