Posted in Daily Prompt, musical, musical comedy, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals

Upstairs, downstairs

Source: Upstairs, downstairs

HD_KeyDolly Gallagher Levi enters, in a descent from above, on a circular stair. I love the circular stair.

There is a new Dolly, one from a long line of matchmakers, in town in Jerry Herman’s and Michael Stewart’s musical, Hello, Dolly! This one is none other than the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler. Hello.

Posted in bio-drama, Daily Prompt

Infamously famous

Source: Infamously famous

Cagney, The Musical is in New York only through May 28th. Not that James Cagney himself was infamous, or notorious, but rather the characters he played often were.

Posted in Daily Prompt, dysfunction, farce

Not my favorite kinda theater

via Daily Prompt: Farce

3494The farce has a time-honored tradition. It’s as old as the hills in art-form years. So why my personal distaste for it. Too much chaos and running about is the only thing I can point a finger at with any certainty.

  • It makes fun of convention. (✔, that works for me.)
  • It is an irritant, using comedy to point out foibles. (✔ also good as above.)
  • It can be very confusing but in a way to make you think. (✔ thinking, okay!)
  • There is always a lot of action in a farce. (✔, nothing wrong with that, either.)\
  • The average farce puts a lot of value in silliness. (✔, not an essential for me, but ok.)
  • Silliness rather than gravity or satire is the main point of farce. (X this does not attract me, particularly to slapstick or farce.)
  • They run in and out of doors, sometimes carrying sardines. (That’s it. I am not fond of that, even though RTC’s not so recent production of Noises Off was rather fun.)
  • The slamming doors thing is something I like to see reserved for household tiffs.

All that said, the farce is sometimes irrestible. Take for instance, Something Rotten!, underappreciated by the Tony voters, but valiantly drawing laughter long after the ceremonies. I loved it! In truth, it may not really be so much farce as send up. The trilogy of House and Garden brought us in, eagerly, to see all three pieces, slamming doors and all. Lend Me A Tenor is reliably as delightfully foolish as Fortune’s Fool, for instance. It Shoulda Been You is another example of the farcical theater that was marginally entertaining, and featured a fan fave of ours, Tyne Daly.

Of course, when we call something a farce, we are denigrating it, to some extent. We mean it’s ridiculous. it’s just that at the theater, the ridiculous can, so often, transcend!

 

 

 

 

Posted in 9/11, dark drama, drama, showcase

Homeland insecurities

Is it paranoia or caution that drives us to anxiously examine any package left behind on the train seat next to us?

Bigger Than You, Bigger Than Me is Kathryn Coughlin’s play about our anxious times which has its run at the Studio Theatre at Theatre Row from May 10th through 13th. Ryan Kim, Kelly McCready and Celia Pilkington will be directed by Adam Thorburn in this Studio 28 Productions showcase.

Don’t expect this play to assuage any lurking fears you have in our post 9/11 environment. There is more information on the play’s FB page at
https://www.facebook.com/biggerthanyoubiggerthanme/. Tickets are available from the Theatre Row box office on 42nd Street at 9th Avenue.

Posted in ballet, New York City Ballet

The red and the black

Ballet, and I guess, all forms of dance, has always had the effect of transporting me.

In one piece on the program the other day at the New York City Ballet, Peter Martins’ choreography to Stravinsky’s propellant Jeu De Cartes took me away in a most pleasing riot of jumps and jetés. Diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs were displayed in spirited combinations; there were knaves and face-cards acting in harmony. The Queen and her cavalier dresses in kitschy abandon by costume designer Ian Falconer pranced happily to the stirring melody.

This was just the first of five transportive moments that afternoon. And one of the most original and electrifying was Peter Walker’s ten in seven. This is a dancework we had seen before, and were looking forward to with delight. It was even more splendid on a second watching. ten in seven, with a guitar-led band on an on-stage bandstand, and 5 coupled dancers is electrifying. That guitarist leading the band is Thomas Kitka, who also wrote the commissioned score.

Equally intoxicating is Alexei Ratmansky’s new Odessa. Ratmansky reponds to the eclectic styles in the score with fire. The costumes by Keso Dekker are splendid. In the dance, when passion meets brutality, I wanted to be the one to alert the police. In fact every aspect of Odessa, which premiered on May 4th, feels as if it is energized by Leonid Desyatnikov’s music, Sketches to Sunset from 2006.

