Saturday, January 31, 2009

Becky Shaw at 2econd Stage

Wow! I loved Gina Gionfriddo's new play Becky Shaw at 2econd Stage. It's damn smart and so funny. The cast is David Wilson Barnes, Emily Bergle, Annie Parisse, Thomas Sadowski and Kelly Bishop. David Wilson Barnes is brilliantly funny and Emily Bergle keeps up with him at every moment. Kelly Bishop, so witty and wisely acerbic, steals the show in the last scene. I want her to be in every play I see from now on. Peter Dubois's direction is fast and sharp. It was so fun to be in an audience again who laughed at all the same moments. I can't wait for it to be published so I read Gina's fantastic writing over and over. Becky Shaw runs through March 15th - DON'T MISS IT!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hedda Gabler on Broadway

This was the first time I've seen Ibsen performed! Well, I did play Christine in my high school One Act competition production of A Doll's House. Ugh, I had to have an onstage kiss with Edward! So, I had a feeling that Hedda Gabler would be dark and possibly tragic and I was not far from the mark. However, I didn't realize that it would be funny. Was it supposed to be? The audience was certainly laughing. I really enjoyed this Roundabout production starring Mary Louise Parker, Michael Cerveris, Paul Sparks, Peter Stormare, Helen Carey, Ana Reeder and Lois Markle. Mary Louise's delivery was so scarcastic and her portayal of a trapped wife Hedda was palpable. It's funny that I think she was trapped because she was pretty much in charge and boy, did she know how to hurt, both herself and those around her. Was she escaping a bad situation or settling or what? Anyway, she looked beautiful in the period costumes by Ann Roth. Michael played Hedda's husband as a henpecked boring dolt just fine and I was excited to see him in a rage - I saw Sweeney coming out! Peter Stormare was weird and creepy, just like I've seen him in the movies (OMG he was in Dancer in the Dark!). The rest of the cast was fine. There was nothing thrilling about it, but it was definitely enjoyable. It seems like most people hate it, but perhaps the pre-show glass of wine and the grain of salt helped.

And oh, we had great seats just two rows behind Miss Whoopi Goldberg! If we had been just a row behind her I would have touched her hair. As it was, I tried to run up behind her, but Kari wouldn't let me.

Happy 3rd Annual Angie Day!

Two years ago today, I proclaimed today as Angie Day. There are all kinds of things to commemorate and celebrate on this Angie Day! On February 17th, the box set of the Ninth Season of Murder, She Wrote will be released. Recently, my Angela Lansbury as Mame earrings arrived from Broadway Cares. It turns out that it really is a Christmas ornament but it's too pretty to be put on a tree. And within days of the arrival of Mame tchochke, Divas!, the beautiful book celebrating the photography of Kenn Duncan arrived. Angie graces the cover and my coffee table! Best of all, rehearsals for Blithe Spirit began on Monday. On February 5th, the box office at the Shubert Theatre opens and we shall be buying tickets for this much anticipated revival that brings Angela Lansbury back to Broadway once again. The first preview is February 26th. So, Happy Angie Day to one and all!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


You know I love a mystery. About 8 years ago, I discovered the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, starring Dame Diana Rigg, on PBS. She's a 1920s sassy British divorcée with an eye for detail and logic. She loves Freud, men and cocktails, and can solve a murder just as well as a certain American. Last weekend I treated myself to the box set of the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. I can't believe there were only five episodes. I guess I didn't care to notice when PBS repeated them over and over. I've now realized that these five wonderful episodes are based on the character Mrs. Bradley created by Gladys Mitchell, who wrote 80 mystery novels in her lifetime. I'm dying to read these now! The real mystery is that my New York Public Library only has TWO of her books in circulation. Out of eighty, that is a crime. So help me solve this travesty, and avoid ebay, by boxing up your collection and sending them to me straight away.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Signs, They are a'changin'

It won't be long and we'll have some new shows in to brighten our darkened Broadway spirits. Most of the marquees are up and ready to go. I braved the cold to see them on 45th and 44th Streets, but that's as far as I got.

The Story of My Life begins previews on February 3rd at the Booth Theatre. It stars Will Chase and Malcolm Gets.

Guys and Dolls begins previews on February 4th at the Nederland Theatre. The cast is Craig Bierko Lauren Graham, Kate Jennings Grant, Oliver Platt, Titus Burgess, Glenn Fleshler, Adam Lefevre, Jim Ortlieb, Steve Rosen, Mary Testa, Nick Adams, Andrea Chamberlain, Raymond Del Barrio, Melissa Fagan, Kearran Giovanni, James Harkness, Lorin Latarro, Benjamin Magnuson, Joseph Medeiros, Spencer Moses, Rhea Patterson,Graham Rowat, William Ryall, Jessica Rush, Marcos Santana, Jennifer Savelli, John Selya, Brian Shepard, Ron Todorowski, Jim Walton, Brooke Wendle

33 Variations begins previews on February 9th at the Eugene O'Neill. It stars Jane Fonda, Samantha Mathis, Colin Hanks, Zach Grenier, Don Amendolia, Susan Kellerman, Erik Steele, and Diane Walsh.

