Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Theatre Week in Review: June 15, 2013

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

broadway-signMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil becomes a musical: Who better to adapt John Berendt’s Savannah-set, gothic best-seller than Atlanta native and Tony Award-winning author of such Southern works as Driving Miss Daisy and Parade? Ok, maybe there is someone better, but really, who cares when Rob Ashford is directing? Bring on the Johnny Mercer tunes, murdered prostitutes, closeted gay men and transgendered entertainers!

Douglas Carter Beane’s Lysistrata Jones to become a movie: And no one cares.

David Henry Hwang makes history with with the first-ever YouTube adaptation of a play — the very funny Yellow Face.

Mary Zimmerman, Orientalist? The director-playwright has adapted The Jungle Book — both the Rudyard Kipling novel and the Disney animated feature — into a musical to premiere at the Goodman in Chicago next week. In an interview with Chicago Magazine, Zimmerman made some troubling comments about the source material’s inherent racism, creating quite the stir in the theatrical community, and causing Silk Road Rising’s Founding Artistic Director Jamil Khoury to passionately take her to task for her “theatricalized Orientalism.”

I know what the lyrics of [“I Wanna Be Like You”] say, but look at the original—it’s sung by [white Italian American] Louis Prima. He’s the King of the Swingers. It’s something I think where the racism is in the eye of the beholder, you know? If you look at that as racist, doesn’t that say more about what you’re projecting on to the character? — Mary Zimmerman

But don’t worry, when Zimmerman heard about Khoury’s post, she asked him to coffee, where they kissed and (largely) made up, arriving at a better mutual understanding of one another.

Neil LaBute, internet troll or bitter playwright (or both): Within 15 minutes of Time Out posting David Cote’s lacerating review of Mr. LaBute’s latest play, the playwright himself proffered the first comment.

david: actually i have taught writing courses at various universities and workshops and my lesson plan invariably begins by having students read the collected works of George Steiner, who was clever enough to remind us that “a critic casts a eunuch’s shadow.” some shadows, of course, are more portly than others but their effect on mankind is basically the same. brief and passing. keep enjoying the free tickets while they last. nl

Hmm. Perhaps the playwright should take a glance in the mirror before calling someone else “portly.” And he probably shouldn’t make such a knee-jerk (and, ultimately, empty) response — but he’s done it  before. And before. Leave it to the critic, though, to have the last word (for now, anyway):

I wasn’t surprised to see that Neil made a comment… but  I was taken by the speed. Fifteen minutes! He might have written a new play in that time. If I were to review the comment, I’d say formulaic and lazily composed: one star. If he paid genuine attention to his critics, though, his work might improve.
— David Cote to Entertainment Weekly

But seriously, how great is all this drama? We just had the Scott Rudin-Patrick Healy takedown only a few weeks ago, and now we also have Melissa Errico‘s epically long and amazingly detailed blog account of her being “fired” from CSC’s acclaimed revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion. This is an embarrassment of riches, folks. I certainly want to see Reasons to be Happy now (brilliant PR move, Mr. LaBute).

The 2013 Tony Awards: Do they need comment? Well, ok, but Imma make it quick…

Kinky Boots won (sigh), Cyndi Lauper won (long sigh), Cicely Tyson wore something fabulous-slash-crazy and rambled about wanting “just one more,” theatre actors sang-complained that their television shows were cancelled (so maybe, y’know, stick with theatre?), Audra (love you, girl) awkwardly dueted a Broadway-ized “Empire State of Mind” with NPH who ratted the Hoops out for the extreme-close-up-live-singing! hack that he is, the ever-charming Billy Porter sweetly shared his Tony with co-star Stark Sands but is “gonna keep it at [his] house,” Pam MacKinnon won (grumble), Gabriel Ebert is just the cutest thing ever after those four little girls who weren’t allowed to be nominated, Kinky Boots won everything else… except book (sorry, Harvey).

And a little shameless plug: If you happen to be in New York this coming Wednesday, June 19th, come out to the Greene Space at 7PM for Baker, Gibson, Herzog: New Voices in the American Theatre, an event co-presented by TCG and WNYC (and organized by yours truly on behalf of TCG), a conversation with playwrights Annie Baker, Melissa James Gibson and Amy Herzog, moderated by Alexis Soloski, drama critic for the Voice. Details and discounted ticket info can be found here.



2 comments on “Theatre Week in Review: June 15, 2013

  1. brashleyspeaking
    June 16, 2013

    The Melissa Errico saga is my everything. Waiting with bated breath for the next installment!


    • Julie
      June 16, 2013

      It just keeps going and going and going… how much more does she have to say about it? Also, I think blogs that don’t allow comments are total vanity projects. I’d love to see what people would say in response to each of her posts.


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