Thursday, March 29, 2007

Enough Already

Jackie Mason is returning to the New York stage. He will be at Feinstein's at the Regency from April 10 through April 21. I'm not posting this to advertise for him, I'm warning people. I mean, I don't care that he is going to be at Feinstein's, that's not really a theatrical venue, but I am concerned that the show is called All New: A Pre-Broadway Comedy Workout. As if that title wasn't obvious enough, press materials say that this is indeed moving to Broadway. Someone make the terror stop.

I understand that the press materials need to say the piece "features his usual potent mix of political satire and insightful observations," but we all know Mason hasn't had a potent mix of anything for years. I can only pray it doesn't ever take up a Broadway theater. There aren't that many of them, people. And yet I fear his return is somewhat inevitable. Why? Because the same people always back him and they have money. That's the reason. But we can still all pray that he strains something during this workout. That would be ideal.

On a totally unrelated topic, I want to thank everyone for their kind emails post-accident. I am doing much, much better and made it out of my apartment two whole times this week (today without escort). My big outing of the week involved taking part in the SPF panel on Theatre Bloggers on Monday night. That night, I learned that with a combination of pain pills and massive amounts of caffeine and sugar, my energy level could appear normal for 4-5 hours, concussion or not. I also learned many other things. As I've said here before, I'm not a big blog reader, so I don't usually recommend blogs, but I do want to give shout-outs to my fellow panelists: Isaac Butler (Parabasis --, Garrett Eisler ( The Playgoer - and George Hunka (Superfluities - These guys are much more dedicated than I--they generally post more than a lousy two times a week and have been in this world for a lot longer. I admire their dedication! They each have their own unique niche and it was interesting to meet them and hear their opinions. I hope those of you who attended enjoyed it. Also, a special "thank you" to our moderator/Time Out New York's main theater man, David Cote (Histriomastix -

I'm stopping this now so I can toast the Broadway arrival of Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin. I know you readers might think I am being sarcastic, but I'm not. I'm genuinely excited.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I've got chills

Today was a big day for Broadway... and, let's face it, America. Today was the day it was announced whether the people of America (or at least the small number that cares about Grease: You're The One That I Want) wanted miscast Danny or talent-free gay Danny to be their Danny on Broadway. And the winner was... miscast Danny! I was happy Max defeated Austin Miller, but, more than that, I was happy this stupid show was over. I had felt a responsibility to watch it, but each week i questioned why. Now I can put it behind me and go back to watching better trashy television. (I mean--that big deal Billy Bush made last week about the fans buying Ashley's sister a ticket to come... There are fans? And, more importantly, NBC couldn't splurge on an Ohio to LA voyage?)

But, before I let You're The One That I Want go, I want to comment on the appearance of the actual Grease supporting cast at the end of the show. Umm.... Does the camera age? A lot? Or did Kathleen Marshall not understand the age range involved in high school when she approved their looks? Of course, almost all high schools shows are cast with actors who are a lot older than high school age. But they typically are young-looking and are made to look even younger. In this case, I've seen most of those people look a lot younger. For instance, I've never thought Jenny Powers looked like she was in her mid-30s, but, here she looked like a school teacher trying to get wild. And I can't even start on the guys. I'm hoping it was just an odd look for the cameras. Yeah. Because I can't invest anymore time on that show, I'm going with that.

OK, I have to address the "white coats" mentioned in the last post. I did not know Jamie was writing that and I wasn't thrilled when I found out he had. It totally makes me sound like I was institutionalized. I'm sure people who know me well thought: "They finally got smart and took her away..." In fact, I, who have always been prone to accidents, was the victim of a renegade skateboarder (really). The police caught him in a chase (really), but I was left with head trauma and a lovely wrist-band from the hospital. In other words, the mental institution is still to come.

