I Really Was a Teenage Singing Zombie

October 27th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Long after I stopped acting in school productions (which was November 1981 at the University of Pennsylvania, to be precise), my mother would periodically say how much she wished that my shows had been preserved on video, so she could see them again. It’s important to understand that my performances were in the pre-home video era, before every parent had a video camera to capture every precious moment, let alone a pocket-sized phone with a digital video camera within it. The idea of YouTube Continue reading...

Before Broadway’s “Falsettos,” Hartford Stage’s Changed Lives

October 21st, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

When I speak about it with people who saw it, the phrase that comes up most often is, “It was life-changing.” When I speak about it with people who have read about it, but didn’t see it, the question that inevitably arises is, “What was the ‘coup de theatre’?” When I speak about it with people who knew nothing of it, they profess surprise that it existed. I’m speaking of the Hartford Stage production of March of the Falsettos & Falsettoland, the first time the two Continue reading...

In New Musical About Amputee, Faking Disability

October 13th, 2016 § 4 comments § permalink

If you look at photos or video from Marathon of Hope, a new musical that just premiered in Waterloo, Canada, about an hour outside Toronto, something seems off. The musical is based on the life story of Terry Fox, a young Canadian man who in 1980, after losing a leg to cancer, undertook a country-wide run to raise money for and bring attention to cancer research. He did not complete his effort, because his cancer metastasized to his lungs and he died in 1981. His life is the stuff of legend Continue reading...

When Deaf Voices Are Left Out Of “Tribes”

September 8th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

“Unfortunately, no deaf actors showed up to the auditions.” The statement above was made yesterday in a public statement to the Deaf and hard of hearing community by Leslie Charipar, artistic director of Theatre Cedar Rapids in Iowa. It was issued in response to complaints that Charipar has received from the Deaf community at large about the theatre’s upcoming production of Nina Raine’s Tribes, which TCR has cast with hearing actors in the roles of Billy, who is deaf, and Sylvia, a Continue reading...

Wells Fargo to Arts Kids: Abandon Your Dreams

September 3rd, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is-a comin’ down the street, and apparently it’s not interested in doing business with kids who aspire to the arts, their parents, their teachers, or arts organizations. In promotional materials for their Teen Day on September 17 (because after all what kid doesn’t wasn’t to take time on a weekend to spend time at the bank), Wells Fargo has mounted a campaign that seems overtly dismissive of careers in the arts. While both they and I acknowledge that young Continue reading...

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...