Taylor Swift Cannot Always Save Your Show

August 4th, 2015 § 0 comments § 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 § 37 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...

Preparing For Anti-“Rent” Messages From Tennessee Pulpits

July 3rd, 2015 § 18 comments § permalink

If you are a musical theatre fan in general, and a Rent fan in particular, and you’re going to church in or around Tullahoma, Tennessee this Sunday, there’s a chance you may not like a bit of what you hear said from the pulpit. That’s because there’s an e-mail circulating among the area’s religious leaders alerting them about Jonathan Larson’s Rent, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about young lives in the East Village of New York City a few decades ago. Some of the Continue reading...

In The UK and US, Bias Infects Theatre Reviews

June 22nd, 2015 § 12 comments § permalink

“You can’t draw sweet water from a foul well,” critic Brooks Atkinson wrote of his initial reaction to the musical Pal Joey. I don’t know whether Christopher Hart of The Sunday Times in London knows this famous quote, but it certainly seems to summarize his approach to reviewing the London premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherfucker With The Hat, which one can safely say is light years more profane than the Rodgers and Hart musical. “A desperately boring play,” “an Continue reading...

If The Arts Were Reported Like Sports

June 9th, 2015 § 8 comments § permalink

If you’re like me, someone deeply committed to the arts – in practice, in education, in media coverage, in every aspect of life – you’ve probably had the same fantasy I’ve had over the years. What, I often wonder, would the scenario for the arts be like if they had the same attention and resources as those afforded to sports, especially in high schools and colleges? That scenario can be played out with serious thought, especially as we watch school arts programs being cut – just last Continue reading...

You’d Like Your Show Reviewed? $150 Please

June 5th, 2015 § 15 comments § permalink

‘You give us $150 dollars and we’ll review your show.’ It sounds like a bizarro-world version of ‘You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world.’ But that is, boiled to its essence, what the Los Angeles theatre website Bitter Lemons has just proposed to the southern California theatre community. Citing the general reduction in theatre reviews both nationally and locally, the site has laid out a plan whereby theatres (or individuals) can pay $150 and be assured of a review of at Continue reading...

Etcetera: David Letterman & Warren Zevon

May 20th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

I can’t compete with the literally hundreds of online tributes that are proliferating in advance of David Letterman’s final show this evening, except to say that I’ve been watching him since he debuted on NBC and now expect I will be getting to sleep even earlier, albeit less happily, after tonight’s show. For the last several weeks, there has been a parade of frequent and favorite Letterman guests returning to the program for one last visit, but there’s one Letterman regular who won’t Continue reading...