Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rosh Hashanah

Mr. Griset has added to the chorus praising “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with his review this week. Sycamore Rouge kicked off its season last weekend with the Langston Hughes-oriented joint, “Simply Heavenly,” that received a less than stellar assessment from Ms. Haubenstock.

The folks at Henley Street are initiating what sounds like an intriguing series of talk-backs this weekend and their “Merchant of Venice” is a great show to kick it off with. This is a show that almost demands conversation and processing. I really admire James Ricks and his company for choosing this show to produce and then really committing to a serious re-imagining of the work by placing it in a modern context.

My review in Style is going to be fairly short – once upon a time I would have had 500 to 600 words for a review. This one had to be trimmed to 350. It’s the sad reality of print journalism these days and particularly brutal when you are trying to cover any Shakespeare, let alone this Shakespeare. So I may talk about “Merchant” a couple of times in this space to flesh out some of my thoughts.

First off, it’s kind of astounding that the show will be running through the Jewish high holy days (Happy Rosh Hashanah, y’all!) The anti-Semitism in the play is bracing, there’s no getting around it. Mr. Ricks has said he has put the most clear anti-Semitic sentiments in the mouths of the lowest class characters, making the issue a bit more about class rather than overall cultural prejudice. I don’t know that this choice comes across so clearly, particularly in the modern context where, even though there are clearly class lines, we are told and taught that they don’t exist.

I also found the secondary characters laughing during Shylock’s “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” speech disconcerting. Beyond this being one of the more famous monologues in the canon, this speech is also a universal plea for understanding (and a little vengeance) on behalf of all victims of persecution. This seemed like part of the lower class idea, given that the snickerers were patrons at a bar, and as such was consistent in theory. But in practice, I simply didn’t like it.

However, on the flip side, there were many ways I thought the anti-Semitism issue was handled masterfully. Jeff Clevenger’s performance is exceptional. I saw his actions not at all as a rabid anti-Christian but as a battered individual, pushed by the last straw of his daughter’s elopement to try to exact brutal retribution against a world that had stolen his wife, employee, dignity, and finally, his daughter. Clevenger never lets you forget Shylock’s basic humanity.

Also, the infamous court scene had a significant change from the original text (unless I missed it somehow) in that Shylock was not forced to convert to Christianity, among all of the other indignities he is forced to submit to. Finally, there is the issue of Jessica. Her deportment at the play’s end is distinctly different from Jessicas I’ve seen in other productions. I won’t spoil this for you in case you haven’t seen it but it isn’t expected given her economic situation at the play’s end.

And, in the end, this is a play largely about economics, or the “commidification of relationships” as Mr. Ricks says in his director’s notes. As such, I think making Antonio into a female character is also a masterful change and one I may talk about further in another post.

But before I sign off and since I have “merchants” on my mind, I really am overdue in giving a shout out to the sponsors of the RTCC awards this year. We’ve really had a great stepping up of people in commercial ventures who are supporting the event. Among those who are helping us this year are Style Weekly magazine, which is giving us a bunch of advertising both online and in print as well as hosting the pre-event reception; 103.7 The River, a radio station guided by the fabulous Melissa Chase who has promised to put the word out about us this year; Gay, which is also providing us with scads of online advertising; Popkin Tavern, which is hosting the pre-event reception this year; Carreras Jewelers, which of course donated the great raffle prize of a gorgeous diamond necklace; and the extremely talented Jay Paul who is once again donating his photographic services to help memorialize the event.

Given how many “merchants” we have on board this year (not to mention the non-profits also supporting us, which I will at some other point), I’m a little surprised at the somewhat anemic ticket sales so far. Are people holding out until the last couple of weeks? Or have the awards kind of run their course and the excitement has passed? I’m really curious.

Regardless, I’m still excited about the big night and, while I’ll be disappointed if fewer people come than last year, I’ll also have a better chance at going home with that little Carreras bauble…

Monday, September 26, 2011


All three of the Times-Dispatch freelancers who cover theater were busy this past weekend. Ms. Haubenstock reviewed Henley Street’s “Merchant of Venice,” Ms. Lewis took a ride in “Becky’s New Car” out at Hanover Tavern and Ms. Wren gave some context to the Mill’s “Keep on the Sunny Side.” That’s a pretty impressive flurry of theater coverage.

