Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Song That Inspired a Novel That Became a Swedish Film and then an American Film and now a Scottish Play

Ah ... let the right one slip in 
And when at last it does 
I'd say you were within your rights to bite 
The right one and say, "what kept you so long ?" 
"What kept you so long?" 
When a piece is produced over and over in all sorts of formats, you have a classic. And that is exactly what Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist has created in his 2004 novel - Let the Right One In. The story touches on so much - including a coming of age romance, bullying, loneliness, divorce, alcoholism, etc.. And oh yeah, it includes a vampire. 

Meet Oskar, a lonely 12 year old coping with bullying and divorced parents. He befriends Eli, who has just moved in next door. Eli also happens to be a vampire, who also has her own survival challenges. Eli encourages Oskar to fight back, as the two outcasts form a close friendship and bond...

The novel, whose title is inspired by a Morrissey tune, has been made into two films. And now, a stage version by the National Theatre of Scotland has come to the New York City stage. The play is well worth the trip to the tip of Brooklyn to see. It plays through February 15th at St. Ann's Warehouse. If you can't get to Brooklyn, then check out either of the films. 

In the meantime, I await a dance interpretation of this classic...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quote From Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop"

Camae in Katori's Hall's The Mountaintop:
You have the biggest heart I done ever knownt. You have the strength to love those who could never love you back. If I had just a small fraction of the love you have for this world, then maybe, just maybe I could become half the angel you are.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

RIP Jean-Claude Baker

In the theater district just steps away from two of my favorite Off Broadway theaters - Playwrights Horizons and Signature - is the restaurant Chez Josephine, founded in 1980s by Jean-Claude Baker as homage to his adoptive mother - Josephine Baker. 

If you've been to Chez Josephine, you probably marveled at the red velvet decor, enjoyed the piano playing, checked out the memorabilia, and if you are like me dined on the pan seared calf's liver. Most of all though, you were probably taken by the buoyant host - Jean-Claude Baker. Always flashy, charming and colorful... 

Image my surprise to read in the Post that Jean-Claude Baker suffered from severe depression for years and took his life at the age of 71. You simply never know what is going on inside a person's mind, heart and soul. I am saddened by the loss.   

Other Posts  
Writing the Words Left Behind After a Suicide
RIP Robin Williams

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Fun Home", "Here Lies Love", and "The Bridges of Madison County" Top Playbill's Best Tunes of 2014

I know...while my own Playlist is badly in need of review and update, why do I have time to check out Playbill's Ben Rimalower's playlist of Best Showtunes from Cast Albums of 2014. Looking through the list, I realize there wasn't much original music on Broadway last year and interestingly, If/Then is not on his playlist...

Hmmmm....on to the list...

10. "I've Decided to Marry You" - A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

9. "Betsy's Getting Married" - Honeymoon in Vegas

8. "Four Friends" - Ghost Quartet

7. "Dead Girl Walking" - Heathers

6. "Almost Real" - The Bridges of Madison County

5. "Changing My Major" - Fun Home

4. "God Draws Straight" - Here Lies Love 

3. One Second and a Million Miles - The Bridges of Madison County

2. "Ring of Keys" - Fun Home 

1. "Here Lies Love" - Here Lies Love

Related Posts 
Condola Rashad's Juliet Playlist
Playbill's Top Summer Showtunes 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top 2014 NYC Theater Moments - From the Critics

A roundup of the critics' best theater of 2014... 

  • NYT: Ben Brantley's list is 70%non-Broadway and 90% celebrity free [here]
  • NYT: Charles Isherwood is left immensely gratified by his picks [here]
  • NYDN: Joe Dziemianowicz's impressive and indelible highlights [here]
  • NYP: Elisabeth Vincentelli takes a look at the best and worst [here
  • NY1: Roma Torre's shares her top 10 Broadway shows [here]
  • TONY: Hmmm...Adam Feldman includes Bootycandy on his list [here]
  • TONY: Hmmm...David Cote also includes Stop Hitting Yourself on his [here]
  • NYMag: Vulture's year end list [here]
  • amNY: Matt Windman says musicals were awful but plays impressive [here]
  • Time: Time gives us the top of everything including plays and musicals [here]
  • HW: Critics round up memorable experiences here]
  • AP: The AP picks its top theater of 2014 [here]
  • NJ: Star Ledger loves the sheer number of performances that stood out [here]
  • APP: Yo, Jersey shore, here are your picks [here
  • BW: Throwing in the top albums of 2014 [here]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Broadway in 2014

The Shows That Opened on Broadway in 2014
Broadway can be a complicated place. Most shows won't recoup. It's hard to make a living but boy can you make a killing. Last weekend, on one day alone, six shows closed including the wonderful Side Show revival, which really should have a place on a Broadway stage but currently does not. 

Yet, with all this said, 2014 was the highest grossing and most attended year in Broadway history. Some 13+ million people attended shows and box offices took in $1.36B. Hollywood stars such as Denzel, Bradley, Hugh and Emma graced the stage. Broadway, you were good to NYC in 2014.  

On this cold winter day, as I ruminate about the Roll of shows I had the good fortune to see, I realize how much I love every bit of the complicated Great White Way, and I hurt when shows are forced to close because I see how much effort goes into each production.  

Overall, Machinal was my ultimate favorite Broadway show this year.Thank you Roundabout for introducing me to this Sophie Treadwell gem and classic. If Cicely Tyson charmed me in 2013 with her Bountiful performance, then it was LaTanya Richardson Jackson who delighted me in 2014 as Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. I was roused by Joshua Henry's "Let It Sing" in Violet. And after events such as this week's Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, I appreciate a playwright such as Ayad Akhtar and his artistic exploration of Muslim related themes.  

Broadway, I will always support you. Critics say that you are overrun with jukebox and Disney musicals and sell out to big names. But, I recognize that you are a business and I peer through your veil, search for your gems, and today, I am satisfied...   

Related Posts 
2013 at the Theater
2012: Another Year at the Theater
2012 Broadway Productions
A Year at the Theater (2011)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Robert Anderson ~ "You can make a killing in the theater but not a living"

"...the top five or so...earners - ...have...a fabulous portfolio of revivable plays that sit there like sushi revolving in a restaurant. They go around being constantly staged somewhere. The writer gets money every time the play is performed. You go on getting paid without having to write any more. But they are great artists. For most playwrights without that portfolio, it's very, very difficult." ~ quote from playwright Nicholas Wright in Robert Gore-Langton's article "the real cost of artistic immortality" published in The Telegraph in August 2002.

During the TV show Open House  that aired earlier today on NBC, director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell of Kinky Boots looks for a home on Fire Island. Due to the success of Kinky Boots, he is now in a position to buy a home. In the Open House segment, he brings up the old theater adage - You can't make a living but you can make a killing on Broadway... 

Hmmmm...I wonder - where did this saying come from? Who said it first? 

After drooling over the Fire Island beach houses featured on the show, I quickly searched for the quote and stumbled on several interesting articles about the financial difficulty of making a living as a playwright. Just a few days ago, this was the topic of discussion in a NY Times article by Patrick Healy - Offering Playwrights a Better Deal. Playwrights do not usually get paid during the development and rehearsals of their work and are on their own when it comes to health insurance (a hot topic everywhere I go these days). The good thing though is that Playwright Horizon has introduced a model where they are going to begin helping their writers with these costs. And hopefully, other theaters will follow. 

So who can the quote be attributed to? American playwright Robert Anderson, who in 1988 also said - It's never been more difficult to get a play done where a playwright can earn enough money to write the next play.