Spotlight

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tomorrow Belongs to Nazis — "Cabaret" Remains Stubbornly Relevant

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2019 at 10:56 AM

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"We are Americans, and the future belongs to us." — POTUS.
Inspired by Christopher Isherwood's story "Goodbye to Berlin" and the subsequent play I Am a Camera, the Kander & Ebb musical, Cabaret, shows three distinct snapshots of Germany during Hitler's rise to power. First, there's a sentimental Berlin, where a little old German landlady and a little old Jewish grocer might laugh and make loving, bawdy metaphors over a bowl of fruit. There's also a decadent, enticing Berlin, where transvestites and taxi dancers guzzle gin and dance in a sleepless celebration of flesh. And then there's the Berlin where Nazis multiply and metastasize like cancer cells. It's the last snapshot I want to focus on.

Where did all those Nazis come from? Hitler took inspiration from many places, but was a particular fan of American Industrialist Henry Ford, who acquired a weekly periodical called The Dearborn Independent, transforming it into a vehicle for his virulent brand of anti-semitism. Indeed, the ceaseless, almost century-long campaign against "liberalism" in media — a complaint whose ubiquity has made it conventional wisdom, undermining virtually all trust in American information workers — is essentially a politically refined twin of Ford's fear-mongering against, "the international Jew," who controls the news and entertainment industry.


Ford's anti-semitism wasn't unique for the time but, as the man who created America's automobile industry, he was uniquely credible and the power and influence he wielded was extraordinary. Before The Independent was shuttered amid lawsuits stemming from the paper's relentless defamation, it had become the second-largest circulation periodical in America. Ford's message about the threat of Jewish influence was carried forward by America's own Nazis, the German American Bund who, in spite of having been highly active and organized in the run up to WWII, have been virtually wiped from the public memory. The Bund protested for pro-Nazi media and their rally at Madison Square Garden filled the house. In short, while few images define how America sees itself like Jack Kirby's cartoon of Captain America punching Hitler in the face, the real story's more like a comic book plot than the big cultural myth. Our Nazis went underground, and stayed undefeated. They didn't have to reintegrate into the American fabric, because they were already part the American fabric. At some point it became impolite to make even the most appropriate Nazi comparisons, because the horror of the Holocaust was incomparable, a fact lending cover to the movement's provenance and evolution.

As a side note, the famous image of Captain America punching Hitler came out a year before America entered into WWII. Not only was America not at war with Germany when Kirby drew the image, 75 percent of the the US opposed war with the Nazis.

Germans were devastated by WWI. Crippled by debt and a deadlocked parliament, the country was ripe for a despot like Hitler. In much the same way economic anxieties in the U.S. have been channeled into racial tension, creating a permanent American underclass, Germany was looking for somebody to blame for its struggles and disgrace. Decadent Weimar culture made an easy target, and Henry Ford's international Jew made an easy scapegoat. While focusing on Berlin's Kit Kat Club, and those inside the orbit of British singer and bon vivant Sally Bowles, Cabaret seeks to answer what have long been regarded as unanswerable questions: How could it happen? And where did the monsters come from?


They didn't come from anywhere, of course. They were already there, waiting for representation. They were waiting for a leader to say out loud the kinds of things they were already whispering to their children. America always had Nazis — lots of them! They didn't come from anywhere, and they didn't vanish when conscription made certain views seditious. They just went back to being good folks, if a little more conservative than most. All they've ever needed to activate was a little representation.

I haven't seen Playhouse on the Square's Cabaret revival yet, but plan to be in the audience opening night. Broadway's book is different than Bob Fosse's nearly perfect film, and how the material is interpreted and contextualized matters. Thematically, it couldn't have arrived at a more appropriate time. Again.

Here's a video preview created by Playhouse on the Square. Have a look. 

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Meet Quark Theatre's "Radiant Vermin"

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 11:13 AM

Michelle Gregory, Lena Wallace Black, Chase Ring in "Radiant Vermin"
  • Michelle Gregory, Lena Wallace Black, Chase Ring in "Radiant Vermin"
What's the worst thing you've ever done for something you really wanted?

Chase Ring likes attention. Ring — currently lending his talents to Quark Theatre — made his marriage proposal onstage at Memphis' annual Theatre Awards, The Ostranders. He's one of the players in Philip Ridley's Radiant Vermin, opening at Theatre South this weekend, and he's quick to tell stories about the lengths he's been willing to go to for a little limelight — minor self-mutilation, skinny dipping in the Tony Garner memorial fountain in front of the McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College. None of it's really bad, but Ring's co-stars Michelle Gregory and Lena Wallace Black shrink a bit because, to hear them tell it, they've never broken the rules for any reason ever. Then, at length, another member of team Vermin makes a sheepish admission.

"I had a fake ID," she says. I won't say who engaged in this heinous criminal deceit, nor will I call out the other for fibbing to reporters about never veering from the straight-and-narrow because, as St. Augustine made plain in his Confessions, being a little bad can be its own reward. And once you get rolling it can be hard to hit the breaks.

We humans are infinitely adaptable creatures, all too willing to take risks, and subvert shame and conscious when the payoffs are suitably rewarding, and that's the most I want to say about this condition as it relates to Radiant Vermin.  Sometimes we cross the line for funsies — like a little skinny dip here and there or fudging our ages for access.

Sometimes there's a body count. Sometimes we're all implicated in the carnage.

I took the sound out of this video to enhance mystery and let users add their own soundtrack. Trust me, you'll want to.

Philip Ridley's Radiant Vermin is a comedy about a newlywed couple discovering the dream-home they've always wanted can be theirs, if they're willing to do what it takes. And what it takes is ...  a lot.

What are you willing to do for security? What are you willing to do for comfort? Luxury? To let folks know who you are? And here's maybe the more important question? Did you even know you were doing it?
Caption contest?
  • Caption contest?

"I almost hate to say the word, but it's a very 'meta' kind of play," Director Tony Isbell says. "Some have compared it to a sketch show. It's not a naturalistic, at all, there's a performative element to everything they do, and it's funny."

Ridley's plays can be dark. The English visual artist and storyteller turned playwright pioneered what's been described as the "In-yer-face" style. Radiant Vermin marks a shift in tone for Ridley but the fast-paced morality-farce still gets in the audience's's face at least a little bit. 

"His early stuff is funny but it can be dark-dark," Isbell says. "This is more dark-light."

Radiant Vermin opens this week at the best little basement theater in Cooper Young, Theatre South. Click here for details.
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Thursday, February 28, 2019

POTS 2019-'20 Season Revives Memphis, Showcases Kinky Boots, Go-Gos

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 5:00 PM

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Playhouse on the Square's 2019-2020 Season Revives the musical Memphis, while showcasing popular Broadway fare with 1980's music tie-ins. Kinky Boots, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and songs by "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" singer Cyndi Lauper, opens the season, a season that also features The Go-Gos unusual jukebox  show Head Over Heels.

The '19-'20 season folds in classics like Little Shop of Horrors and Ain't Misbehavin', with world and regional premieres.

Via Playhouse on the Square:

KINKY BOOTS
By: Harvey Fierstein Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper

August 9 – September 1, 2019 @ Playhouse on the Square

Based on the 2005 British film of the same name and scored by Cyndi Lauper, Charlie has inherited a shoe factory from his father. It sounds like a great deal, except the factory is failing and on the way to being shut down. Enter Lola, a cabaret performer and drag queen, who sees what Charlie can’t – and it’s all in the heel.



THE HUMANS
By: Stephen Karam

August 23 – September 8, 2019 @ The Circuit Playhouse

Thanksgiving in a run-down, Chinatown apartment isn’t the usual setting for the Blake family. But Brigid and new boyfriend Richard insist. A family get together is a great time to reconnect with those you love – or complain about religion, career choices, and why you spend money on organic vegetable smoothies. For this family, it is somewhere in between.



