Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quote from David Mamet's "Race"

Spoken by Jack to Susan in David Mamet's Race
Race. Is the most incendiary topic in our history. And the moment it comes out, you cannot close the lid on that box. That may change. But not for a long long while.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Broadway Wants to Save Your Soul This Year

On their second studio album The Odd Couple, duo Gnarls Barkley sings Who's Gonna Save My Soul. This year, it looks like Broadway is going to do so. Whether it is the Pope, Jesus Christ himself or a self proclaimed prophet, there is something for everyone looking for a little soul searching or musical uplifting this year on Broadway. 

Looking back, I guess those two young Mormon missionaries kicked things off when they are sent to spread The Book of Mormon [Trey Parker/Robert Lopez/Matt Stone] in - no not Orlando - impoverished AIDS stricken Uganda. Sister Act [Alan Menken/Glen Slater] discoed in as Deloris Van Cartier hides out in a convent after observing a murder. Then Godspell [Stephen Schwartz] rocks on the stage in a lively and youthful rendition of The Book of Matthew. The energy continues with Jesus Christ Superstar [Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice] - this time from Judas' point of view. And now hand clapping knee dropping conman Jonas Nightingale is asking small town America to take a Leap of Faith [Alan Menken/Glenn Slater; Book: Janus Cercone/Warren Leight]. 

While I'm not sure who's going to save Gnarls Barkley's soul (even though the ubiquitous solo Cee Lo Green of recent Forget You and The Voice fame doesn't look like he wants any saving these days), Broadway wants to try and save you. So, Broadway lovers - are you living by the Golden Rule - are you virtuous - are you a believer - and... are you ready to have your soul saved?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seven Broadway Shows Open in Five Days

Last week, three shows opened on Broadway - Peter and the Starcatcher, One Man, Two Guvnors, and Clybourne Park. This week, in a mad dash for the Tony cutoff tomorrow, seven shows open - A Streetcar Named Desire, The Lyons, Ghost The Musical, Nice Work if You Can Get It, The Columnist, Don't Dress for Dinner, and Leap of Faith

User smore2, a member of Talkin' Broadway's All That Chat performed an analysis to see whether this mad dash which overtakes Broadway in March and April has any impact on winning the Tony. His conclusion according to a ATC post yesterday - it doesn’t matter when you open, as things turn out – just do a good show.

So, are the shows any good? Well, this is hard to say since every audience member is different. If a show entertains or touches you emotionally or intellectually, then it was a good show as far as I am concerned. So then, what do the critics say? Well, that is a different story. 

A Streetcar Named Desire and Ghost The Musical reviews have been negative thus far. The Lyons has received great reviews, and now that the producers finally seem to be promoting the show (I spotted two commercials yesterday during the TV morning shows), the run should be successful. Nice Work if You Can Get It reviews hot off the press seem okay even though Matthew Broderick has been described as paunchy and stiff. Regarding Leap of Faith, things sound a little messy over at the St James Theatre; according to NYP theater gossip columnist Michael Riedel, production members are praying for a miracle — namely that the show doesn’t close right after it opens. Stay tuned on The Columnist and Don't Dress for Dinner.

On Tuesday morning, Tony nominees as selected by the 28 member Tony nominating committee - comprised of producers and theater owners who have gigantic conflict of interests according to Riedel - are announced. Winners are announced during the Tony telecast on June 10th. 

Would it all have been worth it? We will see.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two 2012 Pulitzers Worth Mentioning - Drama and Feature Writing

2012 Pulitzer Prize - Drama and Feature Writing
Beating out Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities now playing on Broadway and Stephen Sons of the Prophet, which played last year at the Laura Pels Theatre, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama was awarded to Quiara Alegría Hudes' Water by the Spoonful last week. According to the Pulitzer website:
For a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to "Water by the Spoonful," by Quiara Alegría Hudes, an imaginative play about the search for meaning by a returning Iraq war veteran working in a sandwich shop in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Water by the Spoonful has not played on the New York City stage; it premiered in Hartford last year. I've joked in the past that there is no reason to leave NYC to see good theater but I guess in this case, I was wrong. Or perhaps not since I'm sure that the play will be mounted in NYC now that it has won a Pulitzer.

Ms. Hudes who is from Philly also wrote the book for In the Heights which played on Broadway from March 2008 to January 2011 and is currently working on a musical adaptation of the luscious book - Like Water for Chocolate.

