A Critic Reports From The Front Lines of High School Theatre

August 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

If you haven’t been reading Toronto’s The Globe and Mail every weekend this summer, then you likely haven’t come across J. Kelly Nestruck’s terrific series in which he followed a single high school theatre production of a non-musical adaptation of Les Misérables from start to finish. It no doubt benefited the youthful-looking Nestruck that he would stand out vastly less among a gaggle of high schoolers than say, me, and it appears to have allowed him unfettered access to the process, Continue reading...

Is Cumbermania Turning The Media Into Show Doctors?

August 19th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Four years ago, I pondered whether, in this age of social media and vastly accelerated information distribution online, “Will The Embargo Hold?” I was referring to the long-accepted practice by which theatrical productions designated a preview period, during which the production would be refined and altered, in view of the public, but with the critical press waiting until the defined opening night to render their verdicts. The Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet, now in previews at The Barbican Continue reading...

Broadway’s Associates Are Asking For A Bit of Security

August 14th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Labor negotiations only tend to break into the news when they concern large public sector unions or when things are going badly. This does not concern the former or, so far as I know, the latter. But there is an item on the table in the current negotiations between The Broadway League and the Stage Directors and Choreography Society (SDC) that I find of interest, even if it is rather inside pool for the theatre industry, and even more specifically, Broadway. SDC has put forward a proposal asking Continue reading...

Writing A Different Script About Respect for Playwrights

August 7th, 2015 § 17 comments § permalink

It would be hypocritical of me to speak out against precisely how people have expressed their feelings about, and to, Words Players Theatre in Rochester, Minnesota, because I spend so much of my time now speaking on behalf of the rights of artists to express themselves as they see fit. So as one of the first people to raise the issue of the play submission guidelines proffered by Words Players, I can only say that I’m disappointed in myself, for not engendering a more constructive dialogue. I’m Continue reading...

The Generous Audience Engagement of Lin-Manuel Miranda

August 5th, 2015 § 9 comments § permalink

It is not my habit to offer my opinion about current productions, and I tend to even avoid doing so retrospectively. But I do want to briefly discuss the shows I’ve seen over the past week or so, because they’re never the same each night, because they’re exceptionally brief, and because they’re free. I’m referring to the “Ham4Ham Show,” the two to three minute bits of entertainment offered up outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre at the ticket lottery two hours before each preview of Continue reading...

Taylor Swift Cannot Always Save Your Show

August 4th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

It is, without question, the feel-good theatre and pop culture copyright story of the day. “Taylor Swift comes to rescue of Sydney's Belvoir Street Theatre over use of hit song Shake It Off.” “'Permission granted': Taylor Swift's 11th-hour rescue for Sydney theatre show.” “Taylor Swift says yes to Belvoir Street SOS, theatre set to Shake It Off.” And so on. The fast story is this: Belvoir Street Theatre, a well-known and respected Australian theatre company is producing a play, Continue reading...

The Lost Plays of H. Edward Sherman

August 3rd, 2015 § 5 comments § permalink

Last weekend, I shared a story and wrote a blog post about Dylan Lawrence, a 13-year-old in Lincoln, Nebraska who staged what appeared to be a fairly impressive production of Shrek The Musical in a neighbor’s backyard. The story seemed to touch an awful lot of people, perhaps because they responded as I had, when introducing the article on Facebook. Sometimes, those of us who work in the theatre need a quick reminder of the impulse that got us started, which can get lost amid the realities Continue reading...

Disrespecting Playwrights and Their Words with Young Players in Minnesota

August 1st, 2015 § 46 comments § permalink

I should say right up front that, until about two hours before I began writing, I didn’t know anything about the Words Players Theatre of Rochester, Minnesota or its parent organization, Northland Words. I only learned about them because the company had raised the online ire of people in the creative community. In particular, what caught my eye was a blog post by playwright Donna Hoke, “Dissecting The Most Disgusting Call For Plays I’ve Ever Seen,” in which she does exactly what she says Continue reading...

Saluting a Backyard Theatrical Impresario In Lincoln, Nebraska

July 26th, 2015 § 7 comments § permalink

Sundays tend to be slow days for theatre news, if you get most of your theatre news online. By the time I sit down to trawl through “the Sunday papers” for theatre stories to share, primarily through my Twitter account, I’ve seen most of what’s on offer already. The New York Times Arts stories start filtering out through Twitter and Facebook as early as Wednesday, the Sunday column of Chris Jones at The Chicago Tribune is usually available by Friday afternoon, and so on. I look at my theatre Continue reading...

Verbally Attacking ‘Shakespeare Without Words’

July 15th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Seemingly out of nowhere, The Wall Street Journal published a column yesterday, "A Silenced Shakespeare in Washington: Shakespeare without puns is like French cooking without butter,” which slams the work of Washington D.C.’s Synetic Theater for their movement-based productions of Shakespeare, productions which have garnered critical and popular acclaim for more than a decade. What’s curious about this op-ed cum review, written by a contributor who is not a member of the paper’s arts Continue reading...