Meghan Markle’s First Official Patronage Accidentally Revealed by the National Theatre

ESC: Meghan Markle, Prince HarryOops! The National Theatre might’ve just let some major royal news slip.
As the world continues to wait for an official announcement, it appears that Meghan Markle’s first royal…

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New era for ‘everyone’ as historic theatre reopens

The oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world is to finally get its own front door – more than 250 years after first being built.
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Gucci to Show Spring 2019 Collection at Théâtre Le Palace in Paris

PALACE BOUND: Gucci revealed on Monday that its spring 2019 collection will be presented at Théâtre Le Palace in Paris on Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. The Italian fashion house said this is the first time the location will host a runway show.
Le Palace, located at 8 Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, served for years as a nightclub, drawing members of the fashion and music industries as well as an underground culture.
“The Théâtre Le Palace resonates with the vision of the house as it is a venue that gave life to a (sub)culture that has inspired young generations up until today,” said a statement from Gucci.
This is a one-off show for Gucci in Paris and marks the crescendo of a three-part homage to France conceived by the Italian brand’s creative director, Alessandro Michele.
Gucci began its ode to France starting with its pre-fall advertising campaign, which harks back to that country circa 1968, when student marches and riots sparked popular rebellions against military and bureaucratic elites. Photographed and directed by Glen Luchford, it depicts Gucci-clad rebels occupying a university campus, passionately challenging the establishment and asking for change. Luchford’s black-and-white photos are inspired by the bold French Nouvelle Vague imagery of the late Fifties and Sixties and by radical filmmakers François

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Spring Parts Curtain on American Ballet Theatre

Spring, the downtown creative hub that offers collaborative workspaces and a business club, prides itself on introducing members to new experiences. That includes everything from Danish star chef René Redzepi’s Noma pop-up restaurant and Caviar Kaspia’s temporary residency, to Tribeca Film Festival’s virtual arcade of VR and augmented-reality exhibits and experiences.
In that spirit of discovery, Spring on Friday said it has partnered with American Ballet Theatre to host a series of events with the goal of inspiring new audiences and cultivating the next generation of ballet enthusiasts and supporters.

Starting this month, Spring Place will lift the curtain on the ballet to reveal the spirit and practice of American Ballet Theatre to its members and the downtown community. Spring members will have access to the ballet company, which is working to preserve and extend its classical repertoire. American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie said dancers are eager to “demystify the art form at events for the Spring community of art enthusiasts.”

Programming starting in May will include a panel discussion about peak performance in artists and athletes featuring McKenzie, HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson, and sports psychology consultant and former NFL director of education and player engagement Dr. Lauren Loberg. There

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Billionaire stages £40m West End theatre bid

The second-richest man in Britain is in talks to add to his collection of trophy entertainment assets by swooping to buy the Theatre Royal Haymarket, one of the West End’s most prized playhouses.
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Meet the most influential woman in UK theatre

Vicky Featherstone has been named the most influential person in UK theatre following her response to harassment allegations.
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Theatre says 20 claims made against Spacey

The Old Vic says it has received 20 allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against former artistic director Kevin Spacey.
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Concert Review: Haim Light Up L.A.’s Greek Theatre With Homecoming Show

“We’re three sisters from the Valley playing the Greek,” marveled Este Haim, one-third of the sisterly trio bearing their last name. “I’m ‘Stone Cold’ Steven Austin when it comes to emotion, but even I’m emotional.” Indeed, the story of Haim could well be the rock variation on “La La Land,” as directed by fellow Valley […]

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Rag & Bone Designs Costumes for American Ballet Theatre

Rag & Bone is dipping a toe into the world of dance.
The sportswear label, helmed by Marcus Wainwright, has teamed with choreographer Benjamin Millepied to wardrobe two new works for the American Ballet Theatre’s fall 2017 season.
Millepied, founder of L.A. Dance Project and formerly director of the Paris Opera Ballet, has created a stage piece for ABT’s annual David Koch Theater fall run, as well as a public work to be performed on the theater’s Philip Johnson-designed promenade. Both pieces are set to premiere on Oct. 25.

Principal dancer Herman Cornejo with Henri Zirpolo, senior designer for women’s ready-to-wear at Rag & Bone. 
Courtesy Photo

Millepied noted of his wardrobe requirements for his public piece, aptly named “Counterpoint for Philip Johnson”: “For the work in the public spaces I wanted to see the dancers in street clothes. Rag & Bone felt like the right company for that — their clothes are so contemporary. I’m not trying to create another world; I wanted something more realistic. The piece meant to be done in street clothes wanted that natural street quality to it.”
The piece is accompanied by a Steve Reich score, featuring a cast of 24 dancers — all styled in Rag & Bone street looks.
For

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Repertory theatre for on-demand generation

It’s an acting system that has largely died out over the last decade or so but a Manchester group is setting out to revive repertory theatre for the on-demand generation.
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Breaking Bad star to make London theatre debut

Bryan Cranston, best known for his role as Walter White in hit TV show Breaking Bad, is to make his London stage debut at the National Theatre.
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Harry Potter play tops UK theatre awards

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has won best play at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, with Ralph Fiennes and Billie Piper scooping the big acting prizes.
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What Is It About?: A Sketch Of The New Movement In The Theatre

What Is It About?: A Sketch Of The New Movement In The Theatre


This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.
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What Is It All About?: A Sketch of the New Movement in the Theatre

What Is It All About?: A Sketch of the New Movement in the Theatre


This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.
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Marc Jacobs Switches to Ziegfeld Theatre for Spring Show

MARC’S FOLLIES: Liza premiered “Cabaret” there. Woody Allen chose it to open “Manhattan.” And now the historic Ziegfeld Theatre on West 54th Street will host Marc Jacobs’ spring show.
The designer has chosen the movie house — the last single-screen theater in Manhattan and the site of dozens of premieres and screenings from 1969 to the present — to show his spring collection. It will be the first time since 2004 Jacobs has shown outside of either the Park or the Lexington Avenue armories.
Though a spokesman for the brand was tight-lipped on details — “He’s incredibly protective about elements of the show,” the spokesman said, referring to Jacobs — this one looks to be something of a production. One clue might be in the hashtag for social media: #marcjacobspremiere.
In fact, to allow guests time to absorb all the elements of the setup, doors will open earlier than usual, at 5:15 p.m. and the show will begin at 6 p.m. on the dot.

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What Is It All About?: A Sketch of the New Movement in the Theatre (Classic Reprint)

What Is It All About?: A Sketch of the New Movement in the Theatre (Classic Reprint)


What Is It All About?: A Sketch of the New Movement in the Theatre (Classic Reprint)
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The Politics of the Fourth of July From Musical Theatre

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As we approach the celebration of America’s 239th year of independence, Americans can learn about their revolutionary past from many sources, including an unexpected one: musical theatre.

The intersection between politics and musical theatre is small, indeed. One current anomaly is the hottest show in New York City, even though it does not open on Broadway until July 15. Hamilton, the creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda, opened to near-universal raves off-Broadway, and it relies on historian Ron Chernow’s important biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Some 46 years ago, another musical set in the eighteenth century opened to acclaim, capturing the Tony Award for best musical. Set primarily in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, 1776 tells the story of the fateful weeks leading up to the writing and ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. Given this thumbnail description, one might expect either a ponderous or puffed treatment of those tumultuous days.

Surprisingly, however, the show’s enduring popularity (it was also made into a film in 1972 with most of the original stage cast, including the estimable William Daniels in the starring role of John Adams) attests to the skill and dexterity of its authors. Yes, historical figures depicted on stage burst into song from time to time, and while that art form may turn aside some, those who accept the conceit — which is, after all, the conceit of all musical theatre — find real meat on the historical bones of this show.

(Disclaimer: I am both a political scientist who has written some on the founding period, and currently have a small role in Central New York’s Cortland Repertory Theatre company’s production of 1776. Fittingly, its final performance is July 4.)

