Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Theatre Week in Review: June 22, 2013

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

broadway-signAn Apocalyptic Vaudeville: In CSC’s upcoming season, Mandy Patinkin will star with Taylor Mac in a “show that chronicles the rise and fall of humankind through music that runs the gamut from Sondheim to R.E.M.” Um. Isn’t it redundant to call something The Patink is in apocalyptic? I mean, in a good way. (I LOVE HIM.)

“A Kingdom for a Horse? No, but $64 for Parking”: For 17 summers, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has performed Hamlet and Love’s Labor’s Lost in a municipal lot in the LES. Now, the city wants to charge ’em for the parking spaces they’re “using.” Perhaps the grasping Department of Transportation should take in a show and learn a lesson from the Bard:

For I can raise no money by vile means.
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart
And drop my blood for drachmas than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection. — Brutus, Julius Caesar; Act IV, scene 3
Why critics don’t dwell on the use of an actor’s race in their reviews — even when such use makes them uneasy. SF Weekly‘s theatre critic, Lily Janiak, and others explore their responsibilities as critics.
“I saw another production that was supposed to feature an actor of color and I couldn’t tell what race or ethnicity the actor was. Momentarily, I wondered if should try to find out, but then I felt like I was being a bloodhound for the race police—not what I want my work as a theatre critic to be about.” — Nicole Gluckstern, SF Bay Guardian
Neil Patrick Harris to star in Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Considering the orgasmic reaction to this announcement, you’d think Olivier had come back from the dead to reprise his Hamlet. But no, it’s just another star-studded show on Broadway — albeit a good star in a good show, just in an entirely inappropriate space. Why is no one commenting on the fact that Hedwig doesn’t belong on a Broadway stage?
As her Circle Mirror Transformation receives its London premiere at the Royal Court, playwright Annie Baker discusses outmoded theatrical terms and the absurdity of a distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary.
“The world is an incredibly bizarre place… and I get frustrated when theatre tries to make it make sense.” — Annie Baker

“Is it time to rewrite the movie star-Broadway compact?”: Does this Los Angeles Times article have a point? It seems to be saying something like “movie stars who appear on Broadway don’t automatically receive accolades just for being movie stars” and “the best performances are by those who are relatively unknown.” …this is news?

Time Out offers 20 shows to see in New York this summer: Includes a Glee-like offering from Tarell Alvin McCraney, a zany musicalization of Love’s Labor’s Lost in the park and a horror show about a lesbian couple in Brooklyn and their creepy upstairs neighbor (Frankenstein Upstairs).

Bank on It: a show about the financial system … for five-year-olds”: Theatre-Rites, a London theatre company, has created a site-responsive promenade show aimed at introducing children to the world of finance. (Or, ahem, adults like me who don’t understand it either.)

Aaron Sorkin, future musical maven: The Newsroom and The Social Network scribe is “going to be doing a Broadway musical, and there will be plenty of extended dance sequences.” I’m imagining something Enron-esque. Please don’t disappoint, Mr. Sorkin.

The Associated Press ceases coverage of Off-Broadway: Another blow to the community, after Backstage canned its critics and the Voice let go of Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Feingold, just weeks ago, after four decades of service. (Thank you, TheaterMania, for scooping him up.) If we keep cutting critics at this rate, the New York Times really will, quite literally, have full control over New York theatre.

Daniel Radcliffe wows critics (this does not surprise me): The Harry Potter star plays a disabled Irishman in the West End production of the black comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan. But when the chatter about the use of race on stage never ceases, why aren’t we questioning the casting of able-bodied actors playing disabled characters? The Guardian‘s Lyn Gardner explores this issue in words; Theater Breaking Through Barriers explores it in practice.


Daniel Radcliffe (Billy) and Sarah Greene (Helen McCormick) in The Cripple of Inishmaan


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