I’ll be offering some thoughts on “Merchant” as early as tomorrow, perhaps, but I also want to put out a quick endorsement of the local university shows. Both VCU and U of R are kicking off their seasons with extremely interesting productions, “Shakespeare’s R&J” at the former, and “Trojan Women” at the latter. The U of R show, with a cast that includes the enthralling Alex Wiles from last year’s “Arcadia” at Richmond Shakespeare, runs for a tragically short one-weekend run. If you want to get some sense of what you’ll see if you go, see this interview with the insightful and interesting Dorothy Holland.

I know it’s a crazy busy season but these are a couple of productions worth checking out. Pass on the “X Factor” (you’ve see it all before anyway) and go see one of these shows instead!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sunny Side

You have to forgive me not writing (ok, you don’t have to, but I ask you to), but I’ve had so much reading to do. A review of “Keep on the Sunny Side” came out in the T-D yesterday and also in the Progress-Index (signaling the premiere I believe of actress-icon Una Harrison as a critic).

Reviews of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” showed up at GayRVA and on WCVE (or John Porter’s blog). JP’s rave about “Lend Me a Tenor” – complete with a general endorsement of farce -- aired last night while my “Tenor” review was oh-so-eloquently dismissed as a “book report.” Those anonymous commenters – they’re so insightful!

Also out there to read up on has been the previews of “Merchant of Venice,” which I’m looking forward to this weekend. This promises to be a production unlike any other “Merchant” you might have seen before and it’s in a new space for Henley Street, two significant endorsements for sure.

I promised to talk about “Sunny Side” but I won’t go on too much because Ms. Haubenstock expressed most of my thoughts for me. The heart of her review includes the phrases “historically interesting,” “musically delightful,” and “limp drama.” I think that encapsulates the show for me. The voices musical director Drew Perkins leads through the Carter Family canon are all excellent – I think I would have loved this show if it had been just a tribute concert. But I don’t think it works great as theater. There are a few too many “…and then this happened…” kind of transitions and not enough meaty interpersonal business to work through. This weakness was not helped on the night I saw the show (the last preview on Friday) when there were numerous lines of dialogue either dropped or repeated.

But there were unmistakably magic moments, too, most of them when stage novice Jackie Frost was given room for her voice to reach its full-throated glory. I was introduced reluctantly to old time music decades ago by my lovely wife and have since come to appreciate the simple beauty of Carter Family standards like “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” and “Worried Man Blues.” Most of the songs are delivered with energy and clarity by gifted musicians like Emily Cole, David Janeski and Lucas Hall. Multi-instrumentalist Ms. Cole should think about a putting a concert together; I know I’d go.

Each of the cast members has his or her strength. Mr. Hall has a great scene to really chew some scenery as Dr. Brinkley and he makes the most of it. As I’ve expressed here before, I adore Ali Thibodeau’s voice and she kicks off the show with a great take on “Will You Miss Me?” But since she’s playing one of the next generation Carters (Janette), she doesn’t get as much front-and-center performing time, which is too bad. Mr. Perkins does a fine job as the somewhat drifty patriarch A. P. Carter, though I think it’s a curious challenge to give a focused performance of a distinctly unfocused character. Still, at the show’s end, his transition into the elderly A.P. is subtle but distinct.

One of the things I will remember most about this production is the gorgeous set. Director Tom Width has outdone himself with this set design, with a big assist from Adam Dorland and his vibrant scenic backdrop, not to mention the typically lush lighting by Joe Doran. The rendering of a log cabin’s front porch looks so cozy it’s hard not to want to join the cast on stage and spend some time working the rocking chair.

Susie also mentioned “historically interesting,” and I have to admit that one of the first things I did when I got home was Google the Carter Family. It was also great to see the neat YouTube clip that Emily Cole found of the real Sara and Maybelle Carter introduced by Johnny Cash. So, while it may not have invigorated me with dramatic intensity, “Sunny Side” certainly provided some diverting songs and a sparked interest in a slice of music history.

If your bent is historic, you have two shows opening this weekend that should appeal, the previously mentioned “Merchant,” plus “Simply Heavenly” at Sycamore Rouge, which is grounded in the historically significant stories of Langston Hughes. If you just want comic drama, “Becky’s New Car” out at the Tavern may be a better choice. Regardless, there is kind of an embarrassment of riches on local stage right now. What better way to spend a rainy weekend then at a show or two, no?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Interim

Here's a link to my review of Barksdale's "Lend Me a Tenor." Still nothing from the T-D on "Keep on the Sunny Side." However, at the T-D site you can find a link to this news story on a new musical in development based on the film "Diner," significant among other things for the foray of Sheryl Crow into the stage world.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What a difference a valet makes

The season of Tennessee Williams is now in full force. Both Style and the Times-Dispatch have done stories on the Williams festival in the past week and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” has opened to at least one largely positive review. How can you not love it? Big characters and intense stories and all sorts of interpersonal craziness. A fall full of Williams will make us all grateful to be able to go home to a relatively quiet and normal life after the curtain falls.

