When The Audience Bellows Louder Than Big Daddy

June 3rd, 2014 § 48 comments § permalink

"I got into a brawl one night in a saloon in Greenwich Village. Elia Kazan, a great director, saw me put out a couple of hecklers and figures there was some Big Daddy in me, just lyin' dormant. And out it came. ” --Burl Ives, the original Big Daddy First, to state what I hope would be obvious to anyone who bothers to read me, I believe that hate speech is vile. But in reading the accounts of what took place this past weekend at the Repertory East Playhouse in Santa Clarita, California, Continue reading...

Won’t Drink, Can’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me

May 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

For some people, the words “interactive theatre” strike fear into their hearts, and they’ll do anything to avoid it. The prospect of being accosted by an actor, of having the spotlight turned on them, of potentially being embarrassed in front of others for the sake of everyone else’s amusement is something they equate with impromptu public speaking or a trip to the dentist. They certainly don’t want to pay for the opportunity to have this occur. I have no such fear. I gave in to Continue reading...

A Whispered Broadway Milestone No One’s Cheering

May 28th, 2014 § 21 comments § permalink

It’s a funny thing about milestones, the way certain thresholds get set in our minds. If you follow reporting on the movie industry, breaking the $100 million gross barrier is a major achievement (and for those of us in the arts, an astronomical figure), although its not always connected to the cost of the film under discussion. But that number has been a yardstick for years, once cause for double page ads in Variety whenever it was reached, regardless of whether the movie that achieved it was Continue reading...

Hey Broadway, Have You Got The Time?

May 22nd, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Broadway’s 7 pm curtain on Tuesdays was introduced more than 11 years ago. I thought it a somewhat more recent innovation, especially since I still regularly attend shows where audience members enter at about 7:50, usually far into the first act, looking embarrassed, angry or both. Of course, this curtain time is no longer limited to Tuesdays, as many shows also play on Thursdays at 7, and shorter shows that can still give their company an appropriate Continue reading...

Drama School Clickbait from The Hollywood Reporter

May 19th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

We all know that web traffic is the lifeblood of online media, giving rise to such essential reporting as “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You?,” “Which Breakfast Club Character Are You?” and every imaginable variant on this gambit. It is, of course, clickbait, designed to get you to interact with a site and see some advertising and increase page views, engagement time and other such metrics. Frankly, after finding out which Muppet I am (Beaker, if you must know), I stopped taking the Continue reading...

On Stage In Milford, With Sweet Understanding

May 5th, 2014 § 5 comments § permalink

If you somehow managed to materialize in the auditorium of Jonathan Law High School in Milford CT this past weekend just as the band began the opening strains of Little Shop of Horrors, you would have simply thought yourself at a perfectly enjoyable production of that infectious musical, well-rendered by its teen cast. As the show progressed, however, you might have begun to notice something peculiar, a motif in the costumes, worn by every character: a purple ribbon, with a small circle affixed to Continue reading...

Today, Children, We’re Not Going To Do A Show

April 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Of course, on the face of it, it’s simply the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard. In a letter to the parents of kindergarten students at Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y., the principal and kindergarten teachers wrote: "The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers." The Continue reading...

Has There Been A Stage Outrage Overreaction at Arizona State?

April 24th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

[This post has been updated twice since it was originally published. I urge you to read it fully before drawing any conclusions.] Rent is at the center of an academic controversy again, with a few twists. This time, it’s not the whole show, it’s just one song, “La Vie Boheme.” It involves multiple high schools and a college simultaneously. The performance is over and done. But the song echoes. Here’s the gist, summarized from video and written reports from AZcentral.com: earlier Continue reading...

Season After Season After Seasons of Love

April 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

As I prepared to go to Trumbull CT last month to see the high school’s production of Rent, many people asked, or wrote me to ask, if I would be writing about it. My consistent reply, “I doubt it,” was met with surprise by one and all, who asked, ‘Why not?’ I had been very vocal in my support for the show when it was canceled back in the fall, and I know that I played some role in helping to turn the tide back in favor of the production, though it was the students and adults in the community Continue reading...

The Broadway ‘Soul Train’ Hasn’t Left The Station

April 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Broadway dreams being immediately blown up into pending productions is something that really gets my goat. Why? Because it’s a case of hyperbole becoming ostensible fact in the press, and the only people it serves are those trying to make a nascent production into reality. When I last wrote about this phenomenon about nine months ago (it really makes me cranky), I suggested that it makes an argument for why paid professional arts journalism is so essential – to separate real news from puffery. Continue reading...