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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Guthrie Picks Interim Manager Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater has named David Galligan interim managing director, beginning in mid-August. Galligan, who recently stepped down from the CEO post at the Ordway Center (St. Paul's main performing arts venue,) will not be a candidate for a permanent job at the Guthrie, but agreed to help steer the company through the transition to its new home on the Mississippi River. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 08/01/06

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Disabled Soldiers Given Voice Through Theatre In a small town in Maine, the Wounded Warriors Writers’ Program has set out to teach disabled veterans how to tell their stories in the theatre. "The dozen men and women, age 20 to 48, served in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. From around the country they have gathered for 10 days in this coastal town to translate their life experiences into scenes and monologues for the stage." The New York Times 7/30/06

Kander Goes On With The Show, Minus Ebb Since the 2004 death of lyricist Fred Ebb, composer John Kander has kept working on a musical the duo had been writing. It's due to open Aug. 9 in Los Angeles. "A backstage musical and murder mystery combined, 'Curtains' is a whodunit in more than one sense of the word. It may also be the last new work to be produced on this scale from Kander and Ebb, one of Broadway's best composer-lyricist teams. And while that fact alone won't likely spell curtains for the American musical, it's certainly a sign that generational change is waiting in the wings." Los Angeles Times 7/30/06

A Matter Of Equity Everyone remotely connected to the theatre world has heard of Actors' Equity, the major union for theatrical performers. But unlike many other industries, theatres generally have a choice regarding how many union actors they hire, and whether they want to have the union in house at all. Furthermore, actors have to think long and hard about whether it's even worth it for them to join Equity: the cost is prohibitive, and if they live in a town without many Equity houses, they're unlikely to benefit much from membership. Denver Post 07/30/06

Midwest Shakespeare Fest Falling Short The Bloomington-based Illinois Shakespeare Festival has some serious challenges to face, not the least of which is this summer's volatile weather, which has left several of the outdoor fest's productions all wet. "The initial promise of this space as a festival environment -- offering the chance to see several shows in a weekend, filling the gardens with picnickers and attracting audiences from Chicago -- has yet to be fulfilled. In a town with few bucolic attractions, this theater seems underused." Chicago Tribune 07/30/06

Thursday, July 27, 2006

West End Booming On The Back Of Song & Dance London's West End is awash in musicals both old and new this season, and a survey of UK ticket buyers suggests that they couldn't be happier. "There were some concerns that musicals were squeezing out 'straight plays'," but some observers have pointed out that full houses for musicals are clearly far preferable to the darkened houses the West End has frequently sported over the last several seasons. The Independent (UK) 07/28/06

Did Andrew Lloyd Webber Just Accuse Others Of Redundancy? Andrew Lloyd Webber is allowing the audience of a UK reality TV show to choose the leading lady for his new revival of The Sound of Music, causing many in the theatre industry to throw up their hands in exasperation. But Lloyd Webber says he has good reason to trust the people over the experts, "[delivering] a withering assessment of stage schools, which he says are churning out performers of such uniformity that he can almost tell which school they come from." The Guardian (UK) 07/27/06

New Partnership Promises More Song And Dance For Philly Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is teaming up with the New York-based Shubert Organization in a new venture to bring touring Broadway shows to two venerable Philly venues. "Presentations would take place at the Academy of Music or the Forrest Theatre, allowing both organizations 'the chance to perpetuate and enhance the presentation of legitimate theatrical attractions in Philadelphia.'" PlaybillArts 07/27/06

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why Are Novelists Bad Play Writers? "It's a curious fact that very few writers have ever been able to write both good novels and good plays. Almost invariably, even the most acclaimed and technically skilled novelist turns into a rank amateur when writing for the theatre." The Guardian (UK) 07/26/06

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

London Fringe Theatre Evicted For Casino One of West End London's few fringe theatres is being evicted to make room for a casino. "During its brief tenure, Sound has acquired a reputation as the capital's only theatre dedicated to gay-themed work, despite having no formal artistic direction. It was launched in June 2005." The Guardian (UK) 07/25/06

When Electricity Goes Out, Theatrical Magic Begins "It's a joke among theater critics that readers ticked at a review often begin an acerbic e-mail with a variation of: 'I was at the theater, and you couldn't have seen the same show I did.' Well, I've got news for you. I was at the theater, and you can't see the same show I did. Because when you go, a storm will not be knocking out all the electricity 25 minutes before the last scene." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/25/06

"Wedding Singer" Romances The Soon-To-Be-Wed, Wins Big Box Office "The Wedding Singer" has found an unexpectedly ardent audience. "The feel-good play, based on the 1998 movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, received a ho-hum from some critics when it opened April 27, but it is a certified smash with the young-and-in-love set who are using the show's joyful ambience to create their own personal Kodak moments. With the blessing of the show's managers and promoters, a half-dozen couples have become engaged on stage at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, and women are lining up for the theater's Bachelorette Box package." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/25/06

