Quiara Alegría Hudes (and Lin-Manuel Miranda) on Casting “In The Heights”

August 15th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The casting of the upcoming production of In The Heights at Porchlight Music Theatre in Chicago, in particular a non-Latinx actor in the leading role of Usnavi, has provoked a great deal of comment and controversy. On August 9, Victory Gardens Theatre hosted a public forum, “The Color Game: whitewashing Latinx stories,” which drew a full house and an even larger online audience to explore the issues of race, ethnicity, authenticity and representation provoked by the Porchlight casting and Continue reading...

The Rolling Canvases of New York City

August 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Thanks to smartphone technology, we all walk around with cameras in our pockets or bags, but tend to pull them out to take pictures of events, of friends, of ourselves. As someone trained on 35 millimeter film cameras at the age of 11 or 12, and trained to use a darkroom at perhaps 14, I still can’t adjust to the idea of pointing a phone to take a picture. Indeed, when I’m not otherwise laden down by a bag of some kind, I usually have a DSLR with me, to confirm to the kind of picture taking I Continue reading...

For Stan Freberg, Whose Parodies and Satires Live On

August 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

To a particular subset of junior comedy nerds, of which I was an unapologetic member, 1976 was a watershed year, for a reason only tangentially connected to the official Bicentennial celebration that faced Americans down at every turn. At a time when the vinyl record remained the primary means of owning recorded music (cassettes were coming into vogue, as were, briefly eight-tracks), the comedy sections of record stores were relatively low on product. Without access to a really good used record Continue reading...

The Frightened Arrogance Behind “It’s Called Acting”

August 2nd, 2016 § 11 comments § permalink

  It is quite possible that, when the English stage was officially opened up to allow women to perform alongside men, most likely in 1660 when Margaret Hughes played Desdemona, some argued against it, on the grounds that young boys had been successfully been playing women for years, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. After all, only 30 years earlier, a French touring troupe met with disdain for daring to employ women, and even once English women were permitted to act, men did not Continue reading...

Lin-Manuel Miranda: “Life’s a gift, it’s not to be taken for granted”

July 8th, 2016 § 5 comments § permalink

“I knew y’all would come. It’s the rest of the world I couldn’t have anticipated.” That was what Lin-Manuel Miranda admitted about his extraordinary recent success with the musical Hamilton to some 200 high school drama teachers in a session on July 7, just two days before he was to leave the cast of the show. He was speaking at the Broadway Teachers Workshop, an annual summer program for theatre teachers from around the country, in a wide-ranging discussion that took him from elementary Continue reading...

57 Theatre Critics Sitting Around Talking

June 13th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

If you’re looking for critical consensus, you won’t find much of it in the new book The Critics Say…: 57 Theater Reviewers in New York and Beyond Discuss Their Craft and Its Future (McFarland & Company, $35). That’s because the critics interviewed for the book by Matt Windman, himself a critic, have a wide variety of opinions about what it is they do, how they do it, why they do it and whether it will continue to be done. Rather than devote a chapter to each critic, Windman organizes Continue reading...

See Muhammad Ali in His Broadway Musical, “Buck White”

June 4th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

While much will be written about the passing of Muhammad Ali, he does leave us with a theatrical footnote. I’m speaking of his single Broadway role, as the lead in the musical Buck White. Oscar Brown Jr. directed (with Jean Pace) in addition to adapting Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s play Big Time Buck White, and writing the lyrics and music. It lasted only five days in 1969, during the period when Ali had been suspended from boxing due to his refusal to join the Army and fight in Vietnam. It’s interesting Continue reading...

Oh, And The Guy In The Wheelchair Commits Suicide

June 2nd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Before you start shouting about spoiler alerts, let me point out that the headline of this piece does not indicate in what context this suicide occurs. Could be real life. Could be a play, a movie, a TV, or a book. In fact, it’s several movies and at least one book; I’m sure there are many more. Because when it comes to representations of disability, the cliché of the person in the wheelchair who can’t accept life after becoming disabled is a fairly standard device, sad to say. I am Continue reading...

Alan Ayckbourn: “Take the work seriously, but never yourself”

May 31st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Since 2005, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, the British playwright and director, has been bringing plays – often two or even three at a time – to 59E59 Theaters in New York from his home base at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England, where he was artistic director for more than 30 years. On each of his six visits to the U.S. – save for one where he fell ill at the last moment – I’ve moderated a public conversation with him, prompted by our friendship dating back to 1996 and the U.S. Continue reading...

Music Ed Head Casts Doubts on Diverse Student Talent

May 10th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The statements, on their face, are utterly startling. “Blacks and Latinos lack the keyboard skills needed for this field.” “I don’t have to take this. Yes, my board is all white, and they are one of the most diverse boards of any organization – more than any arts organization at this table.” It was implied that musical theory is too difficult for black and Latinos as an area of study. These remarks were attributed to Michael Butera, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Continue reading...