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Friday, March 31, 2006

The Year Of The Bard The Royal Shakespeare Company is preparing to mount every play the Bard ever wrote, all within a single calendar year. "A new 1,000-seat Stratford venue, the thrust-staged Courtyard, opens in July and will be used alongside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan. Not that matters are confined to conventional spaces; Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried, will host the politics and pageantry of Henry VIII." Belfast Telegraph (N. Ireland) 03/31/06

Thursday, March 30, 2006

And We Think Avenue Q Is Subversive? Sometimes, it must seem to South Koreans that their primary goal in life is to avoid offending, annoying, or otherwise poking at the repressive (and unbelievably sensitive) North Korean government. After all, when a neighboring country makes a habit of threatening to turn your capital city into a "sea of fire," you tend to make special efforts to placate them. So one can only imagine the consternation in Seoul when officials heard of plans to mount "a new musical about love, torture, and survival in a North Korean prison camp." The Christian Science Monitor 03/30/06

First "Complete" Shakespeare Folio To Be Sold "A rare book of Shakespeare's plays, considered to be one of the most important in British literature, is to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London. The complete first folio of the playwright's work had a print run of approximately 750 in 1623. However, only a third of these survive and most of them are incomplete. The book is being sold by Dr Williams's Theological Library in London, which hopes the proceeds - expected to be more than £3m - will secure its future." BBC 03/30/06

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Theatre Fined For Stage Collapse A British theatre has been fined after its stage collapsed while people were on it. "Thirty people were hurt during Sing-Along-A-Sound-of-Music at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre. Audience members, many dressed as nuns, had climbed onto the stage to join in a song before they fell 20ft into the orchestra pit in September 2003." BBC 03/29/06

Dinner Theatre Lands World Premiere A Minnesota dinner theatre lands the rights to produce the world premiere of "Easter Parade," a stage version of the classic 1948 movie with music by Irving Berlin. "Though new musicals frequently begin life outside New York, it's unusual for a theater — particularly a dinner theater in the suburbs — to earn the right to develop a high-profile title on its own. The Chanhassen production, scheduled to open in February, will be the template for amateur and professional productions. It could have a life on the road and has an outside shot at advancing to Broadway." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 03/29/06

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Of Thee I Sing - Musicals Bloom In West End London is poised to be awash in musicals on an order no one can remember. International Herald Tribune 03/27/06

Shakespeare, Political Animal Shakespeare wasn't just a great playwright, he was a skilled politician who worked hard to make his acting company the most successful in London. The Guardian (UK) 03/26/06

Rescue For Theatre Museum? The Royal Opera House in London is putting together a rescue plan for the Theatre Museum. "The museum, which is part of the capital's Victoria and Albert Museum, is under threat because it had a £2.5m lottery grant bid turned down." BBC 03/28/06

Vigilante Broadway Audience Takes On... The Rude Audience No question audience members are getting ruder and ruder in the theatre. On Broadway recently there has been a rash of vigilante actions against the transgressions of annoying audience members. One psychologist describes the situation as "an epidemic breakdown of boundaries. People have completely lost sight of what personal boundaries are."

New York Daily News 03/28/06

87-Year Run Almost Comes To End Over Unpaid Bills For 87 years, Veronica's Veil Players have annually staged "America's Passion Play." "That long run was nearly broken this weekend, with the gas supply to the group's ancient furnace cut off because of nearly $40,000 in unpaid bills. Friday's performance went on using space heaters, but about two dozen audience members left early. The Players' board decided to cancel the remaining four performances, through next weekend, and to re-mount June 2-11, when any remaining cold in the building will function, Szemanski joked, "like free air conditioning." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 03/28/06

