Posted in based on a Shakespeare play, DrunkenShakespeare, ShakesBeer, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Bar, Shakespeare in the Park

The Bard

NYSX – Photos 2019 ShakesBEER – Photos by Martin Harris

Shakespeare speaks to so many of us on so many levels.

It’s not just that he is required reading in our high schools. Nor is it because the stories he re-animated were already timeless and embedded in human consciousness, and then passed down in our experience of the world.

And it probably is not because his playfulness lends his plays so readily to translate into song. The musical theater is rife with musicals,– Kiss Me Kate, Westside Story, Two Gentlemen of Verona are just a few–, that sprung from the Bard’s tales.

There are Shakespeare bar crawls, a populist version of the classic styles. Free Shakespeare in the Parks (courtesy of the Public Theatre) and numerous iterations of the Shakespearean playbook. One of these is the current crossed-gender King Lear with the great Glenda Jackson in the title role.

NYSX – Photos Freestyle Lab Photos by Cristina Lundy

Celebrating Memorial Day with some of Shakespeare’s soldiers in snippets from his plays, New York Shakespeare Exchange‘s Freestyle Lab presents Armor As Strong: Trans Warriors through a Shakespearean Lens, on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 from 7-9pm (doors open to audience at 6:30pm) at the 53rd Street Library Theater. (This event is free. ) The production features a group of actors from New York’s trans/gender non-conforming community performing speeches and short scenes featuring some of Shakespeare’s best known soldiers.

Inspiring new plays is another way for an old fellow like the Bard to stay current. John Minigan has written a sort of play within a play–and a love story– called Breaking the Shakespeare Code, playing for a two week-run, May 23 – June 2, at The Black Box at 440 Studios. After sold-out runs in Chicago and the New York International Fringe Festival, Breaking the Shakespeare Code  returns directed by Stephen Brotebeck and starring the original cast Miranda Jonte and Tim Weinert .

Posted in #1972TonyAwardWinner, #CliftonDavis, #DianaDavila, #Hair, #JeffGoldblum, #Jonel;leAllen, #RaulJulia, #SheilaGibbs, #StockardChanning, #TwoGentlemenOfVerona, musicals

#Throwback

It’s May 20th, and this week’s theater throwback is from 1971. Like Hamilton, this rock musical had ties to the Public Theatre, previewing at the Delacorte and moving to Broadway, where it won multiple Tony Awards. of course, Hamilton‘s 11 were record breaking, and in the bad old days, a mere two were a nice win.

Two Gentlemen of Verona, based on Shakespeare’s comedy of the same name,  is an unique rock musical. Its creators were John Guare and Mel Shapiro (book), lyrics by Guare and music by Galt MacDermot, all of whom had great success with Hair, a staple of revivals, which opened at the Public. The musical starred Raul Julia and Clifton Davis as the two gents and Jonelle Allen and Diana Davila as their ladies. It featured an unknown Stockard Channing, in her Broadway debut in the chorus, along with Jeff Goldblum and Sheila Gibbs. The original Broadway production, in 1971, won the Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.

Coincidentally, Two Gentlemen closed its Broadway run on May 20, 1973, after 614 performances.

Let’s close with Jonelle Allen belting out Night Letter along (with Clifton Davis.)

Posted in actors, musicals, musicals and dramas

Coincidence?

There are those who do not believe that anything happens by accident. Dr. Freud most famously disdained the idea of the inadvertent.

Can you dig it? Know the score….

For instance, it is a matter of fact and history that my husband has crossed paths with several composers of pop tunes. Meeting famous people is a trick of Burt’s. We have spoken to stars like Jerry Stiller, and Burt sat next to him at Avenue Q when it opened on Broadway. He spoke to Stiller’s old castmate, Jerry Seinfeld at the Brooklyn Diner as well. Burt shook hands with Donald Sutherland on a New York street, and with Debbie Reynolds in Vegas back in the day, just to name a few.

On his pop circuit, Burt came in contact with the famous early on. Joe Shapiro was head of the English Department at Lafayette High in the 1950s. Shapiro’s hit song (written with Lou Stallman) was Round and Round, recorded by Perry Como and topping the charts in 1957. Also hitting #1 was Stallman and Shapiro’s Treasure of Love (1956) but for some reason there was less buzz over that Drifters hit in the school corridors when it did.

Manny Kurtz was related to one of Burt’s neighbprs. His Let It Be Me was a big success, Recorded by The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley (among others) it hit the top of the pop charts more than once. Kurtz worked as Mann Curtis and Manny Curtis as well, and it turns out has a very extensive and impressive discography.

Some years later, when Burt met his first wife, it turned out, she was also related to the pop world through a cousin. The name Phil Spector is both infamous and famous. His pop star bona fides range over many decades of rock and roll. Spector has known a lot of the greats in his career.

