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Final Follies Review: A.R. Gurney’s Posthumous Play about WASP Porn Star

For the last few years before he died in 2017 at the age of 86, playwright A.R. Gurney had been experiencing a resurgence of a career that had already produced some 40 plays over 50 years, best-known for his elegantly-structured chronicles of dying WASP culture, like “The Dining Room” and “The Cocktail Hour.”  A couple of his plays, “Love Letters” and “Sylvia,” were revived on Broadway; Signature devoted a season to him Off-Broadway; and he was writing new plays Off-Off Broadway as well

So it’s no big surprise that, at the time of his death, he had written a new play, ‘Final Follies,” and had planned to send it to Primary Stages, one of his several artistic homes.
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Informed Consent Review: Science As Threat or Salvation

 DeLanna Studi as Arella and Tina Benko as Jillian in Informed Consent

DeLanna Studi as Arella and Tina Benko as Jillian in Informed Consent

When she was a child, says Arella, a Native American character in the play “Informed Consent,” “I’d hear about, ‘the white man did this and the white man did that.’ I thought there was one white man and he did all these terrible things. Like, if they had just locked up that awful white man everything would have been great.”

By the end of “Informed Consent,” Arella and the rest of her tribe believe that one awful (albeit well-meaning) white woman has done a terrible thing.

Arella is one of the surviving members of a tribe that lives at the floor of the Grand Canyon in the play by Deborah Zoe Laufer that is inspired by a true event, the conflict between the Havasupai Tribe and scientific researchers at Arizona State University. It is a dramatization in equal parts admirable and troubling.

Arella’s nemesis is Jillian, a genetic anthropologist at a local college, who is asked to test the tribe to see if there is a genetic link that explains their unusually high incidence of diabetes. She persuades them to give samples of their blood, something they have never done before, because they view their blood as sacred. When they discover that Jillian has used the samples to conduct studies outside of one strictly for diabetes, the tribe reacts in anger, saying they did not consent to any other studies, and that such studies conflict with their ancient traditions and beliefs. They file a lawsuit to get their blood back.

InformedConsentTinaBenkoAt a time when it seems that every other new TV series (Extant, Humans, Mr. Robot, Fear the Walking Dead) can be read as a cautionary tale about the dangers of science and technology, “Informed Consent” offers a more sophisticated look at a whole host of issues raised by its specific scientific focus. The play makes an impressive attempt to present each side of the dispute with respect. It also gives us a glimpse into the implications of the extraordinary advances in genome research — what our DNA can tell us about our history and, increasingly, our future. Against a set design that includes simulated cells and genetic codes, the performers drop into the play some fascinating food for thought:

“There is a single mutation in the genes of every one of us that we can trace back to one woman in Africa, only 150,000 years ago. “

“All humans are 99.9 percent the same genetically….Only .1 percent different.”

“Race isn’t biological. There are no genes that indicate race…..All of the things we see as race are about migratory patterns.”

But for all the fascination inherent in the subject, Laufer and director Liesl Tommy’s approach undermines the story in two major ways.

Laufer has said she did extensive research for her play, visiting the tribe in the Grand Canyon, and working in a genetics lab. But “Informed Consent” avoids the real names (even of the college), and for good reason; there are deliberate fabrications. The playwright, for example, adds an extra layer to Jillian’s biography: Jillian’s mother died from early-onset Alzheimer’s, Jillian herself has the genetic marker that indicates the likelihood of the disease, and she fears her four-year-old daughter Natalie might have it too. This creates a conflict between Jillian and her husband Graham, who doesn’t want Natalie to be tested, or, if tested, not told the test results – a lengthy subplot that both underscores one of the central themes of the play (Can knowledge be a bad thing?) and gives Jillian a motivation for her ambition and impatience: She wants to make her mark in science before she loses her capacity to do so.