ON GOLDEN POND
By: Ernest Thompson

September 20 – October 6, 2019 @ Playhouse on the Square

Norman and Ethel Thayer are living out their golden years, enjoying summers at the family lake house. As with most homes, you find there are always things in need of repair. As you get older, you may find the same can be said for relationships as well.



HEAD OVER HEELS
By: James Magruder / Lyrics By: The Go-Go’s

October 4 – October 27, 2019 @ The Circuit Playhouse

Charged with the unmistakable, iconic music of The Go-Go’s, the kingdom of Arcadia goes on a daring quest to do whatever it takes to protect their famous “Beat.” On their journey they will find love, deceit, and misinterpreted prophesy. Will the kingdom of Arcadia be saved? “Our Lips Are Sealed.”



PETER PAN
Based on the Book By: J. M. Barrie
Lyrics By: Carolyn Leigh Betty Comden and Adolph Green / Music By: Mark Charlap and Julie Styne

November 15 – December 29, 2019 @ Playhouse on the Square

Life will never be the same for Michael, John, and Wendy Darling after Peter Pan visits their nursery window offering to take them to the magical world of Neverland. They meet the Lost Boys, spritely fairy Tinkerbell, the beautiful princess Tiger Lily, and the evil Captain Hook. The conflict between Peter and Hook takes center stage as the magical adventure turns dangerous and teaches everyone the true power of friendship.



JUNIE B. JONES THE MUSICAL

Book & Music By: Marcy Heisler / Lyrics By: Zina Goldrich

November 22 – December 22, 2019 @ The Circuit Playhouse

It’s Junie B.’s first day of first grade, and a lot of things have changed for her: Junie’s friend, Lucille, doesn’t want to be her best pal anymore and, on the bus, Junie B. makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school. Also, Junie has trouble reading the blackboard, and her teacher, Mr. Scary, thinks she may need glasses. Throw in a friendly cafeteria lady, a kickball tournament and a “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal,” and first grade has never been more exciting.



THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS
By: Ginna Hoben

November 29 – December 22, 2019 @ The Memphian Room

One moment you’re headed into the holidays with your cute dress, new bling, and an adorable fiancé. But when you catch him kissing another girl at the televised Thanksgiving Parade, things change. Watch Mary navigate life in the dating world where romance ranges from weird and creepy to absurd and comical. Will she be able to answer the question: What do the lonely do at Christmas? Or will she have us all thinking love stinks?



WHEN WE GET GOOD AGAIN
By: James McLindon

January 10 – January 26, 2020 @ TheatreWorks

When brilliant, idealistic, but poor college student Tracy is tempted by a lucrative job selling term papers to her classmates to pay her tuition, she begins to wonder: Is it ever okay to put being good on hold?



MEMPHIS: THE MUSICAL
By: David Bryan and Joe DiPietro

January 17 – February 8, 2020 @ Playhouse on the Square

In the 1950s, on the downtown streets of Memphis, TN, Rock and Roll was born. The marriage of downtrodden blues, uplifting gospel and forlorn country made way to a genre of music that would, one day, speak to the soul of the entire world. But for now, in a seedy bar on Beale, this music has spoken to the soul of a local country-boy. The girl that the sound has come from has stolen his heart. Will the objections from their families or the challenges of society be too much for the couple to withstand? Or will Huey and Felecia let nothing steal their rock and roll?



INDECENT
By: Paula Vogel

January 24 – February 16, 2020 @ The Circuit Playhouse

In 1923, a Jewish theatre troupe produced a controversial play on Broadway that led to the entire company being arrested on the grounds of obscenity. Playwright, Paula Vogel, recounts the controversy surrounding this play and the lives of the actors who created it. Indecent questions the fear of love, the joy of making art, and the courage to do so during the rise of Nazism.



THE BOOK OF WILL

By: Lauren Gunderson

March 6 – March 22, 2020 @ Playhouse on the Square

When a poor rendition of Hamlet is performed three years after the death of William Shakespeare, it is obvious to his friends – someone should put his work to pen – and save the words of the world’s greatest playwright. But to make one, they’ll have to battle an unscrupulous publisher, a boozy poet laureate, and their own mortality, to create Shakespeare’s First Folio.



SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK, LIVE!

Book by: George Keating, Kyle Hall, and Scott Ferguson
Lyrics by: Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, George Newall, Kathy Mandry, Lynn Ahrens, and Tom Yohe

March 14 – April 4, 2020 @ The Circuit Playhouse

“Get your thing in action” and relive the glory days of Saturday Morning’s iconic cartoon series. Tom is ready to start his first day as a schoolteacher. The only problem is he is scared to death! Watch as characters from the classic series come to life, reminding Tom the best way to learn has always been with music and an imagination. With memorable songs “I’m Just a Bill,” “Inter-Planet Janet,” and “Conjunction Junction” you will want to scoot down front and grab a big bowl of cereal.



AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’
By: Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr.

March 13 – April 5, 2020 @ The Circuit Playhouse

A revival of this tribute to the Harlem Renaissance and the black musicians that defined a significant era in American music comes home to The Circuit Playhouse. Through the 1920s and 1930s hits like “T Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness,” “Your Feet’s Too Big,” and “Fat and Greasy” filled Manhattan nightclubs and caused a spark across the nation! Join us as we get the joint jumpin for one of America’s favorite musicals.



LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
By: Howard Ashman

May 1 – May 24, 2020 @ Playhouse on the Square

When a “Mean Green Mutha From Outaspace” lands in your flower shop, what do you do? Feed it people of course! Hapless flower shop worker, Seymour, only wants the love of his life to notice him. When his little blood sucking plant grows to become the talk of the town, Seymour will get more than he bargained for.



DAYS OF RAGE
By: Steven Levenson

April 17 – May 10, 2020 @ The Circuit Playhouse

It’s October 1969 and five 20-something idealists find themselves in the middle of a country divided. Living together in a house in Upstate New York and confident in the knowledge that they are the only generation to ever take up the resistance, they retaliate against society by denouncing monogamy and other capitalist notions. But when they admit a mysterious newcomer to their collective, the delicate balance they’ve achieved begins to topple. It’ll be six and a half years until the Vietnam War ends but their fight is just beginning.



SOMETHING ROTTEN
By: John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick

June 19 – July 12, 2020 @ Playhouse on the Square

When Nick and Nigel Bottom decide their theatre troupe rivals that of William Shakespeare the best way to beat him is to hire a soothsayer and write a musical about Eggs… right? This Tony Award-winning romp is a love story to all things theatre!



MISSISSIPPI GODDAMN
By: Jonathan Norton

June 5 – June 28, 2020 @ The Circuit Playhouse

In 1963 Jackson, Mississippi, the stirring of Civil Rights is beginning to rally a nation of long oppressed people. But on a particular street, which is home to a civil rights pioneer, not everyone is pleased to see it begin.



ST. PAULIES DELIGHT
By: J. Joseph Cox

July 10 – July 26, 2020 @ TheatreWorks at the Square

When Paul learns his estranged aunt has passed away, he holds a wake for her that doubles as a testing ground for his exquisite, big gay wedding. A day-of shift in plans leaves Paul’s life in shambles, forcing him to confront burying his definition of family along with his mysterious aunt.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

'19-'20: The Orpheum Announces a Hit-Packed Broadway Season

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 1:52 PM

The Play That Goes Wrong
  • The Play That Goes Wrong
The Orpheum's 2019-2020 subscription is a solid mix of recent Broadway hits, and classics, with naughty crowd pleasers, family favorites, and a nice twist for those among us who occasionally enjoy a non-musical.

