Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (part IV)

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Well, I got an early Christmas present this year. And it sits at the odd intersection of musical theater, law, politics, Christmas…and Rhode Island.

The folks at the Crimetown podcast did a partial reconstruction of “Buddy Cianci: The Musical”.

“There was this whole bunch of possibility. You could write a musical about pee and then you’d be on Broadway. We thought, you know what’s better than pee…is Buddy Cianci.”

—Jonathan Van Gieson

The musical had seven performances at the New York Fringe Festival in 2003. It has not been performed since, and there was no original cast recording.

This made me tear up a little: Jacksonville Jaguars fans decided to send trash cans to Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney after he called their quarterback “trash”.

Jadeveon Clowney’s response? Fill the trash cans and a van full of toys and give them to needy children. Like Lawrence, I’m still mostly checked out of the NFL, but this is a good story.

Quote of the day.

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

One might look at the master collaborators — from Kern and Berlin to Rodgers and Hart and Loesser and Jule Styne and Jerome Robbins — and come to the conclusion that the history of the Broadway musical is the history of short Jewish men yelling at each other.

—Jack Viertel, The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows Are Built.

Obit watch: October 25, 2017.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Robert Guillaume.

Man, what a career.

He landed his part in “Soap” in 1977 after a Tony-nominated run as Nathan Detroit in an all-black Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls.”

I’d love to see that. I’m sure it exists…in an archive…somewhere in New York City…

Mr. Guillaume said Benson’s sharp tongue and dignified mien had allowed him to transcend his station while getting laughs. “What made the humor was that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said of the character in an interview for this obituary in 2011. “He wasn’t trying to be mean; he was just trying to be his own man.”

Obit watch part II.

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Sam Shepard obits: NYT. A/V Club.

I really don’t have much more to say, other than that he was great in “The Right Stuff”, and ALS is a horrible disease.

From the arts beat.

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Two stories that I think are noteworthy.

I was not aware, until Lawrence forwarded me this Vulture article, that the NYT had fired theater critic Charles Isherwood. And “fired”, apparently, does not mean “laid off because we’re cutting back on arts coverage”. but instead means “here are some boxes, pack your s–t, security will escort you out the door”. I’m having a hard time remembering the last firing I heard about at the paper of record that was supposedly “for cause”. Technically, they didn’t even fire Jayson Blair (he resigned first).

This hasn’t gotten a whole lot of coverage: the only other story Google turned up was from Forbes, and I’m not linking to it because it doesn’t say much. It sounds like the paper is saying he was too close to (and exchanged “improper” emails with) some prominent theater producers, while the pro-Isherwood side seems to be spinning those emails as perfectly reasonable, and sees the problem as Isherwood not getting along with others at the paper (especially Ben Brantley, the other (and senior) critic).

This came across a mailing list I’m on over the weekend, and I found it interesting as well: the search for “Porgy and Bess”, the 1959 film version directed by Otto Preminger. It has a great cast: Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, and Sammy Davis Jr., but prints are extremely rare. There was one known to be in the hands of a private collector (who died last year: his widow still has it) and one owned by the “National Audiovisual Institute of Finland” who loaned out their copy for two NYC screenings in 2007.

Why is it so hard to find? Reply hazy and faded (the 70mm prints have all apparently turned pinkish, but there are supposedly some good 35mm prints), but some people suggest that Ira Gershwin and his wife hated the movie and used a contractual clause to have most of the prints destroyed. Other people dispute this theory. But the main problem seems to be: nobody wants to pay for a home video restoration.

Which is a damn shame, in my humble opnion. I’ve never seen a productuon of “Porgy and Bess”, but I’d like to. And I’d purchase a good quality DVD or blu-ray release, especially if it came with decent extras. This sounds like a job for the Criterion Collection.

(At least one person on that same mailing list claims this whole article is “frankly, nonsense” and asserts he saw a good print “just a few years ago in New York”. I wonder if he saw one of the 2007 Finnish print screenings.)

I’ll leave you with this still, which for some reason I find oddly charming:

The guy on the right is Otto Preminger. I’m sure you all know who the guy on the left is.

Obit watch: February 8, 2017.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Professor Irwin Corey, “the world’s foremost authority”, has passed away. He was 102.

One of Mr. Corey’s best-remembered routines was staged not in a club or broadcast studio but at Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan, at the National Book Awards ceremony in 1974. That year the fiction prize was shared by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Thomas Pynchon. No one in the crowd had any idea what the reclusive Mr. Pynchon looked like, and when Mr. Corey arrived to accept the award for him (the novelist had approved the stunt), many people thought they were getting their first look at Mr. Pynchon.

For the record, Richard Hatch: NYT. A/V Club.

Obit watch: January 28, 2017.

