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THEATRE - February 2000

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  • ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD: The commercial theater business has been booming. But ominous signs are afoot. Some are proclaiming the end of the mega-musicals, the engine that has been driving business on Broadway and on the road. What's to replace the big musicals on the touring circuit? Boston Globe 02/27/00

  • Where's new work to come from - and, almost more important, where are the places for it to go? Boston Globe 02/27/00 

  • DON'T BEAT A DEAD "CATS": Please oh please oh please say it isn't so - since the announcement that "Cats" will close in June, ticket sales have sky-rocketed, making it the hottest show on Broadway. The whiff of "extend-me" is in the air. New York Times 02/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THE WOMAN WHO SHOT ANDY WARHOL: Should you like her never-produced, long-forgotten play? Nah. But that's not the point, says a San Francisco producer, who's presenting the play in tandem with an Arthur Miller play about censorship to "make a point about currents of 'repression' in the United States." Salon 02/23/00 

  • WHAT'S SO FUNNY? On Broadway, not much these days, where comedies have dried up. Where have all the laffs gone? To TV, mostly. But let's also blame the Zeitgeist. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/21/00

  • OLD ACTORS NEVER DIE... Young people bring enthusiasm, older people bring experience. More and more older Americans are performing in "senior theaters." San Francisco Examiner 02/21/00 

  • THE LAST MEOW: "Cats," Broadway's longest-running production ever, will close in June, after 18 years. New York Times 02/20/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • LONDON'S OLIVIER AWARDS honor Peter O'Toole, "Lion King". BBC 02/19/00

  • List of Olivier theater award winners. BBC 02/19/00

  • A SATURDAY NIGHT 40 YEARS AGO: A Stephen Sondheim show, written four decades ago, finally gets its premiere. New York Times 02/18/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

  • LET FREEDOM RING: Philadelphia's Freedom Theatre, one of the city's major African American cultural institutions, this week opens a new $7 million performing venue. The effort to open nearly killed it with debt. The enterprise is alive only by "slashing the staff by more than half, reducing the annual budget by a third, establishing a five-year plan of financial recovery, and raising money." Philadelphia Inquirer 02/16/00

  • DISNEY creates new theater division to produce live Broadway and road company projects. Backstage 02/15/00

  • THEATRE DICTATE: A study for the Arts Council of England finds that traditional "text-based" drama is rapidly losing its appeal to modern audiences. "A funding review of 50 theatres, mainly in the provinces but including some noted London venues outside the West End, has found an alarming decline in the popularity of conventional plays. The review suggests that 'live theatre', such as laser, acrobatic and video spectacles, have wider appeal and should be embraced by theatres as a condition of receiving public grants." London Telegraph 02/14/00

  • MISSING THE MEGAS: As the era of the mega-musicals on Broadway wanes, theatres around the country that count on the shows to fill their seasons face difficult times. Hartford Courant 02/13/00 

  • LES MIZERABLE: Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg are used to the success of the giant hits they have written in "Les Miserables" and "Miss Saigon." The current failure of "Martin Guerre" and producer Cameron Mackintosh's decision to cancel a Broadway run leaves the duo humbled. Los Angeles Times 02/13/00

  • THE THEATRE PROBLEM? Stephen Sondheim goes to London and sounds off about the current state of theater: "It's quite discouraging to see that London is slowly becoming like Broadway," he says. He bemoans the fact that Americans are drawn to productions whose values are based less on the words and the music than the length of the spectacle and the number of scenery changes. He is most frightened by the lack of serious plays on Broadway. In his opinion, audiences in London have broader tastes, attend more regularly and treat the theatre as enjoyment rather than a chore. The British hunger for challenging productions has helped to provide opportunities for new talent, from the West End to the fringe. London Sunday Times 02/13/00

  • A VISION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY: For 22 years playwright August Wilson has been writing plays to tell a story of Black American history of the 20th Century; along the way refinements, but the goal has remained constant. Chicago Tribune 02/09/00 

  • TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT: A historic first-meeting of Shakespeare experts from around the English-speaking world in Stratford sparks raging debates about performance practice for the Bard. Backstage 02/08/00

  • FIRST THINGS FIRST: "Stories may make plays, but people make stories. People come first. Why, I wonder, do so many playwrights have such a hard time with this seemingly simple notion? Why do their characters seem an afterthought, making little sense and possessing little substance? Why do writers for the stage persist in putting ideas ahead of people, rather than permitting themes to emerge, peekaboo-style, from the welter of human feelings and behavior?" Philadelphia Inquirer 02/07/00

  • 24-HOUR THEATER: Chicago theater, written, rehearsed and performed in a 24-hour period - theater without a net. New York Times 02/06/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BRING OUT YOUR DEAD: New Chicago series mounts old Broadway musicals that haven't been produced in years. The classic shows are resurrected and produced in concert version. Chicago Sun-Times 02/04/00 

  • OF WRITING AND PLAYWRITING: Elie Wiesel is a great writer. But as a playwriter... Dallas Morning News 02/03/00

  • CONSUMER REPORTS: A new book finds British theater critics in a state of disarray. Some blame editors for making their jobs harder. Others report a dichotomy between older and younger critics. "The older generation instinctively sees theatre as central to our culture. Younger critics won't talk about theatre as a serious art medium. They question it all the time." The Independent 02/02/00

  • SHAKESPEARELAND: London's Globe Theater, a replica of the building where Shakespeare's plays were first performed, announces a new exhibition, said to the be the largest ever dedicated to England's greatest writer. The exhibit is expected to attract up to 400,000 visitors a year. Those visitors "will be able to compose their own sonnet with a quill, watch displays of swordplay and even join in a production through micro-camera technology." The Times of India (Reuters) 02/02/00

  • LACK OF BROADWAY DRAMAS has some in the theater business lamenting the Disneyfication of Broadway and wondering if there's a crisis in American theater. CBC 02/02/00