“The fairly new online video service BroadwayHD … [on] Thursday night … offers up the first-ever live stream of a Broadway show, the musical revival She Loves Me. And in the process, the start-up hopes to cement its status as the ‘Netflix of Broadway’.” Jonathan Takiff looks at why the Great White Way is so late to the streaming party.
Michael Billington: “I thought I’d look at five key Shakespearean speeches and see how various actors have handled them. I stress that there is no right or wrong – simply a wealth of differences.” (includes video links)
I’m really a nobody. But I believe that we have arrived in a world where if we want to be relevant, we must “art” as big as we can. We must be overly ambitious, and damn the consequences, because if we aren’t, our souls die for sure, and if we are we may simply fail and hit another mark.
“Phase two of the LORT designers study continues to collect data on gender of designers, and begins to look at directors and artistic directors, partially in relation to designers.”
“In a memo sent on Monday, June 27, to subscribers and donors, the company said that if it did not meet its fundraising goal by Friday, July 1, it would suspend the upcoming season — which would be its 50th — to give it time to reorganize and revamp its business model, with plans to return in 2017-18.”
“Twenty-five years ago this summer, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America premiered in the tiny Eureka Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission District. Within two years it had won the Pulitzer Prize … Slate talked to more than 50 actors, directors, playwrights, and critics to tell the story of Angels‘ turbulent ascension into the pantheon of great American storytelling – and to discuss the legacy of a play that feels, in an era in which gay Americans have the right to marry but still in many ways live under siege, as crucial as ever.”
“At a time when many in the arts bemoan shrinking audiences, wonder whether live performance is losing social relevance and even predict the death of theatre, here is a new institution vigorously engaging local and global audiences through national drama. It’s enough to make you ask, why doesn’t Canada have a national theatre?”
“It sounded like your typical aspirational, ‘I want’ musical-theater song. Except for the part where a jaguar, played by Jennifer Lim, roared into the scene and pounced on [Celia] Keenan-Bolger. Also, the horses were cardboard heads on sticks, and the ensemble a team of cardboard cacti (with sad faces drawn in black Sharpie).”
“On Monday, 180 directors, actors and stage designers associated with the Volksbühne published an open letter in which they expressed ‘deep concerns’ about plans for the future of the legendary avant garde theatre, which is due to be headed by Tate Modern’s outgoing director Chris Dercon from early 2017. ‘This is not a friendly takeover,’ they write.”
“The steady decrease in professional journalists covering theatre and reviewing Broadway and Off-Broadway productions has been made evident once again, as the New York Post’s first-string theatre critic, Elisabeth Vincentelli, has apparently been let go.”
“Long term, we need to see the community build upon those early successes. … We are very grateful to the Cultural Trust, but, ultimately, we want the African-American community to develop most of this programming.”
“Todd wanted to make a building that ‘is absolutely up to date but could be 500 years old’, by which he means in spirit rather than in detail.”
“Outdoor arts achieves what the rest of the arts sector and theatre aspires to but seldom delivers: an audience that is representative of the population as a whole. Not only that, but 97% rated their experience of outdoor arts as either very good or good.”
“‘It was just mishandled all around,’ said Andrew Shade, the founder and editorial director of BroadwayBlack, a website that champions black performers and creators in theater.”
“Since Broadway producers are loathe to put out a movie that might cannibalize their ticket sales, most film adaptations are only released years after the initial frenzy has died down. (The Wicked movie will hit theaters 15 years after the show opened; Les Miz took 25.)”
The special extra matinee fundraiser is on July 12, though, which is after Leslie Odom Jr., Philippa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda all exit the cast.
“Julie Taymor has announced the three recipients of the inaugural World Theater Fellowship, a prize for young theatre directors to travel for one year to Central/South America, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East. The winners are Zachary Dorn, Hector Flores Komatsu, and Jesca Prudencio.”
