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Monday, June 30, 2003

London Theatre In The Political Trenches London's theatres and playwrights are actively involved in political commentary, leading criticism of contemporary political leaders. There is "an acceptance of plays and playwrights as vital participants in a national dialogue, something Americans may well marvel at. And it's not just contemporary playwrights whose voices speak from the opinion pages. An editorial cartoon in The Daily Telegraph showed a brooding Mr. Blair with the caption: 'For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings. . . .' That's Shakespeare of course..." The New York Times 07/01/03

Denver's Top-Heavy Theatre Denver theatre is top heavy. There are a couple of large companies at the top, then... an absence of mid-size theatres. So what's the problem? "The greatest weakness of the Denver theater community is its repetitively conservative fare. New and innovative works are the lifeblood of any artistic community, but in a down economy, familiar titles keep theaters open. More than a dozen companies have folded in the past 18 months - and none of them was producing standard fare." Denver Post 06/30/03

Sunday, June 29, 2003

The Evolution of a Festival Ontario's Shaw Theatre Festival has a new artistic director, and Jackie Maxwell is wasting no time in putting her mark on the organization made famous by her predecessor, Christopher Newton. That type of situation is bound to make fans and critics (not to mention actors) a bit nervous, but Christopher Rawson says that the Shaw appears to be as artistically vibrant as its ever been. "Of the three shows I saw, two are well worth traveling to see and the third is worth seeing once you've made the trip." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/29/03

Shakespeare In Alabama. And Oregon. And, Well, Everywhere. "After the Civil War... consumers moved away from communal celebrations and began to enjoy culture in small groups or alone, a development heralding the eventual triumph in our day of the home entertainment center. Yet 150 years later, Shakespeare is undergoing a rebirth in this country, thanks to dozens of well-entrenched festivals devoted to his work, as well as a new initiative by the National Endowment of the Arts. Paradoxically, the biggest name in literature once again finds himself most at home in smaller cities and towns." The Christian Science Monitor 06/27/03

Saturday, June 28, 2003

A Year In The Theatre Peter Marks reflects on his first year covering theatre in Washington DC. "For a critic making his way through his freshman year in the area's playhouses, these were the moments that defined the season, that most exuberantly lifted the spirit and dazzled the senses and boggled the mind." Washington Post 06/29/03

Friday, June 27, 2003

Three Decades Of Discount Theatre TKTS The discount theatre ticket booth in Times Square is 30 years old. "Back then, the average TKTS ticket went for $4.50, at 50 percent off. Now, it's ten times higher, the average price being $40.75." Over three decades TKTS has sold 43 million tickets to Broadway shows collectively worth $940 million... Backstage 06/27/03

Thursday, June 26, 2003

West End's First New Theatre In 70 Years Cameron Mackintosh is building a new theatre. "The 500-seat Sondheim will be the first new theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue in more than 70 years. Not that you will be able to guess. The truly clever, if controversial design led by the husband-and-wife architect team of Nick Thompson and Clare Ferraby, of RHWL Architects' Arts Team, will join the existing Gielgud and Queen's theatres at their Edwardian hips." The Guardian (UK) 06/27/03

West End To Get A Facelift Theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the man behind such smash shows as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, has pledged to pump £35 million (about $58.25 million) into London's struggling West End theatre district. Mackintosh, who owns many of the West End's venues, will significantly revamp six of his properties, and build a whole new 500-seat theatre, to be known as The Sondheim. The pledged amount is thought to be more than 10% of Mackintosh's estimated personal fortune. BBC 06/25/03

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Camp: Where You Can Belt It Out You've heard of fantasy baseball camps. Now there's fantasy Broadway camps. "Now, for folks who've imagined belting to the back of the house like Betty Buckley or Nathan Lane, the Broadway Musical Fantasy Camp (BMFC) is here." New York Daily News 06/24/03

Monday, June 23, 2003

Banding Together - Small Theatres Make A Large Four small Dallas theatre companies are banding together, hoping to find a way to share a home and resources to help them prosper. The idea is to give the companies resources of a larger organization that they wouldn't have by themselves. "We all want to grow our companies - to take them to the next level. What we're hoping in our starry-eyed optimism is to have the benefits of a large organization and the integrity of a smaller one." Dallas Morning News 06/24/03