There is no early-onset Alzheimer’s in the biography of the actual researcher at the center of the controversy, Therese Ann Markow, who now holds the Amlyn Chair in Life Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. Such fiddling around makes “Informed Consent” factually untrustworthy. If the playwright wanted a story that served up more drama than the actual one in Arizona, or that provided a better vehicle to explore multiple themes, why not create a wholly new story, shorn of the recognizable details of this specific case? As it is, Laufer’s fabrications are somewhat ironic, given Jillian’s oft-stated search for the unadorned truth, and especially troublesome in light of accusations that the news accounts that turned Laufer on to the controversy in the first place were themselves overblown (“Is the Havasupai Indian Case a Fairy Tale?”)

“Informed Consent” is cast with the familiar New York actors Pun Bandhu (Wit) as Jillian’s husband Graham and Tina Benko in the role of Jillian, as well as New York newcomer DeLanna Studi as Arella. (Studi also portrays Jillian’s four-year-old daughter Natalie.) Benko has performed in such adventurous fare as Ivo Van Hove’s production of “Scenes from a Marriage,” and Julie Taymor’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and one senses that the “Informed Consent” team wants to be seen as theatrically bold as well.  In the cast of five, three (all except Bandhu and Benko) portray as many as four different characters apiece, with an obvious effort at non-traditional casting – a reflection of the geneticist’s view of race as a social construct. Way too often this multiple casting is outright confusing. It doesn’t help that the individual actors occasionally perform as a kind of chaotic chorus; now and then one interrupts a main character to tell them they’re digressing with an irrelevant (and longwinded) story. This seems tied up with another one of the main themes the playwright is presenting – how each of us is a storyteller who wants to tell our story our own way. Who gets to tell their story is a complex issue wrapped up in power and politics.

The bombardment of multiple themes and theatrical noodling is surely meant to keep the audience engaged, but ultimately has the opposite effect. This is too bad, since so much that the creative team attempts in “Informed Consent,”a joint production of Primary Stages and the Ensemble Studio Theater, is something new and important, from the straightforward depiction of contemporary Native Americans to a serious exploration of science that involves not a single android malfunction nor zombie apocalypse.

Informed Consent

At the Duke at 42nd Street

Written by Deborah Zoe Laufer

Directed by Liesl Tommy

Scenic Design by Wilson Chin, Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer, Lighting Design by Matthew Richards, Original Music and Sound Design by Broken Chord, Projection Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, Casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting.

Cast: Pun Bandhu, Tina Benko, Jesse J. Perez , DeLanna Studi, Myra Lucretia Taylor

Running time: 95 minutes

Tickets: $70

Informed Consent is set to run through September 13, 2015

Poor Behavior Review: Theresa Rebeck on the Decline of Muffins and Morality

Poor Behavior HEIDI ARMBRUSTER and BRIAN AVERS in POOR BEHAVIOR“Poor Behavior,” Theresa Rebeck’s comedy at Primary Stages, revolves around a basic question: “What is goodness?” The play begins in the middle of a debate on the subject by two characters who have drunkenly escalated their argument into insults, while their respective spouses sit in near silence. By the end of the play more than two hours later, we are meant to have explored the question dramatically by witnessing the behavior of the four characters over a long weekend in the country.

There is a superficial resemblance here both to Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” and Yasmin Reza’s “God of Carnage,” both involving two couples, and both suggesting how thin the membrane of civilization. In “God of Carnage” two sophisticated couples, meeting to bring to resolution the squabble between their two warring sons, instead escalate the conflict in well-calibrated savage and hilarious ways.
The difference in “Poor Behavior” is that the couples have known each other for a long time, and the unfolding of their behavior is more convoluted and complicated – and less satisfying.

Peter and Ella have invited Ian and Maureen up to their country house for the weekend. The hosts don’t really want the guests there, and the guests don’t really want to be there. But they are all old friends – old, but we eventually learn, not very good friends.