While I am mainly okay, I am having some trouble seeing and thus I'm not really up on Broadway news. So, instead of writing about something that just happened, I am going to talk a little bit about the strategic announcement of VH1 Classic's involvement in Rock of Ages a couple of weeks ago. First of all, lets realize that this is VH1 Classic, not VH1 or MTV. I don't even know where VH1 Classic is in my channel guide. But, of course, their advertising will certainly be a boon to this show regardless. It's a great thing. It is not however new news in many senses. The people at the network had been involved in Rock of Ages for a while--it's just that they chose to announce it a few weeks ago. Why? Every time I read a story I think "Why is this coming out now?" Because, in theater, there are very few reporters going out and uncovering things. The vast majority of what you read is purposely released at a given time.

Rock of Ages has not had a smooth path to New York. As originally planned, the show would be playing right now at the Daryl Roth, but it lost its funding. Then, for a while, it seemed it had it back. Then I found out the show had no money again. A couple of weeks ago there were backers auditions for the show held at New World Stages. The announcement in Variety that VH1 Classic--and possibly other Viacom networks--would be supporting the show came a week before these backers auditions. Now that is good planning! What the announcement did was put some real force behind the show right as backers were going to be considering it. So, it wasn't just about making the announcement, it was about raising money for the show. If they had announced the VH1 Classic thing a week before previews, it still would have made the pages of Variety, but that's it. This way, it helped raise money for the show and considering the producers need about $2 million for an off-Broadway hair metal musical, they need all the help they can get. I myself am still not confident about its arrival, but I hope it does come. I would almost always rather see a ridiculous musical than another pretentious one-person play.

OK, that tired me out for the day. Special note to anyone who is considering going to the SPF theater panel I am speaking on tomorrow: I am on a lot of pain killers, so, you may want to attend just to see me in sort of a trippy state.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'm Not CJ

This is Cara's friend Jamie. Due to unforeseen circumstances (which involved men in white coats), Cara is unavailable to post today. She asked me to link to this amazing video in her absence, despite the fact it is not exactly theater-related.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

She Wanted to Say

For years on my office cork board, I had a Playbill story with the headline "Off-Broadway's Blue Is Extending to Jan. 12, 2003; Orange You Glad?" hanging up. It wasn't because I had any attachment to Blue/Orange, lord knows I did not, it was because I thought that was the most ridiculous headline ever. But I found a new winner when procrastination led me to catch up on two weeks of Playbill headlines. And it is.... drum roll.... "The End is Nighy: Hare Cut Short as Vertical Hour is No Moore March 11." I mean, come on, that's impressive. There are so many layers there. I just can't say enough about it. Well, actually, that is basically enough.

Is anyone buying it was "scheduling conflicts" that derailed City Opera's planned Ragtime mounting? Last weekend I heard from four different people, Marty Bell was nixing the production. Then I heard from one person that it was some other guy that was causing the show to go bye bye. In none of these phone calls did I hear "scheduling conflicts" and, yet, that was the announced reason. Now, if that was true, why not announce a replacement time? As in, "Frank Galati won't be available in Spring 2008, but he'll be hanging around in Fall 2008, so we'll do it then." But, nope. And yet we're asked to fully buy the "scheduling conflicts" thing? Yeah... uh, huh...

Jack Goes Boating opens tonight. It's been somewhat under-the-radar, proving that just because someone wins a Best Actor/Actress Oscar that doesn't mean that person will necessarily cause major buzz (even in our tiny stage community where people sadly consider Laura Benanti a big star).

And has anyone else noticed how Jackie Hoffman is very in demand these days? She did that Rudnick show recently, she has her own show, she is going to be off-Broadway in J.A.P. next month and then in May she is going to be in Xanadu. That's a lot. I'm not going anywhere with this really, I'm just saying... It's my little shout out.

Oh, speaking of shout outs... A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I had written this story about there being four off-Broadway shows with "Jew" in their title and I had read 3 or so other similarly-themed stories. I was trying to make the point that clearly a lot of people found this notable. AND, in response to that post, I got an email from a Canadian reader who sent me a similar story from a small Canadian paper. I loved it. (Plus--who knew I had Canadian readers?) So this is my shout out/public thank you to Toronto resident Dave Anabelle. He managed to amuse me.

