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Friday, June 30, 2006

If All Of America Could See Just 365 Plays... "From Nov. 13, 2002, to Nov. 12, 2003, Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a short play each day. Now comes '365 days/365 plays,' conceived and produced by Parks and Bonnie Metzgar. Billed as the largest theatrical collaboration in U.S. history, hundreds of theater companies around the nation will team to make sure that each play is staged on its fourth birthday — or at least during its birthday week — starting Nov. 13, 2006." Los Angeles Times 06/30/06

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How The Web Is Helping Actors "As it has for professionals in all fields, the Internet has become an invaluable resource for performers to land jobs and make connections seemingly overnight. The proliferation and popularity of inexpensive Web-only series and "mobisodes" (content created for mobile devices) has been a boon to nonunion actors. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have also recognized the importance of online media, making negotiations for residuals from content rebroadcast on the Web and mobile phones a priority." Backstage 06/29/06

Director: Critics Caused LOTR's Early Closing It's official: Lord of the Rings is dead in Toronto, where the multi-million dollar show was launched less than a year ago. The show's director lays the blame for the untimely demise squarely at the feet of the Toronto press, which did not exactly embrace the show. "Calling London the 'spiritual home' of The Lord of the Rings, Mr. Wallace argued that the production, which will open in the West End next June, has a distinctively British sensibility that North American critics did not appreciate." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/29/06

  • So What Really Went Wrong? Emotional ranting aside, it's unlikely that snarky critics were actually responsible for Lord of the Rings falure to connect with Toronto theatre audiences. "Despite some innovative stagecraft, The Lord of the Rings, in the version critics saw at least, was a hollow, lifeless affair with no real emotional pull to the storytelling, the music or the acting. The story itself proved confusing to anybody not familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy of books. Not even the lengthy synopsis in the program was of much help." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/29/06

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rings May Close In Toronto By Summer's End The stage adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings may be the biggest thing to hit the Toronto theatre scene in years, but that still may not have been enough to make it profitable. "A new closing date for the Toronto production will be announced within days or weeks, sources say. Although tickets are on sale until Sept. 24, the show may not continue beyond Labour Day... Until now, attendance has been good enough to meet the show's running costs and pay its marketing bills — but not high enough to allow investors to recoup more than a fraction of the money they put up." Toronto Star 06/28/06

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In Lieu Of West End Loos What? "At the moment, the minimum number of toilets required at a venue is based on an equal male/female split of the largest possible audience. But women end up queuing interminably because they spend an average of 90 seconds in the john, while men are in and out in 35 seconds. West End theatres are especially bad." The Guardian (UK) 06/27/06

New Leadership Model At Stratford "Des McAnuff, who directed this year's Tony-winning musical "Jersey Boys," has been named artistic director at the Stratford Festival, the classical repertory theater in Ontario, Canada. As part of a new arrangement for Stratford, Mr. McAnuff will become one of three artistic directors, along with Marti Maraden, who has recently completed an eight-year term as the artistic director of English theater at the National Arts Center in Canada, and Don Shipley, currently the artistic director and chief executive officer at the Dublin Theater Festival. The team will be led by Antoni Cimolino, who was appointed as Stratford's general director in April." The New York Times 06/27/06

Monday, June 26, 2006

Toronto Theatre Awards Top Honors To "Rings" "The Lord of the Rings took top honours at the 27th annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards last night. Despite some contrary reviews following its March opening, the mega-musical rendering of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy was the clear favourite among Toronto's theatre cognoscenti, in particular for stagecraft." Toronto Star 06/27/06

"Phantom" Sets Up Shop In Vegas Other Broadway musicals might be finding Las Vegas a tough town, but "Phantom" has opened in a lavish production. "It reportedly cost $75m to stage, including $40m to create a replica of the Paris Opera house inside the Venetian hotel." BBC 06/26/06