Feature Writing
Last year, after Norbert Leo Butz dedicated his Tony award to his sister Teresa Butz, I became curious what happened to his sister and was horrified to learn of the double rape of Teresa Butz and her partner Jennifer Hopper and tragic murder of Teresa Butz in Seattle. See my original post here and follow up about the related murder conviction here.

Eli Sanders associate editor wrote and published a feature The Bravest Woman in Seattle in The Stranger in June 2011. For this piece, which fills me with fear, sadness and anger as I reread it, he won a Pulitzer. According to the Pulitzer website
For a distinguished example of feature writing giving prime consideration to quality of writing, originality and concision, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
 Awarded to Eli Sanders of The Stranger, a Seattle (Wash.) weekly, for his haunting story of a woman who survived a brutal attack that took the life of her partner, using the woman’s brave courtroom testimony and the details of the crime to construct a moving narrative.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quote from Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"

It is the 1950s. The matriarch of the Younger family has returned home - a broken down apartment in Chicago's Southside - from an afternoon of running errands. She announces that she has purchased a nice little three bedroom house and the family is moving.
Ruth: Where?

Mama: Four o six Clybourne Street, Clybourne Park

Ruth: Clybourne Park? Mama, there ain't no colored people living in Clybourne Park.

Mama: We'll, I guess there's going to be some now.
Fans of Lorraine Hansberry's classic A Raisin in the Sun will want to experience Bruce Norris' Pulitzer price winning, provocative drama - Clybourne Park now playing on Broadway after an Off Broadway run at Playwright Horizons. In the first act, we meet the white family who is selling their home to the Youngers. We also meet Karl Liinder once again - the white man who tries to prevent the Youngers from moving to Clybourne Park because "Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities." Act II cleverly moves forward 50 years. The Clybourne Park neighborhood is primarily black but undergoing a re-gentrification. A white couple is now trying to buy 406 Clybourne St. What ensues is a fascinating discussion on race - past and present. 
A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park - two excellent must sees!! Cybourne Park runs for the next 16 weeks on Broadway.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Josephine Meckseper - Manhattan Oil Project

I have been running pass artist Josephine Meckseper's Manhattan Oil Project on my way to and from the theater. Yesterday, I actually slowed down for a few seconds to snap a photo of the oil rig that sits in a vacant lot smack in the heart of the theater district. I got a kick out of the danger sign.  

According to a press release on, the pumps stand 25 feet tall and "recall the ruins of ghost towns, forgotten monuments of America's decaying industrial past..." The release goes on to quote the artist as follows, "The critical placement of the of the pumps is a conceptual gesture that raises questions about business and capital; land use and resources; wealth and decay; decadence and dependence."

So not specific to Broadway but a broader statement on America's past and present. How interesting...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Ghost The Musical" - Another Whoopi Goldberg Film Hits Broadway

Whoopi Goldberg Films on Broadway. Toss in The Lion King as well Ms. Goldberg was the voice of one of the hyenas.
After double checking that you've walked into a Broadway house, not one of the movie houses on 42nd street, you will notice that there is a lot of fast paced walking in Ghost The Musical. However, all this walking only leads to the familiar scenes of the popular 1990 film that the show is based.

Meet lovebirds Sam and Molly. They've just moved into a spacious loft in Brooklyn. Sam is murdered one night in a dark alley. Before moving into the next life, he unravels (
with the help of colorful physic con woman Oda Mae Brown) the scheme behind his untimely death. And oh yeah, he finally tells Molly he loves her - words he was unable to utter when he was alive.

Now, if you are a fan of the film, you will probably enjoy Ghost The Musical. You will get a kick out of the Oda Mae 's character (played by Da'vine Joy Randolph in her Broadway debut), especially when she sings I'm Outta Here. And you will definitely be intrigued by the special effects. Aren't you curious how they pull off walking through doors? How about the scary darkness that devours wicked souls? Better yet, how about that lovely scene where Sam envelopes Oda Mae in order to have a final dance with Molly? Will be it be some sort of weird three-way like in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever or will it be magical?

