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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A groundbreaking British Play The first-ever play by a British-born black playwright has hit London's West End. "That the play should be a groundbreaking event in London may strike Americans as odd, given the longer tradition of African-American playwrights dramatizing the black experience. But subjects like the lives of West Indians, former colonials, in Britain have rarely been given such a platform here, not to mention plays that examine the pressures on young black Londoners today to live outside the law." The New York Times 06/01/05

Stars Bid To Save London Theatre "Leading figures in British theatre have made impassioned pleas for London's Arts Theatre - which staged the director Sir Peter Hall's English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot 50 years ago - to be saved from demolition." The Guardian (UK) 05/28/05

Rebirth Of The Broadway Musical "The resurgence of the musical as a creative form, evidenced in the length and diversity of West End queues, is no mere coincidence. Seeing several hits in close succession suggests a chain reaction, a common attitude. The Producers introduced a genre of self-mockery in which the action halts momentarily to reflect sourly upon itself. This hiatus device appeared at the NT as the so called Jerry Springer Moment and now, in Billy Elliot, as the episodes at the start of each act when the audience is exposed to the legend of British coalmining without the requirement of empathy that came with Daldry’s film." La Scena Musicale 05/28/05

Monday, May 30, 2005

Hare's Breadth Playwright David Hare had mixed feelings going into production of his play about the buildup to the Iraq war. "The power of theater is its unpredictability, the strange alchemy of response that happens only when a group of people examine something together. It's a bad playwright who seeks to demand a particular reaction. Everyone knows that in performance unpleasant people may begin to acquire charm through energy. Good people, it is said, may seem dull. It was interesting how often members of the audience came out of the show saying "Goodness, I never knew that." But even more often — and this is where theater really comes into its own — they emerged uneasy to have found their view of the leading players not quite the one they might have anticipated." Los Angeles Times 05/29/05

Mixing And Matching Tony's Best Musical No one of the musicals nominated for this year's best musical Tony has all the ingredients of the great show. "If life were fair or the Tonys were smart, next Sunday's awards would probably be split among the four. We all know that isn't the way of the world, but just for the sake of argument, here's the way it should go. ''Spamalot" would win best musical, ''Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" best score, ''The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" best book, and ''The Light in the Piazza" best set design and actress." Boston Globe 05/29/05

George C. Wolfe - Exit Interview Departing director George C. Wolfe on his role leading the Public Theatre: "Very frequently I told people I felt like I was the whore standing in the window in Amsterdam luring certain kinds of artists and luring money into the building." The New York Times 05/29/05

Friday, May 27, 2005

Seattle Theatres Snared By How They Pay Actors Seattle-area theatres are being told by the state that they can't treat actors as contractors, and must pay them as employees. "At least three theater companies in the region say they are facing fines from the state Employment Security Department. And dozens of others -- along with the broader arts community -- are worrying about what the change could mean." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 05/27/05

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The New School Starts A New Drama School The New School's 11-year association with the Actors Studio comes to an end as the school announces it is starting a new graduatee drama school. The decision to break with the Actors Studio is "a simple move toward more oversight and control over the program's curriculum and staffing. The new acting program will be headed by Robert LuPone, who was nominated for a Tony Award as an actor in "A Chorus Line" on Broadway and was a producer of last year's Tony-nominated play "Frozen." He'll be joined by Arthur Penn, the director of the original 1959 Broadway production of "The Miracle Worker" and of the 1962 film version, who will act as the school's artistic adviser. The New York Times 05/26/05

Broadway Tours Have A Good Year "Broadway touring shows sod 12.4 million tickets during the 2003-04 season and earned over $700 million in revenue. Nearly 200 theatres nationwide housed the Broadway tours for engagements usually ranging from a few days to a few weeks. The 12.4 million tickets matches the number sold during the previous season and ranks as the highest total since the 1998-99 season." Backstage 05/25/05

Toronto Rings Sells $7m In Advance Tix "One week after the box office opened to the public, the [Toronto-based] world premiere stage production of The Lord of the Rings has generated $7 million in sales. Allowing for the $3 million (all figures Cdn) in group sales and the $1 million in Internet advance, that still means nearly $500,000 worth of tickets have been sold every day, an astonishing figure for a show that doesn't open for nine months." Toronto Star 05/25/05

