last weeks stories
nesletter sign up
THEATRE - June 2001

Arts Journal Home Page
PublishingTheatreVisual ArtsArts IssuesPeople

common threadsarts watchletters
issues archive

October 02
September 02
August 02
July 02
June 02
May 02
April 02
March 02
February 02
January 02

December 01
November 01
October 01
September 01

August 01
July 01
June 01
May 01
April 01
March 01
February 01
January 01

December 00
November 00
October 00
September 00
August 00
July 00
June 00
May 00
April 00
March 00
Feb 00
Jan 00

Dec 99
Nov 99
Oct 99
Sept 99

yesterday's storiesArts BeatSearchContact Us

News Service Home`ServicesDigest SamplesHeadline Samples








Friday June 29

REMEMBER ABBA? IF YOU DON'T, YOU SOON WILL: Mamma Mia!, a mother-daughter story built around 22 songs by Swedish vocal group that collapsed twenty years ago, opens on Broadway in October. Not just opens, but opens big. It's now booking through September 2002, and at $100 a ticket, it ties The Producers as the most expensive show in town. New York Daily News 06/29/01

REMEMBERING RICHARD RODGERS: It's the centennial year of the composer's birth. On tap: Broadway revivals of The Boys from Syracuse and Oklahoma; London revivals of South Pacific and The Sound of Music; special shows at MOMA, the Met, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian; TV documentaries and books; a dedicated website. And a nomination for Rodgers-to-remember: "No Other Love," adapted from the score for Victory at Sea - musical swords into plowshares. Broadwayonline 06/28/01

Monday June 25

FOR WHAT AILS YE: Shakespeare fans aren't happy with recently announced plans to restructure Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company. "It seems that the RSC's artistic director, Adrian Noble, became bored with directing Shakespeare a few years ago - indeed, he has pretty much said so. Now he seems also to have got bored both with the Stratford theatres and with London's Barbican spaces. I am sorry for him, yet, I must confess, not all that sympathetic." New Statesman 06/25/01

WHYFORE ART THOUGH DRAMATURG? It seems like every theatre these days employs a dramaturg. But these so-called "conscience of the theatre" figures are a sign of something wrong in the creative process. "There are many excellent dramaturgs, just as there are many excellent designated hitters in the American League. But the designated-hitter rule, because it creates an unnecessary team member, is a disservice to baseball, and the emergence of the dramaturg as a distinct position is likewise a disservice to the theater." Chronicle of Higher Education 06/25/01

OVERREACHING OR MICROMANAGING? Did Long Wharf Theatre artistic director Doug Hughes resign over a personality dispute with the company's board chairperson, or was he pushed into resigning? Was it a power struggle? A case of a micro-managing board chair or an overreaching artistic director? The New York Times 06/25/01 (one-time registration required for access)

COLD - REAL COLD: Now they're voting not only on who ought to be the National Theatre's next artistic director, but when current director Tony Nunn ought to leave. "A British poll reports that The poll of 1,000 theatre goers showed that 88% would prefer Trevor Nunn to step down as soon as possible." BBC 06/25/01

Sunday June 24

IRRATIONAL NATIONALISM: British theatre critics have made a habit (and, some would say, a crusade) of beating mercilessly any London production that has enjoyed previous success in America. "Having a hit in New York seems to be the best way to ensure that your play is panned in London, so why do so many American dramatists persist in casting their pearls before swinish British critics?" The Observer (UK) 06/24/01

NUNN'S HABITS: Trevor Nunn has come under almost continuous fire since taking over the helm of Britain's National Theatre, yet, under his leadership, the National has achieved near-unprecedented success. This contradiction doesn't surprise one critic: "Nunn is a hard man to warm to - there is something defensive in his manner, and a touch of the martyr about him. But it seems to me that his first three-and-a-half years at the NT, though troubled at times by flops and disappearing directors, have produced an often outstanding body of work in which quality has been mixed with the best kind of populism." The Telegraph (London) 06/23/01

Thursday June 21

MERCHANT OF STEREOTYPING: Canada's Stratford Theatre has made changes in its production of Merchant of Venice after Canadian Muslims protested the production's stereotyping of a minor character. "Apparently, [the director] inhabits some cultural bubble where anti-Semitic jokes have been banished but anti-Islamic ones are still hilarious." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/21/01

THE POLITICS OF BUILDING: Dublin's Abbey Theatre has a long and glorious history. But its building is decrepit and hardly worthy of a national institution, and there are plans to replace it. But how to do it? Controversy dogs all the options. The New York Times 06/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday June 19

GRAND PLANS: "The Grand Canyon will serve as the panoramic backdrop for a single performance combining music, dance and theater in one of six huge-scale projects announced Monday by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts." Nando Times (AP) 06/19/01

Sunday June 17

MIDDLE AGE BLUES: Last week's abrupt resignation of Doug Hughes as director of Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre "raises larger questions facing regional theaters as they move from an era based on the vision of its founding fathers (and mothers) to one based on new generations of artistic leaders dealing with boards more willing to shape the institution. One thing is clear. This matter has nothing to do with art but rather the art of getting along." Hartford Courant 06/17/01

