November 30, 2010

A Daisy Blooms on Broadway

Driving Miss Daisy is one of my all-time favorite films (I even have the VHS tape to prove it!) I was most excited to hear that it was finally coming to Broadway, starring the radiant Vanessa Redgrave and the lustrous James Earl Jones. The bittersweet story of the unlikely friendship between a Jewish widow and her black chauffeur in the segregated South is oh-so delightfully funny and affecting.
In Ms. Redgrave's very capable hands, Miss Daisy Werthan is feistier than ever. And given Ms. Redgrave's stature, an even more imposing character. Although Mr. Jones's Hoke Colburn seems more frail than Morgan Freeman's iconic performance, his Hoke proves himself an equal match to her spirited ways. The repartee between characters is comedy heaven. The talented Boyd Gaines portrays the patient Boolie, Miss Daisy's son who also stands his ground against his very stubborn and opinionated mother.
The tale of two outsiders who somehow find a deep and lasting connection never fails to bring me to tears. Mosey on over to the Golden Theater to catch this gem of a show. Driving Miss Daisy is a must-see.
November 29, 2010

RIP, Leslie Nielsen

There are no words for how much I enjoy watching this man's movies and for how much I love his work. Thanks for all the laughs.
November 26, 2010

Barack's Book

Looking for stocking stuffers? President Barack Obama's first children's book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters was released last week. Loren Long's illustrations are absolutely lovely and vibrant, a visual treat to perfectly complement the President's stories about people who have changed the world. 100 % of proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to set up college funds for children of the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
November 25, 2010

Give Thanks

"Love After Love" by Derek Walcott

The time will come/ when, with elation/ you will greet yourself arriving/ at your own door, in your own mirror/ and each will smile at the other’s welcome,/ and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self./ Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart/ to itself, to the stranger who has loved you/ all your life, whom you ignored/ for another, who knows you by heart./

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,/ the photographs, the desperate notes,/ peel your own image from the mirror./

Sit. Feast on your life.


Happy Thanksgiving to our readers in the United States of America!

November 24, 2010

DVR Alert: A Sondheim Birthday Bash


Watch the full episode. See more Great Performances.

Great Performances on PBS will broadcast Sondheim The Birthday Concert tonight, Wednesday (11/24) at 9 pm ET/8pm CT. The concert honors musical theatre's greatest composer, Stephen Sondheim on his 80th birthday. Filmed at Lincoln Center, it features several talented actors on the same stage: David Hype Pierce (the host), Laura Benanti, Matt Cavanaugh, Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Jenn Colella, Jason Danieley, Joanna Gleason, Nathan Gunn, George Hearn, Blaine Hoven, Patti LuPone, Marin Mazzie, Audra McDonald, John McMartin, Donna Murphy, Laura Osnes, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Maria Riccetto, Bobby Steggert, Elaine Stritch, Jim Walton, Chip Zien, and Karen Olivo. For more info or to check local listings, please click here.

November 21, 2010

The View and Ms. Daisy


Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones visit The View and discuss their roles in Driving Miss Daisy. Lani and I will be seeing it in a few days and I am dying in anticipation. Please click on the photo above to view the video.
(photo from ABC.com)
November 20, 2010

The End is Near

Lynn was right. 20 seconds into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, I was weeping as a young witch cast a spell to erase her parents memories of her. Reading the book and watching the movie was an odd mixture of excitement, anxiety, dread, and grief. It was the same experience as seeing The Lord of the Rings trilogy end. How appropriate that this penultimate Harry Potter film is like the hobbits' quest to destroy the One Ring. (Even the horcrux locket makes its bearer angry and confrontational.)

While I was initially annoyed that they decided to make the last book into 2 movies, I understand why it was necessary. The voluminous final chapter cannot be made into one film. Kudos to director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves. The screenplay has the usual rapier wit (translation: repeat viewings to catch all the funny lines) while exploring dark themes of racism, prejudice, intolerance, and the tragedy of war. The Nazi-like soldiers, the bounty hunters, the atmosphere inside the Ministry of Magic---chilling. The movie also packs an emotional punch. And from an unexpected source. In a word, Dobby. And as HP readers know, there are more to come.