CTC Finishes One Drive, Starts Another The Minneapolis-based Children's Theatre Company, which won the Tony Award for best regional company in 2003, has completed a $27 million capital campaign four months ahead of schedule, and announced a special "encore" campaign aimed at raising another $3 million by year's end. The fundraising has been largely targeted to cover construction costs on CTC's new expanded home, designed by architect Michael Graves. The extra fund drive will seek to bolster the company's endowment. St. Paul Pioneer Press 05/24/05

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

LA's Center Theatre Kills Off Play Development Programs Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group is killing off its programs to develop new plays and playwrights. "Artistic director Michael Ritchie, who took the helm of Los Angeles' flagship theater company in January, is eliminating the Other Voices program for disabled artists — a Taper fixture since 1982 — plus the Latino, Asian American and African American labs established from 1993 to 1995." Los Angeles Times 05/24/05

Monday, May 23, 2005

Chicago's Newest Theatre It's the Drury Lane Water Tower. "The theater auditorium is a cozy midsized house, its 17 rows of seats arranged to suit a gently curved proscenium stage. Sightlines and legroom are excellent, though it's not a wide-open-spaces facility; you're aware of impresario De Santis doing everything he can to maximize the number of seats within a fixed footprint surrounded by other Water Tower Place tenants." Chicago Tribune 05/23/05

A Challenge For Black British Theatre Two pieces of black British theatre are playing in London's West End. "There are now three generations of Afro-Caribbeans in Britain, a cultural shift that the establishment can no longer afford not to invest in. These new audiences and theatre practitioners have experiences that are meaningful to everyone, not just to specific cultural groups." The Independent (UK) 05/20/05

This Year's Tonys - Triumph Of The Little Guys? It's easy to think that the big musical wins all the Tonys. But sometimes the little guy wins too. "The most intriguing possibility - and the one most discussed by voters who were interviewed for this article - is a showdown between the blockbuster "Spamalot" and another little Off Broadway musical that made its way to the big time: "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." The New York Times 04/22/05

Dromgoole To Lead Globe In a major surprise, Dominic Dromgoole has been tapped to lead London's Old Globe Theatre. "Dromgoole, who has led the Oxford Stage Company for seven years, will become only the second artistic director of the reconstructed Elizabethan venue when he replaces Mark Rylance at the end of the year. Speaking about his new role yesterday, Mr Dromgoole said that although Shakespeare would remain the core work of the open-air theatre he hoped to present new writing and a wider range of European and British classics." The Independent (UK) 05/21/05

Our Changing Shakespeare The performance of Shakespeare has changed enormously in the past few decades. "Olivier and Gielgud gave to their times a vital new sensibility and naturalness. The skill with which they adapted to changing styles, as well as creating them, was a remarkable feature of both actors. But both had finished with live Shakespeare by the mid-1970s, and so stood apart from the many revisions that followed. Who knows what either would have thought about the three very different Macbeths earlier this year; or what Gielgud would have made of an audience breathing down his neck from three sides, having parked their plastic tumblers on the edge of a tiny studio stage; or how eagerly Olivier would have welcomed the kind of rehearsal in which the Duke of Exeter's opinion can be rated as highly as that of King Henry." The Guardian (UK) 05/22/05

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Broadway's Big Theatres Thinking Small The big Broadway theatres usually stay dark between major productions. But "to keep the revenue streaming in during the summer, their owners are thinking small, as in the one- and two-month engagements commonly associated with smaller, Off Broadway theaters. This kind of microprogramming can be a smart financial hedge; it can also be risky business. You really have to do sell-out business before you open, because you can't play catch up - there's not enough time." The New York Times 05/22/05

Apprentice, The Musical? Doesn't Donald Trump seem a classic operatic figure? Now there are plans to turn Trump's "The Apprentice" into a Broadway musical. "The producers, whose other credits include Chicago and Sweet Charity, are assembling a team to shepherd the new show through the development stage. It will open in the spring of 2006 in New York." CBC 05/22/05

