Moxie caught Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen last night at the Women's Project. What a fun little ditty! Jessi Campbell plays Vicki, the "third most popular girl in the Sophomore class." Vicki gets recruited to the Math Team, a group of four of the nerdiest boys in high school, because they need a girl. The obvious ensues - ideas of geekiness and coolness are shattered, revelations are made, and popularity isn't all it's cracked up to be.
It's not earth-shatteringly new material (Mean Girls does the same thing pretty well), but VMMTQ is a delightful look back into just how tough high school was, and how real the problems were. Some of the conflicts are silly (what does one do when Jen and Jen, the most popular girls in school, oust you from their clique?), but plenty are more complex. Vicki has a mom who's never home, and a dad who lives in California and only calls on Sundays and Wednesdays. Turns out, Vicki's dad is a math nerd, too, and the two have always bonded over stuff like memorizing the neverending digits of Pi. Another character deals with some new and entirely different feelings for his life-long best friend. "In case you forgot" becomes a repeated mantra spoken directly to the audience, reminding us how hard it was for all of us in those tough years.
Each cast member portrays their character with sympathy, giving each grimy-haired 15-year-old the gawky respect he deserves. Jessi Campbell holds her own as the only girl onstage, caught between the pink-wearing note-passing posse and her own math-loving secret self. Adam Farabee shines with awkward brilliance as the frustrated freshman pining for Vickie's attention. It's at times startling how accurate these kids are at creating high school onstage - I really saw my old classmates up there, and reflected for the first time in a while on just how horrible gym class, the hot lunch line, and 3rd marking period really were.
Two side notes: One - I hate to say it, but someone should really make a musical out of this. It would be a serious smash and make some smart producers very, very rich. Two - my enjoyment of the show was nearly ruined by a fat couple in THE FRONT ROW who ate a full three-course meal from Wendys during the show. First came the burgers in act one, then stinky chili during intermission and the top of act two, and then frostees throughout act two! People, this is what's wrong with America. Children are starving in Africa and working for pennies in sweatshops in Asia, and we Americans can't sit still for two hours without stuffing our fat faces. Disgraceful.
Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen runs at The Women's Project through February 4th. Photo yanked from The NY Times.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Oh no. Oh, no no no. Rumors are swirling that T.R. Knight will leave Gray's Anatomy, due to the continuing shitstorm brought on by Isaiah "no-he-did-NOT-just-say-it-again" Washington, a.k.a. Dr. McDouchebag.
An anonymous source told The Scoop that T.R. "is so upset about the situation and so disgusted by how it was all handled." Of course he's upset about Dr. Douche dropping the F-bomb all over his career, but why was he upset about how it was handled? "He was told not to say anything about the whole incident," says the source. So, essentially this means that after McDouche called him a you-know-what, and then denied ever saying it, Knight was asked to not talk about it, which feels a lot like confirming by silence that the whole thing never happened.
So several months passed, but then McDouche brought up the whole thing again at the Golden Globes, proclaiming out of nowhere, "And I never called T.R. Knight a [the word]." So then what? "[T.R. Knight] kept his word, but then the whole thing blew up again at the Golden Globes, and when he was asked about it, he basically called Isaiah a liar... He feels that the atmosphere there is so toxic and unhealthy. I suppose things could change and we would stay, but for now, he’s planning to leave the show." So he went on Ellen and confirmed what was said. Washington is in some kind of anger management therapy center (along with Michael Richards, Donald Trump, and Naomi Campbell, I hope), and now T.R. Knight might leave the show.
Meanwhile, when Chandra Wilson won a SAG award for her work on the show, she thanked all "10 cast members... and the other one in rehab."
Don't leave us, Georgie!
Well, someone's been eating his spinach! Here are the pics of Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, courtesy of The Sun. It's just a shame they had to include that cute little boy pic from the first Harry Potter movie right next to the one of him and Boyshorts McGee.
UPDATE: Okay, the photos on broadwayworld are seriously nigh-porn.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The ever-delightful Rocco over at What Blows has got a great scoop - The Public announced EPAs for this summer's production of Romeo and Juliet in the park. Now begins the guessing game of who will be cast. Rocco's top picks include John Gallagher Jr. and Alison Pill, and I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who would be better.
As long as it's not that hacktress Emmy Rossum, the Moxie she is very pleased.
CORRECTION: The JG Jr. & Alison Pill idea was, of course, Jamie's. Many kudos to Jamie! Spread the word and start the grassroots campaign: "Theater Bloggers for the Casting of Alison and JG Jr."
