Fighting amongst ourselves.

Metropolitan Opera in dispute with unions.

Metropolitan Opera in dispute with unions.

I’ve lived in New York City for 14 years and I have never been to the Met. It’s not that I’ve not wanted to go exactly. It’s just that when I think of spending my entertainment dollar I prefer to spend it elsewhere (perhaps a few blocks south?). Call me a luddite if you will. Maybe I am.

But in this article it comes out that both the GM and the highest paid union workers are paid well into six figures (the GM makes about 1.3million and the highest paid union worker makes 450K). Knowing how much money these people already have and that they continue to fight about not having more leaves a pretty bitter taste in my mouth, especially when I think of all the smaller struggling non-profits overshadowed by these monolithic beacons.

I say let them fight it out until reason ensues and both sides have to reevaluate “what they deserve”. But I warn them all, the longer you fight amongst yourselves, the longer you avoid the real issue of keeping your art alive and relevant. It’s an uphill battle folks. For all of art.

See the NY Times article here. 

Tonys 2014

Image

11:07pm: Good Night, Hugh. See you in the fall!

11:04pm: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder wins Best Musical. Now let’s see if it can help at the Box Office.

What is with this Tony “preview”? Love Jennifer Hudson but this Finding Neverland number is odd.

10:53pm: Hugh Jackman serenades the Best Actress nominees. I love this! #BoyscanSuckIt
Jessie Mueller wins Best Actress in a Musical! 

I’m kinda surprised Bullets didn’t win Best Costume… That William Ivey Long likes ’em sparkly.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch wins Best Revival. 

10:30pm: Beautiful musical performs. Carole King sings with her younger self (Jessie Mueller). #magicmoment.

10:23pm: Neil Patrick Harris wins for Best Actor in a Musical (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). 

10:22pm: OMG. Music Man hiphop musical!!!! WheredoIsign?#hesamusicman #tonys2014

10:21pm: uhhh.. but the rap MusicMan is pretty awesome…#tonys2014.

10:20pm: @RealHughJackman is pretty awesome yeah…but will he perform a rap written in the moment from @Lin_Manuel ?? #Tonys2014.

10:08pm: The Glass Menagerie (@MenagerieBWY ) changed the way I think about Tennessee W. They won my heart. I’m seeing Raisin next week so maybe. #theylistentoeachothertoo

10:07pm: Revival of a Play may be the toughest category this year.-#RaisinintheSun wins it. I hate when winners who imply they do something others don’t. It’s Bullshit. Just because you won doesn’t mean you’re better. That’s the truth of the Tonys. (and I say that as someone who won one.)

9:59pm: Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto present info re: The Carnegie Melon Award which will have it’s first winner next year. I’d love to get Matt Bomer in a musical….

Other awards given at the commercial:
Natasha Katz wins Best Lighting Design of a Play for Glass Menagerie.
Kevin Adams wins Bset Lighting Design of a Musical for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. 

9:52pm: I haven’t seen this production yet, but I’m going to. #Violet is a must see musical. #soGood #tonys2014@RTC_NYC
I love, love love this musical!

9:48pm: “Thank you for electing LBJ once again,” Jeffrey Richards.  Lots of familiar faces on that stage tonight. Congrats to my Porgy and Bess buds! Best Play, All the Way

9:47pm: Playwrights talk about their work. I’m on the fence about this…Oh Wait. There’s John Patrick Shanley!!!! #gush#Tonys2014.

9:45pm: Texan at the #Tonys2014. DRINK! (If you are a Texan).

9:43pm: Love Alan Cumming’s SoundWaveSuit… In other news, I just saw Alan Cumming in EyesWideShut last night on cable.#tonys2014

9:36pm: Woohoo! #Equality is at the Tonys… and @ActuallyNPHshould get a special award for cavorting in those shoes!!!

9:35pm: This ain’t your daddy’s Tony. #Hedwig Sting gets lapdance. @ActuallyNPH has best seat in house.