Sunday, June 22, 2003

America's Theatres - How're We Doin? Leaders of America's non-profit theatres gather in Milwaukee to talk about the state of the business. "Last year more than 50 percent of the membership's theaters ran deficits (compared to 29 percent the previous year). 'For this [current] year, if I'm hearing the murmurs in the field correctly, it brings an even darker picture'." Hartford Courant 06/22/03

Shakespeare's Life - A Made-For-TV-Movie "Amazingly, while Shakespeare's plays have been regularly shown on television and there have been dramas and documentaries speculating on their authorship, there has never been a full-blown television biography of the national icon. Perhaps it is not so surprising, because so little is actually known about his life, particularly the early years. When Michael Wood first posited the idea, one TV executive sniffed that it would be rather dull as you would only be able to film in Stratford-upon-Avon and at the Globe, while an eminent history scholar pointed out that it was going to have to be a very short series given the paucity of solid facts known about Shakespeare's life." The Guardian (UK) 06/23/03

West End Waste Cameron Mackintosh is spending £30 million to clean up some of his West End Theatres. But the West End itself is a dismal disgrace. "The West End is absolutely sordid. No Londoner goes there. It only exists for junkies, itinerants and tourists. It's not London, it is something else. Having better, more attractive streets makes people behave better. Why don't they wash the streets, as they do in Paris? I don't know what the Mayor of London is doing but addressing the West End would be a start. Ten years ago, in Barcelona, the mayor spirited the city into something else, stopped it from being a sleazy tip. I don't know anybody who goes to West End theatres - if you were to ask them, it would be as if you had passed them a dead rat." The Observer (UK) 06/22/03

Does Broadway Stifle Real Creativity? "Musical theater composers used to groom their shows out of town before taking them to Broadway. Now the country's best new theater composers aren't sure they want to go to Broadway at all. They feel they can be more creative and more original someplace else Ė maybe anyplace else." Dallas Morning News 06/22/03

Shakespeare First Edition? Ugh - What A Mess "The first published version of the play commonly regarded as Shakespeare's best was yesterday revealed as a travesty of the drama that helped shape the modern English language. The version of Hamlet known as the 'bad quarto' is a salutary warning of the dangers of literary piracy. An entrepreneurial player in Richard Burbage's company at the Rose Theatre, where Hamlet is believed to have been first staged, beat the Bard to the press with a version of the play he remembered from rehearsals and its first performances in 1600." The Guardian (UK) 06/21/03

Shaw, Stratford Festival Get Bailout Ontario's Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival are suffering as American tourists stay away because of fears of SARS. With their seasons ravaged by the ticket slump, theatres will get $800,000 in emergency help fromthe Ontario government. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/21/03

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Penumbra Theatre To Ordway? St. Paul, Minnesota's Penumbra Theatre is one America's leading African American theatres. And it's been looking to build itself a real home for some time. Now it looks like the theatre might abandon those plans and move into the Ordway Performing Arts Center. "A potential collaboration between the Ordway and Penumbra provides a possible: Penumbra would provide cachet, a density of activity and, most probably, rental income to the Ordway. St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/19/03

Linda Lovelace, The Musical A musical about porn star Linda Lovelace is being workshopped in Los Angeles. Producers hope to stage a full production in LA or New York. "It's the idea of finding ourselves in a bad situation and surviving that audiences will relate to." Los Angeles Times 06/20/03

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Six Shows Closing On Broadway Broadway saw its usual post-Tony box office bounce last week. But the awards also signalled the closing of six shows this month as producers realized they were on the downside and not likely to survive. Backstage 06/18/03

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Brantley: Growing Up With Theatre As theatre critic of the New York Times, Ben Brantley is the most powerful theatre critic in America. He says that stories of Broadway's decline over the years have been overblown. "The so-called golden era of Broadway was actually pretty short-lived. We are always lamenting its decline and saying it is no good now, but I don't necessarily think that is anything new. Theater in general is certainly less glamorous then when I first came to New York as a kid, but I am also looking at it through adult eyes. I sit through some bad stuff, but when I get to sit through some of the good stuff, it is still rewarding like nothing else." MediaBistro.com 06/17/03

