Contrary to earlier reports, Frank Langella will play Nixon in the Frost/Nixon film, and not Warren Beatty or Kevin Spacey (blech... something I would pay money NOT to see). My new "favourite" actor Michael Sheen will indeed play Frost in the film. So why did producers, and director Ron Howard, go with Langella after being rumored to be pursuing Warren Beatty? Howard did initally want him, "But Beatty, the [London Daily Mail] reveals, is said to have put off movie executives with his "oscillating behavior." Huh. Oscillating behavior... like the time he deserted Natalie Wood mid-meal in a restaurant and ran off for a three-day interlude with a checkroom girl? One wonders these things on a Friday afternoon. Anyone care to share some of Beatty's more recent "oscillations"?
Friday, April 27, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
If you read any of the other theater blogs, you've likely already heard all about the Mike Daisy vs. The "Christian" Public School Walker-Outers. I've been resisting posting, since there are many out there who are articulating the complexities of the matter far better than I could. However, I just MUST jump on the bandwagon and post about it today, because no matter how you feel about Mike Daisey, censorship, fucking Paris Hilton, and the Lord, you really shouldn't miss Urbaniak's coverage of the shenanigans, told through the lens of Chris Matthews' freedom-defending show "Hardball".
Matthews checks in with Michelle Malkin, Pat Buchanan, Al Sharpton, and one member of the chatterati about whether the water-dumping was justified, foul language on the theater blogs, and redemption. Urbaniak perfectly captures Chris Matthews' endless-sentence style of speaking as well as his tendancy to not let his guests get a word in. Bravo.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I wish I had gotten around to posting my review of Frost/Nixon before the critic's reviews came out. Then I could have beaten Brantley to the punch in describing "the momentum of a ticking-bomb thriller and the zing of a boulevard comedy". Actually I probably would have just said that it's splashy and dark and zippy and intense and sad and funny. I really liked Frost/Nixon, and sort of saw it as a more fun, more palatable cousin of British import Democracy, another story about two important men's relationship and the precarious nature of power and the public eye. Frank Langella, whose mug is so recognizable, disappears into the Nixon persona, and Michael Sheen's effortlessness is delightful to watch. It's also incredibly impressive how deftly the actors navigate playing to both the last row of the audience (where I sat) and the extreme close-up of the onstage television cameras.
I was profoundly moved by
Friday, April 20, 2007
Hooray, it's baseball season!! And with baseball season comes The Mets, and with The Mets comes a squadron of cute athletic young men in matching outfits. The ringleader is David Wright, a dashing but wholesome 24-year-old who happens to also be very very good at baseball. New York Mag has an article about the charismatic, bedimpled Wright, in which he details some of the reasoning behind his wholesome image:
When you’re coming up [into the major leagues], they have meetings with you about drugs, about drinking, about women. They hire these actors who come in and perform a bunch of scenarios. It’s pretty funny and basic, but it sticks in the head of someone who’s 18 or 19 years oldUh, anybody know how to audition? I think I could play a really good baseball-lovin' hussy, ready to entice young players with promises of jazz and liquor.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
This business of a new Spiderman musical sounds kinda... well, awesome. Per Playbill, Julie Taymor will direct a Spiderman musical with music provided by Bono and The Edge of U2. Freakin awesome!! The reading is happening mid-July, and as usual, playbill is getting its news from casting breakdowns. This one says:
Among the roles being sought to fill are the young-man-turned-hero Peter Parker/Spider-Man ("male, late teens to early 20's...[with a] great pop/rock voice") and love-interest Mary Jane ("female, late teens to early 20's...[with a] great pop/rock voice") as well as villain Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson (both call for "male, 50s.")Green Goblin - does that mean it'll be a musical version of the Spiderman movie? But wait:
Arachne ("female, 20-35 years old, any ethnicity") is described as "a beautiful, boastful young woman turned into a spider for her hubris and lack of respect for the gods. She subsequently appears to Peter Parker and the audience as in turn a powerful spider-woman who comes from another time to inspire Peter; an otherworldly lover; a bride; a terrifying (and sexy) dark goddess of vengeance; a dance partner in a charged and violent spiders dance of death; and, finally, a lonely, fragile young woman."An otherworldly lover, a bride, a dark goddess of vengance, but underneath it all, a vulnerable, lonely beauty? Hmm...
