The Problem With Broadway ‘Commodity Musicals’

commodity musical

Aladdin. Bullets Over Broadway. 9 to 5. Young Frankenstein. The Little Mermaid. Beauty and the Beast. And so on. “The most distinctive feature of these musicals is that they usually treat their source material not as a springboard for fresh, creative endeavor but as an exploitable economic commodity that can be ‘repurposed’ for further profit.”

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Progress Report: Women In Theatre

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“There’s a far bigger awareness that this is a problem. I just don’t think there’s any collective understanding of how to change it overnight, and redress the problem immediately. But I do think women are making strides.” – See more at:

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Propeller Theatre Co. Could Shut Down After Losing All Gov’t Funding

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“Edward Hall, artistic director of all-male theatre company Propeller, has warned that the venue’s future is at risk following Arts Council England’s 100% cut to its funding…. Hall said without the money the company would be prevented from ‘forward planning’ and added that it ‘calls into question the future’ of Propeller.”

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Got A Problem On Broadway? Call The Arranger

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“He has shape-shifted alongside Eric Idle on ‘Spamalot,’ John Kander on ‘The Scottsboro Boys,’ and Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Bobby Lopez on ‘Mormon,’ for which he did dance arrangements only (though that assignment included the chance to write a spiky, Metallica-inspired guitar solo for the Devil in ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’).”

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The Agony Of Basic Acting Class

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“Frances has done what the rest of us have been trying to do all semester: cry during a performance, a kind of truth we’ve learned can only be achieved when an actor is connected to his or her body, an idea I pretend to understand but don’t.”

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British Regional Theatres May Begin Cinemacasting

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“Regional theatres are being targeted by a new live broadcasting scheme that will transmit shows from outside London to cinemas across the UK.” Organizer Quantum Digital “estimates that venues taking part in the programme could expect to earn up to £30,000 per broadcast.”

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John Lithgow On The Single Greatest Challenge Of Playing King Lear

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“[It's] modulation. For Lear, the first half of the play contains four titanic temper tantrums of near bipolar intensity, and the second half tips over into dementia, bottomless grief and (spoiler alert) death. In rehearsing these opening scenes, I need to constantly remind myself how far I still have to go, like a marathoner husbanding his resources.”

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She’s Everyone’s – Heck, Every Genre’s – Favorite Set Designer

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Es Devlin “works with some of the highest names in high culture – Philip Glass, Russell Maliphant, Richard Wagner – and the massiest in mass culture – Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga. She goes from twerk to Gesamtkunstwerk, and all tackled with the same keen rigour. She is, surely, the only person ever to have given the members of Take That a presentation on Belgian surrealism.”

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Too Much Blood: The Problem With Shakespeare’s Tragedies

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Jesse Green: “Theater critics thus have the opportunity – provided almost entirely by Shakespeare, since contemporary drama is notably short on gore – to watch hundreds of people die horribly each season. … Rarely do I see the plays done well enough to justify the awfulness they ask us to witness. And if they’re not properly awful, what’s the point? Do Much Ado and be done with it.”

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Promoting New Plays By Women Playwrights – So What Kind Of Advocacy Is This?

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“We thought the point of 50-50 in 2020 for women playwrights was to force the industry into a tacit affirmative action plan. (50-50 in 2020 meant 50 percent of new plays produced would be by women by the year 2020.) We thought it was born of that boiling ’00s moment in which Emily Glassberg Sands made public her research on gender inequality on new-play production, fitting neatly with the larger national conversation about gender parity in American life, especially in business.”

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Stephen Sondheim Backpedals On Disney’s Changes To ‘Into The Woods’

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After last week’s New Yorker post, Sondheim has released a statement saying that the article “has created some false impressions about my collaboration with the Disney Studio … The fact is that James [Lapine, who wrote both the show and the movie] and I worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and … director.”

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The Slippery Slope Of Performing Childhood On Stage

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“Beyond the cliches what you see most often in adults-as-children on stage is a kind of over-staged child – not so much a person as a sign, a symbol, some ‘thing’ that wants to mean ‘something’ (innocence, cruelty or whatever you like), a figure whose every action is legible, there to be read.”

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