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Shuffle Along: Review, Pics

“Shuffle Along is jazzy, tuneful, full of pep,” says one of the rave reviews from 1921 printed on the curtain during intermission at the Music Box Theater, where George C. Wolfe has mounted a revival of the all-black musical that deserves far more exuberant praise than “full of pep”: It is cataclysmically entertaining.
That, however, refers to the musical numbers. The full title of the show is the (tellingly) awkward “Shuffle Along Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,”….Wolfe’s ambition to tell the story behind the 1921 musical…quickly starts feeling as if he were a PhD student defending his thesis about the significance of this “sadly neglected” musical

Full review on D C Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Julieta Cervantes to see it enlarged.
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Broadway Begins Again. Summer Is Here. The Week in New York Theater

ComedyofErrors1

Comedy of Errors in Central Park

Didn’t Broadway just end? Yet here it is again.
Yes, Ann and I’ll Eat You Last are both closing next Sunday, with Lucky Guy (July 3rd) and The Assembled Parties (July 28th) soon to follow. But the first show of the 2013-2014 Broadway season opens in just a few weeks, and this past week saw lots of news about the season, from Neil Patrick Harris, Angela Lansbury, Frank Langella, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Faith Prince, and Carol Kane….among others.

Summer is officially upon us, which means summer theater festivals. Shakespeare in the Park is in full swing — literally — and so is Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, thanks to an exercise in surrealism by the New York City Department of Transportation. (See “19” below):

This Week in New York Theater

June 17, 2013

Neil Patrick Harris will be back on Broadway,in Hedwig and the Angry Inch,Spring 2014. “I’m ecstatic and terrified to be stepping into Hedwig’s heels”

The Mad Fashionista ‏‪@madfashionista: OMG, that is wonderful. I hope they keep the uber-sleazy vibe the original production had.

RomeoandJulietposterDueling Romeo and Juliets: Elizabeth Olsen and Finn Wittrock will star in the CSC production of “Romeo and Juliet” in September — the same time as the one on Broadway with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad.

Happy to see that four plays on Broadway went up in attendance:  Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike spiked by more than seven percent, followed by ‪The Assembled Parties, The Nance,The Trip To Bountiful.

Tony Bump:11 shows grossed more than a million dollars last week, six from 2012-13 season. In order: Kinky Boots,Motown, Lucky Guy, Matilda, Cinderella,Pippin

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Maggie Gyllenhaal to star as pregnant adventurer in new play “The Village Bike” part of ‪MCC Theater’s  2013-14 season.

AfterNourishmentAfter nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need the most” Philip Pullman, billboard near New Victory Theater

“Starting at age 5 I always thought I was a legend” – Christopher Durang said,  accepting his OBA (‪Off-Broadway Alliance Award) for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

“Off Broadway keeps us young. it’s unfiltered,raw a little dangerous”~ ‪Kristine Nielsen, honored as an Off-Broadway “legend”

Surveying his readers about the Tonys, ‪Ken Davenport found favorite part was opening number; most hated was The Rascals
Most frequent suggestion:
“Include actual scenes from the Best Play and Best Play revival nominees”
L-I-S-T-E-N ‪Tony Awards

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"The Merry Wives of Windsor (Towers)," a production of the Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The City of New York now plans to charge them a parking fee -- and demand they get automobile insurance!

“The Merry Wives of Windsor (Towers),” a production of the Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The City of New York now plans to charge them a parking fee — and demand they get automobile insurance!

New York City’s Department of Transportation has demanded that the Drilling Company start paying for parking spaces and buy auto insurance (!) when it performs “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” which it has done for 17 summers in a municipal lot on the Lower East Side.

The name is an obvious spoof on Shakespeare in the Park, but the Shakespeare is for real, although spiced with some street-smart whimsy: Last summer, if you recall, when archeologists announced the discovery of the bones of the actual Richard III in a parking lot in Great Britain, The Drilling Company announced that  Shakespeare In The Parking Lot would be presenting Richard III in their parking lot.

