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...

Daveed Diggs Of ‘Hamilton’ Is Your Favorite Toy Tiger

April 26th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Years from now, newer converts to Hamilton fandom will marvel at how Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail assembled such a notable cast. It will be viewed like Rent, like American Graffiti, a remarkable gathering of young talent that’s a tribute to those who managed to bring them together, including the casting team at Telsey + Company. It’s not that the Hamilton cast was entirely unknown, to be sure, but the acclaim for the project raised the public’s awareness of each and every one of them, Continue reading...

Simon Callow Wants To Take Casting Practices Backwards

April 25th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

This morning, I was both annoyed and bemused to learn that Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi, two esteemed British actors, had just been given airtime by National Public Radio, to advance the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare’s true identity. This minority opinion about the authorship of the canon of works credited to Shakespeare holds that a commoner like Shakespeare couldn’t have possibly written the plays, and typically credits a British nobleman with having written them secretly. There’s Continue reading...

Even Cate Blanchett Had To Start Somewhere

April 10th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

In what will most assuredly give comfort to aspiring performers everywhere, you’ll be highly amused to know that Cate Blanchett began her career singing silly songs in the Melbourne University Law Revue show in her native Australia. “Weird Love Song” certainly lives up to its name in the “Red Faces” segment of the long-running Australian variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday (1971-1999). The segment itself seems to owe a great deal to The Gong Show or, for all we know about Australian Continue reading...

Theatre Headlines I Never Want To See

April 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Online or in print, headlines are meant to be grabbers. Just this week, I was taken aback by, and simply had to read,  The Independent’s "Radioactive wild boars rampaging around Fukushima nuclear site.” Honestly – how could I resist? A great headline need not always have a pun, such as the New York Daily News’s declaration against gun violence, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” Of course the classic of the genre is the New York Post’s “Headless Body in Topless Bar." Though I see journalism Continue reading...

88 Years on 88 Keys: Tom Lehrer, The Salinger of the Satirical Song

April 9th, 2016 § 11 comments § permalink

My memory of the moment is quite vivid, if inevitably inexact. It happened 41 years ago, in the early afternoon, in Mrs. Winkler’s seventh grade science class at Amity Junior High School, as we were doing a “unit” on Ecology. In order to brighten our study of the physical environment, Mrs. Winkler announced one day at the start of class that she wanted to play us a song, and proceeded to put a black vinyl disc on the industrial weight turntable, the cover of which doubled as a speaker. The Continue reading...

Recalling Lanford Wilson, Five Years Gone

March 24th, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

Exiting the subway at Christopher Street, turning south on Seventh Avenue, my eyes always turn to the brick building on my left, with the word “Garage” inlaid near the peak of its low-rise roof. The site of restaurants for the past two decades, currently plastered with a “For Lease” sign, this building always triggers the same series of thoughts, in more or less the same order: What a shame. Circle Rep. Balm in Gilead. Lanford Wilson. I most recently walked by this location seven days Continue reading...

Springtime For Swastikas In High School Musicals?

March 14th, 2016 § 5 comments § permalink

Let’s get the story straight. When Tappan Zee High School’s production of Mel Brooks’s The Producers was performed this weekend, there were swastikas on stage. This shouldn’t be any surprise to those who know the musical, the story of two producers who set out to make a mint by foisting a musical called Springtime for Hitler on Broadway audiences. With a song-and-dance Hitler – embodied at times by two different actors – and a chorus line of male and female stormtroopers in the Continue reading...

Are Any Voices Being Silenced in the Chat Room Wars of 2016?

March 14th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The recent flurry of conversations surrounding theatre chat rooms, prompted in large part by a blog post from Patti Murin in the wake of the premature shutdown of the musical Nerds, have been fierce. The uproar was deemed sufficiently important to rate coverage in The New York Times and there has been a flood of commentary on Twitter, on Facebook, and yes, in chat rooms themselves since the impassioned dialogue began. In the wake of Murin’s essay, BroadwayWorld.com has announced some new Continue reading...

30 Years Before “Hamilton,” US Politics Were Rapped on NYC Stage

March 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The achievements of Lin-Manuel’s Hamilton are significant and expansive, so much so that I need not add to the proliferation of reviews, essays, parodies, think pieces and so on engendered by his landmark work. However, I feel that, in light of my increasingly senior status and the years of theatre history stashed in my head, I must point out that Lin was not the first to merge rap and American politics on the New York stage. Travel back with me over 30 years, to an Off-Broadway venue in Greenwich Continue reading...