Posted in #Macbeth, based on a film, based on a Shakespeare play, classic, Classic Stage Company, DruidShakespeare, Richard III, Shakespeare

How Many Ways Can You Say Macbeth?

RICHARD III Druid: Aaron Monaghan, Garrett Lombard,John Olohan, Jane Brennan.Photo credit: Robbie Jack

Three versions of the Scottish play are on stages in New York City right now.

One, a more or less straightforward rendering, is at Classic Stages with Corey Stoll in the lead role and his wife, the actress Nadia Bowers as Lady Macbeth. CSC’s Artistic Director, John Boyle directs and is the scenic designer for the production. Opening night was October 27th. For tickets, go to the CSC website.

Using a quote from the Lady**, The Brick Theater presents a gender fluid version of Macbeth. The play, directed by Maggie Cino, is Unsex Me Here: The Tragedy of Macbeth, opening on November 8th. Moira Stone takes the lead, and Mick O’Brien plays the treacherous Lady.

Roundabout Theatre has a reimagined modern day McBeth presented, at the Laura Pels through December 8th, as Scotland, PA, based on the indie film of the same name. Set in a diner in the eponymous town, “Mac” is having a meltdown seeing hippies while our lady schemes at Duncan’s hamburger joint, girding her loins for a power play. Scotland, PA is a musical version of the Shakespearean tragedy, with book by Michael Mitnick and lyrics aind music by Adam Gwon.

Meanwhile over at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival the focus is on another of the Bard’s tragedies of power gone amok. DruidShakespeare: Richard III , opens November 9th, from Ireland’s Druid theater company and Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes, starring Aaron Monaghan.

**Act 1, Scene 5, Lady Macbeth speaks, conjuring the spirit of manliness and resolve: “… Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!  …”

Posted in also a film, based on a film, Dan LeFranc, dinner, Donald Marguiles, family drama, Festen, Jan Maxwell, John Lithgow, Neil Simon, Playwrights Horizons, The Music Box



via Daily Prompt: Disrupt List making is a habit. I have had a very hard time breaking myself of a disposition to compile and aggregate. There are times when the combinations on any given catalog serves to disrupt the order of things. Relationships can be tangential and serendipitous rather than strictly straightforward. This enumeration, for […]

Around the table in The Big Meal: David Wilson Barnes, Jennifer Mudge, Anita Gilette, Tom Bloom, Rachel Resheff. Photo by Joan Marcus.

via To throw ’em off the scent — Commenting:

This enumeration, for instance, pairs or doubles down on, very diverse films, yet there is a connection:

Add to this some other films and plays like The Big MealDinner for Shmucks or The Dinner Party (on Broadway in 2000 with Henry Winkler and the late Jan Maxwell and John Ritter et al) or the short-lived Festen, (also on Broadway and also at the Music Box) with Ali McGraw. The latter as I recall was a dark (both in lighting and atmosphere) play which, again, as I recall, was extremely interesting; it lasted just 49 performances.


Posted in also a film, Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on a film, film, long running Broadway musical, Long running musical, Phantom, similar to a film plot, The Long Running Broadway Musical

“The music of the night…” plays on

Your assignment, my pets, is to see the 1943 film of the same name as  the long-running Broadway musical.

The cinematic version is not strictly speaking a musical but it is full of melodies. Many a colorful opera is staged during the course of the movie. Nelson Eddy is Anatole, the baritone in love with the soprano Christine Dubois (Susanna Foster), who is also the object of adulation for Raoul (Edgar Barrier), the prefect of the Sécurité– in other words, a police captain.

Leading trio celebrating the 29th year anniversary of New York’s longest running musical. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

She is also adored at a distance by a modest and timid older man, Erique Claudin, played by Claude Rains. Unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom, he is not a singer; he is the first violin in the Paris Opéra Orchestra. Like Broadway’s Phantom he is so obsessed with Christine that he will kill for her advancement. Along the way, this meek and odd little man collects some genuine and deep-seated grievances to warrant his unravelling as well.

Claudin has a champion in the figure of Franz Liszt (Fritz Lieber) who admires the concerto the violinist submitted- without success- to a recalcitrant publisher, Pleyel (Miles Mander). None of this diverts Claudin from Christine. And, oh, do watch out for that chandelier!

Once you have completed your homework, go see #PhantomBroadway again, or for the first time. It is lusher and more layered than the wonderful 1943 film version of Phantom of the Opera.  (Note that if it happens you are not in New York City, you may find Phantom on Tour or in London and Budapest, for instance.)

It is truly a musical, operatically filled with memorable lyrics and superb music. It is also so fantastical as to invite repeated visits to a theater near you.

The production is the longest running Broadway musical, having hit its 29th year mark last January. The Phantom currently in residence is James Barbour, with Ali Ewoldt and Rachel Eskanazi-Gold alternating as Christine. Raoul, who is a Vicomte and not a policeman here, is played by Rodney Ingram.

In the Lloyd Webber incantation, the Phantom is a singer with some of the most gorgeous songs to sing. He is a beautiful, evil-hearted beast. He is Christine Daaé’s Svengali and his melodies haunt as he haunts the Paris Opéra House.

For tickets, please visit the #PhantomBroadway website, which will also guide you to the touring companies.

Posted in 2016 Tony nominations, based on a film, based on a movie, Jessie Mueller, menu, musical, musical theater

The overlooked contender or 2

It looks like Waitress has all the pluck of the indie project from which it was created. Like Something Rotten!, it carries on.

As if the presence of star Jessie Mueller and a lovely cast were not enough, Waitress is offering a little sweetner: groups as few as 4 (and up to 11) people can get discounted tickets- with pie- to attend.