Dear Casting Team,
For the upcoming Spiderman musical, please consider the following talent for the role of Arachne:
Okay, the "violent spider dance of death" sounds like a risk. But music by Bono and The Edge? I'm psyched.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Rabbit Hole has won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Interesting tidbit from the Playbill article:
The Pulitzer jury had nominated three plays — Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes — however, the board decided to bypass the nominations and choose a play that hadn't been nominated by the jury.Sadly, I didn't see any of the three nominated plays. In fact, I hadn't even heard of Bulrusher, which Andrea Stevens gave a mixed review for the NY Times. I guess Brantley, who is on the nominating jury for the Pulitzers, liked the play more than Stevens did.
I loved Rabbit Hole, in spite of its imperfections. Some of the secondary plot turns were a little odd, and the dialogue was occasionally strained, but I ultimately thought it was a beautifully articulated story about loss and grief. In fact, some of the awkward points added to it's effectiveness - my own experiences with grief and how families deal with it have been frought with awkwardness and seeming inappropriateness. What is appropriate when a child has died? Not much. And a few moments from that play are haunting in their simplicity, for example, when John Gallagher's character is just sitting on Cynthia Nixon's couch, and they're talking about stuff like the prom, and then he says "I might have been speeding." His pain and guilt and confusion are so palpable and clear in that moment.
The big surprise underlying this announcement is all the good work that was overlooked by the nominating jury. What about No Child (which I still haven't seen, but have heard unanimously fantastic things about)? And not even a nomination for the show the chatterati had pegged as the winner, Grey Gardens? Interesting stuff.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Note to all high school principals: cancelling a student-written play doesn't always make people sit down and shut up. The Public Theater AND The Culture Project will stage "Voices in Conflict", a play written and performed by high schoolers, originally as part of a class project. The play is about the Iraq war, and reportedly consists of monologues from soldiers' points of view. The high school production was cancelled by Principal Timothy H. Canty, who claims he was worried about the reaction from locals, "who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving," and also questioned the capabilities of the students by citing concerns about "political balance and sourcing." Since when is it the job of a play to achieve political balance or equality? Isn't being fair and balanced the job of the news? Oh wait...
If you're something of a geograph-ist like me, you might assume that the high school is located somewhere in the conservative midwest. Nope - it's Wilton High School, in Connecticut. It's actually not surprising that liberal areas can still be very limited when it comes to the freedom of speech for young people. When I was in high school in New Jersey, our school got a lot of attention for a scandal involving some nasty hazing going on within the wrestling team. Though it was all over the Star Ledger and other papers, our newspaper was explicitly instructed not to write a word about it. Of course, the main perpetrator of the hazing (which had involved students tying a pre-freshman kid down to a chair and doing *horrible* things to him) had been the son of the school's superintendant, so it came as no great shock that we weren't allowed to cover it. The two stories aren't really that similar, but my experience makes me all the more happy to see the Connecticut students getting so much attention for their play.
They were also on Good Morning America a few weeks ago to talk about the banning of the show in their school. ConnecticutBlog has clip of the appearance, and quotes:
Senior Seth Koproski said the play is not about politics. "We didn't want to spew propaganda," Koproski said. "We wanted to create a discussion."
The slightly defensive tone of Koproski's statement says a lot about how attacked the students must feel - I'll bet there have been a lot of accusations that spewing propaganda was, in fact, their aim, whether consious or unconsious. The Public has announced that the show will be staged on June 15th (tentative date), with a performance at The Culture Project the preceding weekend.