The biggest of all the musical stars was one Burt met as a teenager, One of his boys dated Carol Klein for a while. They all hung out in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her name in lights today is Carole King. Coincidently, we ran into her when she was on her way to her starring role in Blood Brothers on Broadway (she replaced Petula Clark during the musical’s run.) Naturally Burt introduced us. That was very exciting, and isn’t that just Beautiful.

Posted in #Chicago, long running Broadway musical, Long running musical, moving musical drama, musical, Musical drama, musical revivals, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals, Phantom, The Long Running AMERICAN Musical, The Long Running Broadway Musical

The long game

The Company in a London production performing “Masquerade.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

So why does it say “longest running American musical?” Because Phantom is actually the longest-running musical on Broadway. Chicago is the runner up! The Phantom of the Opera, which by provenance is a British musical, makes Broadway history by going strong for over 30 years and over 13,000 performances.



Posted in #classism, #dystopia, #PRIDE, Center for Performance Research, Chris Cragin-Day, Classic Stage Company, CPR, Earth Day, Emily Daly, environmental degradation, Lauren DiGiulio, Marc Blizstein, Orson Welles, racism, social media, The Cradle Will Rock, unions, workshops

Troubled times

Natalia Plaza and Zac Owens in The Rare Biosphere

Sometimes, we need a little CPR as a theriac for snakebitten times.

The CPR in question here is the Center for Performance Research which is presenting its New Voices in Live Performance programs for 2019. Their announcement appropriately crossed our desk on Earth Day today, April 22nd, so Walking with Water, which centers around environmental issues, questions of racism and justice, and restoring our planet sounds like the balm we need. It is what Aya Lane + Jess Jupiter are curating for June 1 -2. (Re)Patterning Performance is Lauren DiGiulio’s curation on June 7-9.

Workshops, explorations, multi-media performances all appear on the bill.
(We’ve sent you to the Center for Performance Research in the past.) Details can be found at the CPR website.

Photo by Gabriel Frye-Behar from #yourmemorial

The shock of our dystopias seems to be wearing us down with diurnal injustices. Artists among us continue to struggle to make sense of it all. And to help us make our way through.

Theater artists in particular are organizing tales for our edification. Their efforts are appreciated, if sometimes fraught.

The Rare Biosphere is a “ripped from the headlines” story about a teenager who comes home to find her parents have been deported. Playwright Chris Cragin-Day intends to give the political a personal face in this timely new work, playing from April 25th through May 19th at Calvary St. George’s.

Despite the fact that we consider ourselves a class-less society, classism is an enduring issue in American life. Classic Stage Company (CSC) is staging an endictment of capitalism’s greatest flaw, inequality, The Cradle Will Rock written in 1937 and originally produced by Orson Welles. Marc Blizstein’s play in music was shut down by federal authoriites who feared its pro-labor stance just prior to opening night . CSC’s Artistic Director, John Doyle is at the helm of this 10-person production.

The internet has no real precursor in our lives. #yourmemorial by Emily Daly reacts to issues that only arise from what we so laughably call social media. This world premiere is produced by Pigeonholed from May 9th through 26th.

A series of PRIDE events at the Educational Alliance in association with the 14th Street Y celebrate diversity as Live Free, Love Fierce from May 31 through July 1.

This is a short list of a very few upcoming shows meant to cure what ails us. The sideshow in government and performed by a parade of politicians continues. You can follow that mostly on CNN and other cable news outlets.

Posted in dogs in the theater, service dogs, trauma dogs

Doggone it!

My dog Chippy in the 1950s.

The idea that dogs (so-called trauma dogs, in particular, but any of your furry companions) need to be ubiquitously present in everyone’s life seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

Dogs are sprawled happily in my local bakery. They are also howling along with the legitimate stars in a legitimate theater near you.

Posted in Classic Stage Company, Conor McPherson, John Doyle, Strindberg adaptation, Ted Sperling, Victoria Clark

Conversation with the director

Victoria Clark is in the current parlance a multi-hyphenate talent; she is a recipient of the coveted Tony Award for her work on the Broadway stage. Her current gig as director of the excellent Conor McPherson adaptation of Strindberg’s Dance of Death adds lustre to a lustrous resume.

Dance of Death Classic Stage Company BY AUGUST STRINDBERG IN A NEW VERSION BY CONOR MCPHERSON DIRECTED BY VICTORIA CLARK CAST Christopher Invar Cassie Beck Rich Topol Photo (c) Joan Marcus

If you have had the privilege of seeing the play at Classic Stage Company (through March 10th), you will definitely want to hear the actress, singer, teacher and director in conversation with John Doyle on March 5th at 7 o’clock.

Doyle is CSC’s Artistic Director, and a Tony winning director himself. He is presenting the second installment of the Classic Conversation series, for March 5th featuring Clark.

Ted Sperling, who received a Tony when he worked with Clark on Light in the Piazza, will join to accompany Clark on the piano for the musical portion of the evening.