The Incredible Shrinking Tony It's Tony season! Wooooo-hoo! The exciting leadup to that magical night when all of America tunes in to see what Broadway shows will be honored with... well, okay, America writ large actually doesn't seem to care much. But still! It's the night when a modest little statue can lead to salvation for a quality show that needs an influx of revenu... oh, that doesn't work anymore either? Hmmmm. So, um, why do we have these awards again? The New York Times 05/22/05

Moscow School To Graduate Americans "Russia's most famous drama school, the Moscow Art Theater School, will graduate its first class of Americans on Monday, including six alumni of the LaGuardia High School for the performing arts in Manhattan. The drama school is the training grounds for the Moscow Art Theater, where Konstantin Stanislavsky developed his famous method for actors and where most of Chekhov's classic plays, including The Cherry Orchard, were first staged... In a kind of extreme form of Stanislavsky method acting - which is based on personal experience and immersion in emotional depths - the LaGuardia students came to Moscow as teenagers in 2001 with no Russian language skills and no ties to the country but a love of theater and a passionate Soviet émigré acting teacher who inspired their leap of faith." The New York Times 05/21/05

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Great American Musical Project The American Music Theatre Project is a $2 million, multiyear endeavor designed to turn Northwestern University into the "leading collegiate incubator of new works of musical theater. If all goes according to the long-range plan, future summers in Evanston will feature a variety of music-theater professionals working with students on new musicals in a developmental atmosphere somewhat akin to the Sundance Theatre Institute or a musical version of the Williamstown Theatre Festival or the Iowa Writers Workshop." Chicago Tribune 05/19/05

  • A New Plan For New Musicals "The American Music Theatre Project, which has a $2 million budget for its initial three-year trial period, will bring top artists in the field to the Northwestern Unigversity campus to collaborate with the school's students, and with a faculty that already includes professional artists -- among them Frank Galati and Mary Zimmerman -- who have national and international reputations. During this period, four new shows, each in various stages of completion, will receive high-level public productions in one of the school's many theaters." Chicago Sun-Times 05/19/05

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Little Women To Go Dark Producers told the cast of Little Women the Musical May 17 that the production at Broadway's Virginia Theatre would close May 22 after 55 previews and 137 performances. There are still plans for a national tour starring Maureen McGovern... Playbill 05/18/05

Anti-Commercial Theatre That Isn't Non-Profit Seattle's Capitol Hill Arts Center is a classic non-profit theatre that has chosen not to run as a non-profit. "CHAC, pronounced 'shack,' is for-profit, meaning it gets no public and private donations. CHAC survives on ticket sales, building rentals and concessions. Yet CHAC also is anti-commercial and has no intention of using the tools designed to protect nonprofits from having to bow to the bottom line – government grants and fund-raising campaigns." The News Tribune (Tacoma) 05/18/05

  • A Repertory Ensemble Company For Tacoma? Tacoma Actors Guild Theatre, which shut down operations last December, is considering an idea to create an old-style salaried repertory company. "Years ago, acting companies were the foundation for many of the country’s greatest theaters, but they fell out of favor because of the expense of keeping actors on salary." Under the plan, TAG would cast a company of 12 to 20 actors contracted for one year in January. The News-Tribune (Tacoma) 05/18/05

Will Billy's Dance Set Broadway Toes Tapping? "Forget Spamalot, The Light in the Piazza and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The musical everybody on Broadway is talking about is Billy Elliot, which opened in London last week to ecstatic reviews." Plans are already underway to bring the show to New York, but there might be some problems with translation from what is clearly a very British show. "Like the movie, it's set in a working-class coastal town during the miners' strike of 1984. Much of its power, the critics said, comes from its fierce, left-wing, anti-Thatcher political viewpoint... New York theater people who've seen the show say it would lose that power if it were Americanized the way another working-class British movie, The Full Monty, was when it was adapted for Broadway, where the story was set in Buffalo." New York Post 05/18/05

Toronto's Rings Rakes In The Cash "Toronto's Lord of the Rings musical is becoming a hot ticket around the world with $1 million in tickets sold internationally on the first day they were offered. Because of the international appetite for the J.R.R. Tolkien epic, Toronto's Mirvish Productions decided to begin public ticket sales on the internet on Sunday – a day before tickets could be purchased by telephone... The internet sales added to approximately $3 million the company has already racked up in group ticket sales to large parties, like tour operators who buy blocks of tickets." CBC 05/17/05

