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THEATRE - June 2002

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Sunday June 30

REPLACING GORDON: With the news that Gordon Davidson, the dean of Los Angeles theatre, will be leaving his post at the Mark Taper Forum, the city's theatrical community has been thrown into a bout of "institutional soul-searching." It's not that anyone thinks that won't go on without the influential Davidson - it's just that no one seems to be sure what the future will look like, and whether they'll like it when they get there. Los Angeles Times 06/29/02

Friday June 28

TAPER DIRECTOR LEAVING: Gordon Davidson is stepping down as artistic director of LA's Mark Taper Forum. "Davidson has been the artistic director of the Taper for 35 years — and of its sister theater, the Ahmanson, for 13 years — longer than any other current artistic director of a major regional theater." The New York Times 06/28/02

THE SONDHEIM CONNECTION: Washington's Kennedy Center Sondheim Festival has been a big success, critically and at the box office. So will any of the productions transfer to Broadway? It's unlikely, though several producers have taken the shuttle down to check out the shows. The New York Times 06/28/02

WHERE'S BILL MAHER WHEN YOU NEED HIM? What's a theatre company to do when the title of a classic old production risks offending the sensibilities of a modern audience? Why, change it, of course, and tradition be damned. Accordingly, a regional company in the UK will shortly be presenting a lavish production of The Bellringer of Notre Dame so as not to offend theatre-goers with scoliosis. BBC 06/28/02

Thursday June 27

TALL ORDER: "In the latest attempt to establish effective two-pronged leadership at [New York's] Joseph Papp Public Theater, the board has named Mara Manus executive director to share the helm with the producer, George C. Wolfe... Ms. Manus, who starts her new post in August, has her work cut out for her; the Public has spent the last year trying to get its house in order after two costly Broadway flops, projected budget deficits and the departure of two key donors from the board in protest over management. In addition, the theater has started a $50 million building-improvement plan, which may include the construction of a new 499-seat theater at its East Village home." The New York Times 06/27/02

THE BILLION-DOLLAR CIRQUE: Cirque du Soleil generates about $325 million with its eight troupes. The company is on a big expansion track, growing at a rate of about 25 percent a year, "rapidly expanding its film, TV, and recording operations. It already has deals with a number of big partners, including the major Canadian TV networks, Bravo in the U.S., Fuji in Japan, and Televisa in Mexico." By 2007 the company expects to top $1 billion in revenues. Businessweek 06/26/02

Tuesday June 25

DOES GOOD THEATRE TRAVEL? The Bonn Biennale of international theatre is a good idea in theory. But onme quickly understands that not all theatre travels well. "Theater is an art that is tied to locality, and the strength of those ties does not automatically correspond to aesthetic quality. A kind of dramatic theory of relativity has made itself felt in Bonn and has, broadly speaking, produced three categories of play: those that can be understood and conveyed without much trouble; those whose significance in their place of origin can at least be deduced; and those that fall flat and, torn from their originating context, come across as bizarre." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06/25/02

HIP-HOP AND THE THEATRE: There are signs that hip-hop is becoming more mainstream. And, in the process, starting to have an influence on mainstream theatre. "The message is reasonable enough: that the contemporary theater has abdicated its role in addressing contemporary life, turning a blind eye to emerging generations of artists with new and different stories to tell and a new and different way of telling them." The New York Times 06/25/02

SINKING LIKE A ROCK: It seems every old rock music act is being remade into musical theatre. Is this really a good idea? "Rock’n’roll may have done a great deal for us in terms of hair and trousers, but its adolescent insistence on cool over the musical’s reliance on joy has subsequently made us all too self-conscious to suddenly break into song." The Times (UK) 06/25/02

Monday June 24

PUBLIC THEATRE CUTS BACK: New York's Public Theatre had an artistically satisfying season. But the theatre's carrying a big debt, it laid off staff in November, and is producing only one show in Central Park this year rather than two. "Like every other cultural institution in the city, we're dealing with the realities. Instead of two shows it's one show, but it can run longer and more people can see it." The New York Times 06/24/02