Monday, June 16, 2003

Magnetic Idea - Canada's National Theatre Festival Does Canada need a national theatre festival? "The very undertaking both addresses some obvious lacks and points to some troubling challenges. English-Canadian theatre artists don't tour enough, leaving pockets of dynamic activity in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax that are largely mysterious to the other centres. Performers on Vancouver's burgeoning small theatre scene, for example, complain they can't find affordable venues in Toronto, to introduce their work to the country's largest theatre centre. So, the festival program put together by artistic director Mary Vingoe is consciously transnational." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/16/03

Sunday, June 15, 2003

The Evil, Wonderful Edinburgh Fringe The Edinburgh Fringe Festival turns 50. "Because it is the way it is, in the place that it is, at the time that it is, it has become perhaps our nationís most important yardstick and proof of her cultural identity and diversity. For three weeks in August, it is a living, breathing, heaving accumulation of creative energy that is unparalleled. Sound dramatic? Maybe. But itís fact. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. On the one hand it is evil, disillusioning the naÔve and pillaging the weak. On the other it is good, rewarding the strong and praising the innovative. Its thirst unquenchable, its attraction undiminishable, its value undeniable." The Scotsman 06/15/03

Tonys - High Entertainment Factor So TV ratings for last week's Tony Awards broadcast were down. It was the most entertaining Tony broadcast in years. "The telecast was young and multicultural, traditional and classy - oddly enough, just like the real boundary-defying season. There were shockingly few of those moments that made a person embarrassed to have spent so much of her precious life in the theater. And despite the show's hilarious preponderence of prescription-drug sponsors, I'm told that ratings actually went up 19 percent in that tyrannically desirable and healthy 18-49 demographic. Ambien, anyone?" Newsday 06/15/03

The Science Of Funny (Yeah, Right!) Researchers recently tried to determine the world's funniest joke. And then they crunched numbers to find what was the funniest time of the year. Sure - maybe the biggest joke of all is the idea that scientists thought they could pin down what funny is. "There may be no more subjective art. One man's glee might be another man's unforgivable insult. Men and women often diverge wildly over what makes them laugh. Age, too, creates gulfs. Geography dictates still more patterns of comic appreciation." San Francisco Chronicle 06/15/03

The Golden Age Of Children's Theatre? With the Minneapolis-based Children's Theatre Company collecting the Tony award for best regional theatre, is the world of high drama finally ready to embrace truly excellent productions for kids? More important, should audiences now expect the same high level of performance and production from shows directed at children as they do from 'adult' theatre? "For decades the field was seen as the theatrical bush leagues, the province of sanctimonious pedagogues, dramaturgical amateurs and dubious actors in animal suits. But those prejudices have been eroding, and now there is a highly visible emblem of this shift." The New York Times 06/15/03

The Changing Face of The West End "Three of London's major theater institutions - the Royal National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse and the Almeida Theatre in Islington - acquired new artistic directors in the past year. A fourth company, the Old Vic, has a new head as well, a starry American one: Kevin Spacey, who plans to act in and direct Old Vic productions." But can any amount of new blood manage to pull the West End out of what has become an embarrassing and extended slump? Michael Phillips sees some promising signs. Chicago Tribune 06/15/03

Friday, June 13, 2003

Is Theatre Inherently Political? If playwrights speak to the human condition, can their work be anything less than political? Do we inherently trust playwrights who are overtly political? A group of prominent playwrights gathers to discuss the issue. Backstage 06/12/03

Print Your Own Tickets Buy your tickets online and print them out on your own printer. It's happening in Australia. "The Lion King will be the first major theatre production in Australia to use direct printing from the internet to make tickets available to patrons. Taking the pain out of queueing at the box office and dramas over lost or mislaid tickets, customers will be emailed a file with their ticket and other information on the show, with a $3 saving on the booking fee." The Australian 06/13/03