West Side Story begins previews on February 26th at the Palace. The cast includes Matt Cavenaugh, Karen Olivo, Cody Green, George Akram, Josefina Scaglione, Steve Bassett, Kyle Brenn, Joshua Buscher, Mike Cannon, Kyle Coffman, Joey Haro, Eric Hatch, Curtis Holbrook, Michael Mastro, Danielle Polanco, Jennifer Sanchez, Lee Sellars, Tro Shaw, Ryan Steele, Greg Vinkler, Isaac Calpito, Haley Carlucci, Peter John Chursin, Madeline Cintron, Lindsay Dunn, Yurel Echezaretta, Manuel Herrera, Matthew Hydzik, Marina Lazzaretto, Chase Madigan, Yanira Marin, Mileyka Mateo, Kaitlin Mesh, Kat Nejat, Christian Elan Ortez, Pamela Otterson, Sam Rogers, Michael Rosen, Amy Ryerson, Manuel Santos, Michaeljon Slinger, Tanairi Sade Vazquez

Blithe Spirit begins previews on February 26th at the Shubert Theatre. It stars Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett, Angela Lansbury, Simon Jones, Jayne Atkinson, and Deborah Rush.

God of Carnage begins previews February 28th at the Jacobs Theatre. It stars Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden.

Impressionism also begins previews February 28th at the Schoenfeld Theatre. It stars Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kelly Ripa to audition for Thriller!

Regis: Hey, did you see that? They're going to bring back Thriller? Do you remember Thriller?
Kelly: What?! Thriller was my middle name!
Regis: That was 30 years ago so you were just a kid then.
Kelly: I was a kid, yes.
Regis: Thriller was an enormous hit.
Kelly: The Thriller album came out after my birthday. But my sister's birthday, she received 5 Thriller albums. I remember it well. [chatter] Because it was such a hot thing. We would watch that video and the making of the video and we would do the dance, the big dance at the end.
Regis: Why we're telling you about it is because it looks like it could become a Broadway show which I think is a great idea!
Kelly: Oh my gosh, I am auditioning!
Regis: Yeah, you could play this guy.
Kelly: I am not auditioning for the role of Michael Jackson. I will audition for a zombie dancer. Yes I will.

Live with Regis & Kelly, 1/27/09

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Poetic Lunchtime

I spent my lunch hour celebrating the election of President Obama with The TIPA Project. TIPA, short for Toward International Peace through the Arts, presented Poetry and Prose for Our New President at St. Peter's Church. The program included:

Carmen de Lavallade read Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (Chapter 9)

Arthur French read from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn", Du Tu Le's "What I Leave to my Son", Ha Thi Thao's "Our Son's Profession"

Tammy Grimes read from W.B. Yeats "Sailing to Byzantium" and recited "The Song of Wandering Aengus"

Ronald Rand read President Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" and "Second Inaugural Address"

Charles Turner rousingly read Lanston Hughes "Let America Be America"

John S. Major read Psalms 146 and 121

Richard Griffiths read Sir Stephen Spender's "I Think Continually of Those Who WEre Truly Great" and Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" and "The Road Not Taken"

Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson told stories and read from a program they performed when their daughters were still teenagers. The reading included Emily Dickinson's Hope, Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Recuerdo", John Updike's "Thoughts While Driving Home", Phyllis McGinley's "Refelctions at Dawn", and a letter from Benjamin Franklin giving advice to not only marry, but marry an older woman written June 25, 1745.

Bess Rous read a piece written by Mary Ann Williams for Nelson Mandella and "There is a Girl Inside" and "Won't You Celebrate with Me"

Stanley Tannen read Faiz Ahmed Faiz's "A Prison Evening"

Marian Seldes read Walt Whitman's "Manahatta", "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer", "A Noiseless Patient Spider" and "The Last Invocation"

Last Days of Rose - A Tribute in Photos

Boris Kachka at New York Magazine has published beautiful photos of the one and only Patti LuPone in her last days of Gypsy. I take back what I say about not crying. The beauty of these got me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Burns Night!

Happy 250th Birthday to Robbie Burns! Come have Supper with me tonight, but don't expect a haggis!

Auld Lang Syne, 1788

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Elvis Costello's Spectacle with Renée Fleming (and Khaleem)

Elvis Costello's Spectacle with La Diva Renée airs this Wednesday, 1/28/09, on the Sundance Channel, but in here in New York City, it's already available on Free Movies on Demand/Sundance. I hosted a viewing for Kari and Sally before we poured our long planned The Thin Man Marathon. Oh sure, Kari and I were there at the Spectacle filming too, but it's our dear Khaleem who made his television debut.

