AJ Logo Get ArtsJournal in your inbox
for FREE every morning!

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Taking To The Streets For Gypsy Cast members in the Broadway production of Gypsy are out on the streets around the TKTS booth in Times Square drumming up business for the show. "Most people have no idea what they want to see. So if you give them a reason to come, like 'I'm in the show,' they'll usually come. It is a grass-roots effort that might be working. Since March 10, the cast's first day on the TKTS line, the show has been averaging sales of more than 300 half-price tickets a day. Prior to the campaign the show rarely broke 200 at the booth." The New York Times 04/01/04

Broadway Actors, Producers To Clash Over Touring Shows "The last time Broadway producers faced off with a major labor union — the musicians union in March 2003 — the results were disastrous. Talks broke down at the 11th hour, resulting in a four-day strike on Broadway that shut down 17 musicals and cost the industry $5 million. Starting tomorrow Actors' Equity, the actors' and stage managers' union, will sit down opposite the League of American Theaters and Producers. Both sides agree that to avoid another strike they will have to come to terms with the knotty problem of non-Equity tours of Broadway shows." But it's not a cut-and-dry issue, and no one really knows how far Broadway actors are willing to go to protect theoretical union gigs in touring shows. The New York Times 03/31/04

Sunday, March 28, 2004

London - Politically Yours London theatre has turned into a labratory for political ideas. "In the subsidized London theater, where a lengthy, big-cast political opus on global governmental affairs still can pack the house and get the British blood up, talky playwrights David Edgar, Michael Frayn and David Hare get paid to dream how governments would work if they were in charge." Chicago Tribune 03/28/04

In Dallas - Ensemble Becomes Ad Hoc The Dallas Theatre Center was once an ensemble company and the theatre was successful. But in recent years it has abandoned the ensemble model and hired from out of town. "Truth is, for economic and other reasons, the ensemble model has been slowly evolving at many regional theater companies into a looser collection of regular and guest artists. But the ensemble ideal remains near and dear to many actors' and directors' hearts." Fort Worth Star-Telegram 03/28/04

What Happened To Dallas Theatre? There was a time when Dallas was known nationally for its thriving theatre scene. "Sure, there currently is -- and has been for decades -- lively theatrical activity in the Metroplex. But as the theater communities in cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis and Seattle grew in the years after World War II, Dallas and Fort Worth stagnated." The question is why... Fort Worth Star-Telegram 03/28/04

Urban Pioneers With A Stake In The Theatre The historic 3,600-seat Chicago Theatre is being restored and revived - by a couple of theatre entrepreneurs with an impressive track record. "We are going to be the on-the-ground, in-the-theater general managers of the Chicago Theatre. And if you look at our entire careers -- our entire lives, really -- you will see people who have been interested in taking old downtown theaters, reviving them and contributing to the after-dark lives of this country's great and historic cities." Chicago Sun-Times 03/28/04

A Better Mousetrap - 30 Years And Still Going Strong Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap celebrates its 30th years in the sme London theatre. “It has to be the defining production in British theatre history.” The Scotsman 03/27/04

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Virtually Yours - A Broadway Battle Musicians are protesting the use of virtual orchestras on Broadway. Producers say the VO is a new instrument. Musicians disagree. "We think this machine is designed for the sole purpose of eliminating live music for the purpose of reaping profits. Their attempt to turn this machine, and I tell you that this is a machine, into an instrument is just another ploy. The synthesizer is a musical instrument played by a musician. A virtual orchestra machine is just that. I would not equate those two, ever." The New York Times 03/25/04

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bombay Dreams On Hiatus For A Year After a two-year run in London's West End, the musical Bombay Dreams is closing... for a year. Producer Andrew Lloyd Webber wants to retool the show to bring it into line with the updating a new New York production is getting. "By the time the UK production closes, it will have been seen by more than 1.5 million theatregoers. It is due to embark on a national tour early next year, before returning to the West End some months later." BBC 03/24/04

