Saturday, December 27, 2008


Wow, it's been quite a time for things I love in theater. Really. There is so much to talk about.

My favorite thing of the last few weeks was the Vanities delay statement. It was great to hear that the production was "being rescheduled for later this season out of responsibility to the investors at this complicated economic time, which makes it very hard to support a new musical on Broadway." I would have preferred: "due to the fact that, currently, while it is fun, this doesn't seem like a Broadway show, we've decided to hope and pray and then maybe we will come to realize that this is an off-Broadway show if a musical other than Altar Boyz or Forbidden Broadway could exist off-Broadway, but, since it is virtually impossible to survive off-Broadway, we'll probably scrap the whole idea." As someone who has seen it, that would have been my dream statement (well, a better written, more coherent version of that), but, alas, maybe we will see it, though hopefully the writing will be tighter than when I saw it previously.

Not since A Class Act.... Rock of Ages. 'nuff said. Actually, I'll say this: I wish everything success, so I hope it has a low running cost.

Pal Joey is a good show. And I appreciate the critics mentioning that. I often think people blame the show when it is the production's fault--I thought that a lot about the recent Sweet Charity, (though I loved Applegate) the production made the show seem worse than it is and so people said the show was just out-dated. I disagree. So I do like critics talking about an underlying show in a positive light. But... umm... poor Roundabout... "Glorious songs" (or whatever) only sells to people who would have been attending anyway.

I understand that theater shows need to attract all kinds of audiences, but I wish some of them would pick a tone, a style and, I don't know, maybe really focus in on main characters. There are so many random things going on in Shrek, I walked out thinking the creatives must have been high. And--is there any need for Broadway jokes coming out of the mouth of a small town kid from Indiana in 13? (That is where he moves, right? Indiana?) I mean, I personally love randomness in life in general (I use the word "random" all the time--my mother even used it in her post as sort of an ode to me), but I think it takes away something from the quality of a show. Would In My Life have been better without the lemon subplot? I don't know... when your show is going to be ridiculous no matter what, you might as well go all out... but, in general, some judicious editing is often wise.

Can they just stop giving these? Please? And, of course, Aiken is not nearly the worst of them, but he was the last straw in my mind. Can there be criteria beyond performing once on a stage and eating/drinking there? I mean, it's there place, so they totally should hang up their patrons, as they please, but, maybe I just want no coverage of it whatsoever. Because, when people cover it, it somehow makes it seem like a respectable honor. I think it used to be actually. Ah, how times have changed.

I am actually going to stop now because I want to sleep. Next week I am going to write a happier post (I hope). Meanwhile, two closings things... First, please go see Striking 12 if you never have. Lastly I want to take a moment to say something about the passing of Eartha Kitt, who was one of my father's very favorite performers. Eartha was one of those people who was exactly what you thought she would be like--a real personality. She was always very nice to me, even when I bombarded her with news questions. And she had such a presence on stage, even when she was not actually doing very much. You never lost Eartha on a stage. Of course, the news was mainly about Pinter this week (and, you know, that little holiday we had), but the loss of Eartha is a significant one in many ways. She was an old time perfomer--always giving the audience what they wanted. She never wanted to move on from the purring, she knew what people came to see.


Anonymous said...

There's more to a Sardi's caricature than appearing on stage. Walter Cronkite is an example. Clay is very famous and a popular celebrity who also spent 8 months starring in Spamalot on Broadway with great reviews. He definitely qualifies.

Ken Davenport said...

Thanks for the Altar Boyz shout-out. And here here on the Sardi's over cariactur-ing that is going on. Surely they've filled all the wall space by now. Where do they put the people that get bumped when semi-stars like Clay get a spot on the wall? Who makes that decision?

Jack said...

I beg to disagree. Sardi's exists as a time-warp to a long-lost Broadway past. I like both Max and Sean, and *never* eat there. Occasionally I will go for a drink at the 2nd floor bar. (Joe makes an excellent martini.)

Their audience is the not-especially-discriminating Broadway tourist / fan - exactly the sort of person who would be delighted to see a caricature of Clay Aiken up on the wall.

Sardi's struggles every year to survive. I give them credit for knowing their market and playing to it. Truly. Should we fault them if they take down long-forgotten semi-stars of yesterday? Does anyone think that Clay Aiken's portrait will be hanging in 30 years?

Let Sardi's be Sardi's.

And Joe still makes a great martini.

Erin said...

Hello, I would like to cordially invite you to see Susan Pak's new play, T.A.B., this Wednesday night at 8:30pm at the Here Arts Center, presented as part of this year's Downtown Urban Theatre Festival. T.A.B. is about Asian-American identity. Based on the true and tragic demise of a student by self immolation, T.A.B. explores the desire and ambition to be "American" and how it can drive model minorities to staggering acts of self-destruction. We are incredibly proud of this work and could use your support to ensure that this play's success doesn't start and end with this festival alone.

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