Guest Post: A Welcoming School “Spamalot” in Pennsylvania Coal Country

August 28th, 2014 § 15 comments § permalink

Among the many responses I’ve received to my accounts of the censorship of the musical Spamalot at South Williamsport Junior/Senior High in Pennsylvania was a tweet from Dane Rooney, an English teacher and drama director in Shenandoah PA, who spoke of his own school’s Spamalot. I invited him to e-mail me with more information, but instead of a handful of bullet points, I got an essay. I asked if I could share his communication and, with a few adjustments by Dane for wider readership, this is Continue reading...

Facts Emerge About School “Spamalot” Struck Out Over Gay Content

August 21st, 2014 § 10 comments § permalink

Once each year, the world turns its eyes to Williamsport and South Williamsport PA, as young athletes from around the globe compete in the Little League World Series. This year has garnered particular attention for the wunderkind pitcher Mo'ne Davis, whose story has united people across any manner of gender or racial lines, through the talent and grace of a single young woman. Less publicly and widely known, however, was that over this summer, the administration of the South Williamsport Area School Continue reading...

Why Are There So Few Long Running Plays On Broadway?

August 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

There was a time, children, not so very long ago, when hit plays ran much longer than than 131 performances. Why 131? Because in the last ten complete Broadway seasons, that’s the average of how long a play – new or revival – ran. Yet, out of 313 plays in that decade, only 21 plays ran for 200 performances or more, and only seven ran for 300 performances or more. No play in the past decade topped 800 performances, as The 39 Steps stopped climbing at 794 performances and War Horse headed for Continue reading...

Why I Saw A Musical I Knew Virtually Nothing About

August 11th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

10 days ago, I was completely unaware that an Icelandic musical had established a beachhead in one of Off-Broadway’s larger theatres. To be honest, I’d never given much thought to Icelandic theatre, let alone their musicals. So when I spotted an online Village Voice story about the show’s musical score and gave it a skim, that alone was enough to make me want to see this rara avis. So I spent Saturday afternoon, a beautiful August afternoon, in the dark at the Minetta Lane. But there’s actually Continue reading...

High School Theatre Wickedness In The Eye Of The Beholder

August 5th, 2014 § 5 comments § permalink

Years from now, when the musical Wicked is eventually made available for school and amateur productions, will some high school administrator declare it inappropriate? After all, among its many plot strands is the story of (spoiler alert) the manipulative Madame Morrible, a school headmistress who schemes against those in Oz who don’t conform precisely to her standards, be they green girl or anthropomorphic animal. It’s a terrible portrait of pedagogy gone wrong and surely doesn’t foster the Continue reading...

Movie Marketers Love Music, Not Musicals

August 3rd, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

The arrival of a new movie trailer online is received with a level of excitement and scrutiny that once waited for the film itself; even photos get analyzed in depth, as the recent hubbub over the first image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman has proved. So it’s no surprise that the theatre fan community went into a frenzy over the first full trailer for Disney’s film of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into The Woods; after all, superhero movies now arrive like clockwork, while movie musicals, Continue reading...

Pardon Me, Ira Glass: Shakespeare Doesn’t Suck (IMHO)

July 28th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

One of the many achievements of Ira Glass’s This American Life is that it is a longform approach to storytelling, whether personal or reportorial. By not dumbing down, by not sound-biting, it has become one of the most acclaimed and honored radio programs of this generation, and has turned Glass himself into a well-recognized individual, both by voice and face. As a purveyor of subtlety, nuance, compassion and depth, Glass has connected with a significant community that is desirous of something Continue reading...

Yet Another Life for a Times Square Cinema

July 17th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

  Perhaps you knew it as a place to cool off, use the bathroom or grab some free wi-fi. You may have passed through it on your way to an office in the building known variously as 1560 Broadway, 165 West 46th Street, or the Equity Building, for which it has been a lobby while construction shut down the regular side street entrance. I’m referring to the Times Square Visitors Center, which closed its doors suddenly three weeks ago. In recent years, it has hosted meetings and events, Continue reading...

Trying To Find Out A Lot About A Canceled Spamalot

July 15th, 2014 § 16 comments § permalink

On July 2, I wrote about a situation at South Williamsport, Pennsylvania’s Jr/Sr High School, where a production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, slated for 2015, was canceled, reportedly due to its gay content. A number of news items and opinion pieces were written about the cancelation, with particular attention paid to a statement that homosexuality doesn’t exist in the community. However, the television station which first reported the story subsequently repudiated that portion of its report, Continue reading...

Gay Denials Slam ‘Spamalot’ at Pennsylvania School

July 2nd, 2014 § 11 comments § permalink

“I chop down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra. I wish I'd been a girlie, just like my dear papa.” My friends and I happily sang those Monty Python lyrics, at the drop of a hat, throughout our teen years, identifying with Michael Palin’s exuberant character, rather than the men who walked away from him in dismay. Yes, we’d seen men dress as women in comedy sketches, but those were burlesques, painted in broad, garish strokes. There had never been a declaration of donning Continue reading...