Julie  Haverkate in her blog Critical Confabulations picks an appropriate passage from the Bard as comment:

For I can raise no money by vile means.
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart
And drop my blood for drachmas than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection. — Brutus, Julius Caesar; Act IV, scene 3

Faith Prince, veteran of 11 Broadway shows, is doing a 12th: She’ll be the third Miss Hannigan in ‪the current production of Annie on Broadway, starting July 19

Cameron Mackintosh is reportedly planning the Broadway revival of Oliver!, He is also reviving Miss Saigon and Barnum in Great Britain, and aiming those for Broadway too

The New Group season will feature new plays: The Jacksonian by Beth Henley (Crimes of the Heart), in October: Intimacy by Thomas Bradshaw (Job), January

The arts aid in maintaining health, and now healthcare organizations (primarily hospitals) are partnering with arts organizations ‪

JamesFrancoonSupermanJames Franco, critic. James Franco, a kind of Superman of arts and culture, now adds critic. He reviews the new Superman movie (and disses Spider-man)

The Comedy of ErrorsPublic Theater/Delacorte Theater

My review of The Comedy of Errors

Is it an error to move “The Comedy of Errors” from Ancient Greece, where Shakespeare placed this early play of his, to upstate New York in the 1940’s? That is the setting of director Daniel Sullivan’s Shakespeare in the Park production, starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater as two pairs of identical twins cast into a slapstick sea of mistaken identity….How else could he have worked in  Lindy-Hopping dancers in two-tone shoes? The swing dancers take charge of the stage around  a jazzy juke box before the play begins, and execute Mimi Lieber’s electrifying choreography in-between every scene….All this has nothing whatsoever to do with Shakespeare’s plot or characters, but they are a welcome diversion – by which I mean, both a detour and an amusement.

Full review of The Comedy of Errors

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini, ‘Sopranos’ Star, Dies at 51: I’m an actor. I do my job and go home.

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Frank Langella will play the title role of King Lear first at ‪the Chichester Festival in Great Britain, then at the Brooklyn Academy of Music,   January 7 – February 9, 2014

Funny, touching “Dear Teen Me” by Broadway performer and author ‪Tim Federle, who fell in love with Jesus (straight lead in Godspell)

On why ‪Jesse Tyler Ferguson LOVES Shakespeare in the Park, even when audience in ponchos “look like a Klan meeting” =

Video glimpse (“montage”) of ‪Big Fish, with Norbert Leo Butz. It’s opening October 6 ‪

Always…Patsy Cline with ‪Crystal Wowersox, which was aiming for August opening on Broadway, has been postponed.

The Explorers Club Manhattan Theatre Club - Stage I

My review of The Explorers Club

Nell Benjamin’s “The Explorers Club” is stuffed with a deadly cobra,an errant guinea pig, a woman explorer rejected for membership in the all-male club, an “archeo-­theologist” who studies the “science of the Bible,” a seductive deadly plant, and an Irish would-be assassin who is killed and used as a coat-rack.

Benjamin, it must be said, is not an elderly  British playwright who traffics in the peculiar, farcical national brand of humor that on occasion skirts the edge of offensive. She is an American playwright, the co-composer and lyricist of “Legally Blonde” who in this often very funny play traffics in the peculiar British brand of humor that skirts the edge of offensive.

Full review of The Explorers Club

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Angela Lansbury says she’ll be back on Broadway in the Fall in revival of Enid Bagnold’s 1955 play The Chalk Garden.

Far From Heaven Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage TheaterA physicist and a dancer were paid $10,000 to find a connection, one of seven artist/scientist pairs. And they did 

A theater artist collaborating with a psychiatrist on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder theater piece for The International Festival of Arts & Ideas. ‪

Kelli O’Hara on being pregnant while performing in Far From Heaven: “She goes crazy kicking in the same moments every night.” Full interview with Kelli O’Hara

Michael Feingold defends The Great God Pan and The Flick — or rather attacks the peple who didn’t like them ‪

Dear Mr. Feingold:
Annie Baker’s The Flick was many things. But “terse” was not one of them.

How about some respect for theatergoers? Must you question their intelligence or upbringing when they disagree with you on a show?

Alyssa Dyksterhouse ‏‪@Adyksterhouse Everyone is entitled to like what they like. The challenge is to accept and honor that.

SeekingTheExit ‏‪@blackoutpete Just because someone likes something doesn’t mean it’s good. The reverse applies as well. : )

Jonathan Mandell @NewYorkTheater So attack the bad show, not the people who like it.

Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, etc.) lets slip to ‪Vanity Fair that he’s writing the book to a new Broadway musical, but won’t say what.