Broadway Gets Back To Pre-9/11 Box Office "During the 2004/5 season, 1,302,590 international visitors attended a Broadway show. That total is on a par with figures for 1999-2000 of 1,320,617. It marks a significant improvement on figures from 2000/1 to 2003/4, which were 1,106,284, 525,834, 651,093 and 1,241,786, respectively. Additionally, internet purchases of theatre tickets have drastically increased over the last five years, with 29% of those surveyed mentioned that as the preferred method of purchase, up from 7% in 1999-2000." The Stage 03/27/06

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Is London's National Theatre Chasing Away UK's Playwrights? So David Hare is bringing his new work to America first, rather than to London and the National. "The bitter irony is that for years American dramatists have been looking to Britain - and specifically the National Theatre - to showcase their work. Now the boot seems to be on the other foot. Although Hare cites pragmatic reasons for staging his new play in New York, he is not exactly gruntled - as another British exile, PG Wodehouse, said - by his treatment by the National. And in this he is not alone." The Guardian (UK) 03/24/06

Seattle Rep To Produce "Rachel Corrie" Seattle Repertory Theatre will be the first big American company to produce the controversial "My Name is Rachel Corrie." "The fact that Rachel Corrie was from Olympia, and went to college at Evergreen, is a big part of why we want to do this. This is about someone local, who could have been any of us. And it's about what happens when your passion and activism reaches the level that hers did." Seattle Times 03/26/06

"Rings" Panned In The Press The new "Lord of the Rings" musical got generally beat up by critics last week. "Most reviewers said the show, which runs to almost four hours, did not live up to expectations. The Toronto Star described it as 'dull', while the Toronto Sun said it 'falls victim to its own hype'. But the granddaughter of author JRR Tolkien praised it for staying true to his classic tale. BBC 03/26/06

  • "Inventive" - A Minority View Of "Lord Of The Rings" "The Lord of the Rings is the most inventively staged show in history — as, indeed, it needed to be. The production’s pyrotechnics make all those gasp-inducing moments from blockbuster shows past seem primitive. That chandelier dropping in Phantom of the Opera? Pshaw. That helicopter landing in Miss Saigon? Ho hum. That revolving stage in Les Misérables? Puh-lease. More than that, these greatest hits of stagecraft seem gimmicky in hindsight. They don’t flow from a coherent vision of the source material in question or bear witness to a singular, original aesthetic — as LOTR’s gobsmacking special effects do." CBC 03/25/06

A "Fahrenheit 451" For The Information Age "More comic books, more sex. More nonbooks, more gossip. Plenty of facts but no meaning. Sounds like an average day at a 2006 magazine rack, or in cyberspace, or on the couch with television remote in hand. The danger was never really that we would lose access to information; it was that we would lose the ability, or the desire, to make intellectually rigorous use of it." The New York Times 03/25/06

Jeune Lune Attempts To Get Back In Tune Minneapolis' Theatre de la Jeune Lune announced last week that it was abandoning its longtime collective leadership model. "It's a long-overdue move. Though Jeune Lune pulled down the 2005 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater, it has been stuck in a morass that has hamstrung the company aesthetically and crippled it programmatically." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 03/25/06

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ouzounian: Rings Is Dull The reviews are in on Lord of the Rings, the musical. Toronto Star critic Richard Ouzounian had an unexpected reaction: "From the morning last March when this city first heard that a stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy would be having its world premiere here, some people hoped it would be magnificent, others feared it might be foolish. But no one ever thought it would wind up being dull. Yet somehow that's the most fitting word" Toronto Star 03/24/06

  • "Rings": It Makes The Movie Look Better "Artistically, the stage version makes the movie seem that much more impressive. Neither a straight drama nor a traditional musical, the new production succeeds only as a dazzling spectacle. Even so, you'll need to bone up on the books just to follow what's going on, let alone enjoy the ride. Or better yet, get the DVDs, which for all their interminable length demonstrate how material as intractable as Tolkien's can be made dramatically addictive." Los Angeles Times 03/24/06