Lauren Lovette’s For Clara left us with wanting more when last we saw it. This viewing was no different except that the lovely piece, set to music by Robert Schumann, was even more admirable.  Ms. Lovette has succumbed to romantic impulses with great subtlety, and in the most charming of ways.

New York City Ballet’s resident choreographers are always a talented and innovative bunch. When Christopher Wheeldon filled that role, he quickly became our favorite. Fashions come and go, but we still thrill to his works, like Carousel: A Dance, which we never see often enough. After the Rain is another such, and it gets better with repeated exposure. On this occassion, it was danced by Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour both of whom execute the piece with elegance and style.

Justin Peck, currently the Choreographer in Residence, got his first-ever all-Peck program recently. Two of the pieces, The Dreamers (a duet, danced by Sarah Mearns and Amar Ramasar on this occasion) and Everywhere You Go (for what looks like an entire company), both familiar, are welcome additions to the permanent repertoire. Peck has an interesting way of partnering male dancers, and lots of energy even in his sometimes dystopic moods. New Blood is an interesting new work, that will take a few viewings to absorb and analyze.

The dancers– from corps to principal–earn my unbridled admiration with ever step they take.

The spring season of NYC Ballet’s Here/Now Festival runs through May 21st and   finishing the season on May 28th with Ballanchine’s  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at their Lincoln Center home. Visit the website for information and tickets.

Posted in Daily Prompt

F-stops

via Daily Prompt: Exposed

blacksquareReality TV, also called unscripted drama, is about filming one’s life. This generally involves exposure. Not just the exposure on your camera, but also the kind in which one’s secrets are exposed.

Nothing is hidden, except perhaps the truth, or perhaps, more to the point, reality.

Posted in dark drama, drama, dysfunction, family drama

Cunning and rapacious

Myth-making is an oddly populist activity. Plain men (and women) creating tall tales about themselves or their ilk, such as Paul Bunyon or Johnny Appleseed, are boosted to greater prominence by the imagination.

Little Foxes

The Hubbards in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre extended through July 2nd, are rich but simple folks who aggrandize themselves with their own form of mythologizing.

Ben Hubbard (Michael McKean), the elder of the cold-blooded tribe, is especially deft at inventing the stories of his family’s success against adversity. His younger brother, Oscar (Darren Goldstein) is equally vicious but hapless.

Little Foxes

It’s their sister, Regina Giddens (Cynthia Nixon at the performance we saw; Laura Linney at alternate performances) who is the most ferocious and cruel-hearted romancer. She has lied to her brothers about the money her husband, Horace (Richard Thomas) will put up for their venture with Mr. Marshall (David Alford) of Chicago; she has spun an account of a future of glory in society for herself when they are all rich.

Oscar’s wife, Birdie (Laura Linney, alternating with Cynthia Little FoxesNixon for this gem of a part), speaks her own narrative of sweetness and betrayal. She tells her story to Regina and Oscar’s daughter Alexandra (Francesca Carpanni) who can still be saved from the family curse of greed. Like Birdie, Addie (Caroline Stefanie Clay), the housekeeper at the Giddens’ home, has genuine concern for Alexandra. It is also Horace’s desire to protect his daughter from her mother and her uncles. He understands the evil they can cause. Alexandra, on the other hand, is not as fragile as her aunt Birdie; she has some of her mother’s steel mixed with her father’s kind heart.

Nixon is demonic as Regina. Linney is brittle as the delicate and damaged Birdie, who dislikes her son Leo (Michael Benz) even more than her husband. Rounding out the cast is Cal (Charles Turner); like Addie, Birdie and Horace, Cal  cares for the few people in the household who are kind and decent.

Daniel Sullivan’s direction of The Little Foxes allows the plot to develop with style and at leisure. The costumes (by Jane Greenwood) are excellent; the gown Regina wears, for instance, is superbly elegant. Scott Pask’s scenery is sumptuous, drawing applause at curtain-up.

This classic tale of conniving avarice is beautifully ugly. Everything about this production of The Little Foxes is done to perfection.

For more information and tickets, please visit http://littlefoxesbroadway.com/

PS: We had seen a couple of earlier versions of Hellman’s dark drama, one of which was wonderfully abstract in its staging. That one was directed by Ivo Von Hove at New York Theater Workshop, and is worth noting for its pedigree. This Broadway production is worth seeing for its faithful adherence to Hellman’s vision and text, and the excellence of its execution of this Hubbard family history. There is no better reason to see The Little Foxes at MTC than the sheer perfection of this production.