9:32pm: “Here’s Tony winner, @LenaRockerHall …. ” That will never get old. #Tonys2014

9:30pm: No surprise here. Bryan Cranston wins Best Actor in a Play. #Tonys2014. Go LBJ!#TexashasaTonyinit.

9:29pm: Of course Audra is the biggest winner of the night. She’s got a Tony and @thewillswenson#Tonys2014

9:24pm: Audra McDonald gets a standing O and makes history!
@AudraEqualityMc wins #6!!!! Congrats to my Bess and this year’s Lady Day! #Tony2014.

9:23pm: ooh. All the other noms are gonna be jealous! Hugh Jackman sings the nominees for Supporting Actress in a Play… #Tonys2014

9:22pm: Picking the right tune for #Tonys2014 is crucial and not easy at all. How do you sizzle your show in about 2 1/2 minutes? It’s the one time a year that these shows get a national audience.

Other awards given at the commercial:
Jason Robert Brown wins Best Score for Bridges of Madison County.
Linda Cho wins Best Costume Design in a Musical for Gentleman’s Guide.
 Jenny Tiramani wins for Best Costume Design of a Play, Twelfth Night. 

In other news, I still love Bobby Cannavale’s work. He was fantastic in Motherf&cker with the Hat. 

9:13pm: Jefferson Mays shows us how it’s done. Gentleman’s Guide performs.

9:10pm: Sophie Okonedo wins Best Supporting Actress in A Raisin in the Sun despite being one of two actresses from that show.

Other awards given at the commercial:
Warren Carlyle wins Best Choreographer for After Midnight. 

9:03pm: un Cabaret, un cabaret un cabaret. Ahhh, Alan Cumming=theatrical oxygen.

8:59pm: Best featured actor in a Musical goest to James Monroe Iglehart in Aladdin.
Haven’t seen Aladdin yet but he looked good in the musical number. I was pullin’ for Nick Cordero 

8:53pm: Rocky the Musical performs. They were awesome…but it’s the best part of the show.

8:52pm: My mom reminded me I might be related to @ROCKYMUSICAL‘s Andy Karl. Great. Now I’m crushin on my cousin. #familydinner #eyeofthetiger

Other awards given at the commercial:
Robert L. Freedman (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), Best Book of a Musical

8:48pm: Kenny Leon wins Best Director for a Play for Raisin in the Sun.
He gives a lovely shout out to Holler if ya hear me.
***In other news, I’m seeing this next week!!! (I’ll see you soon Denzel!) 

8:46pm: Why do they ask Clint Eastwood to read things onstage?? Didn’t the GOP teach us anything??? 

8:45pm:
Darko Tresnjak wins Best Director for Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

8:40pm: Adele Dazeem rocks it. (aka Idina Menzel, aka original Elphaba).

Other awards given at the commercial:

Christopher Barreca, Rocky) wins Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Beowulf Boritt  (Act One) wins Best Scenic Design of a Play
Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County) wins Best Orchestrations
Steve Canyon Kennedy (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and GrillBest) wins Sound Design of a Play
Brian Ronan (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) wins Best Sound Design of a Musical

8:30pm: Aladdin is peforming like they need to sell tickets. (TheyDon’t.) #100percentsold. What lamp do I need to rub to get a ticket? #tonys2014.

*In other news Bobby Canavale is being kind of an ass about the Tonys on twitter. Seriously dude. Turn it off and do something else if you’re not feelin’ it.

8:26pm: Go @LenaRockerHall Hall!!!! Winner! Winner! Winner!!!#Tonys2014. @LenaRockerHall you made me cry. So beautiful! You deserve it! So excited for her. I remember when she was our understudy for Rooms a Rock Romance. Lovely gal, killer talent.

8:25pm: Lena Hall wins Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

8:19pm: Les Miz!!