Peter (Jeff Biehl) and Maureen (Heidi Armbruster), who grew up together, come to suspect that their argumentative spouses, Ella (Katie Kreisler) and Ian (Brian Avers), have been having an affair. On the other hand, Ian accuses Peter of always having thought that Maureen was a nutcase, and a decade earlier, warning Ian not to marry her – a vivid recollection for Ian, but a conversation that Peter says he doesn’t remember having and doubts occurred. And that is the way of this play – accusations, denials, memory lapses. There are also many apologies, almost all of them insincere. This interaction is initially intriguing, our view changing of each character with each new revelation, helped along by the first-rate acting. But the twists start to feel fussy and tiresome – as if we in the audience are as much stuck in the company of these petty, bickering couples as they are.

There are some compensations, though, including some of the questions explicitly raised for us to ponder and dissect – for example: If you feel you’ve made a personal choice that’s a mistake, is it good or bad to try to correct it? “Why do Americans persist in thinking that it is “moral” and “good” to remain addicted to an institution which has driven them mad?” Ian (who is Irish-born) asks at one point, talking about the institution of marriage. But is Ian’s rhetorical question a moral stance, or an excuse to be immoral – i.e. hurtful?

There is also a funny comic conceit threaded throughout the play about one of my pet beefs – the sad decline of muffins. However poor the behavior of her characters, Theresa Rebeck knows how to make me laugh.

Rebeck is probably best-known for creating the TV show “Smash,” but it is worth noting that over the past 22 years, she has had 15 of her plays produced on New York’s Broadway and Off-Broadway stages– more, she says, than any other female playwright in history, including Lillian Hellman and Tina Howe (who come in second place.)

“Poor Behavior” is scheduled to run through September 7 at Primary Stages at the Duke (42nd Street)

The Tribute Artist Review. Charles Busch in a Real Estate Lesbian Drag Farce for Senior Citizens

TheTributeArtist1Don’t call him a drag queen. “I’m a celebrity tribute artist,” Charles Busch says, in the role of his latest creation, Jimmy, who has lost his job at the Flamingo Hotel’s Boys Will Be Girls Revue in Las Vegas, because nobody is interested anymore in impersonations of Julie Andrews or Pearl Bailey; even when he did his Marilyn Monroe, most people in the Vegas audience thought it was Christina Aguilera.

CharlesBuschinTheTributeArtistOf course, that’s just the character Busch is playing.  New York will always love Charles Busch, the inspired theater artist whose talents go far beyond impersonation, although in “The Tribute Artist” he does manage to sneak in lightning-quick and hilarious riffs on Mae West, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn as if they too had all lost their jobs and were in an employment office.

Jimmy rents a room in a fabulous Greenwich Village townhouse  (lusciously designed by Anna Louizos). His aging landlady, the sophisticated widow Adriana (portrayed by the elegant Cynthia Harris) has rarely left her home for years, and seldom invites anybody to visit. So, when she dies one night in her sleep, Jimmy cooks up a scheme with Rita,  his best friend, former stand-up comic partner, current failed real estate  and lonely aging lesbian– played by Julie Halston, his long-time partner on stage.  Jimmy puts on Adriana’s dresses and assumes her identity, in order for Rita to sell the house. The plan is supposed to make them both rich.

Busch thus sets into motion the mechanics of an old-fashioned farce, which becomes increasingly busy, their scheme foiled by Adrian’s long-lost niece Christina (Mary Bacon) who returns to claim the apartment for herself, Christina’s transgender daughter-turned-son Oliver (Keira Keeley), and then Rodney (Jonathan Walker), a criminal who was once Adriana’s paramour and has his own schemes.