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Frank Lloyd Wright is widely regarded as America's most famous architect. The houses he designed are open, clean, aesthetic works of genius, but surprisingly unlivable. Though they were beautiful, it almost seems like Wright designed the houses with intentional disregard for the people whose lives would occur inside of them. Ironically, the same is true of Richard Nelson's play, Frank's Home. The piece is beautiful, but it's difficult to discern the human heart beating within it.
Frank's Home tells the story of just two days in the life of the architect, who is famous for his tumultuous personal life as well as his professional accomplishments. The story begins shortly after the completion of Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Wright is living in California, where his personal relationships are on a collision course. His two children, played by Maggie Siff and Jay Whittaker, are torn between love for their Wright and a heaping portion of resentment for the father who has been in and out of their lives, saddling them with as much scorn as affection throughout their youth and adulthood. Mary Beth Fisher plays Miriam Noel, Wright's drug-and-drink-addled second wife. Fisher is deliciously nervy and sharp-edged, making Miriam part Little Edie and part vicious viper, intoxicated by attention and terrifying when she doesn't get it.
Though the play is quite "talky," full of conversation about past events with little actual action, it's worth the price of a ticket to see Peter Weller sink his sharp teeth into this tour-de-force role. Weller uses his physicality and impressive-to-say-the-least command of the text to fully embody Frank Lloyd Wright, and it's actually difficult to keep in mind that this is, in fact, a performance and not the man himself. If Peter Weller and Bill Nighy did a play together, I'm pretty sure the theater would actually explode.
The rest of the performances are more varied in effectiveness. I've never seen Maggie Siff before, and she comes off in this as rather arrogant. Nelson's writing of her as part overbearing mother and part childlike daughter of the genius doesn't help, but it would have been nice to feel for her more, which might have been achieved with a more sympathetic, less agitated performance. Harris Yulin, on the other hand, is captivating in the role of Wright's longtime friend Louis, a man of few words but immense empathy and forgiveness. Someone should revive The Three Sisters and cast Harris Yulin as the aging Chebutikin.
I wouldn't reccommend Frank's Home to any occasional theatergoer. The text is simply so dry that it doesn't make for great storytelling, the way I think good theater should. However, there are some spot-on performances there, and missing Peter Weller's return to the stage would be a shame for any regular theatergoer to miss.
Frank's Home plays at Playwrights Horizons through February 18th.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Here's a story for all y'all who knock All That Chat. Yeah, a lot of the posters on it are cracktards with an axe to grind, but when you have a desk job, reading has it's perks. Embarassing it is, I will admit that I check ATC several times a day. This is mostly due to how slow it's been at the office lately. I've also taken to reading the finance section of the Times and writing snarky letters to the editor of the Village Voice (increasingly stupid these days, isn't it?). I am bored.
So a few weeks ago, I noticed that someone had just posted "King Lear ticket on Shoppin' Broadway". Well! I jumped on the post, and immediately emailed the guy, begging and pleading (in a classy, dignified way, of course) for the prize to be mine. Though he preferred to trade the ticket for another performance, he agreed that if he was unable to trade it, the ticket would be mine! Lo and behold, nobody volunteered to trade tickets, and we agreed to meet. After stern warnings from my boss about men who prey on young women seeking off-broadway theater tickets, yesterday in front of the Forbidden Broadway theater, I handed over a wad of cash in exchange for one very beautiful and altogether real ticket. I embark on my journey to LearLand February 28th. Whoopee!!!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sometimes the most inspiring shows come from surprising places. At Least It's Pink is the vehicle of Bridget Everett, quite possibly New York's trashiest, brassiest, and sluttiest karaoke-loving waitress. Accompanied by Kenny Mellman and directed by Michael Patrick King, Bridget Everett is a force to be reckoned with.
Bold doesn't begin to describe the gusto with which Bridget commands the stage, clad in fishnets, black shorts (sometimes), and a snake-printed bustier that contains not just her more-than-ample assets, but other items such as keys, post-it memos written to herself, and a rogue pringle. With songs she co-wrote with Kiki & Herb's Kenny Mellman (who, as always, provides fabulous and rich piano stylings), Bridget catalogues her adventures in life and love, from getting knocked up on prom night, to waiting tables at Ruby Foo's, to anonymous hookups with hundreds, if not thousands of men, most of them black (girl knows what she likes). What she lacks in standards and class, she makes up for tenfold in zesty appeal. Michael Musto, as always, know just how to put it: "The big girl is a large talent - picture Wynonna Judd meets Melissa Etheridge via the local bar floozy, on a rocket ship out of Twin Peaks." Copy that!!