The play’s representation of the central characters reflects their historical personas: for example, we learn at the outset that John Adams is “obnoxious and disliked,” as indeed he was. Maryland’s Samuel Chase was discourteously dubbed “bacon-face” by his congressional colleagues, owing to his girth and prodigious appetite. Rhode Island delegate Stephen Hopkins was a prodigious drinker, and so on.

Beyond this, however, the production includes extended discussions of the key issues at stake — many of which continue to bedevil the country today. Commander-in-Chief George Washington’s numerous gloomy dispatches about the abysmal condition of his military in the face of superior British forces were enough to “depress a hyena,” as Delaware’s Thomas McKean lamented. When Adams wails at the top of the show, “By God I have had this Congress!” it could just as easily be Barack Obama speaking in 2015.

During a scene when Declaration chief author Thomas Jefferson is defending the document to skeptical Pennsylvania delegate John Dickinson, who asserts that America lacks the right to rebel, Jefferson counters by citing British political thinker John Locke’s contract theory of governance (whose writing profoundly influenced Jefferson): “When a king becomes a tyrant he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.”

Income inequality and the privilege of wealth inflame passions when Dickinson defends the influence of wealthy elites in a nation of relative poverty. Congress’s President John Hancock notes that the body’s conservatives are unlikely to marshal much support in the country because “there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy.” “Perhaps not,” Dickinson retorts, “but don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. And that is why they will follow us.” Koch brothers, anyone?

States’ rights and the relative balance of state versus national power sparks an exchange between delegates when South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge asks John Adams what the goal is beyond achieving independence. “We intend to become one nation,” Adams replies, to which Rutledge expresses his preference for “a nation of sovereign states, united for our mutual protection, but separate for our individual pursuits.” Preference for a weak national government finds expression in the nation’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation (1777). Yet that document’s manifest weaknesses lead to its eclipse by the document of 1787, that far exceeded Rutledge’s call for a limited national government. Last week’s historic Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same sex marriage are but the most recent examples of the continuing struggle over federal versus state power.

Most centrally, the debate over the Declaration’s wording leads to the climactic moment in the show when the southern delegates walk out in protest of wording in the document condemning slavery. That near-rupture was staved off by the wording’s excision. Obviously, slavery would continue to cast its shadow over the country until the bloody Civil War finally ended the practice. As we know today, of course, it hardly ended the pall of fractured race relations which continue to rile our politics.

Finally, musical theatre is a distinctly American phenomenon. The mix of drama, historical text, humor and stirring music in 1776 gives a life to our past in a way that the likes of Ben Franklin might have appreciated, if not enjoyed.

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Othello at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre

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photo by Josh T. Ryan

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group is possibly one of the most creative and innovative companies to burst onto the national theater scene in recent decades. The eponymous Zombie Joe and his collaborators have redefined post-modern theater forms with a mix of commedia del’arte, punk, gothic and Grand Guignol influences. Drawing from hip-hop fashion and dance, sci-fi, horror and porn memes, the company wrangles everything from Shakespeare and Kafka to grade-B horror and noir movies into a fascinating, high-pitched artistic feast for both the intellect and the senses.

In their latest offering, an outrageously entertaining adaptation of Othello, the company reinvents Shakespeare’s tragedy as a fast-paced fashion extravaganza, replete with paparazzi, burlesque queens and a cross-dressing Othello in blackface, all set to the pounding beat of techno-rock and sentimental musical theater tunes. The humor is over-the-top crude and rude, and the characters are in-your-face denizens straight out of a Fellini movie or a Brecht play. But at its heart, this adaptation of Othello is more truthful than the endless pseudo-interpretations of Shakespeare set in fascist Italy or corporate America.

What Zombie Joe’s production does is highlight, amidst the circuslike anarchy of human existence, the beautiful, twisted role of love. In this Othello, love is crude, pornographic and violent, but also sweet and delicate. Othello’s killing of Desdemona, rather than focusing on the tragedy of deceit and jealousy, points at the destructive power of obsessional love and lust. This is the beating heart of Shakespeare’s tragedy, beyond the pretty phrases and the deadening reverence for the Bard’s work. One can be sure that Shakespeare would have loved this production, which not only pricks at the funnybone of our low-brow instincts, but also soars in its levels of intellectual resonance.

The actors in this company eschew any naturalistic style of acting, and go right back to the commedia del’arte of the Italian Renaissance – or perhaps the Greeks – to declaim their words, both as lyric poetry and as crude humor. Vincent Cusimano as Iago epitomizes this smash-mouth style, chewing up the scenery as a raging, lustful devourer of men, at the same time displaying a vulnerability that reminds us again and again of Shakespeare’s complex and terrifying view of love. Vanessa Cate as Othello explores, in a quieter, more internal performance, the pain and power of love, bursting out of the cage of emotions in a final rendition of “What I Did for Love.”

There are lots of fine performances here, including Tyler Koster, Kirsten Benjamin, Sebastian Munoz and Quinn Knox, who probably holds the record with Cusimano for the longest stage kiss on record. Josh T. Ryan, who adapted the play with Zombie Joe, does a masterful job directing the hour-long show. Kudos also to Kevin Van Cott and Ryan, who conceived the fabulous score, as well as Natalie Hyde for imaginative makeup and Jeri Batzdorff for wonderful costume design. Another triumph for Zombie Joe and company!

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Keep ’em Laughing, and Laughing, and Laughing: One Man, Two Guvnors at Berkeley Repertory Theatre

I watched the Tony Awards on TV for the same reason I always do: the performances. Every year seems to bring fewer awards and more entertainment–yes, sometimes bombastic snippets from overblown musicals but sometimes real gems. I still haven’t seen anything to top James Corden‘s amazing one-man two-person fight from One Man, Two Guvnors, for which he won a Tony three years ago. Francis Henshall is a character who will go down in theater history, I predict, as memorable a creation as Hamlet or Willy Loman, except, you know, funny. Really, really funny.

It was hard to think anyone could match Corden–who now, speaking of TV, hosts The Late, Late Show–as Henshall. And yet, Dan Donohue, aided by a splendid cast, is doing just that in the production of One Man, Two Guvnors (jointly produced with Orange County’s South Coast Repertory) at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Berkeley Rep has won its own Tony–the regional theater award, in 1997–and its longtime artistic director, Tony Taccone, is a big reason Sarah Jones‘ terrific solo show Bridge & Tunnel, which she workshopped with Taccone at Berkeley Rep in 2005, won a special Tony Award the following year. But a great artistic director lets us see the work of other directors, too. So next season, he’ll present one of this year’s Tony best-play nominees, the provocative Disgraced, as directed by Kimberly Senior, who took the play from Chicago to London to Broadway. We’ll get another of Tony-winning director Mary Zimmerman‘s fanciful, visually thrilling adaptations of classic tales, Treasure Island.

The season will open in August with the world premiere of Amélie, a musical directed by Pam MacKinnon, who won her Tony for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. (If that doesn’t illustrate a diverse skill set, I don’t know what does.) And yep, we can thank yet another fine director, David Ivers, for the laugh-a-minute production now at Berkeley Rep.

This is a play that calls for beyond-excellent physical skills, outlandish verbal dexterity, even a little musical ability. In his efforts to not only cater to two employers but keep them unaware of one another, Francis Henshall offers one of the hardest-working roles in show business. He’s the heart of the show, whether literally serving his two masters–lunch, in their separate rooms, while taking more and more food for himself–wooing a woman, trying to budge a heavy trunk, or nimbly improvising with audience members. I hope Donohue doesn’t get his own talk show, because I really want to see him here again!