There is something sharp and pleasing about Busch’s subversion of traditional farce; Yes, he’s matured as an artist, gaining mainstream success as the playwright of the Broadway hit, “The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife,” but he has never really abandoned the sensibility that created “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” nearly three decades ago, at a time when  just uttering the title gained you some downtown cred.  He hasn’t so much toned down his campy conceits and hammy dialogue; he’s made ham seem kosher.  He is also generous; each character gets their own comic shtick and crazy monologues, although the one Busch gives himself admittedly tops the others:  Jimmy constantly slips into dialogue from 40’s films; it’s not clear whether he himself is completely aware of what he’s doing.

All of this is so clever that it’s with some guilt  I admit that my attention began to drift. As crafty as he is as a writer, and spot-on in his comic timing as a performer,  two hours of a silly, convoluted plot may be too much to ask of an audience aging along with him.

The Tribute Artist

Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters

By Charles Busch; directed by Carl Andress; sets by Anna Louizos; costumes by Gregory Gale; lighting by Kirk Bookman; sound by Jill BC Du Boff; music by Lewis Flinn; wig design by Katherine Carr;

Cast: Mary Bacon (Christina), Charles Busch (Jimmy), Julie Halston (Rita), Cynthia Harris (Adriana), Keira Keeley (Oliver) and Jonathan Walker (Rodney).

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes including one intermission.

The Tribute Artist is scheduled to run through March 16.

Off-Broadway Openings in February, 2014

February2014OffBroadwayFebruary a fallow month for theater? Feh.

While it’s true there are only two plays scheduled to open in February on Broadway, there are far more Off-Broadway, part of a vibrant Off-Broadway Spring 2014 season. Below are promising shows Off-Broadway, organized chronologically by opening dates. You can attend many of these shows, and many others Off-Broadway, for just $20,  through the 20at20 promotion, if you purchase tickets to the shows anytime up to February 9th.

*Almost, Maine, by John Cariani. Produced by Transport Group at the Gym at Judson. Opening February 4.
Salty waitresses, lost tourists, tough and not-so-tough women and men crack open some beer, start their snowmobiles, pitch a tent, and gather under the northern lights to try to make sense of this strange thing called love. Since its short-lived New York debut, Almost, Maine has become one of the most produced plays around the world.

Riding the Midnight Train with Billy Hayes. Produced by Barbara Ligeti at St. Luke’s Theatre. Opening February 5.

*The Tribute Artist, by Charles BuschProduced by Primary Stages at 59E59. Opening February 9.
Charles Busch is an out-of-work female impersonator who, when his elderly landlady dies in her sleep, takes on her identity in order to hang on to her valuable Greenwich Village townhouse.

Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. Produced by Matt Murphy Productions at The 777 Theatre. Opening February 9.

* Dinner with Friends, by Donald Margulies, a revival. Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company at the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for the Performing Arts. Opening February 13.

A revival of the Pulitzer Prize winning play about two couples who have been inseparable. But when one marriage unexpectedly crumbles, the couples’ lives begin to veer in opposite directions.

The Chocolate Show! A Tasty New Musical. Produced by Golly Gee Productions at the 47th Street Theatre. Opening February 14.

*Transport. Produced by Irish Rep. Opening February 16.
With a book by  Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s List) and music and lyrics by Larry Kirwan (New York City band Black 47), this musical follows the uneasy ocean voyage of Irish women who were sentenced and then exiled to the relatively uninhabited south coast of Australia in the mid-19th Century.

Bikeman: The 9/11 Theatrical Experience. Produced by Marc Agger at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. OpeningFebruary 18.

*Love and Information by Caryll Churchill. Produced by New York Theatre Workshop at the Minetta Lane. Opening February 19.
Caryl Churchill returns for her seventh American premiere at New York Theatre Workshop with a theatrical kaleidoscope exploring more than a hundred characters as they try to make sense of what they find out,

My Mother Has 4 Noses, by Jonatha BrookeProduced by Patrick Rains at The Duke on 42nd Street. Opening February 20.

