Thursday, February 28, 2008


Cara is out of town due to a family emergency.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Come my little friends

So, Oscar night... Why did they have Amy Adams sing the boring song and Kristin sing the more fun one?

Anyway, let's talk about Campbell Robertson's "james earl jones curses" story. Why do more people notice it now than when Ned Beatty did it? Is it indeed, as the end of the story says, that it might be "the shock comes from watching the actor known from "On Golden Pond," "Star Wars" and CNN get so down and dirty?" Or is it a color thing? After all, those are the options.. and there are options...

One way of looking at why people didn't notice it from Beatty, is Beatty seems like he often does yell and scream and curse. Whereas I don't see James Earl Jones cursing. Mostly because James Earl Jones is more classical and mannered. Beatty seems like he could be a scrapper--so it wouldn't stick out when he did it.

The other way of looking at it, is because this is an all-black cast, people notice it because they think it is the producers' attempt to make the show more hip and urban. I know people who buy this reasoning. But, let me tell you, the only people who notice it and would have this viewpoint are theater people. Because it wouldn't really make sense for the producers to do this purposely--for people who are used to hearing curses and don't know Cat on a Hot Tin Roof--they won't notice them. Would a younger crowd really be more likely to recommend a show because people curse in it? I suppose you could argue that it makes the show seem more current and therefore younger folks would be happier with it, but, well, that's not true. Cursing isn't really a current thing. And, again, I don't think most younger people will notice them. Now, sure, you could argue that while they wouldn't stick out, they'd add to an edgy feeling, but I just don't buy it. If the play is going to seem dated, it's going to seem dated with or without salty language. (I've never used the phrase 'salty language' before and it feels very sailor--I love it.)

So, yeah, I'm backing the "James Earl Jones doens't seem like he would curse" approach. And I'm also fine with the curses... I don't think they add that much, but they don't bother me either. There are certainly shows with more!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

22% Cara

I am sick and have two stories due tomorrow. In other words, this isn't the time for post. But I love you all. Well, that's probably not true. But, whatever.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No Habla Espanol!

I just got back from Feeling Electric, er, Next to Normal. I really liked that young girl.

That observation is not related to anything else in this post.

So Celia fascinates me. I haven't discussed it on here before (I mean, since the post when I got home from it and shared with all of you the life lesson that when you sing your skin color changes) because I had pitched a story about it and I don't like to talk about story topics on here because, you know, conflict.... Anyway, now that Variety has written it, I feel free.

First I want to state a correction to something in the story. Gordon Cox (or some copy editor) wrote that the show played one English performance per week when it began... It was actually two. This makes a difference because it makes the leap to three seem, well, less dramatic.

Now moving on... The reason I am fascinated by it is it's showing that there is a market for commercial productions in Spanish. Puerto Rican Traveling Theater has done the 6/2 spanish/english divide before, but, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a major commercial production to do it. (Maybe some historian can tell me of one....) Does anyone remember Latinologues? That Broadway show toyed with doing all-Spanish performances but the producers were unsure of whether the formula would work. Celia clearly proves it does.

Will we be seeing more of this? Should In The Heights maybe do some Spanish nights? (If Spelling Bee can do "gay" night...) I think so. Clearly there is an audience who wants to come see Spanish-language shows. Because, I actually disagree with the Variety story in this sense... My friend at New World Stages has long said that the English nights are half empty. Now half-empty is of course better than the 90% empty I'm sure many other shows are, so, there is that... but, in general, people aren't really flocking to the English nights. I'm actually not sure why they added another one, other than the fact that maybe they were hoping that with their new legit press agent and more mainstream press, they would need another one... But, regardless of this detail, no one would dispute that the reason Celia is still running is the Spanish nights. People flock to them. So why wouldn't other shows do it?

