Oct 31, 2008

Random Greenpoint Shot

Truth in advertising, I wonder? Happy Halloween.

Oct 30, 2008

Controversy Is Always a Winner

That is, until you have to give away the free tickets:

Due to a recent controversy that has erupted over one of the plays in the production of SPIN, currently on stage at the Cherry Lane Theatre, the stageFARM has announced that it will offer a limited number of free tickets to performances of the show to Britney Spears fans who will be in the New York area next week (through November 8). The playwright, Gina Gionfriddo, will also participate in a post-performance talkback on Wednesday, November 5.

Searching for signs of this reported fracas, I looked (admittedly briefly) online, with the keywords "Britney Spears Iraq spin," and I did find this infamous moment...from five years ago. The press release I received goes into more detail:
One of the works in this new series of commissioned short plays, “America’s Got Tragedy” by Ms. Gionfriddo, depicts the pop princess in a fantasy setting: on the set of a reality TV show in which she competes against a dead American soldier who was recently killed in Iraq. The winner must prove their story is most tragic. Dreama Walker (“Gossip Girls”) portrays Ms. Spears on stage.

The premise reminds me of that ghoulishly funny Curb Your Enthusiasm with the dueling "survivors"--one of the Holocaust, the other of the reality show. But I digress. Here's where the "controversy" comes in:

In emails to the stageFARM office, Spears’ fans have objected to the supposedly negative and inaccurate portrayal of their favorite female idol, according to the company’s Executive Director, Carrie Shaltz. Ms. Gionfriddo counters that “I'm a huge Britney fan. I wrote the play to comment on the dwindling news coverage of the war and the way in which--I think--Britney was demonized and exploited by a media that should have paid more attention to the troops. I would love to have a dialogue with fellow fans about my play. Their response is interesting to me because my play has won so many Britney converts during the run. My hope is that it functions as a humanizing corrective to Britney-bashing rather than a jump on the ugly bandwagon.” Hence, in the spirit of understanding and reconciliation, the offer of freebies.

I pass on this information to any Britney fans among my readers: to reserve your complimentary tickets for a performance of Spin, Nov. 3–8, 8 p.m., email Carrie Shaltz at carrie@thestagefarm.org.

Music & Journalism & the Web

Apropos the back-and-forth below about the future of journalism in the Web age, I've been thinking a bit more about the relationship between content and the Internet. When I chatted recently after my interview with Duncan Sheik, and the fortunes of the music business came up, I realized: Damn if I haven't been pursuing the two fields most egregiously decimated by the ascendance of the Web! (Somehow the movie and TV businesses have more or less avoided the economic apocalypse facing music and publishing--yet another reason to kick myself that I didn't make more use of my film/TV degree.)

Apart from larger career and industry concerns, this dilemma affects me on a fine-grained, almost minute-to-minute basis: As an unmediated, still essentially un-monetized distribution platform, the Web has made my life as a consumer of music and journalism so much busier, more active, and, some might say less charitably, more obsessive-compulsive (more on that in a second). As a maker of music and journalism, the Web has been important but not central to my life and work--so far. But I'm beginning to glimpse the forest through the trees, and to see that if there are millions of obsessive readers and listeners like me out there/here, with reading and listening habits shaped and sharpened by the Web, then we sometime makers of things to read and listen to will not be starved for an audience, at the very least. Whether it's a paying audience, or an audience advertisers will pay to distract, is the rub.

As for this brave new world of seemingly unlimited distribution and consumption, the picture isn't all rosy. More is not always better. That seems an obvious point, but until you live it firsthand it's not self-evident. I wrote a little on this theme a few year backs, in a be-careful-what-you-wish-for post about how the iPod and iTunes had changed my relationship to music (I'm still wrestling with the same issue--to wit, I'm still not sure I've heard every track on the Elvis Costello CD I referred to in that post, let alone the 17 albums he's released since then). And this post on the emusic blog (h/t Digital Audio Insider) hit very close to home:

If I think back to the time when I was getting really hooked on certain bands, I was purchasing probably 1-2 albums a month; where now I get 10-15 albums, plus all the free stuff...and don't get me wrong it's great, but sometimes I feel I lack the time to really get to know a particular piece...I definitely spend less time with each album than I used to. It's not even that I get bored with albums, it's that I have 75 downloads per month, plus a few subscriptions to Song of the Day podcasts, plus music my friends give me...the end result being I can love a band one month and get so distracted the next that I forget about it...It's a trade-off of the Internet age -- more bands to listen to, and less time to spend with each one.