Via The Orpheum:

DEAR EVAN HANSEN
October 8-13, 2019
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WINNER OF SIX 2017 TONY® AWARDS INCLUDING BEST MUSICAL AND THE 2018 GRAMMY® AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL THEATER ALBUM.

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. DEAR EVAN HANSEN has struck a remarkable chord with audiences and critics everywhere, including The Washington Post who says DEAR EVAN HANSEN is “one of the most remarkable shows in musical theatre history.” The New York Times calls it “a gut-punching, breathtaking knockout of a musical.” And NBC Nightly News declares the musical “an anthem resonating on Broadway and beyond.” DEAR EVAN HANSEN features a book by Tony Award winner Steven Levenson, a score by Grammy®, Tony® and Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman), and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal). The Original Broadway Cast Recording of DEAR EVAN HANSEN, produced by Atlantic Records, made an extraordinary debut at #8 on the Billboard 200– the highest charting debut position for an original cast album since 1961 — and went on to win the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. A Deluxe Album of the Grammy-winning cast recording, with six bonus tracks including “Waving Through a Window” performed by pop star Katy Perry, was released digitally by Atlantic Records on November 2, 2018. A special edition coffee table book authored by Levenson, Pasek and Paul, Dear Evan Hansen: through the window (Grand Central Publishing / Melcher) is now available, offering an in-depth, all-access look at the musical, including never-before-seen production photos and cast portraits, behind-the-scenes stories, and a fully annotated script by the authors.

THE BOOK OF MORMON
November 5-10, 2019
(SEASON OPTION)
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The New York Times calls it "the best musical of this century." The Washington Post says, "It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals." And Entertainment Weekly says, "Grade A: the funniest musical of all time." Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show calls it "Genius. Brilliant. Phenomenal." It's The Book of Mormon, the nine-time Tony Award®-winning Best Musical. Contains explicit language.

HELLO, DOLLY!
December 17-22, 2019
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Winner of four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, HELLO, DOLLY! is the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls “the best show of the year!” Winner of four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, director Jerry Zaks’ “gorgeous” new production (Vogue) is “making people crazy happy” (The Washington Post) and “a musical comedy dream!” (Rolling Stone).

ROALD DAHL’S CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
January 14-19, 2020
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Roald Dahl's amazing tale is now Memphis’ golden ticket! It's the perfect recipe for a delectable treat: songs from the original film, including "Pure Imagination," "The Candy Man," and "I've Got a Golden Ticket," alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters of Hairspray. Get ready for Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator, and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper!

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
February 5-9, 2020
(SEASON OPTION)
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What would happen if Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python had an illegitimate Broadway baby? You’d get THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, Broadway & London’s award-winning smash comedy! Called “A GUT-BUSTING HIT” (The New York Times) and “THE FUNNIEST PLAY BROADWAY HAS EVER SEEN” (HuffPost), this classic murder mystery is chock-full of mishaps and madcap mania delivering “A RIOTOUS EXPLOSION OF COMEDY” (Daily Beast) that is “TONS OF FUN FOR ALL AGES” (HuffPost)!

Disney’s ALADDIN
February 26 - March 8, 2020
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Discover a whole new world at Disney’s ALADDIN, the hit Broadway musical. From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of ALADDIN, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. See why audiences and critics agree, ALADDIN is “Exactly What You Wish For!" (NBC-TV).

A BRONX TALE
April 7 - 12, 2020
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Broadway’s hit crowd-pleaser takes you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s- where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. Bursting with high-energy dance numbers and original doo-wop tunes from Alan Menken, the songwriter of Beauty and the Beast, A BRONX TALE is an unforgettable story of loyalty and family. Based on Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri’s story, this streetwise musical has The New York Times hailing it as “A Critics’ Pick! The kind of tale that makes you laugh and cry.”

COME FROM AWAY
July 21 - 26
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2020Broadway’s COME FROM AWAY is a Best Musical winner all across North America! This New York Times Critics’ Pick takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. Don’t miss this breathtaking new musical written by Tony® nominees Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and helmed by this year’s Tony-winning Best Director, Christopher Ashley. Newsweek cheers, “It takes you to a place you never want to leave!” On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all.
For more information about shows and ticket availability, here's your link.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Memphis Theater Community Says Goodbye to John Rone

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 1:01 PM

John Rone. Promotional image from GCT.
  • John Rone. Promotional image from GCT.
John Rone sent me messages sometimes. Maybe just a "happy birthday," greeting. Or maybe he'd tell me about a play he'd seen at some festival. Now and then he'd sign these notes, "Love, Dad," or some variation on the theme. Now that he's gone, I'd like to set the record straight: This man was not my father!  Sure, fathers are awesome and all, but in the strictest sense, everybody's got one. Next to mothers and mystery novels they're the most common things in the world. And, while John Rone certainly loved a good mystery, there wasn't much else common about him, or the friendships he forged across the span of a life well- lived.

No doubt John will be remembered for his elegance, erudition, and wit. I especially appreciated the way he met and worked with people on their own terms. This was true whether he was working the day job at Rhodes College or putting on his director's cap to coax his ensemble through a difficult scene. Or maybe he was just responding to a smart-assed alum who'd promised/threatened to liven up an artist's wine and cheese reception with whoopee cushions. 
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Too much? Maybe a little. But I'm so damn tired of writing obituaries — stuck in the anger stage of grieving, if you will — and something tells me Mr. John Howard Rone would rather we laugh or snort or blush and avert our eyes or feel anything at all other than sadness or madness that he's left us so soon. Like I said up top, there's no one else I can think of quite like this eager, loyal, loving, dapper and slightly devilish man of Memphis. My heart could drop an epic. The fingers may only manage to type a few, insufficient paragraphs.

The longer I sit, looking back over 34 years of acquaintance, trying to boil a rich, multi-faceted life down to pure essence, the more my mind is drawn to a moment in 2017 when John and I met in the Paul Barrett Jr. Library on the Rhodes campus for a wide-ranging talk about the history of Germantown Community Theatre wherein he compared the rapid succession of executive directors to ancient Rome. “There are all these Caesars that come in, and some of them don’t stay very long,” he said rattling off a list of names that went on and on like the closing scene in Shakespeare's Cymbeline. That's when he told me he was delighted to be able to identify himself as "a full-time theater director" now that he'd retired from his Rhodes position as director of the Meeman Center for Continuing Education. He was working for GCT at the time, staging Arsenic and Old Lace and looking forward to bigger and more demanding projects. I'm stuck on this image and the false promise of a best that wasn't yet to come.

As an actor John could flit from classic to contemporary at the bat of an eye. Larry Shue's perpetually relevant comedy The Foreigner was a signature show, but John moved fluidly from Shakespeare's tragedies to Tom Stoppard's oddities, and seemed most at home in the role of director. Tennessee Williams and I Am a Camera author John Van Druten were favored playwrights, but behind the scenes he showed a special flair for teasing out dense plots and finding the life in stories more literary than dramatic.


I know I just referenced Cymbeline like it was a well known show that everybody's familiar with, but I'm going to guess most readers haven't seen or even studied Shakespeare's Disney-ready tale of Imogen, a royal badass who sticks it to the patriarchy and marries for love. It isn't done very often, in part, because the infamous last scene stretches out toward infinity in an unlikely cascade of confession and coincidence that ties every loose thread into a comic, practically post-modern tapestry of too much resolution. In an early 1990's production for the McCoy Theatre at Rhodes, John treated that scene like the shaggy dog gag it is. His cast, a healthy mix of student and community actors, made the dreaded denouement sing. It's still one of the best stuck endings I've had the pleasure to witness, and an exemplary sample of John doing what he did best.