The world outside Hogwarts, like the real-life grown-up world, is scary. This is definitely not for little children anymore. The movie's palette is bluish gray, starkly beautiful, enhancing the isolation of Harry, Hermione and Ron as they try to find and destroy the Horcruxes. Their road trip of a (possibly shortened) lifetime will of course lead them to the Deathly Hallows, the most powerful objects in the wonderful but dangerous world of wizardry.

Favorites? The animation piece that recounted the tale of the Three Brothers was spectacular. The three actors who played the Ministry of Magic workers were spot-on. The 7 Harrys. The scene at Grimmauld Place where Hermione says they are alone. I loved seeing all the young lead actors come into their own. We get glimpses of the older characters, but this movie is theirs. Harry's solitude as the Chosen One; Hermione's loneliness and frustration, a talented witch not fully accepted by the wizarding world; Ron caught between his loyalty and jealousy towards his best friend. And of course, Dobby. I'm sorry I ever thought you were the Jar Jar Binks of the Potterverse.

This movie is like The Two Towers. It sets up the climactic, epic good vs. evil battle in the next installment. At least we Potterites have something to look forward to next year.


(photo from MoviePosterdb)
November 18, 2010

What Would Dumbledore Do?

Just in time for the opening of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows part 1, we would like to draw attention to the good work of real-life Dumbledore's Army: the Harry Potter Alliance.The non-profit organization was founded by (non-slacker) Andrew Slack with the goals of fighting poverty, illiteracy, social inequality, global warming, and even genocide. It recently celebrated its 5th birthday.

The group recently launched its Deathly Hallows Campaign, a campaign to destroy real-life horcruxes from November 2010 until July 2011. The first horcrux was revealed to be Starvation Wages. According to this article, "The HPA sent a letter to Time Warner inviting them to consider switching their Harry Potter chocolate merchandise to Fair Trade chocolate, thereby re-associating good labor and economic conditions with the Harry Potter name."

To donate, click HERE.


November 17, 2010

In case you missed it...

Barbra Streisand singing The Way we Were on Oprah.

Do You Hear The People Sing

Les Miserables celebrated their 25th Anniversary this past October with a concert at the O2 Arena in London. Tonight in movie theatres across the US, the concert, which was filmed, will be played for audiences for one night only.

The stellar cast include Alfie Boe as “Jean Valjean”, Nick Jonas as “Marius”, Norm Lewis as “Javert”, Matt Lucas as “The´nardier”, Lea Salonga as “Fantine”, Jenny Galloway as “Madame The´nardier”, Ramin Karimloo as “Enjolras”, Katie Hall as “Cosette”, Samantha Barks as “Eponine”, the casts of the Original Production at the Queen’s Theatre, the New 25th Anniversary Production at the Barbican, London and members of the Original 1985 London cast.

For tickets and information about this one night event, please click here. Apparently they are also releasing a DVD for this concert. Please click here for more info about the DVD.

(Photo from Fathomevents.com)
November 16, 2010

Get Her Outta My Face



Promises Promises castmates Kristin Chenoweth and Molly Shannon reenact some scenes from The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Click on the photo above to see the video.
November 15, 2010

Smell Like Old Hickory

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson star Benjamin Walker spoofs the Old Spice Commercial and it's bloody good!

November 14, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe Sings The Elements

Getting ready to star in his first musical next year (How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying), Daniel Radcliffe sings this tongue twister of a song called The Elements by Tom Lehrer. I love how committed he is in getting the whole song right!

November 13, 2010

Heroin Off-Broadway



Nope the title of this post isn't a misspell, it's really heroin as in the narcotic not heroine, the female lead in a play. I wanted to give kudos to NY Post writers Laura Italiano and Kevin Fasick who employed their creative writing and inserted Broadway shows into their report of a drug bust in the theatre district. Here's an excerpt of the article:

Mama Mia! (It should be Mamma Mia though)
Narcotics cops seized 28 pounds of dope from a theater district heroin mill yesterday -- a stash worth a Wicked $6.5 million.
The drugs were found at 417 West 43rd Street, inside a Next To Normal-seeming ground floor duplex just two blocks from Times Square, officials said. The residential building sits across the street from Actors Studio and a block north of Theatre Row....
Four alleged American Idiots are in custody in connection with the bust,...
The building's residents include elderly folks and parents with young children -- all of them quite upset with their Brief Encounter with alleged drug kingpins....
All four members of the alleged $6.5 Million Dollar Quartet are awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. They include two alleged druggies who happen to live uptown -- In The Heights.