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Where's The Conservative Backlash? "After the forced closure of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's play 'Behzti' in December, two things were widely predicted. One was that theatres would become more conservative in their programming of potentially contentious Asian work (particularly on religious and sexual themes). The other was that it would be more difficult for theatres to retain an already fragile (and tiny) non-white audience." In fact, neither has happened... The Guardian (UK) 05/18/05

Monday, May 16, 2005

"Rings" Advance Sale Goes Crazy The new Lord of the Rings musical doesn't open in Toronto for 9 months yet, but tickets are selling like crazy. "Tickets for The Lord of the Rings went on sale yesterday on the Internet only and were expected by midnight to reach an impressive total of nearly $1 million (all figures Canadian). Add to that the $3 million in advance group sales and it means that close to $4 million or roughly 40,000 tickets have been sold before the box office opens to the general public today at 9 a.m." Toronto Star 05/16/05

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Snubbed Jukebox Musicals Here To Stay This year's Tony nominations ignored jukebox musicals - those that are built around the songs of pop groups or pop songwriters, inserting them into a story. But that doesn't mean the popular shows are disappearing any time soon. Backstage (AP) 05/15/05

Dragone - Ambition Outstrips Ability Franco Dragone has reinvented theatre in Vegas. After a string of hits, he's undertaken his most ambitious show yet, at Steve Wynn's new mogul-named hotel. "Dragone's new water-based extravaganza -- which opened here last weekend -- is at once deeply troubled and proudly uncompromising; arrestingly original and inevitably derivative; dripping with heart and strangely removed. You could say much the same about the much-hyped Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, wherein whimsy has been left outside on the street. And yet "Le Reve" also is at war with its surroundings." Chicago Tribune 05/15/05

A Mammoth New Theatre For The District Washington, D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth theatre has been around for a quarter century without ever managing to settle down. Until now. "After playing for 25 years in churches, reconditioned auto repair shops, borrowed lodgings and places with stage ceilings only 12 feet high, the adventurous theater company today has almost everything its heart could desire. Just in time for tonight's official opening" at its new home in downtown D.C. Washington Post 05/14/05

Friday, May 13, 2005

Theatre Entrepreneur Still Going Strong At 91 Tony De Santis has opened a new theatre in Chicago - the Drury Lane at the Water Tower. This is the latest addition to the 91-year-old's theatre empire. "Well, I don't know anything about theater per se, so it's fair to say that I'm not a theater person," De Santis says with a chuckle from his office at Drury Lane Oak Brook. "But I am a very good businessman." Chicago Sun-Times 05/13/05

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Is Billy Elliott The Best British Musical Ever? Plenty of musicals being made from films these days. The new Billy Elliott is the best of them, writes Charles Spencer. "This is not a time to beat about the bush. Billy Elliot strikes me as the greatest British musical I have ever seen, and I have not forgotten Lionel Bart's Oliver! or Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. There is a rawness, a warm humour and a sheer humanity here that is worlds removed from the soulless slickness of most musicals." The Telegraph (UK) 05/12/05

Yikes - Brits Everywhere! Three American clasics on Broadway have been directed by Brits. "The continuing tragedy of American theater is that it doesn’t have confidence in its own culture. It doesn’t reveal security in its own glorious past. If it did, there would be no need to ask British directors to stage American classics. There would be no need for Anglophilia. Now, on the one hand, I don’t believe in cultural borders. Theater is an international art form, and artistic exchanges can revitalize both cultures. On the other hand, I strongly believe that American artists should not be treated as also-rans because the British are cravenly thought of as somehow "better." New York Observer 05/12/05

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Motherlode Of Hamlet (Online) It's taken a team of scholars 10 years to "compile every piece of scholarship and criticism about Shakespeare's Hamlet, and then to link it, line by line, to the text in an online database. The mammoth project, supported by some $1-million in grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is nearing completion -- although editors plan to add to it as they find more material." Chronicle of Higher Education 05/11/05

Doubt Wins NY Drama Critics Award "Doubt by John Patrick Shanley today won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best play of the 2004-2005 season. The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh received the award for best foreign play. No award was given for best musical." About Last Night (AJBlogs) 05/11/05