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is TV The Road To Talent In The Theatre? A British TV show is a search for theatrical talent. "Is it possible, the series asks, not only to select a credible winner from a pool of inchoate works in progress, but also to muscle it into shape — rewrite it, cast it, design it, stage it — in the space of a few months, so that it can open in the West End? And perhaps even more to the point, can it ever make money?" The New York Times 06/25/06

Guthrie's Gamble As Minneapolis's huge new Guthrie Theater opens for business this weekend, there's no question that the company has succeeded in building serious national buzz about its new home. But some observers wonder whether local audiences used to the old Guthrie's intimate surroundings will be put off by the grand scale of the new complex. And it's not as if theatregoers don't have other choices. "Guthrie's challenge in 1963 was to educate a market with only one Equity house, a few short-lived professional companies and a dozen community theaters. [Today, the company] is facing a mature -- some would argue saturated -- market in which he hopes to sell 140,000 more tickets each year." Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 06/24/06

Shakespeare In The Sky With... Umm... Music & Such-Like "The residents of Stratford-upon-Avon awoke yesterday to find a flotilla of hot air balloons drifting over their roofs serenading them with ambient music and readings from Shakespeare. The abstract sound-dream music, the composer called it - was pumped out of speakers attached to seven balloons which, for 45 minutes, brought sleeping residents slowly and serenely to their waking senses as they floated overhead. That was the idea, anyway. The reality was, hovering sometimes as little as 150ft up, they provoked a rush of pyjama and dressing gown-clad men, women and children into their gardens to get a better look." The Telegraph (UK) 06/24/06

Friday, June 23, 2006

Wrangling Over A DC Theatre "In Washington DC "theater activists at least temporarily derailed a plan to create a roughly $2 million endowment for small area theaters. The endowment would have come from the sale of the Source Theatre's longtime home, which is being bought by Bedrock Management for $2.8 million. The activists argued that the funds would be quickly dissipated and forgotten and that the artistic community would be better served by preserving the stage." Washington Post 06/23/06

Theatre Critic Wants Warnings For Audience Noise A London theatre critic is upset that "a performance of musical Into the Woods was spoiled by involuntary noises made by a group of mentally-disabled people. He has called for performances where such disruption is likely to be flagged up so others can choose whether to go. But managers at Derby Playhouse said their shows were open to all and the idea was unworkable and unfair." BBC 06/23/06

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Massive £25m Rings Musical To Hit West End The stage adaptation of Lord of the Rings, which debuted this spring in Toronto, is coming to London in June 2007. "The show promises to be a spectacle on a big scale with a cost to match - £25m. It will have a cast of more than 50 actors and about 90 musicians and crew. Seventeen hydraulic lifts will be used underneath the huge stage... [The] announcement comes against a backdrop of change in the industry. The budgets for theatre productions are getting bigger for an obvious reason - audiences want spectacle if they are paying up to £60 for a ticket." The Guardian (UK) 06/23/06

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Corrie" To Make It To NY My Name is Rachel Corrie will be coming to New York after all. A planned production was canceled earlier this year. But "Pam Pariseau and Dena Hammerstein, partners in James Hammerstein Productions, are bringing the play, critically acclaimed in London, to the Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village. Previews are to begin on Oct. 5, with an opening scheduled for Oct. 15. The play is to run for 48 performances, closing on Nov. 19." The New York Times 06/22/06

Singing Praises Of Temporary Theatres The Royal Shakespeare's new temporary theatre, built to house the company while its new permanent home is being built, is a real stunner. And that poses the perhaps heretical notion that "the best theatres aren't always those over which architects have laboured long and hard..." The Guardian (UK) 06/21/06

On Broadway - Enough With The British, Already! "When God created the middle class, He had only the British in mind. New York theatergoers’ Anglophilia is an incurable case of reverse snobbery, however, and the ghost of Noël Coward, for one, wishes to say from his chaise lounge in the sky, 'Ta ever so'." New York Observer 06/21/06