On a last note--has anyone seem James Snyder do anything? Let me know... Because if he is stepping into Johnny Depp's shoes, I need to hear something great. (Especially because I'm partial to this particular Depp role... and to musicals...) I know you won't let me down.

This post has been very random. It's sort of like being in my mind.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I have heard people rant and rave and bellow

I had another post in mind, but I really have to comment on the Scarlett Johansson stuff.

I'm always happy when any theater topic makes the cover of any paper other than The Stage, so I am thrilled news related to a revival of South Pacific was on the cover of The Post today. But I question the news itself.

Let's look at the story inside. It says that "Johansson is in the running to play Nellie Forbush." What does "in the running" mean? Is Bartlett Sher lining up random girls and making them sprint for the role? Is Johansson fourth slot over on the track sporting number 2 in honor of her character in The Island? I really don't get it because, let's face it, if Scarlett Johansson wanted to do it, she could just do it. She's not up against other people really. Sure, the Weisslers might turn down Tara O'Connor going into Chicago because she wasn't good, but if Scarlett Johansson wanted to stand onstage at the Ambassador and do nothing, they'd change the musical so she could.

Michael (who I do like) says later on in his story "Reese Witherspoon and Kelli O'Hara are also on Lincoln Center's wish list." (I'm ignoring the fact that O'Hara would be on a wish list with these other people as it is out of the scope of this post, but, trust me, I did chuckle at it.) So, basically, now he's saying Scarlett is just on a random wish list with these other people. Let me tell you, I've written a musical about a girl who works as a theater journalist and is also a slurpee and TV junkie and Kirsten Dunst is in on my wish list to play the lead. In addition to her, there is Madonna, just cause. I've even thrown in Halle Berry on the list because I think she might sell tickets. Maybe I'll email Variety and see if they want to cover it. Oh, wait! I can write my own big story about it! I can pitch it to People. That's so on my list of things to do tomorrow. That and purchasing a Pina Colada Slurpee.

Listen, I'm not saying we won't see Scarlett up there at the Beaumont. I think it's unlikely, but, stranger things have happened. She is indeed a musical fan, I've heard that from many people. But that's not the point. I still question reporting anything like this without being able to say "negotiations," "talks" or something of the sort.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The cost of war

Is the upcoming NYC mounting of Ragtime off? That's what my last phone call was about... but the details why it would be are so iffy I cannot make this post about that.

Instead... I've gotten a few emails from people this week surprised that Journey's End is not doing better. I am not surprised. In America, we feel like we are overloaded by war. The images (however sanitized by our media) are inescapable. And, many people, blame our country, our own government, for what is going on. Most people want to escape the reality of such harsh happenings when they attend the theater; they don't seek it out. When I was at Journey's End, during a climactic final scene, someone exclaimed behind me: "I didn't need this now!" I'm sure others were thinking similarly.

Journey's End received good reviews and it is a strong drama, but ticket sales aren't always about quality (or perceived quality). Do reviews have a force in ticket sales? Of course they do. (Though I have long thought they are more likely to dissuade than encourage, that is a topic for another time.) But reviews can't make people run to the theater if they are wary of the topic of the show.

Journey's End was a hit in London, but it has never been above 50% capacity at the Belasco. That's sad, but putting on a show is all about timing and knowing your audience. Would the play be doing better if Orlando Bloom or Josh Harnett had done it? Probably (assuming whichever one of them it was didn't get the worst reviews ever), but neither of those names would make it a hit. This show was always going to be a tough sell. I personally liked it much better than Translations. That doesn't mean anything really, but i wanted to throw it in.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Where for art thou Olivia?

How about Kerry Butler? That was the "big" news this week, I suppose, or at least part of the big news. Kerry--who was recently let go from One Life to Live--of course did the first reading of the show (though the inference in the producer's statement that they always wanted her is crap, if you ask me). I have nothing bad to say about Kerry, please don't construe this post as an attack on her. But I wonder if a show like this can survive without a name on the marquee. To do so I suspect it will need total raves and amazing marketing. Stranger things have happened, but... Well, I wish it the best.