UK's Regional Theatre Movement It wasn't too long ago that British theatre meant London's West End. No more. "Regional theatre is becoming bigger, bolder and better, led by some extremely talented artistic directors, making use of the extra £25m pumped into regional theatre as a result of the Arts Council Theatre Review. Over the last few years, visionary artistic directors working at regional theatres have actually set the agenda for national theatre as a whole, and have done so with huge box office success." Oxford Student 05/11/05

Minneapolis Company Wins Regional Tony "Theatre de la Jeune Lune, the inventive theater troupe conceived in Paris in 1978 before moving permanently to Minneapolis in 1985, has won this year's Tony Award for best regional theater. The award, announced Tuesday in New York City, honors a company's general artistic excellence and achievement. It comes with a $25,000 purse and will be presented June 5 at the Tony ceremonies." The Star-Tribune 05/11/05

NY Mag Fires John Simon New York Magazine has fired longtime theatre critic John Simon. "Jeremy McCarter, theatre critic for the New York Sun, was named as Simon's replacement. McCarter's first review for New York will appear June 1. Simon is known equally for his considerable erudition, his longevity as a critic (he is 79) and his vituperative style. His stinging reviews—particularly his sometimes vicious appraisals of performers' physical appearances—have periodically raised calls in the theatre community for his removal." Playbill 05/10/05

  • Simon Firing - An Odd Move Terry Teachout on John Simon: "As the saying goes, John Simon has forgotten more about theater than I'll ever know. For all the controversies he stirred up over the years, he was and is a critic of the very first rank, not least because of his ability to place what he sees on stage in so wide and deeply informed a cultural context. Even when I disagree with him, I take no one else's opinions as seriously." About Last Night (AJBlogs) 05/11/05

Picking The Tonys Who will win this year's Tony Awards? Terry Teachout handicaps the field... About Last Night (AJBlogs) 05/10/05

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Why Theatre? "Agreed, commercial theatre is too expensive. And, agreed, theatre, unlike TV and film, doesn't always look like 'real life'. And, yes, theatre can seem middle class and unexciting - particularly when, like these critics, you judge the entire art form on the basis of a few middle-of-the-road West End examples. Theatre, though, is alive. The performers are right there, their awfulness (if awful they be) as hard to avoid as beads of their sweat and spittle. Other people are there too, in the audience next to you. Theatre is an inescapably communal, corporeal experience." The Guardian (UK) 05/10/05

Playwright Turns Down Prize Quebec playwright Wajdi Mouawad has turned down the prestigious Molière theatre prize to honour the greatest living francophone writer. "He declined the award, given for his play Littoral, saying the gesture was a protest against the indifference theatre directors have displayed toward his work." CBC 05/10/05

Spamalot Leads Tony Nominations "Monty Python's Spamalot" leads this year's Tony nominations with 14. "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "The Light in The Piazza" got 11 each. The Pulitzer Prize-winning "Doubt," John Patrick Shanley's drama of uncertainty set against the backdrop of a Catholic school in the Bronx, received eight nominations.
Yahoo! (AP) 05/10/05

Monday, May 9, 2005

Sydney Theatre - Jumbo Jet On A Card Table The Sydney Theatre Company posts a small surplus. But it's not enough says the company's director. "When you make a profit of $12,000 on a turnover of $22 million, you are landing a jumbo jet not so much on a tennis court but a card table. The fine line between survival and the awful alternatives is becoming finer, and to be only able to do that when we have, in fact, played through our highest ever box office and raised our largest ever amount from private support is a worrying trend." Sydney Morning Herald 05/10/05

Two New Names On Broadway The Shuberts rename two of its Broadway theatres for two longtime lawyers for the company. "In an industry in which having one's name placed on a marquee is considered the highest of honors - usually reserved for playwrights, impresarios, owners and composers - the decision to rename the theaters was met with skepticism from the Broadway community, a tough crowd if ever there was one." The New York Times 05/10/05

Play Factor - Competing For the West End A new British TV reality series aims to find a young playwright and get his or her work in the West End. "The programme, called The Play's The Thing, will be in the spirit of Operatunity and Musicality, previous reality arts shows from Channel 4. Novice playwrights are invited to submit scripts, which will be whittled down by Sonia Friedman, an agent and a director. The series will follow the winning writer as he or she develops the play, and go behind the scenes as the production is prepared from raising the investment to opening night." The Guardian (UK) 05/10/05