Denver Gets A New Set Of Theatre Awards "Denver Center took home eight out of 20 awards - including best season for a theater company - during the event at Denver Civic Theatre. The new awards, administered by the Colorado Theatre Guild, are named after local theater veteran Henry Lowenstein." Rocky Mountain News 06/21/06

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

DC Shakespeare Theatre Building New Home Washington DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company is hoping to open a second home in October 2007. The new home will feature a repertory style of presentation twice a year. "Shakespeare Theatre officials said they are still raising money for the new complex, the price tag for which has increased from $77 million to $85 million.The company has $55 million and needs about $30 million more." Washington Post 06/16/06

The Tri-Continental Play Play on Earth is "the world's first attempt to stage a theatrical event in three separate continents at the same time. The scheme is the brainchild of Station House Opera's artistic director Julian Maynard Smith, who has pioneered the art of linking up live theatrical performances via the internet." The Guardian (UK) 06/20/06

Remaking The Public Theatre "With its reach, history, and unique mix of uptown glamour and downtown ideals, the Public has long occupied a pivotal place in New York culture, but New York is not what it was when Joseph Papp, the Public’s founder, outdueled Robert Moses to bring Shakespeare to the park. At a complicated time, the place has a uniquely complicated leader. Oskar Eustis is bold and cautious, radical and judicious." New york Magazine 06/19/06

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Theatre That Ate (Or Energized?) Minnesota... Minnesota's Guthrie Theatre has always been a giant on the local theatre scene. But what impact will the theatre's huge new building have on the Twin Cities? "Will the new Guthrie, with an invigorated regional and national profile, create a rising tide that will help lift all theaters in the area? Or, with its increased need for audience and financial support, will it become the Theater That Ate the Twin Cities?" St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/19/06

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The New Guthrie A week from today, Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater will inaugurate its massive new home on the Mississippi riverfront. It's a big deal for the theater, of course, but the opening will also be a watershed moment for a city that has spent the last decade transforming a moribund downtown into one of the most vibrant urban areas in the country. "At 285,000 square feet, the new building is more than three times larger than the old Guthrie. Its bends, bows and cantilevered, 12-story-high 'Endless Bridge' render the architecture of Frenchman Jean Nouvel unmistakable along the riverfront. Three theaters within will draw thousands of people to the area, but the Guthrie also will be open day and night." St. Paul Pioneer Press 06/18/06

  • Adjusting The Thrust The new Guthrie complex sports no fewer than three performance spaces within its huge blue shell, each with its own theatrical mission. But the legacy of this company has always been predicated on its use of the "thrust" stage, which can make an audience feel like it's in the middle of the action, but can also limit a director's choices. In designing the new stages (one of which is a thrust,) the Guthrie's artistic team is hoping to preserve most of what Twin Cities audiences are used to seeing, but open up a wider range of options for the future. Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 06/18/06

  • So, What's Next? The Guthrie is only the latest in a recent string of major arts initiatives in Minneapolis, and Dominic Papatola says that it would be a mistake to stop now. "It took upward of $350 million to complete the [Walker Art Center], Guthrie, [Children's Theater Company] and [Minneapolis Institute of Arts] projects... But while it's all over, we should also remember that it's just beginning. The aftershocks of the first cultural building boom can already be felt." St. Paul Pioneer Press 06/18/06

Stratford Finally Crosses The Color Line The Stratford Festival is one of Canada's enduring theatrical institutions. So how can it be possible that next week's opening of a 1997 play by Djanet Sears marks the first time that the festival has featured a work by a black playwright, or an all-black cast? The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/17/06

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ontario's Stratford Festival Stages Its First Play By A Black Playwright Next week, Djanet Sears "officially becomes the first black playwright and the first black female director in the 54-year history of the Stratford Festival of Canada. The production will also be the first on any of its stages with an all-black cast." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/16/06

