Theatre

Top 10 Plays of 2013

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Sound of Music’ and the Real-Life Maria von Trapp

Tonight, NBC will broadcast The Sound of Music Live!, which is exactly what it sounds like: a live production of the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical. Starring Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp, the nun who forsakes her religious calling to marry the man she loves so they can tour the world with their brood of singing children, the production is the first live television event of its kind in decades. The Sound of Music is a beloved family classic, but there’s quite a lot you may not know about the musical, the wildly popular film based upon it, and the real-life Maria von Trapp. … Read More

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When Will ‘The New York Times’ Stop Using Transphobic Language?

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the record-smashing Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! To celebrate the anniversary, the original production’s star Carol Channing (who went on to reprise her role in two Broadway revivals) is set to appear in a one-night engagement at New York City’s Town Hall on January 20. The event is hosted by Justin Vivian Bond, who interviewed Channing about her long career this summer at the Ice Palace on Fire Island. This is great news, but it’s unfortunate that many might have heard about it from The New York Times, which described “transgender artist” Bond as “Mr. Bond” rather than vs preferred title, “Mx.” … Read More

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Flavorwire Interview: Laura Benanti on Her New Live Album and Upcoming Live ‘Sound of Music’ TV Production

A confession: when I got an email asking if I’d be interested in speaking with Tony winner Laura Benanti, I replied immediately with an all-caps “YES.” I saw her in the short-lived Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for which she received her fourth Tony nomination; I was blown away by her standout number, “Model Behavior,” which I still contend is one of the best musical theatre songs in recent years. … Read More

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Nico Muhly’s ‘Two Boys’ and the Trouble With Dramatizing the Internet

The much-anticipated Two Boys saw its American premiere at the Metropolitan Opera on Monday night. Written by American composer Nico Muhly, who — aside from having a certain indie credibility after collaborations with Björk, Antony and the Johnsons, and Grizzly Bear — has the distinction of being the youngest composer to have an original work commissioned by the Met, Two Boys is a bit of a mixed bag. But that’s sort of how opera works; with a libretto from Pulitzer-winning playwright Craig Lucas and direction from Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher, the two-hour production never quite hits all the marks one wants it to in terms of plotting (although the music sure is beautiful). But what is most interesting is that it is the first major stage production to explore the way we interact with each other through the Internet. … Read More

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Does Bobby Need to Be Openly Gay in Stephen Sondheim’s Revised ‘Company’?

Yesterday afternoon it was revealed that Stephen Sondheim (along with director John Tiffany) has reworked his classic musical comedy, Company, with a major plot twist: Bobby, the central, single character, who spends the course of the show dealing with his own inability to commit, is gay. Several of the female characters in the show will be men, including Joanne, the middle-aged woman whose character delivers the show’s most famous song, “The Ladies Who Lunch.” It’s an interesting revision, as critics have long argued that Bobby was a closeted homosexual in the first place. But 43 years after the musical premiered on Broadway, is a revisionist’s take on Company necessary? … Read More

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Broadway’s Janis Joplin Musical Proves That the Great White Way Can’t Rock ‘n’ Roll

I’ve got a long-standing rule when it comes to theatre: I try not to see jukebox musicals. First of all, I think they’re lazy: it’s like watching musical theatre karaoke, or perhaps more like a concert for people who are too old to go to concerts anymore. (Sorry for the ageist joke, but there’s a reason why, with the exception of Green Day’s American Idiot, most jukebox musicals appeal to the baby boomers.) The other reason is that when you randomly stuff popular songs into a narrative, the result is rarely strong, whether the songs form a biographical tale or, in the case of Mamma Mia!, a nonsensical musical backdrop for the insane goings-on depicted on stage. A new musical, which opened last week, suffers from the same failings, although A Night With Janis Joplin is more than just a bad jukebox musical: it’s an uncomfortably irrelevant celebration of the titular blues singer. … Read More

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5 Odd Book-to-Musical Adaptations We’d Like to See

This spring, a brand-new romantic musical will be hitting Broadway, and it’s got a pretty familiar name: The Bridges of Madison County. Even if you didn’t check out the 1995 film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, certainly you know the book by Robert James Waller (or, at the very least, remember the recognizable book cover sitting on your mom’s bookshelf). Across the pond, another surprising musical is hitting London’s West End: Doctor Who star Matt Smith will step into the role of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, based on the controversial book by Bret Easton Ellis. Both novels got the big-budget film adaptations that brought them larger audiences, but it’s surprising to see these two odd books get turned into musicals. With that in mind, here are a few other books from the same era that could probably do, well, fine on Broadway.  … Read More

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Is the Shakespeare Resurgence Killing Serious Contemporary Theatre?

This fall, four new productions of Shakespeare’s classic tales hit the Broadway stage. The first, Romeo and Juliet, features Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad leading a mixed-race cast that adds a racial reading to the tale of the star-crossed lovers. Next month, Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry lead an all-male cast in Richard III and Twelfth Night, which will be performed in repertory. Later in October, Ethan Hawke steps into the title role in Macbeth, the second production of the Scottish Play to be on Broadway in 2013 (Tony winner Alan Cumming starred in a one-man production earlier this year). With a new film version of Romeo and Juliet due this out this fall and a modern-day version of Cymbeline (also starring Hawke) currently filming in New York, it seems that Shakespeare’s back! But did he ever go away? … Read More

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In Fact, Supporting the Arts Is Not Tantamount to Killing Children

If you’re an opera fan, I imagine you are concerned that the New York City Opera, which has been producing large-scale opera performances for the last 70 years, has announced that it may be forced to cancel its upcoming season unless it can raise a whopping $20 million. Opera is really expensive, not just to see, but also to produce! For those of us who are not particularly invested in the opera (I’ve fallen asleep at two of them), the major takeaway is that perhaps the New York City Opera should spend less money on an art form that does not necessarily appeal to a mass audience. And it also suggests that arts funding is in trouble, which is a problem for those of us who like to support the arts! Of course, Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan (yup, this guy) suggests that those of us who do are selfish morons who don’t care about homeless people or children dying of malaria. Obviously. … Read More

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