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Entries in Stage Door (39)

Friday
Mar172017

Stage Door: Sally Field in The Glass Menagerie

by Dancin' Dan

This is not your parents' Glass Menagerie.

It's not uncommon for theatrical "reinventions" to take place nowadays. Ivo van Howe has made it into a cottage industry of sorts, creating an intimate, visceral A View From the Bridge and a raw, elemental The Crucible in recent years. Sam Gold is of the same cloth. He made his name with an audacious revival of Look Back in Anger at the Roudabout in 2012, won the Tony in 2015 for his sensitive in-the-round staging of the musical Fun Home, and most recently directed a searing Othello with David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig off Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop.

But all those pieces benefit from a stripped back, in-some-cases radical rethinking. Tennessee Williams's memory play is a much more delicate thing, announcing as narrator Tom Wingfield does right at the start that this is a subjective work of art, a piece of memory that may or may not represent what actually happened. Productions of it generally take after the play's quietest character, the "crippled" Laura - they are generally fragile, gossamer things, as light and airy as a thought or memory hanging in the air in front of us...

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Monday
Nov212016

Stage Door: "Dead Poet's Society"

Andy Warhol's prescient statement 'in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes' has been requoted to death. If he had been even more specific in his prophesies he could have added '...and every movie made in the 80s and 90s movie will become a stage play.' The latest film to make the jump is Peter Weir's boy's school drama Dead Poet's Society which was a big hit with the public and Oscar in 1989. For those who've never seen it (I'm sure you're out there somewhere) Robin Williams plays an unconventional teacher who convinces high school boys to "carpe diem / seize the day!" but this inspirational message has unintended tragic consequences when one boy's dream (Robert Sean Leonard) clashes with his reality in the form of a disapproving father. In the new play film actors Jason Sudeikis and Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Stanford Prison Experiment) get those two marquee roles...

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Friday
Sep302016

Stage Door: Believing in Breaking the Waves, the Opera

Daniel here to discuss the latest transfer from big screen to live stage. 

Bess McNeill, the golden-hearted islander at the center of Breaking the Waves, is a woman of astonishing faith. It is the source of her resilience and it is her undoing, though the salacious facts of her downfall can distract from the strength of her conviction. However, the whirlwind of anonymous sex, medical trauma and social exclusion that characterize the second half of the film do not undo the romantic catechism of its first scene. 

Bess sits in church, beset by the stone-faced Calvinist elders of her community. They demand to know why she wishes to marry an outsider, an act they clearly interpret as a spiritual betrayal. She responds to their questions with an irrepressible joy. Her confidence in her own love, as well as that of her fiancé, is as compelling a testament of faith as has ever been put to film. 

Or, as the case may be, as has ever been put to music...

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Saturday
Sep102016

Stage Door: Toruk - The First Flight

Errisson Lawrence © 2015 Cirque du Soleil

Jose here. While worldwide audiences wait for the impending Avatar sequels, the folks at Cirque du Soleil are aiming to quench their thirst with a new spectacle called Toruk - The First Flight, which bills itself as being “inspired by” the James Cameron film, but feels more like just another chapter in what’s become a “universe”. Imagined for those who maybe don’t like video games, are too passive for amusement parks, and have deep admiration for the human body, the show is a two hour long arena extravaganza in which Pandora comes to life in “real life 3D”.

Avatar borrowed elements from films like Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, Fern Gully, and to an extent some of Cameron’s own oeuvre (Aliens star Sigourney Weaver was two seats away from me and was always the first to applaud, during a particularly complex sequence she held both her hands near her face and sighed in relief when the acrobats gracefully pulled it off...

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Monday
Jun062016

Stage Door: Steve Martin & Edie Brickell's "Bright Star"

In Stage Door we talk theater, usually making some form of movie connection because that's how we do things...