A few more paragraphs might be generated listing honors and achievements. Instead I'll link to other sources and only note that John and his equally remarkable and universally beloved partner Bill Short are both Eugart Yerian Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, marking decades of fierce, fully committed devotion to Memphis's theater community. That represents a lot of collective service. 

To bring all of this full circle, John did play my father once, in a lewd and lovely romp through Oliver Goldsmith's naughty 18th-Century comedy, She Stoops to Conquer. In that role he took wicked delight in spanking my Marlowe's badly-behaved bottom with whatever object he happened to be holding in his hand. Sometimes he used a cane, but it might be a riding crop, hair brush, or what have you. He was quite skillful with the "what have you," I seem to recall, and from that time forward, the sinister (but loving) threat of a surprise cuff, cudgel or swat lurked whenever "dad" was near. I don't think I'm going to miss that, honestly. But I'll miss damn near everything else.

A private service for family has been scheduled at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church,Thursday, February 14th. Although the date hasn't been set, a more public celebration of Johns’ life will be held at Theatre Memphis sometime in the near future.

Donations in John's memory can made to Rhodes College, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or — of course — a favorite theater company.
John Rone, Claire Orman in "Lunch Hour."
  • John Rone, Claire Orman in "Lunch Hour."

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Quark Theatre Announces New Season, New Nonprofit Status

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2019 at 11:54 AM

Sims v the Detective in Quark's "The Nether"
  • Sims v the Detective in Quark's "The Nether"
In only a few short seasons, Quark Theatre has built a reputation for producing thoughtfully staged work that's conceptually ambitious, intellectually challenging, and technically do-able: little plays full of big ideas. Keeping with the Quark tradition, Season Four is exploring themes like the meaning of life, the meaning of death, the meaning of meaning, and what all that means. It marks the company's fifth year of making theater together, and its first as a nonprofit.

September, 2019 
WAKEY, WAKEY by Will Eno

Wakey, Wakey is a funny, sad, tragic, comic examination of life and the leaving of it. In the first line of the show, GUY, the protagonist, seems to rouse from a nap and says “Is it now? I thought I had more time.”

And then we’re off to an examination of GUY’s life as he comes to the end of it. But it’s not a wake we’ve come to attend, but rather a celebration of GUY’s life, and OUR lives, too. A funny, thoughtful, at times tearful examination of what it means to be human.

The New York Times called “A glowingly dark, profoundly moving new play.”

March, 2020
A NUMBER by Caryl Churchill

When an adult son confronts his father about the reality behind his existence and identity, a dark world of truths, half-truths and lies is exposed...and nothing will ever be the same. The son learns he is but one of a number of clones, each with his own distinct personality and life. When multiple versions of a person exist, how can he be sure the love of his father is real?

The New York Times called it “A gripping dramatic consideration of what happens to autonomous identity in a world where people can be cloned.”

Quark's next show is Radiant Vermin. The comedy by Philip Ridley opens March 15th. 
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Friday, November 30, 2018

A Philosophy of Magic: Memphis’s Newest Conjuror Has a Mission

A Conversation With Lawrence Hass

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 8:53 AM

Lawrence Hass
  • Lawrence Hass
"Let me tell you, it almost never goes up the sleeve." Veteran educator and practicing sleight-of-hand artist Lawrence Hass drops some information on the audience in a TEDx talk. The PhD and former professor is working toward a philosophical understanding of stage magic. He wonders how magic performance can be so ancient and universal without having ever been seriously addressed by Western philosophy.

Hass was professor of humanities at Austin College before moving to Memphis with his wife, Rhodes College President Dr. Marjorie Hass. In addition to academic duties, he's been known to teach magic to magicians at Jeff McBride's Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas. In his TED talk, he works toward a sturdy definition that separates magic from the the idea of "tricks." He asks if techniques developed by magicians are somehow more manipulative, deceptive, or dishonest than any other kind of art or stagecraft. Magic, he ultimately determines, is "The artful performance of impossible things that generates energy, delight, and wonder."

For Hass, who makes his Memphis debut at Beth Sholom Synagogue Saturday, December 1st, the live performance of stage magic constitutes a message of hope and transcendence. "As we live our lives, we constantly confront limits," he says, listing the usual suspects: sickness, loss, death, and transition —  things we want but can't have, and things we wish were true but aren't.

Then performers like Harry Houdini come along and show us we can escape. Illusionists like David Copperfield defy gravity and levitate. Magicians get their audience thinking big while working on a smaller scale. Hass is a prestidigitator, a card manipulator, and a conjurer, able to bring inanimate objects to life in his hand.

Impossible, you say? That's the point. "When everybody wins in the world, that's real magic," Hass concludes, after one of his online card tricks. It's a good line. It also seems to be a reasonable summation of this newly minted Memphian's performance philosophy.

Intermission Impossible: Memphis is still relatively new for you. How are you adjusting?

Lawrence Hass: We really love it. We came to Memphis because Marjorie was hired as the new president at Rhodes College. We came in June of 2017. Since then we've really settled in — both into Memphis, the larger community, and also the Rhodes College Community. We've been very warmly welcomed and just love the city. There's so much energy and culture and art. Memphis is on the rise, and we're really happy to be a part of it.
I was surprised to discover you didn’t take up magic until you were an adult with a PhD. And children of your own. There’s so much manipulation— so much manual dexterity required. I think of it like violin: Most of the folks who practice magic started training when they were very young.

That question’s very perceptive actually. You understand there's this whole physical level to magic. And it has to work at a very high level. I sometimes think of myself, as being like an athlete, or a musician in terms of, there's all this body work going on. And you have to stay after it pretty much every day. So when I came to magic, I was 34 years old. That's older than most people, as you say.
I learned over time that, I think I have uncommon coordination. At first I had no perception of it. But as I started teaching magic to others, I realized that I could very intuitively and quickly do things with my hands that other people ... they just didn't have the same facility for. The other part of it, I was a musician back in the 1970s. I played guitar and piano, so obviously that was part of the picture too. I understood practice and rehearsal. Also, I came to magic as a philosopher. I studied art and aesthetics. So already, I was ahead of the game. I had the dedication and discipline to really keep after it, and I also had a vision, or sense of what artistry was. From the very beginning I wanted my magic not to be commonplace, but artistic.

In the TEDx you're obviously connecting your ideas with narrative. But I also saw a lot of storytelling in your online videos. Is this exclusive to teaching magic or teaching people about magic, or is storytelling a regular part of the act?

It's a part of the act. Some magicians that we see, it's all about the props. Here's the cup and here's the ball and now the ball is gone from the cup, and so on and so on. And I find that tedious. It's all purely visual and, “Fooled you! Made you look!” From the very beginning I wanted my magic to be about things that matter to people. In the show I’ll be performing Saturday night, I will have two “Once Upon a Time” kinds of stories that are Illustrated with magic. But even when it’s not about stories, what I do hopefully inspires or affirms the ways in which everyone is a magician.


When I watched your TEDx, I was reminded of directing Ubu Roi at Rhodes several years ago, which is an unrealistic piece. I bring it up because students would sometimes fall into traps of “naturalism” and I’d find myself asking, “Why lie to the audience? Do you really think they believe you are this character? That this crazy stuff is really happening?" The challenge to forego pretense gave actors access to problem-solving tools they didn’t have before. And one of your main points is all about breaking down pretense — magic isn’t about lying to the audience, or tricking them — It's not suspending disbelief, but engaging imagination. I love this, obviously.

One of the things that hangs up contemporary magic is the notion that it's about tricking people or fooling them.

Theater too, I think.