Of all the shocking things in the show, of which there are oh-so-many, the biggest surprise of all is how inspiring At Least It's Pink ends up being. Bridget is a large woman who makes no apologies for living her life just like she likes it. Whether it's her love of her "canhole" or nipping sips of mom's Cutty Sark in high school, it's all on display, in your face, and ready to be taken out for a party. Watching Bridget celebrate her own inner (and outer!) beauty left me and my friends literally dancing through the streets of Hell's Kitchen, inspired by her reckless abandon - no, destrucion of every last inhibition.
At Least It's Pink plays at Ars Nova through March 11. Visit Ars Nova for info.
P.S. - Check out cool articles about At Least It's Pink from Time Out NY and the NY Post.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Wow. Theatermania is reporting that Zoe Lister-Jones will return to The Little Dog Laughed, but just for the final 2 week of performances. Lister-Jones created the role of Ellen at Second Stage, but was replaced by the popular Ari Graynor for Broadway. I wonder who made that phone call? "Hey, Zoe! It's me, [broadway producer of Little Dog Laughed]!! Yeah, it HAS been a while! So, uh, I have a question for you, and feel free to say no, but..."
I haven't heard of anything Zoe's been doing since LDL finished it's run off-broadway, but can she really be in such dire straights that she had to do this? On the other hand, maybe she'll have a triumphant return and make those producers rue the day they replaced her. Maybe.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
May I just say how much more complete my life feels now that Jack Bauer is back in it? I know, he's violent, dangerous, has a tendency to drop off the face of the earth and then just come back with little or no explanation, but I love him, I need him, and I prefer not to live without him.
This season seems like it could shape up to be the greatest or the wonkiest season yet. Regina King is a fierce ass-kicker, but D.B. Woodside seems like a tough sell as the president. Would the U.S.A. ever elect another Palmer? Really? After all that scandal? (Wait a minute... this is starting to sound vaguely familiar). And Peter MacNichol is a fantastic actor, but his type is so predictable on the show, just like Stephen Spinella last year. Wiry, off-center, kinda bug-eyed and arch guys can't be trusted with important government decisions. Yeah. We get it.
However, none of this detracts from the joy I get watching Jack Bauer bite someone's neck out. *Sigh*... I'm so easy to please.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Just got a staff offer for tickets to The Fever tonight. Sadly, I must decline as I am already committed to seeing Mary Poppins tonight... alls I'm sayin' is that house better do pirouettes on it's shutters or I'm walking out. Anyway the offer reads:
We’ve been offered tickets to see the new Wallace Shawn play THE FEVER tonight. The show is at 8pm at the Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row. (It’s recommended that you arrive between 7:30 and 7:45pm to enjoy a glass of champagne with Mr. Shawn onstage before the performance starts.)Is there a post-show scotch-and-cigar hour with Wally in the Theatre Row lounge, too? Don't forget your spats!
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Chris Durang's The Vietnamization of New Jersey is receiving it's long-overdue New York premier at The Beckett Theater. According to their website, the Alchemy Theatre Company "aims to explore the boundaries of theatrical storytelling, seeking greater immediacy in recording the human condition." Well, push boundaries they do in this aggressive staging of Durang's dissection of the American family during the Vietnam era. From their website:
What's a patriotic mother to do when her beloved son returns from Vietnam sooooooooo bummed out? A scathing satire of American Family "Values," Christopher Durang's The Vietnamization of New Jersey is an outrageous, diabolical romp through 1960's suburbia where the Left, Right, and Middle (Class) are all in the crosshairs. Ozzie Ann, Harry, Et... and the irrepressible Davey... battle for the soul of the family unit; fortunately Hazel, their always helpful and handy housekeeper, is there to provide much needed answers!The conflict that arises between the family members is frequently comedic and consistently disturbing. Nick Westrae shines as the teenage son of pushover WASP parents, rebelling in a series of insane ways, from shoving his corn flakes down his pants to making out with his war-veteran brother's wife (oh, and the brother happens to be blind). And that's only the beginning. James Duane Polk also lights up the stage in a hilarious gender-bending turn as the family's African-American maid, who seems at first to care for the family, but may have it in for them just as much as they do for each other. Michael Cyril Creighton, of Rip Me Open fame, makes the most of the smallish role of Father McGillicutty, the nervous and probably-gay priest who advises the family to embrace war in Vietnam, famine, poverty, and even homosexuality as god's plan for population control. Creighton's Father McGillicutty is brimming with nervous tics and hesitation, the most believable of all the characters who are at their wits end.