New Theatre - Give 'Em What They Want "Something like a dozen innovative Seattle theater groups are grabbing younger audiences - people under 40 who pretty much elude the established stage institutions. Youth-friendly companies pattern their content and their style on TV, our No. 1 baby sitter, our low-cost mood-altering drug. The resultant shows are episodic. They are funny. They use a lot of music. They are sexy. They feature characters and situations with which under-40s can identify. Brandon Jepson performs for a Jet City Improv crowd. The bulk of Jet City audiences are between 16 and 25. And they are satirical. Using ridicule as a demolition ball, they whack away at anxiety-causing people, situations and organizations." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 06/13/03

Broadway: How Do You Define Success? So this year's Tony Awards broadcast was entertaining... the rating didn't improve. "Despite the general impression inside the industry that the television broadcast was handled well and even ? gasp! ? entertaining at times, the Nielsen ratings didn't improve. About eight million people watched the Tonys last year; about eight million people watched the Tonys this year. Is that surprising? More important, is it depressing? In the end, no. Some 11.4 million tickets to Broadway shows were sold last year, a number that has held roughly the same for several years." The New York Times (2nd item) 06/13/03

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Broadway's Tricky Season Ah yes, Broadway ended up having a big-selling season at the box office. But for producers, navigating the minefield of situations that came up this year required some extra risk-taking. "New York theater has had a troubled winter. Bad weather, a Broadway strike, the war in Iraq, and an uncertain economy have made for dicey times for an industry still trying to figure out what the new normal is since 9/11 knocked it for a loop." Christian Science Monitor 06/13/03

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Broadway Boheme To Close Early Baz Luhrmann's flashy La Boheme is closing after 228 performances. "The production, which cost about $8.5 million to mount at the Broadway Theater, recouped only about a quarter of that investment. Jeffrey Seller, one of the producers, said that although the production had found an audience, it was not necessarily the audience that a show needed to survive on Broadway." The New York Times 06/12/03

Rod Stewart, The Musical If ABBA and Billy Joel can do it, why not Rod Stewart? Why not indeed? Write a musical based on his music, that is. A project based on Stewart tunes is in the workd. "Plot details were sketchy. It apparently chronicles the exploits of 'a shy young man' who is tempted by Satan while 'attempting to win over the love of his life by emulating his hero Rod Stewart'." The Guardian (UK) 06/11/03

Mariinsky's Eccentric Design Plans Draw Protests St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre unveiled architectural proposals for the theatre's expansion. They weren't received well. "Such extravagant and eccentric ideas have frayed tempers in a city celebrated for its baroque architecture. The competition caps last month's lavish 300th birthday of Russia's cultural capital. The government will pay £66m towards the project, which will link the new building - on the site of the Palace of Culture in Honour of the [Soviet] First Five Year Plan - to the old Mariinsky building (formerly known as the Kirov, and home to the ballet company) via a bridge on the Kryukov canal. The spending is criticised in a region facing poverty and unemployment." The Guardian (UK) 06/11/03

Magnetic Attraction A new Canadian theatre festival called Magnetic North hopes to be a showcase for the best new Canadian plays from across the country. The festival will switch cities each year. "Magnetic North never stays put. The concept is that every other year we will be in a different Canadian city and then return to Ottawa. So 2004 will find us in Edmonton, and 2005 back in the capital again." Toronto Star 06/11/03

Monday, June 9, 2003

Priced Out At Edinburgh Fringe? Prices for Edinburgh's Fringe Festival are climbing, and some are complaining. "We do try to keep prices as low as possible but producing a show in Edinburgh seems to cost more than in any other city in the world. For some reason, venue costs in Edinburgh are almost twice as much as anywhere else - and that includes Londonís West End." The Scotsman 06/10/03

Tonys Trounced By Hillary Despite lots of star power this year, Sunday night's Tony telecast dropped audience from last year. "The telecast, which expanded from two hours last year to three hours this year, averaged 7.9 million viewers, down a bit from last year's average of 8 million viewers." Sunday's big winner was Barbara Walters' interview with Hillary Clinton, which drew 13 million viewers. Los Angeles Times 06/09/03