This is a very old, long association about magic, often from religious authorities and philosophical authorities who were trying to denigrate magic. When we shift to the recognition that magic is a theatrical art, and is engaged in creating astonishment, not lying to people or tricking them, everything about this changes. Because just like the actor isn't lying to people, the magician isn't either. What we're doing is using techniques to create an entire experience — a theatrical experience. I think what happens, both magicians and non-magicians confuse the con artist with the theatrical artist. So, when I teach magicians, this is one of the things I say: ‘You are a theater artist, not a con artist. If you want to be a con artist go out and play three card Monte in the street. But if you want to perform theatrical acts of magic, you need the skills that come along with the theater.’

Right. And obviously performers like Harry Anderson, who built so much of his act around classic geek shows and cons, instinctively get this.

Yes. The 'street thing' is the character. And Harry was so smart about that. Penn and Teller are the same way. Their show is about the con games and the fun of the con. But I happen to know Penn and Teller, and they are very smart, dedicated theatrical artists. That's just part of their presentation. I admire it greatly. My presentation is about helping people connect with magic as an affirmation.

Was that approach something you knew you wanted to do from the beginning, or was it something that evolved as magic came into contact with your other life in philosophy.

I believe the answer is, as a philosopher, I was always concerned with truth-seeking. I didn't always get there But I was always concerned with revealing more or less true things about the world and how we might live in it. So I never would have gone into magic if it was all about lying to people to take advantage of them. I have zero interest in that. But once I understood that magic wasn't about truth or lying, it was about creating a rich theatrical experience, then I realized those theatrical experiences could be inspirational and affirmational rather than, ‘made you look!’ And I realized that 'made you look,' aspect of it, which some magicians do, was really not essential to magic. It was a choice they made. So this grew out of my deep commitments as a philosopher. And just like Harry Anderson performed as a con artist, I performed as the philosopher magician. So it's a very different show from what other people do, because there really is no other philosopher magician.

I was also surprised by your discussion that, as ancient and universal as stage magic is, it's been so widely ignored by philosophy and academics.

It's such a fascinating part of the story. When you study the history of magic and how we got into this place where there is no academic department of magic, anywhere in the world, that is itself a mystery. Because, as you say, magic is an ancient and universal art form. It's very primordial in our psychology to conceal things — to make them hide and make them appear. Every infant plays peek-a-boo. Magic is primordial and yet somehow, it's absent. The story of that, I believe, is the story of authorities not liking the energy and delight, and astonishment that magic creates. Religious authorities, scientific authorities, philosophical authorities, political authorities ... and when we look back through the history all the way back to the Greeks, and even earlier than the Greeks, you can see magicians are distrusted. Magicians are held out as ‘the other,’ or the thing we don't want to be. There are some unbelievable tracts in the history of religion, and the history of science, and history of philosophy, that are polemics against magic. So the modern-day magician has a lot of historical baggage to overcome, to help people appreciate this primordial art form. I'll be very honest, it's part of my vision. It’s part of why I do what I do. Because magic — It's not just fine, it's great. It's energy. It’s delight and wonder.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Katori Hall Strip Club Drama To Begin Production

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 3:36 PM

Katori Hall
  • Katori Hall
P-Valley, a Starz series adapted from Memphis playwright Katori Hall's strip club drama Pussy Valley, has been ordered to series, Variety reports. 

Like the script it's based on, P-Valley tells the story of a rural Mississippi strip joint, the girls who work there, the customers who visit, and Uncle Clifford, a trans man connected to the club. Hall will serve as showrunner.

Hall who served briefly as artistic director for Memphis' Hattiloo Theatre, was recognized as a writer of note in 2009, when her play, The Mountaintop, won an Olivier award. She's also the author of Hurt Village, Hoodoo Love and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Pussy Valley was originally produced by Mixed Blood theater in Minneapolis in 2015. It has been in development as a Starz series since 2016. A Memphis area talent search was conducted in July.

Variety describes P-Valley.

It tells the story of a little-strip-club-that-could and the characters who come through its doors—the hopeful, the lost, the broken, the ballers, the beautiful, and the damned. It will star Brandee Evans as Mercedes and Nicco Annan as Uncle Clifford. Shannon Thornton and J. Alphonse Nicholson will appear as series regulars.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Nightmare Before Christmas: Tennessee Shakespeare Closes Macbeth

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2018 at 2:28 PM

Michael Khanlarian (Banquo), Paul Kiernan (Macbeth), and the Witches. Through Nov. 4. - TENNESSEE SHAKESPEARE COMPANY
  • Tennessee Shakespeare Company
  • Michael Khanlarian (Banquo), Paul Kiernan (Macbeth), and the Witches. Through Nov. 4.
Hard as it may seem to believe, winter is coming. It won't be long before area playhouses roll out stock scenery and turn their attention to holiday favorites. Theatre Memphis opens The 25th Putnam County Spelling Bee this weekend. And there are still a few more opportunities to catch Agatha Christie's enduring mystery The Mousetrap at Germantown Community Theatre. But if there's anybody out there who's not quite ready to put Halloween away just yet,Tennessee Shakespeare Company performs Macbeth through November 4th.

Shakespeare's witchy meditation on ambition and evil is directed by TSC's founder Dan McCleary and performed by a company of nine actors. How dark do things get? Here's what McCleary had to say via the TSC website:

“The witches are our masked Chorus, and a sacrifice is offered to cleanse a world of crimes against humanity. The sacrifice is a man who Shakespeare clearly defines as noble, generous, un-ambitious, indecisive, overly kind, incapable of lying with skill, morally incapable of imagining his own corruption or wrong-doing, courageous, patriotic, regretful, and a good husband and friend. Macbeth is the best of us. What is horrific is that we might be able to explain how he becomes the very worst of us.”
 

Very scary.

Thursday night's performance is Free Will Kids night. That means up to 4 kids (17 or under) are admitted with one paid adult ticket. 

Tennessee Shakespeare follows Macbeth with a  large cast production of  As You Like It Nov. 29-Dec. 6

General Admission tickets are $39. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Memphis Actor/Comedian Harold Foxx Makes Off-Broadway Debut

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 5:01 PM

Hanging with Harold Foxx - OUR AWESOME SERVER
  • Our awesome server
  • Hanging with Harold Foxx
The Old Testament character Job had his share of problems. He lost his home, his livelihood, his health, and his family. Craig Lucas' play I Was Most Alive With You, which recently took its last bows at Playwright's Horizons, may borrow heavily from the troubling Bible story, but none of that tragedy's rubbed off on Harold Foxx. The Memphis-born actor may have made his Off Broadway debut in Lucas' Job-inspired play, but he looks like a man on top of the world. Sitting in the Buffalo Wild Wings on Manhattan's W. 47th ("the one close to Playwright's Horizons"), Foxx' broad face practically glows with confidence.

"Did you see my New York Times spread," he asks by typing the words out on his phone and holding it up for me to see. I indicate that I have and tell him it looked great. He then types out a message saying he's waiting to see if the attention results in more work. If it does, he'll get excited about it.

Foxx is realistic about life as a working actor. He grew up in Orange Mound and graduated from White Station where he played football and made citywide headlines. Foxx is completely deaf. He's mostly silent. He's currently a professional actor, who lives in Los Angeles where he studies improv comedy with the Groundlings and auditions as often as possible. He doesn't think a Netflix special is out of the question. There's no reason to believe he won't get a shot at being in the next Black Panther movie. Nothing's for sure, but Foxx believes. He points to his personal inspiration, the deaf actor C.J. Jones who recently made his film debut in Edgar Wright's Baby Driver.

"My agent's good," he types.

