Monday, January 02, 2012

Into every new year, a little rain must fall

The iconic image of a new year pictured as a baby makes more sense to me than ever this year. My feeling of the past couple of days has been of a year still waking up, struggling a little to find its feet, doing a bit of hesitant crawling before even trying to stand up and a little petulant crying out of frustration for even having to try. Much of this may have to do with shaking off the pleasant malaise of the holidays, emerging from a ridiculously temperate December into a suddenly chilly January. Or maybe it’s all in my head.

Regardless, I was greeted this morning with this not-so-cheerful little summary of the current Broadway scene. The January lull is inevitable but this year’s seems a little bit more dreary than usual. Specifically, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get a chance to see “Chinglish” which I’ve read great things about and is one of the few mainstream entertainments that dip a toe into Asia-related issues. There is a clear silver lining on this report though: there is apparently a backlog of new shows waiting to hit the boards, which is kind of exciting and personally, I can’t wait to see how “Magic/Bird” turns out.

If you’re “in the biz,” you probably know that Scott Wichmann ships out very soon on deployment to Afghanistan. Please join me in wishing him safe travels, safe service and a safe return.

Echoes of last year linger into this year. Specifically, the issue of “tweet seats” got coverage in this Boston Globe article last week (thanks for the head’s up, Annie!). I’ve spilled way too much digital ink on this already and I’m sure many folks out there are convinced I’ve morphed into a militant tweet seat advocate. Actually, my two main points related to the texting-in-theaters issue have been these: 1) it’s not going to go away so arts folks would do better to give it some conscious thought before simply dismissing it and 2) taking a categorically negative view of the phenomena overlooks the potential positives that other businesses have seen from the explosion in social media. Feel free to re-dismiss these points in the comments if you feel you must.

If you are a Twitter aficionado, I would highly recommend following Howard Sherman on Twitter, an astute theater world watcher and prolific tweeter whose missives have already pointed me to a number of very interesting news stories and blog posts (and thanks, kb, for pointing me in his direction). Sherman's compendium of Best of 2011 columns is definitely worth a perusal. Also, for a great and sometimes weird debate about theater, check out the conversation between Sherman and Washington Post critic Peter Marks from back in November.

A lot of productions wrapped up recently but starting soon there will be another seasonal explosion of new shows. Triangle Players gets a jump on things with “2 Boys In A Bed On A Cold Winter’s Night” next weekend. I’d suggest making reservations now before you get hit by the tsunami of openings: 12 shows (yes, a full dozen) that will open in the less-than-a-month from Jan. 26 to Feb. 23, not to mention several cool one-night events at RTP, an intriguing RichShakes staged reading and the “Lion King” tour. Yikes!

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