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THEATRE - September 2000

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Friday September 29

  • PLAY BY PLAY: A look at one New York repertory company’s play-selection process: "A nonprofit theater's season planning is a craft all its own, one of mundane logistical maneuvering as well as lofty creative ambition; of sleepless-night angst and pride-swelling triumph; of big-picture matters like building audiences and details as precise as choosing a hat." New York Times 09/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • 151 DAYS AND COUNTING: Despite the efforts of federal mediators, negotiations between actors and the advertising industry collapsed Wednesday, dashing hopes of an imminent end to the bitter 5-month work stoppage. "The unions are now expected to intensify their strike. SAG president Daniels has threatened to ‘unleash celebrities’ in a massive public relations blitz against advertisers. " Backstage 09/28/00

Thursday September 28

  • ODD COUPLE: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton's collaborative musical opens in London's West End. "Sadly, hopes that The Beautiful Game might prove a Northern Irish West Side Story are hardly realised. Indeed, at worst the piece comes over like Grease-meets-Riverdance with the odd bit of earnest Eltonesque moralising thrown in. Working with Elton has certainly loosened Lloyd Webber up as both composer and producer." The Telegraph (London) 09/28/00
    • UNLIKELY PARTNERS: "Well, they don't come together quite as successfully as they clearly hope that peace-loving Ulster Catholics will come together both with Protestants and with their own more bellicose elements." The Times (London) 09/28/00
    • More reviews

Wednesday September 27

  • RUMORS OF ITS DEATH… Even before the British Arts Council promised £37 million in additional funding, there were plenty of signs that regional theater is already thriving. Audiences are growing, communities are showing support, and theaters are discovering that their power is in numbers. “If one regional theatre thrives, so will others. If one closes, it threatens others. If you've got leprosy and your hand drops off, it doesn't benefit the rest of the body. It's still dying.” The Guardian (London) 09/27/00
  • STILL IN THE ORCHARD: The hottest playwright in Chicago this season is...Chekhov. Why? "Theaters may be turning to Chekhov, who wrote at the turn of the last century, as a way of exploring similar issues confronting us in the new millennium." Chicago Tribune 09/27/00
  • DUCKING THE COST: London theatre dresses an actor up as duck rather than use the real thing. Why? "Thespian ducks cost £250 a day, while the union minimum for an actor is £292.84 for a week's work in the West End. If you're thinking of putting your daughter on the stage, train her to be a duck, or at least a duck handler." The Telegraph (London) 09/26/00

Tuesday September 26

  • LET'S PUT ON A SHOW: Big theatre producers get together to talk about the realities of producing musical theatre. "Comments on Saturday from representatives of the biggest L.A.-based commercial theater producers - Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal - were considered by many in the audience to be so discouraging that Indonesia might look even more inviting." Los Angeles Times 09/26/00

Monday September 25

  • TO PROFIT OR NOT TO PROFIT: The line between non-profit and commercial theatre has all but disappeared. Non-profits are trying to be more entrepreneurial in hopes of generating more income, while commercial theatre looks to mitigate its risks. Hartford Courant 09/24/00

Sunday September 24

  • THE SILVER SCREEN PROBLEM: Why is it that great stage musicals rarely translate well to film? The release of "The Fantasticks" after sitting around for five years on the shelf after it was made, gives some clues. Los Angeles Times 09/24/00
  • PINTER AT 70: "It is tempting to think of Harold Pinter's career as a series of rooms which together make up a remarkable, if draughty (his rooms tend to be draughty) house. Pinter brought poetry back into the theatre; he said things by the unsaid. People make jokes about his pauses, but the pauses are as eloquent as the lines. The Observer (London) 09/24/00

Friday September 22

  • THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BAD REVIEWS: No such thing as opening quietly out of town anymore. "Seussical" got a plateful of bad reviews at its Boston tryouts earlier this month. Some are saying that's a good thing - the show is being revamped (fixed) before it heads off to Broadway this fall. Boston Globe 09/22/00

Thursday September 21

  • STAR STRUCK: London theatre is being overrun by Hollywood actors anxious to earn a little stage credit. And the theatres are glad to have them too, knowing that a plump box office is sure to follow. But is the star search wrecking the West End? The Independent 09/18/00

  • THE LITTLE THEATRE THAT COULD: There is a regional theatre crisis in England. But one theatre has managed to flourish with little public funding and a lot of hard work. But at considerable cost...  The Guardian 09/21/00

