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 #whatdoyouthink, actors, African-American playwrights, artist, based on a novel, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, brutality, chronicle, deep South, empowerment, ensemble acting, famous, film, Fox Studios, historical drama, history, honky, husbands and wives, KKK, meditation on life, movie, new work, opinion, poignant, race, racism, riff, sci fi, serious, serious subject, showcase, timely, TV, Valentine's Day

Serially entertaining

Actors and screen-writers are busier these days than they have been in some time. There are “streaming” shows, 100s of cable outlets producing both series and movies, and of course Hollywood and the Indie scene all requiring their talents and services.

We are the beneficiaries of all this production. We will be enlightened, entertained and excited by the films they produce.

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than binge watching Divorce?

Gifted, the movie with Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace, and not so incidentally Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Elizabeth Marvel, is touching without being maudlin. It is generally intelligent, with a sterling performance by young Ms. Grace, and until we saw it last night on HBO, I had not heard much about it.

The assignment for Black History Month can include the excellent Get Out, Jordan Peele’s genius defies and reinvents the “horror” genre. It should also feature a viewing of Birth of a Nation, perhaps both in its regressive D.W. Griffith 1915 version and Nate Parker’s 2016 “remake.” The contrast between a paen to the Ku Klux Klan and to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion may prove edifying. Add Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (although not our personal favorite) to your list of films for 2018. (In the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham expresses a different view, especially of Parker’s film.)

Art is meant to engender controversy, stimulate and even incense and enrage. We should not be passively diverted in its presence. It is here to help us ponder life’s (and history’s) biggest issues.

Thanks to films and serial dramas we have a lot to consider and enjoy. And we are treated to some terrific performances in the bargain.

Posted in actors, ballet, balletic, circus, circus. vaudeville, dancers life, Lincoln Center

Personable

My intro to the NYCB Working Rehearsal included a docent telling us that one of the things she enjoyed about watching the dancers rehearse was that they reveal their personalities in the banter on the stage. In thinking about this, I realized that what I like to see on stage is a persona, not a personality.

DuffySq_fromSteps.jpg
Duffy Square, NYC. Photo © Tamara Beck

In this case, I witnessed, among other things, Robert Fairchild‘s easy charm (and of course those matinée idol looks I have often mentioned before) which has landed him on Broadway in the past. (And also in Paris and London where An American In Paris had its try-outs, as it were, pre-Palace Theatre in New York.) Fairchild is funny and always
very polite, which belies his perfectionism. He is completely professional and engaged in his dancing. His patter with Sterling Hyltin while waiting for the violinist, Arturo Delmoni was an agreeable look at his more private side, but what I expect to see in his penultimate performance as a Principal Dancer for NYCB at the Saturday matinée tomorrow is his absorption into the role in Duo Concertante. In other words, I will be mesmerized by the persona he projects, not the witty personality he clearly possesses. (Note, he reprises this role at the Sunday matinée.)

 


Not so hasty. We’re still here.

Marlise and JuliaT26H_008
Photo © Tamara Beck

Rumors that the Big Apple Circus had folded its tent for good appear to have been premature.

It may be that the demise of the multi-tent Barnum + Bailey makes this a winning holiday destination, and the only circus in town.

The Big Apple’s one ring approach was always a more kid-friendly way to present the events on this kind of stage anyway. Who can keep up with all the action in three rings?

On Thursday, The Big Apple was setting up for a late October opening at L.C. Its wagon were in the familiar place by Damrosch Park.


Note to the  storekeeper

Romeo_and_Juliet_(detail)_by_Frank_Dicksee
Frank Dicksee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The poster in the window says “Love Always Wins” and the posterboard is covered in post-its meant to prove this point.

The question I want to pose is have you considered how dire the ending is for Romeo and for Juliet, for instance? They are not the only star-crossed lovers in history– or in theater, but they set the tone for all those who have been failed by your all-encompassing motto.

“Love Sometimes Wins” might be a more apt if less emphatic statement.  Given the realities in many romances, the equivocal is a better way of expressing the hope that love carries and sometimes delivers.


Chick flicks

While on the subject of romance, I want to submit my favorite type of commentary– the list. In this case, it is a list of films in which women are powerful and empowered. Some of them are romantic in the traditional sense. Some take a right or left turn around the central proposition. Other lists I have shared include those in which ballets are interconnected, and have been meant as a year-end salute.