  • Lord of the Rings" Onstage - Unfinished Business "The blueprint for the adaptation — a heroic, if misguided, undertaking billed as a hybrid of drama, music and spectacle — is now in place. All it needs is an engaging storytelling approach, an emotional arc, credible performances and a more coherent musical score. In other words, what's missing from this adaptation is the essence of theatre itself as that divine place for sharing stories and forging emotional connections between the audience and the performers." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/24/06

  • Brantley: "Rings" Is Lost In Space This ambitious effort, writes Ben Brantley, is "a murky, labyrinthine wood from which no one emerges with head unmuddled, eyes unblurred or eardrums unrattled. Everyone and everything winds up lost in this $25 million adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's cult-inspiring trilogy of fantasy novels. That includes plot, character and the patience of most ordinary theatergoers." The New York Times 03/24/06

  • "Rings" - It Takes More Than Money To Make Theatre "Behold a paradox. "Lord" is now viable on stage because of the popularity of the movies. Yet even at this stunning budgetary level, theater can't compete with film unless it finds its own, distinctive language. That hasn't sufficiently happened here. And as a result, the iconography of the show isn't fresh enough. Yet, at least." Chicago Tribune 03/24/06

Thursday, March 23, 2006

  • An Early Critical Consensus On "Rings"? The mega-production of Lord of the Rings opened in Toronto Thurday night. "The general feeling is that the spectacle overwhelms the story, and that the hybrid musical/non-musical doesn't really work. It's not that three-and-a-half hours is too long - some of us are used to sitting through Wagner. It's that it isn't enough time to tell the story. Even Peter Jackson needed nine hours of movie time." The Guardian (UK) 03/24/06

Live And Synthetic An actress in London's West End is delivering her lines with synthetic vocal cords. "Who's Afraid of Virginia's Sister by Sarah Daniels stars disabled actress Amy Golden in the lead role using a communication aid with a synthesised voice to deliver her lines." BBC 03/23/06

The Shire Has Its Day - But Will It Last? It's opening night in Toronto for the CAN$28 million stage production of Lord of the Rings, and seemingly everyone is holding his breath. "LOTR is unusual in being a show that is nearly impossible to define, because it simultaneously is and is not a musical, is and is not a play, is and is not a circus act, is and is not a vast spectacle. It's a theatrical experience unlike any other. But how it is ultimately defined, by critics and audiences, will go a long way toward determining whether the show runs for one year -- or many years." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/23/06

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hare Skipping UK For Broadway David Hare is skipping London and opening his new play in New York. "No fewer than 13 of Sir David's previous works, including Racing Demon, Pravda and Plenty, have had their premieres at the National Theatre in London. However, Sir David said that his last stint there, for his play Stuff Happens two years ago, was 'almost the most frustrating experience I have ever had in the theatre'. The National's way of doing things, he said, was not helpful to playwrights. The Guardian (UK) 03/23/06

Renovation Plans Humming Right Along Next year, Toronto's Hummingbird Centre will close for a 20-month renovation, which is expected to revitalize the theatre's place in the city's cultural landscape. Which isn't bad for a building that wasn't expected to survive at all once its resident opera and ballet companies moved out three years ago. Toronto Star 03/22/06

Everybody Loves Jackman Broadway's most valuable leading man, Hugh Jackman, must feel pretty popular these days. Not only does he have multiple offers on the table, but some of New York's most powerful theatre companies are openly fighting over his services. New York Post 03/22/06

Using Hobbits As A Tourist Draw Make no mistake, Toronto has a lot riding on its expensive embrace of the theatrical version of Lord of the Rings, and the show's success or failure will create ripple effects that reach far outside the city's theatre district. "In recent years, Toronto has suffered the multiple blows of a post-9/11 tourism slump, SARS and the meteoric rise of both the Canadian dollar and the price of gas. These factors have helped cut the number of United States visitors from 3.2 million in 2000 to 2.7 million last year. And so Toronto's tourism officials, along with everyone from parking lot owners to hoteliers, are optimistically counting on The Lord of the Rings to bring in the fans." The New York Times 03/22/06