Thursday June 14

SHORT (OF CASH) VIC: London's Young Vic theatre asked for £6 million from the Lottery fund but got only £250,000. "We really have a crisis. The building is falling down. It was built in 1970 as a series of breeze blocks on top of each other, a temporary structure. We have to spend £80,000 each year on repairs just to keep the building open. We had been led to believe we would get more." The Independent (UK) 06/13/01

Wednesday June 13

BOUNCED FROM BROADWAY: The Bells are Ringing closed on Broadway last weekend, but 18 members of the company have complained that their checks bounced. "In a business where many deals are still made with a handshake and a good name is perhaps an entrepreneur's most valuable asset, this is shaping up as a public relations nightmare for the producers." The New York Times 06/13/01 (one-time registration required for access)

PRESERVING THE SHOW: Theatre is a fleeting art - once a show closes its run, there is little left to preserve it. But a few collectors have always recognized the value of storing away as many aspects of theatre's history as can be gathered, and the results can be surprisingly effective in guarding the memory of long-forgotten productions. The oldest such collection in the U.S. is at Harvard University, and celebrating its centennial. Boston Phoenix 06/13/01

Sunday June 10

WHAT'S NEW IN MOSCOW: "Throughout the 1990's, a time when Russian culture, society and politics were in turmoil, Russian directors largely ignored contemporary plays and retreated to the stability and familiarity of the classics." Now a contemporary play - hated by critics but a major hit with audiences, looks like a signal that contemporary theatre is reviving in Russia. The New York Times 06/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THEATRE OLYMPICS: "which originated in 1995 in Delphi, Greece, and continued in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1999 before coming to Moscow this spring — is bigger than ever. Nearly 150 productions from 35 countries as far-flung from Russia's capital as Colombia and Australia are being presented during the 70-day extravaganza." The New York Times 06/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

PERSONAL STRUGGLES: The sudden resignation of Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre artistic director Doug Hughes is a sign of the changing power structures in the American regional theatre movement... Hartford Courant 06/10/01

  • SEASON CRUMBLES: With Hughes gone, some actors pull out of the upcoming season. Now four of next season's eight plays are out of the lineup. Hartford Courant 06/10/01

Friday June 8

SHOULD AWARDS BE DITCHED? There are too many awards. They encourage all the wrong sorts of behavior. So "should there be a moratorium on theatre awards? Is the whole process corrupt, commercial, absurd? Are there just too many awards? Or is award-granting a real service to the theatre communityfland to the public at large?" Backstage 06/07/01

TIME TO MOVE ON: Broadway's Tony awards have been handed out, confirming what everyone knew - it was a disappointing year for the Great White Way, unless your name was Mel Brooks. Expensive fiascoes and ambitious failures abounded, but the new season looks more promising, if somewhat less adventurous. New York Post 06/08/01

A LOT OF NIGHT MUSIC: "After three months of anticipation, an unexpected lineup of directors was announced... for the Kennedy Center's "Sondheim Celebration," six musicals by the composer that will be performed in repertory next year at the Eisenhower Theater." The ambitious project will cost $10 million. Washington Post 06/08/01

ENGLISH RULES: "The language of international commerce is perceived as cosmopolitan, cool and attractive to a younger, increasingly sophisticated audience - which is why it is used to advertise everything from cigarettes to high fashion." Theatre too. Frankfurt's English Theatre is thriving - in fact it's the cool place for Germans to hang out. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06/08/01

UNSUNG: Broadway's conductors are a largely anonymous crew, coping with changes in the making of music for the stage. Remember the days when saxes and horns actually blew their notes to the audience rather than into close mikes? The New York Times 06/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Thursday June 7

LET'S CANCEL THE TONYS ON TV: So this year's Tony broadcast's ratings went up. "In principle, the show's mix of artistic celebration and commercial improvement sounds great. If the Tony telecast could bring bigger audiences to Broadway without doing more harm than good, who would complain? But it can't. The Tony telecast diminishes what the Tony awards celebrate, and a great deal more besides, and ought to disappear before it can do so again." The New Republic 06/06/01

Wednesday June 6

HUGHES QUITS: By most accounts, over the past four years Doug Hughes had reinvigorated New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre as its artistic director, and had ambitious plans for the future. But Monday he abuptly resigned, citing an "unworkable" relationship with the chairwoman of the board of trustees. It's a tangled story some are having difficulty swallowing. Hartford Courant 05/06/01

ALSO RANS ALSO CLOSE: Two more Broadway shows announce they're closing after a lack of any boost from last weekend's Tonys. That's four shows that have called it quits this week. Backstage 06/06/01

COMMITED THEATRE: Ten Thousand Things Theatre is a behind-bars operation - prison bars, that is. Company members say inmates are a more commited audience than those on the outside. "Our paying audiences are more reserved, and that throws the actors. After our touring shows [in prisons], it sort of feels like the audience is only halfway there." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/04/01

