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Sunday, December 10, 2006

London's West End In Song "This year singing shows have been the West End's theatrical success story. Straight theatre productions have closed early but musicals are booked up way into 2007. Since the beginning of 2006 there have been 20 new musical productions in the West End." The Observer (UK) 12/10/06

The Writer As Director (Not So Easy) "The main advantage for writers is their internal ear - which knows the tune of how the lines are 'meant to be'. This is also the great disadvantage. At every first read-through, all the writer can hear is the actors wrecking these rhythms. And the first instinct is to tell them so. The director's (correct) instinct is, 'Not now'." The Guardian (UK) 12/09/06

Killing Innovation - One Theatre's Demise Brighton's Gardner Arts Centre is a model of clever interesting programming, but it's closing because of money worries. "Thanks largely to the experience, intuition and artistic courage of the venue's programmer, Claire Soper, the Gardner has built a first-class reputation. It stands for all that an arts venue should be - risk taking, finding and supporting the next Mark Ravenhill or Peter Brook. Its loss will be a calamity, not only for Brighton and Hove, but for the UK's arts industry as a whole." The Observer (UK) 12/10/06

A Little Dinner With That Play? Dinner theatre is a special event in many small communities. "Today running a dinner theater can be a struggle. Production and royalty costs are high, and with new food and a different cast each time. The National Dinner Theater Association now has just 32 members, down from 48 two decades ago." The New York Times 12/10/06

Friday, December 8, 2006

Nothing Tired About Those Numbers Sleepy musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone has recouped its full $8 million investment only 30 weeks into its run. "[The show] opened on Broadway May 1 at the Marquis Theatre and has been doing hefty business ever since, with recent weekly grosses topping the $1-million mark." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/08/06

Martin Leaving Huntington Boston's Huntington Theatre Company is losing its artistic director. 68-year-old Nicholas Martin, who joined the company in 2000, will hang it up in 2008, and assume the title of artist emeritus for two additional seasons. "During his tenure in Boston, the Huntington built two theaters in the South End and launched a play development wing. And Martin's ties to New York and to Williamstown brought in a stream of both big name and promising young actors as well as national attention." Boston Globe 12/08/06

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Struggling Spring "It's got a cast of hot young things, plenty of sex, strong word-of- mouth, and the best score Broadway's heard in years. Not since Rent has a rock musical had as much going for it as Spring Awakening does. What's missing, however, is box office. Spring Awakening will open Sunday night at the O'Neill Theatre with well under $1 million in advance sales, a gulp-inducing sum for a major Broadway musical." New York Post 12/07/06

Broadway Veteran Accused Of Sexual Misconduct A prominent Broadway actor has been arrested and charged with having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl who came backstage to meet him in 2001. James Barbour, who starred in Beauty & The Beast and Jane Eyre on Broadway, has admitted to kissing the girl, but insists that it stopped there. "There was allegedly another incident with the same girl during a dinner at an Eighth Avenue restaurant, and a third in Barbour's Upper West Side apartment, authorities said." The Globe & Mail (AP) 12/07/06

Your Kids & Broadway: A Ridiculously Expensive Gamble You're a good parent. You take every opportunity to expose your children to all the widely varied cultural events your city offers up, and that new musical version of Mary Poppins seems like just the holiday treat your kids could really sink their teeth into. One problem: you live in New York, where Broadway tickets can run $250 a pop. Furthermore, your kids are, well, kids, which means that they're unpredictable, and a $2 tantrum could well wind up ruining your thousand-dollar evening out. So answer me this: you feeling lucky, punk? The New York Times 12/07/06

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Why Not More Gay Comedy In London? It's Simple Supply & Demand. "So Michael Billington wonders why British playwrights aren't writing more gay farces, when the gay comedy of manners is proving so successful on Broadway. There are two answers to this. One, because British theatres aren't commissioning them, and most writers have a hard enough time making ends meet without writing work just for the hell of it. And two, if gay writers write gay stories, we're told we're 'ghetto-ising' ourselves; if straight writers write about gay themes, they're told they don't know what they're talking about." The Guardian (UK) 12/06/06

  • Previously: Gay Themes, Boulevard Forms: Where New York Bests Britain "Whatever its faults, New York theatre has virtually patented a new form: the gay comedy of manners. Its origins lie in Mart Crowley's 1968 play The Boys in the Band, dealing with a surprise hetero visitor to a gay birthday bash. Crowley's work launched a series of plays that combined a gay agenda with mass audience appeal. In Britain, leaving aside Joe Orton's taboo-breaking farces, the only real equivalent is Kevin Elyot's My Night With Reg (1994). When will our own writers wake up to the fact that there is now a big market for gay boulevard comedy?" The Guardian (UK) 12/05/06

Stripping Back The Art A Norwegian appeals court has ruled that striptease is an art form and should therefore be exempt from value-added tax (VAT). BBC 12/06/06

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Gay Themes, Boulevard Forms: Where New York Bests Britain "Whatever its faults, New York theatre has virtually patented a new form: the gay comedy of manners. Its origins lie in Mart Crowley's 1968 play The Boys in the Band, dealing with a surprise hetero visitor to a gay birthday bash. Crowley's work launched a series of plays that combined a gay agenda with mass audience appeal. In Britain, leaving aside Joe Orton's taboo-breaking farces, the only real equivalent is Kevin Elyot's My Night With Reg (1994). When will our own writers wake up to the fact that there is now a big market for gay boulevard comedy?" The Guardian (UK) 12/05/06

Monday, December 4, 2006

Organizing To Save Theatre Museum A group of cultural heavyweights has banded together to protest the imminent closing of London's Theatre Museum. "The organisation is demanding the V&A withdraws its notice of closure on the museum and is looking for alternative ways to manage the institution. In the longer term, it also wants to investigate 'broader possibilities for properly housing' the museumís collections, potentially moving them to a new location." TheStage 12/04/06

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Hare Feeds Broadway's Starving Masses David Hare's new Broadway play, "The Vertical Hour," has hardly been a hit with American critics, but hometown critic Michael Billington views it from an entirely different perspective. "In many ways, it's a characteristic Hare play. Dealing with the emotional journey of a woman who has swapped war reporting for academia, it is precisely about the intersection of public and private lives. But what moved me, almost as much as the play itself, was the audience response: the almost palpable hunger of Broadway theatregoers for a play about big issues. Even more than it might in Britain, Hare's play fulfils an urgent need." The Guardian (UK) 12/01/06

Enron: The Ultimate Song & Dance What do you do when a multi-billion dollar company headquartered in your city collapses under the weight of its own lies and lawlessness, leaving thousands of employees penniless and your civic economy in shambles? Write a musical about it, of course. The Guardian (UK) 12/02/06

Shaw Has A Good Year Canada's Shaw Festival finished its 2006 season in the black, with box office revenues of more than $14 million. "Attendance reached 295,016, or 70 per cent of capacity for 808 performances." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/02/06

Let's Go See A Show! (Anybody Got A C-Note?) The $100 ticket is old news for concertgoers in Los Angeles, and theatre tickets are starting to follow suit. Supply and demand is driving the high prices, but that doesn't change the fact that culture in America's second-largest city is increasingly becoming a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. Los Angeles Times 12/02/06

Friday, December 1, 2006

Just So Long As They Don't Start Using Fear Factor Contestants No one has ever accused Broadway of being shy about piggybacking on the latest pop culture trends. This season saw several former American Idol stars playing prominent roles in leading Broadway shows, and now, "it looks as if the Great White Way will soon be inundated with hoofers from 'Dancing With the Stars.'" New York Post 12/01/06


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