...I'll get stuck on one record for a few weeks at a time. As a consequence, I start getting anxiety about all the really great stuff that's passing me by just because I can't seem to stop listening to, say, J-Live or Shearwater. There are so many records that I keep "meaning" to get to -- so many records that I know I'd probably love -- and I'm afraid I'm just going to end up missing them.

I feel very similarly about the news and opinion blogs I look at several times a day (particularly this election season). Trying to turn this picture around, how does such consumer behavior affect the livelihood of those who make the stuff we consume? In the case of journalists and musicians--so far, so abysmally. Still, the fact that music and journalism continue to be made and eagerly, all too eagerly, consumed, gives me a few tiny shreds of hope.

Who Knew?

The irreverent reverend, Fr. James Martin, S.J., offers this helpful video in time for about All Saints Day (with a touch of Halloween). Things I didn't know: that St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of people who are afraid of lightning, that St. Apollonia is the patron saint of dentistry, and that Mother Cabrini...well, it's worth watching for Fr. Jim's terrible punchline.

The Last Word (Till Tuesday)

Ta-Nehisi Coates tells the fretful left to stop worrying and love the 'Bam:
Liberals are the wimp at the end of the bar. There is a gorgeous red-head, just down the way, working on her third vodka gimlet. Some herb-ass dude is blustering in her ear, but she's winking at you. She walks over and buys you a drink. She's waiting on you to ask for the math. But you want to talk her head off about how things like this never happen to you. About how you always spill your drink, or trip and fall trying to get off your bar-stool. It makes her want to go back and talk to the blustery herb just on GP. And she would--if the herb had any GP to speak of.

Oct 29, 2008

The Talented Mr. Mills

There's no question that Peter Mills know how to put together the elements of a musical about as well as anyone working today. I just wish I liked the sum of those parts a bit more. His newest: a revival of his accomplished Illyria; my review is here. (I felt similarly impressed and frustrated by The Flood a few years back.) I'm actually amazed that he and Cara Reichel haven't yet been snapped up to do a big new movical adaptation, but then, maybe that's not on their agenda. Either way, Mills remains someone worth watching (and listening to).

(Photo by Michael Kirby.)

First To Zero

Time Out delivers its first zero-star theater review to...John Patrick Shanley and Henry Krieger's Romantic Poetry. Come on, Adam--it's at least a two-starrer! I found it a fascinating failure, and an odd counterpoint to Shanley's upcoming film of Doubt. I would venture to say, however, that one of the guilty pleasures of reading criticism is taking in viciously gleeful sentences like this:
In a more honorable world, the entire board of Manhattan Theatre Club would resign in disgrace for presenting such bilge, and charging $85 to see it.

No he din't!

Oct 28, 2008

Monitor This

The Christian Science Monitor, a venerable national daily, will move its operations exclusively online next April. I think it's only a matter of time before the rest of the newsprint-and-paper dinosaurs go this way. Pace Leonard Jacobs, I don't think such moves signal the journalism's death rattle. There is inarguably an economic shakeout going on, and most of us have been hanging on to this racket by our teeth, if at all.

But, as the tireless Andrew Sullivan points out, even as the Web threatens the economic model of publishing as we know it, it may in fact end up saving and/or rejuvenating journalism and its audience:
In fact, for all the intense gloom surrounding the newspaper and magazine business, this is actually a golden era for journalism. The blogosphere has added a whole new idiom to the act of writing and has introduced an entirely new generation to nonfiction. It has enabled writers to write out loud in ways never seen or understood before. And yet it has exposed a hunger and need for traditional writing that, in the age of television’s dominance, had seemed on the wane.

Words, of all sorts, have never seemed so now.

Oct 27, 2008

Milton Katselas, 1933-2008

One of the best and most controversial acting coaches of our time apparently died last week. Oddly, I can find no news source that reports it...except Wikipedia.

I never met the man over my years in L.A., but I knew and watched countless people who worked with him; Back Stage West gave a mixed review to his book Dreams Into Action. And yes, I heard the persistent rumors about his connections to Scientology, and his alleged recruiting through the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Last year's NY Times magazine piece didn't exactly lay those stories to rest, but it helped put Katselas in context better than any piece I've read. I happily frequented the bookstore he opened on Vermont Ave. in Los Feliz (and, now that I think of it, I did a book event there during my last days in L.A.).

