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 Bullets over Broadway, Cinderella, Mamma Mia, news from the rialto, Phantom, Susan Stroman, Thursday is matinee day, Woody Allen

Broadway Melodies

Broadway welcomes the Thursday matinee! At last.

When I was last in London a gazillion years ago, I was thrilled to have the chance to go to a Thursday matinee, as well as the usual Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday ones. One more outing in a week full of theater adventures. I always thought it was a great idea to spread out the matinees so binge goers, and out- of-towners eager to see whatever was on on the Great White Way could do more with their week in New York.

Three shows now offering you the Thursday option are “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” ”Mamma Mia!” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” ”Matilda the Musical” (reviewed with the current cast in these pages recently) may give the idea a try this summer.

“Cinderella” now features the enormously likeable Fran Drescher as the wicked stepmother. The infectious gaiety that is “Mamma Mia,” which is also playing Vegas as it happens, has recently moved to the Broadhurst Theatre on W44th Street. “The Phantom of the Opera” is celebrating more than 25 years at The Majestic.

“Phantom,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Rock Of Ages,” and “Chicago” have long also had Monday night curtains, another great way to extend the Broadway week.

Charlotte D’Amboise as Roxie Hart with Ryan Worsing and
Michael Cusumano in a production of “Chicago.” Photo by Jeremy Daniel

This show does not have a Thursday matinee, or a Monday night, so you’ll have to stick to one of the more traditional days to see “Bullets Over Broadway” which, by the way hits the bull’s eye.

“Bullets…,” based on the Woody Allen film from 1995, and written by Mr. Allen and Douglas McGrath (who also penned “Beautiful…”) starts off with a bang– in case you’re worried that you are in the wrong theater, a machine gun sprays the play’s title on the inside curtain– and doesn’t let up ’til the final curtain drops. The musical’s style rings in a little like “The Producers,” which Susan Stroman also famously directed and choreographed. Stroman’s signature dancing in unconventional locales has a tap chorus hoofing fiercely on top of the train headed for out-of-town tryouts.

In an impressive cast, Nick Cordero is a revelation as the soulful thug Cheech. Marin Mazzie gives her all as an egocentric star on the wane. This is a Tony-worthy performance.


“Bullets” does something that Broadway hasn’t done since the beginning of the last century, using standards and in a way that generally is not done– the tunes, by Cole Porter and others– move the story along and further the plot.

Visit http://cinderellaonbroadway.comhttp://mammamianorthamerica.comhttp://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/new-york to learn more about Thursday matinees, or any other day you’d care to catch them. Go to http://www.chicagothemusical.com/index.php to find out more about “Chicago.” For more information on “Bullets,” visit http://bulletsoverbroadway.com.