THEATRE'S ANCIENT ROOTS: "In the millennium between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500, hundreds of theaters sprang up throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as in the Greek and Roman colonies. The the audience recognized itself in the mirror offered by the events on the stage. Yet even when the theater began to sever its religious roots and dilute its political element, it remained true to is original, lofty determination to promote self-knowledge. In order to function, theater in fact requires only three elements: a script, actors and an audience. Endless variations of those elements were played out in ancient times." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06/23/02

RICHARD RODGERS AT 100: "According to ASCAP, three hundred and seventy-six of Rodgers's works are still in active circulation (the Beatles, by comparison, have a mere hundred and fifty-four). Thirty movies have been made from his scores, including "The Sound of Music" (1965), which is by every standard the most successful movie musical of all time, and, if you adjust for inflation, the third-largest-grossing film, after "Gone with the Wind" and "Star Wars." Rodgers's music has been heard in two hundred and eighty-five other feature films, and in more than twenty-seven hundred television shows. If you were to calculate the number of performances that Rodgers's shows have had on Broadway, the total would be twenty thousand four hundred and fifty-seven, or, figuring eight a week, the equivalent of fifty years of a Broadway run." The New Yorker 06/24/02

BACK IN PUBLIC: Playwright Tom Stoppard is back in public. He's working at the National, and a rather thick new book about him has hit bookstores. "The fizzing cogency for which his plays are famed is hard won. He works long hours, shuns dinner parties because they conflict with his preferred working time, and has no concept of leisure, except that time devoted to his four sons (aged 27 to 36) and two grandchildren." London Evening Standard 06/21/02

REMAKING A THEATRE INSTITUTION: The annual summer Charlottetown Festival in Prince Edward Island is a cash cow with the tourist appeal of its Anne of Green Gables franchise. But in recent years artistic standards have not been high. Now Duncan McIntosh, who previously ran Edmonton's Citadel Theatre for five years is "the latest fair-haired boy to be parachuted in to save the Festival. This time, however, it may actually work." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/24/02

Sunday June 23

VALJEAN IN SHANGHAI: After several years of negotiations and logistical complexities, the world's most populous nation will, for the first time, play host to one of the West's most beloved musicals. Les Miserables, the Cameron Mackintosh production adapted from the Victor Hugo novel of French revolutionaries, will make its debut in Shanghai this weekend. The performance will be in the show's original English, with Chinese supertitles projected over the stage. BBC 06/21/02

HE'S SEEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT ON BROADWAY: Brenda and Eddie may have had it already by the summer of '75, and Anthony may have ditched his job at the grocery store to move out to the country, but the characters in those classic Billy Joel songs of yesteryear will be reunited this fall in an ambitious (and expensive) new Broadway show being put together by Joel and, of all people, choreographer Twyla Tharp. Naturally, the pressure on the creators to pull off a big shot blockbuster is quite high, and Joel is a bit nervous about his introduction to the theater crowd. No truth to the rumors of a preview run in Allentown, PA. Chicago Tribune 06/23/02

Friday June 21

BOLLYWOOD DREAMIN': It's the summer of Bollywood in London, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bollywood Dreams has opened in the West End. Is it something new and different? "It's a bold, inventive shot at something new that misses the target. Crucially the music by the famous Indian composer, AR Rahman, played by a tiny, 10-strong orchestra, falls blandly between two worlds. Far too often it sounds more western than Indian. The mix is dull." London Evening Standard 06/21/02

  • Previously: NOW FOR THE REVIEWS: Opening night audiences gave Andrew Lloyd Webber a standing ovation for his new show Bollywood Dreams. Now an anxious wait for the reviews; Lloyd Webber admits the advance ticket sale hasn't been good, and reviews are likely to determine its fate. ALW needs a hit. His last couple projects haven't fared well, and his long-running blockbusters have been closing in London and New York. BBC 06/20/02

