Mar 28, 2008

Hits That Really Hit Hard

Sometimes a typo makes you laugh till it hurts; sometimes it just hurts. From a release about the Roundabout's upcoming revival of Bob Fosse's Dancin', to be directed by Graciela Daniele (isn't she due for a career retrospective show some time now, by the way?):
DANCIN’ features an evening of dance set to hit songs from the pop music cannon.

Ouch! That kind of tune will just slay you.

Speaking of Fosse, there's a great anecdote from Irene Gandy (related here) that's worth repeating:
Fosse...was in Washington, D.C. with Sweet Charity starring Donna McKechnie. The workaholic artiste was prickly about letting in the press while he was still working on a show, but Gandy had decided to invite The Washington Post to a preview.

"I went over to Ebbets Grill, and they called me back from the theatre and said, 'Get back here right away,' " Gandy recalls. Thinking Fosse had found out about her inviting a critic, she strolled back "like Butterfly McQueen in Gone With the Wind. I didn't want to face that." It turns out, of course, that Fosse had died suddenly. "He dropped dead in front of the Marriott, but we put him in front of the Willard--a better hotel. I was so mad at him. I said, 'You are so much trouble! You can't even die in the right place!' "

Mar 27, 2008

First Impressions

They don't always stick. Austin Pendleton on Steppenwolf:
"The first contact I ever had with them was by a fluke," Pendleton recalls. An outside producer saw a play Pendleton directed Off-Broadway in 1979, Ralph Pape's Say Goodnight, Gracie, and wanted to take it to Chicago. But there were catches on both sides: The play's New York producer would only let the play move only if Pendleton was kept on as the director, and the Chicago producer would only accept that condition if his own special terms were met.

"He said, 'OK, but you have to use the members of this new company called Steppenwolf,' " Pendleton recalls. "At the time, I thought: 'There's a group that actually calls themselves "the Steppenwolf"? That's pathetic. Either they're trying to borrow the energy of a rock group, or, even worse, they've named themselves after the Herman Hesse novel.' I wasn't interested, but the producer insisted.

"So, grumpily I went off to Chicago, and as soon as I began to work with the company, I got swept away by them."

An interesting blog post on Cormac McCarthy, by Pendleton himself, is here.

(Photo by Richard Termine, NY Times.)

"Devil" Got Me

Back from AZ, still catching up...and warning of a slight brown-out on the blogging, as I plunge headlong into making and rehearsing an original score for this.

(Photo of Washington Irving, copy daguerreotype by Mathew Brady, reverse of original by John Plumbe.)

Mar 13, 2008

In Edward's "Sandbox"

Next week I'll be in my hometown of Phoenix, AZ, among other things to meet my birth mother. Today I spoke to another famous adoptee, though not on that topic. I'm rather proud of his Auden/porn comment, but Linda Winder recently had an even better story as her lead.

Be back after Easter!

(Photo by Gordon M. Grant)

Mar 12, 2008

Pleading the Ninth

My review of Beau Willimon's Katrina-themed play Lower Ninth is here.

On Pitch

I knew my old friend Cinco Paul was, like me, a straight show queen. I didn't realize his screenplay pitches were notorious for being "like dinner theatre." Wish I could see one some time.

Mar 7, 2008

New Power Generation

There are no bylines on my pieces at, but the next generation of Brantleys and Feingolds are on the beat and they're giving their names. Yes, indeed, the kids are all writing.

It's Always a Good Time for Speak

An oldie but goodie.

Smoked Out

Apparently some bars in Minnesota have come up with a creative way to get around the state's indoor smoking ban: taking advantage of a loophole for actors onstage, some bars are having special "theater nights" and designating their patrons "actors." They're even getting into the spirit of it, nicotine addictions aside:
"They're playing themselves before Oct. 1. You know, before there was a smoking ban," owner Brian Bauman explained. Shaping the words in the air with his hands, like a producer envisioning the marquee, he said: "We call the production, `Before the Ban!'"

Discussion of Grotowski, Artaud, and bodied representation are strictly optional.

Mar 6, 2008

Hungry Critics

From my erstwhile LA Weekly colleague Steven Mikulan comes an alternately hilarious and horrifying piece about critics who eat, drink, and otherwise embarrass themselves at openings. There's too much dirt in it to quote much, but this is a typical anecdote:
"I had a classic message on my machine when I was representing a free holiday celebration," says one longtime publicist. "This somebody asked for backstage passes so he could go into the greenroom, where the refreshments were. And for this, he'd write 300 words on his Web site. He used the word 'refreshments' three times."

Apropos Playgoer's recent point about the proliferation of under-qualified online amateurs crowding the field, Mikulan sums up the culprit(s) here:
Stuck at the bottom of what is literally a journalistic food chain are the writers whom publicists routinely describe as B-list or "second-tier" critics — reviewers for a vast, unincorporated territory of neighborhood broadsheets, ethnic tabloids, ad-for-review papers, student newspapers, public-access TV and radio programs, vanity zines, theater Web sites, and blogger-critics. This "B-list" has dramatically expanded its theater clout with the Internet, and, while the World Wide Web has democratized such formerly elite realms as political journalism, it has paradoxically reinforced the authority (some would say tyranny) of theater critics by increasing their numbers. The proliferation of reviewers has started a conversation in theater circles (as it has in film) as to who, exactly, is a legitimate critic and whether this proliferation weakens critical credibility.

Tuck in.

(Illustration by Jesse Lefkowitz for the Weekly.)

Trans Form

Bond. Justin Bond. Still shaking, if not quite stirring. My take on Lustre: A Midwinter Trans-Fest here (online only).

(Photo by Adrian Buckmaster.)