Among the many plays he also directed over the years, I think the only I saw was his fine Seagull at the Matrix, which was double-cast but in which I remember with relish Anna Gunn, Alastair Duncan, Robert Foxworth, Sharon Lawrence, Charlie Hallahan, and, yes, Richard Kind. A quote from Chekhov's short story Enemies will, I hope, absolve me from further expressions of grief, which I'm poorly qualified to make anyway:

Silence accompanies the most significant expressions of happiness and unhappiness: those in love understand one another best when silent, while the most heated and impassioned speech at a graveside touches only outsiders, but seems cold and inconsequential to the widow and children of the deceased.

I do know he will be dearly missed.

UPDATE: A few proper obits.

(Photo by Todd Hido.)

Oct 24, 2008

"I Want Melody, Not Improvisation"

This is so wrong, but a musician friend sent it and it made me smile. Have a jazzy weekend. (And by the way, the clip is from the excellent if morbidly self-indulgent German film Downfall, which I recommend highly, if only for the acting. And not a note of jazz in it.)

Oct 23, 2008

"Spring" Eternal

I was not among Spring Awakening's biggest fans when it opened (alas, the link to my Broadway.com review of the Atlantic production, which I would characterize as mixed positive--a B, say--is dead). But my first feature at TDF happened to be with Tom Hulce, one of the show's unlikely producing angels, and I recently had the chance to revisit the show and the score for an LA Times preview, and I have to say, the show wears well, and the score in particular. One thing I discovered about it: It's about the only Broadway score I can think of that was clearly written on the guitar. I still remember how exciting it was to hear the guitar riffs of Tommy in a Broadway theater, but obviously that wasn't written for the stage. In any case, it was a pleasure to revisit a show I think I underrated at the time. UPDATE: Oops--but hey, at least it recouped!

(Photo of Duncan Sheik--posing with, er, a piano--by Jennifer S. Altman.)

Counting Blessing

Unlike some of my colleagues, I rather liked Lee Blessing's A Body of Water.

(Photo by James Leynse.)

Band Name Derby

This is the kind of train of thought that pulls into my brain and won't leave until all the passengers are out, so though it's way off topic, indulge me (or don't).

I was listening to a song I like by My Morning Jacket yesterday, and I thought, "I really wish I'd listen to them a little more." And then I realized: Maybe one reason I don't think to dial this band up on my iPod very often is because the band's name objectively sucks. I mean, it is a terrible band name, isn't it? It fails on so many levels, not only in not preparing you for the kind of music MMJ plays (basically power-pop with a tinge of roots-rock) but also by any yardstick of catchiness or cleverness...What is a "morning jacket"? And why does a band with four members label itself with a singular possessive, "my"? Who's the "me"? It just doesn't compute. I mean, that's not a problem for My Bloody Valentine, but then that's a great band name, extremely evocative even for those who don't get the Rodgers & Hart reference.

So this got me thinking: How would I rate band names, apart from--maybe not totally apart from--the actual music bands make? I started to think about it and couldn't stop, because I realized I have a lot of thoughts on the subject. The Beatles? A brilliant name, clever--a blank slate yet somehow unmistakeably English. The Beach Boys? An awful, reductive name that has consigned their music to kitsch, so that pop aficianados must strenuously insist they don't mean "Brian Wilson is a genius" ironically. The Rolling Stones? Iconic, perfect, the Platonic ideal of rock band names. Led Zeppelin? Iconic, certainly, but pretentious, nerdy, redolent of Tolkien and head shops. U2? Kind of brilliant, subliminal, close to branding. Radiohead? Cold, clinical, shrug-worthy.

Of course, as I went through this list with my better half, she kept saying, "But it doesn't matter," which is of course true on one level--but in another way a band's name signifies at least as much, and arguably more, than the title of a play or movie or other work of fiction does. I realized that a band's name has a lot to do with how they're thought of, and what their possibilities have and haven't been in terms of cultural impact. How "good" their music is--well, I actually prefer Zeppelin to the Stones, and I love Radiohead, so that's not what this is about. Heck, I used to be in a band called Millhouse, not because anybody was passionate about it but because it was the name that least bothered us all. And one of my favorite current bands, Midlake...well, sorry, but that name just sits there.

So, without further throat clearing, off the top of my head, here's what I think of...

Creedence Clearwater Revival A ridiculously wordy, pretentious name for a really solid, straightahead roots-rock band. Any single one of those words would be a better band name.

