Results tagged “dance dance revolution” from Drama Queen

For an important news break. 

Everyone's a Critic will continue its important work later today, but in the meantime, an interesting, blog-worthy dustup flared between Philadelphia's Wilma Theater, Sarah Ruhl's agent and the Broad Street Review (BSR), an online publication covering the city's arts and culture.

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The Wilma hosted an open reading of a "surprise play," which turned out to be Ruhl's newest, In the Next Room. Several critics attended, and one, Jim Rutter, wrote what I thought was an insightful review, published by the BSR. And therein lies the rub. The Wilma claims the work is unfinished and thus shouldn't be subject to review, but the question is, if a theater promotes a reading as a newsworthy event--and certainly sending out a press release about a "surprise" by a major playwright would make it so--then isn't it a journalist's responsibility to report on that surprise? Perhaps a review is the wrong approach, but surely no one can be shocked by some aspect of the evening showing up in print or online, as Rutter and BSR publisher Dan Rottenberg note in their chain of correspondence. And considering that--Hello!--the play is all about the history of the vibrator, well, who didn't think it would generate a (cue music) throbbing, pulsing, writhing storm of controversy and attention?

It all brings me back to a discussion I had here with The Critical Condition's Mark Blankenship about my call for a review of Les Freres Corbusier's Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). (I know, I know, I promised I was done talking about it, but I can't stop myself!) Mark's position was similar to that of Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka: if a work isn't ready for the public feeding frenzy that sometimes accompanies a review, it shouldn't be reviewed. In DDR's case, I believed (and still do) that if the public is being charged to attend the event, and it's receiving a full-fledged production--I'd say 50 dancers, a crazy Thunderdome set, and a soap-opera-starring leading man qualify it as such--then it's a journalist's duty to inform the theater-loving public about what transpired onstage. In the Wilma's case, I think it's a trickier call, since a staged reading makes no claims about being a fully-realized work. But again, if it's promoted as a newsworthy event, the argument could be made that it ought to covered as one. Additionally, since, as Rutter points out, "news" can be broken at any time by anyone with a Blackberry and an opinion, is it even reasonable for a playwright or theater to assume they can close the floodgates of public opinion when they're the ones who have opened them in the first place?
January 14, 2009 7:58 AM | | Comments (9)
This week I'm macking on: the brave, bold participants of Project Everyone's a Critic. These students will all be attending the Region II National Critics Institute of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival--and here, a monent of respect is due, because setting their sights on arts journalism at this particular historical/economic/technological/journalistic moment proves just how brave and bold they are. We may have more students signing up at the last minute, so stay tuned for the full cast credits. I will begin posting their writing on Wednesday, January 14 and hope to see you there.

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Jessica Hinds-Bond is a second-year theatre M.A. student at Villanova University. While completing her undergraduate degree in theatre design at Auburn University in Alabama, she discovered a love for dramaturgy and theater research. She is the dramaturg for Cabaret, Villanova's final production of the 2008-2009 season. She has been a member of the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Literary Committee for the past three years, reading and responding to plays submitted by students to the annual Playwriting Festival.


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Devin Dippold graduated with honors from McKendree College, where he directed, wrote, and starred in Chosen Reject, a one man show based on the writings of Kurt Cobain. He is currently a second year student in the M.A. program at Villanova University, where he recently dramaturged their production of Le Dindon by Georges Feydeau. He also stage managed last season's production of The Illusion. Acting credits include Gus in The Dumb Waiter, Tartuffe in Tartuffe: Born Again, and Ed in Defying Gravity. In his spare time, Devin plays guitar and is a martial arts instructor. 


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Shawn Arnold loves theater and love to analyze it. He is a Central Pennsylvania resident from Philipsburg. Shawn is currently attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a double major in both the BFA acting and secondary education social studies programs. In addition to his interest in theater, Shawn is also a lover of history and all things about the past. Shawn has also taken an active step to foster theater in his home town. He has been heavily involved in the creation of both a community and youth theater program in the area. 