The unfortunate aspect of the play is the unfocused, halting manner in which it's been staged by director Robert Saxner. Durang works best when it's played at a clip, naturalistically, with the bizarreness accepted by the characters and production as a part of everyday life. This production seems to call needless attention to every quirk and oddity in Durang's script, losing much of the humor by pointing effortfully at it. Of course, it is in previews, and some elements are sure to strengthen as they settle into performances.
It's impossible to see a dramatization of American life during the Vietnam war and not reflect on our own times, and the similarities between the two. Aside from a few delightful performances, the play is worth seeing as a means of reflection on how truly scary and uncertain our times are, and how little we may have learned from all that happened in the 1970's.
The Vietnamization of New Jersey runs at Theatre Row's The Beckett Theater through January 28th.
Friday, January 12, 2007
The Scene is an utter, total blast. Watching it is every bit as wickedly delightful as a good chick-lit beach read, minus the guilt factor that comes with rotting your brain away on paragraphs about manolos and flirtinis.
As you might know by now, I refuse to write plot summaries, so here is one from Second Stage:
The tale of an out-of-work New York actor — married to a news producer — who has an affair with a fresh-faced Ohioan ingenue and finds himself more morally and spiritually lost than he was before. This black comedy about the ever-elusive “place-to-be”takes on the empty narcissism of American pop culture with bitterly funny results.I've never been a huge fan of Tony Shalhoub - he's funny, sure, but he always just seems like the obvious go-to guy for the jewish/ethnic idiosyncratic roles. This changed my mind 180 degrees, and if there is a Tony Shalhoub fan club out there, I'm ready to join. Charlie, the out of work actor, is no Monk - he's a guy's guy, goes to swanky parties, and doesn't take bullshit.. that is, until he begins to unravel and lose his way, falling into the ready, waiting arms of the predatory Clea (Anna Camp, who is about to be NY's it girl because of this role). Shalhoub attacks the role with exactly the right balance of quirkiness and down-to-earth, average-joe new yorker-ness. He goes from hot to cold in a flash, one moment chewing up the scenery, the next drawing us into his loneliness and confusion with simplicity and stillness. It's very convincing that this sudden spiral into desperation could happen to anyone, which makes the play very unsettling, and almost scary.
Patricia Heaton is funny and sympathetic as the overworked tv producer whose husband leaves her just as they're about to adopt a child, and Christopher Evan Welch makes sweet lemonade out of what could have been a lemon of a role - the feckless best friend/sidekick/shoulder to cry on/wingman. Anna Camp is the one who really shines in this production. She begins the play with a string of "ohmigod!"s and "like, totally surreal!"s, a dumb blonde of the highest order. In typical Rebeck style, she soon proves herself to be much more intelligent, manipulative, and interesting than she first appears. Each character has expectations of Clea which she expertly uses against them, to getting exactly what she wants. Watching her work is almost like watching one of the alien machines in War of the Worlds - extracting what she needs for survival out of each character, and then abandoning the waste when she moves along. The results are delightfully horrifying.
The Scene takes aim at the narcissism behind much of what we Americans (especially New Yorkers) put so much value on - youth, sex appeal, a tough 'tude, the "right" friends, success, and money. Rebeck is carefully (and thankfully) ambiguous about any kind of "lesson" within the play, and at the end, it seems that the 40-somethings who have slaved their lives away for success are just as lost as the 20-somethings at the beginning of the journey.
Photo yanked from The Times.
Friday, January 05, 2007
And now it's happening: Nicole Kidman is definitely making the Rabbit Hole movie. David Lindsay-Abaire will pen the screenplay. Since you already know how I feel about Kidman herself in the role, I at least hope they consider keeping on Tyne Daly, Mary Catherine Garrison, John Slattery, and John Gallagher Jr (or Spring Awakening's resident rock star, as I like to call him). The rest of the ensemble was every bit as good as Cynthia Nixon was, and it would be so cool to see these frequent theater folks onscreen.
I also really hope Lindsay-Abaire spares us from a dramatic flashback to the accident itself. The play was so strong in what it didn't show us, as well as what it did show us, and losing that could turn the story into a classic lifetime drama.