Grateful Dead I don't know how, but somehow this name has come to transcend its essential grimness (the dead are grateful? that's bleak) to suggest something warm and comfortable.

Velvet Underground Perfect, maybe the most descriptive band name ever.

The Who Kind of brilliant, one of the first "meta" band names (The The, The Band), and a good way to introduce the identity theme that's been one of Townshend's obsessions.

Guess Who Pffft.

Steely Dan Somehow obliquely dead-on. Weird how it's never, ever occurred to me to ask, "Who's this Dan?"

Fleetwood Mac Similar to Steely Dan but not nearly as dead-on. For one thing, it doesn't begin to hint at how much is going on in this music, but then what could?

Talking Heads Just about the perfect "New Wave" band name.

The Clash A great, great name--one that actually somehow conjures the sound of the band itself.

ZZ Top As pot-inspired names go, this is the sine qua non (yes, better than Jefferson Airplane or Doobie Brothers).

Supertramp Consummately silly, and thus perfect.

R.E.M. Fits the music uncannily well.

Yes No.

Sonic Youth Appropriately jarring and spring-loaded with irony.

The Pixies I don't know why this one fits so well; it really shouldn't, but it does.

Nirvana Passable, though it sounds a bit too adolescent psuedo-deep.

Meat Puppets I've always loved this name--like The Dead, the image it describes has never stuck in my craw. It's just a cool-sounding name.

The Replacements Pretty inspired, if confining--it makes them sound a bit like a novelty band, and that's kind of how they ended up.

Beastie Boys Ditto.

Air Perfect, for much the same reason as The Clash.

Aerosmith A lesser band than Zeppelin but a cooler name (albeit also dorky and dated in its way).

Spoon Gets the job done but doesn't quite rock my world.

Arcade Fire An evocative name that nevertheless doesn't seem to fit somehow.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Puh-leaze.

The Shins Blah.

Wolf Parade Genius.

They Might Be Giants Just about the only band with a name that's a sentence that actually works. Somehow this lets you know they're quirky, but it also has a kind of grandeur...pretty inspired, in short.

Guided By Voices Unbearably twee. Why not just call your band Wind Song or Ghost Chimes?

Public Enemy A perfect, resonant name.

Violent Femmes This never worked for me, mainly because it doesn't let you in on what you're going to hear, the twang and bounce of it. This just sounds like a garden-variety punk band.

Speaking of which, I know I haven't touched punk or metal band names--it's not my area of expertise--though I have to express some grudging admiration for the inarguable majesty of names like Metallica, Dokken, and Slayer.

I also thought, as a way to (tenuously) relate this to theater, I could mention play titles I thought worked and didn't. But as I've gone on long enough, I will leave that to you, dear reader.

Oct 22, 2008

Maverick Laughs

Just saw Speed-the-Plow--it's actually enjoyable with a real actress, the estimable Elisabeth Moss, as Karen--and Raul Esparza paused ostentatiously for the topical laugh that inevitable came after Fox's line, "Everyone says, 'Hi, I'm a maverick.' " Later, Jeremy Piven's Gould apes him, "We all say we're mavericks, but no one is a maverick. We're all part of a collective." (I'm quoting from memory, but this is the gist.) A colleague thinks there have been changes to the script, but I don't have a copy around. Something tells me Mamet wouldn't slot in such a cheaply topical reference--please tell me if I'm wrong.

Steamboat Hearth

Off-topic but fascinating. I had noticed these distinctive fireplace tiles in the social hall at my church, and I swear I've mentioned the name "Fulton" to my better half as I gestured toward them with my donut. So it was interesting to see this corroborated in a small local newspaper.

Mediums in Blue

Though I found Kahlil Ashanti extremely appealing, I was lukewarm on his one-man show, Basic Training.

Oct 21, 2008

A Bridge To Somewhere

Old people think
Adults assume
Kids know

--Graffito on Williamsburg Bridge

Oct 16, 2008

Be There, Be Square

They've been telling me about the new booth since I started at TDF, so today was a huge deal, and not only for me. Herewith, a super-quickie video I pulled together of opening-day festivities at the new Duffy Square and TKTS Booth.

UPDATE: In my haste I lopped out a nice big shot of the whole vista; in the new video, it starts at about 0:45. Enjoy!

