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Friday, September 29, 2006

Blue Men Are Really Blue In Toronto The Blue Man Group is one of those shows that seems to run forever whereve it plays. But not in Toronto, where the show is closing after a disappointing run. "The backlash from the show's union difficulties and the sheer age of the property itself are the more likely culprits — and not the same general audience malaise blamed for the early departure of The Lord of the Rings." Toronto Star 09/29/06

Thursday, September 28, 2006

You'd Think They'd Get Bored... "Broue, a ribald look at working-class life set inside a Quebec tavern, has earned a place in the record books. The play, which opened in Montreal on March 21, 1979, has been performed by the original trio of cast members since the first show. For that, it has earned a place in Guinness World Records as the longest-running theatrical play with the same cast." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/28/06

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Answering John Heilpern's Prayer "Please God, let the season be different from all other seasons. Please don’t let it be dominated by any more revivals, British actors and Eve Ensler. Please get them to bring the price of tickets down and make all welcome at the theater. Please God, let one new, thrilling voice of an unknown playwright be heard throughout the land. Thanks a lot. That’s all for now." Now one of these prayers has been answered... New York Observer 09/27/06

A Sure Thing Starts To Fade "Mel Brooks' The Producers, which once looked as if it would run forever, suddenly has lost its footing. In the last few weeks, the bottom has fallen out of the box office, and the cast has been playing to half-empty houses. A show that once grossed $1 million a week is now pulling in about $450,000 - not quite enough to cover its running costs." New York Post 09/27/06

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why London's Theatre Museum Matters "Does it matter? Isn't theatre something that's supposed to happen in the moment rather than be artificially preserved? I'd say it matters hugely for both practical and symbolic reasons. The great advantage of the Theatre Museum was that a large part of our history was stored under one roof." The Guardian (UK) 09/26/06

London's Theatre Museum To Close. "Though there has been a huge amount of moral support for the Theatre Museum, money for the most part has not been forthcoming. From the beginning, we had always seen this as being a joint venture between ourselves, the V&A and any number of others from the theatre world. We did not want it to be a Theatre Museum dominated by the ROH. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find those other collaborators." TheStage 09/28/06

The Not-So-Great Side Of Shakespeare "The proposition that not all Shakespeare is Shakespeare-great was put forward by Frank Kermode in his recent book on the bard's language. Kermode came out and said what most audiences secretly think - a lot of Shakespeare is impossible to understand." The Guardian (UK) 09/25/06

Rebuilding London's Young Vic "The Young Vic was once a crumbling wreck facing closure. Now, after a two-year rebuild, it has been reborn - bigger and better." The Guardian (UK) 09/26/06

Monday, September 25, 2006

Questions About LA's Center Theatre Group Direction Questions concerning Michael Ritchie's "artistic vision for the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas — three unique spaces demanding customized leadership — are mounting. Having begun with a promise to make the Ahmanson more a showcase for world premieres, he's backed off in the new season with a lineup mostly of touring Broadway shows. As for his two other spaces, the message has been murky." Los Angeles Times 09/25/06

Was The "Reality" Maria Fixed? Andrew Lloyd Webber is defending against charges that the results of the recent reality show to cast a Maria for a new West End Sound of Music were fixed. "We had no idea who was going to win it. I don't see how you could fix it. I didn't know until three minutes before the end of the show." BBC 09/25/06

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Rocky Mountain Revival "The Denver Center Theatre Company opens its 28th season Thursday continuing a strong rebound that began with the hiring of second-year artistic director Kent Thompson. As of Thursday, advance sales were $140,000 ahead of the same date last season." Denver Post 09/24/06

Looking For Space In Chicago Chicago is unquestionably a great theatre town. But is America's Second City suffering from an undersupply of good downtown venues? "With Friday's announcement that the Broadway hit Jersey Boys is arriving in Chicago a year from now -- with no particular need or inclination to leave -- this is hardly the stuff of fantasy. It's more the stuff of an impending logjam." Chicago Tribune 09/24/06

