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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 Annie Get Your Gun, Cole Porter, Mary Martin, Noel Coward, Oklahoma, Peter Pan, Rodgers and Hammerstein, The York Theatre Company, TV

Remembering Peter Pan

Mary Martin immortalized the boy who wouldn’t grow up when her Peter Pan flew across television screens in a televised broadcast in 1955, 1956 and 1960 of her Broadway hit.

Emily Skinner, Lynne Halliday, and Cameron Adams in the York Theatre Company world premiere production of the new musical revue, Inventing Mary Martin, conceived, written and directed by Stephen Cole, with music supervision and arrangements by David Krane, co-direction and choreography by Bob Richard and music direction by Lawrence Goldberg. The cast also features Jason Graae with Bob Renino on bass and Perry Cavari on drums. Now in performance through May 25 at York Theatre Company’s home at Saint Peters. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.

“Inventing Mary Martin,” a world premiere conceived, written and directed by Stephen Cole, is a musical revue about the titular star’s career.  The York Theatre production, through May 25th also touches lightly on her life. Mary Martin went from a small Texas town to Hollywood and on to Broadway and London stages. She was the toast of the town in any number of hits. 
Cameron Adams and Jason Graae in the York Theatre Company world premiere production of the new musical revue, Inventing Mary Martin, conceived, written and directed by Stephen Cole, with music supervision and arrangements by David Krane, co-direction and choreography by Bob Richard and music direction by Lawrence Goldberg. The cast also features Lynne Halliday and Emily Skinner with Bob Renino on bass and Perry Cavari on drums. Now in performance through May 25 at York Theatre Company’s home at Saint Peters. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.


Of course, she also had her share of misses, most famously in passing on the musical which came to be named “Oklahoma.”  
Emily Skinner, Lynne Halliday, Cameron Adams and Jason Graae in the York Theatre Company world premiere production of the new musical revue, Inventing Mary Martin, conceived, written and directed by Stephen Cole, with music supervision and arrangements by David Krane, co-direction and choreography by Bob Richard and music direction by Lawrence Goldberg. Now in performance through May 25 at York Theatre Company’s home at Saint Peters. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.

The talented cast recreating some of the songs along Mary Martin’s path include Cameron Adams, who sings and taps to perfection, Jason Graae as host and narrator, Lynne Halliday, and Emily Skinner. The latter is tasked with singing “Swatting the fly,” the big number from the show Martin, and her husband Richard Halliday, chose for her instead of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic show. 
Emily Skinner in the York Theatre Company world premiere production of the new musical revue, Inventing Mary Martin, conceived, written and directed by Stephen Cole, with music supervision and arrangements by David Krane, co-direction and choreography by Bob Richard and music direction by Lawrence Goldberg. The cast also features Cameron Adams, Jason Graae, and Lynne Halliday with Bob Renino on bass and Perry Cavari on drums. Now in performance through May 25 at York Theatre Company’s home at Saint Peters. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.

The musical arrangements, by David Krane, of classic tunes by the likes of Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and so forth, are delivered by an  off-stage trio, led by Lawrence Goldberg on the piano, with Perry Cavari on percussion and Bob Renino on bass. 

“Inventing Mary Martin” is a tuneful and well-sung remembrance of the much-awarded star that informs rather than engages. 

For more information about “Inventing Mary Martin,” and the York Theatre Company, please visit  http://www.yorktheatre.org.