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

John Hurt. NYT. A/V Club.

Since the A/V Club hit one of his most famous scenes, I’ll hit the other:

For the calm dignity he brought to this performance — a powerful reproof to those who demonized and humiliated Merrick — Mr. Hurt was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for best actor, critical plaudits and the admiration of the film’s director, David Lynch, who said 10 years later, in an interview in The New York Times Magazine: “John Hurt is simply the greatest actor in the world.” (Robert De Niro won the best actor award in 1981.)

(I’d kind of like to see the Hurt/Egoyan “Krapp’s Last Tape”, but it looks like you can only get that in the “Beckett On Film” set, which is pricy but contains some other stuff I’d like to see as well.)

Barbara Hale, who knocked around movies and TV a bit before she settled into her most famous role. LAT. NYT.

That role, by the way, was “Della Street”, Perry Mason’s secretary during the Raymond Burr run from the beginning of the TV series in 1957 all the way through the last TV movie in 1993. (I make the distinction because: while I personally don’t remember this and it didn’t last very long, there was an attempt to revive Mason in the 1970s, with Monte Markham in the titular role. Ms. Hale was not involved with that. She was, however, involved with “The Perry Mason Mysteries” which were made after Burr’s death and didn’t involve Perry Mason at all.)

Noted: she was also the wife of Dean Martin’s character in “Airport”.

Obit watch: December 30, 2016.

Friday, December 30th, 2016

George S. Irving has died. He was 94.

Mr. Irving was a Tony award winner (for a revival of “Irene” in which he acted opposite Debbie Reynolds):

Mr. Irving was a regular on Broadway, in the musicals “Can-Can,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “Irma La Douce,” among others, and in plays like Gore Vidal’s political satire “An Evening With Richard Nixon and…,” in which he played the title role.

He was also a television spokesman for White Owl cigars, and narrated episodes of “Underdog”.

But he was perhaps best known as the voice of Heat Miser in “The Year Without a Santa Claus”. He was also in “A Miser Brothers’ Christmas” (which I’d never even heard of, but I was apparently in my 40s when that premiered).

Obit watch: November 28, 2016.

Monday, November 28th, 2016

NYT obit for Ron Glass.

Fritz Weaver, noted character actor. He won a Tony for “Child’s Play” in 1974, and was in “Fali-Safe” and the “Holocaust” mini-series, among other credits. (Edited to add 11/29: A/V Club.)

Pauline Oliveros, noted classical composer.

Obit watch: November 25, 2016.

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Florence Henderson. A/V Club.

She starred in “Fanny” on Broadway in the mid-1950s, when she was in her early 20s; “The King and I” at the Los Angeles Music Center; “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center; national tours of “Oklahoma!” and “The Sound of Music”; and “The Girl Who Came to Supper” (1963), Noël Coward’s last original Broadway musical.

She was a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show” during both Jack Paar’s and Johnny Carson’s eras as host. And in 1962, after Paar left and before Carson arrived, she became the first woman to be the show’s guest host.

Art update.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car is funded.

I’m looking forward to getting my bumper stickers.

Questions: which one should I put on? I’m kind of partial to “My child is a honor student…”, but feel free to argue your case in the comments.

And which one should I take off to make room? Right now, I’m thinking: as much as I liked CHeston, and as much of an NRA supporter as I am, the “My President Is Charlton Heston” one is faded almost to the point of being unreadable. It might be time to let go. (And I’ve got window stickers out the wazoo.)

Art, damn it, art! watch (#52 in a series)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

I am backing the Kickstarter for The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car.

Why?

1) He’s not asking for a (relative) lot of money, and the rewards tiers are reasonable. $10 for four bumper stickers? I don’t think you can get bumper stickers for that price at the gun show.

2) Brandon Bird, who I have written about before in this space, is the person behind it. I have faith in his ability to deliver.

Consider this an endorsement. Let’s make The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car a reality. You’ve probably blown $6 this week on a bad lunch: why not brown bag it one day and throw a few bucks to the memory of Jerry Orbach?

(Shame he lives in LA, though. There’s a pretty active art car scene in Houston, and he could get an old DPS car from the state surplus store.)

Edited to add: Mike the Musicologist made a good point to me: Orbach seems to mostly be remembered for his LawnOrder work, but he did a lot of stuff before that (as the true cognoscenti know).

On the one hand, I understand why Brandon Bird focuses on Lennie Briscoe (and I find his story about how Briscoe changed his life oddly touching). On the other hand, I agree with Mike too, and wanted to find something non-Lennie to throw in here: I just couldn’t find anything I liked.

Fortunately, Mike saved me the trouble.

(And I’d really like to see that production of “Chicago” with Orbach as Billy Flynn.)