THE GLOBE IN GERMANY: "Germany's best-kept theatrical secret is a festival of Shakespeare with stagings in - I kid you not - a Globe theatre. Unlike the London space, there is no yard for groundlings and the theatre has a canvas roof. Made of wood and steel, and painted white, the structure stands, Tardis-like, a cylinder from another world - another country, indeed - next to a not particularly attractive car park usually reserved for punters visiting Neuss's very ordinary race-course." Financial Times 06/21/02

Thursday June 20

KING ON TOP: The National tour debut of The Lion King in Dallas has been a hit. In a ten-week run the show attracted 214,000 customers and sold $13 million in tickets. The city also figures the show generated $52 million for the Denver economy. Denver Post 06/20/02

NOW FOR THE REVIEWS: Opening night audiences gave Andrew Lloyd Webber a standing ovation for his new show Bollywood Dreams. Now an anxious wait for the reviews; Lloyd Webber admits the advance ticket sale hasn't been good, and reviews are likely to determine its fate. ALW needs a hit. His last couple projects haven't fared well, and his long-running blockbusters have been closing in London and New York. BBC 06/20/02

THAT WAS FAST: Now that Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura has decided not to run for reelection, "plans for The Body Ventura" - a musical that promised, among other things, a sung-through political debate and dancing Navy SEALs - have been scrapped." St. Paul Pioneer Press 06/19/02

Tuesday June 18

WHAT EUROPEAN THEATRE LOOKS LIKE: "European theater packs itself in for a 10-day run in just one city. Bonn has become Babylon: From last Thursday until next Saturday, 27 works from 19 countries are being performed in 17 different languages." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06/17/02

SHAKESPEARE - IN NEED OF AN UPDATE? Is Shakespeare's language too archaic for the modern reader to understand? "Are non-English-speakers, as some Shakespeare scholars have suggested, more at home with their translated Shakespeare than English-speakers with their genuine article?" A new book suggests some updating and clarifications might be in order. The Economist 06/14/02

HE'S BACK... Garth Drabinsky, the Canadian theatre impressario whose empire came crashing down amid scandal a few seasons back, has won some of Toronto's top drama awards for his comeback show this past season. "Four years ago, in an unceremonious way, I was stripped of every award I ever received in theatre," he said after accepting the outstanding production award. Toronto Star 06/18/02

Monday June 17

PASSING ON PUPPETS: The Australian cities of Cairns and Bundaberg are banning performances of the show Puppetry of the Penis in their civic theatres. "The show features two men manipulating their penises and scrotum into shapes such as a hamburger, windsurfer and the Eiffel Tower. It has been seen by more than 420,000 people around the world and is now playing in New York, Canada, Germany and New Zealand." The Age (Melbourne) 06/17/02

CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS? So Broadway had its first down year in a while. "But when you consider the terrible trauma of September 11, which initially looked as if it was going to bring Broadway to its knees, the figures strike me as remarkably resilient. My hunch is that Broadway is actually faring better than the West End." The Telegraph (UK) 06/17/02

Sunday June 16

THE CASE FOR A NATIONAL THEATRE: "If the American play is ever to survive on Broadway, something must replace the function of the independent producer. To flourish, plays must have sustenance, a place to grow and a means to do so. What better environment than a national theater, right in the middle of Broadway?" The New York Times 06/16/02

  • SHOULDN'T IT BE MORE THAN BROADWAY? Lincoln Center Theater has failed its great original purpose, writes Clive Barnes. "Not from a financial point of view. In fact, I imagine the theater is nicely in the black. Money isn't the point. But for all its box-office success, the Lincoln Center Theater is doing a remarkably unadventurous job." New York Post 06/16/02

DENVER THEATRE UP: The Denver Center Theatre closed out its season with a 19 percent increase in attendance for the year. "Season-ticket sales took a beating because of the economic downturn followed by terrorism, but single-ticket sales more than made up for it." Denver Post 06/16/02

Friday June 14

TONY BOUNCE: The Tony TV ratings might have been bad, but the awards provided their usual boost at the box office. Total revenue on Broadway was up $1 million from the week before. Backstage 06/13/02