Cirque du Soleil Works With Troubled Kids In 19 Countries "The programs' team works with circus-arts instructors to teach troubled youth how to clown around, juggle and do more advanced circus techniques. Kids learn to use their imagination and balance, and to test their own physical limits. The instructors help them improve self-esteem, develop social skills and gain a sense of humour. They also teach self-control and discipline, and channel risk-taking and adrenaline in a positive way. 'Everyone who has experienced violence or trouble knows that adrenaline. What we do is modify that adrenaline. The difference is, people applaud you for it here'."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/16/06

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Broadway - The Best And Worst Of Times "If you're an admirer of Broadway-ready singing actors, it is a time of feast; there's never been more potentially showstopping talent.... The list of reliable marquee names and major emerging talents would make any casting director salivate. But what new shows are worthy of such talents?" The New York Times 06/16/06

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Expert Dismisses Leicester Theatre Plan Theatre consultancy guru Richard Pilbrow has dismissed designs for the new £48 million Leicester Performing Arts Centre by leading architect Rafael Vinoly as “impractical” and “extremely problematic”. TheStage 06/14/06

RSC Unveils Big Plans "The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has revealed outline plans to redesign its theatre complex at Stratford-upon-Avon. Plans include a 'thrust' stage for the main Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a 33m (108ft) tower marking a new entrance, a public square and a riverside walkway. Work is due to start in spring 2007 costing £100m, with £85m now raised." BBC 06/14/06

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Tony Box Office Bump Tony winners saw their ticket sales double at the box office Monday. "Perhaps the biggest surprise of all, though, was the television news. After two years of stagnant ratings, the Tony Awards telecast managed to draw in more viewers. According to preliminary Nielsen ratings, there were about 1.3 million additional viewers this year — 7.8 million, up from last year's 6.6 million — an increase of around 20 percent. The awards show started the night in first place for its time slot then slipped to second, behind the N.B.A. finals." The New York Times 06/13/06

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Did History Boys Win Tonys? "For me, it’s still surprising that The History Boys should make it to Broadway at all, let alone pick up six awards from the 750-odd theatre professionals, critics and odd bods who constitute the Tony voters. But serious plays, especially foreign ones, seldom do well on Broadway. Serious plays, even witty ones, are what closed yesterday." The Times (UK) 06/12/06

Staging The "Difficult" Musicals "There are plenty of so-called 'difficult' musicals, where 'difficult' actually refers to the sorts of challenge that raise the creative bar. Three of the most challenging musicals are about to open in Britain, two of them from the authorial pen of Oscar Hammerstein II." The Telegraph (UK) 06/12/06

Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Boys" Take Home The Tonys "The History Boys" received six Tonys, more than any other production, also taking home prizes for actor, Richard Griffiths; director, Nicholas Hytner; featured actress, Frances de la Tour; and two design prizes, sets and lighting. While "Jersey Boys," picked up the top musical prize and received four Tonys, its main competitor, "The Drowsy Chaperone," the Canadian-born musical that affectionately celebrates Broadway's past, won more awards — five — including best book and score." Yahoo! (AP) 06/11/06

Big Night Ahead For History Boys? So who will go home happy from tonight's Tony Awards ceremony? It might not be that hard to figure: "The best play and best play revival categories look to be about as suspenseful as a three-minute egg: Alan Bennett's History Boys and the revival of Clifford Odets's Awake and Sing!, said those polled, are safe money. The directors of those two plays, Nicholas Hytner and Bartlett Sher, are leading contenders in their category; Mr. Hytner will easily win. Indeed, The History Boys seems so likely to dominate the evening's proceedings that it would hardly be surprising if the play somehow won the award for best regional theater, even though the recipient has already been announced." The New York Times 06/09/06