And yet the show would be nothing without formidable planets revolving around his blazing sun. Local treasures Ron Campbell and Danny Scheie are hilarious as the waiters, as are Robert Sicular as Charlie Clench and Sarah Moser as Pauline, his dim but lovable daughter, whom two men are fighting over, sort of. One of the men (Helen Sadler) is actually in disguise as her brother, accidentally killed by her rich-twit lover (William Connell). The other is her true love, Alan (Brad Culver).

British playwright Richard Bean‘s update of The Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni‘s commedia dell’arte masterwork, moves the action from 1740s Venice to Brighton Beach in 1963–hence, the lively four-man skiffle band that entertains before the play begins and during set changes, occasionally joined by a cast member. If the action didn’t proceed at such a headlong pace, you might start to wonder what surprise the next curtain would bring. In sparkles and wigs, Moser, Sadler, and Claire Warden (Dolly, Henshall’s romantic quest) form a Supremes-like trio. John-David Keller, who plays Alan’s lawyer father, sings a rousing, completely out-of-character song. Culver joins the band playing percussion on his chest, and Connell performs on air horns.

Add to this an endless variety of humor–from lame to clever, slapstick to topical satire, quick quips to audience participation…. If you think you don’t like farce, think again. Even when you see it coming, you can’t help laughing every time Campbell falls down the stairs, for instance. In fact, you leave the theater weak with laughter, and filled with admiration.

Through June 28, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510.647.2949, berkeleyrep.org.

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Seven Years of the King’s Theatre

Seven Years of the King’s Theatre


Used – This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1828 Excerpt: …and follower of the Rossini school. The dramatic part of this piece was worthless, and probably contributed to make the music less highly estimated than it would otherwise have been. It involves ber appeared at the time. One was a version of her note to me, and ran as follows: –“Sir

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New Philly Digs for InterAct Theatre

Philly’s InterAct Theatre Company is finishing their 28th and most ambitious season presenting four productions of new plays. Artistic director Seth Rozin capping it off directing the premiere of The Three Christs of Manhattan, which he also wrote.

As if that wasn’t enough to do, things also got unexpectedly hectic for Rozin when he was suddenly orchestrating InterAct’s move from their longtime home to their new theater space, after he decided to leave their longtime home in the Adrienne Theater located near Rittenhouse Sq.

Interact will start their new season in October at the former ballroom and dance studio at the deco-era Drake Building in Center City. InterAct will establish a new theater collective and share the residency with fellow Philly companies, Simpatico Theatre Project, Azuka Theatre, Inis Nua Theatre and PlayPenn.
2015-06-02-1433279730-9530586-drakeballroom600.jpg Seth Rozin points the way in the Drake theater space (photo: courtesy InterAct)

InterAct’s hallmark is bold new voices in the theater, political plays and scripts with themes that address complex social issues. This season was exemplar of their brand this past year with premieres of Christopher Chen’s ‘Caught’ a scalding satire about art and ethnography; Jen Silverman’s ‘The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane’ a drama about oppression and violence against lesbians in South Africa and Thomas Gibbons ‘Uncanny Valley’ (also directed by Rozin) about medical ethics and DNA – android cloning.

A week before the opening his play, the season closer, Rozin took five to talk about his play and the company’s upcoming move.

“Yes, things did snowball a bit, “he laughed, “When we planned the current season last spring we didn’t know we were going to be moving. I knew I would be directing two last plays, but I thought I would be available in the fall and winter for fundraising and other stuff.” For the moment he is focused on his play.

The comedy concerns an atheist Jewish psychiatrist who is visited by three men, each believing himself to be Jesus Christ. Each one proceeds to make their case as the Messiah, while battling to save the Dr.’s soul.

Rozin explained that he was has “always been fascinated how religious text gets interpreted, appropriated, abused. And completely misrepresented and that led me that the three Christs in the play would have very different interpretations and would be battling it out. To win the psychiatrist’s favor, which reflects where we are in the world,” Rozin explained.

Over the three years, he took to write it, Rozin was also noticing the increased media attention on religion. “I was seeing, more and more, how pundits were pontificating about religion, this way and that, appropriating Christ’s wisdom in their own way and asserting that others were interpreting it wrong.”

Because of the themes, Rozin was not surprised that there was condemning mail already. “”We already got some yesterday, with the words ‘be not deceived, God is not mocked, there is only one Messiah, one Christ’ … and it goes on from there. Some people who are very religious don’t have any humor about it. But we’re not expect that to be a primary response,” Rozin assured.

He said this 28th season particularly connected with a wide cross-section of audiences. He had already been strategizing about how to form a Philly theater collective when the move became inevitable in the short term.

“I had already thinking about making it a hub for new plays at the Adrienne. But that plan didn’t work out. So once we found the Drake, which had the potential for two theater spaces, we knew that from a business perspective as well as a spiritual and community perspective, we would be much stronger as a collaborative entity, than if it was just going to be InterAct moving to a new home theater,” Rozin said. Highlighting its features of ballroom height ceilings, the 128 seat main stage theater and flexible 75-seat second stage.

“The four companies we’re bringing in, will build a genuine spirit of collaboration whereby everybody benefits. Creatively and commercially,” Rozin said. So far everything is on pace for the October opening, where theatre makers come to read, write, research, discuss, exchange, devise, rehearse and attend new plays. 2015-06-02-1433280524-241956-SethRozincourtesyofInterActTheatreCo.jpg Director Rozin at the Drake earlier this year (courtesy InterAct)

“Aside for the scale and newness of it and we’ve never had to manage some of these things- from design decisions to hand driers in the bathroom- you know. The fundraising is beyond anything we’ve ever done. Everything is on pace for the Drake opening in October for InterAct’s new era. assures, even though it seems, even for the always calm director, both “exciting and terrifying.” Curtain up!

The Three Christs of Manhattan runs through June 21 at the Adrienne Theater 2030 Sansom St. Phila. For more information about the upcoming season at the Drake check www.interActTheatre.org | or call 215.568.8079

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Top 10 LA Theatre Productions from 2014

The Ugly One, Marius von Mayenburg, Ensemble Studio Theatre LA
An utterly hilarious, pitch-black comedy that is perfect for Southern California audiences, as it deals with the perception of physical beauty and the willingness to go to surgical extremes to achieve that state. Gates McFadden’s free-ranging direction perfectly captures the clever anarchy of von Mayenburg’s wild world.

Stupid Fu**ing Bird, Aaron Posner, The Theatre at Boston Court
This co-production with Circle X Theatre Company set house records and Posner’s deconstruction of The Seagull never fails to please, using occasional direct address in a way that truly impacts the audience. Like the best of Chekhov, the characters are equal parts offbeat and self-destructive, and director Michael Michetti is in fine form, with this special, West Coast premiere.

RX, Kate Fodor, The Lost Studio
Fodor goes far beyond the conventions of budding romance by interlacing discussions about the psychology of love, mixed with psychopharmacology and a society that sometimes masks strong sentiments with prescription drugs. John Pleshette directs an excellent cast with a light, deft touch, creating a definite, theatrical high.

The Country House, Donald Margulies, Geffen Playhouse
2014’s other homage to Anton Chekhov, while quite different from Stupid Fu**ing Bird, is just as entertaining. Margulies, one of our finest playwrights, puts together a group of unbalanced, neurotic but eminently loveable theatre folk in a country house near Williamstown, MA. Blythe Danner and David Rasche lead a tremendous cast, guided expertly by Daniel Sullivan.

The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord, Scott Carter, Noho Arts Center /The Geffen Playhouse
Scott Carter’s triumvirate of historical figures in an afterlife limbo smoothly integrates humor with their personal histories and some scathing, smart philosophical banter. Matt August’s direction keeps things lively in a confined space and Larry Cedar, David Melville and Armin Shimmerman all acquit themselves with aplomb.