THE LOCK ON PROGRAMS: What does Playbill's purchase of Stagebill mean for theatre programs? "With Playbill the undisputed program provider of choice for Broadway and Off-Broadway, and with Stagebill similarly recognized for ballet, opera, and symphony orchestras, the combined entity will have a virtual monopoly when it comes to providing programs for New York's major performing arts venues. Because Playbill and Stagebill are also major program providers for venues in Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other cities, their combined reach will be national and unparalleled in scope." Backstage 06/13/02

LOOKING FOR SHAKESPEAREVILLE: A replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Odessa Texas isn't exactly authentic (plush seats and a climate-controlled theatre with a roof are two of the improvements), but after falling into decline after its 1960s opening, the theatre is rebuilding its fortunes. It aims to be a Texasified Shakespeare village in the tradition of Ashland Oregon, America's largest Shakespeare festival. The Independent (UK) 06/10/02

REVIEWING "DOWN THERE": They may not be willing to print the show's title in an ad, but the Birmingham News has reviewed The Vagina Monologues (where the title shows up in the lead). The BN critic even liked it - we think - calling it a "frank, funny, sometimes poignant production. Birmingham News 06/13/02

  • Previously: BIRMINGHAM PRINTS AD: The Birmingham News ran an ad for a production of The Vagina Monologues Sunday "after haggling between the play’s staff and The News." But the paper would not allow the name of the play to be used in the ad. "It was all in one font type, no headline, graphics or photographs, and it didn’t contain the title of the show. Instead, an asterisk directed interested folks to call a phone number for the name. 'Our responsibility is to our readers, to be sure no one is offended'." Tuscaloosa News 06/10/02

Thursday June 13

ANCIENT OUTDOOR THEATRE: London’s ancient amphitheatre is open again, after being buried for 1600 years. “Modern visitors will be able to follow the route taken for almost 300 years by excited Roman citizens, by gladiators who might survive to become wealthy sporting superstars, and by condemned criminals, who would certainly be torn apart by wild animals or weapons.” The Guardian (UK) 06/13/02

SHAKESPEARE IN CHINA: The Royal Shakespeare Company travels to China, where the audiences are small (it’s far too expensive for ordinary Chinese) but enthusiastic. "Chinese drama is in a critical state. The audience for theatre is very small compared to film and television. But it has a few supporters, mainly among students and better-paid clerks, and it still attracts the leading thinkers and opinion formers. Very few foreign performances are seen in Beijing, so the visit of the Royal Shakespeare Company gives us a chance to communicate with different cultures and different thoughts." The Guardian (UK) 06/13/02

JUST ONE SCENE: “Cameo. In all the lexicography of actor-speak, no single word is used so often or possesses such nuance of meaning. If Jack Nicholson only had one scene in a movie, you can bet he'd grip the wrists of friends at dinner parties and whisper: ‘It's a cameo.’ The word is a godsend. For those of you who've never asked an actor about the size of his part, cameo is a word that means small - but suggests big.” Just don’t underestimate how difficult they can be. The Guardian (UK) 06/13/02

Tuesday June 11

DENVER KILLS NEW PLAY FEST: Since 1984-85, the Denver Center Theatre Company has staged the annual TheatreFest to showcase new plays and playwrights. In 18 years the festival considered 27,000 scripts and chose more than 200 for full or partial staged readings. "Of those, 45 eventually became fully produced, making up a large chunk of the 96 world premieres the DCTC has presented in the past 23 years. But the company's budget, which comes from interest generated by Bonfils Foundation assets, was ordered cut after last year's downward market turn." So the company is suspending the $160,000 event. Denver Post 06/11/02

PROVING GROUNDS: Gone are the days when big expensive shows had their world premieres on Broadway. More often now, they debut in other cities before moving on. "Mounting a new musical in New York has become so expensive that producers are loath to take the risk of failure. They prefer to wait until shows are proven at places like Theater Under the Stars in Houston, which has just moved into a dazzling $100-million home designed especially to stage lavish musicals." The New York Times 06/11/02