Pretty clever! Unfortunately, this inside joke goes over readers' heads as irate readers complain about over capitalization in the comment section. To read the full article with the comments, please click here.

(photo from NY Post)
November 12, 2010

Silly Old Bear

I can't wait to see the new Winnie the Pooh movie next year. How lovely and refreshing to see a good old-fashioned 2D animated feature!
November 11, 2010

Tonys Move Uptown





The 65th Annual Tony Awards will be held on June 12, 2011, but will move Uptown to the Upper West Side at the Beacon Theatre. The theatre is located on Broadway and W. 74th. The move is brought about by Radio City Music Hall, the usual home of the Tonys, being unavailable next year because of a new Cirque Du Soleil show (Zarkana) playing there at the time of the awards.

To see a detailed panoramic view of the interior of the theatre, see this slideshow from the NY Times.


(third photo from Wikipedia.org, bottom photo from WestSideIndependent.com)

Happy Veterans Day!

Mandy Patinkin singing "You've got to be Carefully Taught" from South Pacific.



We thank and honor all those who have served and still serve their nations, especially in times of war. We pray for an end to hatred, intolerance, oppression, and war. Peace to all.
November 10, 2010

Broadway's 50 Most Powerful People





Broadway Space, a sort of Facebook type social networking site for theatre came out with their list of the 50 Most Powerful People on Broadway. See who made it to the list by clicking here. My favorite: Stephen Sondheim - No explaination needed. I would have to agree!
(photos from BroadwaySpace.com)
November 9, 2010

Red




When I saw the trailer for this movie with Helen Mirren and Mary Louise Parker, I knew for sure that I wanted to see it! Red is a movie about ex-CIA undercover agents forced to come out of retirement when they found out that they were being hunted down one by one by their former agency. It's an action comedy that also stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich as other "retirees". Mary-Louise Parker's character only gets involved with the group because Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) develops an infatuation with her. Her character, Sarah, a government employee, is in charge of sending Frank's pension checks. Frank, wanting to have a reason to call Sarah back, tears his pension checks when he receives them. The CIA finds out that Frank has been communicating with her so they think they might have a relationship. Because of this, Sarah's life is now also in danger that Frank decides to kidnap her to keep her safe. Ironic is it not?

What follows is a James Bond/Matrix/A-Team-esque action comedy to uncover the plot and their true nemesis. Though some parts of the plot are predictable or even too good to be true, the movie turned out to be really entertaining and quite enjoyable! Just seeing Helen Mirren brandishing that 50 calibre gun in her white gown is fun in itself. She also has some best lines in the movie. John Malcovich is spot on as the very paranoid Marvin Boggs. He does the quirky and bizarre perfectly. Karl Urban (of Eomer fame from LOTR) is William Cooper, the agent after them. He's pretty intimidating. There are twists and turns and some cameos from seasoned actors like Ernest Borgnine and Richard Dreyfus.

The movie may not be Oscar worthy but it surely is a fun night at the movies.

November 8, 2010

Protest Aimed At Scottsboro Boys



A group called Freedom Party protested outside the Lyceum Theatre last Saturday. It is where the musical The Scottsboro Boys is currently playing. The fliers from the protest claimed: "When is Racist Terrorism Musical Entertainment? Where is the Song and Dance Musicals about Gas Chambers, World Trade Center or Japanese Internment Camps?"

A response from Susan Stroman, the show's director, was obtained by the NY Times:
Ms. Stroman said she was disappointed that people who probably had not seen the musical misunderstood that the creators were not celebrating the minstrel tradition but rather using it to reveal the evils of the system.

“The trials were treated as if the boys were in a minstrel show” because it was such a farce, she said of the production. “The actors actually deconstruct the device in front of the audience,” and in the end, rebel against it".


I'd like to direct you to read this well written post by Jason Cochran who was an audience member last Saturday. He wrote about his experience as well as a great rebuttal to the protest. I'll be seeing the show with Lani soon and couldn't agree more with Mr. Cochran. This forgotten story has to be told!