I’ve yet to see a review of “Keep on the Sunny Side,” the cheery and tuneful musical that opened at the Mill this past weekend. I caught the last preview on Friday and will talk more about the production on Thursday. My review of “Lend Me a Tenor” should show up in this week’s Style (crossing fingers, still haven’t had it confirmed by my editor…) Ms. Tupponce chimed in on “Tenor,” adding to the chorus of those who have enjoyed the rollicking farce. The mini-blogosphere-firestorm that erupted after the first “Tenor” review seems to have died down, though I’m still fielding any comments on the objectivity-subjectivity discussion. If you want to just bash people, I’d prefer you’d go elsewhere but I’ll field those comments as well.

Some additional news on the RTCC front: we have secured a donor to subsidize valet parking for the awards event. So if you don’t want to wander up and down Broad Street looking for a space on that Sunday night, you can just pull up to the under-construction Empire Marquee and stroll right in, leaving the search-n-park job to someone else.

It may seem like a small thing but valet parking is one of those little amenities that make an event seem more special, a little more luxurious, and a lot more convenient. It also means that that extra 10-15 minutes that you usually budget to find a parking spot and walk to the theater can be spent IN the theater, voting for the People’s Choice award, catching up with friends and colleagues, or enjoying a refreshing beverage. Won’t that be nice?

Check back here on Thursday for more on “Sunny Side” and, in honor of the positive attitude title song, a few local media-related appreciations.

Friday, September 16, 2011



I appreciate you taking the time to respond with your clearly stated and rational comments (as opposed to “Humble Opinionator’s” self-important and ridiculous ramblings…but I’ll get to that in a second…) I don’t agree with the bulk of your perspective, however, and I think you hold theater critics to an impractical standard. I remember when reality TV first became a big thing, I read plenty of stories by plenty of TV reviewers whose message was (either explicit or implicit): “god, I can’t wait for this reality TV fad to pass.” Then at some point they all seemed to heave a collective sigh and realize that it wasn’t going to pass and so now they grit their teeth and do their best. You can still read the same kind of bias in reviews of “torture porn” movies like the “Saw” franchise, a reviewer saying, “this stuff is generally crap but this is how this crap rates against all of the other crap.” For a more immediate and local example, Daniel Neman used to call out almost every movie that had some “daddy issue” at it’s foundation. He had obviously tired of those kinds of movies, but he went on reviewing them.

Should editors hire a specific reality TV critic to just cover that beat because every other critic hates the genre? A specific “torture porn” critic to cover those movies? A specific stage farce critic to cover “Lend Me a Tenor?” That would be impractical and that’s why no one does it.

There are three points I think are worth making: first, a theater critic has a job to do. At your job are you often given the liberty to “pass on assignments” that don’t endanger you or aren’t morally reprehensible but are simply not your favorite thing? If you do, I want your job.

Second, yes, I absolutely agree that if a critic has a passionate distaste for a specific genre, they should not review shows in that genre. But if their distaste is so passionate that it impairs their ability to deliver a coherent review, he or she shouldn’t really be a critic at all. Say what you will about Susie’s review, but it is well written and coherent, reflecting careful consideration of technical elements, direction and performance. You may not like the way she did her job but you can’t argue that she didn’t do it. I, like Susie, rank farce near or at the bottom of the genres of theater that I enjoy. That doesn’t mean I (and I expect Susie) prefer being poked in the eye to seeing a farce. I don’t want to be taken off the “farce beat” because farces aren’t my favorite. Why? Because I love theater in general and so an evening spent at even a mediocre “Lend Me a Tenor” (which Barksdale’s production isn’t) would be more enjoyable for me than a night watching, for instance, the best “torture porn” movie in existence.