BOLLYWOOD SHOWS CANCELED: In London it's the summer of Bollywood, with numerous big Indian productions setting up. But one of the biggest featuring a cast of 100, including "the best known actors and singers from Indian film" is being canceled. "The promoters of From India with Love said the shows could not be staged as the withdrawal of British embassy staff from India left them with no guarantee the cast could get visas in time." BBC 06/11/02

BIRMINGHAM PRINTS AD: The Birmingham News ran an ad for a production of The Vagina Monologues Sunday "after haggling between the play’s staff and The News." But the paper would not allow the name of the play to be used in the ad. "It was all in one font type, no headline, graphics or photographs, and it didn’t contain the title of the show. Instead, an asterisk directed interested folks to call a phone number for the name." The paper says about the originally rejected ad: "There is the name itself, ‘Vagina Monologues.’ But that was not the real issue; it was the way the layout was done.' The ad featured a microphone stand (The Vagina Monologues is performed with a bare stage, no props or sets), and double-entendre tag lines such as 'spread the word.' 'We told them, "If you’ll calm this down, we’ll run it in a heartbeat. Our responsibility is to our readers, to be sure no one is offended." Tuscaloosa News 06/10/02

YOUNG PEOPLE - SHAKESPEARE'S HIP: A new poll of young people in Britain reports that a third of young people say Shakespeare's works are "relevant to their lives and have made an important contribution to the English language. Only 3 per cent of those polled said they would feel intimidated by going to see a Shakespeare production. The survey of 15 to 35-year-olds, conducted for the Royal Shakespeare Company, also found that more of them have visited a theatre in the past year than have been to a pop concert." The Scotsman 06/11/02

Monday June 10

PLAYBILL BUYS STAGEBILL: Stagebill, one of America's leading program publishers is being acquired by Playbill, its chief competitor. "New York-based Playbill confirmed it has acquired the rights to publish under the Stagebill name, effective Sept. 1, but offered no other details on the deal, in a prepared statement Friday." Chicago Tribune 06/10/02

Sunday June 9

SUCCESS BOMB: Sweet Smell of Success was once one of the highest-touted projects coming to Broadway. And yes, it was nominated for big Tony awards. But it wasn't enough to stave off closing the show next week. Backers will have lost their entire $10 million investment. "Instead of running five years, Sweet Smell of Success barely limped its way through three months. What happened?" Washington Post 06/09/02

PROVING AN AUDIENCE FOR THE AVANT-GARDE? A new avant-garde production of King Lear in Los Angeles is carrying a lot of hopes. Produced "in six sites in a 30,000-square-foot former power plant just off the 5 Freeway, this King Lear features postmodern aesthetics, a suspended car wreck and an array of other, similarly outsized effects. Four years in the making, the production is one of the theater community's most highly anticipated events this season. However, it will be a tough ticket; only 140 people can see each show during its short run. But more than the usual wishes for a well-received production, those involved hope the success of this King Lear will prove there is, indeed, an appetite here for this kind of large-scale avant-garde work - and will justify their plans to produce more such events." Los Angeles Times 06/09/02

WHAT AILS THE TONYS: Frank Rizzo is fed up with the Tony Awards broadcast. "Last week's show on CBS was simply awful, registering the lowest ratings ever. Even the one-hour show on PBS - traditionally the smarter segment - suffered from sameness and self-importance. It doesn't have to be that way. Remember Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White in a hideous musical number at the Oscars years back? Following that humiliation, the Oscars changed. Why can't the Tonys?" Rizzo offers a list of suggestions to fix the Tonys. Hartford Courant 06/09/02

END OF AN ERA IN BOSTON: Robert Brustein has ended 22 years running American Repertory Theatre, and, in critic Ed Siegel's opinion, "the Boston area loses its most important cultural leader." His aesthetic changed the way theatre is done in Boston. Not that everything was a success - Brustein's championing of new and experimental theatre and his willingness to take chances led to a lot of duds. But "to put the best light on it, when you swing for the fences, as ART usually does, you are bound to strike out more. The hits and misses are all a function of the ART's aesthetic, one that at its most adventurous is uncompromisingly postmodernist." Boston Globe 06/09/02