This is not the case where the musical was so amazing it worked in this one case. This musical is bad. Sure, the music is familiar and that helps... But I truly believe most of it is people craving this type of thing. I'm not, but, my cravings so don't matter. If they did, I'd run out of here right now to get waffle in a bag.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pipe cleaner ears?

Michael Riedel ended today's column by stating: "Let's hope that when they do find a Shrek, they don't put him in a green foam-rubber suit." Which leads me to the question--what do we want Shrek to look like? Ideally?

I don't know how many of you remember the Seussical costume debacle... During the press "sneak-peak" of the show pre-Boston, the team showed off drawings of Catherine Zuber's over-the-top costumes. She was creating some kind of fantastical world with giant costumes. Then the actors put the costumes on and, well, no one liked this ridiculous world... I think one of the actors said to me at the time something like "I feel like I'm a stuffed animal on parade." That sounds good to me, but, it wasn't meant in a good way. A few days into previews in Boston, word was out that Zuber was canned and William Ivey Long was in. (There was then an incident when Long told the cast to go out and buy their own yellow suits instead of wearing Zuber's old costumes.")

And so, from this little drama, I suppose we can say that big foam costumes are indeed bad in the eyes of many. But what is good? How do you bring a cartoon to life? The non-literal Little Mermaid costumes have been attacked. So can you only go the way of The Lion King? Do we think Shrek should look like The Grinch except with ogre ears?

I mean--this is one of the natural difficulties inherent in these things.... And how can you overcome it? I honestly don't know. There is something to be said for reinvention, but clearly that has recently gone awry... There is also something to be said for wanting the figure onstage to look exactly like the image in your heard, but, then again, a giant foam ogre would look cheap and cheesy. Can there ever be a perfect medium? The Lion King has been praised for its look, but it is questionable whether that model will work time and time again.

Now, while many people think the score and the book are the most important parts of a musical (as they should), in the cartoon-to-stage projects, I think the costumes might be the most important thing to get right. You go too literal and you'll be berated. Too experimental and children will cry. Screw up the look and your book and lyrics won't matter much...

So, I look forward to seeing what they'll come up with at the end. As we know from Seussical, there is no way to tell now what will be up on that stage come fall.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who is that masked man?

I love how some things never in theater never die. They just keep coming up and up again. Like Lone Star Love. Is that over for good now? Maybe this last time buried it… maybe…

But this week we had Zorro, another one of my favorite “oh, it’s here again” musicals. Of course there were those dueling Zorro musicals in the late 1990s that did actually get done somewhere (I think). But then does everyone remember back in 2001 when Ricky Martin was reported to definitely be starring in the West End production of a different musical production of Zorro? Back then, John Gertz and Adam Kenwright had supposedly asked Robbie Williams to write the music. Remember?

Well, I’m just not sure if this is the same Zorro. I guess it is because Gertz and Kenwright were involved back then and they were involved now, as per Variety. So this is like the 5th team they’ve tried to get together? There was a reading of what I think was this version of the show last year in New York. The biggest name involved is now The Gipsy Kings.

But here is what confuses me—according to Playbill and a bunch of other sources the musical is based on Isabel Allende’s 2005 novel about Zorro. Now, other sources just have Allende “presenting” it. The show’s website doesn’t list her as a member of the creative team at all (though it does say she is producing the musical) and Stephen Clark is listed as the sole librettist and lyricist. (Note that at some point a few years ago Clark was on board just as lyricist and The Clearing scribe Helen Edmundson was writing the book—I don’t know what happened there.)

So does this mean everyone who is reporting that the musical is based on her novel is just suffering from sloppy reporting? Because then that clearly means this is all too confusing for the majority of people to follow. Well, it’s in these cases we’re lucky that like 200 people follow the theater this closely. No one will be confused because 20 people knew all this confusing background crap. Theater fans might remember the Ricky Martin thing, but probably not anymore. Though Allende is a best-selling offer… so maybe her fans will pay attention/care…. And therefore I guess there is a real question here.

