Thursday, August 27, 2015

Williamstown Theater Festival - Part II

So, a bit more about Dominique Morisseau's Paradise Blue.

It is the late 1940s in Detroit's Black Bottom. Meet trumpeter and club owner Blue (Underwood), who has to decide whether to sell his club in some sort of urban renewal effort, which threatens to displace the people and businesses in Black Bottom and use the proceeds to attempt to run away with Pumpkin from his demons and his past. 

I admired this piece and had a wonderful evening at the world premiere of Paradise Blue -  my first WTF production - and look forward to one day seeing the other two plays in the The Detroit Projects 3-play cycle. I definitely see August's Wilson's influence on Ms. Morisseau. I would though have to agree with the NYT review of the production and say that Blue is the weakest link in the play. We all know that no one can outrun a demon. 

With that said, forget about Blue (Sorry Blair) and let's meet the beautiful, sultry and mysterious Silver (De’Adre Aziza), who rents a room at Blue's place. She steals the show. Theatergoers I am sure could not tear their eyes away from her sway. 

And all I wanted, was to know more...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Williamstown Theatre Festival - Part I

I have been yearning to attend the Williamstown Theatre Festival for several years now. I've admired the top notch actors and creative teams involved in the festival and taken note of the Broadway transfers. And when I sat through Donald Margulies' play The Country House set in the Berkshires during the festival,I decided that summer 2015 (rain or shine), I would make my way to Williamstown MA. 

It took a few attempts, but I eventually reserved a room at The Williams Inn. I then purchased a ticket to Dominique Morisseau's world premiere Paradise Blue. I was happy to see that Ruben Santiago-Hudson was directing, and since Blair Underwood is easy on the eye, I was also looking forward to seeing him in the second play of Ms Morisseau's Detroit 3-play cycle The Detroit Project. After even more attempts than it took to get a room at the inn, I made a dinner reservation at Mezze Bistro. With that, I was ready to head north.  

My weekend in the Berkshires was an absolute delight. The weather was lovely, and I binged mercilessly on art. At the Norman Rockwell Museum, I looked at each and every one of Rockwell's The Saturday Evening Post covers and was moved as usual by his civil rights pieces. At The Clark, I spent some time with Whistler's Mother, checked out Van Gogh and Nature and toured the museum, enchanted by ebullient intern who led the tour and shared her favorite pieces in the museum. 

Oh and by the way, I saw my first WTF production (I will write a bit more in another post). 

In the meantime though, a super big shout out for the the Berkshires and WTF...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Quote from Misty Copeland's "Life in Motion"

Quote from Misty Copeland's memoir - Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
Not everyone wants to push themselves to that brink of breaking, but it's what you commit to when you're a professional - the very present reality that you may break instead of bend. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rodgers and Hammerstein Shows - Exactly, How Many Were There?

At Thursdays New York Pops concert in Forest Hills, music director and conductor Steven Reineke plugged their upcoming Fall concert at Carnegie Hall - The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein with guests Sierra Boggess (ooooh) and Steven Pasquale (aaaah). He noted that the New York Pops orchestra would play music from all thirteen Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein shows. 

Thirteen shows?

I tried to recall all of them but could not. Oklahoma! came to mind since I recently read about the Bard production. Then I thought about a Kelli O'Hara interview I listened to where she mentioned starring in two Rodgers and Hammerstein productions at Lincoln Center - South Pacific and now The King and I. I even recalled Pipe Dreams because I specifically went to see quiet legend Leslie Uggams in the Encores production a couple of years ago. Then of course with all The Wiz press, I recalled the NBC live production of The Sound of Music which then made me think of the first black Cinderella recently on Broadway. Then I pretty much struggled to name another Rodgers and Hammerstein show. So I look them up...

Still I cannot name thirteen productions. 

So, what am I missing?? Of did I hear Mr. Reineke incorrectly??

Rodgers and Hammerstein Shows 

  1. Oklahoma!
  2. Carousel
  3. State Fair
  4. Allegro
  5. South Pacific
  6. The King and I 
  7. Me and Juliet
  8. Pipe Dream
  9. Cinderella
  10. Flower Drum Song
  11. The Sound of Music 
  12. A Grand Night for Singing (revue)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The New York Pops with Guests Sutton Foster, Colin Donnell and Megal McGinnis

The New York Pops have made Forest Hill Stadium their summer home. On Thursday, I got a chance to check out the stadium as well as their first concert of the season. With the exception of being stuck on a very uncomfortable bleacher seat, it was a lovely summer evening to experience the orchestra along with guests Sutton Foster, Colin Donnell and Megan McGinnis. 