Chicago Program Book Ceases Production "The League of Chicago Theatres, the advocacy organization for approximately 190 local venues, is about to cease publication of Chicago Plays," the program book created four years ago to replace the late, lamented "Stagebill." Chicago's extensive theatre community had hoped that a joint effort to produce a Chicago-specific program book would prove profitable, but as of this summer, the league owed $400,000 in back printing costs, and the project became unsustainable. Chicago Sun-Times 06/10/06

Friday, June 9, 2006

Going Global For Nutty Professor? "The Globe has very broadly discussed Jerry's project. We love Jerry, who, of course, worked with (artistic director) Jack O'Brien on 'Damn Yankees.' I've supported his effort and advised him on what it would take to get the project to the Globe. If the project moves along and it makes sense for Jerry and the Globe to work together, that would be terrific." San Diego Union-Tribune 06/08/06

On The Eve Of The Tonys, Thinking About Musicals "Though Broadway sold a record 12 million tickets in the 2005-06 season, the musical year was notable more for spectacular fiascoes than hits. Among the flops were "Lennon," about the late Beatle, and "Lestat," a big-budget Warner Bros. show with music by Elton John which closed after a month." Backstage 06/09/06

Thursday, June 8, 2006

A Plan To Open London Theatres On Sundays "While people are cramming into cinemas, museums and concert halls, the vast majority of theatres remain obstinately shut. It's mad. It's anomalous. Now, at last, something is being done about it. Nicholas Hytner, the director of the National Theatre, who has already revolutionised seat prices with his £10 Travelex-sponsored ticket scheme, is now working hard on his next big idea: to phase in Sunday opening." The Guardian (UK) 06/08/06

Will Jerry Lewis "Nutty Professor" Musical Ever See The Light Of Day? "They have no composer or lyricist. Those are not minor details when you're putting on a musical. They also aren't announcing the name of the book writer(s) yet, which does not suggest Mr. Lewis is working with anyone with any experience at all in doing a musical. They hope to do a tryout at the Old Globe in San Diego in 2007 but apparently, no one's bothered to tell the Old Globe about this. It's a little late to be booking for '07, plus a brand-new musical by new people will probably need more outta-town tryouts than a few weeks in San Diego before it'll be Manhattan-ready." POVOnline 06/08/06

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Getting Ahead With The Circus "The idea of using circus arts to help troubled youth was the brainchild of the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil. The Montreal-based entertainment empire began its first two "social circus" pilot projects in Chile and Brazil, in 1995. Today, Cirque du Soleil has 50 projects running in 19 countries, many of them in developing nations. Cirque du Soleil says the programs help get kids off the streets, off drugs, and improve their performance and behavior in school." Christian Science Monitor 06/06/06

Altered Reality - The Play's The Thing A reality show tries to pick a play that can be produced in London's West End. "Is a West End play different? You'd think the answer would be a straightforward no - a play is a play is a play - but if anything emerges from the first episode, it's that the concept is indeed nebulous. Sonia Friedman and her fellow judges, agent Mel Kenyon and actor Neil Pearson, row spectacularly as they sift through the 30 shortlisted entrants (cherry-picked from over 2,000 submissions: more than double the number of people who applied for Pop Idol, according to Younghusband)." The Guardian (UK) 06/07/06

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Jerry Lewis To Direct Nutty Professor Jerry Lewis is going to direct a Broadway musical version of "The Nutty Professor." "I've had an awful lot of inquiries about it for years, and I never really bothered to pay much attention to it. I saw this kid perform, and he wanted very much to do that, and he had money. I said, 'With those pockets, we'll give it a shot.'"
Yahoo! (AP) 06/06/06

Vegas The New Broadway? Naaw! (Didn't Work) Hairspray becomes the second high-profile musical to close prematurely in Vegas. "We make this decision with regret and disappointment, but with the reality that the show did not find the audience it needed for us to continue." Backstage 06/06/06