“Shuffle Along, one of the most ambitious and anticipated musicals of the theater season just ended, will close next month, abruptly and unexpectedly … [The show] was apparently facing a sharp drop-off in ticket sales this summer, after its leading actress, Audra McDonald, is scheduled to begin a maternity leave.”
“On Broadway, Timon and Pumbaa have entertained audiences for years with their Brooklyn accents. But in China, the famous meerkat-warthog duo not only speak Chinese, but they also do so with a distinct beifang, or northern, twang.”
City of London financier Johathan Ruffer “is the main backer of something called Kynren, an all-singing, all-dancing history of Britain from the Romans to the second world war, which will be put on by about 1,000 volunteers in the investor’s rolling backyard” near Durham. “Billed as the biggest live event in the UK since the 2012 Olympics, it features a Viking longboat levitating out of a lake, horses charging into battle, a volley of flaming arrows and and plenty of pyrotechnics.”
Four shows flopped this spring at a total loss to their investors. Here, based on interviews with a variety of Broadway figures, is an autopsy report of sorts for “American Psycho,” “Disaster!” and “Tuck Everlasting,” all of which closed in recent weeks, and “Bright Star,” which wraps up on Sunday.
“There is a growing perception among publications of all kinds that it is no longer necessary to have full-time or professional or paid theater journalists (be it critics, reporters, or feature writers). Full-time writers are replaced with freelancers, and freelancers are replaced with interns, or no one at all.”
Today, the idea that a work written for the theater could “save” a nation—for this was what Aristophanes’ word polis, “city,” really meant; Athens, for the Athenians, was their country—seems odd, even as a joke. For us, popular theater and politics are two distinct realms. In the contemporary theatrical landscape, overtly political dramas that seize the public’s imagination (Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, say, with its thinly veiled parable about McCarthyism, or Tony Kushner’s AIDS epic Angels in America) tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
“I read quite a lot of theatre reviews, and while the best are all sorts of stimulating, I kind of think: we all bloody sound like each other, don’t we? I mean, there’s some textural variety: Susannah Clapp is poetic; Michael Billington does puns; Quentin Letts hates theatre. But, as a rule, it’s difficult to see exactly how theatre criticism has stylistically shifted since Tynan’s time – or before that, even: for Ben Brantley, the most powerful theatre critic in the world, it is forever 1851.”
Javier Muñoz has been Lin-Manuel Miranda’s understudy and alternate from the beginning of Hamilton‘s development, and – except for the ten weeks he spent recovering from surgery and radiation therapy – he’s been playing Hamilton on Sundays and Miranda’s days off since the show opened. Muñoz even got to perform the role for both First Couples.
“Whether you train at say, East 15 or Rose Bruford as an actor, do a maths degree at Oxford, or read history at Durham, the fees are the same. Student loan entitlement, extended in a limited form to postgraduate courses from this autumn, applies to all first degrees. It’s financially no harder for drama students that it is for any university undergraduate.”
“Yes, the actors will be paid for that gig but it doesn’t take into account the unpaid work that went into creating the show and getting the gig in the first place. On paper everything looks hunky dory, fulfilling the safeguards put in place by unions and funders. The reality is rather different.”
Laura Collins-Hughes: “I have always hated The Taming of the Shrew. Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, it’s the only one that upsets me just to think about.” But Julie Taymor loves the piece, and Phyllida Lloyd and Tina Packer are but two of numerous female directors who try to come to terms with it.
“Producer Paul Taylor-Mills has claimed he was forced to wind up his production company after being financially crippled by a duty to pay actors … consistent with [Equity’s] fringe guidelines.”
“Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has made a name for himself writing plays including Neighbors and An Octoroon. This year he won the Wyndham-Campbell Literature award, one of the biggest financial prizes for writers. But a seeming windfall only goes so far. As he puts it, ‘Can anyone really say they’ve made it in New York? … It feels like New York is a game about keeping up. You can’t get too comfortable in any avenue here.” (audio)