A Kiss Is Still A Kiss A lingering kiss between gay partners and their declaration of love in front of the cameras at the Tony Awards, stole the show Sunday night. "It was certainly the most prominent assertion of gay confidence at the awards yet, and comes at a time of a backlash against gay and lesbian relationships. 'I thought, 'No, no, no, this is the whole point.' The whole point is that we all have to risk something personal to make something happen. The more it's talked about the more it becomes commonplace, the less it becomes freakish. I think it's a good thing'." The Guardian (UK) 06/10/03

Hairspray Wins Big At Tonys "`Hairspray' took a firm hold of the 2003 Tony Awards Sunday, winning five, including best book, score and direction. Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece `Long Day's Journey Into Night' was named best revival, while Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave, the play's tortured parents, received the top acting prizes." The New York Times 06/08/03

  • Runaway Hairspray "Slickly produced to the point of corporate blandness, the three-hour telecast featured generally well-mounted selections from the five nominated musicals and two youth-market swatches of 'Def Poetry Jam,' winner of best special theatrical event. The show also sold Broadway artistry short by consigning the design awards, including best scenic design and lighting for 'La Boheme,' to brief tape-delayed snippets." San Francisco Chronicle 06/09/03

  • Night Of Stars "This year the program felt less rushed, and it included some clever promotional touches, like having Jason Alexander and Martin Short, stars of the Los Angeles production of "The Producers," announce the best-musical winner from the stage of their show. The cadre of presenters came from the worlds of film, theater and television, all delivering tributes to their roots (or brief stints) on the stage. The luminaries ranged from Sarah Jessica Parker and Benjamin Bratt to Rosie Perez and Danny Glover." Washington Post 06/09/03

  • Peters Loses To Newcomer "Seldom on Broadway does a kid topple an icon, but Bernadette Peters, musical theater's top female box office draw, lost the top prize to newcomer Marissa Jaret Winokur, the bubbly fat girl who stars in "Hairspray." In the past, Peters has usually bested the competition, once even picking up a Tony for "Annie Get Your Gun" in which she was hilariously miscast. But in the case, the kid benefited from the icon's enduring difficulties playing Momma Rose, the ferocious stage mother who turned her mousy daughter into the celebrated stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee." Neww York Post 06/09/03

  • "Hairspray" Stands Out In Lacklustre Crowd The competition really wasn't all that fierce. "Hairspray" faced Twyla Tharp's "Movin' Out," a dance-musical based on the music of Billy Joel. The other two entrants in this category were hardly prepossessing. New York Daily News 06/09/03

  • Honors All Around "Broadway found a way to honor everything from a Eugene O'Neill masterpiece to a play about a baseball player's coming out; from hip-hop poetry and opera to a dance-driven show and movie-inspired musical based on a John Waters cult hit and a Federico Fellini film." Miami Herald 06/09/03

  • Tonys In A Cross-Generational Year "The ceremony, which annually honors the best of Broadway, combined a new generation of shows and stars with the traditions and talents that go back to 'The Impossible Dream' and Mama Rose in 'Gypsy'." Hartford Courant 06/09/03

  • Breathy Promotion And Men In Dresses The Tonys celebrated themselves. "More than ever this year, the Tonys broadcast served as apt reminder of how much the liberal and gay-friendly Broadway universe proudly marches to its own contrary drumbeat in these conservative times." Chicago Tribune 06/09/03

Hartford Stage Takes Foot Off Accelerator After six years of deficits, Hartford Stage is downsizing in an attempt to grab control of its budget. "It's like the last scene in the movie `Thelma and Louise.' But instead of pressing on the accelerator, as many organizations are doing, we are taking our foot off the gas and putting on the brake. And then we're going to turn the car away from the cliff." Hartford Courant 06/08/03

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Inspired By The Silver Screen Broadway had a healthy year at the box office this season. But more and more it seems, theatre is looking for its inspiration from the movies. "Despite these flashes of risk-taking creativity, the looming presence on Broadway this season has been the movie-musical and the musical revival. In the former genre, the year's biggest smoking craters were left by such derided bombs as Dance of the Vampire and Urban Cowboy. But when producers turn their envious eyes to the grosses from Hairspray, the exuberant version of the John Waters cult film and a heavy favorite tonight, they still want to take a chance and get into the picture." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/08/03