Our Theater Blog: TandBOnTheAisle

In my predictions for the nominations Tony is about to make,, I left out some of this year’s Broadway starts. School of Rockwas not mentioned, and truly, despite its spunk, I doubt it stands a chance in this contest. Nor will American Psycho overturn Hamilton in its run to the top.

May 3rd, noon, Looks like the Tonys left out a contender, too: Audra McDonald was not nominated for the Best leading actress in a musical.

Here’s where the oversight is more serious: From the list (entitled The Chanteuse) below, I have left out Laura Benanti, a soprano to be contended with, often on the short list for many an Award, and Tony winner (for “Gypsy”). Benanti stars beautifully in a wondrous revival of She Loves Me, the musical descendent of a personal favorite among Magyar tales–Little Shop Around the Corner. (In view…

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Posted in Amanda Green, based on a film, boys and girls, Bring It On The Musical, cheerleaders, Jeff Whitty, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being"… A Cheerleader

Cheerleading is not a philosophical endeavor. We get that. But it should have plenty of verve.

“Bring It On, The Musical,” at the St. James Theatre for a limited run through October 7th, wants to make absolutely clear that it is a physically demanding activity.

The cast of “Bring It On” (C) Photo by Joan Marcus

In fact, Campbell (Taylor Louderman) narrates the facts of her life as she becomes the captain of the Truman pep-squad, introducing the predictable power points that describe this spirited pursuit and the dedication with which she pursues it. Complications follow when Campbell is transferred to Jackson High in a stroke of redistricting. At Jackson, Campbell meets Danielle (Adrienne Warren) the leader of a dance crew.Will she triumph and find her “One Perfect Moment?” 

Taylor Louderman, Neil Haskell, Kate Rockwell, and Janet Krupin (c) Photo by Joan Marcus 

The songs (by the usually brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In The Heights” was terrific)  who teams up with Amanda Green on lyrics and Tom Kitt for the music) narrate a dull recitation of the lives of girls determined to win a state championship in rallying. Jeff Whitty has created a libretto based on the 2000 movie written by Jessica Bendinger to take “Bring It On” to the stage.

Adrienne Warren and cast. Photo (c) Joan Marcus 

Once there, even with propulsive rally-squad moves and togh hip-hop inflected dancing (choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who also directs), “Bring It On” dies a thousand deaths. Stereotypes abound: the black girls (and guys) are cool, the white girls vapid. Campbell’s boyfriend Steve (Neil Haskell) is pretty effectively channelling his inner Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd from “Cheers.”  Despite the paucity of interesting characters, Adrienne Warren as the head of the Jackson dancers,  and Ryann Redmond as the fat girl, Bridget, are both quite charming.

Gasps of admiration at girls tossed into the air and landing gracefully quickly dissipate in the general dumbing down. Unfortunately dumbing down seems to have risen to a competitive sport in this musical. Aiming squarely for the lowest common denominator, “Bring It On” hits its target.

For more information about “Bring It On, The Musical,” visit

Posted in based on a film, cruelty, moving musical drama, musical, second look, Vietnam background

Ugly is as ugly does in ‘DOGFIGHT" — gets a second look

This is an update since we had a chance to give “Dogfight” a second look!
For some, cruelty is a birthright. For others a rite of passage. 
“Dogfight,” the new musical  playing at Second Stage Theatre through August 19th, doesn’t examine the fine points of meanness and callousness. It does offer an improbable, or on second peek moving, redemption for Eddie Birdlace (Derek Klena.) Rose Feeney (Lindsay Mendez) sees past the ugliness of his actions and his physical good looks.

Lindsay Mendez as Rose with Derek Klena as Birdlace and company in the musical “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
In “Dogfight,” with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and a book by Peter Duchan based on the 1991 indie film of the same name, male bonding is mostly abusive and nasty. The girls, like Marcy (Annaleigh Ashford) and Chippy (Deirdre Friel, who also plays a number of other cameos) and even Rose are either victims, or just wanna have fun. Eddie and his pals, Boland (Josh Segarra) and Bernstein (Nick Blaemire), the three Bs, are marines on the eve of shipping out. Their destinaton is Vietnam. 
F. Michael Haynie as Fector, Nick Blaemire as Bernstein, Adam Halpin as Stevens, Josh Segarra as Boland, and Steven Booth as Gibbs in “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
This last night in San Francisco is for them to have “Some Kinda Time,” as the opening number suggests. The songs are not unpleasantly generic ’60s style pop, maybe with a bit of an edge to match the subject matter. The acting is good, particularly Derek Klena and Lindsay Mendez as the leads, and Annaleigh Ashford’s Marcy is tough as nails and terrific.
DeirdreFriel as Bernstein’s silent date, Nick Blaemire as Bernstein, Derek Klena as Birdlace, Lindsay Mendez as Rose, Josh Segarra as Boland, and Annaleigh Ashford as Marcy in the musical “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.  
“Dogfight” is about insensitivity and heartlessness. Why are we not championing the women these marines treat so badly? It seems like we should be more concerned. The story line while both disturbing and satisfying, still manages to be bland. “Dogfight” uses the familiarity of its musical style, the dancing, and the wrap-around sets of staircases and catwalks, designed by David Zinn, to bolster the weakness of its plot.

So, about that second look: “Dogfight” was much more engaging the second time around. Its central characters were touching and its storyline was poignant. Even the music flowed better and was more interesting.  

  Derek Klena as Birdlace, James Moye as the party singer, Lindsay Mendez as Rose in the musical “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
To find out more about “Dogfight” visit