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playwrights, artist, based on a novel, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, brutality, chronicle, deep South, empowerment, ensemble acting, famous, film, Fox Studios, historical drama, history, honky, husbands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 #critique, #pointofview, Coen Brothers, comedy, dark comedy drama, film, James Brooks, Mel Brooks, movie, Noah Baumbach, serious comedy, Wes Anderson, Woody Allen

Parallel Universes

Comedy is not a continuum. It is a universe onto itself; that is each comedy is unique. Buster Keaton, for instance, created a character, a type, who functioned according to his own rules. Charlie Chaplin did much the same with his sad little tramp.

At home at the cineplex

I am not a movie-goer, per se, but a movie-stayer. Put it on my tv screen and I will gladly watch. Laurel Canyon, Urban Cowboy, a few minutes of Life, all get my attention. Hidden Figures, A League of Their Own, and The Help grab my heart.

However, it is comedies that keep me most engaged. In fact, what hubby and I love best is a smart and funny film. That’s not to exclude the stupid ones, which we consume in considerable quantities as well; you know movies like Animal House or even  Dude, Where’s My Car?  The low-brow, like Bad Moms, can be very high on wisdom. Comedy is an escape.

Runaway funny

How far can escapism go with comedians like Woody Allen, or Noah Baumbach, or the Coens as your guide? Mel Brooks, a smart and funny movie-maker, can take you further down the silly than these other guys.

There are some parallels we can make between Woody Allen and the Coen Brothers, like the films A Serious Man and Irrational Man, which may have more in common in than just the similarily in title. There is a tone in both films that connects their styles and content, even if the plot lines are independent of each other.

Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale tends to have more of a feel of dark whimsy, like a Wes Anderson production. It is not laugh-out-loud funny like Annie Hall or Broadway Danny Rose. It has none of the robust ridiculousness of High Anxiety, for instance, although it is definitely a tremblingly anxious work.

Posted in based on a book by Roald Dahl and a movie of the same name, concert, from a novel to a movie to a play, long running Broadway musical, movie, musical, musicals, The Long Running Broadway Musical, Uncategorized

From the page to the stage

Matilda, before it became a Broadway musical (since closed after a long run), was first a book then a movie. Roald Dahl won the 1988 Childrens Book Award for this novel of triumph over adversity. As with other Dahl stories for children, the protagonist is precocious and the plot is wry.

The film of Matilda features Danny DeVito, who also directs, along with Rhea Perlman, Mara Wilson, Embeth Davidtz, and Pam Ferris. Now this inspiring family favorite returns to the big screen in stunning HD with Academy Award-nominated composer David Newman’s score played in sync by a full symphony orchestra.

For the world premiere of Matilda Live in Concert, Newman will conduct the Houston Symphony on June 9th in Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillon in The Woodlands.

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 Amy Morton, Carrie Coon, Edward Albee, Madison Dirks, movie, Pam McKinnon, Steppenwolf, Tony, Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Love survives in " Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virgiinia Woolf"



It’s a familiar scenario. Sometimes ringside seats come with that invitation to meet the senior
faculty.  
George (Tracy Letts) and Martha  (Amy Morton) are at it again in “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” in a fiftieth anniversary revival through February 24th   at the Booth Theatre. Theirs is a combative love story.
Tracy Letts as George, Carrie Coon as Honey, Amy Morton as Martha being subdued by Madison Dirks as Nick and  in “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “ Photos by Michael Brosilow.

George and Martha duke it out in a battle royale over the course of one long and boozy night while Honey (Carrie Coon) and Nick (Madison Dirks) watch sometimes helplessly, sometimes actively. At first both Nick and Honey seem to be victims of the whirlwind that is Martha. While Honey seems oblivious, but Nick is an avid participant in the kind of games academics and battling marrieds play. 

“I would divorce you,” Martha tells George, ‘if you existed.” Their huffing and puffing definitely blows this house down.  This is an epic production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

 
Tracy Letts as George, Amy Morton as Martha and Madison Dirks as Nick and Carrie Coon as Honey in “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “ Photos by Michael Brosilow.
Edward Albee, whose plays have won him a great deal of recognition– several Pulitzer, a couple of Tonys and one for Lifetime Achievement in The Theatre in 2005,–   has brought recriminations and vituperation to the level of art in  “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”.
In its inaugural production in 1962, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” won the Tony Award. This season, “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” on Broadway  by way of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company and directed by Pam MacKinnon, is on pace to once again grab some prizes.