Spamalot Cleans Up At Awards "Monty Python's Spamalot," based on the cheeky British troupe's film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," won four Outer Critics Circle Awards on Sunday, including the prize for best Broadway musical. Backstage (AP) 05/09/05

Sunday, May 8, 2005

What Happened To The Broadway Showstopper? "Broadway musicals have long proved they can tell important stories without losing entertainment value. But as that idea has evolved, theatrically credible plot lines don't accommodate the kind of consolidation of music, character and star presence that is the showstopper. Modern, linear storytelling instead dictates that resources be spread around the show's landscape of personalities." Philadelphia Inquirer 05/08/05

The High School Musical Gets Big High school musicals have become big business, with schools buying advanced stage equiment and spending tens- and even hundreds- of thousands of dollars on their productions. "Because they are pouring more into their musicals - and thus having to sell more tickets, at higher prices - schools are becoming big business for licensing companies like Music Theater International and R&H Theatricals, which in the past made nearly all of their money from professional productions. Freddie Gershon, chairman of M.T.I., estimates that licensing for the school market is now a $75 million to $100 million annual business." The New York Times 05/08/05

Thursday, May 5, 2005

It's Tony Season Again "With 39 productions, this has been a bustling Broadway season, one of the busiest in more than a decade. So the joy of those anointed could be tempered by a nagging question: Who will be left out when the 2005 Tony Awards nominations are announced May 10? There may be a few surprises." Baltimore Sun (AP) 05/05/05

Chicago's Unique Place In Theatre "Chicago has always been a city with an exceptionally vibrant theater scene - arguably as exciting, if not as commercially successful, as New York's. Malkovich's return is a reminder of the many talented actors and writers - Gary Sinise, David Mamet, John C. Reilly - who got their start here. But it's also been a city of ensembles, rather than stars - a town known for collaboration, rather than cutthroat competition (among theater companies, at least). And its audiences are still unusually quick to embrace edgy, untested fare." Christian Science Monitor 05/06/05

A Broadway With Substance... (Who Knew?) Broadway has some meaty new plays this season. "Significant new works by August Wilson, Michael Frayn and Donald Margulies were produced on the Great White Way this season, and the two new plays still on the boards, John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt" and Martin McDonagh's "Pillowman," are causing the kind of excitement among audiences that is usually reserved for overproduced and overhyped musicals." The New York Times 05/06/05

Blue Man Dispute Escalates "Vowing to kick their campaign up a notch, theatrical unions have unveiled a bright yellow, 700-square-foot billboard as the next phase of their Blue Man Group boycott. 'Why won't the Blue Man Group work with us?' asks the billboard, which is just south of the Panasonic Theatre where the Blue Man production is slated to open next month. A lunchtime information picket was held yesterday outside the theatre to mark the unveiling of the billboard. The unions — Canadian Actors' Equity, Toronto Musicians' Association, and Locals 58 and 822 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — are angry at the Blue Man Group's refusal to sit down and work with the unions on issues such as wages and benefits." Toronto Star 05/05/05

Sweet Debut Hits Broadway, But How Long Can The Fairy Tale Last? After months of toil, strife, and seemingly endless backstage drama, the Christina Applegate-led revival of Sweet Charity has opened on Broadway. "This production has generated theater news of a kind you supposed didn't happen anymore, or perhaps never really happened except in old backstage movies. Star breaks leg (well, a bone in her foot) twirling off lamppost onstage in Chicago; talented understudy (Charlotte d'Amboise) opens for star in Boston; producers decide to close show; star insists that she will, will get better in time for a delayed New York opening and helps raise the extra money to ensure show's arrival, just before the deadline for Tony nominations." But a fairy-tale ending requires more than determination, and Charity may not make the cut. The New York Times 05/05/05

