I had to go straight from a meeting of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle to an off-Broadway show, so I didn’t have a chance to post the winners of our annual awards, on which we voted this afternoon. To find out who won what, go here.
Archives for April 2010
Some anonymous scoundrel for whom hell isn’t nearly hot enough hacked ArtsJournal on Monday night, thereby bringing down the whole site and all of its associated blogs, this one included. Our Girl, CAAF, and I haven’t able to post anything since Tuesday morning, and though the malicious malware that shut us down is long gone, the lights didn’t go back on for many readers until just a few minutes ago.
Doug McLennan, who runs ArtsJournal, explains what happened–and why Google has wrongly kept you from reading this blog for the past couple of days–in this posting.
As of this hour, all of our accumulated postings are now published and we’re back in business again. Profuse apologies if you’ve been trying in vain to pay us a visit. Believe me, we’re glad to be back!
In today’s Wall Street Journal drama column, I cover the opening of the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences, a great American play in which Viola Davis is giving the performance of a lifetime. I also have a few things to say about Enron. Here’s an excerpt.
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Denzel Washington is by far the biggest name associated with the first Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” but my guess is that it’s Viola Davis whose performance is going to stick with you. Not that Mr Washington is anything less than solid, but Ms. Davis is something else again. I knew she was a remarkable artist–anyone who saw her in the Off-Broadway premiere of Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel” or the film version of John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” knows that–but what she’s doing this time around goes straight into my scrapbook of stage performances from which you learn how brutally true to life great acting can be….
It was Wilson’s special achievement to forge the everyday speech of working-class blacks into a language poetic enough to encompass tragedy. Time and again in “Fences” the actors utter sentences so pointed that they make you want to laugh out loud with delight: “I told him if he wasn’t the marrying kind, then move out the way so the marrying kind could find me.” “The only thing I knew was the time had come for me to leave my daddy’s house. And right there the world suddenly got big.”
Ms. Davis speaks her share of these sentences with relish, but she also makes us see their meaning. When Mr. Washington confesses that he has betrayed her, she appears to shrink before your eyes. “You telling your wife this?” she cries. “I have to wait 18 years to hear something like this?” Then her arms flail at random, as if she were a puppet whose strings had been clipped by despair….
Can good topical theater be spun out of nine-year-old news? Maybe, but you won’t prove it by Lucy Prebble’s “Enron,” a ripped-from-the-headlines black comedy about the rise and fall of the corporation whose 2001 collapse sent shivers through the world of finance that are felt to this day. Rupert Goold’s ultra-flashy production abounds with high-tech stage trickery, none of which manages to conceal the thinness and triviality of Ms. Prebble’s surprisingly unamusing script….
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Read the whole thing here.
In Saturday’s “Sightings” column for The Wall Street Journal, I pay tribute to Gene Lees, the song lyricist and music journalist whose passing I noted last week. Gene, whom I had the honor to know for the last twenty-odd years of his life, was a greatly gifted writer and a lovable–if difficult–man, and I did my best to convey something of his complex essence in this piece.
If you’re curious, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Journal and see what I have to say.
UPDATE: Read the whole thing here.
“Passion persuades me one way, reason another. I see the better and approve it, but I follow the worse.”
Here’s my list of recommended Broadway, off-Broadway, and out-of-town shows, updated weekly. In all cases, I gave these shows favorable reviews (if sometimes qualifiedly so) in The Wall Street Journal when they opened. For more information, click on the title.
Warning: Broadway shows marked with an asterisk were sold out, or nearly so, last week.
• A Behanding in Spokane (black comedy, PG-13, violence and adult subject matter, closes June 6, reviewed here)
• La Cage aux Folles * (musical, PG-13, adult subject matter, reviewed here)
• Fela! (musical, PG-13, adult subject matter, reviewed here)
• God of Carnage (serious comedy, PG-13, adult subject matter, closes June 27, reviewed here)
• Million Dollar Quartet (jukebox musical, G, reviewed here)
• South Pacific (musical, G/PG-13, some sexual content, brilliantly staged but unsuitable for viewers acutely allergic to preachiness, closes Aug. 22, reviewed here)
• Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (comedy, G, suitable for bright children, original Broadway production reviewed here)
• Avenue Q (musical, R, adult subject matter and one show-stopping scene of puppet-on-puppet sex, reviewed here)
• The Fantasticks (musical, G, suitable for children capable of enjoying a love story, reviewed here)
• The Glass Menagerie (drama, G, too dark for children, closes June 13, reviewed here)
• Our Town (drama, G, suitable for mature children, reviewed here)
• The Temperamentals (drama, PG-13, adult subject matter, reviewed here)
CLOSING NEXT WEEK OFF BROADWAY:
• The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Parts 1, 2, and 3 (drama, G/PG-13, too complicated for children, now being performed in rotating repertory, closes May 8, reviewed here, here, and here)
“I’m acting for the audience, not for myself, and I do it as directly as I can.”
James Cagney, Cagney by Cagney
Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys play “Roanoke” in 1955:
(This is the latest in a weekly series of arts-related videos that appear in this space each Wednesday.)
“Struggling young repertory actors believe too fervently in themselves and their prospects ever to entertain the conscious thought that their backers can suffer–or, at any rate, the thought that their backers can suffer in anything but a noble cause.”
Patrick Hamilton, Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse
Who painted this unsigned watercolor?
If you need a hint–and you almost certainly will–the painter once made the following remark:
We should never judge artists by their political views. The imagination they need for their work deprives them of the ability to think in realistic terms.
Care to venture a guess? If not, search for the quote and you’ll find out the answer….