Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Theatre Week in Review: April 12, 2013

A sampling of theatre news, reviews and humor for the week: on Broadway & beyond


Lucille Lortel Award nominations
were announced last week (my bad). The Best Musical and Best Play nominees include:

The Flick by Annie Baker
The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter
Cock by Mike Bartlett
Detroit by Lisa D’Amour
Bethany by Laura Marks

Dogfight with Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul,
Book by Peter Duchan
Giant with Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa,
Book by Sybille Pearson, Based on novel by Edna Ferber
Murder Ballad with Music and Lyrics by Juliana Nash,
Book and Lyrics by Julia Jordan
The Other Josh Cohen with Book, Music and Lyrics by
David Rossmer
and Steve Rosen
Skipppyjon Jones with Music by Eli Bolin,
Book and Lyrics by Kevin Del Aguila, Based on book by Judy Schachner

Buzzfeed dares to include two songs from Smash in its list of The 25 Best Broadway Songs about the Theatre, thus proving they don’t know the defining quality of a “Broadway song.” Hint: It needs to have been performed on Broadway.

“Putting on a play in L.A. has been equated with trying to build a snowman in the desert… But dozens of top-flight playwrights have chosen to build their lives in Los Angeles. ” Steven Leigh Morris of LA Weekly asks (and answers): Why be a Playwright in L.A.?

In an ironic turn of events following the national mourning of beloved film critic Roger Ebert last week, Backstage will cease all theatre and film reviews. Because if a publication devoted to theatre doesn’t publish theatre reviews, someone else will…? Arts journalists begin “death of criticism” panic.

London’s National Theatre is the model for arts funding. That is, if your country subsidizes the arts.

Speaking of the National: Nicholas Hytner will be stepping down as director in 2015. The Guardian‘s Michael Billington offers up some of Hytner’s greatest accomplishments. And Mark Lawson wonders Who Should Run It Next? Michael Grandage? Marianne Elliott? Dominic Cooke?

Jessica Goldstein of the Washington Post explores How Great Plays are (Eventually) Made, highlighting Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really Really as an example. It appears the  ‘great’ is relative. Colaizzo, asked how many rewrites the script went through, responds: “Probably 51.” Perhaps he should’ve gone through a few more. Really, really.

The Tempest, Jr.? Richmond Shakespeare creates a kid-friendly version of the Shakespearean classic. Artistic Director Jan Powell “thinks children warm to Shakespeare’s vocabulary and syntax faster than adults because they’re more easily absorbed by the story. She recommends first giving kids a three-minute synopsis… to orient them to the story and characters.” I’m just saying that if you give me a 3-minute synopsis of a the play, I’ll still have a hard time following, and I’m 31 years old with a degree in English Lit. So… good luck with that.

John Doyle, famous for his actors-playing-instruments-in-musicals-gimmick, has been named an associate director for NYC’s  Classic Stage Company‘s 2013-14 season, where he will develop his own projects for the company and help shape CSC’s new Musical Theatre Initiative, which launched with Passion. Here’s hoping he devises a musical version of The Tempest starring Mandy Patinkin playing the trombone. I hear it may help kids warm to the Bard’s syntax.

A million years later, Julie Taymor has reached a settlement in her epic legal battle with the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Taymor’s mum on the terms, but regardless, Spidey’s unstoppable. That little red-spandexed singing  arachnid is now eying Vegas, which, let’s be honest: It’s more than tacky enough to pull off.

Sheila Regan of the Twin Cities Daily Planet asks what can theatre companies learn from rock shows? Her conclusions include allowing people to use their cell phones (no comment) and “figur[ing] out ways to engage the audience.” Helpful.

New York City Center announces a new musical theatre series called Encores! Off-Center, which will feature three shows under the artistic direction of the composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change).  It begins July 10-13 with The Cradle Will Rock. Let the super-awesomeness commence.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is working on a musical adaptation of the Jack Black film, School of Rock. Also, apparently BBC viewers refer to him as “The Lord.” There are so many things wrong here.


I like to imagine that this small (and fabulous) child is speaking to “The Lord.”

2 comments on “Theatre Week in Review: April 12, 2013

  1. Anne
    April 12, 2013

    I think Sheila Regan is on to something here because essentially theatrical performances and rock concerts are the same thing. I mean, has anyone ever actually TRIED to figure out how to engage the audience? Also, I felt really sorry for her because she didn’t get to invite a friend to the show and her feet hurt from all the standing, which must have been difficult.


  2. Julie
    April 12, 2013

    🙂 And in that vein, how do rock concerts engage their audiences? (I’m seriously asking.)


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