8:18pm: And the 2nd #WTF moment: Mark Rylance is in the Best Supporting Actor category edging out Brian J Smith’s riveting gentleman caller. #tonys

8:15pm: Mark Rylance wins Best Supporting Actor in a Play (Twelfth Night).

8:13pm: I suspect this one is Rylance’s. #Tonys but my heart says Brian J Smith.

8:03: #hughjackman makes a bid to revive Harvey in the Opening Number. #hoppin‘ #Tony2014.
There’s a Sting sighting and was that Clint Easwood? in the Opening Number. But I only have eyes for @RockyBroadway’s Andy Karl.

8:01pm: It’s Tony night yall!
I’ll be live tweeting @TheaterZen on twitter but you can check this blog for the recap.

 

I hope yours dance.

by grebenru from  Daily Dream Designs

by grebenru from
Daily Dream Designs

If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.
George Bernard Shaw

Happy Halloween!

Amuse Bouche #3

Thirst Quencher

Thirst Quencher

In producing, one must passionately love the Kool-aid while concurrently refusing to drink it. #staythirsty #thehardpart #thirstywork

But my hands have a 10-pack.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Producing is a busy, time-consuming job. I’ve got at least half a dozen things going at once. At one point today I thought to myself. I said, “Self, you are working your a** off!”

Then I realized, most of my work is sitting in a chair typing, or reading, or researching or typing some more. So then I responded (to myself): “Uh, no. More like I’m working my a** ON.”

I need to take a walk.

#keepingitreal

Overheard at Sardi’s

Moving and shaking in the theater industry.

Sardi’s, where the magic happens. 

Trying to recoup on Broadway is like reaching the Emerald City. Dorothy had a well-paved road to get there but she never would have made it without the tornado and a dead witch.

Pacific Rim and the art of storytelling

Original Sci-Fi movie by Guillermo Del Toro

Original Sci-Fi movie by Guillermo Del Toro

Over the summer, my brother, my Dad and I were all in the same city one day and we decided that we wanted to see a movie. We’re all pretty big movie fans in general, but I confess we have a soft spot for sci-fi action in particular. This summer was no slouch to exciting fare. On this day we had a choice of World War Z, Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Red2, RIPD, Fast and Furious 6 and Star Trek: ITD.

My brother, having seen many of the movies on deck already, suggested Pacific Rim. This was the show I’d heard the least about. I didn’t recognize the title and the cursory glance I’d given the marketing left me a little cold. It would not have been my first choice…or even my 2nd or third. What it did have was my new favorite actor Charlie Hunnam in it and it was a Guillermo del Toro movie. So when my brother mentioned it had the best review on Rotten Tomatoes I decided to take a chance.

I loved this movie. I had a blast and I enjoyed the storytelling in a way I haven’t enjoyed a sci-fi action movie in a long time. I left the theater feeling like my $$ (or my brother’s money as he treated) was very well spent. I wanted the movie to do well, to sell well. I wanted all of my friends to know what a good bargain this movie was. My enjoyment of this film felt more personal to me than other movies before it.

Somewhere in that high that comes after listening and watching a great story, I realized that perhaps one of the reasons I liked this story so much was because I’d never heard it before. I wasn’t sure it wasn’t from some obscure comic book that only pre-pubescent boys from 1972-74 would know, so I checked on my trusty Wikipedia. Sure enough: Pacific Rim was an original story. While it may have been based on archetypal realities of a few genres, it was conceived and written by Guillermo del Toro.

Let’s look at the aforementioned titles above. Every single one of them, save Pacific Rim is based on a book (including comics), sequel or both. In fact if you look at the Top Grossing films of 2013 so far (according to IMDB) every single one of the Top 9 are based on something else.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker for a good sequel. When someone takes the time and energy to create a world around which to tell a story and I like that world, it’s worth a second, third, or in the case of Fast and Furious, sixth look. Like old haunts from high school, we love going back to those old worlds to revisit our favorite characters, families and ways of life. But there is nothing quite like the thrill of a world newly discovered. Like Sade says, “It’s never as good as the first time.” It’s a pity we don’t get to have those first times more often.