L’Opéra de SarahB!

Oh well, it's not really SarahB. But I'm still intrigued. It's about Sarah Bernhardt and it started this week at the Théâtre de l’Œuvre. Read all about it at Paris-Broadway (parlez vous francais?). Me ouì, I've been longing for a Parisian opera trip. Ooh la la.

20 Actresses Who Inspire

Following Kari who started this and then Roxie, I am naming twenty favorite actresses who have inspired me to be me.

Obvs, there's Angela Lansbury. Forget about her four Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Broadway Musical. When it comes to movies, versatility is her name: comical, bitch, mother, coquette, supporting, brilliant. From Gaslight to Nanny McPhee, she has 60 plus years in movies. Especially The Manchurian Candidate. She's unbelievably good. And of course, there's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, even if she did hate making that movie.

Myrna Loy. She makes me laugh and laugh: all of those The Thin Man movies, Love Crazy, The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer. Then she makes cry in The Best Years of Our Lives. She's the epitomy of class.

Irene Dunne. Come on, have you seen her? Show Boat, Love Affair, White Cliffs of Dover, My Favorite Wife, I Remember Mama, The Awful Truth, Penny Serenade, Anna and the King of Siam. Brilliant.

Deborah Kerr. She was pure elegance. And she made three movies each with Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster and David Niven. What a lucky girl. I LOVE her movies: The Sundowners, An Affair to Remember, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, The Chalk Garden, I See a Dark Stranger, The Night of the Iguana, Separate Tables, The Journey, The King and I, Tea and Sympathy, King Solomon's Mines, Black Narcissus, If Winter Comes, From Here to Eternity. It's possible that I own 95% of her movies on vhs and dvd.

Sigourney Weaver. I don't love her for Alien. But I do for Ghost Busters, Working Girl, Dave, Heartbreakers and especially Tadpole.

Helen Mirren. Oh yes, she's The Queen. She's also Gosford Park, Elizabeth I, Calendar Girls, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and especially Prime Suspect.

Nicole Kidman. She reminds me of Deborah Kerr. Except she hasn't been as lucky. Still, I do love Moulin Rouge. And Cold Mountain and Far and Away. Shut up, I like an epic.

Diane Wiest. She was the mom in Footloose which I watched a bazillion trazillion times. But I love her most of all for Hannah and Her Sisters. She and that movie made me want to be a New Yorker and go to the opera and sit in a box with Sam Waterston and then go to Cafe Carlyle and listen to Bobby Short.

Lily Tomlin. I love her for Nine to Five, Tea with Mussolini, Big Business, Prairie Home Companion, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Short Cuts, All of Me and Pret a Porter.

Whoopi Goldberg. She made me cry for The Color Purple more than anybody ever made me cry at a movie. I also love Jumpin' Jack Flash.

Meryl Streep. How many times did I watch Out of Africa? I can't count that high. Plus she's sometimes funny.

Katharine Hepburn. She's in The Philadelphia Story - my all time favorite movie. Plus she's in three movies with Cary Grant too. And The Lion in Winter.

Anne Hathaway. She's my favorite of the new young stars, I think. I'm a sucker for princess movies.

Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins! The Sound of Music! Victor/Victoria! Movies with James Garner!

Queen Latifah. There's something about her - regal but just an ordinary fun girl. She was the best thing about Chicago and I liked Last Holiday too.

Rosalind Russell. Are you kidding me? She's Auntie Mame! Plus, there's His Girl Friday and Gypsy!

Maggie Smith. Judi Dench. I love them together. I love them separately. A Room with a View was the first foreign film I ever saw on a big screen. I was 18 years old and was a freshman at Univ. of Texas. I saw it an old movie theatre on the Drag across from campus. I went back more than once.

Helena Bonham Carter. See above re A Room with a View. Plus, she was Mrs. Lovett.

Alfre Woodard. She's so real. She got to kiss Danny Glover in Grand Canyon. And she was in Passion Fish and Heart and Soul.

Mary McDonnell. She's even more real than Alfre Woodard - Grand Canyon and Passion Fish. And sometimes they act together. She was the reason to love Dances with Wolves.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One World One Art

I'm pleased to tell you about One World One Art, cofounded by my friend Motrya Tomycz. It's a new inspirational, creative, networking site for artists (and their patrons!). It features interviews, art news, artistic charities, resources, videos, blogs, chats, classifieds, etc, etc. The first "Meet the Artist" feature is none other than the exuberant Matty Price, our friend the Farm Boy! One World One Art is free to join, so check it out and pass it on.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The American Plan

I've seen three plays and a musical at Manhattan Theatre Club so far. All four have been duds for me. First was Reckless. It made me want to run away fast. The second was LoveMusik. I'm still waiting to get my money back on that one. The third was To Be or Not To Be. It just made me sad. I was with my dear SOB which was the only bright thing of the day. The fourth was last night with The American Plan. It actually teetered on the brink of not being a dud, but then crashed and burned in the last two scenes.