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Teacher, Her School, And Now A Church Anna Scher spent 35 years building one of Britain's most unconventional theatre schools, teaching thousands of students. Then she fell ill, and was replaced at the school. Though she's teaching again, the school. Now she's teaching again, but at the church down the street from her school, which sits empty... The Guardian (UK) 03/24/04

A Theatre Grows In Brooklyn "A $22 million, 299-seat theater designed by the architects Frank Gehry and Hugh Hardy is expected to be the newest ornament of a growing cultural district in Brooklyn." The New York Times 03/24/04

Director Sues Playwright Over Play Belfast playwright Marie Jones' play "Stones in his Pocket" has become a big hit on the West End. Now, Pam Brighton, who directed some Jones' earlier plays, is claiming that she should get a share of the credit and profits because she "contributed a great deal to the ideas and script of the play." BBC 03/23/04

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Hytner's Reinvented National Theatre Nicholas Hytner has become a star leading London's National Theatre. "From the start his regime has been charged with a dynamism of purpose, a desire to redefine the National and its role, not just in theatre but the country as a whole. 'A national theatre has never been more necessary because the very word national is up for grabs and the concept is fraught with possibilities'." The Guardian (UK) 03/22/04

Wanted - A Dead Body (Must Be Able To Act) A London theatre is conducting an unusual casting call - for a dead body. "The consent of the donor of the body is being sought beforehand and the production team aim to treat the subject of death with absolute seriousness, challenging modern taboos about a condition that comes to everybody at some point. Called Dead: You Will Be, the play requires a dead body to 'lie in state' throughout the proceedings." The Observer (UK) 03/21/04

Vancouver Theatre: Enough With The Shakespeare! The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre says it is giving up Shakespeare, Ibsn and other classics. "The 42-year-old regional theatre company, the largest in Western Canada, announced a dramatic change in mandate yesterday. As of next season, the Playhouse will only produce contemporary plays written after 1950. 'This is an evolution, not a revolution'." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/20/04

Friday, March 19, 2004

Virtually Yours - Musicians Battle The Box The musicians union in New York, battling use of the "virtual orchestra" on Broadway, says the electronic box "is all part of an interconnected scheme to ultimately replace live music on Broadway and elsewhere with a machine." Backstage 03/18/04

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The National Theatre's Boffo Year London's National Theatre is having a boffo first year in its first year under artistic director Nicholas Hytner. The theatre is "enjoying the sort of critical and commercial success to which most theaters on the other side of the Atlantic can only aspire." Christian Science Monitor 03/19/04

Robot Wars In The Orchestra Pit "The conflict between theatrical producers and the musicians' union, which a year ago shut down Broadway for four days, has reared its head again. The arena this time is Off-Broadway, where the new musical The Joys of Sex has provoked a standoff with Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. When it was performed at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2002, The Joys of Sex had three musicians in the pit. For its transfer to the 499-seat Variety Arts, producer Ben Sprecher and composer David Weinstein decided to augment the score with a Sinfonia, an electronic music-making device. Local 802 adamantly denounces the Sinfonia as a 'virtual orchestra machine' and has refused to sign a production agreement with Sprecher." Newsday (New York) 03/18/04

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Ten Irish Playwrights Who Got It Right What is it about Irish playwrights? "No one seems to know what makes it happen. Some claim it's the weather, others insist it's the whiskey. But if one of the major qualities that a good stage writer needs is the ability to create sparkling dialogue, then the legendary "gift of the gab" that comes with an Irish heritage must surely be part and parcel of the deal." Toronto Star 03/17/04

Boston's Theater Explosion "In the next 18 months, eight new theaters with more than 4,000 seats will open in Greater Boston, ranging from the 2,500-seat Boston Opera House, large enough for Broadway blockbusters, to intimate 'black boxes' designed for experimental theater and dance." In a city long short of good performance space, the building boom will give Boston audiences a stunning array of choices for the first time. Boston Herald 03/17/04