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sweeney Todd Breaks Even "Broadway's new Sweeney Todd has recouped its initial $3.5 million investment in 19 weeks (as of the week ending March 12). It is rare for a Sondheim show to recoup its investment on Broadway. Among his few financially successful outings is the original mounting of A Little Night Music." Yahoo! (Playbill) 03/21/06

Dylan Show Closes In San Diego After Another Draft "Director-choreographer Twyla Tharp's surreal spectacle set to Bob Dylan songs is now somewhere between Draft 2 and the final Draft 3 that will open on Broadway this fall. Those terms come from Tharp herself, who calls a private workshop performance of the fledgling show last year in New York "Draft 1" and the Globe show of two months ago "Draft 2." In residence here since early December, the workaholic Tharp has attended most of the 65 performances since previews began." San Diego Union-Tribune 03/19/06

"Movin' Out" Dancer Sues Show For $100 Million She "says in the lawsuit that she was repeatedly humiliated and intimidated in front of other cast members by the show's stage manager about an increase in the size of her breasts, which necessitated alterations to her costumes." Houston Chronicle (AP) 03/21/06

Monday, March 20, 2006

Latino Theatre Company Wins Management Of Theatre Center The Latino Theatre Company has been granted money to manage the Los Angeles Theatre Center in downton LA. "The awarding of the management agreement brings to a close a drawn-out — and often contentious — battle over who should run the historic venue, which served as a home to the Latino Theater, Will & Company, Moving Arts and Playwrights' Arena theater companies." Los Angeles Tribune 03/20/06

Can Kevin Spacey Turn Around The Old Vic? Kevin Spacey is dealing with another play at the Old Vic getting a critical drubbing. Spacey's trying to make the theatre work. But it's an uphill battle... The Observer (UK) 03/19/06

Plays Fresh As The News Plays ripped from the headlines can give us a different perspective on those stories. "Ultimately, theater is mostly about being pulled into stories — familiar ones, new ones. And as polarizing or perplexing as our present-day stories can be, they come to us from a different angle in the theater than from our TV sets or computer screens."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Rings" - Aiming For Three-Plus Hours Lord of the Rings, the musical, is long. Very long. "As the March 23 opening night bears down on the cast and crew of the most expensive theatrical show of all time, several issues still need attention. Some scenes and characters don't work quite right. The music must be tweaked. Actors are still working on their characters. And the show's producers must fix these things while making it all go faster — far faster than the nearly five hours the show ran at its first night of previews Feb. 4." Toronto Star 03/19/06

This Is What a $23 Million Musical Looks Like (Almost) The new Lord of the Rings musical costs $23 million. "This is one of the most expensive theatrical productions ever, and it comes on the heels of an Oscar-winning film trilogy of the Tolkien classics, of which more than 100 million books have been sold worldwide. On top of paring 1,200 pages to 3 1/2 hours of text and music to tell the by now familiar tale of hobbits, elves and humans pitted against evil wizards and their henchmen, the creators faced the challenge of assembling a team of 75 technicians from around the world, a cast of 55 — classical actors, singers, dancers and acrobats — and a 25-piece orchestra." Los Angeles Times 03/19/06

Tonys Ban Voter Swag Oscar "goodie bags" were worth more than $100,000 to presenters. There will be no such largesse to voters for the Tonys. "The Tony Awards Rules Committee has adopted resolutions that ban the distribution of "any campaign or promotional materials to voters, other than a script or a cast recording" tied to a show in award contention. The resolutions also prohibit nominees' promotion through any communication that disparages or casts "any negative or derogatory light on a competing production, element, person or achievement." Los Angeles Times 03/19/06