Race, David Mamet, Kirk Douglas Theatre

A compact, wicked and amusing renunciation of politically correct assumptions about not only race but socio-economic position. Scott Zigler directs Chris Bauer, Dominic Hoffman, Jonno Roberts and DeWanda Wise at a furious pace and by the time the black-white issues of a law firm defending a white, wealthy murder suspect reach their conclusion, we are panting and stimulated.

The Trip to Bountiful, Horton Foote, Ahmanson Theatre/Center Theatre Group
Horton Foote’s deceptively simple story of a black matriarch yearning to return to her country roots is headed by a magnificent performance from Cicely Tyson, effortlessly funny and tragic. Director Michael Wilson also has Vanessa Williams, Blair Underwood and a large but spot-on cast ably remind us of the power of great family stories.

In a Room on Broad Street, JacobJonas The Company, Highways
An astonishing dance troupe, headed by Jonas, melds the theme of competitiveness with gymnastic and sometimes frighteningly dangerous moves. A blend of breakdancing, contemporary ballet and circus acts, this local troupe deserves great recognition for its bravery.

The Curse of Oedipus, Kenneth Cavander, The Antaeus Company
Playwright Cavander’s adaptation of the Oedipus cycle has a great director in Casey Stangl, who wrangles a large cast, shifting timelines and ritual movement with a grace and ease that are most impressive. Easily the hardest play of this list to produce, making it all the more worthy of acclaim.

Always… Patsy Cline, Ted Swindley, El Portal Theatre
Swindley’s play with music is based on the life of Louise Seger (a bigger-than-life Sally Struthers) who befriended singer Patsy Cline (Carter Calvert) during a gig in Texas. Calvert’s strong singing and the charm of Swindley’s sweet and honest dialogue win the day here.

Worthy Contenders:
Brief Encounter, Noel Coward, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
The Gamester, Freyda Thomas, Theatre Forty
Happy Days, Samuel Beckett, Boston Court Theatre,
The Last Confession, Roger Crane, Ahmanson
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Dusting off the Wurlitzers: The Theatre Organ Scene in Indianapolis, Part I

Virtually anyone who grew up in Indianapolis in the 1980s has at least a vague recollection of the Paramount Music Palace, even if it was only through their tuneful commercial on early morning local news. For those of us who experienced it firsthand, I’m willing to venture those memories remain crystal clear, two decades after the establishment closed. I don’t imagine I visited the Music Palace more than a half dozen times (probably less), but I can remember the snakelike lines for both ordering the pizza and entering the Palace, while a potpourri of tone colors reverberated their way out the front door.

When I was older, I reflected on the PMP and how, because it was such a smoothly put-together concept (and, yes, a bit of a gimmick), it must have been a chain. But it wasn’t. It was an Indy original. And the 42-rank Wurlitzer (originally from the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California had such a lasting influence on young people who grew up with it that it elevated Indy to one of the county’s leading cities for perpetuating the culture of the beloved but often neglected theatre organ — the pop-culture counterpart to pipe organs’ highbrow, ecclesiastical bent. These vintage instruments aren’t generally that easy to find, but a small cadre of devotees are doing their most to ensure they don’t pass into oblivion. And Indy has its fair share.

“There is rarely a time when I play pre-show… inevitably whenever it’s a pretty decent-sized crowd, someone will come up to me and talk to me about, ‘oh, is that the organ from Paramount Music Palace?'” Justin Stahl told me while sitting at a theater organ at the Warren Performing Arts Center, on the east side of the city, where he performs and practices regularly. “It’s got almost a cult following in the depths of the city’s history.” Like many other Indianapolis-based theatre organists — and the city has spun out a remarkable array of talent for its modest size — Stahl saw the Palace, which operated from 1978 to 1995, just a few miles away from Warren High School, as an inspiration for developing his craft at the instrument.

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Organist Justin Stahl performs at the theater organ (from the Barton Company) at the Warren Performing Arts Center, part of the eastside high school’s auditorium.

In fact, the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) is among the most vibrant in the country, using its strong network to attract national conferences to the city, where both local and non-local talent test their mettle on various instruments across town. Mark Herman, who based his variegated creative talents in Indianapolis until recently (and now lives in Pasadena, California) agreed with Stahl’s assessment: “The Paramount Music Palace… helped the ATOS chapter here grow… We still present usually about four concerts each year,” he observed. “The group has installed several organs, all of which are extremely fine installations.” Herman attests that the Paramount Music Palace was one of the best “at putting the general public and the theatre organ in contact with one another.”

It has been an uphill battle for the small but close-knit community of theatre organ aficionados, a coterie that includes performers, collectors and hobbyists, all unified most powerfully through the ATOS. Indianapolis enjoys a particularly prominent dot on the map because of localized efforts to restore and preserve particular theatre organs, where Anderson native Carlton Smith is one of just a few in the nation who has devoted his life to the craft. Tucked away in the Stutz building, Carlton Smith Pipe Organ Restorations features, at any given time, a half-dozen instruments in various stages of completion, with several more in storage awaiting his deft touch. It would be easy to say he saves them from their demise, but in many cases they’re already dead. Smith resuscitates them, sometimes for old picture palaces that have enjoyed a concurrent renewal, but often in private residences.

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A Barton theatre organ in the later stages of restoration at Carlton Smith’s offices in the Stutz Building.

“A sizable theatre organ — 13 ranks and up — will take us two to three years to restore,” Smith observed. “Of course, we still have smaller jobs, just components that someone might send us to rebuild. I primarily started my recognition in the theatre organ world by restoration of consoles [the apparatus at which the organist sits and operates to make the sounds]… sometimes we electrify them now instead of rebuilding the wind action.” Smith noted that he and his small team have to accommodate what the auditoriums want, and his fine arts background makes him widely sought after by purists because of his strong attention to restoration of the ornamentation on the instrument.

Smith is among many who recognize that ATOS largely emerged when the future of the instrument was seriously threatened. Tim Needler, chair of the Central Indiana chapter of the ATOS and an accomplished organist himself (though rarely before the public), recognized that they fell into neglect by the dawn of World War II, then shortly thereafter were scrapped. “Most theatre organs were either left in the theatres or junked when air conditioning came in because those chambers became a great place to put the equipment. Then, of course, the Second World War… there’s materials there for the war effort,” Needler recalled. The others fell into desuetude, so that today, according to Needler, “There’s probably fewer than a thousand. When you figure that every town had a theater of some sort, and almost every theater had an organ, so there were thousands and thousands.” Even a city like Indianapolis — not very big in 1930 — probably had close to 100 theater organs.

But their reign was remarkably short. Big names like Barton, Möller, Kimball and of course Wurlitzer innovated like gangbusters to enhance the silent film experience. “1926 to ’28, I would say, were the boom years,” Carlton Smith told me. “The boom years for the musicians, too. In a big theater, at a local level, they were rockstars. They had cult followings. Fans wrote them letters. The girls swooned over the guys.” But Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer (1927) kicked off the era of the talkies — a technological advancement that soon became the status quo for movies and rendered the theater organ a dowdy curiosity.

The second half of this article will explore how different local theatre organists are seeking new methods of keeping the instrument relevant. All photos taken by the author.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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Indian Classical Music: Sangita Ratnakara, Sadhana Sargam, Odissi Music, Swara, Nandikeshvara, Khyal, Classical Indian Musical Theatre

Indian Classical Music: Sangita Ratnakara, Sadhana Sargam, Odissi Music, Swara, Nandikeshvara, Khyal, Classical Indian Musical Theatre


New – Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Pages: 23. Chapters: Sangita Ratnakara, Sadhana Sargam, Odissi music, Swara, Nandikeshvara, Khyal, Classical Indian musical theatre, Grace note, Shruti, That, Thumri, Sarana Chatushtai, Arjun Kumar, Gamaka, Dattilam, Margazhi Raagam, Patiala gharana, Alapana, Damaru, Mehfil, Zamzama, Water Lily Acoustics, Mailai Sapthaswarangal, Khajuraho Dance Festival, Ashtapadi

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“Post Mortem Presents: A Very Victorian Christmas,” Post Mortem Movement Theatre, Long Beach CA

The party prelude hooks you. There’s a Door Girl (Danielle Kaufman), a vampy pre-Henry Higgins Eliza Doolittle. A long, dark passageway – wait, is this Halloween? Rooms (so many possibilities but, alas, locked) off to the side. You emerge from this dim lit vaguely Christmassy birth canal and – gasp! – light. Crowd noise, music, a bar – red and green potent potables for one, please. A vampire, burlesque girls, a ghost, a clown and other dignitaries of darkness and noir hold court. A Host (Beth Pennington) calls the assembly to order and, like steel filings that hurl themselves at a redheaded magnet, it begins.