Kung Fu. Produced by Signature Theatre. Opening February 24;
Cole Horibe (So You Think You Can Dance) stars as Bruce Lee in David Henry Hwang’s new theater piece blending dance, Chinese opera, martial arts and drama to depict Lee’s journey from troubled Hong Kong youth to martial arts legend.

*London Wall. Produced by Mint Theatre. Opening February 24.
In this 1931 play, John Van Druten explores the tumultuous lives and love affairs of the women employed as shorthand typists in a busy solicitor’s office in 1930’s London

Ode to Joy. Produced by Rattlestick Productions at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Opening February 27.
This play written and directed by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, The Dying Gaul) tells the story of love, heartbreak, addiction, and illness through the eyes of Adele, an audacious painter and her destructive relations with Mala and Bill, her two lovers.

This list is provided by The League of Off Broadway Theatres and Producers.  20at20 is a promotion by the Off-Broadway Theater Alliance. The descriptions of the shows come from the shows themselves; nothing is guaranteed in advance of course, which is why I review.

* Asterisks are next to those shows to which I have been invited (and plan) to review as of this writing.

Debra Messing, Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close on Broadway! Broadway Responds to Gay Ban. The Week in New York Theater

Debra Messing, Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close, Jeremy Jordan and Jonathan Groff

Debra Messing, Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close, Jeremy Jordan and Jonathan Groff

It’s that time of year: trees thrown out, critics on overseas trips, snow covering cityscape, few shows opening – and ticket bargains! Now through Feb 6 — #BroadwayWeek.  Now through Feb 9: @20at20 discounts. Off-Broadway shows for just $20.

The week in New York theater included news of celebrity returns, and debates over “underwritten plays” and directors or actors changing a playwright’s script. The theater community responded to Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” with a satirical video (see 23 below) and to a possible hate crime with a candlelight vigil (26)

The Week in New York Theater, Jan 20-26

Monday, January 20, 2014

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Live From Lincoln Center schedule:

Patina Miller – March 28

James Naughton Songs of Randy Newman April 4

Jason Isbell – April 11

Oscar Wilde’s first play, “Vera; or, The Nihilists” about Russian female assassin, will receive its first NYC revival since 1883 at Here Arts February 12 to 16

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BradleyCooper

BradleyCooperin1998FringeShowIn the award-winning tradition of beautiful people playing ugly, Bradley Cooper says he’ll star in the Broadway revival of The Elephant Man. The last time he performed on Broadway (and the first time) was in 2006, in Three Days of Rain opposite Julia Roberts. But he debuted on the New York stage at the Fringe Festival, when he was 23.

GlennClose

Three-time Tony winner Glenn Close says she’s returning to the stage after 15 years, but she won’t say in what, just “a very complex play”

RealisticJoneseslogo

JanisJoplin6a“A Night With Janis Joplin” ends in February at the Lyceum (with hopes of starting up again the following month) to make room for The Realistic Joneses.  Will Eno’s maiden Broadway play now has an opening date (April 6th) AND a theater, the Lyceum, as well as a Twitter feed:  ‪@RealisticBway. It starts performances March 13, 2014.

Rebecca producers extend rights to musical through 2014 and aim for a “winter 2014” start. (Isn’t that..now?) ‪#zombiemusical

UNDERWRITTEN PLAYS

New trend: industries fund plays about themselves: ‪Bronx Bombers (Major League Baseball), now  Craving for Travel (travel industry.) Let’s call this trend #underwrittenplays — because the plays are sponsored (underwritten) and because they so far tend to be poorly written.

Mark Kennedy ‪(@KennedyTwits) Also that play about AA funded by The Hazeldon Foundation kicking around

Timothy Stewart-Winter  (‏‪@timothysw) What’s  old is new again: industrial musicals were common in ’50s-70s & employed top talent

 Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater): But audiences for them were industry professionals, not  general public

Timothy Stewart-Winter: Yes – but is that a distinction without a difference? Given travel agencies buying blocks of tickets

Jonathan Mandell: These shows are in theaters with long tradition of legitimate plays, not #underwrittenplays. It potentially misleads public.