Edinburgh Fringe: We Have To Get Bigger Or Bust The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with a 22-day calendar and 1,541 acts, staged in a record 207 venues, is the largest performing arts festival in the world. But in "unveiling the 2003 Fringe programme, Fringe director Paul Gudgin warns that, without future growth, 'the law of diminishing returns will kick in' and the quality and reputation of the Fringe would be undermined." The Scotsman 06/08/03

The HipHop Musical - Reinventing Musical Theatre? So far, hip-hop theater's most distinctive, exciting quality is 'how' ó the way in which its stories are told. In the brightest moments of 'Flow,' Will Power shows that hip-hop's fusion of verse and song could make it a potent update of the traditional 'Oklahoma!'-style musical, one better suited to the stage than rock music. Like Rodgers and Hammerstein, who proved that even a carnival barker can sing a musical soliloquy, his work suggests that hip-hop's narrative tools will function well beyond one generation's concerns." Maybe hiphop musicals operate more like opera, "with one critical exception. 'Right now there are no conventions, the way opera is full of well-understood, time-honored conventions. It's evolving now." The New York Times 0/6/08/03

Getting To The "Authentic" Shakespeare What exactly is authenticity in Shakespeare? There are so many ways of interpreting, remaking, and reimagining the plays, stretching them in unaccustomed directions. So what exactly is authenticity in Shakespeare? The Guardian (UK) 06/07/03

Through The Lookingglass (Theatre) Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre has become one of the city's most respected theatre companies. But in its 15 years, the company has camped out in a variety of spaces. Now it's moving into "a newly renovated performance space in the Water Tower Water Works. The site, in the heart of the Magnificient Mile, where thousands of people, locals and tourists alike, will pass by daily, gives the company perhaps the highest visibility of any theater in town..." Chicago Sun-Times 06/08/03

Running Shakespeare A production of Shakespeare's "As You Line It" in New York's Central Park involves a workout for the audience. "When you enter in at 97th Street and Central Park West and you will be led into Central Park where the play will begin. As you watch the show, the next scene that is about to happen, happens about 50 ft away, and then they are off. The whole audience runs to where the scene is taking place! Every 5-7 minutes. The play moves between 97th St & 100th Street using trees, rocks, benches and even the audience as scenery." NewYorkLed 06/06/03

Friday, June 6, 2003

A Great Year, But Still There Are Complaints Broadway had a record year at the box office. But "the box-office upturn has not gladdened some local critics. They have seized the occasion of this Sunday's Tony Awards to bemoan the dearth of serious new work on Broadway: a hackneyed lament. For at least three decades, cost has dictated that challenging drama be based off-Broadway and in America's regional theatres, where, despite the price of tickets and the distractions of television and the internet, it remains quite robust." Financial Times 06/06/03

Thursday, June 5, 2003

Tonys - Predicting A Good Hair Day "Ask anyone on Broadway what's going to win best musical, best book and, yes, best score, and the answer is 'Hairspray,' the big favorite in many musical categories, a blockbuster hit that broke early from the gate ó it opened in August ó and never let up." The New York Times 06/06/03

  • Some Predictable Tonys? There's not much suspense about this Sunday's Tony Awards. "Think 'Hairspray,' 'Take Me Out' and 'Long Day's Journey Into Night,' and you could be more than halfway there. Still, hopes are high for the entertainment portion of the telecast, particularly with Hugh Jackman as host and the decision by CBS to devote three hours of network time to the show, after several years of letting PBS broadcast the first hour. The Tonys may be perennially low-rated but the ceremony attracts those upper-income viewers certain advertisers love." Backstage (AP) 06/05/03

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Broadway Closes Season With Record Box Office "After a season battered by more than its fair share of bad shakes - four orange terror alerts, an Iraqi war, a brutal winter, an ongoing sluggishness in tourism, and a bitterly divisive musicians strike - the League of American Theatres and Producers reported total season grosses up 12%, to a new high of $720.9 million. Attendance was up to 11.4 million, a half-million-ticket rise over last season, and playing weeks, an indicator many consider key to assessing Broadway's health, also rose -- to 1,544 weeks, up 7.7% over last season. But do these seemingly sunny statistics entirely reflect Broadway's well-being?" Backstage 06/04/03