Better Shakespeare Through Arguing Shakespeare productions in recent decades have tended to draw attention to their staging, their avant-garde settings, even their unconventional costuming. But a new book attempts to delve deeper into what has always made Shakespeare great: his use of language. The author's aim is to "bring to the reader a lot of what I find to be incredibly exciting controversies over how to speak Shakespeare, how to play Shakespeare, how to listen to Shakespeare, how to watch Shakespeare. Controversies that have scholars at each other's throats, that have directors and actors pounding the table." Boston Globe 09/24/06

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Plan To Change How Shakespeare Is Taught The Royal Shakespeare Company is launching a major campaign to change the way Shakespeare is taught in schools and tackle the impression amongst young people that the playwright is boring. TheStage 09/22/06

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Scrappiness Only Takes You So Far One of the original "indie" companies in the now-bustling Twin Cities theatre scene will take its last bows next month. "Fifty Foot Penguin was never afraid to poke a finger in the eye of convention... But, lacking a season subscription base or a cadre of supportive donors, a small theater has to prove itself and its mission with every show." St. Paul Pioneer Press 09/21/06

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Philadelphia Theatre Company Aims For Flash In New Theatre Design "Ever since Bertolt Brecht denounced stage gimmickry in the 1920s, many new theaters have been designed to downplay the make-believe. Stages became open platforms, leaving actors without the refuge of the wings or a curtain. Theater hardware was exposed, so that patrons saw exactly how all the tricks were done. By contrast, the PTC stage includes 20-foot wings. By cocooning its main theater in voluptuous colors and fabrics, the PTC is signaling that it wants patrons to sink into their plush seats and suspend disbelief for the length of the performance." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/20/06

Miami: A Hole Where The Coconut Used To Be Miami theatre is getting more varied. But "because of the limbo state of the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the 2006-2007 season begins with a significant hole at its center. Not to mention angry subscribers, frustrated former employees and artists who had planned to -- but now won't -- be working here this season." Miami Herald 09/17/06

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

San Jose Theatres Get Together Behind The Scenes Two big San Jose (California) theatres agree to merge their back end operations. "The fact that they're just now forming partnerships shows how reluctant the groups have been to give up on their old business models. Merging set and costume shops and other operations is a no-brainer suggested by 1stACT, the downtown arts and business coalition, and other arts leaders going back several years." San Jose Mercury-News 09/07/06

Playwriting's New Dour Generation? "Tomorrow's playwrights are preoccupied with working-class angst and urban deprivation, according to the judges of a major new writing award. The Bruntwood Playwriting Competition, established by Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre and boasting a total prize fund of £45,000, has identified a new generation of writers tackling issues of sexual disorientation and racial intolerance - but showing little interest in domestic or international politics." The Guardian (UK) 09/19/06

Amid Harlem's Gentrification, A New Stage Aaron Davis Hall, Inc., has been part of Harlem for 25 years. Now renamed Harlem Stage, it opens its new theatre next month in "a community that is rapidly changing, with townhouses selling for millions of dollars and new buildings being erected by internationally renowned architects like Rafael Viñoly." For executive director Patricia Cruz, that reality comes with a particular responsibility: "Things are changing," she said, "but how do we make it so that it's positive for the community — that they are not among the displaced? We hope to be a stabilizing force." New York Sun 09/19/06

Monday, September 18, 2006

Broadway Considers A "Frequent Playgoer" Rewards System "Nederlander executives say the program’s eventual goal will be something similar to frequent flier miles and credit card points, making benefits available to returning customers. Those benefits could include discount tickets, special events and even non-Broadway merchandise." The New York Times 09/18/06

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Playwrights Collect TV Paychecks "TV has become a desirable place for playwrights, and not only because of the money. The negative stigma that once used to cause playwrights to turn down their noses at the small screen has all but vanished." Los Angeles Times 09/17/06

We Have A Maria! (As Chosen By Reality Show) A 23-year-old Welsh telephone bank worker won a television contest on Saturday to star in a revival of the musical 'The Sound of Music' in London's West End. The reality show attracted 6000 hopefuls to compete. Yahoo! (Reuters) 09/17/06

Moveable Feast - Broadway's Big Challeneges What does it take to get a big Broadway show out on the road? It's a big production. "Business on the road has declined by 30 percent over the past two years, according to figures compiled by the League of American Theatres and Producers. These numbers, however, do not include everything that is on the road, so business may indeed be better than the statistics indicate." Baltimore Sun 09/17/06