About a month ago I heard Deborah "Don't call me Debbie" Gibson was begging to be in Xanadu. This reminded me about how she was supposed to be the "star" casting that was going to save A Class Act. I doubt many of you out there know about that, but before the show closed, there was a rumor that they had a star going in. It was her! It never happened and wasn't even announced. I guess they decided her doing the Broadway boogie woogie wouldn't be enough to put them in the black.

Anyway, that was a random side story. So, the other part of the Xanadu announcement was the fact that it was opening next season, which I feel like I already knew, but, whatever. That means, Kerry cannot take a Best Actress slot and there is one less entry in every other category that musicals can be in. Now, while I heard the workshop was a lot of fun, I wasn't expecting it to be a big Tony winner, so, I'm not sure how much of a difference the date thing makes in terms of award season, but it is interesting. Traditionally, very few things open that soon after the Tony deadline unless Roundabout or MTC is doing them. It will be interesting if having the limelight to itself, means magic for Xanadu. I'm so all about roller-skating.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

All apologies...

I had an illness in the family and I've been in LI dealing with it since Wednesday, so I've not been up on theater happenings. I haven't even checked email! (I literally got off the LIRR train at Penn Station tonight, ran to Joe Iconis' show and now am back in my apartment ready to sleep at 10pm.) I had a guest blog column about Fantasia stored, but I was asked not to run it. So I got nothing and I really, really need to sleep. Thus please excuse this column. Wednesday is another day.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Some Questions

This past fall, I wrote a story for a weekly about the fact that there are four off-Broadway shows with "Jew" in their title. (Others have done a similar story since, but, I believe mine was the first... I'm just saying...) The story was inspired by my mother--she is always asking me to take her to things with "Jew" in their title. Sadly, while I am a very good daughter, I rarely get the energy up to go to such things. I only saw one--25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, which is closing March 18. It got much better reviews than, let's say, Jewtopia and yet it is closing well short of Jewtopia's run. Why?

Well, first of all, I must give credit to Jewtopia's marketing campaign. It was great marketing and well-targeted. The people behind it spent some cash to get the word out. So that show had those things working in its favor. Unfortunately 25 Questions, which ended up with an okay run, also had some things working against it.

The show transferred to its current home, St. Luke's, from a run at Ars Nova. (I will avoid talking about how ridiculous I thought it was to put a Jewish show at St. Luke's because I doubt that detracted more than a few ticket buyers.) As industry observers know, it's always hard to generate a lot of excitement when a show moves from one off-Broadway house to another. Many times, everyone who would cover the show already has, so you don't usually get tons of free publicity. And producers tend to spend a lot of their money on the first run, hoping buzz will build from there, a move that leaves them without major cash to advertise their new run.

Something many people may not realize is that 25 Questions had another thing working against it--the fact that it is co-written by and stars an out lesbian. It would have never occurred to me that this fact had anything to do with anything, but it sort of does. I pitched a story about 25 Questions to a conservative Jewish paper once and I got a response back saying they would "not feel comfortable writing about it." At first I was puzzled by this response, but then I realized what the issue was and I went from puzzled to pissed. Am I saying that this one publication is the reason this show isn't running as long as Jewtopia? Certainly not. But this type of attitude worked against this show. A few months ago I asked someone I knew that loved the show how many people she recommended it to; she responded that she had told some of her friends to go, but couldn't send her family because of the lesbian mentions. Sad, right? I find it so.

Speaking of Jewish questions, I will end this post with a personal glimpse into my past that just popped into my mind. I got kicked out of Hebrew school, but, before I did, I had to do this assignment that was like "Write god a two-page letter questioning how s/he allowed the Holocaust to happen." I wrote "Why did the Holocaust happen?" for two whole pages. My teacher was not amused.