Harold Foxx and Craig Lucas - COURTESY OF HAROLD FOXX
  • Courtesy of Harold Foxx
  • Harold Foxx and Craig Lucas
Foxx is as expressive as any silent film star. Every wrinkled brow or nostril flare writes a whole new story on his face. He describes this expressiveness as an artifact — something that just happens when you're in the deaf community. But there's precision to every eye-roll or pursing of the lips. There's timing, and it's good. You don't always need to read ASL to get the gist of his messaging. Critics noted his skills in I Was Most Alive With You, where the play's main speaking characters are mirrored by a shadow cast who perform a somewhat modified version of the show in ASL.

I caught up with Foxx in Manhattan, during the last week of his run at Playwright's Horizons. We "talked" about many things over wings, but did our official Q&A in a typed format. Here's a lightly edited version of that conversation.

Memphis Flyer: Wondering about life in Memphis. Did you know you wanted to act and do comedy when you were still living there?

Harold Foxx: Born and raised in Memphis. Native of Orange Mound. It’s funny how my comedy starts. Every morning the school bus picked me up. It was sorta of long ride. Then one day all of us kids on the bus just start to making jokes. From there I started doing comedy storytelling. That was in elementary school. And everybody laughs. Then, after school, when the bus takes us back home, everybody asked me for another comedy storytelling. And I start doing it again. Then somehow it became daily on the school bus, on the way to school and after school. Only difference is that I didn’t get paid that time. Since then, everybody sees my talents. Not only in comedy, but in acting too. Even my teachers in elementary school got me in school talent shows for dance and sign music. Plus, when I was in elementary school, the national theatre for the deaf came to my school and performed for us and I really looked up to them. Not only that. My former theater teacher Rita Grivich, who runs Deaf Drama & Theatre at White Station, always had a show. And when I was young, I'd always go there and watch the older kids perform. And I knew it would happen for me someday and glad that I was part of it.

MF: Memphis only has limited opportunities for actors, and the comedy scene has only begun to mature in the last few years. Guessing Paulette Reagan was a theater teacher at White Station? Were there many opportunities to experience and participate in comedy or theater?

Yes, Paulette Reagan and Rita Grivich were my theater teachers at White Station. Honest with you, I’m thankful to have had them as my teachers at White Station. When I was there, I was heavily involved in theater and it actually helps. It applies to what I’m doing today as an actor.

MF: When did you decide on comedy and acting as a career? And was there an obvious path for deaf performers or did you have to make your own?

Actually with all my experience and background as an actor from White Station High school under Paulette Reagan and Rita Grivich, they taught me a lot on what it takes to be an actor. When I graduated from White Station in 1999, I went to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.,  where I graduated and also played college football there. Everybody expected me to join the theater at Gallaudet University but I didn’t get involved in theater productions. I focused on football. But I took a couple of theater courses at Gallaudet. So, when I graduated, I started to work as a football coach, personal trainer, and physical education teacher. Somehow my acting passion hits me again one day and I started doing some comedy sketches on Vine apps. It changed my whole life. Now I’m doing acting/comedy as a career, full time. Most of all I started this out on my own from looking up to my role model like CJ Jones, John Maucere, Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, etc..
Past show flyer
  • Past show flyer
MF: I love silent film, and your comedy reel was a joy to watch because it has the expressiveness of great silent comedy. Funny enough to transcend any biases hearing audiences might have. Curious as to which actors and comics might have inspired you?

I started on Vine Apps. Of course, as deaf person, I can’t hear a sound or music. Most of my sketches were based on body language and physical comedy so it can be accessible to both hearing and deaf audiences. It started similar to silent film — like my favorite comic who did all amazing in silent film, Charlie Chaplin. Then I started my internship at DPAN.TV (Deaf Professional Arts Network) where I learned to make better quality work — script, film, edit. Plus, they have a sound engineer who installs all sounds and music. My comedy video went to a whole different level. That’s when I started getting recognized for my work and getting opportunities in acting and comedy.

MF: How did you land the role in I Was Most Alive With You? And was working on it like anything you’ve done before? Looking at the behind-the-scenes videos, the process looks like it must have been unique and difficult.

Yes. It’s different from what everybody's already seen from my work as a comedian or doing sketches on the video. I was in a production of Our Town last year by Pasadena Playhouse and Deaf West Theatre. That’s where everybody recognized my work on stage in theater. I’m not only limited to comedy. I can do variety range of work as an actor. Actually how did I land the role? I was in Jamaica doing stand up comedy and then I got an email from my agent. They asked for my video audition, but at that time I wasn’t really interested because I didn’t want to move to NYC. I’m still new in LA. Then one friend convinced me. Said, "It’s Off Broadway." And that’s a good start for my career. So I decide to do the video audition and I got offered the job. So, I’m thankful for this opportunity because I got to work with amazing talented of actors and actresses plus Craig Lucas and Tyne Rafaeli.

MF: Do you think the show’s accurate in its depiction of hearing impaired people, and culture?

We do both as English spoken and ASL, it’s a very heavy play and powerful at the same time and it’s very accessible to both audience.

MF: Has the run been rewarding? And is it difficult to put away as closing night approaches?

We had a very successful run, but at the same time we wish it could be extend more.

MF: Has the run of this show resulted in more opportunities, or is it back to the audition grind?

I’m hoping this production will get me more opportunities. I mean, it’s not easy as deaf actors/actresses because we don’t get a same opportunity as hearing actors/actresses. They might get an audition daily when we, as deaf actors and actresses, are probably lucky to get 2 or maybe 3 auditions a month. But for me, it’s all about hustling. Show your work out there and create your own work. That’s why I created a bunch of short comedy sketches. Now I’m writing my new stand up comedy material and working on a film script. Who knows, I might produce a feature film and act in it someday instead waiting for someone to offer me the opportunity. Always have your own work ready to go.


MF: I know you’ve been training with The Groundlings — which is great! But wondering what’s next, and if you have a preference for sketch/standup over other kinds of performance?


Right now I’m still in training and taking classes at the Groundlings. Sometimes I put it on hold if I get an opportunity like Off Broadway in NYC. But now my agent and I are working on something. Be aren’t sure yet. But for the Groundings, my training continues. Who knows? Maybe one day I will end up on SNL or Comedy Central.

MF: Do you ever make it back to Memphis? What’s the best way for folks back home to experience what you do?

I finally made back to Memphis last summer after seven years. I did a homecoming standup show there and am hoping to do it again soon. Memphis is my hometown, roots, and where I started. One thing I would tell Memphis folks, if they are pursing what I’m doing, it starts with passion and hard work. Create your work and get some training with a top acting or improv class to develop some network.

Click here for more on Harold Foxx

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College Theaters Stage Festival of Plays by Pulitzer Winner Lynn Nottage

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 4:46 PM

44702797_10105340919955391_912555996348416000_n.jpg
Three local college theater programs are staging work by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Collectively, it's called, “NottageFest." One play is being performed on each campus with an "intercollegiate finale," Sunday, November 11th, at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

Southwest Community College, Verties Sails Building, Room 113

Crumbs From the Table of Joy (premiered 1995)

Directed by Sheila Darras

Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 at 12:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.

Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 at 3 p.m.

All tickets are free and available at the door.

www.tn.edu/theater



The University of Memphis, Theatre Arts Building

Intimate Apparel (premiered 2003)

Directed by Dennis Whitehead-Darling

Nov. 1-3 & 8-10, 7:30 p.m. each night

All tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and students

Purchase in advance at www.memphis.edu/theatre/currentseason/intimate.php



Rhodes College, McCoy Theatre

Fabulation or, The Re-Education of Undine (premiered 2004)

The play is about Undine Barnes Calles, an ambitious African-American woman in the early days of the Obama era whose best-laid plans don’t go accordingly. On the brink of social and financial ruin, Undine retreats to her childhood home and forgotten family only to discover she must cope with her cruel new reality and figure out how to transform her setbacks into small victories.

Directed by Thomas King

Nov. 9 & 10, 15-18, 7:30 p.m. each night, except the 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.