“Post Mortem Presents: A Very Victorian Christmas” is a staggering (in more ways than one) achievement. It gifts you the perfect antidote for the Whitman Sampler of bah, humbug Noel platitudes.

Conceived, directed and choreographed by Andrea Luna and Angela Lopez, it’s a riot of song, a rhapsody of dance and movement. In short, it’s a scream. It recovers and re-enacts the delightfully sinister Victorian winter solstice tradition. The shortest day of the year, an abundance of darkness, and that membrane that separates the undead and us dissolves.

What better occasion, then, for a couple of horror stories. ‘Tis the season, after all.

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Both stories concern ghosts. Each occasion dance numbers that build drama, enhance rhythm. One is frightful and ends happy ever, ever, after. The other is funny and ends tragic. Both run the gamut of the difference between one’s joyous expectations of the holidays and their grim reality. They are spooky, articulated nicely in that patent pending Post Mortem style of rave war paint, skulking movement, woeful facial expressions and gestures that, were one inclined towards physics, could be described as Heisenberg uncertain.

One concerns the woeful tale of Grimwald (Kyle Johnston) the sad clown. The other concerns a scaredy cat Santa Claus (Jeffrey Kieviet). Both are enchanting to watch, better yet, to share, as the stage is a few feet from the audience. The drama is as psychological as it is physical though it’s the physical bits, of course, we notice first. The humor, on the other hand, is Keystone Cops physical.

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No spoiler alert is necessary because this production was a one timer. Grimwald, a compelling combination of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp, becomes a successful entertainer. He becomes so successful that he hires a Jester (Alexis Udo-Udoma). The Jester – boo! Hiss! – steals the act. Talk about tit for tat sectarian violence. Grimwald kills the Jester, the Jester, undead but lethal, kills Grimwald’s Lover (Andrea Luna). Because it’s Christmas, though, Grimwald’s undead lover returns and they live happy ever (ever as in vampire ever).

And then there’s Santa. Probably because he reads The Daily Mail, his annual rounds scare the bejeezus out of him. Each time he stumbles, literally and figuratively, into each house, he expects something to befall him. Not even remotely jolly, he traipses in, defenses up, and then, no threat. The anthropomorphic Christmas Tree takes it all in gleeful stride. Santa relaxes, suspects nothing’s going to happen. Then he becomes the victim of a Murphy’s Law. Santa, R.I.P.

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Speaking of Eliza Doolittle, you do get accustomed to the face of Post Mortem. They’re energetic and innovative. In every sense of the word, they’re original. A vampire (Ashley Allen), burlesque girls (Sayaka Miyatani and Jessica Rae), and a ghost (Luna). Song (Ellen Warkentine and Andrew Pedroza), movement, and dance. Stories that tangentially evoke Christmas and massively describe the human condition. “A Very Victorian Christmas” offers one big festive wassail. A grog or two in, you might even say it’s good for wassails you.

For more information on this one-on production and information on the company, visit them here.

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Arts – The Huffington Post
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Hard Choices: Dance Theatre of San Francisco Aims High

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Dance Theatre of San Francisco is the new kid on the block – a precocious kid on a block crammed with nimble little dance companies that turn out adventurous new work on a shoestring. Like many precocious kids, it manifests admirable talent but also exhibits immaturity. This is its second season, for which it offered up a potluck of three short impressionistic works by three local up-and-coming choreographers, and a new incarnation of Daphnis and Chloé that looks like DTSF’s bid to be taken seriously as a ballet company – a risky proposition in a metropolis that boasts the San Francisco Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Diablo Ballet, and that regularly plays host to every major world class ballet company.

A dance company with limited resources has to make hard choices. When stuck with a venue with a poor sound system, like the Cowell Theatre, piping in taped classical music is amateurish, and yet three of the four pieces on display this weekend were performed to taped classical music. The exception was Dexandro “D” Montalvo’s terrific Ocean, whose throbbing electronic score shot through with industrial sounds did not require a sound system any finer than that at the Cowell.

Live music may be beyond the budget of most small companies, but the Bay Area is simply bursting at the seams with cutting-edge composers and musicians who might be cajoled into serving up a score, live or taped, geared specifically toward the acoustic environment at the Cowell. When push comes to shove, Ballet to the People believes that you should make do with fewer dancers and employ a handful of musicians.

Costuming was a resounding success – impeccable and stylish all evening, especially in the skin-toned, Grecian inspired swirling creations for Daphnis and Chloé. Hats off to Renaissance man Christopher Dunn who costumed everyone AND distinguished himself in lead roles all evening.

Hard choices extend to other elements of a production – in particular, lighting. Two of the four pieces, by Sandrine Cassini and Milissa Payne Bradley, were ill served by their bare-bones lighting design. Cassini’s Here By Our Sight (to a tinny, scratchy recording of the Adagio from Schubert’s Quintet in C Major) started out with the dancers poetically lit in silhouette against a glowing background, then flooded the stage with overly bright, clinical lighting that washed out the dancers in their severe steel-grey unitards and diminished the strangely tender moments in the choreography. Payne Bradley’s Your Sun Becomes My Moon set up two parallel universes in which intimate relationships between two pairs of dancers unfurled simultaneously onstage, a concept which begged to be supported by a bifurcated lighting scheme that simply didn’t materialize.

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One doesn’t expect a pick-up company to display a unified style or aesthetic, and the three short pieces did play to the dancers’ individuality. Daphnis and Chloé however is a different breed of dance, and the ensemble of thirteen powered heroically through Mark Foehringer’s ecstatic neoclassical choreography with a dizzying range of manners. Perhaps more rehearsal time would have hammered out a more consistent carriage of the head, arms and shoulders, and more uniform leg extensions… but the work is simply not innovative enough to make it the focal point of a brave new venture.

Though Foehringer’s pared-down interpretation of the classic tale verged on a storyline for the Desperate Housewives of Ancient Greece, the splendid, regal Jamielyn Duggan rose above cliché in the role of the scheming Lycaenion, ably supported by Ismael Acosta. Christopher Dunn and Kelsey McFalls shone sweetly in the title roles, and Marcos Vedovetto proved a commanding Pan.

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The dancers seemed most at home in the hybrid hip-hop and contemporary vocabulary of Ocean, the chilling vision of a sleeper cell of aliens activated by the superb Cooper Neely. The second movement, a serpentine trio set to Ólafur Arnalds’ gently hypnotic For Teda, features Neely, Christopher Dunn and Kelsey McFalls in a contemporary nod to Frederic Ashton’s extraterrestrial Monotones II. Arnalds’ dappled tones give way to the brutal techno of Henning Baer in a particularly bleak mood, and Montalvo fields an army of aliens programmed to destroy whatever is in their path. With arms that function like machine guns and movement delivered in controlled spasms that seem to spring directly from the score, the DTSF dancers appear nothing short of virtuosic. A music critic summed up the Baer EP in a manner that perfectly characterizes Montalvo’s work: “There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no light at the beginning either. There is only darkness here.”