As snarky as I may be about Kidman as an actress, kudos to her for taking the play under the wing of her production company, Blossom Films, and getting it made. Let's just hope it doesn't suffer the same fate as the Proof movie.
Seriously, though, Nicole -- what's with the weird lips? No more plastic surgery until 2010 at the earliest.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Happy New Year! The Village Voice has a fantastic article about New Year's resolutions for Off-Broadway, in which they survey some of Moxie's favorite people from the theater community. Actor Matt Maher wants the theater to assert its strengths:
I want the theater to stop competing with TV and film and just be itself. The more the Internet asserts itself,as more and more people are making their own movies and pilots and websites and interactive sitcoms and the like, the more crucial it is for theater to assert its strengths: richly collaborative, never-to-be-repeated, meticulously planned events that are meant to be shared with people right there in the room with you.Right on. Moxie has found that as she gets more acclimated to being a part of the workforce, as well as the blogosphere, she has even more appreciation of the fresh raw quality a good evening of theater has to offer. As we all take on more ipods, blackberries, laptops, bluetooth, and youtubing, theater becomes all the more critical.
Playwright Rob Handel (Aphrodisiac) has a resolution for the playwrights of off-broadway, including himself:
In 2007, I resolve to write plays that meet the challenge laid down by the plays I saw in 2006, plays by writers who demand a theater of ideas and language and image—who write characters unafraid to say "Yoi ma i fa ha. d'lal ad na amginck tai" (The Internationalist); who write stage directions unafraid to say "The FIVE SAMS emerge from Samantha" (Dead City); and who demand directors and theaters with the imagination to interpret and execute their scripts.Moxie found the last resolution the most inspirational, from the quirky, wonderful, and rather brilliant David Herskovits:
The resolution I would like to see us make in theaters everywhere is not to operate from a position of fear—fear of artistic failure, of the unknown, of losing audience or funders, of poor press. Fear of employing an untried talent, of being the first to embrace something new (especially when others may have questioned it), of deploying production practices, schedules, staffing and organizational models outside our zone of comfort.
Fear of letting go of what we know—the comfortable narcotic familiar. All this kills the flourishing creative imagination. We know that and pay lip service to it reli giously, but how often do we really, really let go of our established machinery? And how often do we find ourselves saying no—even in the politest possible way—to impulses only because, really, that's just not how we do things? Say yes!
Resolutions are also given from Adam Rapp, Anne Kaufman, Sara Benson, and Adam Bock, to name a few. Check it out!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
It was New Years Eve-eve, and Moxie was in a utterly wretched mood. The year winding to an end made me reflect on all that's happened (happy things, for the most part), and it all just felt so overwhelming that the whole thing could just come crashing down. There I was surfing a major and inexplicable downward spiral, when my patient, understanding, and perpetually adorable boyfriend suggested we watch some tv and just chill on out. I obliged, and turned on the tube to find a Great Performances broadcast of the National's production of Oklahoma, pre-broadway transfer. Magically, all of my worries began to immediately drift out to sea as I was enveloped by musical theater bliss. When I was a really little kid, I wore out the old VHS of the old Shirley Jones Oklahoma movie. I knew every word of every song, and probably first learned to sing by belting along with Ado Annie - god bless my poor parents for being so encouraging rather than wincing and holding their ears. Watching the classic musical again, I realized how little I even understood when I first saw it. I think I learned half the words in "Kansas City" just from singing along - words like burlesque, privvy, even the surrey with the fringe on top was a totally foreign thing for someone so little.
The thing that kept me watching after Hugh Jackman's big entrance with "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," was how incredibly that production was staged. The National Theatre's Olivier Theater is an amazing space, and was home to His Dark Materials, Moxie's favorite theater experience of all-time. Putting the whole thing on the revolve allowed them to use one big scrim as background, angled up and over the actors' heads, blazing blue like the giant midwestern sky. The angle created so much perspective that the horizon looked like the land was just going on forever - so emblematic of the feelings of the characters about the land, and their future on it.
Oklahoma blazed the trail for musicals as we know them. It was the very first musical in which the action led right into the songs, and the songs furthered the story. The characters sing because they need to, to fully express how they're feeling. If you haven't seen that production, try to get your hands on the DVD. I know it's out there, probably on netflix. Did anybody manage to see it in London?
Images from PBS's Great Performances website.