Timothy Stewart-Winter: But all produced plays are underwritten. Arguably these plays are *less* misleading.

Jonathan Mandell: Arguably by you. Do you believe corporate underwriting of Signature would persuade Tony Kushner to change a play? But a play about an industry developed in partnership with that industry, and funded by it, is beholden to it, and WOULD change if asked

 Jason Zinoman (@Zinoman): All plays are not sponsored by groups that the play is directly about. This is different. In a free market, people with money can do it. And people with voices can criticize. In the case of Lombardi, the NFL turned a good book into a commercial. So the evidence is not this is good for art.

BleeckerStreetBlizzardof2014

Broadway and “the Blizzard” of 2014, Take 2

22

Billy Porter, performer, now playwright

Billy Porter, performer, now playwright

For its 30th season, Primary Stage will move to The Duke on 42nd St, with plays by David Ives, Theresa Rebeck, and Billy Porter.  Yes, Billy Porter has written a play: “While I Yet Live,” a coming-of–age tale set in Pittsburgh

Most cast recordings don’t make back their $400,000 cost. Without an album, though, a show dies Some cast albums do hit it big: Phantom of the Opera, 30 million copies sold!  Wicked, three million; Mamma Mia, 1.7 million; Jersey Boys, 1.5 million.

AngelaLansburyAngela Lansbury on how’s she still getting parts at age 88: Other actresses were cast because they were beautiful. She started playing older “when I was still terribly young.” (Angela Lansbury was only 37 when she played Laurence Harvey’s mother in Manchurian Candidate. Harvey was 34.) From four-minute interview with Angela Lansbury on BBC radio with brief audio clips from her career. 

Neurological studies: Great works of art trigger part of brain that shapes our sense of identity.

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JeremyJordanandJonathanGroffBroadway Responds to Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ban

What's it All About? Bacharach Reinagined 2

 What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined has been extended  through February 16

 Spring 2014 schedule of  National Theater Live:  Corialanus, War Horse, King Lear, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, etc. 

The debate over broadcast/streaming of live theater, a thorough (long!) blog post.  

Why comic actors break character so much. “Villainous,” said Shakespeare,but modern audiences love it.  Breaking character, known in UK as corpsing, is a specialty of Jimmy Fallon; fellow sketch actors hate him for it.

24

Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame,music by Alan Menken (Newsies), lyrics by  Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) at La Jolla Playhouse, 2014-15. Then Broadway?

At 89, Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof) is working on FOUR new shows. “We writers never want to stop.”

Christopher Durang’s 1981 Beyond Therapy to be revived on Theatre Row, March 11-April 19



SCRIPT CHANGES BY DIRECTORS, ACTORS

Asolo Rep changed  Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come without telling him. He demanded they restore it.

How free should theaters feel in changing the work of playwrights?

J. Holtham ‏ @Jholtham The guy thought he could get away with it. He knew it wasn’t right.

Taylor Mac ‏‪@TaylorMacNYC  I feel pretty conservative about this & think they shouldn’t feel free 2 change anything unless given permission.

Stephen Spotswood ‏‪@playwrightsteve If they have the conversation with the playwright beforehand and s/he is fine with it, than go to town. If they aren’t comfortable having that conversation with the playwright, maybe they shouldn’t be working in a collaborative art form

Raymond McNeel @‪RaymondMcNeel  Often theaters make cuts knowing most writers won’t risk offending their producer or can’t afford a lawyer.

 Stephen Spotswood: Let us make a list of those theaters and nail it to a post in the town square…Or put it online.

Raymond McNeel: I again make my plea for an online Yelp for playwrights to post their experiences with theaters and fests.

Peter Marks: How do you react when actors tinker with a line, because, for example, it sounds better to them? Let it slide?