SavionGlover_4

Savion Glover’s STePz: Tap Dancing Away From Broadway

It is easy to claim Savion Glover as the best tap-dancer of his generation. Who else is there?
He was a child prodigy and an exciting Broadway performer, debuting on Broadway at age 10 in “The Tapdance Kid,” nominated for a Tony at age 16 for “Black and Blue.” At 19, he played Young Jelly in “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and at 22 won a Tony for “Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk,” which he both choreographed and starred in… {But he] hasn’t been on Broadway since “’Da Funk” ended 14 years ago.

Full article on Savion Glover

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In Times Square last night, the guy with the  “I Need Money for Weed” sign reportedly stabbed his rival with the I Need Beer” sign in the head with a pen. (I just pray that the rivalrous violence between the Times Square weed guy & beer guy won’t spread to the Elmos.)

Happy (gasp) 60th birthday, ‪Cyndi Lauper, fun-loving girl who now shows her true colors as a new reigning queen of Broadway.

Happy 64th birthday, Meryl Streep, last on Broadway (gasp!) 36 years ago but regularly on stage to raise $ for ‪The Public Theater.

ReesandElice1Actor Roger Rees and playwright Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) have been a couple since 1982. Where they live:

The Associated Press will be reducing its coverage of Off-Broadway, dance and opera coverage,part of “a dispiriting trend”

Ironically, ‪the AP critic Mark Kennedy interviews ‪Jim McCarthy on how live entertainment makes you a better person
A live event “drives the dullness out of your life, stirs your personal creativity” & makes you “more interesting”

New project for James Franco: Start reviewing Off-Broadway plays.

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Hot actors ‪ Billy Magnussen, JaimeCepero et al don’t have to strip for Oklahoma Rising benefit cabaret ‪at Laurie Beechman Theatre tonight

200 Broadway performers WILL be stripping tonight at (sold out) ‪#Broadway Bares XXIII benefit at Roseland

Creativity

1. Creativity–>Anxiety ~ Kierkegaard. The more creative a person, the more anxious. ‪

2. Malcolm Gladwell on how creativity is fueled by failure — mistakes, miscalculations & delusions. ‪

Cher sings every part in West Side Story

Savion Glover’s STePz: Tap Dancing Away From Broadway

SavionGlover1It is easy to claim Savion Glover as the best tap-dancer of his generation. Who else is there?
He was a child prodigy and an exciting Broadway performer, debuting on Broadway at age 10 in “The Tapdance Kid,” nominated for a Tony at age 16 for “Black and Blue.” At 19, he played Young Jelly in “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and at 22 won a Tony for “Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk,” which he both choreographed and starred in.

Broadway seemed to be the place where Glover would thrive: Tap-dancing, an American art derived from both traditional Irish and African dance forms, remains the staple of Broadway musicals. Broadway also seemed to be the place he would eventually transform.

But the man who made tap dancing hip, a part of hip-hop, hasn’t been on Broadway since “’Da Funk” ended 14 years ago.

At age 39, he tours the country as a solo artist or with a dance troupe. “Savion Glover’s STePz,” which runs through July 6, marks his tenth year at the Joyce.
Together with four other dancers — Marshall Davis Jr., Ayodele Casel, Sarah Savelli and Robyn Watson – Glover taps to jazz, pop and even classical recorded music, providing both a visual and a percussive accompaniment. The range of music is wide and playful – Miles Davis; Stevie Wonder; Shostakovich; “Mr. Bojangles” sung by Sammy Davis Jr.; the theme song for “Mission Impossible” – and the tap is undeniably virtuosic. But Glover has turned tap from a popular entertainment into a high art form for aficionados.

Marshall Davis Jr. and Savion Glover

Marshall Davis Jr. and Savion Glover

When Glover first charges onto the stage, even his hair seems in mid-flight. But the pleasures that follow are subtler, nuanced, stripped of context and of the elements one normally associates with a show. The only set is a couple of little staircases; the performers dress in what looks like street clothes. This is dance, not theater, so there’s no plot, but the dancers don’t even talk to one another, rarely look at one another, barely acknowledge one another. I’m not saying they’re grim; there is clear joy written on their faces and in their movement. But even in Glover’s duet with Ayodele Casel, the performers never even touch each other. Are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers turning over – elegantly, cheek-to-cheek – in their graves?

No, of course not. Glover is a star. But he’s a star like Miles Davis, as if he’s saying: Here’s what I do; love it…if you want.

Robyn Watson, Ayodele Casel, and  Sarah Savelli

Robyn Watson, Ayodele Casel, and Sarah Savelli. Photos by Elijah Paul