Can Chicago Repeat "Wicked"? "Wicked" has been a huge hit in Chicago. Can its success be repeated? "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" hopes to do just that. "In Chicago, at least, "Spelling Bee" and "Wicked" have some notable similarities. Both musicals currently are successful -- and profitable -- on Broadway. Both share a New York-based producer in David Stone. Both will have open-ended, dedicated, sit-down Chicago productions (as distinct from mere stops on a tour) that hope to be around for years." Chicago Tribune 03/19/06

After 21 Years Adams Leaves TheatreWorks One of the Bay Area's longest-serving and most successful managing directors is leaving. Randy Adams has led TheatreWorks, and "for 21 years, working with founder and Artistic Director Robert Kelley, Adams helped transform an ambitious small Palo Alto company with a $300,000 budget to one of the region's leading theaters, operating in two cities, with a growing national reputation and a budget of $7 million." San Francisco Chronicle 03/19/06

A Theatre Collective Decides To Appoint A Leader Since its founding 28 years ago, Minneapolis/St. Paul's Theatre de la Jeune Lune has been a collective, without a sole leader. That is about to change, as the company names its first director. "It is about time, said many admirers. Some feared that the theater's internal fights over its direction and its guiding ideology, exacerbated in recent years by interpersonal rancor that has all but paralyzed decisionmaking, would lead it the way of the dodo." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 03/19/06

New Theatre, No Adventure Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre is about to move in to a new $125 million theatre. As a prominent regional theatre, it can program almost anything it wants. But "the theater's season announced this week is not merely unadventurous. This line-up is downright deflating, especially since it is the first opportunity to see shows in a hard-won facility sold partly on the promise of being a place that will push theater forward." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 03/19/06

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Workshop Denies Bias, Wonders At Controversy New York Theater Workshop continues to insist that the dustup over the cancellation of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" is nothing more than a misunderstanding, and not, as some critics would have it, a deliberate attempt to silence certain theatrical voices. "Whether a misunderstanding or not, how the workshop, an artistically bold and popular company, found itself in such an embarrassing public jam still baffles [the company's directors,] who said they did not know the extent of the public relations damage and financial cost." The New York Times 03/16/06

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Needed - A Political Theatre For NY The uproar over New York Theatre Workshop's cancellation of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" "shows that New York needs a theater free from the prejudices of its funders and subscribers, one immune to special interests..." Time Out New York 03/16/06

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Barrier To Risky Theatre? "Today's playwrights are a motivated, opinionated, highly intelligent, politically aware group of angry young men and women. It's not that we don't want to write big, demanding plays. It's that we're so often frustrated in our ambitions. And why? One reason comes up time and again: money." The Guardian (UK) 03/15/06

Corporate World Discovers Theatre The corporate world has discovered acting school. Several acting schools around the world are dispensing tips from the typically more lively world of drama. "You have a unique way of seeing the world. In the business world, we try to help bring that to the workplace and have it be more than a job. It becomes a creative platform." Backstage 03/14/06

Monday, March 13, 2006

Harold Pinter On Whether He'll Write More Plays: "I've been writing poetry since my youth and I'm sure I'll keep on writing it till I conk out. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've written 29 damn plays. Isn't that enough?" The Guardian (UK) 03/14/06

The Broadway Wrapped In Failure A new book chronicles the backstage perils and failures of Broadway bombs. "Dramas are hard enough. Musicals, to judge by the on-the-scene accounts by several critics and journalists assembled here, seem particularly fraught with a special kind of peril. 'When disparate elements don't gel, panic sets in. With the clock running out, and the bankroll running low, and superegos running amuck, strange things can happen'."