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There is a bleak edge to Cassini’s work as well, the dancers frequently looking out over an abyss but always drawing each other back. They initially look very comfortable in Cassini’s movement style, which is cat-like and ethereal but also very grounded. There are tantalizing hints of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a mischievous Puck-like figure – danced with brio on Sunday by Angela Bevevino – who gambols among the sleeping figures of two unsuspecting maidens. However, midway through the piece, as the Schubert builds in intensity and anxiety, the choreography turns more nakedly athletic. The piece looks unfinished, as if the choreographer was testing out movement ideas in the second half but didn’t have time to polish it, and the dancers appeared to struggle.

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Payne Bradley’s piece is driven by Arvo Pärt’s austere and mystical Summa for Strings, whose waves wash to shore two couples: one entwined in a luscious contemporary duet, the other in a formal, purely classical pas de deux. Alexandra Fitzgibbon and Michael Galloway, in chic swimwear marked with fields of color suggestive of Mark Rothko, are never less than stunning as they explore unstable, shifting sands. Their movements suggest some kind of marine creature. They cede the stage to Ana Robles and Joshua Thake, she in a long diaphanous tutu and he in a princely tunic, and we are reminded that the language of classical ballet is objectively no less contrived or exotic than the movement of jellyfish or sea dragons. Robles and Thake seemed poorly matched or under-rehearsed, however, which, together with the lighting failure, diminished the impact of this otherwise glamorous and quirky work.

At the start of the evening, company Executive Director and Artistic Advisor Annie Henry (who also brought an elegant presence to the ensemble in Daphnis and Chloé) delivered a graceful pitch for donor support. Money is not the only thing the company needs right now. It is not enough to employ dancers and give free rein to talented choreographers – there must be a vision in the curating of a program, and a discipline to the myriad decisions around scoring, casting, time and resource allocation. There must be someone with the experience and authority to sit in on rehearsals and make a judgment as to what is ready to be presented and what is not. In young companies, understandably, artists often must wear more than one hat. At present, in this company, there are important hats that no one is wearing.

Photos:

1. Dance Theatre of San Francisco members Jessica Wagner & Ismael Acosta in the premiere of Sandrine Cassini’s Here By Our Sight, October 24-26 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco. Photo: Matt Haber

2. & 3. Dance Theatre of San Francisco ensemble in the premiere of Mark Foehringer’s Daphnis and Chloé. Photo: Anandha Ray

4. Dance Theatre of San Francisco members Jamielyn Duggan & Christopher Dunn in the premiere of Mark Foehringer’s Daphnis and Chloe, October 24-26 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco. Photo: Matt Haber

5. Dance Theatre of San Francisco member Vincent Chavez in the premiere of Dexandro Montalvo’s Ocean. Photo: Anandha Ray

6. Dance Theatre of San Francisco members Michael Galloway and Alexandra FitzGibbon in the premiere of Milissa Payne Bradley’s Your Sun Becomes My Moon. Photo: Anandha Ray
Arts – The Huffington Post
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It’s Pink Martini and Balanchine for Oregon Ballet Theatre at 25

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Ballet to the People meant to show up at Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland on Saturday in time to gatecrash company class. But on the way to the studio she succumbed to the siren song of Mother Foucault’s Bookshop. With its vintage office furniture and massive, mismatched, hardwood bookshelves, old and new literary fiction and hardcore philosophy books tantalizingly strewn about, it has the air of a shop that’s been around a lot longer than its three-and-a-half years. Mother Foucault’s is presided over by a young Lord Byron, whose name upon inquiry turned out to be Craig Florence – which struck Ballet to the People as aptly romantic for a bookseller (“Yes, I know, women have wanted to marry me just for my name… and I’ve already been married twice.”) Florence once worked at Shakespeare and Company on Paris’ Left Bank and eschews frivolities like computers and credit card machines.

Ballet to the People tore herself away and, clutching two volumes of poetry (by Slovenian Tone Škrjanec and Portlandian Douglas Spangle), dashed across the street just in time for révérence.

OBT is in the throes of rehearsal for a 25th anniversary program that honors its 20th century past, and also looks ahead to its future as a cultural beacon in a city that boxes way above its weight class in the arts.

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The legendary Bart Cook was on hand Saturday to whip Agon into shape – that 1957 masterpiece that, after Apollo and The Four Temperaments, cemented the classic Balanchine style: cerebral, steely, stripped down. Conspicuous for those extraordinary extensions with splayed hips, off-balance transitions and turns executed at whiplash speed, often on top of a bent knee – in bold defiance of classical “rules.” And yet classical form pops up everywhere in Agon, particularly in the carriage of the arms, in the crisp and dazzling arabesques piquées, in the courtly manners and the bows that cap each brief episode.

A ballet tailormade for what post-Beat poet Spangle called “white concrete days,” its première caused a sensation, not least because of Balanchine’s decision to cast a black man and a white woman, Arthur Mitchell and Diana Adams, in the central pas de deux, at a particularly explosive time in the civil rights era. (Some maintain that this was a purely aesthetic decision, with Balanchine seeking to highlight the visual skin color contrast, as he also did by costuming the dancers in simple black and white practice clothes.)

OBT last performed this ballet in 1999, but today a new generation of dancers makes it their own. It requires great discipline and clean execution, without sacrificing individual expressiveness and exuberance. Cook exhorted the dancers to get deeper into the collapsed positions, to drape the torsos more fully over bent legs, and to “have fun” in the more playful, jazz-inflected moments. He murmured “beautiful” as Martina Chavez maneuvered into a deep arabesque penchée on pointe while Brian Simcoe threw himself to the ground on his back, continuing to support her with one hand. There were thrills aplenty, as when Jordan Kindell and Adam Hartley tossed Candace Bouchard high into the air. But perhaps the greatest pleasure came from watching the ensemble chew up space in low explosive jumps that often twist and change direction unexpectedly in the air – especially the cadre of men (Hartley, Kindell, Simcoe, and Chauncey Parsons) who open and close the ballet, enigmatically, with their backs to the audience – and watching their fierce intelligence at work as they unraveled the complex Stravinsky score, one that tends to tie you up in knots if you attempt to count it.

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Apart from the stunning, elegant Chavez, doe-eyed Eva Burton was a revelation in rehearsal – flipping between stark hyperextensions and softly regal classical positions with astonishing ease – as was Candace Bouchard, who pairs the serenity of a Botticelli with the athleticism of a modern American Olympian.

“Love x 3” rounds off the retrospective: a series of pas de deux excerpted from three works with strikingly different pedigrees and temperaments. With deconstructed denim coattails billowing, daredevils Xuan Cheng and Michael Linsmeier romp through Trey McIntyre’s Robust American Love, set to “He Doesn’t Know Why” by Seattle indie band Fleet Foxes (“See your rugged hands and a silver knife/ Twenty dollars in your hand makes you hold so tight.”)

Chauncey Parsons is consumed by the fiery Alison Roper in Christopher Stowell’s Carmen. (Roper, who officially retired from the stage last season, returns for this program.) Parsons portrays Carmen’s jailer, Don José, but even after he binds her wrists, she taunts him and seduces him into freeing her. Hints of flamenco flavor their foreplay, Roper’s pointes and heels stabbing the floor.

Ansa Deguchi is a reckless young teenager in James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet, trying to prevent the sensitive Brian Simcoe from leaving her bedroom at the crack of dawn. The petite Deguchi radiates clean lines, and communicates with her beautiful arches and delicately expressive fingers and hands. When Simcoe finally tears himself away, her face crumples in childlike anguish.

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Portland’s inimitable Pink Martini, with the silky-voiced China Forbes, is to provide live accompaniment to Never Stop Falling (In Love), a world première by Nicolo Fonte. The party atmosphere in the rehearsal studio kicked into high gear when Pink Martini’s irrepressible Thomas Lauderdale, dapper in grey suit and bow tie, bounded in and settled in behind the piano. The company is not simply dancing to previously released arrangements of Pink Martini hits; Fonte and Lauderdale have shaped some old and some unreleased songs into a purpose-built score.