Sutton Foster treated the audience to tributes to her mother who passed away two years ago as well as to her rescue "dorkie" with "Mable This Time." She, along with Colin Donnell, danced for us.But for me, I was just happy to hear her sing "Anything Goes." If you will recall, when I went to the Broadway show a few years ago specifically to see Ms. Foster, she was out. Well, on Thursday, she was live and in person in Forest Hills... What a NYC stage summer for Ms. Foster so far...wonderful at Encores' The Wild Party and wonderful in her first outdoor concert with an orchestra.    

Check out some highlights videoed by concert goers:

Written Program
Overture from Anything Goes
I've Got You Under my Skin
I'm Beginning to See the Light
Anything Goes 
Begin the Beguine
Ashokan Farewell
Sunshine on My Shoulders
It All Fades Away
On the Streets of Dublin
Fit as a Fiddle (and Ready for Love)
Overture from Thoroughly Modern Millie
The History of the TV Overture
If I Were a Bell / Singin' in the Rain
Down with Love
The Lady is a Tramp 
Anyone Can Whistle / Being Alive

Other Posts
The Star is Not Performing Tonight

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Will Travel for Theater!!

I love to travel. I will travel for food and wine. I will travel for art and history. I will travel for adventure. 

And since I've started this blog, I realize that I will leave NYC for theater and performing arts. 

Granted, most of this travel has been regional, but oh, what fun! Let me reminisce for a few moments...
  • Day trip to Princeton for Gatz.
  • Overnighter to Hudson NY for Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.
  • Overnighter to Cape May for He and She. Went back again to see The Mountaintop.
  • Went to Maine's Ogunquit Playhouse. Okay, I went for lobster and the seacoast as well. Now, this is an annual tradition and I've had the pleasure of seeing three wonderful productions at this gem - Thoroughly Modern Millie, Billy Elliot and Victor Victoria.
  • Day trip to Morristown's Mayo Performing Arts Center for PATTI.
  • Overnighter to DC for Buika at the Kennedy Center.
  • Overnighter to Bard for C├ęcile. 
  • Day trip to Philly for Passion.
And now, I am gearing up to visit the Williamstown Theater Fesitval later this month. I can't wait...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Went to Philly for Arden "Passion"

To die loved is to have lived.

Once again, Terry Teachout has inspired me to travel outside NYC to the theater. 

After reading his positive review - ‘Passion’ Review: A Sondheim Revival in Philadelphia Sizzles - I immediately purchase a ticket to see the Arden Theatre production, not wanting to miss another solid production after the CSC production a few years ago. 

Once again, I was not disappointed. 

I was immediately caught up in this Sondheim/Lapine musical about love and obsession and still cannot get the music out of my head. In fact, I am playing the OBC as I write this post. The cast was top notch, and I was especially moved by Liz Filios' unrelenting Fosca. 

Overall, a very positive experience at Arden, a theater now on my radar. 

Passion unfortunately ends this weekend and closes the 2014/2015 Arden season. Next year looks quite promising though, and I may have to make a Philly trip to see the revivals of Two Trains Running and The Secret Garden.

Other Posts:
Backyard Tour: Summer Beach and Rachel Crothers Theater Getaway
Backyard Tour: Donuts and Terror

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Walked Around Town and Ended Up in a John Oliver Studio Audience

The Tony awards were distributed on June 7th. I am not sure the show was any more glamorous this year than in prior years but I'm sure glad that Fun Home was recognized. I hope to get to the Circle in the Square one day to see how the show has changed since I saw it at the Public.

In the meantime, I am just enjoying the last days of Spring in New York. 

Last weekend, I headed over to Madison Square Park to the 2015 Big Apple BBQ to partake in a little hog. 

With my belly filled with swine, I walked around the Flatiron, stumbled on an electronic street fair and guiltily purchased a chocolate cookie from The City Bakery

I then headed to 42nd Street to see the Amiri Baraka's final play Most Dangerous Man in America (about W.E.B. Dubois) at the Castillo Theatre. I didn't know much about WEB Dubois' final days and found the play enlightening in this regard. 

After a very brief talkback at the Castillo, I strolled up 11th Ave to The Press Lounge and sipped cocktails while peering at the beautiful NYC skyline and thinking about how much I love and hate the city. 

A little toasty, I then headed up 11th Ave and turned on 57th Street. As I walked across town, I noticed a line waiting outside the CBS studio where John Oliver's Last Week Tonight HBO show is taped. I added my name to a standby list and an hour or so later, I was sitting in a studio audience chuckling and listening to commentary by the petite English comedian. 

Another serendipitous Saturday in NYC...