NY Theater Blog Roundup: Tugging over West Side Story.Talking Trash and Tech

Below are some of the latest posts from the few still active New York City theater bloggers: About Last Night and Broadway Journal tell two different West Side Stories; Broadway and Me analyzes three new “traditional” musicals; George Hunka talks trash; Ken Davenport talks tech, and also Grammys. Adam Szymkowicz interviews another playwright (yes, he’s still doing that.)

Most of the theater blogs I’ve followed from the get-go seem to have given up in the past year, if not earlier.  I couldn’t even find the website of the Independent Theater Bloggers Association, which used to have at least 50 members and hand out annual awards, and to which I thought I still  belonged. (As it turns out, its last Tweet was in 2012!) This makes me feel behind the times. But I also feel too old to switch to Tik Tok, too verbal for Instagram and too impatient for podcasts. (I do rely on Twitter, although that too is starting to feel like an exercise in nostalgia.)

In About Last Night, Terry Teachout excerpts his Wall Street Journal review of Ivo van Hove’s production of West Side Story, which he entitles Worst Side Story: “This is not the ‘West Side Story’ you know and love, and there are some—quite a few, actually—who’ll likely tell you that it’s not ‘West Side Story’ at all.” It is instead, “like everything else he’s done in New York, a medley of self-regarding minimalist clichés slathered with political sauce….”

In a previous post, Teachout quotes G.K. Chesterton on open-mindedness: “…I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

In Broadway Journal, Philip Boroff’s review of West Side Story is more positive; he calls it “a dazzling new revival” although he does consider it  “more dynamic than moving. “

His previous post is a news exclusive about the $10 million advance sale for Plaza Suite on Broadway

JK’s Theatre Scene finds this West Side Story “startling and supremely satisfying,” though oddly both leads were performed by understudies on the day he saw the show.

Adam Szymkowicz interviews his 1072nd playwright, Kareem Fahmy, whose latest play, “The Distinct Society” is getting a reading Thursday at the Lark. Fahmy: “I would like to see the emergence of a real “canon” of contemporary Middle Eastern American plays…My community is still hugely underrepresented.”

Jan Simpson in “Broadway and Me” asks whether “traditional musicals” have a future – those with plots, original tunes, lines that rhyme, and “written for people who are no longer in high school” – by looking at three new examples: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice; Romeo & Bernadette; and Darling Grenadine. She finds two of them pretty good.

George Hunka offers a toast to trash, by which he means comics, Huckleberry Finn, and ragtime – all of which were (are?) treated like trash, in part because they were “distinctly American creations, repudiating European expression and embracing American voices.”

He also promotes a free concert at NYU tonight  American Spectral: Works for Piano and Electronics concert by Marilyn Nonken, who happens to be his wife

In The Producer’s Perspective, Ken Davenport points out “in the last 10 years, the Best Musical Tony Award winner has won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album seven (7) times.” Coincidence? Probably not.

In his latest post, he uses the analogy of a tube of toothpaste (in which you always seem to have plenty of it until the very end) to argue for pacing yourself in tech rehearsals.

In Theatre’s Leiter Side, Samuel Leiter finds the Keen Company production of Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky “satisfactory, if unremarkable.”

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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