Long Before “Ragtime,” Musical Lessons From Lynn Ahrens

February 6th, 2017 § Comments Off on Long Before “Ragtime,” Musical Lessons From Lynn Ahrens § permalink

Two weeks ago, the musical Ragtime came under fire at a high school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for its deployment of racial slurs in telling a anti-racism story that is intended to evoke the evolving nature of what it means to be American, blending the stories of white, black, and Jewish characters according to the template set by E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel from 1975. Following efforts to censor its language, which would have resulted in the rights to the show being withdrawn due to unauthorized Continue reading...

Of Pleas, Pants, Race, Rights and Lin-Manuel: My Top Blog Posts of 2016

December 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Of Pleas, Pants, Race, Rights and Lin-Manuel: My Top Blog Posts of 2016 § permalink

In some ways, it might make more sense if I wrote this post about some of my least-read pieces of 2016, because I value almost everything I write equally and never quite know why some get widely read and others just seem to be of only marginal interest to others. I of course prefer to blame social media and its vagaries, but in some cases it might be the photos I chose, the headline I drafted or the relative idiosyncrasy of the subject. Because this year was the first during which I was writing Continue reading...

At An NYC Bat Mitzvah, “Hamilton” Becomes A Hymn

November 11th, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

How to describe how I’ve felt this week? In approximate order: anxious, worried, heartsick, afraid, resolved, exhausted, embraced. But it wasn’t until this morning that I felt something that made me break into a wide grin, while sitting alone in an office watching YouTube. It is well known by now that I am a Hamilton partisan, and exist unofficially at the fringes of show’s orbit due to my near-obsessive recordings of the outdoor #Ham4Ham shows. As a result, people constantly share articles 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...

Daveed Diggs Of ‘Hamilton’ Is Your Favorite Toy Tiger

April 26th, 2016 § Comments Off on Daveed Diggs Of ‘Hamilton’ Is Your Favorite Toy Tiger § 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...

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

March 11th, 2016 § Comments Off on 30 Years Before “Hamilton,” US Politics Were Rapped on NYC Stage § 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...

Resolutions, Via Theatre, For 2016

January 2nd, 2016 § Comments Off on Resolutions, Via Theatre, For 2016 § permalink

  At first, they were a few lunchtime tweets, which proved of little interest, it seemed. But when I collected a couple, and added a few more, for a Facebook post at 9:30 pm on New Year’s Eve, they seemed to resonate. And so, with little ado, my New Year’s resolutions by way of lyrics and dialogue from works of theatre, but no less heartfelt for being so. Talk less, smile more. Wake each morning to realize I have a good thing going. Never walk alone. Decide what’s right, Continue reading...

Of Race, Ethics, Education and Rights: My Top Posts of 2015

December 22nd, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

I honestly wish I could figure out what makes one blog post a roaring success, and another a blip on the radar. Certainly the topic under discussion has some impact, but readership seems just as likely to be affected by the title, a photo, the Facebook algorithm, the timing of a tweet, what else is happening in the world, and so on. In short, I have no idea. In looking over my most-read posts of 2015, I do know which ones took a great deal of research and time, and which were dashed off in Continue reading...

What’s My Deal With All The “Hamilton” Videos?

December 21st, 2015 § 3 comments § permalink

If you’re a dedicated fan of the musical Hamilton, or if you follow me on social media, you may well have come across the streetside #Ham4Ham show videos I’ve been sharing since late July. As I write, they’ve collectively been viewed on YouTube about 890,000 times – and that doesn’t include views of the same videos that have been uploaded directly to Facebook. So without doing a careful count, I can truthfully say the videos have been seen over 1.1 million times. As a result, I have Continue reading...

What Does “Hamilton” Tell Us About Race In Casting?

December 3rd, 2015 § 23 comments § permalink

In the wake of the recent casting controversies over Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop and Lloyd Suh’s Jesus in India, there have been a number of online commenters who have cited Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton as a justification for their position in the debate. What’s intriguing is that Hamilton has been offered up both as evidence of why actors of color must have the opportunity to play both characters or color and characters not necessarily written as characters of color – but Continue reading...