- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
The Guardian 09/21/00
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.”
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.
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
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
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
MUST BE HERE: After nearly 18 years and a record 7,485 performances
"Cats" packs away its whiskers on Broadway as the
York Times 09/11/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
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
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."
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."
Observer (London) 09/10/00
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."
York Times 09/10/00
registration required for entry)
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
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."
York Post 09/08/00
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
Los Angeles Times 09/08/00
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.”
Telegraph (London) 09/07/00
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
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.”
Guardian (London) 09/06/00
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
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
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
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)
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.
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
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