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Theatre - The New Journalism? Suddenly, there are all sorts of plays in London telling true stories - theatre as journalism - or journalism as theatre. "The curtain rises on a new hunt for reality - or semblance of reality." But is this theatre? Journalism? Both? And what happens to the facts in the process? The Guardian (UK) 03/17/04

Monday, March 15, 2004

Vagina Monologues Banned In Madras A production of The Vagina Monolgue starring Hollywood actresses Jane Fonda and Marisa Tomei has been banned in the Indian city of Madras. The show, which has been a controversial sell-out around the world, explores female sexuality and strength through individual women telling their stories through monologues. Madras police refused permission to stage the show after finding certain portions of the script 'objectionable' and warning it could pose a threat to public order." BBC 03/15/04

Sunday, March 14, 2004

From Bombay To New York (By Way Of London) Meera Syal has a big London success in London with her musical Bombay Dreams. She's hoping the show will translate to New York next month. "You wouldn’t have put money on Bombay Dreams. It isn’t based on a pop group’s output or a film, it features a whole new culture and an unknown cast. And even though [composer] AR Rahman is a demi-god in India, he was unknown to anyone here who didn’t watch Hindi films."
The Scotsman 03/12/04

Pop Goes The (Damn) Musical What's with all these musicals based on pop songs? "What's baffling about musicals about music is their tautologous nature - it's like baking a pie pie. Worse, however, is that everything that might have been good about original rock/pop subject matter - its fleeting, perfectly glistening moments - is obliterated in these mercenary productions, these Trocaderofications of rock, in which the glorious past becomes the cheap and waxen perma-present. What's sad is how many artists, from Suggs to Rod Stewart, are prepared to collaborate in the ruin of their own often already dubious reputations." The Guardian (UK) 03/13/04

How Woody Allen Fired Me Last year actress Annabelle Gurwitch was hired by Woody Allen for his new play. She was thrilled. But quickly after rehearsals began, he changed his mind. "I just couldn't believe Woody Allen was ruining my Woody Allen experience!" she cried. Less than two weeks after rehearsals began, she was replaced - fired - and she slunk back to L.A., "like a small-time crook." Now she's taken the experience, and in true show biz fashion... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/13/04

Friday, March 12, 2004

Virtual Orchestra Maker Files Suit Against Musicians "A Manhattan company that makes a so-called virtual orchestra machine, an advanced synthesizer used to mimic the sound of live musicians, has filed an unfair labor practice claim accusing the Broadway musicians' union of unfairly preventing theater and music companies from using its product." The New York Times 03/12/04

Thursday, March 11, 2004

  • Virtual Orchestra Wins West End Les Miz Job The British Musicians' Union concedes that it can't stop producer Cameron Mackintosh from using a virtual orchestra for Les Misérables. The virtual music box Sinfonia, "widely used in US touring productions, needs only one operator who can synchronise its output with that of any real instruments left in an orchestra and with the voices of singers on stage." The Guardian (UK) 03/12/04

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Documenting The Cardinal On Stage A new play in Chicago turns Boston Cardinal Bernard Law's testimony about the priest sexual abuse case into drama. "Part of the power of 'Sin' comes from its being strictly documentary. Michael Murphy, a playwright who lives in California, distilled it from the 11,000 pages of Cardinal Law's depositions and from hundreds of newspaper articles. He took some dramatic liberties, like condensing the dozen lawyers who questioned Cardinal Law into just two, but did not add any dialogue." The New York Times 03/10/04

Gospel Play Circuit "Sometimes referred to as urban theater or chitlin' circuit plays, these popular live productions tour major cities, selling out venues by using a moneymaking mix of comedy, music and melodrama to draw large crowds of African-American patrons. Filled with stereotypes and base cultural elements, gospel plays have been accused of promoting negative images within the African-American community. On the other hand, the productions employ and make money for scores of black actors, singers, comedians and playwrights." Chicago Sun-Times 03/09/04