No "Civil War Christmas" In D.C. This Year Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage has pulled the second of two new musicals from its upcoming season. "The company said yesterday it has been forced to postpone 'A Civil War Christmas,' an ambitious piece by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel that was to have been the company's major holiday offering." Earlier, it delayed "The Women of Brewster Place," based on the Gloria Naylor novel. Washington Post 07/25/06

Monday, July 24, 2006

Selective Praise (Not) London theatres are playing loose with critics' quotes to hawk their shows. "More than one third of West End theatres have been found to use highly selective quotations, from the optimistic to the downright misleading. One of the most blatant offenders is Sinatra, a musical mixing footage of the late singer performing alongside a live band." The Times (UK) 07/24/06

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Could Shakespeare Use A Few Body Slams? What is it about professional wrestling that draws so many people to become fans? More importantly, could the arts, which so often struggle to attract new audiences, learn anything from the ultraviolent soap opera that is the WWE? "No, I don't want Martha Henry to show up in a leather halter-top to tell us how she's going to smackdown Ibsen in the upcoming Stratford production of Ghosts. But I'd like our theatres to have one-tenth of the bravura, imagination and downright nerve of the WWE when it comes to promoting and presenting their own." Toronto Star 07/22/06

The Grass Isn't Always Greener For Americans tired of Broadway's seemingly endless appetite for commercialism and tired revivals of decades-old shows, London's theatre scene has always seemed like a mystical promised land. But a closer look shows that London's West End is suffering from many of the same problems that plague Broadway: notably, the lack of almost anything new on the stage. "The fragile health of the drama became a subject of national publicity in Britain recently with a televised competition, vaguely in the spirit of 'American Idol,' among untried playwrights." The New York Times 07/22/06

Friday, July 21, 2006

Plan To Move The Guthrie Nixed Now that Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre has moved into a new home, what's to become of the old one? It will be demolished. A local college had suggested moving the building to its campus, but the idea proved not to be feasible. "We were really excited about saving the Guthrie and putting it up there for retirement. It would fit on that campus, which was built in the same period," The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 07/20/06

Thursday, July 20, 2006

How The Los Angeles Theater Center Got New Management "Ethnic favoritism has been a part of city politics ever since there were cities. Furthermore, 98 percent of L.A.’s theaters are run by Caucasians, who are now a statistical minority of the local population. What was announced as an open-bid process had become, by the final act, a tainted and disturbing story of the power of political connections." LAWeekly 07/20/06

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Investing In Broadway As Advertising Opportunity The Broadway show "Hot Feet" is closing and its investors will lose their entire $8 million. The show's backer, Transamerica didn't get into the show to make money. "Transamerica’s motives were more along the lines of corporate sponsors like Visa, Fidelity Investments and Mercedes-Benz, which make deals with shows so their names can be seen." The New York Times 07/19/06

Ireland Poised To Outshine Scotland At Fringe The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is coming up, but it's Irish theater companies, not their Scottish colleagues, who are in a position to showcase their work. "What should set alarm bells ringing is not only that Scotland is failing to make the most of an international festival on its doorstep, but it's also lagging behind in the promotion of Scots artists abroad." The Scotsman 07/15/06

Guthrie Ends Transitional Year In The Black "The Guthrie Theater announced Monday that it had a happy ending to its 2005-2006 fiscal year, finishing in the black for the 10th straight year, despite an expected drop in attendance as the company ended its tenure at one venue and began in another." Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 07/18/06

Monday, July 17, 2006

Reality Show's Winning Play Closes Early The play that won an English reality show about creating a play is closing early. "The show, has been playing to half-empty houses since its high-profile premiere on June 15, and yesterday the producers revealed that the curtain will come down for the last time on July 29 - a full month earlier than planned." The Guardian (UK) 07/18/06

You've Been Warned (But Why?) In British theatre now, there are warnings for everything. "As yet, theatre warnings haven't become sufficiently detailed to confuse the actual with the represented. Apart from quantifiable matters such as nudity, theatres tend to use euphemistic phrases like 'adult content' or 'scenes of an explicit nature'. But behind all warnings - whether about content or sensation - lie presumptions that go beyond health and safety into more contestable areas of consumer protection." The Guardian (UK) 07/18/06

Are Writers' Estates Ruining Innovation? "The oddity of the general intransigence of the posthumous representatives of Brecht and Beckett has always been that both dramatists were radicals who overturned theatrical convention. Yet subsequently their executors have sought to seal these free-thinking pieces in an artistic formaldehyde at least as strong as the conservatism that the authors originally stripped away." The Guardian (UK) 07/16/06