My main point is—does the world really need this? Is this something they really needed to spend 8 years trying to get off the ground? Really? I hope it’s great, but…. Do we need more than one big budget musical with a masked man as its titular character? I know I don’t.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Short One...

This post is delayed, but it's still sort of going to suck. Sorry. Other things on my mind.

But I do want to talk for a few lines about this week's big off-Broadway news. So off-Broadway shows rarely, rarely recoup. We all know that. I can't tell you how bored I am with that subject. This week though, the production announced that Altar Boyz recouped. YAY! That's exciting. Now, here is what I find odd... I like Ken Davenport, I really do, I'm a big supporter. He was my star guest recently even. And so I am thrilled he is doing so well, but, umm, well, we got 3 releases on the same day each saying one of his shows recouped. Ummm... Did they all recoup the same time magically? Like no shows ever recoup, but not only did all three of his recoup, but they did it at the same time? Like triplets? Like a happy family? Or is it that they were holding onto the individual recoupment information until they could make a big splash? I think that. Anyway, this aspect of it made me laugh.

But let's just look at the Altar Boyz aspect--this is, again, great news. Most casual observers thought Altar Boyz was a hit a long time ago. That's the odd thing about theater--if the show runs over a year, people act like it's a hit, but often even those shows (and we're talking about both on Broadway and off) never make money. So, not that there are many non-theater savvy people reading my musings, but, if anyone stumbles across them, I want you all to realize that even longs runs don't necessary mean profits. Look at Jekyll & Hyde -- 3 1/2 years and what to show for it? Like--wouldn't you all think Naked Boys Singing recouped forever ago? But, no...

So, there you go, just a couple things to think about. Though there is no more exciting a topic that Corey Haim's Variety ad. So just think about that. For days.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Stay Tuned...

I rarely do this, but I must change my blogging schedule... New post tomorrow! So check late, late tomorrow or, actually, Friday.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Brain

Last week was a horrible, horrible week in my life. I can't even describe on here how bad it was. And yet the Young Frankenstein coverage made me laugh.

Sillerman and Brooks are doing a '$450 sucks' promo tour it appears. And the media is encouraging it. Now here is why this makes me laugh: they are all saying that the ticket price caused the backlash that led to the bad reviews. It's like: "If we hadn't done this, people would have focused on the art and that would have helped us a ton." Umm... actually... No. There still would have been ridiculous expectations attached to it and the product would still be just plain old ridiculous. They should be happy for any talk that takes away focus from the show.

And I love how in Variety, Gordon Cox writes about Sillerman: "his humility is refreshing." Umm... this is not refreshing, this is a desperate attempt to make it seem like the show is good. I mean, again, basically what he is saying is: "Sure, I screwed up, but without that, you'd think this was good... You were just trying to kill it because of me... and that's not fair..." That's not any better than the: "The audiences love Urban Cowboy" push.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that a real industry backlash would include a lack of coverage? When in fact this show gets more coverage that any other? And, let's rewind... Remember when The Producers set a high ticket price post-reviews and a bunch of the coverage hinted that, while rich people/tourists may spend the extra money to see the ultra-hyped show, the industry would turn on it. And yet that never happened--it was a Tony darling. Because, the truth is, if you have a good show, the industry will forgive your greed. There might be a slew of bad coverage, but, then, with a good show, all is forgiven.

When you have an Odd Couple or a Young Frankenstein, sure, you're in trouble, but you're in trouble whether you had a ridiculous price or not. It's true that people may expect more the higher the ticket price (like they expect more from on Broadway as opposed to off-Broadway), but critics aren't paying... And they may think: "Should a person really pay $450 for this?!?!" but if it's really good, they forget about that part because the $450 isn't coming out of their pockets.

Anyway, I just love the promo tour. I'm truly sorry I missed the Arts & Leisure panel. While it was going on I was in CA watching Tonya Pinkins perform to an audience of 30. Not as fun, I assure you.