For a more extended review of 
“Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” see http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/11/edward-albees-whos-afraid-of-virginia.html
To find out more about “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” visit http://virginiawoolfbroadway.com

Posted in Anderson Twins, cabaret, concert, movie, music, swing, The Fabulous Dorseys

The Fabulous Andersons In A Tribute to The Dorseys

The joint is jumping, you better believe it!

Swing, swing, swing is in the air as the fabulous Andersons give a tribute to Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey at 59E59 Theaters through October 7th.  “The Anderson Twins Play The Fabulous Dorseys” is set to snippets from the film “The Fabulous Dorseys” with a charmingly cornball script by the brothers Will and Pete.

Pete Anderson, Jon-Erik Kellso, Kevin Dorn and Will Anderson in  “The Anderson Twins Play The Fabulous Dorseys” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Lynn Redmile.

The battles between siblings Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey are echoed on the bandstand by Pete and Will. The brothers Anderson, who also offer a standard Thursday night performance in the E-Bar at 59E59, talented musicians on the clarinet, sax and flute, are backed by their sextet in this cabaret production of “The Anderson Twins Play The Fabulous Dorseys.”   
For more information and tickets, go to www.59e59.org.  
Posted in comedy, movie, musical

It’s A Bright New Clear Day

You know you’re in strange country when a strong, sane psychiatrist talks seriously about reincarnation.

David Turner as David Gamble, Jessie Mueller as Melinda Wells and Harry Connick Jr as Dr. Mark Bruckner in “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.” Photo by Nicole Rivelli

This peculiar territory is the premise of Alan Jay Lerner’s and Burton Lane’s 1965 musical “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” at The St. James Theatre. (See opening night video.)

A word in retrospect, now that “On A Clear Day…” has drifted off into the sunset: Acting on “Law and Order” or performing one of his charming concerts, Harry Connick Jr. is a Sinatra for his generation. It has to be admitted that in “On A Clear Day…,” he was not at his best, which is still pretty good.

The premise of the play is made all the odder still by script updates to Lerner’s book contributed by Peter Parnell. Odder but still charming in its own loopy way.

Reset to 1974, with a bright psychedelic set by Christine Jones, “On A Clear Day…” is also enlivened by the presence, in addition to Harry Connick, Jr. as Dr. Mark Bruckner, of star discoveries, David Turner as his patient David Gamble and Jessie Mueller as Melinda Wells, David Gamble’s most recent past life.

David stumbles into Dr. Bruckner’s care after being inadvertently hypnotized, a trick the doctor performs during the class David goes to with his roommate Muriel (Sarah Stiles). It turns out that David is extremely susceptible to hypnosis.

David’s sessions with Dr. Bruckner lead to the revelation that David was once Melinda Wells, an attractive and lively band singer from the ’40s. When Dr. Bruckner meets her, he is smitten.

David Turner as David Gamble with Drew Gehling as Warren Smith, in a photo by Paul Kolnik

In the original version, Dr. Bruckner’s patient was a woman. The original plot had none of the unwonted sexual-identity complications introduced in the current production.

Unwonted because Dr. Bruckner is straight. He is a man who, after three years, is still grieving the death of his wife. The complications, in which David thinks Dr. Bruckner is in love with him, and that he is in love with Dr. Bruckner, make the story line seem even more eccentric.

Kerry O’Malley as Dr. Sharone Stein, Dr. Bruckner’s colleague and friend, in a photo by Paul Kolnik

David Turner is an exceptionally spirited performer. Drew Gehling who plays his lover, Warren Smith, is excellent. Jessie Mueller has plenty of talent. Lori Wilner’s Mrs. Hatch, a secretary in the Kravis Institute where Dr. Bruckner works, delivers some very entertaining psycho-patter.
In fact, everyone in the cast of “A Clear Day…” does a terrific job in convincing us that all is well and normal. And the songs are truly lovely.

So, in short, all is forgiven, even though the day may be clear but the plot a bit foggy.

For more information about “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” visit http://onacleardaybroadway.com/
_________________________________________________________________
A short history of “On A Clear Day…” can be found at Wikipedia:
The 1970 film adaptation, directed by Vincente Minelli, of the original Broadway hit (it received three Tony nods) starred Barbara Steisand, Yves Montand and Jack Nicholson. _______________________________________________________________________ Now that “On A Clear Day…” has drifted off into the sunset: Acting on “Law and Order” or performing one of his charming concerts, Harry Connick Jr. is a Sinatra for his generation. It has to be admitted that in “On A Clear Day…,” he was not at his best, which is still pretty good.