Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Obit watch: April 14, 2016.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Two! Two! Two themes in one!

Theme 1: people who had interesting lives and careers.

Anne Jackson, noted actress.

Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).

She was also married to Eli Wallach from 1948 until he died in 2014. And they were good together:

They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.

Arthur Anderson. He was perhaps most famous as the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. But he did a lot of other stuff, including working with Orson Welles:

After acting in “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” Mr. Anderson was cast in 1937 as Lucius, the herald to the 22-year-old Welles’s Brutus, in a Broadway production of “Julius Caesar” set in Fascist Italy. Arthur sang, accompanying himself on a ukulele camouflaged as a lute.
His most memorable moment during the show occurred offstage. After heeding an order to stop hurling light bulbs at a brick wall, he decided to light matches to test the melting point of the sprinkler heads. Besides setting off a fire alarm, he triggered a deluge just as Brutus ascended the pulpit above the body of Caesar on the stage below.

Remember, folks, the sprinkler is not a toy, nor is it a load-bearing device.

Theme 2: the death penalty.

Jack H. Smith passed away a few days ago.

Mr. Smith had convictions for robbery-assault and theft in 1955 and another robbery-assault conviction in 1959 that earned him a life prison term. He also had a prison escape attempt in 1963.
He was paroled from his life sentence on Jan. 8, 1977, after serving 17 years. One day short of a year later, on Jan. 7, 1978, Mr. Smith and an accomplice were arrested in the killing of Roy A. Deputter, who was shot to death while trying to stop a holdup at a Houston convenience store known as Corky’s Corner.

Mr. Smith’s accomplice testified against him and was sentenced to life. Mr. Smith was sentenced to death:

Mr. Smith, a former welder who completed only six years of school, arrived on death row on Oct. 9, 1978, and remained there until his death.

Joe Freeman Britt also passed away a few days ago. He was a prosecutor in North Carolina:

As the district attorney for Robeson and Scotland Counties from 1974 to 1988, Mr. Britt oversaw cases that led to more than 40 death sentences. Only two of the defendants were executed — appeals court rulings led to many altered sentences, and some suspects were later exonerated [Emphasis added: -DB] — but his courtroom record ranked him at one point among the country’s most prolific advocates for capital punishment.

After his time as a prosecutor, he became a judge:

Mr. Britt’s candidacy for the court seat was not without controversy. His opponent, a Native American, died in what the authorities concluded was a domestic dispute. The death essentially guaranteed a victory for Mr. Britt, and it prompted a period of unease and suspicion. Investigators, however, never accused Mr. Britt or his supporters of wrongdoing.

Random notes: April 11, 2016.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Statesman writer subscribes to LootCrate so he can get a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Statesman writer discovers that he really doesn’t like getting a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Stateman writer decides, not just to quietly cancel his LootCrate subscription and move on with his life, but to publish a “breakup letter” in his newspaper.

Editors. Where are the editors?

Obit watch: Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, chief medical examiner of New York City from 1989 to 2013.

In 2001, when two jetliners commandeered by terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Dr. Hirsch and six aides rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue.
When the North Tower collapsed, two aides were severely injured. Dr. Hirsch, thrown to the ground, broke all of his ribs. His cuts sutured by a medical team, he returned to the examiner’s squat brick headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street, coated in a ghostlike gray soot.

Begun, the “Hamilton” backlash has.

Quote of the day:

“I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point.”

What is the name of this play?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

No, seriously. What is the name of this play?

Attend the tale.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

This one goes out to Mike the Musicologist:

“Sweeney Todd”, the “prog-metal” version.

(Can someone explain to me what “prog-metal” is, anyway?)

It could be worse. It could be disco.

A poor substitute for content…

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

…some random crap. I don’t really have anything to say about the riots, except: “It’s Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save you.”

The Carnegie Deli is temporarily closed. Rent dispute? Insect infestation? Nope.

At the Carnegie Deli, however, Con Edison said about half of the gas that the utility was delivering to the building was being diverted before the meter and, therefore, not showing up on the deli’s bills.

Obit watch: Jayne Meadows, noted actress, sister of Audrey “Alice Kramden” Meadows, and Steve Allen’s wife.

Edited to add: Crap! And I completely forgot the original reason for this post. My friend Erin Palette goes to the Taurus booth at the NRA Convention, and gets treated like something scraped off the bottom of a shoe. Hilarity ensues.

TMQ Watch: February 2, 2015.

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

The ultimate TMQ! (At least, for this season.) Plus, we almost, but not quite, apologize to Gregg Easterbrook. After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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The Shipping News.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Monday night’s announcement that the new musical “The Last Ship” will close on Jan. 24 after a meager four-month run, despite unusual efforts by Sting, its composer, to increase ticket sales, raises that question more than most other foundering musicals in recent years.

Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Why, indeed, did “The Last Ship” fail (and cost the show’s producers their entire $15 million investment), even though Sting himself joined the cast?

Mr. Seller said that he had no theories for why more female theatergoers (who make up about 70 percent of Broadway audiences) and Sting fans did not embrace “The Last Ship,” about the troubled lives of shipbuilders and young people in a struggling British town.

Could this be…a clue?

Obit watch: December 24, 2014.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Lawrence forwarded this really nice appreciation of Margot Adler, who passed away in July. Awful lot of dust in the room today.

(No, really. I’ve been sneezing my ass off the past couple of days.)

A/V Club obit for Joseph Sargent, who I mentioned yesterday. Also: NYT.

I missed this over the weekend: former Houston mayor Bob Lanier.

Finally, one I missed until late yesterday: Billie Whitelaw. You may know her as the nanny in the original “The Omen”, but she was very famous in England. She may have been best known as Samuel Beckett’s muse and collaborator:

She accepted his artistic vision without always understanding its explicitly rendered ambiguities. They read his plays together, discussing not their meaning but the most minuscule elements of the text — the pauses and sighs and guttural sounds as well as the words, the inflections demanded by the language, and his need, as she said in interviews, to remove the acting from the performance. “Flat, no emotion, no color,” he would often caution her, she said.

TMQ Watch: November 25, 2014.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Two of our new favorite things in the world:

  1. Kickended, an archive of failed Kickstarter projects. And when we say “failed”, we don’t just mean “didn’t meet their goal”; these are projects that attracted no pledges at all.
  2. The Clickbait Headline Generator. The real genius of this is the “View This as a Fake Website” function.
  3. grapes

    We actually want to write the “Three Types of Fun You Should Never Have With a Freelance Nurse” article, as we have some ideas for that. Unfortunately, those ideas make us cringe so badly we can’t bring ourselves to start writing.

    In other news, this week’s TMQ, after the jump…

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Obit watch: November 20, 2014.

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

I wanted to wait until the media had a chance to do fuller roundups of Mike Nichols and his career.

NYT. LAT. The Dissolve.

Man, what a career.

Not Since Tupac.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

By way of the A/V Club, I’ve learned of something called “Holler if Ya Hear Me”, a Broadway musical “inspired by the music and lyrics of the popular rapper Tupac Shakur”.

While some Broadway shows rely on budget reserves to muddle through slow weeks, “Holler” struggled from the outset. The production never brought in more than $175,000 a week in gross revenues, becoming one of the worst-selling musicals of recent years. Last week the show grossed $154,948, or 17 percent of the maximum possible amount, and only 45 percent of its seats were occupied.

Here’s the NYT review:

Drawing on themes that Shakur rapped about in his scabrous, four-letter-word-filled lyrics (no one has taken a kid-friendly Magic Marker to them, I’m glad to report), the musical attempts to draw a vision of black life in urban America that acknowledges the danger, the violence and the self-destruction but also the hope, the courage and the potential for transcendence. To this end, it employs more than a dozen of Shakur’s songs and a couple of his poems. But the lyrical density of rap — in words per minute, many of the songs are off the charts — makes an uneasy fit for theatrical presentation, since the sizzling phrases fly by almost before you can grasp their meaning.

At this point, you’re probably not wondering what brought this to mind:

It will close at a financial loss after 17 preview performances and 38 regular performances at the Palace Theater.

And, of course, there’s the usual invocations of “it’s going to be difficult to do another rap or hip hop show on Broadway” and “Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”

As for the latter, no comment. As for the former:

Yet one new musical featuring rap and hip hop, “Hamilton,” is widely expected to come to Broadway during the 2015-16 season after an initial run at the Public Theater this coming winter. The show is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose show “In the Heights,” which also featured rap and hip hop, ran for three years on Broadway and won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.

Edited to add: more from the PoR:

In truth, the problem with “Holler” wasn’t really the music at all, but the ham-handed, sentimentalized story line concocted to underpin it.

Even more things I didn’t know.

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

A comment by Guffaw in an earlier thread led me to Wikipedia, where I learned:

  1. There is a Jim Steinman Wiki.
  2. Jim Steinman was intimately involved in Batman: The Musical. Yes, you did read that correctly, and no, it was never produced.
  3. The Jim Steinman Wiki does not currently have an article about Dance of the Vampires. However, Wikipedia does:

    On January 25, 2003, after 56 performances, Dance of the Vampires closed. According to The New York Times, it was “one of the costliest failures in Broadway history”, losing roughly $12 million, easily eclipsing the infamous musical Carrie.