Third, part of the artistic experience involves surprise. How many men are dragged to a romantic comedy with their wives or girlfriends and actually end up, against every expectation, enjoying the experience? If you asked such a guy afterwards, his summary might be “You know, I don’t generally like these kinds of movies, but this one was pretty good.” I know as a critic I go into a farce bracing myself for the worst. And whether I state it explicitly or not, my review will reflect an underlying attitude of “you know, I wasn’t expecting to love this but I did.” On the converse side of things, I love “Godspell” and “Les Mis” and plenty of other shows and there are times I’ve come out of certain productions feeling “you know, I generally love ‘Les Mis,’ but this production just didn’t measure up to my expectations.” These kinds of reactions are an inescapable aspect of the subjective artistic experience and they can’t be extricated from it, no matter who the audience member is, critic or non-critic.

As far as “Humble’s” extended tirade goes, there are so many ways I could respond that I’m a little at a loss at where to start. Perhaps with: as good a writer as you may be, HO, you’re an awful reader. You title your rant, “An Answer to Some of Dave’s Questions About Subjectivity and the Function of Critics.” I wrote exactly one sentence in my post that could be construed as a question, which was “how exactly [is] a critic…supposed to review a play “for what it is,” in other words, in some completely objective manner.” In all your extended spewing, you didn’t come close to answering that question.

What you essentially did was take the opportunity to randomly and anonymously bash all of Richmond’s critics while taking broad swipes at the local artistic community as well. Bravo! Quite a feat, that!

I would give some credence to some of your comments if they didn’t start from a foundation that undermines everything that follows. You say, “I have seen exactly zero truly critical reviews written with the aesthetic and mastery that is the standard for critique. Very loosely defined, a critic is someone who writes for a publication or blog about what they see.”

By applying some ridiculous standard that nullifies everything I’ve ever written, you have lost my interest in anything you have to say. If I am not a critic by your standards, why should any supposed insight you have about critics apply to me? And furthermore, by misunderstanding the basic idea of a “strictly-defined” critic – that is, someone who is a paid journalist doing a job for their employer, who strictly-speaking only has to answer to that employer and not every idiot with grandiose ideas – your succeeding assertions are essentially worthless. Thanks for playing, though, and as strong as your opinions are, I hope you take a step out from behind your cowardly anonymity and try being a critic yourself some day. I’m sure my fellows in the RTCC could gain a lot of backbone under your guidance.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


No matter how many raves critics write, they rarely make everyone happy. When they pan something people like, they get called nasty names. When they laud a show someone else doesn’t like, they get dismissed as toadies for the theater company. If they praise something but do it in a way that someone doesn’t like, they still get flack.

I’m not “boo hoo-ing” here: This is the nature of the game, it has been the nature of the game for centuries and anyone who has written anything evaluative or critical for mass consumption should not be surprised by it at all. In the space of just two responses to my post on Tuesday, critics in Richmond were categorized as “not knowing how to write a proper review,” were accused of not having any idea why they like a production, and were called “unethical.” After writing reviews for 13 years, none of this surprises me anymore. The artist / critic interaction is fraught with tension so emotions run high. That’s part of what makes it interesting.

With that perspective, Mr. Miller’s arguably ill-considered response to Ms. Haubenstock’s review of “Lend Me a Tenor” didn’t surprise me. I know theater artists often have a strong reaction to a review even if it is largely positive. The post he subsequently removed had some very interesting and certainly valid opinions.

However, there was one question in it that surprised me. “Why is it too much to suggest that critics should write informed, OBJECTIVE reviews that evaluate each play…for what it is, not for how it appeals to them personally?”

Let’s be clear: all reviews are subjective. To suggest some reviewers write subjective reviews and others write objective ones is simply not accurate. We are all of us shaped by our histories, our genetics, our gender, our race, our religious beliefs, and any number of other factors. Even when these factors are not obvious in something a critic writes, they are there.

Ms. Haubenstock wrote a review where she stated a bias upfront: she doesn’t generally like farces. She then went on to say how good “Lend Me a Tenor” was. As a critical construct, this kind of review is actually a way to amplify a complimentary review. One way of looking at it is to think “Even someone who doesn’t like farces liked this show; it must be really good.” Of course, that isn’t how everyone would choose to look at it.

But imagine if Ms. Haubenstock thought “Tenor” was wretched and wrote a review ridiculing the unbelievability of the plot, the broadness of the acting, and the infantilism of the jokes. Many people would immediately assume “well, she obviously just doesn’t like farces.” There is a Catch 22 here: State your bias and be lambasted for that. Don’t state your bias and have it assumed anyway.