All tickets are free,but reservations are recommended by contacting the McCoy Box Office at mccoy@rhodes.edu or (901) 843-3839

www.rhodes.edu/mccoy

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ostranders 2018: Picks, Pans, and "Who Got ROBBED?!?!"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 11:35 AM

Maness 4-ways.
  • Maness 4-ways.
You know what? As long as John Maness wins something, I don’t care about anything else this year. If the Ostrander committee misses all the rest by miles and miles, I’ll be satisfied for the ounce of justice done. Because … holy crap! After this season, the O-committee should consider a “John Maness hardest-working-person in Memphis Theater” trophy. With a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic married to the soul of a magician and escape artist, he hammers out one unique character after another and vanishes inside them. I mean, who the hell does this guy think he is, Erin Shelton?

Nevertheless, the time has come, once again, for shade to be cast and predictions made in regard to this year’s crop of nominees and nominees that might have been if only the universe wasn’t so frequently unfair. It’s the season when the Intermission Impossible team wonders what it is our tireless, too human Ostrander judges might be smoking. When we ask the one question on every right-thinking thespian’s mind — “WHO GOT ROBBED?”

I want to see J. David Galloway take home the set design for New Moon’s lovely, immersive, and necessarily inventive design for Eurydice. I’ve been frustrated in the past by designers who quote or wink at surrealism when what’s needed is something approaching the real thing. Not every aspect of Galloway’s design was as dreamy as it might have been, but the microbudget masterpiece engaged imaginations, enabling the kind of stage magic money can’t buy.
That said, bigger, better-funded companies still have advantages in design categories and I suspect the judges may prefer Jack Yates’ outstanding work on The Drowsy Chaperone or the ordinary otherworldliness of Tim McMath’s design for Fun Home at Playhouse on the Square.

But what about the eye-candy that was An Act of God (also Yates)? What about 12 Angry Jurors, an environment so real yet another confounded patron tried to use the onstage bathroom (also Yates)? If it sounds like I’m arguing for more Jack Yates nominations, maybe I am. But I’m also making a case that there’s been some good design this season, and given a different set of sensibilities, this category might have swung another direction entirely. There might have been nods for the elegant emptiness of Bryce Cutler’s Once, at Playhouse on the Square, or the grubby, unfussy realism of Phillip Hughen’s design for The Flick at Circuit Playhouse. I look forward to seeing how this category evolves as New Moon continues to mature, and smaller Memphis’ companies leverage thoughtfulness against more tangible resources. 
Falsettos.
  • Falsettos.

It’s wrong that Mandy Heath wasn’t nominated for lighting Falsettos but I can live with the slight as long as she wins the prize for Eurydice. That’s really all I have to say about that.

Once is a stunt musical — and what a terrific stunt! It’s part concert, part narrative drama, with the actors doubling down as their own orchestra. The three-chord score’s not Sondheim but casting players who are also, well... players isn’t easy. And pulling off a piece musical theater where the songs feel more like barroom romps than show tunes, requires a different kind of sophistication. I suspect the thrice-nominated Nathan McHenry will take this prize. He should take it for Once.

Who got robbed? Maybe nobody this year.

For excellence in sound design there are a few nominees, but really only one choice. Joe Johnson’s dreamy original score for Eurydice didn’t enhance the designed environment. It completed it.

I was happy to see choreographers Ellen Inghram and Jared Johnson nominated for the wit and wisdom permeating their work on Falsettos. It would be nice to see them win over the flashier entries in this category. No robberies here.

When it comes to the non-musicals, best female lead and supporting roles are almost always the toughest category to call because year after year they are overstuffed with contenders. While Kim Sanders was her usual perfect self in both A Perfect Arrangement and Laughter on the 23rd Floor, the double nomination in the supporting category may not double her odds against commanding, emotionally wrenching turns by Jessica “Jai” Johnson in Ruined and Erin Shelton in All Saints in the Old Colony. Kell Christie was the best Emelia I’ve ever seen and a perfect match for John Maness’ woman-hating Iago in New Moon’s Othello. Any other year Christie would be my #1 pick. She’s a longshot compared to Shelton and Johnson and I’m hard pressed to say who’s more deserving of the honor.
Opera 901 Showcase
  • Opera 901 Showcase
Who got robbed? Although FEMMEemphis’ productions aren’t under consideration, basically the entire cast of Collective Rage. Quark’s similarly out of the running but in the young company’s very adult production of The Nether, young Molly McFarland stood shoulder to shoulder with grownup co-stars and delivered a brave, polished performance. As the youngest of the Weston daughters in Theatre Memphis’ tepid August: Osage County, Emily F. Chateau was damn near perfect — as fragile as Laura Wingfield’s glass unicorn and as likely to cut you if broken. ROBBED AS HELL!

Anne Marie Caskey does consistently professional work but she seemed miscast in Theatre Memphis’ not altogether successful production of August: Osage County. Ostrander loves Caskey (as do I) and her inclusion here might seem less bewildering if not for the absence of Michelle Miklosey’s pitch perfect Eurydice  Tracy Hansom's good old fashioned curtain chew in Stage Kiss. Were I one of these two ladies, I’d take The Oblivains strong advice and call the police. Because, ROBBED! OMG ROBBED!

Some of the best female leads this season did their thing just outside Ostrander’s natural reach. Jillian Baron and Julia Baltz were equally badass in FEMMEmphis’ Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief. But let’s be real. All this talk of robbery is purely academic because each of these fantastic performances paled next to to Maya Geri Robinson’s larger-than-life depiction of a Congolese Mother Courage in Ruined at Hattiloo. And Robinson's performance may have only been the season’s second best. I can’t say with any confidence that I’ve ever seen an actor own a show like Morgan Watson owned Sunset Baby, also at Hattiloo.
Emily F. Chateau. The F stands for F-ing ROBBED!
  • Emily F. Chateau. The F stands for F-ing ROBBED!

The list for Best Supporting Actor is strong. It’s so strong I’m picking Bertram Williams for Ruined even though I started this column cheering for John Maness in anything. The list of nominees might also have included nods to Jeff Kirwan for his performances in New Moon’s Buried Child, Eurydice or both. It's worth noting (yet again) that every performance in All Saints in the Old Colony approached a personal best and Marques Brown was ROBBED!

I don’t know what the theater judges had against Buried Child but James Dale Green’s Dodge is a glaring best actor omission. So is Emmanuel McKinney, who gave a knockout performance as Muhammad Ali in the uneven Fetch Clay, Make Man. Both of these men should post on Nextdoor.com right away to let everybody know they were ROBBED! Once that’s been done, can we please all agree to give this year’s prize to John Maness? And can we go ahead make it for everything he touched this season? I say this with deep appreciation for and apologies to All Saints’ Greg Boller and Jitney’s Lawrence Blackwell who both delivered special, award-worthy performances in a season where the competition happened to be a little stiffer than usual.

I take it from the sheer number of nominations in the category of Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, the Ostrander judges liked Fun Home. Me too. But maybe not enough to give any category a near sweep. Especially when it might be appropriate to co-nominate Fun Home’s small and medium Alison in order to make room for Falsettos’ Jaclyn Suffel and/or Christina Hernandez who were both ROBBED!

A taste of Once's pre-show jam.
Like I said, Ostrander very clearly likes Fun Home this year with the odd exception of adult Alison, Joy Brooke-Fairfield. So, individual nominations aside, I’m predicting a joint win for the two Alisons. Of course Annie Freres was a force of nature as the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone. All else being equal, she was probably the most outstanding nominee in a field of outstanding nominees.

