I’m sure some of you are now wondering, “What gives? Why are you writing about a Get Motivated business seminar on your performing arts blog?” Well, why wouldn’t I write about a good old fashioned Medicine show where songs are sung, lectures on the moral life delivered, freaks paraded before your very eyes, and miracles performed on the quarter-hour? Only instead of promising cures for baldness or a lack of male vigor at Get Motivated the crowd was encouraged to liberate itself from financial advisers and invest independently. Perhaps with the aid of an inexpensive real estate course or a $39-a-month-website subscription. Celebrity speakers, dwarfed by the vastness of the arena, power-walked onto a wrestling ring-sized stage as music blared, streamers flew, and pyro erupted. Their perfect Pepsodent smiles were blown up larger than life on the jumbotron. 20,000 beach balls fell from the sky. The stories were all about overcoming terminal illness, family tragedy, tragic family, terrorism and mean reporters who make fun of your husband the President because he can’t pronounce the word nuclear. The people on stage at Get Motivated had seen it all. And they were winning.
Blow out your candles, Laura...
A standing O for one of the 20th Century's greatest playwrights.
The Masyles Brothers' documentary:
The musical at Playhouse on the Square:
Playback Memphis is hosting a fundraiser performance celebrating and benefiting the company's work with non-profit partners like Victims to Victory, Junior League of Memphis, St Jude, Catholic Charities, Creative Aging, and Leadership Academy. There will be wine, sweets, treats, and plenty of spontaneously created art inspired by audience suggestions. It's never easy to describe what Playback does so here's a video clip from a past performance.
Saturday, April 2, 7:30pm at TheatreSouth (1000 South Cooper at Walker) Seating is limited and reservations are encouraged. firstname.lastname@example.org
2011-12 is shaping up to be a reasonably exciting theatre season.
Bye Bye Birdie (Lohrey Stage)
August 19 — September 11, 2011
Hard to believe but Theatre Memphis has never done this musical inspired by the mania surrounding Sun recording artists like Elvis Presley and Conway Twitty. Tunes like "One Last Kiss," authentically capture the spirit of early rock-and-roll.
Glengarry Glen Ross (Next Stage)
September 16 — October 2, 2011
David Mamet turns the lives of real estate salesmen into something positively Shakespearean. Great play. Great movie. Savage to the point of being satirical.
EMMA (Lohrey Stage)
October 7 -23, 2011
Hey, Pride & Prejudice was a big hit, why not?
Sondheim Concert (Next Stage)
November 4 — 20, 2011
Music by the master.
A Christmas Carol (Lohrey Stage)
December 2 — 23, 2011
Directed by Jason Spitzer
Barry Fuller as Scrooge
The Importance of Being Earnest (Lohrey Stage)
January 27— February 12, 2012
You know, I should complain about this. Wilde wrote other plays and this gets done over and over again. But it never gets old. Still, is it too much to ask for at least one Salome every 20 years or so?
Circle Mirror Transformation (Next Stage)
February 17 — March 4, 2012
A cleverly imagined dramedy set in a creative drama class. "Be a tree!"
Chicago (Lohrey Stage)
March 9 — April 1, 2012
From Curtains to Cabaret Theatre Memphis can't seem to get enough Kander & Ebb. Ripped from sensational headlines of the 1920's Chicago is a grand vaudeville about crime and corruption and one of the Great White Way's most successful musicals.
April 6 — 22, 2012
A poem by Henry Gibson. I mean, the PLAY by Henrik Ibsen.
Noises Off (Lohrey Stage)
April 27 — May 13, 2012
Michael Frayn's backstage farce still knocks 'em dead in the aisles. I've seen it enough, but nobody asked.
No, No, Nanette (Lohrey Stage)
June 8 — July 1, 2012
A nifty relic from the 1920's. "Tea for Two," anybody?
I don't know much about Levy Lee Simon's Bow Wow Club but here's the description...
Five teenage friends reunite after 20 years to reconnect emotionally and through discovery, revelation and realities, they are forced to choose between their stunning and fundamental differences or the undeniable power of their lifelong bond. Lee Simon's riveting tale of what happened to The Bow Wow Club once they left the security of the streets, as insecure a place as one could imagine. It shows their hopes, their dreams, their disappointments, their successes and the surprising changes that took place in their lives as they found acceptance and compromise in the modern world to be as big an adversary as any rival gang they had faced in their prime. Set at a Fourth of July reunion amidst the barbecue and sweet potato pie, their wives and lovers, they discover how they have drifted away from each other and yet how they are responsible for each other.