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Peter Starr Northrop is a Memphis-born, Pennsylvania-based writer with poor fashion sense and an awkward sense of humor to match. He is currently a Sophomore at Elizabethtown College, where he is slowly dragging out a double-major in English and theater. There, he divides his time between working as a writer and editor for the school newspaper--The Etownian, pretending to run the newly founded sketch comedy group Sketch-E's writing department, and attending the occasional class. Peter's theater background is limited to only three years spent in a high-school improv troupe, having minor roles in a few college mainstage and one-act productions, and writing/performing for his aforementioned sketch comedy group. His other varying hobbies include cooking, hiking and most of all, discovering all sorts of things about the crazy world in which we live.


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Justin Fitzpatrick is a freshman theatre major at Albright College. He avidly participates in theater in many ways such as performing, directing, choreographing, and vocal coaching. His passion lies with musicals. Past shows on which he has worked include: On Broadway: A Scene Study (Link Larkin), Footloose (Garvin), Oklahoma! (Will Parker), Bye, Bye Birdie (Co-Director), The Secret Garden (Lt. Wright), The Sound of Music (Rolf), Seussical: The Musical (Horton the Elephant/Vocal Coach), The Pirates of Penzance (Co-Director/Vocal Coach/Choreographer), High School Musical (Mongo), You Are Here* (Jimmie), Love's Labour's Lost (Forester/Mercade).   Recently, Justin realized that he has a natural habit of critiquing every type of performance he sees, and has decided that being a part of the National Critics Institute at the KCACTF would be a beneficial experience.


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Tammy Bateman is a junior at Elizabethtown College. A major in both Business Administration and Theatre Performance, Tammy enjoys all aspects of the theater world. She has been performing for the last seven years and served as a critic for the Greater Philadelphia Cappies program at Ridley High School. At Elizabethtown she currently serves as Vice President for the drama club, Sock and Buskin, and manages the Tempest Theatre Box Office. In her spare time she can be seen performing with the college's all-female a capella group, Melica. She is very excited to be a part of the National Critics Institute and competing as an Irene Ryan Nominee for Region II at this year's festival.  

This week I'm hating on: The fact that not a month after Dance Dance Revolution closed, the Ohio Theatre--which housed it--is closing too. Not only that, as I'm getting ready to work on a piece about new play development, one of the plays I'm covering, Christina Ham's After Adam, was cut from Luna Stage's roster because of the theater's "survival" issues. Though Broadway's darkened doors get all the major press, I'm guessing that in the end, they'll be okay. The real theatrical victims of this economic iceberg are houses willing to take chances on exciting, experimental and ultimately galvanizing new work, because they're so much more vulnerable and once they're gone, their founder's often very particular aesthetic goes with them. 

The good news? Hey, how about this: Even though these days newspapers are less about "all the news that's fit to print" and more about "whatever print still fits," the Inquirer is mulling over adding three new theaters to our reviewing circuit. Proof that at a time when theater critics are an endangered species, we're needed more than ever.
January 9, 2009 8:41 AM |
Ok, this is the last time I'll mention Dance Dance Revolution, I promise, unless it somehow manages to show up in a theater near me (hint, Philly, hint).

What I want to know is why--despite the fact that the show is sold out for the rest of its run--there are no reviews anywhere (New York: step up your game ASAP) except this sort of breathless and kind of confused one on Controlgeek, a blog about theater technology? Just asking. I mean, if people were wondering why theater criticism seems increasingly irrelevant, I dunno, I'd say the entire print media and internet dropping the ball on this one is probably a pretty good example. 

(Below: Dance Dance star Van Hansis, whom you might--or might not--know better as Luke of As the World Turns' Luke and Noah, and whose first kiss garnered for the soap a positively foamy million-and-a-half hits on YouTube.)

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Puffy previews are great for getting the word out, and there were a couple of those (here and here), but when the rubber hit the road, you'd think there'd at least be some smoke, or skid marks left behind, or at the very least an acrid odor, not just, you know, an empty can of Bud tossed out the back window (beer, by the way, is free during performances). Maybe there was some "no critics allowed" thing going on that I'm not aware of, and if so, well okay, maybe that would explain the lack of reviews, but certainly not the lack of "Les Freres Corbusier Ban Critics" stories. I'm just hoping the deficit has a real explanation and it isn't that everyone was so busy running from A Christmas Carol to Radio City Music Hall that they missed out on all that free beer and those half-naked actors (their advertising, not mine) over at the Ohio Theatre.