Hacker Sends Hoax Message About Director Quitting Theatre Paul Higgins has left the London fringe venue Theatre 503. But a hacker sent emails purportedly from Higgins saying he had left after a vote of no confidence. "The theatre is currently examining how someone could have gained access to the director’s account and says it is unaware of who might have held a grudge against him." TheStage 06/06/06

Monday, June 5, 2006

Julia Roberts' Broadway Turn - Not Selling Julia Roberts' star turn in "Three Days of Rain" was the talk of the city when it opened in April, but with two weeks left in the play's run, ticket brokers say they are finding themselves stuck with hundreds of seats — and are now selling ducats below face value... New York Daily News 06/05/06

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Does The Regional Tony Mean Anything? "On Broadway the Tonys sometimes help winning shows and sometimes make no difference at all. When the Tony lands at a regional theater, its effect is no more predictable. The winners of the regional award have varied widely." The New York Times 06/04/06

Broadway Directives This season on Broadway illustrated the worth of good directors. "The battle between art and commerce on what we occasionally still call the Great White Way, continues as ever. But the happy surprise this year is that if you focus on the ample good work being done — and ignore the largely crass cacophony of the season's musical fare, or the soulless star vehicles that will always be around — you might just be able to convince yourself that it's a fair fight." The New York Times 06/04/06

Friday, June 2, 2006

Let The Pointless Speculation Begin! (er, continue?) "Industry pundits and Tony voters are all over the place with their predictions" regarding who will take top honors for best musical in this year's awards show. This type of speculation is nothing new, of course, but with this year's race being as close as it apparently is, "some theater people wonder if the balance will be tipped by how the industry feels about the people behind each show." In an industry as insular as Broadway, that could make for some very hurt feelings. New York Post 06/02/06

It's Been A Fun Three Decades; Now Get Out An Off-Broadway theater is being evicted from its longtime home by the building's owners, who have a deal in place to turn the property into a hotel. Lamb's Theater Company, which has rented the space since 1978, is hoping to find a new home somewhere in Manhattan, and to rebuild its existing stage as is. The New York Times 06/02/06

August Wilson Alone Does Not A Theatrical Tradition Make Black theatre is a scarce commodity in the U.S., outside of repetitive productions of the plays of a small, "commercially viable" group of playwrights. To actor/playwright Ted Lange, the struggle for African-American visability in the theatre world has never been fully engaged, and as part of his continuing effort to promote the genre, "he's turned the 19 plays he's written into a cottage industry for small black theaters across the country." Denver Post 06/02/06

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Richard vs. The Ringtones Actor Richard Griffiths reportedly stopped dead in the middle of a scene during a matinee performance of The History Boys on Broadway this week after several cell phones went off. Griffiths, who has a history of this kind of thing, gave the audience a thorough dressing-down, and threatened to stop the play for good if one more phone went off. The Independent (UK) 06/02/06

It Was A Very Good Year "Broadway has had a record-breaking year for attendance and box office earnings, thanks to the success of plays such as Julia Roberts' Three Days of Rain. Theatregoers on Broadway topped the 12 million mark for the first time, with a strong attendance by tourists. Ticket sales increased 12 per cent to $861.6m during the 2005-2006 season, according to the League of American Theatres and Producers." Strangely, though, there was no increase in the percentage of Broadway shows that turn a profit. BBC 06/01/06

Chicago Theatre Cancels Season, But Keeps The Money Just a few weeks after delaying its opening performance of the 2006-07 season, Chicago Jewish Theatre has canceled the entire season, and may be closing its doors permanently in the near future. The company is not offering refunds on season subscriptions (but says it will honor them if it can raise the funds for a 2007-08 season,) a decision which has the theatre's few supporters up in arms. Chicago Sun-Times 06/01/06

Tony's No-Campaign Rule "This year the Tony Awards Administration Committee adopted a new rule about campaigning for the awards that forbids producers of nominated shows to send any campaign or promotional materials to voters, other than a souvenir book, a script or an audio cast recording." The New York Times 06/01/06

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