“These new arrangements feel good,” Lauderdale acknowledged, “They’re a little slower than when we originally recorded them – they BREATHE.”

Never Stop Falling is a big ensemble number, full of luxurious, slinky, flirty movement. Among the many beguiling moments are sequences in which the women sink to the ground, sometimes out of a spin, and the men appear out of nowhere to catch them before they hit the ground.

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Punctuating the swooning, sassy Pink Martini sound is Lauderdale’s wistful interpretation of a Chopin Berceuse, to which Fonte has limned a heart-stopping pas de deux for the Parsons brothers, Chauncey and Colby. (Of the Chopin, Lauderdale noted ruefully, “I just came from a piano lesson, and my piano teacher busted my ass!”)

The work brings out individual dancer personalities: the fearless Xuan Cheng, sultry Martina Chavez, and coltish Sarah Griffin. And among the men, the romantic Jordin Kindell, the haunting Chauncey Parsons, and the noble, mysterious Brett Bauer.

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Early rehearsals of Never Stop Falling took place in front of appreciative crowds at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, where the company camped out for four days in August in its annual summer ritual, christened “OBT Exposed,” that typically draws about 10,000 visitors.

Will Fonte’s new work – onstage, with costumes by Portland designer and Project Runway winner Michelle Lesniak – prove the perfect spectacle to usher in another quarter century of superlative dancing and imaginative programming?

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Catch Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 25th anniversary program with Pink Martini from October 11-18 at Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St, Portland. On the way, stop in at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop at 523 SE Morrison St.

Photos by Blaine Truitt Covert:

1. Candace Bouchard in rehearsal for George Balanchine’s Agon
2. Chauncey Parsons in rehearsal for George Balanchine’s Agon
3. Bart Cook, répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, rehearsing Eva Burton and Sarah Griffin in George Balanchine’s Agon
4. Ansa Deguchi and Brian Simcoe in rehearsal for the Bedroom Pas de Deux from James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet
5. Sarah Griffin and Martina Chavez rehearsing Nicolo Fonte’s world premiere with Pink Martini, Never Stop Falling (In Love) at OBT Exposed in Pioneer Courthouse Square in August.
6. Martina Chavez and Brett Bauer rehearsing Nicolo Fonte’s world premiere with Pink Martini, Never Stop Falling (In Love) at OBT Exposed in Pioneer Courthouse Square in August.
7. Eva Burton and Colby Parsons rehearsing Nicolo Fonte’s world premiere with Pink Martini, Never Stop Falling (In Love) at OBT Exposed in Pioneer Courthouse Square in August.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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“Mama Won’t Fly,” Little Fish Theatre, San Pedro CA

It’s summer. That means we need beach type entertainment material. Navigable, fun, not too ponderous. It also means road trips, planned as much as one can plan a road trip, a chance to connect with family, and, also, fun. “Mama Won’t Fly,” written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten and directed by James Rice for Little Fish Theatre, is both navigable and fun.

Savannah Honeycutt (Amanda Karr) and and her daughter Norleen Sprunt (Susie McCarthy) plan to attend their son’s/brother’s wedding in Santa Monica. They live in Birmingham, Alabama. Their relationship is, well, it’s difficult. Savannah is maternal, which is a polite word for manipulative. Norleen is feisty, chagrined, and not a little proud. She grieves the loss of the One, perhaps, Who, Got Away. Family is family though so, off they go.

Norleen bought the tickets, nonrefundable, of course. Problem is, mama won’t fly. A prior flight, gastrointestinal issues, no details necessary. Now it becomes a race against time cross country road trip in a clunker. At the last second, future daughter-in-law/sister-in-law Hayley (Holly Baker-Kreisworth) joins the mix. It turns into a get to know each other odyssey across the bottom part of the country. They may or may not become family but they sure get to know each other along the way.

Adventures abound. These include hitchhiking because someone stole their car and baggage. A visit to a museum of foundation undergarments that would make Madonna and Lady Gaga green with envy. A stop-in at a bar with an identity crisis: is it Irish or is it cowboy? And, finally, a delightful skirmish in Las Vegas.

Rice toned it pitch perfect. Serious issues underscore the story but its emphasis was on Murphy’s Law: everything that can go wrong, will. Was Hayley going to marry Mr. Right? Will Norleen rekindle what she thought was True Love? Was Savannah really that oppressive a mother? Who cares? The adventures and the predicaments are what shine in this story.

The performances are spot on, keen. Those southern accents are believable. The cast captures all the nuances of different people thrown together into each other’s company. Each woman has a deep side, some kind of embedded craziness. As we see at the end, each has a huge heart as well.

Karr nails Savannah: a pistol, a firecracker, a scourge to Norleen’s future happiness. Proving that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, so was McCarthy’s Norleen. Their bickering, their competition, and their shared DNA is funny, no doubt because the audience can relate to it. As a perfect contrast, Baker-Kreiswirth’s Hayley seems to optimistic, unjaded, a soon-to-be bubbly bride. As this is a road trip, though, she has baggage of her own. As various roadside attractions, the ensemble cast – Stephen Alan Carver, Sara DiMeo, Chiquita Fuller, Victoria Yvonne Martinez, and Daniel Tennant – are not just hilarious, two of them serve as the doors of the car.

“Mama Won’t Fly” is perfect summer fare. Well acted and staged, it will not just entertain you, it will also make you wonder why couples don’t just elope.

Performances are 8pm, Friday and Saturday, 2pm, Sunday, July 6. The play runs until July 19. Tickets are $ 24 – $ 27. The Theatre is located at 777 Centre Street, San Pedro, CA 90731. For more information, call (310) 512-6030 or visit www.littlefishtheatre.org.

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Arts – The Huffington Post
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“The Melville Boys,” Little Fish Theatre, San Pedro, CA

Based on past productions, the Little Fish Theatre appears to have been custom made to feature plays set in cabins. Cozy, rustic (viz. pomp-less), and, for the audience (lucky us), accessible. Norman Foster’s “The Melville Boys,” directed by Paul Vander Roest, is no exception.

The production’s perfectly paced. It begins frat kegger funny and then, almost in a whisper, becomes sad as hell. It ends neither maudlin nor tragic. Instead, to Vander Roest’s credit, it glows with a gentle humanity: all four characters must (and do) come to terms with the one thing that no one who’s ever lived can avoid.

It takes place over the span of a weekend. It features the Melville brothers, Lee (Bill Wolski) and Owen (Michael Hanson). They work together in a plastic factory. They come to their aunt and uncle’s cabin, ostensibly, for some bro-time: beer, cheese puffs, and fishing, punctuated with an unplanned encounter between two sisters, local women Mary (Holly Baker-Kreiswirth) and Loretta (Kyla Schoer).

Sound like fun and games? It is. Owen, engaged to be married, wants to fish, have more than a few brewskis. Lee, married, with two daughters, is more stolid, is there seemingly to provide adult supervision to his quixotic younger brother. Similarly, Loretta is up for anything while her sister, like Lee, serves as an anchor. Sounds idyllic (and funny; and charming): skinny dipping and canoodling (Owen and Loretta), a dance at the Legion hall, a turnip cake (no one ate it, they were all filled up on all the other food).

But if Lee doesn’t have a secret, then he at least tends to the biggest elephant imaginable in the room. It explains his solemnity, his behavior toward both Owen and Mary; and it makes you realize that everyone has a backstory. All four backstories not only explain character and define plot. They also propose that we don’t judge people by their superficial propensity for either elder sibling seriousness or younger sibling frolicking.