Stratford's Lear Headed To Broadway A production of Shakespeare's King Lear produced by Canada's acclaimed Stratford Festival, has been picked up by New York's Lincoln Center, and will start playing to Broadway audiences in early 2004. The production stars Christopher Plummer in the title role, with acclaimed British director Jonathan Miller at the helm. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/04/03

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

SARS Slays Lion King Toronto's SARS scare has claimed another victim - the Lion King. The show has seen ticket sales plummet after tourists began staying away from the city over concerns about SARS. "The show's closure will bring to an end the a run of 1,300 performances since March 2000." BBC 06/03/03

Little Shop's Broadway Jump Scuttled A Miami-based revival of Little Shop of Horrors that had been expected to leap to Broadway this summer has instead been stopped cold by its producers, who say that the production simply isn't ready for the big-time just yet. The show originated as a surprise off-Broadway hit in the 1980s, and has never run on Broadway. The cancellation marks the second time in as many years that a much-anticipated South Florida-based production has sputtered on its way to Broadway success: last year's Urban Cowboy made it to New York, but closed almost immediately in the face of withering reviews and public disinterest. Miami Herald 06/03/03

Sunday, June 1, 2003

The Best Theatre In America Where is the best theatre in America? Not on Broadway. "Local audiences are getting a better taste of the possibilities of theater than most New Yorkers get in an entire season. The plays that succeed on and off Broadway these days are, as a rule, small things: two-and three-character relationship dramas (those big casts cost money!); minimalist exercises in craftsmanship; tidy little plays that convert big subjects into manageable private dramas. Plays of epic size and scope, works that examine American history and the American experience, plays that attempt to engage the audience in social and political issues ó for those, mostly, you've got to look in the hinterlands." Time 06/02

  • What Becomes A Great Theatre? Time's list of best regional theatre prompts Frank Rizzo to wonder what makes a great theatre. "To me, a great theater engages an audience in a way that lingers well past the time theatergoers make it to the parking lot after a show. A great theater does the classics, but it also understands it is not a museum and must present them in a way that is vital, elegant or challenging. A great theater presents works of new voices, not just in a marginal way. A great theater knows how to attract a great audience, one that will stick by it as it attempts the extraordinary. A great theater is as hungry for the new, young audience member as it is interested in retaining loyal supporters. A great theater reflects the world around it, and that begins with its community. A great theater also knows the difference between art and pretension, knows that you don't have to pander to be accessible, and knows the distinction between a small show and a cheap one." Hartford Courant 06/01/03

Cirque's New Erotic Show Cirque du Soleil is moving beyond family entertainment, producing a new erotic show for Las Vegas. "The R-rated 'Zumanity' is being billed as 'a provocative exhibition of human sensuality, arousal and eroticism.' In addition to traditional theatre seats and bar stools, couples will be able to purchase tickets for two-person love seats and sofas to enjoy the show more intimately. Fifty dancers, acrobats, clowns and musicians are rehearsing in secret at the Cirque du Soleil's Montreal headquarters in preparation for the Aug. 14 premiere." National Post (Canada) 06/01/03

Saving Money Through Theatrical Synergy "Increasingly, nonprofit presenting organizations... are joining forces with for-profit entertainment companies to invest in Broadway shows and their subsequent tours. In some cases presenters put money into new tours of shows that closed on Broadway long ago. By so doing presenters are guaranteed that there will, in fact, be shows to present. And the producers of Broadway shows are guaranteed a major chunk of their budget." Kansas City Star 06/01/03

McLuhan Estate Vows To Stop 'Libelous' Play "You can't libel a dead man - or so the phrase goes. And it's one that's given comfort to scores of biographers through the years. On the other hand, it doesn't stop heirs and estates from trying to preserve the reputations of their dearly departed, suing or threatening to sue at any perceived slight. Toronto playwright Jason Sherman learned that firsthand recently when the estate of Marshall McLuhan blew up a sandstorm that, temporarily at least, has stalled plans to mount his play about the late media guru at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/31/03

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