I’m also curious about how exactly a critic is supposed to review a play “for what it is,” in other words, in some completely objective manner. It seems to me that restricting a review to just the aspects that one can be truly objective about – the plot, the technical elements, the reaction of the audience (perhaps), the ability of the actors to remember and recite their lines – leads to the type of “book report” reviews that also raise people’s ire. Another Catch 22: Write subjectively and get criticized for your opinion. Write “objectively” and get criticized for your lack of opinion.

These are just two of the many paradoxes critics get caught in. A comment below wondered how much “professional theater experience” critics in Richmond had. Well, first off, critics are journalists not theater professionals. But put that aside and you quickly get to another paradox: If a critic is too much a part of the theater world, he or she is clearly biased. If a critic isn’t at all a part of the theater world, then they are ignorant and have no business evaluating it.

I was very lucky this past June to take part in a program with 25 other arts journalists from around the country. As part of this program, one of the editors involved in the program, Michael Phillips, gave a talk about criticism and being a critic. Phillips writes about movies for the Chicago Tribune and had a brief stint on the TV show “At the Movies,” taking over for the ailing Roger Ebert. He started the talk with three main guiding principals for critics:
-- Be brave,
-- Be specific (without specifics, reviews are just assertions without backup), and
-- Screw the ‘o’ word (objectivity). Your goal should be informed subjectivity.

The way I choose to interpret what Mr. Phillips said was: there's no way to remove subjectivity from the reviewing process. So the job of a critic is to temper that subjectivity with as much knowledge and clear critical thinking as possible.

I have my own opinions about the critics currently writing in Richmond and, for the most part, they are pretty high. That’s because I know something about most of them and I believe that they are pretty well informed, as well as generally fair in their evaluations, rigorous in their research, and clear in their writing. They take their job seriously and beyond their exorbitant pay (ha!), they do what they do because they enjoy writing and love theater. And just the number of productions they see every year informs them about the Richmond theater scene to a degree well beyond the average arts consumer.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my problems with certain reviews that get published (those that lean toward “book reports” are far from my faves, for instance). But the one thing I know about every single review I’ve read here (or anywhere else, for that matter): it is the product of an individual’s subjective evaluation. Ms. Haubenstock put her subjectivity front and center in her “Tenor” review. But even when it isn’t stated so plainly, you can rest assured it is there.

On to less contentious matters: two big openings this weekend, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Firehouse and “Keep on the Sunny Side” at the Mill. Each is the story of a southern family, though I expect with entirely different issues as their central focus. I can imagine an interesting mash-up of the two: “Keep on the Sunny Side of a Hot Tin Roof?” I think Tennessee Williams set to music would be pretty entertaining.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crossing in Cyberspace

At about the same time I was posting my entry below, Mr. Miller at Barksdale was posting a pointed response to Ms. Haubenstock's review. I'd check it out soon because it may end up being one of those posts that don't stay on the blog for long. I have some thoughts about Bruce's comments but it'll be a day or so before I have a chance to process them and they may prove ultimately irrelevant. The mulling over begins...

Lend Me a Corkscrew

While Hurricane Irene and the end of summer combined to knock me off my regular blog posting rhythm, the Barksdale Buzz has been picking up the slack with Mr. Miller posting a number of entries coinciding with the beginning of the new theater season. And then yesterday Barksdale guest blogger Annie Hulcher debuted to much appreciation and anticipation (at least by me). Ms. Hulcher is one member of a delightful coterie of teen theater stars in Richmond, many of who lit up the stage in SPARC’s “Ragtime” this past summer. Beyond her significant talents, she has always impressed me with her quick wit and obvious intelligence (you don’t get into Maggie Walker Governor’s School on good looks alone…) I’m very much looking forward to her fresh and insightful view of the goings-on over at Barksdale / Theatre IV.

Ms. Haubenstock’s review of “Lend Me a Tenor” came out today and she mentions an opening night prop malfunction involving a wine bottle. I make reference to the same incident in the review I filed this weekend that should hit newsstands next week. For those who weren’t there, we are referring to a scene involving opera star Tito Morelli (played by Joe Pabst) trying to open a bottle of wine with the help of Max (Nick Ciavarella). On opening night, Joe and Nick were having trouble getting the cork out of the bottle and, after some effort, ended up stripping it so the cork simply wouldn’t come out at all. At which point, a vaguely confused audience realized without a doubt that the mishap was not scripted.