The chemistry between the characters is flawless. All four actors play their characters with nicely pitched reserve. Of great interest was the simmering volcano that was Wolski’s Lee. This was, after all, Lee’s story. He wasn’t bitter at what life dealt him. He just wanted his in-denial brother to tend to a few things (his wife, his two daughters) in the rudderless future. This made his one eruption effective because we saw that he wasn’t as much concerned at what would eventually happen to him but what would occur subsequent to him.

Likewise with Hanson’s Owen, Baker-Kreiswirth’s Mary, and Schoer’s Loretta. All three were funny, spontaneous, and amenable to a philosophy of what happens in the cabin stays in the cabin. But they weren’t so over the top that their various concerns – hope that an errant husband would return; hope that an acting career would take off; hope that growing up meant not living someone else’s life – overrode those of Lee. In light of the bigger picture, it wasn’t such a bad philosophy after all.

Performances are 8pm Friday & Saturday and 2pm Sunday, March 23. Tickets are $ 22. The Theatre is located at 777 South Centre Street, San Pedro CA 90731. The show runs until April 5. For more information call (310) 512-6030 or visit www.littlefishtheatre.org.

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Arts – The Huffington Post
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$10 for Admission to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, and $20 Eastside Mario’s Voucher in Niagara Falls ($40 Value)

City: Toronto
Start Date: February 27, 2014
End Date: March 10, 2014
Value: $ 40
Price: $ 10
Purchases: 10
Purchases required: 1

Highlights:

  • Incredible savings for a full day’s worth of fun in Niagara Falls!
  • Choose from 4 great packages for a group of 1, 2, 4, or 6 people.
  • Each package comes with a dining credit to Eastside Mario’s.
  • Get one, two, four or six admissions to the spectacular IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic show.
  • Mini putt is 3-D glow-in-the-dark!
  • Great family fun for parents and children alike.

Buy Details:

  • Includes a choice of:
  • $ 10 for Package for 1: Admission for one to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, and a $ 20 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • $ 25 for Package for 2: Admission for two to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, Chocolate Tour & Tasting at Chocolate FX for two, and a $ 20 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • $ 40 for Package for 4:Admission for four to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, Chocolate Tour & Tasting at Chocolate FX for four, and a $ 20 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • $ 55 for Package for 6: Admission for six to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, Chocolate Tour & Tasting at Chocolate FX for six, and a $ 30 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • To Redeem, please pick-up package at the Discount Desk at Captain Jack’s Pirates Cove (4955 Clifton Hill, L2G 3N5).
  • Vouchers will become active one hour after purchase.
  • For dining credits: must purchase 2 entrees. Valid only for dine-in at the location indicated on this voucher only. Excludes alcohol. Entire value must be used in a single visit.
  • Unlimited per person and as gifts.
  • Taxes not included and are paid by guest when redeeming vouchers.
  • .

Description:

Get ready for a fun-filled day of activities in Niagara Falls that the whole family can enjoy with today’s deal:

  • $ 10 for Package for 1: Admission for one to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, and a $ 20 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • $ 25 for Package for 2: Admission for two to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, Chocolate Tour & Tasting at Chocolate FX for two, and a $ 20 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • $ 40 for Package for 4:Admission for four to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, Chocolate Tour & Tasting at Chocolate FX for four, and a $ 20 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.
  • $ 55 for Package for 6: Admission for six to Mini Putt and IMAX Theatre: Niagara Miracles, Myths & Magic, Chocolate Tour & Tasting at Chocolate FX for six, and a $ 30 Eastside Mario’s Dining voucher.

Expires: August 31, 2014
Image Link: http://static.teambuy.ca/deal/708×333/other/28165691-2014-02-27-28162168-2014-01-20-28162168-elitetour-golf-banner1b.jpg
Merchant: Elite Tours Niagara
Merchant Link: http://www.toursofniagarafalls.com/


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An Enthralling Nutcracker at New York Theatre Ballet

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New York Theatre Ballet dancers in Keith Michael’s Nutcracker (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

It’s been an exhausting Fall season of bi-coastal dance, full of thought-provoking ballet — from the dazzling, messy new Tempest at American Ballet Theatre, to Crystal Pite’s Emergence at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nacho Duato’s bewitching Por Vos Muero at Oregon Ballet Theatre, dark fairy tales at West Wave, Alonzo King’s mesmerizing Writing Ground in San Francisco, and Unión Tanguera’s erotic tango reverie at Cal Performances in Berkeley.

A jetlagged Ballet to the People now intends to curl up in her pyjamas in front of the fire, with an eggnog and a cozy Nutcracker.

In the bi-coastal spirit, however, she will board a plane one more time this year to catch one of her all-time favorite Nutcrackers: New York Theatre Ballet’s captivating version by Keith Michael at the Florence Gould Hall in midtown Manhattan. The run comprises three performances daily – at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3:30 pm – on December 14, 15 and 22 only, so plan ahead.

Eschewing the cast of thousands, the grandeur of an opera house and of Christmas trees that inflate to skyscraper height, this streamlined retelling of the Nutcracker glories in the virtues of economy and wit. Situated, delightfully, on top of a mantelpiece and embellished in turn-of-the-20th-century Art Nouveau style, real people and figurines mingle, somewhat surreally, against a protean set designed by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith. Though aimed principally at young children, the production’s many clever details, and its crisp, unsentimental, high-octane storytelling have proven equally irresistible to more jaded adults. Sylvia Nolan, Resident Costume Designer of the Metropolitan Opera designed the stylish, sophisticated costumes that include polka-dotted mice, clockwork imps, and Chinese dancers wielding enormous chopsticks. A luminous owl flies above the audience. The hands of a ticking clock become swords in the dancers’ hands. The magic stays with us well beyond the hour.

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New York Theatre Ballet dancers in Keith Michael’s Nutcracker (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

Serving up imaginative versions of the classics — as well as newly commissioned work by acclaimed contemporary choreographers — all at affordable ticket prices, this tiny, much-lauded company has steadfastly delighted audiences since its founding in 1978. New York Theatre Ballet has worked hard to introduce newcomers to ballet, targeting underserved markets — not just in New York City, but also in smaller cities across America — filling a niche that the larger, less nimble dance companies tend to ignore.

NYTB – Nutcracker Promo 2012 from New York Theatre Ballet on Vimeo.

Last year, critic Robert Gottlieb reported on NYTB’s Nutcracker:

It’s extraordinary the way [Michaels] achieves so much with so small an ensemble. What’s more, the choreography is musical and inventive — and fun. These are committed dancers, as much at home in this classic as they were in Tudor, Cunningham and Alston the last time I saw the company. The atmosphere is relaxed and rowdy, the experience a happy one. Don’t forget this one at Nutcracker time next year!

The Nutcracker is part of NYTB’s Once Upon a Ballet series. Other ballets in the series include:

The Alice-in-Wonderland Follies
January 25, 2014 at 1pm and January 26, 2014 at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3:30 pm

Cinderella
March 1-2, 2014 at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3:30 pm

Carnival of the Animals & Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding
May 3, 2014 at 1pm, May 4 at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3:30 pm

Whether the company will survive past this season is anyone’s guess, however. The tornado of urban renewal recently swept up the historic building that has housed NYTB’s studios and offices for over 30 years; its sale by the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, and impending demolition and redevelopment will shortly force New York Theatre Ballet onto the streets. As with a growing number of arts organizations, NYTB is discovering that stratospheric real estate costs, and the coupling of developer greed with city government apathy, make New York City inhospitable to all but the behemoths whose donors possess exceptionally deep pockets. A shameful state of affairs in the performing arts capital of the world.

Knowing that this may well be the last season of Keith Michael’s sparkling Nutcracker should at least galvanize you to score tickets today.

And while you’re standing on line at the box office, tweet Mayor-elect de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio), who on the campaign trail spoke up for the struggling middle class and small businesses, and ask him what he intends to do to reverse the noxious trend that is wiping out small but legendary institutions like NYTB and New York City Opera.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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