Update: Both Isaac at Parabasis and Gothamist have picked up the story. Looks like Wilton High is getting more attention than it's principal bargained for!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
It's been crazybusy here in the office, and I've had very little time to blog, sadly. So all I have time to say is this:
1) Full casting has been announced for The Little Mermaid, and I'm so happy that Heidi Blickenstaff has been cast. She did the first reading of the Prairie musical for director Francesca Zambello, and it's cool that Francesca invited her onboard for this. Sean Palmer (a.k.a. Stanford's hot boyfriend on Sex and the City) is playing Prince Eric, and he also plays Almanzo Wilder in Prairie (he was pretty great up at NY Stage & Film). I love [title of show], I love Heidi, and I weirdly love that Francesca Zambello.
2) This New York interview with Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer is not at all about Inherit the Wind, barely about anything serious, and totally fuckin fantastic:
BD: I’m in London two years ago and I bump into Ray Davies of the Kinks. And he says, “Hi!” and I say, “Ray! It’s a pleasure to meet you.” And he says, “What ya mean, fuckin’ meet me? We fuckin’ sat on a fuckin’ airplane from Los Angeles all the way to fuckin’ London and drank about three fuckin’ bot’les o’ Scotch.”and later:
BD: I was doing Trumbo once. About a blacklisted writer, attracted primarily Upper West Side intellectuals, an audience of a certain age. And we had an older man one night who had a bowel movement. We didn’t even know it at the time. All of a sudden, the crowd had a reaction."That show was so great I crapped my pants" will never sound the same.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
This week's issue of Time Out, combined with the recent free-tickets-for-bloggers controversy, has got me (and many, many others) really pissed off. It's their annual theater issue, and several of the articles seem dedicated to somehow upping the hipness quotient by airing dirty laundry and gossip rather than covering the more respectable elements of the industry. I was initally angered by the "beware the blogotainmercial" (what does that even mean, anyway?) section, but I quickly realized that us bloggers aren't the only ones being insulted by Time Out this week - calling chorus girls "sub-Vegas troupers whose hotness quotient ranges from 'meh' to 'gaaah!'" is just one of the many gems in the issue. I've written a letter to the editor, which I'm pretty sure won't be published because it's a tad on the long side. In fairness, some articles in the issue are just fine - it's cool that they include a list of notable blogs (if only online), and the "This is Why They're Hot" article gives credit to some great people who deserve recognition. I've posted my full letter below, and I hope that others will write letters of their own to rebutt the misinformation in the issue. Here's the letter:
Time Out’s annual theater issue has left me bewildered, disappointed, and angered. The issue seems to take aim at the theater community as much as celebrate it. In articles dedicated to New York’s theater community, you manage to put down chorus girls, Stephen Sondheim, and a lot of undeserving members of the community in between. Next year, why not title it “Theater’s Ugly Underbelly – Exposed!”
Your assertion that theater bloggers are not to be trusted (with the exception of three excellent blogs) defies logic, and has hit the blog community below the belt. Yes, we bloggers are offered occasional free tickets to shows, sometimes in exchange for a review. These bloggers are largely contributing members of the theater community, accustomed to receiving free tickets through friends, colleagues, actors in shows, etc. The idea that a free ticket would be enough to make us write a glowing review of a play we disliked is preposterous. We’re just not that easily led. How does our situation differ from your own staff of theater reviewers, who certainly don’t buy their own tickets? And most importantly, why would you go after the little guy? Bloggers are attempting to slowly reshape the geography of an industry where only ONE review matters. If you want to take issue with biased reviewers, why not go after the Times? Oh, because it’s been done, and wouldn’t be hip, which is clearly the intent of this issue - an intent that seems to supersede good judgment.
You recommend that theatergoers do their stargazing at celebrity gossip sites rather than the theater. So why the tacky list of blind items? The theater isn’t Hollywood, and airing this dirty laundry is embarrassing and lacks class.