Friday June 7

LEAST-WATCHED TONYS BROADCASTS STILL HELPS BOX OFFICE: Last Sunday's Tony Awards TV broadcast got its lowest ratings ever. Some blame the nationally televised Sacramento Kings/LA Lakes playoff game running opposite the awards, which attracted more than three times as many viewers. Still, plays in contention for Tonys saw box office sales double Monday after the bradcast. Baltimore Sun (AP) 06/07/02

GOT THEIR GOAT: Producers of The Goat are protesting a color ad that mistakenly got printed in this upcoming Sunday's New York Times Arts & Leisure section that proclaims that the play Metamorphoses won a Best Play Tony last weekend. But it was The Goat, the Edward Albee play that won the award. "It wasn't clear how the mix-up occurred. The section's entire run is printed Wednesday for distribution on Saturday and Sunday." Nando Times (AP) 06/06/02

Thursday June 6

BROADWAY'S OFF-YEAR: The numbers are in and they're not pretty. "A total of 10,958,432 tickets were purchased during the season, a decline of 7.9% from last year, when it reached a record-breaking 11.5 million. It was the first time the numbers fell below 11,000,000 since the 1995-1996 season. According to an in-depth analysis of the season's statistics released last week by the League of American Theatres and Producers, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the softening national economy, and 'the ensuing demographic changes of theatregoers' - meaning fewer tourists in New York City - are all to be attributed for the decline." Backstage 06/05/02

WHY I LEFT THE RSC: In March, star director Edward Hall famously quit the Royal Shakespeare Company during rehearsals for Edward III. He refused to give reasons, "beyond admitting disagreements over casting, but the press had a field day. Here was one of the rising stars of the younger generation - the kind of blade Adrian Noble's controversial restructuring was supposed to be attracting - and the son of the RSC's founder Sir Peter Hall to boot, washing his hands of the project." Now he talks about the incident: "The notion that I left that show in order to do a commercial production is insulting, preposterous and slanderous." The Telegraph (UK) 06/06/02

Wednesday June 5

CLOSING SMELL: Failing to win major Tony awards, the Sweet Smell of Success is closing on Broadway. Star John Lithgow: "A lot of critics disliked this show, and a lot of important critics disliked it a lot. The whole time I've worked on it, I've loved it and thought it was something unique and new and daring." Nando Times (AP) 06/04/02

Tuesday June 4

FLORIDA BUSH PLAYS HARDBALL: The State of Florida and Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse are in a dispute about money. The governor is threatening to veto $500,000 allocated to the theatre if the theatre's board doesn't release the state from responsibility for $15 million in maintenance for the Playhouse. "On Friday afternoon, Gov. Jeb Bush's office faxed the Playhouse an 18-line memo, which caught managers there by surprise. The state, which purchased the Playhouse property in 1980, leases it back to the board for $1 a year. But as the landlord, the state remains obligated to provide maintenance, according to the lease, which runs through 2063." Miami Herald 06/03/02

GUTHRIE DECIDES TO GO AHEAD: Though Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura vetoed $25 million in proposed state funding for the Guthrie Theatre's new theatre, "the Guthrie Theater board has decided to continue with design and pre-construction work on its $125 million complex proposed for the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 06/04/02

STRITCH SOUNDS OFF: Producers of Sunday night's Tony Awards were generally ruthless about pushing winners to keep their speeches short. Most wrapped up the talking as soon as they heard the music nudge them when their two minutes were up. One who didn't, and was caught mid-sentence was Elaine Stritch. "The 76-year-old Broadway star was thanking her producers when the orchestra started playing over her speech...'Please, don't do this to me'," she pleaded as the telecast cut to commercial. "Backstage, Stritch, crying and shaking with anger, said, 'I am very, very upset. I know CBS can't let people do the Gettysburg Address at the Tonys, but they should have given me my time'." New York Post 06/03/02