Wednesday September 20

  • IT’S ABOUT TIME: For the first time in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 125-year-old history, a black actor has been cast in the role of an English monarch: 24 -year-old David Oyelowo will play the title role in the upcoming “Henry VI Parts I, II, and III.” BBC 09/19/00

  • OPPOSITES ATTRACT: “The lefty firebrand comic and the Tory peer” - an apt description for the unique collaboration of Andrew Lloyd Webber and comic Ben Elton on their new musical “The Beautiful Game,” about a young soccer team in 1969 Belfast.  London Times 09/20/00

Tuesday September 19

  • TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? After two decades of underfunding, Britain’s regional theatres were promised a £37 million rescue package from the Arts Council of England (to be paid out between 2002 and ’04). But “there is a general acceptance that regional theatre must reinvent itself. [It’s] at a crossroads, a crossroads littered with signs pointing in different directions.” The Telegraph (London) 09/19/00

Sunday September 17

  • REINVENTING ANDREW: Andrew Lloyd Webber is back to writing musicals after a long break. But this time he's got a new partner and some new perspective. "I was bored with musicals. Working with Ben Elton has completely made me rethink where I was coming from musically. And this is an original musical. Everything I have ever written before has been based on something else, like a book or a film." The Sunday Times (London) 09/17/00

  • THE REAL IRELAND: For much of the 20th Century Irish writers fastened on to the idea that the "true" Ireland was to be found in the countryside. But that idea is a cliche, and a stale one even if it once was true. Now the idea has been updated, and the new theatre is reflecting the changes. The Sunday Times (London) 09/17/00

Thursday September 14

  • LET “CATS” COME TO YOU: Broadway shows will soon be widely available to home viewers, broadcast over two new theatre-dedicated TV networks. Theatre professionals are split over whether the new trend deserves applause. Backstage 09/13/00

Monday September 11

  • FOREVER MUST BE HERE: After nearly 18 years and a record 7,485 performances "Cats" packs away its whiskers on Broadway as the show closes. New York Times 09/11/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • IS THEATRE DYING? "What we are seeing these days is, more precisely, the theatrical version of the hostile takeover. 'Englut and devour' - the name that Mel Brooks once invented for a Hollywood studio - is becoming the motto of the American stage. The triumph of American commercialism is hardly a novelty of the millennium. What is different today is the lack of any indignation about it. It seems almost quixotic these days to criticize the relationship between art and commerce, and a little nostalgic even to try to evoke any interest in the question." The New Republic 09/08/00

  • EATING TO SUCCESS: Four years ago it looked like Joshua Reynolds was about to make his big breakthrough as a playwright. It didn't quite work out though, and now, in his new role as a writer about food for the New York Times, Reynolds "finds himself in the literary tradition of Marcel Proust, finding in food the key to the recovery of lost times." The Idler 09/11/00

Sunday September 10

  • IS BRITISH THEATRE RACIST? Minority theatre is vanishing in Britain. "So much so that many writers, actors, technicians and directors are driving mini cabs, or have gone into teaching or some other occupation. Some of the best have left the country. It is worth noting there is not a single non-white artistic director in any theatre in the UK. What we have is an industry that is institutionally racist to its very core, yet congratulates itself on being super-liberal." The Observer (London) 09/10/00

  • THE CAT'S NOT IN THE HAT: The much anticipated "Seussical" the musical in tryouts in Boston right now is having a rocky time. Maybe it's an obscurity of purpose? The show "was clearly created with the hope of tapping into the changing demographics of Broadway, a shift mainly brought about by three factors: the culture's obsession with youth, a nostalgia craze among baby boomers with children and an appetite for pricier family entertainment fueled by the robust economy." New York Times 09/10/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • OKLAHOMO: So what is it about musicals that makes them 'gay'? After all, heterosexuals have been known to watch them. Even male heterosexuals. There simply aren't enough queens in the world to account for the viewing figures of The Sound of Music. The Independent (London) 09/10/00

Friday September 8

  • HORTON HEARS A BOO: "Seussical," the much-anticipated musical, opened in Boston this week before its planned fall debut on Broadway. But the show got mixed to bad reviews in Boston, and may need to be reworked before going to New York. "Yesterday, theater sources said 'Seussical' would probably lose more than $1 million in Boston. Had the show opened to good reviews, the producers were prepared to add an extra week to the Boston run. That plan has now been abandoned." New York Post 09/08/00