  • Determination No Substitute For Talent "Valiant behavior is no replacement for musical talent or the know-how acquired in years of stage experience. Applegate possesses neither. She has limited musical theater instincts -- she wanders off-key rather often -- and though she makes admirable attempts to move like a real dancer, you're aware in every pivot that she isn't one. (The character, after all, is supposed to dance for her supper.) These deficiencies are as fatal to the production as root rot is to a garden." Washington Post 05/05/05

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Ray, The Musical Ray Charles' life story is going to be made into a Broadway musical. "Ray, a biopic inspired by his career, was released last year – just months after he died. Three producers who worked on that movie are behind the stage adaptation." CBC 05/04/05

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Tragedy In New York: Some Hollywood Stars To Go Without Tonys "The promise of Tony Awards is one of the ways that Broadway productions, rarely cash rich, are able to draw Hollywood performers to the stage for much less money than they could make doing a movie or a television show. (Or operating a nice lemonade stand.) But this year, Tony dreams will go unfulfilled for some big-name actors," due to a veritable glut of star power on the stages of the Great White Way. The New York Times 05/04/05

Broadway Takes A Turn For The High-Minded "The traditional view of Broadway is that it's the greatest place in the world for razzle-dazzle musicals, but a desert when it comes to high culture. That's certainly not the case this year." In fact, this year's crop of New York theatre hits reads like a list of great American drama. The Telegraph (UK) 05/03/05

Broadway Catering To The Under-12 Crowd "Young audiences are big business for Broadway. Last year the group accounted for 1.3 million tickets sold, 11.2% of all tickets. And 30% of those 1.3 million were sold to kids younger than 12, according to surveys... Young people are such a presence at Broadway shows that the League of American Theatres and Producers has launched a kid-targeted Web site, generationbroadway.com, for children age 8 to 12." New York Daily News 05/03/05

Minneapolis's Hensley Wins Primus Prize "Michelle Hensley, artistic director of Minneapolis-based Ten Thousand Things Theater Company, has won the 2005 Francesca Primus Prize, a national award recognizing outstanding accomplishments by female artists in theater... She is the first non-playwright to win the award... Hensley founded Ten Thousand Things in Los Angeles in 1990, and moved to the Twin Cities in 1993. The company's repertoire includes everything from Shakespeare to Brecht to its current production of the musical Ragtime. Using actors with credits on the Twin Cities' major stages, Ten Thousand Things' productions are a perennial part of local critics' annual best-of lists. Though the company does paid public performances of its work, its core patrons are those in prisons, urban community centers, senior high rises and other audiences not generally exposed to theater." St. Paul Pioneer Press 05/03/05

Monday, May 2, 2005

Blue Man Brouhaha There is slightly more than a month to go before the popular Blue Man Group is to open a major show in Toronto, and the media blitz to promote the production has begun. But the group remains locked in a bitter struggle with the unions representing actors, musicians, and stagehands, with no end in sight. Blue Man Group has never been a union show, but has usually paid its participants at rates comparable to those required by labor organizations. Organizers say they don't understand why they can't coexist with union shows, as they have in so many other cities, but the unions appear dug in, and are ready to call for a boycott of the Toronto production. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/02/05

  • Taking The Gloves Off For the first several months of the dispute, Blue Man Group's founders were determined to take the high road, sure that they could satisfy Toronto's unions without actually becoming a union production. But with opening night approaching, the organizers' anger is mounting over what they see as a ridiculous double standard (they compare their organization to the Canadian troupe Cirque du Soleil, which has never mounted a union show,) and over accusations that they are somehow "unprofessional." Toronto Star 05/02/05

Sunday, May 1, 2005

The Play That Defined A Nation England is a country awash in culture, with a particularly rich theatre history. Given that fact, you would think it would be difficult to single out one play that best defines the experience of being English throughout history. Not so, says Michael Billington: the two plays that make up William Shakespeare's epic Henry IV contain everything you will ever need to know about being English. The Guardian (UK) 04/30/05

Dark Days For Children's Theatre (Not Necessarily A Bad Thing) Children's theatre is booming in the UK. But all is not sweetness and light, as the new crop of plays and musicals has traded traditional treacle for an increasingly dark and foreboding view of the world, along with "a suspicion of all those who wield power, which for children of course means grown-ups." The kids are, of course, eating it up, but their grown-up chaperones may find more disturbing subtext than they are ready to handle. The New York Times 05/01/05

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