Beyond issues of taste, plenty of your purported “dirty secrets” are factually misleading oversimplifications. Here are just a few examples: Stephen Sondheim does a lot more work than just “plunk out a tune and basic song structure at a piano”. Saying that orchestras are “faking it” gives no credit to the hundreds of musicians who went on strike in 2003 to prevent the use of canned music on Broadway. The idea that “Tonys mean nothing” is absurd – just take a look at the advertisements for current Broadway shows, and you’ll see “Tony Winner so and so” used whenever possible as a marketing tool. Tonys mean a great deal to actors and the people who employ them, not to mention the folks buying the tickets. And for the record, I’ve seen dozens of Broadway ensemble performers who are beautiful, sexy, and phenomenally talented, both close up and from afar.
I am disappointed to say the least by the amount of bitchy gossip and lack of substance in this issue devoted to New York’s quintessential cultural offering. The theater is brimming with interesting shows, writers, performers, companies, and trends. You might have used some of those ill-conceived pages for interviews with a few “Playbill Bunnies”, who instead got only a picture and a quick caption. “This Is Why They’re Hot” is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. Shame on you, Time Out.
Moxie the Maven
Theater Blogger and NYC Casting Assistant
Friday, April 06, 2007
I totally, totally LOVED Jack Goes Boating. It's one of those rare productions when material, direction, design, and performances all work perfectly together and create a really magical, delightful evening of theater.
The story is amazingly normal: married couple Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) introduce their single, socially anxious friend Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to sweet but equally troubled Connie (Beth Cole). Jack and Connie's hesitant courtship is juxtaposed by Clyde and Lucy's sometimes-rocky-but-pretty-typical marriage. Ultimately, it's nothing more (or less) than a story about Jack trying new things, branching out, and becoming just a little bit adventurous in hopes that he might find a companion, and even a little romance. In fact, a good song for this show would be Rilo Kiley's "More Adventurous".
The simplicity and detail of this production are astounding. David Korins' set effortlessly creates a modest but comfy apartment, a dingy telesales office, and a public pool with humor and style. And the final moment
The performances are also achievements in simplicity, honesty, and fun detail. John Ortiz is so charming, and Daphne Rubin-Vega is delightful and perfectly cast - refreshing after seeing her working so hard in Les Miz, where she was clearly a square peg in a gigantic, overwrought, revolving hole. Philip Seymour Hoffman is magnetic, and does so much with so little. The play might disintegrate in the hands of a lesser actor, but Hoffman's sensitive, light touch is so watchable that any flaws in the writing are rendered invisible.
Also: it's really nice to see a play where the characters use drugs, and it doesn't feel like an infomercial. The drug use in Jack Goes Boating informs the characters, and furthers the action, and tells us about these people's lives, and that's it. It doesn't aim to warn us of the terrible consequences of drug use, aside from burning dinner. So, SO many people smoke pot these days, and it's really nice to see it represented in a truthful way - not a positive way, not glorifying it, but not making it into the devil's handiwork, either.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Here's one not to miss: the upcoming reading of Androcles and the Lion will feature an all-star cast of NY theater critics:
The April 23 reading is the latest installment in Project Shaw and will be presented at the Players Club at 7 PM. [Bruce] Vilanch will star as the Lion with [Seth] Rudetsky as Androcles. The Christians, who will be thrown to the lions, will be played by theatre writers/critics David Cote, Adam Feldman, David Finkle, Eric Grode, Charles Isherwood, Howard Kissel, Jeremy McCarter, Michael Musto, Patrick Pacheco, Rex Reed, Michael Riedel, Frank Scheck, Michael Schulman, Raven Snook, Alexis Soloski and Roma Torre. Brendan Lemon will host the evening.Howard Kissel sqealing in terror as he's lowered into a den of hungry lions? Too good to be true! Not to mention Michael squared - Musto and Riedel together, acting. Playing Christians. All under the gentle, amahzing wing of Mr. Seth Rudetsky himself. Need I say more??