Posted in theater, ttheater etiquette

The show should go on

After a ride that was nearly epic in its awfulness, I was looking forward to a nice lunch and a good show.

It would have to be to make up for the trip and the subsequent disappointment over my meal.

Instead, it seems the theater did not get the memo that “the show must go on.”

Without understudies, there is no one to pick up the slack if someone falls ill. Is this acceptable? Is it just how it is, as a couple of patrons told me in the elevator on the way out? I think not.

The postman no longer rings twice, and you will not get your mail in a storm despite the USPS motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Now, you also can’t rely on the theatre’s most famous promise.

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Posted in dance, dance making, modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet

Fire and passion

The passion in the Tango exucdes a sexual energy fuelled by an undercurrent of violence. That is inherent to the dance, and as interpreted by Alexei Ratmasky in “Odessa” (part of the @nycballet repertory) the culturally condoned thuggishness has a distinct and distinguishing beauty.

The slaps exchanged, the hair dragged in Ratmansky’s ballet is par for the Tango’s course. The preening posture of the men in the dance and the domestic disturbances on stage in no way undermines the elegance of the piece.

Costumed by Keso Dekker, the male dancers exhibit a kind of gangster chic, while the women bear an haute peasant look.  Leonid Desyatnikov;s score evokes a Russian moment in which the underworld is exotic.

Justin Peck, NYCB principal and Choreographer in Residence, exhibits the youthful exuberance appropriate to his generation. This exuberance is brilliantly on display in “The Times Are Racing.”

Am I reading a political statement into the piece? Do the dancers wear T-shirts that say
DEFY, SHOUT, PROTEST, ACT? The music by Dan Deacon, not familiar to my years, is energizing. Standing out among the 20 brilliant dancers is Indiana Woodward, but the entire cast are wonderful.

 

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.

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Leading ttrio 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 #dystopia, drama, moving musical drama, political drama

It’s a Crime

Fucking A

By Susan Lori Parks
Directed by Jo BonneyIs it crime to be poor?

In the dystopia Suzan-Lori Parks has created in Fucking A, extended through October 8th at the Signature Theatre along with her sister play In The Blood (through 10/15,)  poverty is in and of itself a criminal act.

The anguish of the impoverished and uneducated is fundamental. A trespass leads to delinquincy, then to ever greater villainies. With a stellar cast, under the expert direction of Jo Bonney, Fucking A cuts to the bone.

The actors play instruments during the musical numbers, also written by Parks. Standouts among the ensemble include Christine Lahti as Hester Smith, Raphael Nash Thompson as Butcher, and Joaquina Kalukango as Canary Mary. The staging is simple and stirringly stark.

Parks’ ultra-Brechtian musical drama has both blood and guts.

There is still time to see Fucking A. Tickets and info at the Signature website.

Posted in acting, witty

Sophistication — Take Note

via Daily Prompt: Witty There is the kind of sophistication in which the Brits specialize; they present reams of witty dialogue. This is snappy chat that is truly old school. Of course, it’s not entirely limited to exchanges between Bond, James Bond, and Miss Moneypenny, or to Fawlty’s under his breath mutterings. Witty is not necessarily […]

via Sophistication — Take Note

Sharp, smart, quick dialog are the hallmarks and benchmarks of witty writing.

Posted in drama, theater, theater for the common good

Provocations

In the Blood By Susan Lori Parks Directed By Sarah BensonThere are so many social challenges that confront us these days that you would think we need no more provocations. Some of us, for good or ill, welcome them nonetheless.

I can’t speak for you but among the ones  I am most looking forward to are provocations by Robert O’Hara. He has written and will direct Mankind, which starts its world premiere run on December 15th at Playwrights Horizons.

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Sutter (Phillip James Brannon) with his sister (Benja Kay Thomas), mother (Jessica Frances Dukes) and stepfather (Lance Coadie Williams) in a scene from Robert O’Hara’s “Bootycandy.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

O’Hara’s recent works for @PHnyc included directing Kristen Childs’ raucus and insightful Bella: An American Tall TaleHe also directed his own exhilirating romp,  Bootycandy a few seasons ago. O’Hara’s plays tear at the fabric of our reality to offer  exciting new views and cogent, perceptive outlook. He is provocative in the best and biggest sense of the word.

Likewise, reimagining As You Like It for a new world stage resonates in the era of travel bans.
Arden/Everywhere, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center from October 8th through the 28th,  turns Shakespeare into a playwright of the diaspora. As conceived by Jessica Bauman, this refugee-centric version of the classic comedy, is about giving welcome to the unwelcome and finding a home for the exiled.

Signature Theatre is rounding out the Suzan-Lori Parks’ revision of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Fucking A and In The Blood, both extended to October 8th and 15th respectively, and known collectively as The Red Letter Plays.

In In The Blood, Hester LaNegrita (a luminous Saycon Sengbloh) is punished for sins she did not commit alone, sins in which society is hypocritically complacent. Hester not only does not get “the leg up” she needs but she is consistently kicked down. She is not an innocent, but she is a naif. A transgression may only be an error in judgement, and should not be judged so harshly as it is in Hawthorne and in The Red Letter Plays. As for the other play in this set, the title alone has some not giving its full name. I recall the stir when it first played The Public in 2003.

 

Posted in aging, comedy about a serious subject, comedy-drama, dysfunction, family, family comedy drama, family drama, mothers and sons, new dramatists, new work, Playwrights Horizons, serious comedy, spendthrift

Mom

The TreasurerSeptember 06, 2017 – October 22, 2017 Peter Jay Sharp Theater Written by Max Posner Directed by David Cromer
Pun Bandhu & Peter Friedman in a scene from The Treasurer. Photo © Joan Marcus. Note the modern industrial sets by Laura Jellinek.

Family often cuts to the heart of who we are.

Relationships that can be kind can also be cruel, as we find in Max Posner’s The Treasurer, at Playwrights Horizons through October 22nd extended to November 5th, under David Cromer’s direction, a comedy about family, aging, guilt and dying.

Caring for an aging parent who abandoned him when he was 13 is a huge and unwelcome responsibility for The Son (Peter Friedman).

His mother sees it differently. Her version is less dramatic. “Everybody gets divorced,” Ida Armstrong (the wonderful Deanna Dunagan) tells Ronette, (Marinda Anderson) a shop clerk at Talbot’s.

The TreasurerSeptember 06, 2017 – October 22, 2017 Peter Jay Sharp Theater Written by Max Posner Directed by David Cromer
Deanna Dunagan & Marinda Anderson. Photo © Joan Marcus

Ida’s charm is seductive. Her conversations, like her exchange with Julian (Pun Bandhu), a young man she memory-dials, make promises which are then also abandoned. Profligacy has left Ida penniless and dependent on the charity of The Son and his brothers, Allen and Jeremy (Marinda Anderson and Pun Bandhu on the phone). Her continued spending evades The Son’s best efforts as the titular “Treasurer” and leaves him frustrated. Friedman’s narrative is delivered with a nonchalant grace.

The Treasurer could have gone in any number of directions, but Posner’s play goes on its surreal path in an unexpected if foreshadowed course. The result, or rather, the conclusion, is not fully satisfying.

For more information and tickets, please visit the @PHnyc website.