Lee Marvin: The Coolest Lethal Weapon (Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, through May 24). Twenty films–several of them first-rate–by the toughest of all possible tough guys. Highlights: Samuel Fuller’s “The Big Red One” (May 18) and Budd Boetticher’s “Seven Men from Now” (May 19) (TT).
Archives for May 11, 2007
This has been a big season for Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. First they revived “The Fantasticks,” their best-known musical, in a splendid Off Broadway production directed by Mr. Jones that opened last August and is still going strong. Now the Roundabout Theatre Company has brought “110 in the Shade” back to Broadway for the first time since it closed in 1964–and it turns out to be every bit as good as “The Fantasticks.” Not only is Lonny Price’s staging letter-perfect, but Audra McDonald, who hasn’t appeared in a Broadway musical since 1999, is giving the performance of a lifetime as Lizzie Curry, a plain-Jane gal from Texas who is haunted by the prospect of permanent spinsterhood until a fast-talking con man named Starbuck (Steve Kazee) blows into town and awakens her inner babe….
Ms. McDonald gives the most fully realized performance I’ve seen in a musical this season, not excluding Donna Murphy in “LoveMusik” and Raúl Esparza in “Company.” It goes without saying that she has the best voice on Broadway, but like Kristin Chenoweth, she doesn’t have to sing a note to grab your attention. Ms. McDonald is an actor who sings, not a singer who acts…
Rejoice greatly, stargazers: Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes have returned to Broadway to share a stage in Terrence McNally’s “Deuce.” Would that this tale of two retired tennis pros were something other than an ordinary celebrity vehicle, but great acting can ennoble the tritest of scripts, and Mr. McNally’s leading ladies deliver the goods with postage to spare….
August Wilson is back in town–posthumously. “Radio Golf,” the tenth and last installment in Wilson’s “Pittsburgh cycle” of plays about black life in 20th-century America, opened at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 2005, seven months before the playwright’s death. It has since been performed by a half-dozen other regional companies. Now it’s arrived on Broadway in a road-honed production directed by Kenny Leon, designed by David Gallo and performed by five first-class actors, three of whom have been with the show since its premiere….
Good drama doesn’t always tell the truth–it doesn’t have to. Great drama, on the other hand, turns a spotlight on the world and forces the viewer to acknowledge the most painful and fundamental facts about human nature. Many of August Wilson’s plays do that, but in “Radio Golf” he settled for the lazy half-answers of the ideologue. While that doesn’t diminish in the least the genuine greatness of a play like “Fences,” I wish he’d gone out on a higher, truer note.
No free link, so get thee to a newsstand, from whence cometh help. Alternatively, go here to subscribe to the Online Journal, which will give you one-click access to the drama column, plus lots of other arty stuff. (If you’re already a subscriber, the column is here.)
Next week, Chicago!
You may have heard about Orion Books’ Compact Editions, a new series of condensed classics that went on sale in England this week and will be coming to the United States in August. Not surprisingly, British eggheads are sneering at the thought that anyone would dare to publish abridged versions of David Copperfield or Moby-Dick–but should they? That’s the subject of my next “Sightings” column, which appears in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.
Pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Journal and turn to the “Pursuits” section to see what I have to say. (I promise to be concise!)
“We went to Mannheim and attended a shivaree–otherwise an opera–the one called ‘Lohengrin.’ The banging and slamming and booming and crashing were something beyond belief.”
Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad