The last of the 19 shows that made up Broadway Fall 2012 opened this past week, and the assessments of the season have begun. So far: meh.
Critical consensus: We are not living in Broadway’s Golden Age, although you would never know that from the glut of “Golden” titles: Golden Boy, Golden Child, Golden Age, and The Golden Land are all season offerings. The Golden Theater on Broadway is playing The Anarchist; enough said.
This past week, ten Broadway shows grossed more than a million dollars (up from seven the week before), and the Broadway League came out with their 15th annual report, with the news that Broadway grossed a record-breaking $1.14 billion at the box office in the 2011-12 season. As the BBC soberly pointed out, however, admissions actually fell from the previous year, from 12.53 million to 12.33 million. That means only ticket PRICES rose. (There are of course people who see this as good news.) In any case, that was then. Most Broadway shows opening in Fall 2012 have not been critical successes, and only a couple commercial hits.
But this past week in New York theater also brought Light (Hanukah candles lit on stage) and Love (the message of several new shows) and word of The Honeymooners and hope and great ice cream, as well as the Grammy nominations for best musical theater album. Venturing somewhat outside of New York City, we also bring you warm news of theater in Antarctica.
Kathie Lee Gifford’s Scandalous will plays its final performance this Sunday, Dec 9, after 31 previews and 29 regular performances.
2013 Grammy nominees for Best Musical Theater Album: Follies, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Once. Evidence that something worked this year.
My review of The Anarchist: Real-Life Riveting Story Turned Into Mamet Mush
When I first heard about “The Anarchist,” David Mamet’s play pitting Patti LuPone as an incarcerated violent radical against Debra Winger as her jailer, I immediately pictured the townhouse that blew up when I was a child. I remember walking by the demolished building and spotting a bookcase still full of books stuck on the outer wall of the adjoining building, two or three stories up. This was the family home of one of the bomb-makers of the Weather Underground; they had blown it up by accident, killing three of them…..It was this intriguing story that I assumed had inspired Mamet to write and direct “The Anarchist” (which) manages to disappoint on nearly every level.
Truth in Advertising: I had a “limited engagement” with The Anarchist
Deaf theater in the UK is gaining in sophistication and a growing audience
Costume designer Albert Wolksy, who’s worked on more than seventy films (getting Oscars for All That Jazz and Bugsy) did the costumes for The Heiress on Broadway, a period when fashion was so insane that “women were fainting or getting caught in fires” Wolsky likes period dramas, so actors can’t say “I wouldn’t wear that.” His retort: “I wouldn’t either — it’s a costume.”
Think theater marathons new? Check out classical (still-performed) Sanskrit drama in India: 130-hour shows (over 29 days)
Love Lessons From The Stage –
Can theater teach us anything about love? Yes, say theatergoers, citing diverse shows, including three I recently reviewed – The Drunken City by Adam Bock, Hearts Like Fists by Adam , and, believe it or not, The Anarchist by David Mamet
The Mystery of Edwin Drood has been extended through March 10.
At 74,Frank Langella is working more now than ever before: “I like first-time directors; I don’t think I’d work as much if I didn’t.”
Sam Carner and Derek Gregor (@carnerandgregor): We made our Antarctican debut. ‘After Hours’ was just performed in Antarctica.
Jonathan Mandell: All-Penguin production?
Sam Carner and Derek Gregor: Open mic night at McMurdo Station. But would love to write for a penguin
Before Clifford Odets was a playwright, he was an actor. And before that, he was a theater critic at a NYC radio station.
WHAT’S IN A THEATER NAME?
The 42nd Street theater first named Lyric and Apollo; then Ford Center; then Hilton; now Foxwoods, named after a casino, is for sale. Getting a new name?
Mike Hallinan @mfhallinan I’m very curious as to why someone like the Nederlanders, Jujamcyn, or Shuberts haven’t put out feelers for a deal
Jonathan Mandell: Maybe they have
I’d love for Foxwoods, the biggest Broadway theater, to be given back its first name: The Lyric.
James Sims @SimsJames Sounds out of tune with the economy.
Jonathan Mandell Ok, if Lyric not possible, please don’t rename Foxwoods: Netflix or Bank of America or AT&T or Goldman Sachs or Facebook Theater.
James Sims: Ooh, the Facebook Theater. You would have to give up all privacy when entering.
Jonathan Mandell: We already have American Airlines Theater on the block, please don’t rename Foxwoods Delta Airlines Theater or USAir Theater.
Jeffrey Miele @jffmiele I think it should be renamed the Ethel Merman, a big theater in honor of a big and worthy personality
The latest Broadway sensations are both under four feet tall, including Luke Spring in A Christmas Story
Top Ten Lists of Top Ten Theater in 2012 (a work in progress), and Top 5 reasons why Top 10 lists are pointless
William Akers @ouijum: Top 10 theater lists: “Here are 2 shows you saw, 5 you missed, and 3 you didn’t know about. They have all closed.”
Pippin, now at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., is backed by Broadway producers Barry and Fran Weissler, so may be back on Broadway in the Spring.
AN ELEVATING INTERLUDE
Monica Bauer @Monicadrama Quick, pitch one of my plays!
Teri Tynes @TeriTynes Are his glasses on top of his head? If so, yes.
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” the second Broadway revival of Mamet’s profane look at a brutal Chicago real estate office, is a major commercial hit, with a top ticket price ($350), an average ticket price ($155) and percentage of seats sold (101%) beating out every other Broadway show (including “Wicked” and “The Lion King”) except for “The Book of Mormon.”
One can easily explain its commercial appeal in two words: Al Pacino….So it comes as a real surprise to be disappointed by a David Mamet play for the second time in a week.
I once asked Luciano Pavarotti what opera meant; the great tenor gave me a baffled look, but he answered that opera was not difficult to comprehend. Farmers played opera in barns to increase milk production. “Even cows understand opera.”
One wonders what cows would make of “Golden Age,” Terrence McNally’s backstage comedy set in 1835 during the opening night of “I Puritani,” the last opera written by Vincenzo Bellini, who died just nine months later at age 33….
It’s not clear who the audience is supposed to be for “Golden Age.” Devoted opera fans might well be put off by the historical liberties (aka: inaccuracies). They would surely expect more than the snatches of the actual music, provided by old recordings, as the performers leave temporarily from “backstage” (the actual stage) to go on stage (backstage) to sing, with little more moment than if they were excusing themselves to use the restroom. (Is there some Equity rule that a drama about opera stars can’t feature performers who can sing opera?)
Theatergoers without any special love of opera will sit through two and a half hours having their worst prejudices confirmed:
What does it say about our society that we make millionaires out of our comics and keep our poets and playwrights paupers? Maybe: We are a funny society, and a prosaic one.
Joshua Conkel @JoshuaConkel: As a comedy writer for theater I actually think our art form neglects funny artists terribly. Comedy is important.
Jonathan Mandell How does “a comedy writer for theater” differ from a “playwright”?
Joshua Conkel Maybe I read your tweet wrong, but it seemed to assume that “playwrights” wrote dramas. You know, that plays were serious, not frivilous like comedy. Apologies if I misunderstood. But, man, it SUUUUCKS be a comedic playwright. No support there at all (except from audiences who are dying for comedy.)
Jonathan Mandell By comics, I meant stand-up comics. I wasn’t criticizing Aristophanes or Plautus or Christopher Durang or you.
“In The Heights” one-night-only benefit performance (Feb 11) with ORIGINAL cast (including Lin-Manuel Miranda),United Palace of Cultural Arts (175th St).
Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway moving closer to Bway 2013-14. Creative team announced — e.g. Santo Loquasto, scenic design
Can you get Graeter’s ice cream, Skyline Chili Cheese Coneys, or La Rosa’s Pizza anywhere in New York? (These are all featured as Cincinnati delicacies in Dead Accounts)
Diana Salameh @youlovediana: YES! Graeter’s is at D’Agostino’s and Edward’s Bar has a Cincinnati night every month.
(So less of a reason for a Cincinnati native to put down New Yorkers)