I was disappointed in Theatre Memphis's Cabaret. It wasn't bad but, Christopher McCollum's great deconstructed swastika of a set notwithstanding, it's just pretty average and way too family-friendly for its own good. I didn't shoot any video but I do have this audio sample from the top of the show.
The full review's in this week's Flyer, which hits the streets tomorrow.
Holy moly what a week. August: Osage County opens tonight at Playhouse on the Square with a cast of local all-stars, Cabaret opens at Theatre Memphis under the direction of Mitzi Hamilton, with Jonathan Christian at the Emcee. Last night (Thursday) Voices of the South opened Jerre Dye's award winning play Cicada at TheatreWorks where it played to packed houses in 2009. Blithe Spirit opens at Playhouse 51 in Millington— a theater I don't write nearly enough about. Also Young Frankenstein—not nearly as bad as the New York reviews might lead you to believe— finishes its run at the Orpheum, and the Dixie Swim Club—a script I actively detest but which audiences seem to love— ends it's run at Germantown Community Theatre. Whew.
I haven't read the last third of August: Osage County. I don't want to. I want to see it happen in front of me and I expect to be surprised even though I mostly know what happens. This dysfunctional family drama in the spirit of Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, and Edward Albee has been universally acclaimed. The black comedy about Oklahoma's Weston family coping with the death of its patriarch touches on everything from infidelity to incest. It's also hilarious and, for what its worth, the most critically acclaimed drama of the past couple of decades. That's right, decades. I honestly can't remember this kind of excitement surrounding the local premiere of a non-musical and playhouse has assembled a powerhouse cast: Irene Crist, Ann Marie Hall, Kim Justis EIkner, Dave Landis, Michael Detroit, Jim Palmer, Ed Porter... etc. In the director's chair: Rob Saterlee, formerly of Chicago's Steppenwolf, and the man responsible for staging last season's fantastic Frost Nixon.
Cabaret is a well known commodity so it's probably not necessary to revisit the plot or themes of Kander & Ebb's musical adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin, a snapshot of the decadent Berlin nightlife during the rise of Nazism in Germany. I'll only say that the show reunites a few of the key creative forces that made last season's La Cage aux Folles something extra special.
Voices of the South is blossoming like a magnolia. Here's a video review of the company's earlier production of Cicada. Word on the street is this version's even better this time around.
Young Frankenstein: Give this show a break people! No it's not a great musical although the music is sometimes great. This is Mel Brooks in the raw with all of his love of burlesque and Borscht-Belt corn on display. No longer is Brook's story a parody of Universal horror classics instead it's a vehicle for gags. Unsurprisingly "Putting on the Ritz"— the original film's nod to Vaudeville—is also the musical's strongest number, and it's good enough to overshadow other shortcomings. Also spectacular: Preston Truman Boyd's clowning as the monster. AAAARRRRGH!
I've got to get this out on the front end: I am not the target demo for the Dixie Swim Club. And trust me, this show was written with a target demo in mind. (I'm looking at you Red Hat Society). DSC is a formulaic, overly-sentimental, tear-jerking, feel-good, sisters-doing-it-for-themselves dramedy about five
I'm dropping in on Cabaret tonight, August: Osage County Saturday and (if the creeks don't rise) Cicada on Sunday. Maybe I'll see you at Intermission.
Here are highlights from Memphis against a backdrop of Memphis.
And here's what audiences can look forward to seeing at the Orpheum next season...
Ticket patrons with reservations for the original opening weekend will be contacted to reschedule their ticket reservations within the amended run. Please contact the Germantown Community Theatre Box Office at 901.937.3023 for updates.
Theatre Memphis has been recognized for its outstanding service to community theatre by the American Association of Community Theatres (AACT). The Twink Lynch Award specifically goes to the AACT member that has succesfully completed major steps in new directions, expanded services to their community and has moved to the next level of organizational development. The award is presented annually and this year the ceremonies will be held in Rochester, New York, in conjunction with the national AACT festival competition, June 20 - 25.
A second national award from AACT this year will be given to Bennett Wood, long time volunteer at Theatre Memphis. He has been selected to receive the Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer Award at the same convention in Rochester. This award is presented to individuals above the age of 65 who have faithfully served community theatre on a non-paid basis for over 25 years. Cited for his service of over 55 years to Theatre Memphis, Wood has acted, directed, served on the board of the directors, the play selection committee, marketing committee and various other committees in that tenure.