Oct 15, 2008

Say It Ain't So, Rachel

I don't follow MSNBC or Air America closely, so maybe this is old news. But in last week's L Magazine I couldn't help noticing that the best liberal news host around remains skeptical about her own side's prospects:
I’m bad at making predictions. I am also a kid who was born in 1973 and came to sentience in the era of Reagan and has only seen the election of three Democrats over the course of my lifetime—Carter once and Clinton twice—so I’m inherently cynical about Democratic electoral prospects. I did not predict, for example, the Democrats would win the Senate in 2006, and they did. They barely did it, but they did. With all of those caveats, I think that John McCain is going to win. Then again, I also thought Hillary Clinton would stay in until Denver—oh wait, she kinda did. I’m not sure what value my prediction has at this point, but my cynical, liberal gut tells me that the Republicans will figure it out again.

I mean, giving her the benefit of the doubt, maybe this interview was done a few weeks before the second presidential debate or something. But I'm kind of in the Yglesias complacency camp at the moment.

Oct 14, 2008

The End of Back Stage West as We Know It

When I was hired by Billboard Publications in 1993 to edit "Back Stage West," what I was initially doing was editing an small insert into the national Back Stage, which was being sold in L.A. but wasn't exactly flying off the newsstands. Clearly, if we wanted to compete with the long-entrenched Drama-Logue, we needed to start our own new actors' paper for L.A. And in Feb., 1994, I and a small, loyal staff did just that: The new Back Stage West, separate and distinct from the New York Back Stage, debuted.

In recent years (I left in 2003), the two newspapers have become more intimately entwined in their editorial content and layout, with BackStage.com as a singular online hub, but there were still two separate newsprint editions. On Oct. 16, I have it on good authority, content from East and West will merge into one national edition to be sold on both coasts; the first issue will be upwards of 60 pages.

Apart from the jam this will cause in my tiny apartment mailbox, I have some cause to lament the passing of the little paper I started, which grew to some degree of size and influence (enough to eventually acquire Drama-Logue) in its day, and which, though it will clearly continue its fine coverage in a new form, will dearly be missed in the form I've known it for nearly 15 memorable years.

Not High on Noone

Some of my peers liked it, and no question, Campbell Scott is a pretty marvelous actor, but I otherwise didn't care much for The Atheist.

Welcome to the Web

Lynn Jeffries, one of my favorite puppeteers, has a new website that's fun to look at.

Oct 12, 2008

Dying as an Art for Art's Sake

Though I'm sure that all of us, in our darker moments, have thought a version of the following thought, it's still a little chilling and/or bracing to see it laid out so matter-of-factly, by Santa Fe-based arts writer Craig Smith:
Speaking as a former nonprofit administrator and fundraiser, I think [performing arts] groups should be looking to form partnerships or mergers, or even shut down and pass the assets on to healthier groups, if necessary, to keep their mission alive. As Jung quoted Freud: "Sometimes the doctor should not try to cure at all costs." Ditto for nonprofits: better to end an organization's life and pass assets on.

It would require self-sacrifice from some people, and put some out of a job quite possibly. But organizations with similar missions banding together ... could save energy, time, and resources they could then apply to doing what they are supposed to do: help, excite, refresh, renew, feed, counsel, support, cheer, nourish, nurse, and heal.

Though the LA Times' arts blog, Culture Monster, calls this a "supply and demand" approach, frankly it sounds more Soviet in its thinking and in its likely effects. Take it away, Isaac.

Oct 10, 2008

Pets R Us (Not)

Last night, before checking out a show on Barrow Street, the better half and I had some time to kill, and we stumbled across Banksy's new storefront installation, the Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill, a characteristically fun and disturbing mix of folksiness, creepiness, and animal-rights outrage. I confess I was even fooled at first. It's nigthmare fodder that's well worth your time.

Oct 8, 2008

German Drang

Curious international collaborations are commonplace at 59E59, but the Pittsburgh-via-Stuttgart production Outside Inn is in a peculiar class of its own. My review is here.

Oct 7, 2008

An Early Blast

George Hunka, who recently celebrated five years in the theatro-blogosphere, weighs in early on Soho Rep's New York premiere of Blasted. He calls Sarah Kane's play
one of the most powerful and influential first plays in generations (perhaps only Beckett's Waiting for Godot and John Osborne's Look Back in Anger can be compared to its significance for the English-language theatre of the second half of the 20th century). That it has taken this long to get to New York is in some way criminal; the crime is redeemed by the first-class achievement and power of Soho Rep's production, as necessary and urgent as the play itself.

It's a thoughtful consideration with a particular emphasis on ambiguities in the ending ("spoiler alert" hardly applies for a play as written and talked about as Blasted).