It’s harder for me to love a re-told story onstage. I’m talking about stories taken from already “hot” properties. Movies-into-musicals is a particular challenge for me despite their abundance on today’s Broadway landscape. Even the very eloquently told renditions that I enjoy don’t quite hit the mark in some ways. I think it’s because stories from successful movies are inherently told without surprise. Conventional wisdom is if you liked the movie, you’ll buy a ticket to the musical. I’m not so sure that rings true. Regardless of how eloquently a movie’s story is told onstage you know what happens in the end before you even buy the ticket.

New story telling is a huge risk. I’m not sure if Pacific Rim’s considered a success or a failure yet. For one thing it cost $190 Million to make. As the global markets outside of the US are a big factor in charting a film’s success these days, it’s a little too soon to tell. It didn’t make enough in the US to be a sure thing but it didn’t do so poorly as to be a bomb either. Personally I hope you’ll treat yourself and go see it. It gives any of those more platinum properties a run for their money.

As for me, not only did I enjoy the movie, I also was inspired. I hope when the right original story comes my way, I’m not afraid to join the telling and I’m smart enough to give it every chance of competing with the Big Fish, Kinky Boots and (fill in the blank) out there.

Guillermo, have you ever thought about doing theater?

Advice from Nora Ephron

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

Nora Ephron
Wellesley’s Class of 1996 in a commencement speech

A muse bouche #2

Nobody thinks their own baby is ugly. The same could also be said for plays and musicals.

Smash Down

Smash is also available on Hulu.

This season's Smash.

Ten episodes into Smash, it’s likely you either love it, hate it or just don’t care. I have to admit that Smash is quickly becoming my guilty pleasure of choice. I like seeing Broadway veterans like Megan Hilty, Will Chase, Brian d’Arcy James and Christian Borle play major roles. I like seeing phenomenal actors like Ann Harada featured. I love seeing Broadway insiders like Jordan Roth, Manny Azenberg and Robyn Goodman play cameos. But there’s a dark side to loving Smash. Almost none of it is any way, shape or form an authentic representation of how a play or musical can get produced on Broadway.

On Smash, Workshops (with a capital “W”) get produced without a script or all the songs completed. Who cares if the show’s not ready, you don’t have a title or couldn’t likely take any investors because you don’t know where you’re going much less if you have a show or not? On Smash money (or at least really expensive art) hangs on walls just waiting to be taken down and sold to the nearest rock star standing next to you. It doesn’t matter that you may be adding 200K to what will become an oversized budget. Who cares if that two hundred thousand dollars might have been put to better use enhancing a development production…or sending the writers to a remote cabin in the Poconos and telling them not to come out until they’ve written an actual musical.

Ok. Ok. I’ll admit it. I think one of the reasons I love this show is because at least once in every episode there’s a plot element or assertion that is, quite frankly, completely ass-backward. I love seeing the characters do something that brings the whole “reality facade” come crashing down.

Don’t be fooled. Smash is fun. Smash is entertaining but it’s not Broadway. It’s Dallas meets Melrose Place meets All About Eve meets insert-your-favorite-musical-here. No, Smash isn’t real Broadway. I like to think of it as “broadway” with a little “Smash-magic”.

So far it’s been fun. And the creators do a fair job of hanging their melodramatic flag high and then pulling it back without getting too out of control. (I like that they’ve pulled back a little from making Jaime Cepero’s character too terribly dastardly. Oh that Ellis is still a piece of work, and he might go all “Alexis Carrington” on us yet. But Angelica Huston’s producing maven “Eileen Rand” keeps him in his place quite nicely.)

Have fun with Smash. Enjoy that “Smash magic”. Spend an hour a week living that dream. And then go and treat yourself to a real Broadway show.