Here’s today’s list:

A League Of Their Own, sports and girls! 
Thelma and Louise
, girls in cars
Bull Durham, a girl–well, a woman and some ball players
Moonstruck, a love affair with two brothers and a woman, a full moon, etc etc etc
Alice, a woman on the edge of dementia
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, a woman finds herself

 

Posted in acting, activists, actors, allegory, artist, aspiration, athletes, ballet, balletic, comedy-drama, committment, concert, Daily Prompt, dance, dancing, drama, empowerment, expectations, farce, film, high expectations, jazz, joy, memory play, Meryl Streep, mime, modern dance, monologues, movie, multi-disciplinary performances, music, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals, musicals and dramas, mystery, narration, off Broadway, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, one act plays, one man show, one-woman show, opera, painting, pantomime, parody, performance art, performance piece, performance works, photography, play, play with music, public performance in public spaces, radio play, revival, revue, rock and roll, satire, scary stories, sci fi, screwball comedy, Short plays, sketches, skits, tango, tap dance, theater for the common good, theater lovers, theatrical events, tragedy, tragi-comic

Shine

via Daily Prompt: Shine with thanks to Ben Huberman, The Daily Post for the inspiration

NoLateSeatingThose who crave the spotlight most often become entertainers. Their talent demands it. It is their calling to shine.

We applaud them, and in so doing bask in the glow of their accomplishment. They are center stage with the footlights on them, but we are illuminated by their performance.

Their light shines on us as they render and interpret and presnet their truths. Greater  performers shine brightest, and we shine brighter too.

Posted in acting, actors, first love, kissing, Neil Patel, Rebecca Taichman, Sarah Ruhl, theater folk

"Stage Kiss"

https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/8ai6TLoySoU&source=uds    Extended through April 6th
Actors lead different lives from the rest of us. Their nine-to-five is generally more like 7:30 to midnight.
For them, a kiss is work, and for actors just part of their day at the office.

“Stage Kiss,” at Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater through March 23rd, is immensely clever. The play that wraps around the play within the play in Sarah Ruhl’s brilliant new comedy mirrors the events in the play being staged in the first act.

The cast of the play within the play with Jessica Hecht center take a bow.
Photo © Joan Marcus

She (Jessica Hecht), an actress in her 40s, auditioning for the role of Ada Wilcox, is surprised that the actor He (Dominic Fumusa), playing opposite her is her first love, just as Johnny Lowell is Ada’s in the melodrama they are rehearsing.

She (Jessica Hecht) and He (Dominic Fumusa) share a “Stage Kiss.”
Photo © Joan Marcus

“Stage Kiss” is about and of the theater. The perils of acting, like its joys, are in getting to embody anyone but yourself and getting to try out being someone else. “Stage Kiss” can be bestowed even on the unlikeliest of partners, as when She rehearses with Kevin (Michael Cyril Creighton), the understudy whose approach to the project is far more tentative and less empassioned than the one He plants.

     
She (Jessica Hecht) and
Kevin (Michael Cyril Creighton)
audtion a “Stage Kiss.”
Photo © Joan Marcus

 “Stage Kiss” is in part about creating character, and understanding love. Real life jeopardises theatrical life and messes with stage craft. Like Ada, She has an understanding Husband (Daniel Jenkins), and a life that takes on an over-the-top turn.

  • Will She and He rekindle their love?
  • Would she rather live in squalor with her first love than go back to her well-to-do husband?
  • What can her husband do to tip the balance in his favor?
  • Is that first love all we’ve cracked him/her to be?

Jessica Hecht lends a sophistication and an innocence to her character in “Stage Kiss.” Hecht has a distinctive voice that seems to both quesiton and admonish at the same time. In “Stage Kiss,” she gets to mimic, impersonate and do accents. At every nudge from The Director (Patrick Kerr), she nails it immediately and creates another persona.

There are so many facets to this superbly intelligent play.

There are in-jokes for theater folk: the ineffectual laissez-faire Director; the actress who hasn’t found work for years; the relentless optimism of reviving a less than mediocre play; the dangers of stage romance.

For the marrieds, there are questions about fidelity and temptation, and the risks in workplace romance.

Rebecca Taichman directs this excellent cast,  which also includes Emma Galvin as Angela, Millie and the Maid; Clea Alsip as Millicent and Laurie; and Todd Almond as The Accompanist. Todd Almond has also provided originally music for the production that fits the spirit of the enterprise very neatly.

Clea Alsip and Todd Almond in a scene from Sarah Ruhl’s
“Stage Kiss.” 
Photo © Joan Marcus

The sets which build from an empty rehearsal space to an elaborate 1930s drawing room and a truly delapidated and overcrowded East Village  mess of an apartment are the work of the talented Neil Patel. Costume designer Susan Hilferty is responsible for dressing the cast over various periods.

“Stage Kiss” is top-to-toe marvellous. Go and enjoy a wonderfully engaging theatrical experience.

For more information on “Stage Kiss,” please visit Playwrights Horizons. For more review, visit VevlynsPen.com.

Jessica Hecht and Daniel Jenkins in a scene from the play within
“Stage Kiss.” Photo © Joan Marcus
Michael Cyril Creighton, Daniel
Jenkins and Emma Galvin in a scene
from “Stage Kiss.” Photo © Joan Marcus

Jessica Hecht as She and Patrick Kerr
as the Director in a scene from
“Stage Kiss.” Photo © Joan Marcus