Aaah yes, the familiarity and effects will suck you in, but unfortunately, the music will not. As you leave the theater, the forgettable original tunes from Ghost The Musical will not be at the forefront of your mind. Okay, you will probably hum Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brother like I did after a recent preview. And since
Hollywood films seem to be the new commercial musical theater reality, then perhaps you will wonder which Whoopi Goldberg film should come to Broadway next. My pick - Boys on the Side. It has the makings of a good musical don't you think? Friendship. Murder. Illness. And Unrequited Love. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Drunken Words from Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten"

The Pearl Theater Company's current production is A Moon for the Misbegotten - Eugene O'Neill's follow up to Long Day's Journey into Night. After watching the play, which first premiered in 1947, I was struck by the various "drunken" words in the play; some I have not heard in years. Let's take a look at some of them.  
Blotto - drunk.
You must have seen how blotto I was, didn’t you.

D.T.’s (Delirium Tremens) – the shakes.
You didn’t get the D.T.’s from my whiskey.

Heebie jeebies - A feeling of anxiety, apprehension or illness.
…he’s blue and heebie-jeebies are after him…

Soused – To make intoxicated.
Trying to get me soused, Josie?

Stewed - Intoxicated, drunk.
I guess I'm more stewed than I thought…

Stinko - Intoxicated, drunk.
I've never seen him that stinko before. Must have got him all of a sudden. He didn't seem so lit up at the Inn, but I guess I wasn't paying much attention.

Teetotaller - One who abstains completely from alcoholic beverages.
You're such a virtuous teetotaller—

Rotgut - Raw, inferior liquor
That isn't Phil's rotgut. That's real, honest-to-God bonded Bourbon.

Temperance - Restraint in the use of or abstinence from alcoholic liquors.
They was too busy preaching temperance to have time for a drink. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote from Alfred Uhry's "Driving Miss Daisy"

Spoken by Hoke to Daisy in Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy.
Things changin', but they ain't change all dat much.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Train Wreck Judy Depicted in "End of the Rainbow"

Right after a screening of Young Adult starring the beautiful Charlize Theron, the woman next to me leaned over and asked what I thought of the film. I replied that it is always difficult to watch a train wreck, referring to the delusional character Mavis who just cannot get herself together. A similar feeling overcame me watching Peter Quilter's End of The Rainbow during a recent preview on Broadway.

The year is 1968. Judy Garland and her new young manager/fiancee Mickey Dean have just arrived in London to do a five week comeback run at The Talk of the Town. Judy has significant debt and needs the money. While he seems to have an agenda, Mickey (initially) tries each day to get Judy to abstain from alcohol and popping just about any drug so that she can complete the run. In between the struggle, the audience witnesses Judy's wit and portions of her show at The Talk of the Town.

The talented and petite Tracie Bennett who plays Judy in End of the Rainbow gives the most energetic female performance I’ve seen on Broadway in recent memory. However, while we constantly witness Judy’s self destruction (the train wreck) and hear her music, we do not walk away from the theater feeling her soul, understanding her core. There is a moment in End of the Rainbow when Judy laments having potential but never quite living up to it. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with End of The Rainbow

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Once" and "Tribes" Lead 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards Nominations

Leaders in the Lucille Lortel Award Nominations
The 2012 award season has begun. Last week, the Lucille Lortel awards nominations for Off Broadway achievements were announced. Winners will be honored on May 6th. 

Looking at just the show categories, the nominees are as follows: 

Play: Blood and Gifts, Milk Like Sugar, Sons of the Prophet, The Big Meal, The School for Lies

Musical:Once, Queen of the Mist, Silence! The Musical, The Blue Flower, The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World.

Revival: Blood Knot, Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque, Look Back in Anger, The Cherry Orchard, The Maids

For full list of nominees in all 14 categories, see press release here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Random Happenings - March 2012

The Oreo cookie turns 100. Twisters ravage 12 states; for a moment, miracle toddler gives us hope but then dies and is laid to rest with her parents and siblings. Third generation Eric Nederlander is “black sheep of Broadway” with "a Jekyll and Hyde personality" according to Page Six Magazine. New York City is ranked the most competitive city in the world. Deluge closes preview performances of Evita. Sutton Foster leaves Anything Goes. I take in the revamped Carrie Off Broadway. Mike Daisey called a fabulist by This American Life. Overheating iPad 3 debuts. Raven-Symoné replaces statuesque Patina Miller in struggling nun musical Sister Act. Frank Langella drops names in new memoir. Jesus Christ Superstar comes to Broadway. Ranting Jet Blue captain freaks out; passengers wrestle him down on Flight 191.Candice Bergen says “It’s a privilege to get old.” I didn't win the $600M Mega Millions Jackpot. The cherry blossoms begin to bloom.