Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Theatre Week in Review: June 29, 2013

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

broadway-signMatthew Morrison aims to open real-life “Glee Schools”: The Glee actor is hoping to launch his own international network of performing arts schools to combat school cuts in arts programs. It seems he’s very concerned that reality show contestants (American Idol, etc.) don’t know how to use their voices properly. Oh, and music might help kids do better in science and math, too.

Neil LaBute speaks up…again: The outspoken playwright who lashed out at Time Out theatre critic David Cote online last week  has, once again, responded to another review of his work. This time, it’s in the comments of Slant Magazine‘s review of the film adaptation of his Some Girls. But has the backlash to his Cote comments humbled the playwright? Perhaps: “I’ll think about some of the points you raise and keep trying to make the work better.”

Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan: When Sandra Bullock passed on the role — Sandy as Hannigan might’ve made me enjoy the treacly, unnecessarily overdone AnnieDiaz stepped in. Get ready to cover your ears during “Little Girls,” because this is some terrible casting.

Waitress… the musical?: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel will pen the script and Sara Bareilles, the Grammy-nominated singer of “Love Song,” will compose the score for a musical adaptation of the offbeat 2007 film starring Keri Russell. Behind the show are the producers of the current Broadway revival of Pippin: Does this mean  the actress playing Jenna will be baking pies whilst singing pop ballads whilst doing acrobatics?

A Time to Kill Heads to Broadway: Yet another movie-to-musical adaptation (sure, it was a Grisham book to start, but would Broadway producers consider it if it wasn’t a movie?). The only way this is interesting is if Sam Jackson reprises his role (Speaking of which… Snakes on a Plane: The Musical — why hasn’t this happened? Where you at, Fringe?)


Nearly 17 years after his death, Tupac’s Broadway dreams come true. (JK. Why is this happening?)

Holler if Ya Hear Me: In Broadway’s increasingly inane offering of musicals, we are given possibly the most ridiculous: The Tupac Shakur musical, produced by the rap legend’s mother. Directed by Kenny Leon,  the book — not, in fact, about Tupac but about two friends struggling to make their dreams come true (haven’t heard that one before!) — is written by the associate director of Leon’s production of Fences, and the movement will be by the choreographer of Wicked. Because, you know, hip-hop fans love a good Broadway musical about dreams coming true. (8 Mile the Musical — where you at?)

“Random House Project to Rewrite Shakespeare”: Authors “rework” the Bard’s plays. What does that even mean? Modernize? “Fix” the “problem plays”? WHY?

Five Ways to Make Theatre-Going More Enjoyable: The Guardian offers five so-easy-it’s-stupid ways to improve the audience experience. How about more than just two or three stalls in the ladies’ rooms? Eh? I’m looking at you, Cort, Golden, Lyceum….

It would be a relief if the foyers of theatres – even a spacious one such as the Globe – were not clogged up immediately before a show with queues of whey-faced punters waiting to collect tickets, while the poor person in the box office, thumbing through antiquated index cards, behaves as if she is retrieving a footnote from the Library of Congress. A quick flash of the mobile could prove your booking as you glide into the auditorium – and remind you to turn the phone off.  — Susannah Clapp

“Some Playwrights Get ‘Real'”: Itamar Moses, Jay Stull and other Off-Broadway playwrights use the platform of reality TV to discuss larger topics.

The audience as focus group: Producer Ken Davenport (surprise, surprise) uses “dial testing” to craft the most audience-pleasing, and therefore more profit-turning, musicals. Other producers react, and not exactly favorably:

“Did Michelangelo ask dial testers, ‘Do you like this part of David’s leg?’ ” said Emanuel Azenberg, a Tony Award winner and a producer for 45 years. “Did Beethoven ask, ‘Was the second movement too dull?’ This is scary. Do we want to test-market Broadway until it becomes a theme park?”



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