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hard Work + Luck = Cheap Tix Broadway tickets are impossibly expensive and hard to find, so you might as well not bother, right? Wrong. "Broadway is also one of New York’s great bargain districts, with a range of incentives and discount programs — some well known, some obscure — to lure bodies into seats. It is still possible to attend even the most in-demand shows at remarkably good prices, but it’s not easy." The New York Times 09/15/06

Cost Of Restoration Proves Too High Plans for the renovation of an old Philadelphia movie palace into a theater capable of hosting touring Broadway shows have been scrapped after construction costs began to rise at "an alarming pace." Local preservationists have been working to save the Art Deco-style Boyd Theater for four years, but its future as the anchor of a newly refurbished neighborhood is now in doubt. Philadelphia Inquirer 09/15/06

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Met Opera Looks To Theatre World For Talent The Metropolitan Opera's new boss Peter Gelb is intent on bringing more theatrical talent to the Met's stages. "It's essential, in order elevate the theatricality of our operas to the high musical standards that are already there, that we need to bring in the world's great directors. Many of them are theatre directors who occasionally dabble in opera. Some are opera directors who branch off into theatre." Playbill 09/14/06

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Scottish National Refuses Invitation To London National "The National Theatre of Scotland, which took Edinburgh by storm this summer, has refused an invitation to tour its phenomenally successful play Black Watch to the National Theatre in London." The Guardian (UK) 09/13/06

It's Art And It's Live Live art is big in London. "From one-off, large-scale outdoor events, to intimate one-to-one performances in someone's living-room, live art is popping up everywhere, and tapping into audiences' hunger for unique experiences." The Guardian (UK) 09/13/06

Philly Theatre Restoration Project Shuts Down Renovation of Philadelphia's historic Sameric Theatre has been shut down. "Clear Channel, of which LiveNation is a subsidiary, bought the theater in January 2005 from the Goldenberg Group, and said it would turn the Sameric into a multi-use entertainment house." Philadelphia Daily News 09/13/06

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Real Maria (Chosen On TV) A British reality show is in the process of choosing a Maria for a new West End production of the Sound of Music. "Now the crunch is nigh. On Saturday, the three finalists from the 2,000 or so women who auditioned — Connie Fisher, 23; Siobhan Dillon, 21; and Helena Blackman, 23 — will have their last chance to woo the public. Then, after a 90-minute countdown, one will set off on a stage career blessed by Lord Lloyd Webber." The New York Times 09/13/06

Ben-Hur Goes Back To The Stadium "Veteran French impresario Robert Hossein is undertaking a re-enactment of Ben-Hur in France's biggest football stadium. "The sword-and-sandal epic in which Charlton Heston swept to victory after cinema's most famous chariot race is to be staged on an epic scale at the arena where France won the football World Cup in 1998. A cast of several hundred will recreate naval battles between the Roman fleet and Mediterranean pirates, and stage ancient Roman gladiator fights and a live chariot race." The Guardian (UK) 09/12/06

For NYU Orientation, A Caveat-Packed Musical "Many colleges around the country feel obliged to caution entering students about what to expect and what to avoid, but few offer more hard-hitting warnings than New York University’s theatrical orientation created by the New York playwright and director Elizabeth Swados. The musical 'The Reality Show: NYU,' which has already played to nearly 5,000 incoming students at the university and will be shown twice more this month, tells of drugs and date rape, drinking and anorexia, depression and suicide." The New York Times 09/11/06

Monday, September 11, 2006

West End - How Many Is Too Many Musicals? London's West End is flooded with musicals this fall. But can they all survive? The Guardian (UK) 09/12/06

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Spanish Play About Lorca Canceled "A play about Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca has been canceled after its proposed performance ignited political passions still simmering over Spain's 1936-1939 civil war." Yahoo! (Reuters) 09/09/06

