Really great news

Photos by Kevin Sprague©2012John Douglas Thompson has won the prestigious Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance in Satchmo at the Waldorf, my first play, which is currently running off Broadway at the Westside Theatre.

Here’s what it means, from the official website:

Drama Desk Awards, which are given annually in a number of categories, are the only major New York theater honors for which productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway compete against each other in the same category. Formed in 1949 by a group of New York theater critics, editors, reporters, and publishers, the organization was created to educate the community on vital issues concerning the theater.

I’m thrilled. He’s thrilled. We’re all thrilled.

To see who else won, plus a complete list of nominees, go here.

If you haven’t seen Satchmo at the Waldorf yet, time is running out—don’t wait. Go here to order tickets or for more information.

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Three critics in search of a season

edward-hopper-two-on-the-aisle.jpg.pngNow available in streaming video, here’s the latest episode of CUNY-TV’s Theater Talk, which aired over the weekend.

The official blurb:

Theater Talk welcomes critics Ben Brantley of The New York Times, Peter Marks of The Washington Post and Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal, reviewing some of the important productions of the Spring 2014 Broadway season.

We had fun taping it. I hope you have fun watching it:

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Promises kept

INN AT STONINGTONJust as I promised, Mrs. T and I pulled up stakes last Tuesday, made our unhurried way to the Connecticut coast, and checked into a cozy room at the Inn at Stonington, the place where Hope Springs was filmed. (While we were at it, we also went to Mystic Pizza.) We then spent the rest of the week doing nothing in particular. Instead of going to shows and writing about them, I slept late, ate good dinners, relished the salt air, drove randomly around the countryside, watched Citizen Kane and the first episode of John Malkovich’s passably promising new network TV series, read in bed, listened to Chopin and William Walton, and otherwise played professional hooky. Neither of us was remotely ready to go back home when our little holiday was over.

Not only did I put aside all thought of work, but I kept yet another promise by eschewing the department of literature that Jeeves called “improving books,” plunging straight into George Simenon’s Pietr the Latvian and The Late Monsieur Gallet, the first two Maigret novels. They are plain, laconically told tales of violence and obsession set against a contrasting backdrop of ordinary bourgeois life, and I found them as diverting in their quintessentially French way as the mysteries of Rex Stout, the spy stories of William Haggard, or the crime novels of Elmore Leonard. I expect I’ll be reading a great deal more about Inspector Maigret from now on.

Having recently heard of yet another study which purports to demonstrate that vacations provide no long-lasting psychological benefits to those who take them, I take leave to sneer at science. No doubt it’s true, but so what? I enjoyed our four days off more than I’ve enjoyed anything that’s happened to me in recent weeks—except, of course, for this.

CARSON'S STORE IN NOANKAbove all, I enjoyed driving around Stonington and its environs with Mrs. T, gazing with pleasure at eighteenth- and nineteenth-century seaside houses and stopping wherever and whenever it suited us to do so. What’s more, I was delighted to learn that my brother and sister-in-law, in a perfect interfamilial harmonic convergence, took the same week off and spent it in Gatlinburg, the Tennessee resort town to which my parents brought David and me many times in our youth (and to which I returned seven years ago on a sentimental journey).

I love my life, but I also love being able to step outside it and let the world happen to me in its own good time. That’s what it means to go on a holiday, if it means anything at all. I eat far too many meals with one eye on the clock and read far too many books in order to write about them. It took me long enough to learn the importance of taking breaks from my daily rounds, gratifying though they are, and I expect to continue taking as many as I can before those rounds draw at last to their inescapable close.

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Just because: backstage at Gypsy

TV CAMERAAn extremely rare clip of Ethel Merman appearing on Gypsy, Gypsy Rose Lee’s TV talk show, in 1965. The segment includes footage from home movies shot at rehearsals for the original Broadway production of Gypsy, which was freely based on Lee’s life:

(This is the latest in a series of arts-related videos that appear in this space each Monday and Wednesday.)

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