(photo above fr. NY Times)
November 7, 2010

The Best Of All Possible Worlds



My only exposure to Candide is the concert version with Kristin Chenoweth and Patti Lupone that was broadcasted as part of PBS Great Performances. I enjoyed Leonard Bernstein's music then so when the Goodman Theatre announced that they were mounting Candide, I was really curious to see it live. This production of Candide is a joint project by the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC and is adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman.

Candide is a comedy based on the book by Voltaire. It's a story of chance and mischance. Candide is a young man and an illegitimate relative of a Barron in a place called Westphalia. He was brought up with his rich relatives, the Barron's family, where he spent most of his time with Cunegonde, the Barron's daughter. They both study under their tutor Dr. Pangloss who believes that Westphalia is the best possible place on earth. Things change drastically in Candide's life when he and Cunegonde declare their love for each other. His relatives throws him out and he now has to find his way in the world. What follows is Candide's adventure to reconnect with Cunegonde who's life has also changed severely after Candide's departure. In spite of all of these events, Candide remained the constant optimist.

It has to be mentioned that in this story, there are so may terrible things that happen to the characters but the story is told in a very funny and absurd manner making it actually light and enjoyable. Indeed, not a Debbie Downer! I do have to say that this production is long. And you feel it all the more in the second Act when Candide wanders through different lands trying to find his way back to Cunegonde. As an audience member you commiserate with him when his journey is stretched out by various turn of events. I found myself wondering whether he was ever going to find her again! And I already knew how this musical ended!

Geoff Packard (Broadway's Rock of Ages) played Candide with hopefulness and naivete very fitting for the character. Lauren Molina (also from Rock of Ages) played Cunegonde and her voice is as lovely as when I saw her play Johanna in John Doyle's Sweeney Todd. She was seductive and piquant but also portrayed the tragic really well towards the end that I found myself very moved. Hollis Resnik was hilarious as the Old Woman as well as Erik Lochtefeld who played Maximilian, Cunegonde's brother.

The stage for this show is very sparse with oak paneled walls surrounding the stage. Parts of the walls would open and close when characters would enter or props would come in. The wood panel envelops this world which is created on stage. Mary Zimmerman's staging of the show is very, very interesting. It's full of imagery and good old fashioned stagecraft that makes it so creative. Imagine, so many major events happening (eg. earthquake, war) with no special effects but only theatrical stagecraft! It's rare you see that these days. For instance, the war scene, Ms. Zimmerman had her actors wearing opposing military regalia tossing balls that looked like cannon balls across the stage as if they were playing dodge ball. To show how much lives were lost during the war, actors in uniform would pour out toy soldiers from a bucket onto another bucket. It's very simple yet, so deft. There are so many more scenes where the staging is cleverly done throughout the play and they just added playfulness to this comedic story. I truly enjoyed it.

Candide just ended it's run here in Chicago last Sunday, Oct. 31 but for those in the DC area, the show plays at Shakespeare Theatre Company from Nov. 26, 2010 to Jan. 9, 2011. For more information, please click here.

Here are some photos:





November 4, 2010

Broadway says "It Gets Better"

Broadway.com, Broadway Impact, BCEFA and a slew of Broadway actors band together for this PSA for the Trevor Project speaking to youth and young adults in crisis. This stems from the recent reports of bullying and suicides involving gay teens. Let's stop the bullying! If you know a friend or loved one in crisis, please contact: TheTrevorProject.org or ReachOut.com

The video above was created by Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell and Matt Vogel and features the following artists:

George Akram, Jack Anderson, Bryan Batt, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Chris Boneau, Kevin Broomell, Danny Burstein, Charles Busch, Kevin Chamberlain,Tony Chiroldes, John Ellison Conlee, Wilson Cruz, Josh Cruz, Robin De Jesus, Colman Domingo, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Joanna Gleason, Judy Gold, Robyn Goodman, Michael Graziano, Ann Harada, Richard Jay-Alexander, Cherry Jones, Mois├ęs Kaufman, Zoe Kazan, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Tom Kirdahy, Nathan Lane, Andrew Lippa, Jose Llana, Anna Louizos, Melissa Rae Mahon, Tyler Maynard, Audra McDonald, Michael McElroy, Terrence McNally, Ray Mercer , Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jerry Mitchell,
Julia Murney, Denis O'Hare, Rory O'Malley, Karen Olivo, Sarah Paulson, Corrie Pond, Billy Porter, Anika Noni Rose, Seth Rudetsky, Thomas Sadoski, Luis Salgado, Chris Sarandon, Tom Schumacher,
Marc Shaiman, Christopher Sieber, J. Robert Spencer, Leslie Stifelman, Jason Tam, John Tartaglia, Lucy Thurber, Alexandria Wailes, Scott Wittman, Garrett Zuercher
November 3, 2010

Soliloquy on B

The great thespian Patrick Stewart gives a soliloquy on B.....A B or not a B that is the question.....