My problem, if I can just lay my cards down, is that no amount of critical praise has persuaded me, perhaps ever could persuade me, that I must rush out to see a play that graphically depicts rape, defecation, and cannibalism. In fact, as a rule I tend to avoid works of art that promise to depict such things. Does that make me a prude? I pretty much hated Lieutenant of Inishmore for similar reasons (but on the other hand, I loved Bug--am I a hypocrite?). I don't mean to venture into the Sarah Kane discussion blindly or naively--I understand, and take George's word for it, that she's an important writer, and I should obviously correct at least some of my ignorance by reading her work, while opting out, if I may, from witnessing it onstage.

Oct 6, 2008

AP Style?

From Michael Kuchwara's Equus review:
Far better are the brief scenes between Alan and the young woman who works at the stable. She's portrayed by the appealing Anna Camp, whose unaffected naturalness is a welcome anecdote to some of the play's more emotionally florid family confrontations.

An anecdote is always welcome, but come on--AP copy editors aren't usually this lax, are they?

A Phair Point

Liz Phair puts her work--and by extension a lot of what we all care so much about--in perspective:
I came from a bunch of professionals — a lot of my family are doctors. Compared to doctoring — like saving lives or watching people slip away — everyone was so bejiggity about music. My dad worked with AIDS patients — I mean, that was heavy. I couldn’t go to him and say, “Dad! Whip-Smart is not as beloved as Guyville! What do I do?”

Oct 3, 2008

The Brooklyn Booth

I went to the newest TKTS Discount Booth this morning on assignment from my employer and captured a few eager discount ticketbuyers just before opening.

On a personal note, I haven't done man-on-the-street reporting regularly since my days at the Downtown News, and I haven't edited video since film school. Well, let me tell you, it's like riding a tricycle--you never forget and it's still loads of fun.

Art Vs. Politics

This mildly contentious passage, in the midst of Adam Gopnik's enjoyable if characteristically glib piece on John Stuart Mill in a recent New Yorker, stuck in my craw. He's talking about how Mill, one of the great liberal thinkers of all time, moderated his rational radicalism upon exposure to art:
Aesthetes always bend to the right, in part because the best music and the best buildings were made in the past, and become an argument for its qualities. Someone entering Chartres becomes, for a moment, a medieval Catholic, and a person looking at Bellini or Titian has to admit that an unequal society can make unequalled pictures. To love old art is to honor old arrangements.

An arguable point at best, particularly given that Mill was steeped nearly from the cradle in the wisdom of the ancients, and, well, Plato was hardly a liberal. There may be some truth in the notion that art can scramble and complicate political allegiances, and that in some sense an aesthetic view of the world leaves us open--sometimes dangerously but almost always to our benefit--to seeing things differently, and appreciating the complicated humanity of people we might otherwise think we should deplore, from Wagner to Waugh.

To his credit, Gopnik's next statement is stark, similarly provocative yet harder to dispute:
But even new and progressive art is, as Mill knew, a product of imagination and inspiration, not of fair dealing and transparent processes; the central concerns of liberalism—fairness, equity, individual rights—really don’t enter into it. Mozart, whom Mill loved, would have benefitted as a person had he lived in a world that gave him the right to vote for his congressman, collect an old-age pension, and write letters to the editor on general subjects, and that gave his older sister her chance at composing, too. But not a note of his music would have been any better.

The real thorny (not to mention unanswerable) question is not how good or bad Mozart's music would have been given a freer social milieu, but whether Mozart would have written a note of it if he lived in, say, the Victorian era, or our own.

Oct 2, 2008

Karam Session

Stephen Karam's lively three-hander Speech and Debate is now playing in L.A., and I spoke to him about the show, and his budding career, for the LA Times. (A note about my headline: It may mislead you on pronunciation. Apparently it's "CARE-em," not "ka-RAM.")

Oct 1, 2008

Diggs Deeper

I didn't think I'd much care for a multigenerational domestic comedy-drama set in the Berkshires, but Elizabeth Diggs' Close Ties pleasantly surprised me. Not earth-shaking, by any means, but a hearty theatrical meal nonetheless.

Bob and the Bard

A few colleagues seemed taken with The English Channel, Robert Brustein's play about a certain young "sonneteer and sometime maker of plays," starring Richie Cunningham and Javier Bardem, above (just kidding, it's Sean Dugan and Stafford Clark-Price). I was less so.