The orchestra level of the house was only about 80% full on the last press night before opening. Watching the press come in was almost more interesting than the play itself. I spotted Charles Isherwood and Rex Reed, among others. David Stone and Mary Stuart Masterson were there too. The Fur Ball Hat Lady was there too. If you've seen her, you know who I'm talking about. This time she was all in red, instead of white. Can blue be far behind? Wow.

On the uptown bus, I overheard a woman ask her husband, "What do you think Mercedes Ruehl thinks of being in such a bad show?" I thought Mercedes was good - she always entertains and fascinates. So was Lily Rabe. I liked their part and found their characters as mother Eva and daughter Lili interesting. The mother seems eccentric and a bit controlling. There might be something wrong with the daughter but we only have the mother's word on that really. It felt old fashioned and was awkward at times.

It was clunkily acted at times, especially by the two male cast members, Kieran Campion, as Lili's fiance, and Austin Lysy, as his secret lover. The mother manages to find out the truth about the gay lover and then it's just down hill after that. It's a felt bit like Light in the Piazza meets Brokeback Mountain. I'm still not quite sure what the American plan is. Does Manhattan Theatre Club produce bad plays or is it just the luck of the draw for me? Sigh. Next up after The American Plan for this company is David Hyde Pierce in Accent on Youth. Maybe I'll see it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Orfeo ed Euridice at the Met

Going to Orfeo ed Euridice last night at the Met was by last minute arrangement of Little Love (of course!). It was an especially special treat as we sat in Center Parterre seats. These ain't the cheap seats for sure. It was extra cool to be seated semi-privately in a little box for a change.

I was interested in seeing this production - Mark Morris directed and choreographed it. Known for his modern dance group, I was interested to see what he would do here even while I'm not much of a modern dance fan. I felt it was heavy on dance, but it worked in a very theatrical way. It's a Gluck opera, so while the music is gorgeous, there's not much action you can put in anyway. It's by no means grand opera, so Mark found humor in the text by choreography and Isaac Mizrahi's unusual costuming of the Met chorus.

The Met Chorus, acting as the dead of the underworld, were costumed as historical figures of the past. I loved trying to pick out all of the characters - I think there were around 80 of them, all positioned on three tiers above the stage for the entire opera. My favorite were Abe Lincoln, Princess Diana, Babe Ruth, Elizabeth the 1st and Eva Peron. It was fun to see all of these figures side by side regardless of their place and time in history. There wasn't anything obviously funny about their presence; they just added fun to the atmosphere.

The dancers changed costumes three different times, not in style but in colors. They were dressed somberly then at the end in a celebratory way, as their very plain street clothes were bedazzled. I couldn't help but love them. The dance changed that way as well. I actually loved it and nobody looked like they were having a seizure and all of them wore shoes.

I loved Stephanie Blythe's voice as compared to what would normally be heard from a countertenor in the role of Orfeo. The mezzo soprano voice as compared to the countertenor is just a more beautiful sound to my ears. She was sort of Johnny Cash dressed all in black with a guitar strapped to her back. She played the tormented lover just right. Heidi Grant Murphy (Hooray! We saw her sing Greenfinch and Linnet Bird at Wall to Wall Sondheim) as the cherubic Jove, dressed in a sparkly pink golf shirt, brought humor to the night. Her voice was bright and pretty. Danielle de Niese as Euridice was a beautiful bride with a stunning voice.

It's a very pretty opera and nobody dies; well, Euridice dies twice, but in the end she lives when love conquers all. There are three more opportunities to see this production, one being this Saturday afternoon both in the house and broadcast live in HD in movie theatres around the world.

Tonight: The American Plan on Broadway

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tonight: Orfeo ed Uridice at the Met

Gluck's Orfeo ed Uridice

Conductor: James Levine
Euridice: Danielle de Niese
Amor: Heidi Grant Murphy
Orfeo: Stephanie Blythe
Production: Mark Morris
Set Designer: Allen Moyer
Costume Designer: Isaac Mizrahi
Lighting Designer: James F. Ingalls
Choreographer: Mark Morris

Walking now... Will be very far back... Am so happy....

Somewhere in the the crowd at today's Inauguration is my buddy Joe. I emailed him to see where he is. His reply: "Walking now... Will be very far back... Am so happy...." Joe, I'm there with you in spirit!

And an update, pre-swearing in from Joe: "50 yards away from Washington monument... I can feel your spirit in the house! :)"

Joe & Sarah: originally uploaded by Kari on Election Day