UPDATE: Thanks to Liz Gorinsky for pointing me to her review of the show, which Google somehow missed. A great example of why long reviews were so much fun to write, back in the days when they used to exist, and of the web's usefulness in filling in the information gap when the official channels are closed.

December 14, 2008 10:03 PM | | Comments (4)
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It's crunch time, with a feature in the works and a ton of reviews to pound through before I leave for vacation with my family. To Disneyworld. But that's a discussion for another time.

This week I'm macking on: Dance Dance Revolution. Again. Because it's open now. Les Freres Corbusier never gave me tickets, but that's cool, I'm still gonna try my hardest to see it before it closes, and even if I don't, I'm embarking on an all-out effort to get the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival to import it next fall. I have no idea if this is even a feasible plan, if anyone besides me wants to see it (although, after reading this Village Voice article, I cringe to imagine the stiffs who wouldn't), or if it's even available for import, but dammit, it's sure worth a try. 

As far as I'm concerned, I think the team's pyrotechnic extravaganzas and pop culture excavations represent nothing less than the bright, smart future of the American musical. If you, like me, probably won't get to New York this month, no worries. Here's what's up next for the company, and happily, it's a packed dance dance card. 

In any case, if you happen to see the Dance Dance Revolution, please leave a comment here and let me know if your experience was anything close to the thrill-ride I imagine.

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This week I'm hating on: The paucity of decent Jewish holiday music. Jews get that irritating Adam Sandler song, an album by the serious Baron Cohen, and the broken promise of an Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson Chanukah album

Meanwhile, just this year alone, Christians get Motorhead's Lemmy, rapper Jim Jones, with his second holiday entry (and p.s., he also produced this way below the radar musical/vanity project last month), Elvis, the Flaming Lips, and Kristin Chenoweth, among others. Well here's what you get from me in return, you holiday chazzers, for hogging all the good stuff: 12 minutes of an uninterrupted Enya Christmas. Feel free to regift.

December 5, 2008 8:50 AM | | Comments (2)
It's been a heckuva week, but you've done a heckuva job, brownies. Everyone, and by everyone, I mean even Fox News and Glenn Beck, is feeling cautiously optimistic about the nation's future. (But not Rush Limbaugh, who probably doesn't feel much besides outrage and cravings anyway; believe me, it takes one to know one.)

06456be0.pngSo in the spirit of a week that's made me feel like singing, I'm macking on: Musicals about American presidents. Kaufman and Hart's 1937 I'd Rather Be Right featured George M. Cohan as a singing, dancing--yes, dancing--Franklin Delano Roosevelt, proving that theater showed long ago that with the right guy in charge, anything is possible. Two other, more dubious presidential tributes come from my new favorite company, Les Freres Corbusier. (Their latest musical, Dance Dance Revolution, based on, um, Dance Dance Revolution, opens at New York's Ohio Theater in December. I'll take two comps, please. Pretty please.)  Corbusier's 2003 glam musical President Harding is a Rock Star (in production in D.C. right now--thanks to DCist's Missy Frederick for the tipoff and please comment here about the production. I'm DYING to know.) and 2006 emo musical about the founder of the Democratic party, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, trace W. right back to his populist roots with a pair of mavericks who went rogue, and got elected for it. Finally, there's Kenya's entry into this category, Obama: The Musical. I don't know how good it is, but I know a whole lot of people over there are damn glad to be singing about someone who knows that their nation is on a continent called Africa.

There's one missing missing from this list, and I know it's a biggie, but under the circumstances, let's just acknowledge that it exists and move on. There will be plenty of time during the next four years to worry about meth-fueled skinheads. Right now, I'm happy to watch the curtain go up on the newest presidential show in town, and I'm hoping this one's a winner. 

This week I'm hating on: Prop 8. Because it sucks, as I think every other drama queen among my readership would agree. This election was all about change, and though there's been a small setback on the issue of gay marriage, I see it as an opportunity to the issue to a larger stage, as in the Supreme Court. Take heart lovers, the ACLU has taken up the fight, and since I come from the city of Rocky, I ain't ready to call it for the bad guys just yet. 

Below: Obama, the Musical (minus the very unpresidential crotch-grabbing dance numbers. If you want those, they're here.)
November 7, 2008 6:15 AM | | Comments (2)
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