Monday June 3

THE GOAT/MILLIE TAKE TOP TONYS: Go figure - Thoroughly Modern Millie wins Best Musical at Sunday night's Tony Awards, but "the critically acclaimed but offbeat Urinetown: The Musical won for direction, score and book of a musical." So the ingredients for Urinetown were better, but Millie still made the better salad? The New York Times 06/03/02

Sunday June 2

BROADWAY - WHO AM I? "These days ... Broadway's most conspicuous malady seems to be less its economic vulnerability — though that certainly remains a concern — than a severe personality disorder. Seeking to stay healthy in an age ruled by technology and mass-produced images, the mainstream New York theater has never seemed so desperately eager to please or less sure of how to do so." The New York Times 06/02/02

  • REVIVAL FEVER: "Yes, we're living in the 21st Century. But if you look at this season's Broadway marquees - or at the nominations for tonight's 56th annual Tony Awards - you'll see Broadway remains obsessed with reviving old shows, turning movies into musicals and beefing up its box office by trading on a movie star's appeal. Whatever happened to new plays and playwrights? Challenging work? Actors committed to the stage?" Miami Herald 06/02/02
  • SERIOUS COMPETITION: Most years the big notice at the Tonys is reserved for the musicals. Not this year. This year the action's in drama, with three serious, edgy, first-rate contenders. "For those who thought the Tonys were a sanctuary for conservative old-timers, this race is a real stunner." Dallas Morning News 06/02/02
  • JAZZING UP THE TONYS: How to make the boring Tony Awards more interesting? "I'd have a show that screamed Broadway in capital lights, a spectacle that Ziegfeld wouldn't be ashamed to put his moniker on, or at least one that wouldn't make him churn up his grave after seeing it on TV. Admittedly, I haven't yet been paid to work out the details, but I could hardly do worse than has been done, could I?" New York Post 06/02/02

WHEN THE TRY-OUT GOES SOUTH: This whole business of out-of-town tryouts before bringing a show to Broadway is presumably to find out what works and fix the things that don't. But sometimes the reverse happens. The Tony-nominated Thoroughly Modern Millie, for example, started out at the La Jolla Playhouse with "a relaxed comic spirit. Its silliness didn't feel leaden; it was buoyant." By the time it got to Broadway it was clear that "the creative team went to work, and apparently couldn't stop from futzing with every single element, even the elements that worked." Chicago Tribune 06/02/02

END OF THE AVENUE: Denver says goodbye to a beloved theatre - the Avenue has lost its lease and is closing after 16 years. The place was a dump, but it was home to "perhaps the funniest theater company in Denver history". "Just the other day I was thinking, I hate this (bleep) hole. I'm not going to miss it here at all. I hate the (bleeping) leaks. It's hot in the summertime. There are mice downstairs. But now everybody's started talking and . . . Oh, this is just so sad!" Denver Post 06/02/02

REGIONAL THEATRE IN DECLINE: What happened to America's regional theatre movement? It all started so promisingly... Robert Brustein says its gone "downhill slowly but steadily, fueled by the disintegration of public finances for serious art, by dependence on the tastes of an indiscriminate subscription base, by an incursion of commercial fare into regional theaters, by the loss of a basic understanding that nonprofit theater was meant to be different than commercial theater. Over the years, nonprofit-theater executives began acting more and more like commercial producers, bringing to their communities not so much Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen - not to mention new generations of playwrights - but the best of Broadway and off-Broadway." Hartford Courant 06/02/02

LONDON'S AMERICAN ACCENT: American plays and performers have invaded London's West End, dominating this summer's offerings. "It's hard to generalize about the reasons for this, but in a London too often forced to rely on revivals, there is a great hunger for energetic new writing. The spicy, stinging dialogue of so many contemporary American plays appeals to the British, as does the size and scope that the nation's drama appears to have reacquired since it emerged from the back porch in the 1980's and early 1990's." The New York Times 06/02/02

  • AND AMERICAN STARS? "Could there also be another, less frequently cited factor that makes London attractive: that British critics are seen as something of a soft touch compared with their New York counterparts, who may in turn be less blinded by celebrity glare? One wonders, for instance, whether Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof would have prompted the same set of raves in New York." The New York Times 06/02/02