This Fall's Broadway - Same Old Thing? "For most of its history, Broadway was like a train station. Shows came and went; some big hits would stick around for a few years, then leave before too long. But things have changed, or to be precise, stopped changing. September is traditionally the time when the marquees light up with new titles, productions fresh from the road tryout or from a successful run at a smaller theater. This year, however, 10 of the shows on Broadway have played more than 1,000 performances, 7 of them more than 2,000." The New York Times 09/10/06

No, Thanks, We Gave At The Office Why is political drama so absent from the theatrical stage in America's political capital? "When it comes to putting politics on its stages, Washington is a pretty buttoned-up town... Not many people enjoy taking their work home with them. It's been said that Washingtonians don't like taking it to the theater either." Washington Post 09/10/06

How To Save A Relic Houston's River Oaks Theatre, the city's oldest functioning movie house, is in sore need of an overhaul if it is to survive. So how do you revive an old theater? That depends entirely on what you plan to do with it... Houston Chronicle 09/10/06

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Drama Guild Prez Concedes To Critic John Weidman, president of the Dramatists Guild of America has apologized to Chicago Sun-Times theatre critic Hedy Weiss over her negative reviews of a workshop. "It now turns out that what I was told was untrue. That Weiss believed that the managers of Stages 2006 would be neither surprised nor distressed if she reviewed the eight presentations in question is now clear. I asserted otherwise. For that I apologize." Chicago Sun-Times 09/07/06

No Bureaucracy Required Arts groups in New York have begun to despair of ever being granted their promised role at a rebuilt Ground Zero, but one Manhattan theatre company isn't waiting for the politicians to nix their contribution. "An experimental multimedia and theater company, 3-Legged Dog was located at Fiterman Hall, next to 7 World Trade Center, before the 9/11 attack destroyed its space." This week, the company opened "the new 3LD Art and Technology Center, a 12,500-square-foot warren of theaters and offices," just down the block from its old space. The New York Times 09/07/06

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Theatre-Goers Vote For Cellphone Jammers "Following an online poll of more than 1,000 people, made up of cast, crew and theatregoers, The Stage can reveal that a huge majority - 90% of respondents - have had shows that they were either watching or performing in disturbed by a mobile phone going off. Alarmingly, around 10% claimed phones went off every time they visit the theatre." TheStage 09/06/06

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Out Of Development Hell, Onto The Stage "New stage musicals in search of a ... showcase-marketplace model have their own clearinghouse: the New York Musical Theatre Festival, a three-week bazaar of 34 new musicals that sprawls through midtown Manhattan next Sunday through Oct. 1. Though only in its third year, the festival has become so entrenched that top theater actors, designers and directors routinely waive fees for the chance to invest in the future of their field. Audiences have apparently been hungry for the chance to sample new work for a mere $20 per show: The festival boasted more than 95 percent capacity both previous years." Newsday 09/03/06

SmackDown: "Hamlet" Vs. "King Lear" "Why are 'Hamlet' and 'King Lear' so great? And which is the greatest?" Sid Smith asks. "Though it's ultimately a fatuous exercise -- like choosing between the Pieta and the statue of David -- my money's on 'Lear.' 'Hamlet' is eloquent Sudoku. 'Lear' is primal scream." Chicago Tribune 09/03/06

Monday, September 4, 2006

Michael Billington's Bizarre Night At The Theatre "Is it better for an audience to show its disapproval at the end of a show or are they entitled to make abusive remarks while it's in progress? After a nasty experience at Edinburgh's King's Theatre on Tuesday night during a performance of Three Sisters, I've decided that terminal boos are better than a drizzle of derision." The Guardian (UK) 09/05/06

Can Theatre Make A Social Difference? "As theater’s foothold in American culture has steadily shrunk over the last 50 years or so, the chance that a play could have any significant influence on social or political discourse has also waned. To be influential a playwright’s voice has to be heard, and it’s become harder to hear the lonely cry of the outraged playwright as the media landscape has been monopolized by more profitable and more easily mass-marketed forms of entertainment." The New York Times 09/04/06

DC's Source Runs Dry The end has finally come for Washington DC's Souce Theatre. "The company has been in a long coma. Its last full season was five years ago, and a battle royal has been playing out for the past six months over the sale of its building on 14th Street NW. As the dust gradually settles on that process, the once-bustling Source is finally being laid to rest." Washington Post 09/03/06

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