Monday, March 30, 2009

Ouzounian on the Toronto Theatre Economy

Great article in The Star, the second in a series, about the economic downturn's effect on the local theatre market. Click the header to check it out. And check the links bellow to read Ouzounian and Newstrucks' reviews for Shirley Valentine at CanStage. Anyone want to go?

Green Day's American Idiot to serve as the score for a new musical

I don't usually get a lot of theatre news from Perez Hilton; but I did read on his blog today that Green Day are in collaboration with Michael Mayer, of Spring Awakening fame, to transform their 2005 album American Idiot into a musical. The Show is being produced for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley California. The BRT is a very well known local theatre company and has been involved with a number of new works. I think this sounds like a really interesting project and could be great. Can't wait to see what happens.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sharron Rocks

A few of the Fashion Crimes peeps and I made it out to Buddies in Bad Times to see the March installment of of Sharron`s Party. Check out the clip below and then get out for the second show tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

33 Variations

One nice plus side to this recession is that it makes theatre tickets, even for the hottest shows affordable again. Last Sunday I had to opportunity, for thirty dollars, to see Jane Fonda in 33 Variations. 33 Variations is the new play by Moises Kaufman, famed writer of the Laramie Project. Variations boosts a fantastic cast, standouts include Ms. Fonda, as the prickly musicologist Katherine Brandt, who fights her daughter and her failing health by heading to Bonn, Germany to complete a book about Beethoven's famous 33 variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli. Other standouts include Colin Hanks, of Mad Men, as the nurse-turned-lover of Fonda's daughter who ends up travelling to Bonn and assists in the final months of Brandt's life. I also loved Susan Kellerman as Brandt's colleague and friend Dr. Gertrude Ladenburger.

The script juxtaposes Brandt's work and death with that of the original inspiration Ludwig van Beethoven, played with aplomb by Zach Grenier. And the story works. Separated by 200 years Brandt and Beethoven's connection is well concocted. The set also adds in the fluidity of the script. With panels of sheet music acting as mobile walls that travel around the stage, hiding and revealing the actors of the two time periods. Additionally the script calls for a pianist who plays throughout the work. The addition of a live musician adds exponentially to the overall experience. And some of the most moving scenes, in particular one in which Grenier, as Beethoven, describes the music he is writing as Diana Walsh, the pianist/musical director, plays.

Some elements of script are not as strong as the overall piece. And a lot of the dialogue sounds didactic, and overly expository. There are moments in the writing and directing that feel overly scripted and staged, but all in all those moments don't overshadow the piece which is compelling and fascinating to watch. Fonda, who hasn`t been on stage in nearly 50 years, had a few line flubs the afternoon I saw the show, and in talking to others it is a recurring problem. But, she has an incredible amount of lines in this piece, and as the story progresses she is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s, so it mattered less and less, and her stage presence is wonderful. She is perfectly cast. I felt Samantha Mathis, as Claire Brandt, Fonda's daughter was not as strong, but I couldn't decide if it was her acting, the direction, or the script that let her down. My only other slight criticism was that the second act dragged in comparison with the first, and while the story wraps up nicely I thought the second act could have been tighter. But if you are in New York, I wouldn't miss 33 Variations.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

City of Angels

City of Angels opens tonight at the Isabela Bader Theatre. The show only runs through Sunday so be sure and get your tickets early. Click here for details.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hitchhiking Across America

In honor of Justin and my current travels I thought I would post this video of one of my favourite William Finn songs

I am also posting this as a apology for not writing a revue of A New Brain, which I saw a few weeks ago with Newberry. Ryan Kerr and I did have a dish session about it, but now that the show has closed it seems irrelevant to post a revue. I will say that overall I thought it was a great show and that both Thom Allison and Steven Gallagher were fantastic, the former for his incredible voice and the later for his his all around commitment and vulnerability. I am looking forward to what Acting Up Stage does next.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gawker does a NYC theatre round-up

I read Gawker quite a bit, because I find so much of their stuff to be hilarious, and wit is a welcomed addition to news reporting. But today I was pleasantly surprised to see Richard had done a theatre round-up. It isn't very in-depth but it is great to see Broadway and all the recent star power on the Great White Way getting so much press. Click here to see Gawker's theatre round-up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The reviews of the revival of Guys and Dolls is in ...

Guys and Dolls, one of everybodies all-time favourites has been revived for Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre. And according to Ben Brantley, who I almost always agree with, it sucks. This is bad news for me, because I never got to see the Nathan Lane, Faith Prince revival of the early 90's, which was revered, and I had been hoping I'd get to see this one. But now I am not sure it's worth the $90 + a ticket. Click the link to read the full review. Even the Globe and Mail's J. Kelly Nestruck reviewed G and D, he also thought it lacked chemistry and heart. Click here to read his review. Richard Ouzounian's review for The Star is here.

And yes, that is Lauren Graham, of TV's Gilmore Girls as Adelaide. Image courtesy of the New York Times.