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is There Any Other Theatre Like Chicago's Steppenwolf? "Most regional theaters would have hesitated to produce a single one of the works in the current Steppenwolf season (which can now be viewed as a whole). Steppenwolf willingly took seven doses of box office poison in the name of its art. Back to back. Especially because it took an inevitable and fiscally sobering toll on subscription levels, it's an accomplishment worthy of note and admiration. But the anniversary season also reveals something about how much this theater has changed under artistic director Martha Lavey." Chicago Tribune 07/16/06

Thinking About It (The Real Theatre) On London Stages this summer the interior side of acting is on show. "In a season rich with A-list actors giving bright external life to the shadows of the human mind, it is often — more than anything that is actually done or even said — the thought that counts." The New York Times 07/16/06

Friday, July 14, 2006

Theatre That Heals The Milwaukee Public Theatre is "a theater company without a theater for performances. The company sends its groups all over town bringing puppetry, drumming, improvisation, music, dance, theater, storytelling and more to as diverse an audience as they can reach, focusing on pieces with social relevance. Part of the focus on social relevance includes healing arts programming." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 07/10/06

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Changes Afoot In Chicago The League of Chicago Theatres has undergone twin shifts in recent weeks, shutting down production of its four-year-old program book, Chicagoplays. Then, at the end of June, the League's CEO quit after less than a year on the job, saying that with the demise of the program book, "an executive with technical and marketing expertise would better serve the organization as it refocuses on its longtime primary missions of selling tickets and marketing." Backstage 07/12/06

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Spring Awakes (And So Does The Musical) John Heilpern has seen a new musical he believes will change Broadway. "If we’re very lucky, once in a generation an unexpected new musical comes along and changes everything. That is the thrilling achievement of 'Spring Awakening', which has been brilliantly directed by Michael Mayer, at the Atlantic Theater Company." New York Observer 07/12/06

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Behold Rembrandt, The Musical "The $1.25m (£679,000) show places the story of his life and times in 17th-century Holland against a backdrop of digital images of his masterpieces, projected on to 30ft (9 metre) screens. The resolution is so high that from the back of a 900-seat theatre the audience can see the veins in the hands of an old woman." The Guardian (UK) 07/12/06

In Defense Of Contemporary Playwrighting Randy Gener is tired of all the doom-saying about American theatre these days. And why are critics attacking our playwrights? "They [playwrights] are taking real risks and reinvigorating our repertory of contemporary drama with muscular ideas and imaginative fervor. The bitter irony is that these bringers of new works are treated as if they were glassy-eyed dreamers and beggars in a house of plenty." American Theatre 07/06

Monday, July 10, 2006

Is There Too Much Meddling In Birthing Plays? "The new interventionism seems to have begun around 1979 as part of a proliferation of new ideas - devised theatre, documentary, attempts at new forms, physical theatre - that had their roots in the 60s. The emphasis on top-down thinking, rather than anything created writer-up, meant that a new form of censorship began to impose itself. This has led to young writers delivering drafts instead of plays, knowing the humiliation that lies in store." The Guardian (UK) 07/11/06

Tharp's Bob Dylan Musical Coming To Broadway Twyla Tharp's latest project, a jukebox musical featuring the songs of Bob Dylan, is coming to Broadway. "The Times They Are A-Changin'," a musical conceived, directed and choreographed by the Tony Award-winning Tharp, opens this fall. Backstage 07/10/06

Sunday, July 9, 2006

How The Internet Is Changing The Way Theatres Build Audiences "Word of mouth has always been the ideal. But the Internet has provided a new and, some say, vastly improved set of tools to generate it: not just e-mail blasts but also Web sites, banner ads, search-engine pop-ups and blog coverage. In the last few years these tools have reshaped the way the theater reaches its audience." The New York Times 07/09/06

A History of Violence Often lost in our continued marveling at the words of William Shakespeare is the fact that the Bard's plays are often shockingly violent. A handful of new British productions embrace the bloody brutality, and Ben Brantley says that it's impossible to miss the wider significance of the interpretation. "Besides demonstrating that there's more than one way to skin a corpse, these contrasting takes on Titus anatomize the impact of a world where slaughter and torture are everyday occurrences, and especially on those whose job is to kill... The current investigations into the alleged rape and murder of civilians by American soldiers in Iraq have made such presentations tremble with inescapable timeliness." The New York Times 07/08/06

Friday, July 7, 2006

Theatre Buys Housing For Its Out-Of-Town Artists Washington DC's Studio Theatre is getting into the real estate business. The company is buying housing to put up artists who work with it. "At one time, the out-of-town artists could stay in the little hotels and we could rent small apartments. But now the hotels are $200 a night. This problem led us to impose on people. Actors were staying with people in the neighborhood and with board members. There was no end of the difficulty." Washington Post 07/07/06