Joe Zarrow ‏‪@jzarrow When an actor gets a line wrong over and over, and they’re not just being lazy, I find it’s usually because the way I originally wrote it was awkward. And besides, seeing my work filtered through actors’ instruments is the fun part!

Terry Teachout @terryteachout I listen VERY closely whenever John Douglas Thompson wants to reword a line in my play. ‪#scriptchanges Even if he accidentally misreads a line, I consider the possibility that his way is better. ‪ Most of the time I either say yes or come up with a mutually satisfactory alternative. He’s the actor–it’s got to sit comfortably on his tongue or it won’t work onstage

David J. Loehr ‏‪@dloehr It’s a matter of clarity. If a change improves it, I’m all for it. If it changes or obscures the story, then no.

Lucia Frangione ‏‪@LuciaFrangione  I spend seven years on a play and you “tinker” with a line after reading it three times? I fire your ass. Each country is different. In Canada, the U.S. and the U.K, it’s illegal. In Poland, the writer has no rights.  In Germany I think it’s commonly 20% allowed to change lines to suit director.

25

RomeoandJuliet1

Ticket Giveaway: What play/scene has most defined love for you? Answer here   for two ticket to the movie of Orlando Bloom in Romeo and Juliet

 26

Outside Mullingar Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

My review of Outside Mullingar 

If you didn’t speak English, or could somehow turn off the sound of
“Outside Mullingar,” John Patrick Shanley’s charming, wonderfully acted and overly weird romantic comedy, the final scene between Debra Messing, making her Broadway debut, and Brian F. O’Byrne, reliable Broadway veteran, would be a hugely satisfying mime show about two shy middle aged people finally revealing their love for one another: awkward squirming turning to tense confrontation melting into relieved embrace.

But, alas, we have to listen as well to the last 10 minutes of this otherwise carefully crafted 95-minute play. If Shanley’s premise is a wee implausible, his resolution is as loony as his characters are supposed to be, and far less appealing

Full review of Outside Mullingar


candlelightvigilforRandyGener

A candlelight vigil was held  for theater critic, journalist and artist Randy Gener on 54th Street and Seventh Avenue, where he was attacked on January 17 on his way home late at night. He is still at Roosevelt hospital, reportedly conscious and in stable condition, recovering after the first of two brain surgeries. Police are investigating and suspect it is a hate crime.

Campaign to raise funds for Randy Gener’s medical expenses. A remarkable $49,000 has already been raised for Randy, who has limited health insurance. (The Canadian Theatre Critics Association contributed $1,000 of that.)

RandyGener

Suspect:

SuspectinRandyGenerAttackSuspect’s description: Hispanic male, 20’s, approximately 6’0″ tall, weighing 160lbs., with short black hair. He was last seen wearing black jeans and a black jacket

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website atWWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM

Update: Article in the New York Times:  Midtown Attack Investigated as Hate Crime

“Ten days after being attacked, Randy Gener can talk again. He also now recognizes his husband and his sister, seated at his hospital bedside. But Mr. Gener, an openly gay Filipino journalist, remembers little of how he ended up there: the swift and vicious punch to the face as he walked home through Midtown Manhattan in the predawn hours.”

Wednesday, January 29 update:

WNBC News: “A 24-year-old Queens man has been accused of knocking a veteran arts journalist unconscious last week near Times Square, police say.  Leighton Jennings of Jamaica was charged with second-degree assault after Randy Gener was punched in the face at 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue while walking home from the after-party for a play Jan. 17, police say.”

The Daily News report says Jennings is from St. Alban’s, Queens

Best Musical Theater Album #Grammy: Kinky Boots.

Billy Porter: @TheeBillyPorter I got a Grammy Y’all. God is good!!.

Other nominees were Matilda and Motown

Cyndi Lauper at the Grammys, where her Kinky Boots won Best Musical Theater Album.

Cyndi Lauper at the Grammys, where her Kinky Boots won Best Musical Theater Album.