If you haven’t yet seen Our Girl in Chicago’s posting about current goings-on at the New York Times Book Review, click here to skip down and read it. In my humble opinion, she hits nail (A) on head (B).
Archives for January 23, 2004
In this morning’s Wall Street Journal I write about Chicago Shakespeare Theater‘s production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music:
In Gary Griffin’s production, “A Little Night Music” is sung by actors, played on an all-but-bare thrust stage in a smallish house, and accompanied by a 14-piece orchestra. Lush it isn’t, but the gain in intimacy almost completely offsets the musical losses. Though some of the cast members have unappealing voices, they can all act, and Kevin Gudahl, who plays Fredrik Egerman (the role created on Broadway by Len Cariou), wears both hats with apparently effortless flair. Jenny Powers is every bit as good as Petra, the sexy maid–I loved the way she sang “The Miller’s Son,” the best song in the show–and Michael Cerveris struts about quite nicely as Count Carl-Magnus, who expects absolute fidelity from his long-suffering wife Charlotte (Samantha Spiro) despite his absolute unwillingness to reciprocate….
I wrote enthusastically in this space two weeks ago about Chicago Shakespeare’s recent production of “Rose Rage,” Edward Hall’s single-evening version of Shakespeare’s “Henry VI.” That one company should have been simultaneously presenting so fine a staging of “A Little Night Music” seems to me just about miraculous. I’d always heard that the Windy City was a class-A theater town, but I didn’t know it was home to so versatile a resident troupe. I hope Stephen Sondheim makes a point of coming to see this “Night Music,” which runs through February 15. I moved to Manhattan a decade after the original Broadway production, but I can’t imagine it having been more effective than this one. Like “Rose Rage,” it’s good enough to play New York without a tweak.
I have equally enthusiastic things to say about the songs and singing of Amanda Green:
Amanda Green has yet to bring a show to Broadway, but it isn’t for lack of trying–or talent. She sang a batch of her songs last Friday at the Ars Nova Theater, assisted by a flying squadron of musical-comedy and cabaret colleagues, and I laughed so hard I thought I’d split a rib.
Ms. Green, who wrote the lyrics for “For the Love of Tiffany,” one of the high points of last summer’s New York International Fringe Festival, specializes in murderously witty songs that crackle with Sondheim-style wordplay, transposed into a postmodern key. (Can you imagine the composer of “Passion” turning out a Bruce Springsteen parody?) Nor is she afraid to stick a red-hot poker into her own heart: “If You Leave Me, Can I Come, Too?” is “funny” like a Dorothy Parker suicide note….
No link, so run–don’t walk–to the nearest newsstand, pony up $1 for a copy of this morning’s Journal, turn to the “Weekend Journal” section, and read the rest of what I wrote, plus other good things written by my fellow Journal-ists.
“Imagine a number of men in chains, all under sentence of death, some of whom are each day butchered in the sight of the others; those remaining see their own condition in that of their fellows, and looking at each other with grief and despair await their turn. This is an image of the human condition.”
Last night I went to the New York State Theater to watch New York City Ballet dance Apollo, Prodigal Son, and Serenade on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of George Balanchine. It was bitterly cold in Manhattan, but the house was still full of familiar faces: balletomanes and critics, aging ballerinas and budding bunheads, old friends of Balanchine and young choreographers looking for inspiration. Though I’d seen all three ballets danced the week before, I couldn’t imagine staying home. I’ve witnessed most of the great occasions of state since Balanchine’s death–the company’s 50th-anniversary celebration, Suzanne Farrell’s last Vienna Waltzes and Jerome Robbins’ last bow, the memorial services for Robbins and Tanaquil Le Clercq, Balanchine’s fourth wife–and so I thought it right to be on hand to celebrate the birthday of the man who opened my eyes to ballet 17 years ago.
On paper, it was just another repertory program, the kind that rarely inspires anything remotely approaching a sense of occasion nowadays, but no sooner did the lights go down than I knew something was different. The orchestra launched into the fanfare-like introduction to Apollo, the curtain flew up to reveal Nikolaj H