Monday, March 8, 2004

Tony Kushner, Inveterate Tinkerer Tony Kushner is so successful as a playwright that his new plays are performed as soon as he writes them. But he never stopps tinkering and rewriting them. "People think that I'm self-indulgent. I try not to be. My job is to entertain an audience. It's not to teach them, it's not to improve them." Washington Post 03/08/04

How To Do Shakespeare As another round of Shakespeare gets underway on Broadway, the directors of this year's installments share their vision of the Bard's work through contemprary lenses. Jonathan Miller argues that King Lear is not remotely the "cosmic" play it is often mistaken for; Edward Hall makes the case for his all-male production of A Midsummer Night's Dream; and Bartlett Sher discusses the importance of establishing a common rhythmic pulse within the cast of any Shakespeare production. Village Voice 03/01/04

Lloyd Webber's Secret Life Of Grime Last week, theater mogul Andrew Lloyd Webber suggested that it might be time to let some UK theaters (not any of his, it should be stressed) close, rather than spend public money to repair or refurbish them. It may be a legitimate point of view, but to actress Nichola McAuliffe, it's a joke coming from Sir Andrew. McAuliffe has worked in several of Lloyd Webber's West End theaters, and from rotting windows to audience-assaulting chunks of plaster to rodent infestations, she encountered deplorable conditions at every one of them. So where does such a man get off complaining about other people's theaters being in disrepair? The Independent (UK) 03/04/04

Sunday, March 7, 2004

Albee Holds Forth Edward Albee on writing for the theatre: "What's the best way of dealing with audience expectations? Forget them. Write work that interests you. It's an unfortunate trend, he says, that audiences think they know what they should see, and theater companies and playwrights respond." Boston Globe 03/07/04

Theatre Of The Real If you want to see plays about serious issues of the day, New York's not the place. Instead, the enterprising playwright heads to London. "Clearly there is a hankering in Britain for dramatic work that grapples with contemporary issues. Call it, if you will, the theater of dissent. 'London's the important place in my book, not New York or anywhere else in America. London's where the interesting stuff happens'." Los Angeles Times 03/07/04

Friday, March 5, 2004

The Award For Crassest Use Of Overtime Goes To... Last week, just before a performance of the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof was scheduled to begin, the sister of theater legend Jerome Robbins, who was attending the show, collapsed and died in the aisle. The show was delayed for nearly an hour, as paramedics attempted to revive Sonia Cullinen, but the performance eventually went on. But where most in attendance saw an unavoidable tragedy, the musicians playing in the Fiddler pit apparently saw a chance to grab some extra cash, and demanded multiple units of overtime pay to compensate them for the delay. Michael Riedel reports that the pit orchestra wanted the stagehands' union to join them in requesting overtime, but were turned down. New York Post 03/05/04

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Five New NY Theatres Five new theatres are opening in manhattan. "All are in Midtown. Combined, they represent the continuation of one of the city's broadest theatrical building booms in decades, perhaps the most active period since the landmark Broadway venues were erected back in the 1910s and 1920s." Backstage 03/04/04

Should Critics Canvas The Audience? This winter an actor wrote to the Washington Post, complaining about negative reviews and suggesting that critics ought to pay more attention to the reactions of audiences to a play. So "what is the critic's role in relationship to the reader? Isn't he, at least in part, a consumer advocate and, as such, shouldn't he acknowledge audience response and, by extension, the fact that his aesthetics might not be in sync with popular sensibilities (if that is indeed the case)?" Backstage 03/04/04

In The Theatre - Brand Loyalty? Product placement is rampant in the movies and getting more blatant all the time. But inserting brands into plays as advertising endorsement has been rare. But that could be changing... Backstage 03/04/04

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Pittsburgh Cancels Children's Fest The Pittsburgh Children's Festival has been scrapped for this year, after the city's parks department said that it couldn't afford to provide $60,000 worth of services to allow the event to proceed. The festival, which is put on by the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, costs $300,000 to stage, and the company has been unable to raise the money necessary to pick up the city's portion of the budget. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 03/03/04

Home | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©
2002 ArtsJournal. All Rights Reserved