This set off a mini-maelstrom of improvisation by Mssrs. Pabst and Ciavarella, trying in vain to work around the situation, Nick at one point rushing into the kitchen and offering coffee instead. The ultimate solution involved the actors using the corkscrew as a bludgeon, boring through the cork enough so a piddling stream of wine could finally be shaken out of the pesky bottle.

It was the kind of scene that proves the endless appeal of live theater where you truly don’t know what’s going to happen from one performance to the next. The audience ate it up, hooting and guffawing appreciatively at every effort the actors made to rectify their predicament. It was also one of the supreme tests for a professional actor and both Mr. Pabst and Mr. Ciavarella showed his meddle under pressure. While it was impossible not to concede in their reactions that this was not supposed to be happening, neither one dropped character and their actions were completely consistent with the trajectory of the story. Perhaps my favorite part was when the wine finally started to pour and Pabst said (and I’m paraphrasing as I was laughing too hard to catch it exactly), “That’s a some glass of wine!” which effectively brought the house down.

There are many reasons to recommend “Lend Me a Tenor” – it’s a rollicking farce with a winning cast expertly led through their paces by Scott Wichmann. But opening night provided an extra incentive to see it: in the midst of the madness, you never know what’s going to go awry, and you are certain to be delighted at how the talented professionals on stage will use such moments to generate even more laughs than were originally designed.

Friday, September 09, 2011

And so it begins…

Tonight is opening night for “Lend Me A Tenor,” which is essentially the first show of the new theater season. For a theater critic, it feels like some mix of the first day of spring and the first day of school: All sorts of fresh material, a giddy excitement about new challenges, and a certain comfort about the constants that carry over from year to year. “Tenor” has a cast made up mostly of very familiar faces and it’s being directed by Scott Wichmann, who really arrived as a director (IMHO) with “Take Me Out” two seasons ago. I’m eagerly awaiting the latest product of his leadership and I’m taking some tough little critics as my companions to see if the appeal of the work is cross-generational. It should be fun.

If you want some background on the logistical reasons why “Lend Me A Tenor” is kicking off this season, I’d recommend reading Mr. Miller’s insider’s story posted on the Barksdale Buzz.

As Bruce mentions, also beginning this weekend is the Tennessee Williams festival, a collaborative effort between Firehouse and Triangle Players. As detailed on the great website they’ve constructed just for the event, “A Streetcar Named Desire” will be showing at the Byrd on Saturday. It’s classic Brando, classic Williams, just about as good as it all gets.

And while I hope you are as giddy as I am about the start of the new season, that’s no reason to forget celebrating the previous one. Tickets are moving for the RTCC awards. Information is now on the Barksdale website and advertising will start showing up next week. So get your tickets now before the best ones are taken!

Also, tune in next week for even MORE exciting details about the RTCC awards event... It just keeps getting better and better!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

On with the show

Style's fall arts issue has a big fat theater section in it, written by Rich Griset and I. The idea was to give as complete an overview of the scene and the companies in it, to re-introduce the live theater options to the Richmond arts-enjoying public at large. In other words, it was a project guaranteed to piss people off in the theater community for any number of reasons. Still, I'm glad we did it and I like the results. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Jackman as Valjean…and other stuff

Living without power for a week seems to have erased my memory banks and I can’t for the life of me remember if I knew that Hugh Jackman was cast as Jean Valjean for the latest screen adaptation of “Les Mis.” But I was enlightened with that news at the same time reading that Anne Hathaway would be Fantine. I really don’t know what to make of this. I like high-profile stars that will draw audiences to this work – I’m one of those people that actually thought the screen adaptations of musicals like “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls” served the material pretty darn well. But Wolverine as Valjean? Hmmm… Catwoman as Fantine? The mind reels a bit at these thoughts…

One thing I don’t have any reservations about, though, is the opening of the fall theater season with “Lend Me a Tenor” this weekend. I’m really looking forward to the openings this month – it’s a crazy mix of fun and challenging work. I walk by the “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” poster at the Firehouse a few times a week and get a little giddy just at the thought.

Also, keep an eye out for the week’s issue of Style. It should be packed to overflowing with theater-related stuff. Enjoy and let me know what you think of it all (positive or negative – all perspectives accepted…)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Sprucing Up

The RTCC website has been spruced up a little this week. Check it out to see the full list of nominees, presenters and some info on what's new this year.

The Home Page is here; all of the details are on the 2011 Artsies page.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!