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Separate and Unequal The Pittsburgh theatre community has lately been focusing on how to increase and promote racial diversity within the local scene. Ideas are wide-ranging, but most in the city agree that just producing more "black theatre" isn't enough. Indeed, the larger issue may be not just how to involve more African-Americans in theatre, but how to encourage the creation of shows with truly integrated casts. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 07/06/06

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Gimme A Break! (Do We Really Need Intermissions?) "While we will never see a return to the time when people dined at the halfway mark of a four-act play, the more traditional midway break is time for any technical busywork (such as scene changes) and to heighten a sense of suspense, expectation or time having passed. Time to make sense of the staged world before returning to a possible changed set of circumstances." The Age (Melbourne) 07/04/06

Berkeley Rep's Grand Plan Berkeley Repertory Theatre is embarking on an ambitious project, says artistic director Tony Taccone. "The lion's share, he says, 'is an artistic endowment' to fund a program for creating work, modeled, on a smaller scale, on the extensive program at England's National Theatre. The project is designed to commission 30 to 70 plays in the next 10 years, not all of which would end up being produced by the Rep. Each would receive at least a staged reading or workshop. Some would become part of future Rep seasons, if not on one of its current stages, then in a new, 150-seat house to be developed under the endowment." San Francisco Chronicle 07/05/06

Monday, July 3, 2006

Twin Cities' New Guthrie A Gem "Rising at the edge of the Mississippi, its confident forms are rooted in a vision of a muscular industrial America, and its structural bravura will certainly please the techno-fetishists. As a thoughtful response to the American city's evolving role as a haven for cultural tourism, it also coaxes new meaning out of a haggard landscape." The New York Times 07/04/06

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Picking A West End Star On "Reality" TV Here's a novel way of picking the star for your new production opening in London's West End. "More than 3,000 women have aspired to the same dream: to star, at the London Palladium, in Andrew Lloyd Webber's £3m production of The Sound of Music. The nation is swarming with wannabe Marias. But BBC1's eight-part reality talent show How do You Solve a Problem like Maria (which starts 29 July), must eventually settle on one woman - a new, unknown Maria. After auditions in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester and London, 56 contestants have been selected to train at 'Maria School' (imagine the yodelling classes)." The Guardian (UK) 07/02/06

Looking For More Black Theatre In Seattle "There are no steady outlets for an array of modern and historical black scripts. And while black theater certainly can cross over and resonate with nonblack patrons, local stage folk also yearn to attract a larger, more committed black audience for their artistry — even in a city where African Americans make up only 8.4 percent of the total population." Seattle Times 07/02/06

Is Marketing Responsible For Broadway's Success? Broadway has been using a unified marketing approach over the past decade. "Over a turbulent decade when the road business changed, uncertainty after 9/11 shrunk ticket sales, and musicians went on strike, attendance on Broadway increased by almost 27 percent and grosses nearly doubled, to $862 million from $436 million." But is it really this "destination" ad approach that has made a difference? The New York Times 07/02/06

Why Has Toronto Theatre Tanked? "Toronto audiences have simply gotten out of the habit of going to the theatre, a trend far different from periods in the 1990s when audiences were enticed by a number of big, concurrent productions, which then lent extra vitality to mid-sized theatres and the grassroots fringe scene. Theatrical productions, particularly independent shows not included in package theatre subscriptions or unusual cases such as Rings, which needed to attract sell-out crowds to survive, are struggling to get arty, urban audiences to fill the seats." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/02/06

Theatre Aspen Doubles In Size, Goes Year-Round In only a year Theatre Aspen (Colorado) has doubled in size. And the growth will be even steeper. "That three-year plan to open a $10 million performing-arts institute for Theatre Aspen has now grown into more of a $50 million project that will include other local arts organizations." DenverPost 07/02/06

Colorado Shakespeare Honcho Moves On Dick Devin is leaving after 17 seasons as director of the Colorado Shakespeare Fesival. "Shakespeare may have written only 37 plays, but Devin will have seen 107 stagings and overseen 68 by season's end. Way back in 1975, the CSF had become only the seventh theater company in the country to complete the entire canon, so repetition is inevitable." Denver Post 07/02/06

  • Working Harder To Support Colorado Shakespeare Retiring Colorado Shakespeare Company director Dick Devin "works in a world of ironies. The number of corporate sponsors has risen to 34 from just a handful a few years ago, but they give less and it costs more for the festival staff to bring in each one. Individual giving, however, is up. 'We've increased the number of people who give almost threefold in the last few years. We value the 1,000 people more (who are giving) because that's building for the future. Two years from now it's really gonna pay off'." Rocky Mountain News 07/02/06

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