  • ENDLESS LIVES: "Cats" the musical closes on Broadway this week, the longest-running show in Broadway history.  But "it's not as if the world will suddenly go 'Cat'-less come Monday morning. You can rent the video version. You can wait for the PBS pledge drive airing of the version available on video. You can wait in the Kaiser Permanente waiting room of your choice, and eventually you will hear the Muzak version of 'Memory'." Los Angeles Times 09/08/00

Thursday September 7

  • LAST WORDS: Poet Ted Hughes’ last work, a theatrical adaptation of Euripides' “Alcestis,” is being staged by acclaimed director Barrie Rutter in North England. “Theatre may not be life, but it is difficult not to find elements of Hughes's own story in this his last passionate work about grief, sacrifice and resurrection.” The Telegraph (London) 09/07/00

Wednesday September 6

  • LOCAL AND VOCAL: After twenty-five years of London-born productions dominating Broadway, the current season is surprisingly American. Highlights include “Seussical” (the Dr. Seuss-inspired musical); “The Full Monty” (reset in Buffalo, NY); Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party;” and Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man.” New York Magazine 09/11/00

  • MORRIS MAJOR: London’s Soho Theatre, founded in 1968, was one of the city’s first fringe venues and launched the careers of several famous playwrights. But by the early 1990s, the company had lost its way, not to mention its audience - until Abigail Morris took the helm as artistic director. “In just eight years the Soho has gone from bust to boom, and Morris, whose only previous experience was running a feminist theatre company in the late 1980s, has become a major player in Britain's new-play culture.” The Guardian (London) 09/06/00

Tuesday September 5

  • IS THE REBUILT GLOBE AUTHENTIC? London's rebuilt Globe Theatre has become one of the city's leading tourist attractions. But an Elizabethan scholar contends that the building is not an authentic replica of the old Globe, as the theatre claims.  "Joy Hancox, who looks a bit like a British Angela Lansbury, has for the last several years waged a kind of crusade, contending that she holds the key to unlock a complex architectural mystery that has the Globe at its center. Indeed, she is beginning to convince others that the new theater is not the precise replica its designers have claimed, and that it is only a matter of time before it will have to be torn down and rebuilt." Architecture Magazine 09/00

  • HAMLET THROUGH THE AGES: What is it about Hamlet that makes him the pinnacle of a male actor's career?  "Each generation and each individual actor who takes him on expresses something different. Each Hamlet is unique but of his time; he is everything and so can be anything. All the humanity, suffering, playfulness, imagination, intelligence, philosophical acceptance of mortality, love of others, self-disgust, Renaissance humanism, medieval Christianity, cruelty, wit and neurosis that a director or actor wishes to find is there, but the cocktail of his personality will be differently mixed by each interpreter." The Independent (London) 09/04/00

Sunday September 3

  • STOMACHING GOOD THEATRE "Theaters talk a great deal about how they want to keep their patrons happy, how they want to attract younger audiences and how they want to stir discussion. But too often they ignore the obvious fact that along with first-rate fare on the stage, a good cup of coffee, a calming glass of wine, some simple but appealing food and a few cafe tables might do the trick, making the theatergoing experience something more than a park-the car, sit-through-the play, run-for-the-garage kind of night." Chicago Sun-Times 09/03/00

  • SING-ALONG SOUND OF MUSIC COMES TO BROADWAY: "Ever had a craving to croon along with Julie Andrews as she celebrates a few of her favourite things? Like to pretend you're Mother Superior figuring out how to solve a problem like Maria? Wonder what it's like to be 16, going on 17? Singalong, which has a splashy red-carpet opening Wednesday night at the Ziegfeld Theatre, gives you the chance to find out." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/03/00

Friday September 1

  • BROADWAY BOOMING: Broadway theatre ticket sales were up a phenomenal 21 percent this summer over the same period last year, leading to hopes for a strong fall as the new season opens. Variety 09/01/00

  • "SEUSSICAL" GOES ALL-AGES: Embarrassed by the publicity when children younger than five were barred from the theatre where "Seussical" the Dr. Seuss musical is having a pre-Broadway run, theatre managers open the show to all ages. Boston Herald 09/01/00 

  • SPACEY RAISES MONEY: Actor Kevin Spacey is in London pounding the pavers trying to raise £1 million from 200-350 investors to create a foundation to fund plays and other theatrical events. "I don't think the fund managers knew what to expect when they turned up and at first they just sat there, arms folded and looking pretty skeptical. By the time Kevin had done his bit a lot of them were ready to invest." The Guardian 09/01/00