Deaf Theatre Loses Funding, Might have To Close The 38-year-old National Theatre of the Deaf has lost a major grant and the theatre's leaders fear the company might not be able to continue. "Without the $680,000 annual grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Theatre of the Deaf slashed its annual budget from $1.2 million to $300,000." Hartford Courant 03/12/06

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another Play - The Success Burden So you've produced a play and it's been well received on Broadway. Now what? "Expectations rise along with the number of opportunities to disappoint fans, who tend to want what they've so memorably enjoyed before. Then, of course, there are the critics, a few of whom specialize in holding artists to the impossibly high standards of their best works. These dramatists (one almost feels inclined to label them 'poor little rich') are damned if they attempt to produce more of the award-winning same and damned if they don't." Los Angeles Times 03/12/06

Canadian Stopgap For Billy? "Is Billy Elliot, the biggest hit now on the London stage, going to open in Toronto before New York? That depends on whom you talk to." Promoters are downplaying the idea after it was initially reported in a New York tabloid, but according to sources in Toronto, many performers are being told to "keep their schedules clear" for the show. Toronto Star 03/11/06

On The Fringes Of Success There was a time when the only real gain you could achieve by being included in the New York Fringe Festival was the satisfaction of a job well done, and hopefully, a few tepid reviews. But ever since Urinetown leaped from the Fringe to Broadway back in 1999, the festival has become a whole new ball game, with any number of people keeping score. The New York Times 03/11/06

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Corrie" Goes On In Seattle A play about peace activist Rachel Corrie might be too hot for New York Theatre Workshop, but a version of Corrie's life is playing at a small theatre in Seattle... Seattle Post-Intelligencer 03/10/06

Guthrie Head To Step Down On the eve of opening a new home for Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre, managing director Tom Proehl says he'll leave the job. "I've been so focused on this new building for the last 2½ years. I thought this was a good time for me to say, 'I got us here. Let's move on.' The new Guthrie will be a very different place, and I think it will do well with a fresh perspective on what it can really be." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 03/10/06

Thursday, March 9, 2006

London's Wicked Anticipation Londoners are looking forward to "Wicked", which opens in September. The show "has broken London box office records to sell £100,000 of tickets in its first hour, with theatregoers queuing from 6.30am in the morning to secure a purchase." TheStage 03/09/06

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The "Corrie" Case - Big Disappointment New York Theatre Workshop's decision to back down from presenting "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" says something about the current state of New York's theatre scene. "We have reached the unacceptable face of the New York arts scene when the theater that produced the original Rent—and, more to the point, the conscience plays of Tony Kushner and Caryl Churchill—should cave in like this to peculiar, unspecific pressure." New York Observer 03/08/06

Where Are The Right-Wing Playwrights? Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes says there's a problem with today's theatre. What? There's a shortage of right-wing playwrights. "There are all sorts of interesting areas for the right wing playwright to get into - the subversion of parliament, the intrusion of government into every day life. You could write a play about any of these things and technically it would be a right wing play but the phrase 'right wing' has now been kind of cast out into the shadows." BBC 03/08/06

Small Theatres Struggling In Minny Minneapolis-based Pig's Eye Theatre has canceled the remainder of its 2005-06 season and will focus on raising enough money to mount a comeback next winter. Pig's Eye, which operated on a shoestring and was known locally for an offbeat combination of classic repertoire and edgier fare, is at least the second small company in the Twin Cities to face its own mortality in the last year, as high rents and economic malaise take their toll in a region loaded down with theatre. St. Paul Pioneer Press 03/08/06

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

London's Theatre Museum On The Brink London's Theatre Museum is in danger of closing down after its second bid for £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund was turned down. The Stage 03/07/06

Monday, March 6, 2006

Producers Looking For New NY Venue For "Rachel Corrie" London's Royal Court Theatre is considering other opportunities to stage "My Name is Rachel Corrie" in New York after New York Theater Workshop canceled a planned production because of political concerns. "Royal Court's statement took issue with the workshop's assertion that the planned production of "Rachel Corrie" was not definite, saying that press releases had been finalized, previews set, budgets approved, flights booked and tickets listed for sale." The New York Times 03/07/06