I don't know anything about Bluegrass music but I wouldn't have connected it to the Melodrama form. If I tried to tell you the plot of Steve Martin's Broadway show "Bright Star," you wouldn't even believe it, so I shan't. Let's just say that if the plot were a movie it would be a silent film with wild eyed pantomiming it's so BIG with oversized emotional rug-pulling. I was just crazy about the music but the book not so much. (On the night I attended it was all worth it because Steve Martin made a surprise appearance. There he was as the curtain raised for Act 2, playing on his banjo. He was loving it and so was the very very appreciative crowd. How lucky that he picked our night to show up!)

Aside from the Original Score which just won the Drama Desk Award, the show's MVP is its Tony nominated lead actress Carmen Cusack who plays her character, beautifully, at two separate ages as a gangly uninhibited teenager and a much stiffer heartbroken woman in her 30s; when she fuses their temperaments at the end into the same woman, it's divine. Her voice can soar gorgeously and crash down to earth with equal potency. The Original Cast Recording is now available which might be the best way to experience the otherwise uneven night of theater. The highlight of this particular lucky night out on Broadway was the surprise appearance of Steve Martin playing his banjo as Act 2 began. He was loving it and so were his appreciative surprised fans in the theater that night. I was lucky enough to be among them. 

Bright Star is up for 5 Tonys: Musical, Book of a Musical, Score, Actress, and Orchestrations. 

More Theater
54 Below Molly Pope is doing a one night show in July based on A Star is Born. She's a stunning live performer -it's pricey but I have to be there
NY Times An ode to Broadway replacements Heather Headley & Marin Mazzie
NY Post Michael Riedel predicts a mini Hamilton backlash at the Tonys. It will lose in at least a few categories 
Theater Mania Once frequent Oscar nominee Marsha Mason is directing a production of Steel Magnolias in Pennsylvania (now running through June 18th). Jessica Walter is playing Ouiser which is great casting, don't you think? 
Broadway Blog Cheyenne Jackson has a new album out "Renaissance"

 

 

P.S. Jason and I also caught American Psycho again the day before it closed and during intermission, while chatting with Pushing Daisies / Hannibal TV genius Bryan Fuller (who also enjoyed the show) we all met a crazy fan who was wearing an American Psycho dress . A second time through I'm even more convinced of its brilliance. The Tonys really stiffed it but at least it picked up 3 well deserved Drama Desk Awards (Lighting, Projections, Design) 

Monday
May232016

Stage Door: American Psycho The Musical

In the Stage Door column we review theatrical productions, often with one eye on their movie origins or connections.

We first alerted you to the glorius full bodied talent of Benjamin Walker way back in 2011 writing:

You're in for such a treat when you see him on the big screen. Major charisma he has. Big stardom awaits.

The movie career didn't happen quickly in the way we imagined despite a couple of lead roles (The Choice, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) but that major charisma is still blinding on stage. It's impossible to miss even when the strobe lights are flashing. And flash they do in his latest show. He's recently returned to Broadway as soulless Patrick Bateman in American Psycho the Musical. Yes, that American Psycho. The best selling 1991 novel turned initally troubled 2000 arthouse horror flick turned cultural mainstay and now a Broadway musical. We recite all the history to remind ourselves that American Psycho has never been a property to elicit universal praise in any iteration. Instead, it's always greeted with a mix of  "worst ever" / "how amazing!" And so it's gone with the Broadway musical...

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Monday
May162016

Stage Door: The Father

Frank Langella is an imposing figure. Standing 6'4" tall, with a countenance absolutely befitting a man who has played both Dracula and Richard Nixon, the man simply looks like a force to be reckoned with. His sense of gravitas demands attention and respect. All of which makes what he does in Manhattan Theater Club's Tony-nominated production of Florian Zeller's play The Father even more impressive.

Langella plays André, an elderly man living in Paris with his daughter, Anne (Kathryn Erbe). At the start of the play, Anne is explaining why she has to get him a new helper: The last one apparently quit after André called her "a little bitch" and threatened her with a curtain rod. For his part, André at first denies the incident, then laughs it off, saying that he is perfectly competent to care for himself.

And here is where talking about the play gets difficult...

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