PRODUCING "BLAND POP CULTURE?" The Producers is touted as a victory over "show-business corporate-think that creates... bland pop culture." But from a contrarian point of view, the show might be seen rather as a victory for show-business corporate-think. It's surely a victory for producers: ticket sales tripled after the show swept the Tony Awards. The Tonys also appeared to boost ticket sales for Proof and 42nd Street. Other nominees who didn't win are closing, including Jane Eyre, Bells Are Ringing and A Class Act. New York Review of Books 06/21/01 & New York Post 06/05/01

A GAY PLAY? REALLY? NY theatre critics Ben Brantley and John Simon were guests on Charlie Rose last week, when the conversation took a bizarre turn: " 'There's a type of play that Ben likes that I don't,' Simon said. 'For lack of a better word, I would call it the homosexual play.' Brantley looked stun- ned. 'I don't quite categorize it like that,' he replied. 'Well . . . sometimes categories creep up on one without one's even realizing that they're there,' lectured Simon." New York Post 06/06/01

Tuesday June 5


  • The New York Times says ratings for Sunday's Tony Awards broadcast stayed flat: "The fast national rating — meaning an early tally — for the two-hour CBS portion of the broadcast was a 6.4. That is only a slight improvement over the record low last year, when the fast national rating for the CBS broadcast was 6.1, down from 7.0 in 1999."
  • Meanwhile, reports that "according to preliminary 'fast affiliate' Nielsens, the CBS coverage averaged a 2.5 rating, 6 share among adults 18-49 and a 6.4/10 in households. That 2.5/6 kept CBS an unimpressive fourth for the time period, but represents a stout 32 percent improvement over last year's 1.9/5.

GOODBYE BRITS: "The success of The Producers and 42nd Street surely marks the last rites of the doomy, gloomy through-sung British blockbusters that conquered the world in the Eighties and kept on running for most of the Nineties. The joy in New York at getting back to what it has always done best is everywhere apparent, not least at Sunday night's Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall." The Telegraph (UK) 06/05/01

INVENTING (AND MOCKING) MIDDLE-CLASS MANNERS: Molière "thought that it was the job of society to bring sex and love into a single official currency, and the job of comedy to announce the unofficial, black-market rate of exchange." His plays may have been the stuff of sit-coms, but his life was more like a soap opera. The New Yorker 06/04/01

Monday June 4

PRODUCERS PRODUCES: True to predictions, The Producers walked away with most of the trophies at Sunday night's Tony Awards. Producers won a record 12 Tonys. "The show had already broken two Broadway records, selling more than $3 million worth of tickets the day after it opened and drawing 15 Tony nominations, beating the previous record, held by Company in 1971." The New York Times 06/04/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • STRONGEST LINK: " 'Voting people off the island' is part of what Tony voters have done by giving The Producers every one of the record 12 Tonys for which it was nominated - the small island of Manhattan doesn't have room for everyone. For some shows, closing notices will not be long in waiting. For a few besides The Producers - Proof, 42nd Street - awards will lead to profitable tours into that larger world for which Broadway is the tryout." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/04/01
  • BACKSTAGE quotes at the Tonys... 06/03/01
  • CHRONOLOGY OF A PHENOMENON: The Producers from the start... 06/03/01

DEFENDING THE RSC: The Royal Shakespeare Company's Adrian Noble has been taking heat for his plans to restructure the company. "Noble envisages a revitalised Stratford that is a mecca for artists, a centre of scholarship and a place that offers audiences flexible performance spaces. He vehemently justifies the new system on both practical and philosophical levels." The Guardian (UK) 06/04/01

I'LL REVIEW WHEN (IF) I WANT TO: The Auckland Theatre Company had announced a new policy where special "media night" performances of new plays would be held for critics. But reviewers for New Zealand's publications - including the NZ Herald - protested, insisting on being able to see whatever performances they wanted. So the theatre has backed down. New Zealand Herald 06/04/01

Sunday June 3

STORY TIME: As recently as last year, many were saying that the days of story musicals was over. But this season proved that stories can still rule and that grand concept isn't everything. Dallas Morning News 05/03/01

MISSING IN ACTION: Where did the Brits go on Broadway? "First, they can't get a movie to Cannes, and now they're being eclipsed in New York, a city whose Anglomania is nowhere more evident than in its theatre." Sunday Times (UK) 06/03/01

THERE ARE OTHER SHOWS YOU KNOW... Maybe it's difficult to remember back that far, but before The Producers hit Broadway and became a sensation, there were other shows thought to be pretty good. In the wake of Producers mania, other Broadway shows have had to adjust their pitches. "Because we opened so early in the season, we've had to remind everybody that we were once embraced by the press like they are." Los Angeles Times 06/03/01

Friday June 1

ANOTHER BROADWAY RECORD: Broadway had another record year at the box office. "The take for the current season was $665 million, up from the running total of $603 million for the 1999-2000 season (which itself was up from $588 for the 1998-1999 season). Attendance is also up, with paid attendance increasing from 11.4 million for the 1999-2000 season to 11.9 million for the 2000-2001 season." 05/31/01