"Corrie" Cancellation Heretical New York Theatre Workshop was surprised when there were big protests over its decision not to present "My Name Is Rachel Corrie." It shouldn't have been. "What made it a more volatile act was that by declining for now to offend with the play, the theater violated the most sacred principles of our artistic temples. Those principles are: Thou shalt offend, thou shalt test limits, thou shalt cause controversy. If there is an artistic orthodoxy in the West, it is that good art is iconoclastic and provocative, and that any pull back from this orthodoxy is cowardly and craven. In this distended context, the New York Theater Workshop's act was heretical." The New York Times 03/06/06

Sunday, March 5, 2006

The Shakespeare Industry At Full Roar The who-was-Shakespeare industry is currently in full gear. "Last year saw no fewer than three hefty biographies, distilled from the slim documentary record of Shakespeare’s existence and coloured up into portraits through socio-historical detail and complex deductions from the plays and poems. Soon the Royal Shakespeare Company will launch a multinational season of the “Complete Works” at Stratford-upon-Avon, with 41 full-scale productions. And now we have the National Portrait Gallery’s Searching for Shakespeare, an exhibition centring on eight pictures that have at one time or another been accepted as true images of the Bard." Financial Times 03/03/06

Hytner - Recipe For Success Nicholas Hytner has become a star as he turns around the fortunes of London's National Theatre. "Allying a series of bold, eye-catching plays with a policy of massively cutting ticket prices, Hytner's vision has paid off spectacularly. New audiences packed its auditoriums for everything from headline-making Jerry Springer: the Opera to an ambitious production of Philip Pullman's children's bestseller His Dark Materials to David Hare's savagely docu-realist account of the run-up to the Iraq war, Stuff Happens. Hytner was widely credited with reviving not just the National, but theatre at large." Sydney Morning Herald 03/06/06

Selling A Canadian Unknown On Broadway "How do you sell $1-million (U.S.) worth of tickets a week to a show that practically nobody's heard of? You cast your eyes across the Broadway musical-theatre landscape, and this is what you see stacked up against your baby: big stars and big brands. How do you position a smart, funny musical from first-time Broadway writers, with an ensemble cast and a lead from Canada?" You get unconventional... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/05/06

The LaChiusa Method "At a time when most songwriters would kill to wangle a no-budget workshop in a downtown black box, Michael John LaChiusa is regularly produced by the foremost institutional theaters in the country, and now even by opera houses. But part of the controversy stems from his insistence on bringing a seriously modern sensibility to a form mostly consigned to the ash heap of nostalgia. Whether you judge his musicals to be successful or not — and critics are divided — they are never glib or self-cannibalizing." The New York Times 03/05/06

Playwrighting Chicago Chicago's always had a great theatre scene. "Many Chicago playwrights are perfectly happy to stay put -- as long as their work gets out on the road." Chicago Tribune 03/05/06

Color Purple - A New Musical Juggernaut? "The Color Purple" got mixed reviews in New York. "But thanks in part to Winfrey's involvement with the show -- and its iconic title -- it has proved a broad popular hit. According to producer Scott Sanders, the New York production currently has $22 million banked in advance sales." And now a production is opening in Chicago for an extended stay. Chicago Tribune 03/05/06

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Scottish Theatre Faces Closure Scottish theatres fear they will have to close under a new public arts funding scheme. "For 7:84, which has in the past received around £250,000 a year from the arts council, "core" funding will run out in August. It will be able to apply for funding for individual projects that run from March 2007 onwards, but with no guarantee of getting anything." The Scotsman 03/02/06

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

(Inspired) By The Bard One of the Shakespearean legends that has sprung up over the centuries is the existence of a lost play, The History of Cardenio, based on Don Quixote and lost to the mists of time since at least the 18th century. No one is certain what became of the original, but one scholar from Florida has been working feverishly to reconstruct the play from what little source material remains. It's a controversial project, since the reconstructed play can never hope to be authentic, but some scholars say its worth some inaccuracy to get a glimpse of what Shakespeare might have written. The New York Times 03/01/06

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