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Jerry Springer the Opera: Review and Pics

Jerry Springer the Opera is profane, vulgar, obvious, offensive and irresistibly entertaining – at least in the first act, when it offers a high art version of the TV talk show that has aimed low since 1991. The New Group production, directed by John Rando and featuring a pitch-perfect 17-member cast led by Terrence Mann and Will Swenson, contrasts the high and the low to hilarious effect.
After Act I of this sing-through musical, though, it’s easy to wonder: What’s the point?

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

 

Click on any photograph by Monique Carboni to see it enlarged.
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Torch Song, To Kill a Mockingbird Coming to Broadway. Can Theater Matter? Week in New York Theater

The announcement of forthcoming Broadway productions of Torch Song, a pioneering play about a gay character, and a stage adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a drama about a case of racial injustice, comes in a week when most news seems at best discouraging —

NEA Gives Grants to Dozens of NYC Theaters. Then Trump Proposes Eliminating It

— and at worst, horrific.

Can theater make a difference?

Mass Shootings on Stage: Healing or Titillating?

It’s worth noting that Glenda Jackson left acting for 23 years after she became a member of Parliament to fight Thatcherism. “There’s no way you could do both,” she says in an article linked below, hooked to her return to Broadway in “Three Tall Women”

On the other hand, “I think my work is always at its best during Republican administrations,” Tony Kushner says in an article, also linked below, about the forthcoming Broadway revival of “Angels in America.”

Also below: Katharine McPhee makes her Broadway debut; a new August Wilson award; the World Trade Center performing arts center gets an artistic director; playwrights Lynn Nottage and Terrence McNally get a new honor; a million dollars will be given away for good ideas about using technology to help the arts.

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Terminus Review: Haunted by a Past of Racism and Stifled Love

Eller (Deirdre O’Connell) is losing her mind, and thus lives in two worlds on stage in “Terminus,” a lyrical, Southern Gothic stew of a play by Gabriel Jason Dean running through March 10 at Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop. In one of her worlds, it is 1994, and Eller, 65, resides in a soon-to-be-condemned shack by the railroad tracks in rural Attapulugus, Georgia with her biracial grandson Jaybo (Reynaldo Piniella), 17, who takes care of her as best he can. The other world is in Eller’s head, populated by family long gone — people whom she abandoned or who abandoned her – a ghastly past full of racism, stifled love, hidden homicide, chanting ghosts, a train-flattened nail in the shape of a cross, a gold-leafed Bible opened to a prophetic page, and a noose.

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Kings Review: How Money Corrupts American Lawmakers

”There is one thing about which we all agree, left, right, center: Money has corrupted our politics,” says Rep. Sydney Millsap (Eisa Davis), summing up the point and the plot of “Kings,” a new play written by Sarah Burgess (“Dry Powder”) and directed by Thomas Kail (“Hamilton”) that opens tonight at the Public Theater. The Congresswoman, a Gold Star widow newly elected as the first black woman to represent her district in Dallas, Texas, learns the bitter lesson of money and politics while fighting to resist the moneyed interests and do what’s right on a particular bill.

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Presidents on Stage: Respecting the Presidency

Below is my annual Presidents Day photo essay of a century’s worth of stage depictions of American presidents.

Nearly every president has been depicted on the stage at one time or another. There are currently three on Broadway — in a single show, “Hamilton” –– and the current officeholder is mentioned in “The Parisian Woman.”

“I think presidents are a natural topic for the stage,” said Bruce Altschuler, professor emeritus of political science at SUNY Oswego and the author of Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency “There is usually built-in name recognition and often passions for and against them. In our celebrity culture, we want to know more about what is really happening, either behind the scenes politically or in their private lives.” And, as he explains in his book, “often, by depicting past presidents, the authors hope to teach a lesson to contemporary audiences.”

Lincoln has been the star of more than a dozen Broadway plays, starting with Benjamin Chapin’s Lincoln in 1906; Washington is a distant second. But even more obscure presidents such as Rutherford B. Hayes have gotten their moments in the spotlight. Hayes and two other presidents were portrayed by Gene Wilder in “The White House,” a short-lived 1964 play by A. E. Hotchner that crammed in 24 of the presidents between John Adams and Woodrow Wilson.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged and read the extensive caption.

 

Mass Shootings on Stage: Healing or Titillating?

The mass shooting on Valentine’s Day at a Florida high school is the latest in a long line of school shootings, some of which are instantly identifiable: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook.

Each of these has been the subject of plays, as have some of the other most notorious mass shootings in the United States.

Other dramas about shooters or shootings don’t dramatize specific events, but take their inspiration from what one can call, horribly, the trend.

Below are some examples — the good, the bad and the ugly — and they pose a question. As I put it in the title of a piece I wrote for HowlRound in 2015:  Violence on Stage: Healing or Titillating?   Enlightening…or exploitative?

 

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Stage Kisses: When a Kiss Is Not A Kiss

“Nice to meet you, Kevin. Do you want me to actually kiss Kevin, or Kevin, do you mind if we kiss? You look young, I don’t want to traumatize you.”
That’s what the actress says to her director and her co-star in the opening lines in Sarah Ruhl’s 2014 play, “Stage Kiss.” Much theater centers around a kiss, certainly in the title: Kiss Me Kate; Kiss of the Spider Woman
For Valentine’s Day ,here are stage kisses dating back to 1887. They are different enough from off-stage kisses as to require guidance, judging by How To Stage Kiss (Set ground rules, pay attention to hygiene, make sure you know your lines) and Tell and Kiss: A Manual for Actors (Boundaries—to tongue or not to tongueFor me, this is an easy one: open mouth, no tongue…. Make sure your makeup won’t rub off on your partner. ..Use good sense. Be respectful. Speak up for yourself.”)

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged and learn who is kissing whom and in what