Sunday, February 7, 2016

Quote from Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour"

Karen in Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour:
Ah, what happens between people, happens, and after a while it doesn't much matter how it started. But there it is. I'm here. You're there. We're in a room we've been in so many times before. Nothing seems changed. My hand looks just the same, my face is just the same, even my dress is old. I'm nothing too much: I'm like everybody else, the way I always was. I can have the things that other people have. I can have you, and children, and I can take care of them, and I can go to market, and read a book, and people will talk to me --- Only I can't. And I don't know why. Go home, darling. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Somebody Likes Today's Snow!

Tian Tian:

Friday, January 22, 2016

BroadwayCon - January 22 - January 24

I have been looking at the scheduled for BroadwayCon for days now...going back and forth on whether I should attend. I am surprised at the demographic for the weekend. According to the NYT, nearly 80 percent of the registrants are female; 75 percent are from outside the state of New York; and 50 percent are 30 or younger. Not entirely my demographic. 

Ultimately, the imminent blizzard / snowstorm has decided for me. 

But tonight, as I scroll through Twitter and the schedule for the weekend, I still wonder...


Another NYT Critic Pick - Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children" by CSC

I confess. Since Jelly's Last JamI have been a fan of Tonya Pinkins and would watch her in almost anything on the New York City stage. When I received a comp ticket to see a preview of her Mother Courage at CSC, it was a no brainer. I was there. It would be my first time experiencing the complicated Brecht war classic written in 1939 -- but now transferred to modern day Congo. 

I admit. I did not love the production. It felt choppy; however, I figured it was something that the creative team would sort through before the official opening. Of course, I enjoyed Ms. Pinkins' performance. I enjoyed Kevin Mambo (who also played Fela!) as Cook. Mother Courage's duet with Cook received applause from the audience and was well done. And finally, Micheal Potts as Chaplain was quite good. 

I pause. Who the heck knew that the real drama would ensue few days later. Shortly before opening, Tonya Pinkins spectacularly dropped out of the production saying time and time again her perspective as a Black woman is dismissed in favor of portraying the Black woman, through the filter of the White gaze. One person's disappointment though can be another's gain. After a short delay, the CSC production went on. Kecia Lewis admirably stepped into Mother Courage's shoes and now the production has received a theater critic pick from The New York Times

I wonder. How does the creative process really work? This civilian imagines the leading character sitting down with the director and discussing the creative vision for the play well before the actor even signs on to do the role. Is this naive? How can there be such a disconnect between the director and the lead throughout the creative journey? How will this impact Tonya Pinkin's career on the New York City stage? Do producers view her as problematic? Is she fed up? Will she or can she return?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Here to Be Seen: Women and Justice

Scroll through the critic picks in the Theater Section of The New York Times and you will notice the Off Off Broadway play Key Change on the list. Key Change is a taut piece about British imprisoned women. It was devised and written by Catrina McHugh based on women in Her Majesty's Prison and tells the poignant story about how the women ended up doing time. 

Given the positive review that Key Change received, I hope Here to Be Seen makes it to the New York City stage soon. In the fall, I was invited to a special production sponsored by the Kings County District Attorney Office and the Kings County Re-Entry Taskforce by a friend who works as a Criminal Justice consultant and had to hold back tears during parts of the production. The circumstances that led to imprisonment and the realization that this invisible population will pay for their crimes well beyond the time spent in prison hit a nerve. 

In Here to Be Seen, female ex-offenders (storytellers) are linked with playwrights to produce dramatized pieces.

The Context by Lucy Thurber
You Don't Know Me by Amina Henry
Anna by Stella Fawn Ragsdale
Caged by Julissa E. Contreras
Sponged by Pia Wilson
30 by Susan Soon He Stantonn
I'm Here to Be Seen by Raquel Almaza

In between the plays are statements about the challenges facing (formerly) incarcerated women - Employment, Voting Rights, Mental Health, Aging in Prison, Domestic Violence, and Parental Rights.

Here to be Seen is just as poignant as Key Change, and I hope more people get to see it one day. 

Photos of subjects, playwrights and creative team during the talkback. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Broadway in 2015

2015 Broadway Plays and Musicals
In 2015, the runaway hit on Broadway was without a doubt the innovative Hamilton. I was fortunate to score a ticket right before the opening and await the day when I can return and experience it again. If forced to rank my 2015 Broadway experiences, undoubtedly, Hamilton is my favorite. Next up is A View from the Bridge. I once lamented that I missed the 2010 revival but now know that the Young Vic production was meant to be my first live experience of this Arthur Miller masterpiece. Third place is a tie between The King and I and The Color Purple. Both are fulfilling experiences that remind me why I love the theater. 

Now, here is a recap of top Broadway picks by theater critics in 2015: 

  • NYT: Ben Brantley - Hamilton, King Charles III, A View from the Bridge, Constellations; Fool For Love; The King and I; Skylight; The Color Purple; and Wolf Hall  [here]
  • NYT: Charles Isherwood - Very little Broadway picks by Mr. Isherwood in 2015 - Only An American in Paris and Spring Awakening made the list [here]
  • NYP: Elisabeth Vincentelli - Very little Braodway picks by Ms. Vincentelli as well in 2015 - On her list are On the Twentieth Century and A View from the Bridge [here
  • TONY: Hamilton; A View from the Bridge; King Charles III; Something Rotten!; and Skylight  [here]
  • NYMag: Jesse Green - Hamilton and A View from the Bridge [here]
  • amNY: Matt Windman - Hamilton; Fun Home; Spring Awakening; Sylvia; The Color Purple; and Hand to God [here]
  • Hollywood Reporter: David Rooney - Hamilton; A View from the Bridge; The King and I; Fun Home; The Color Purple; Constellations; King Charles III; and An American in Paris [here]
  • AP: Mark Kennedy - Hamilton; Fun Home; An American in Paris; King Charles III; The King and I; Constellations; A View from the Bridge; Something Rotten! Skylight; and Spring Awakening [here]
  • NJ: Christopher Kelly - Hamilton; Fun Home; Therese Raquin; Fool for Love; The Color Purple; Hand to God; and Fiddler on the Roof  [here] 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Remembering Gilbert Price Today

Last year, I discovered baritone singer Gilbert Price when I learned that Feeling Good originated in musical theater. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Gilbert Price received attention for his Broadway debut in The Roar of the Greasepaint -- the Smell of the Crowd at age 22. Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 48 in 1991. 

In the 1970s, after his Broadway debut, he went on the perform in four more Broadway productions and was Tony nominated for all of them. 

Lost in the Stars - Revival - 4/18/1972 - 5/21/1972
The Night That Made America Famous - 2/26/1975 - 4/06/1975
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - 5/04/1976 - 5/08/1976
Timbuktu! - 3/01/1978 - 9/10/1978

I did not have much luck finding online recordings of his work during these Broadway productions. But I had the pleasure of listening to his rendition of I've Gotta Be Me and Old Man River...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Year's Eve at The McKittrick

The folks over the at The Mckittrick are gearing up for New Year's. No doubt, it will be fun. 

For more information check out this link.