November 2, 2010

Music for Piano and Cello



Our good friend, Victor Asuncion was in the area last Thursday (10/28) and performed at Northwestern University with cellist, Lynn Harrell. The recital was at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston. So Tom, Jon and I made sure we were in the audience that night. I must confess that I'm not very astute in terms of symphony or chamber music but I do know when music is pleasing to my ears and that night was one definitely pleasurable. I have to say that hearing music that featured a cello is very fresh and unique since I've never had that chance to experience that before. I particularly enjoyed the Requiem For Three Cellos (David Popper) which Mr. Harrell performed with Northwestern students, Emily Hu and Julia Young. The piece involved them playing in the round where one cellist would start then after a few bars of music the next one would play the same notes and then the third would join them. Each cellist also took turns playing the lead. Very playful and lyrical. I did really love Victor and Mr. Harrell's Sonata in D, Major Op. 102, No. 2 by Beethoven mainly because it was amazing to see them play so in sync. You could tell they've played with each other several times. We were also perfectly seated so we could see Victor's fingers tinker those piano keys with combined ferocity and delicacy when the piece called for it. But most of all, it was just pure delight to see a friend on stage.

Here are some photos I took that night:

The Pick-Staiger Concert Hall of Northwestern University in Evanston


Victor and Lynn Harrell before they started playing


Here's a close-up


Brava!


The playbill (do they call it that for recitals?)

Get tickets to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson!

Today is a huge day for the U.S., and to celebrate Election Day, you can get a chance to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson from excellent seats. Select orchestra and mezzanine seats are available for $50 through November 24, and you can bag them by using the code BBJVOTE at BroadwayOffers.com.
November 1, 2010

Broadway's Little Angel

Shannon Tavarez who played young Nala in the Lion King lost her battle with Myeloid Leukemia according to this article from Broadwayworld.com. She was only 11. Our thoughts and prayers go to her friends and family.

(photo from Broadwayworld.com)

Sanity and/or Fear Restored

Waiting at the Metro train station in Maryland wearing our Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear merch. All proceeds from the sale of the merchandise went to the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the Trust for the National Mall .
Fellow rally-goers, 30 October 2010
Estimates of the crowd range from 150,000 to 250,000. Everyone was polite and reasonable :)
Many people are putting down Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as mere clowns. The fact that they struck a nerve with the silent majority, ordinary citizens who just want the bile, anger and hatred to stop, disproves that.
Performers included The Roots, John Legend, Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, Sheryl Crow with Kid Rock, the O'Jays, Jeff Tweedy with Mavis Staples, and a terrific a capella song from Tony Bennett.
Mythbusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman made us all do the Wave, laugh, cry, jump. (Hard to explain. You had to be there.) 4 Troops sang the National Anthem. SNL character Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) gave the "benediction".
Sam Waterston read a poem written by Stephen Colbert. It was so funny hearing these words coming out of Sam Waterston's mouth. Kareem Abdul Jabbar put in a surprise appearance, as well as R2D2.
The Daily Show correspondents were all present.
Putting hands in the air as Yusuf Islam (AKA Cat Stevens) sang Peace Train.
We were treated to an original song "Greatest, Strongest Country in the World". We all know Stephen Colbert can sing, but Jon Stewart apologized that we had to hear him sing. He promised to never do it again. It was a perfect sing-along song, too.
Our vantage point. And this was me zooming in on the screen while standing on tiptoes. Oh my aching calves!
The comic duo also gave out Sanity and Fear awards.


the stage after the rally
Currently named the most influential man as well as the most trusted man in America, Jon Stewart, on the Jumbotron. Read and watch his stirring, powerful speech here.

Stephen Colbert on the Jumbotron. These 2 men and their writing staff deserve al the Emmys they have received. Stewart/Colbert 2012!
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