Best Female Lead in a Musical is a heartbreaker category because everybody nominated is ridiculously talented. Nobody in town has pipes like DreamgirlsBreyannah Tillman, who’s also proving to be a formidable actor. But Emily F. Chateau also had an amazing year and may have been better in Falsettos than she was in August: Osage County. Gia Welch is a precocious powerhouse. She was great in Chaperone, but might also have been nominated for work on 42nd Street or Heathers. Meanwhile, Once’s Lizzy Hinton and Shrek’s Lynden Lewis occupy opposite corners of this playing field. The former helped build a complete world out of song and mirrors.The later was almost buried in spectacle but made heart and soul so much more important than green makeup and ogre costumes.

Let me let you in on a secret: Like Lena Younger’s striving son Walter, Patricia Smith was ROBBED! She should have gotten a nod for her work in the musical adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. I’m gonna talk about Raisin later on in this seemingly endless column, but frankly, that whole cast might want to call a personal injury attorney because they were dealt a disservice up front then ripped off by out appraisers!

Given all of Fun Home’s nominations in other categories, the omission of Joy Brooke-Fairfield feels oddly pointed. Fun Home’s a show that might challenge traditional gender divisions in these kinds of awards and when I didn’t see the older Alison included in this category, I so I double checked the whole list to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. But there was no Joy to be found anywhere, and that sentence is every bit as sad as it sounds. ROBBED!

I’d like to see Joshua Pierce win the Best Supporting Actor in a Musical category for Theatre Memphis’ superlative take on Falsettos. But I missed First Date and Dreamgirls this season and, truth be told, I don’t understand Shrek’s appeal. Too disoriented by this category to make a fair call. That almost never happens. Y'all tell me.

Best Leading Actor in a Musical is yet another heartbreaker category. Shrek’s never going to be my thing, but it’s very clearly Justin Asher’s, and he was a mighty fine ogre,  loving every second of big green stage time. Stephen Huff was so at home in Fun Home it’s now almost impossible for me to imagine anybody else in his role. And I kinda feel the same about Jason Spitzer’s near definitive take on The Drowsy Chaperone’s Man in Chair. But I've gotta say, having been underwhelmed by his pitchy turn in Heathers, I was most impressed by Conor Finnerty-Esmonde's take on the hard-luck musician in Once. But when I filter out personal taste in music and storytelling and just let myself focus on the difficulty and potency of the performances represented here, one actor’s work really stands out. Villains are fun to play but nothing's harder than a complex character who's hard-to-like but can't be allowed to become a villain. Cary Vaughn, in his finest of many fine performances, plowed through Falsettos like a steamroller. Still standing. Still applauding this entire cast.
Eurydice — Awfully good looking.
  • Eurydice — Awfully good looking.
But what about Kortland Whalum? Where is his name? I’ll be the first to admit, Raisin was tragically underproduced. The scenic environment felt unfinished, and in an intimate space like Hattiloo, nothing sucks the soul from musical performances like warm bodies performing to cold tracks. But somehow, in spite of everything the actors had working against them, Raisin’s cast collectively overcame. I can’t blame the Ostrander for not rewarding the production, but when you factor in the odds against, no cast was more ROBBED than this one. I’ll brook zero argument: No actor deserves to this category half as much as Whalum. Folks are welcome to disagree on this point, but folks who do are flat wrong. ROBBED!

If Jamel “JS” Tate doesn’t win Best Featured Performer in a Drama for Jittny I’m personally calling in the FBI. Annie Freres is likely to win Best Featured in a musical for her flashy roll-on as the Dragon in Shrek. Or maybe it will go to Breyannah Tillman, who stuck the landing in her role as The Drowsy Chaperone’s show-stopping aviatrix. But James Dale Green stopped time with nothing but his weatherbeaten tenor, a strummed mandolin, and a compelling story to tell. That sounds like a winner to me. Who got Robbed? Once’s Chris Cotton, that’s who.

I’m totally happy if the Ensemble award goes to All Saints in the Old Colony, Falsettos, Fun Home, Jitney, or A Perfect Arrangement. All are deserving, though Jitney may be just a little bit more deserving than all the rest. But how in the blankety-blankblanblank did Once not make this list? The cast doesn’t just act together, they also make music together — acoustic music. Music largely unaided by electronics and amplification. Music so thoroughly human it connects past and future like a time machine made of skin, bone, wood and string. I’m happy if the award goes to any of the fantastic nominees, but no matter who wins the judges lose on this account. Once was the season’s ultimate ensemble show, and POTS’s ensemble crushed it. The pre-show hoedown was worth the price of admission. BOO!

As long as I’m complaining about the judges, OMG! Why is Tony Isbell nominated for excellence in direction of a drama for Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf? Don’t misunderstand, I come to praise this year’s lifetime achievement honoree, not to dis him. Isbell absolutely should have been nominated in this category, but for his work on The Nether (not eligible). Or his work on Years to the Day (also not eligible). Or maybe even his work on Stage Kiss (eligible and solid but fuck-you ignored). I’d go so far as to say he got ROBBED! in spite of bing nominated. This insubstantial work is a jarring inclusion next to Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bouldin’s unflinching approach to Ruined and the inventiveness of Jamie Boller’s Eurydice. Not to mention the hyper-detailed character development, and ensemble work Jeff Posson oversaw for All Saints in the Old Colony and the flawless world-building of Steve Broadnax’s Jitney. I’m calling this one for Posson, but it could go in almost any direction.

Best production of a drama? I like Jitney, though I’ve not pegged it as a winner in many other categories. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s the case here, though the parts were also quite good. Should All Saints in the Old Colony win, it’s every bit as deserving and, being a new script and the underdog here, maybe even more deserving.

I’m betting the darkhorse for excellence in Direction of a Musical and calling this one for Jerry Chipman and Falsettos. Everything else was bigger or flashier or more current in some way or another, even the stripped down Once. But life’s about balance, and Chipman’s production had nary a hair out of place that wasn’t supposed to be out of place.


Looking at the nominee spread, my gut tells me Fun Home was the judges’ favorite musical this season, and why wouldn't it be? It was flawlessly cast, and beautifully performed. But this wasn't the best work I’ve seen from director Dave Landis. I saw the performance with two companions. One wept openly, responding to the story and the characters. The other complained all the way home about the musical’s almost complete lack of action and visual/physical dynamics. I became the most unpopular person in the car when I said I thought they were both 100-percent right to feel the way they felt. Up to this point I’ve been #TeamFalsettos but I’m calling this one for Once. The other shows were great, but they were shows. Once was an event.

“Theaters not actively engaged in creating new material are passively engaged in their own obsolescence.” — Me.

Yeah, I totally quoted myself, but there’s not much I believe more than that. It’s one of the reasons I think the Ostrander Awards for Best Original Script and Best Production of an Original Script, may be more important than nice. In the future, judges might even consider beating the bushes a little on this front, and looking beyond the usual qualifying companies. All Saints in the Old Colony is a fantastic new script. It will win these categories, and it will know productions and awards beyond Memphis. But now would be a good time for all the folks who contributed words and music to Opera Memphis’ all-original 901 Opera Festival to cancel their credit cards because they have been ROBBED! OM might not be under consideration, but if we’re looking for superlatives, I can’t recall a more impressive example of new musical theater in the 901. Not 
Tony Isbell in "Red"
  • Tony Isbell in "Red"
since OM’s 2014 production of Ghosts of Crosstown heralded the rebirth of a neighborhood.

That may not cover every category, but it’s all I’ve got for now. Who did I forget?

Also, stay tuned for a Q&A with lifetime achievement honoree Tony Isbell.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It's Time for Ostrander Nominees, 2018!

The Memphis Theater Awards are Aug. 26, at The Orpheum

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Dreams, Saints, Fences
  • Dreams, Saints, Fences
Congratulations Memphis Theater people — especially this season's nominees! Ostrander season, 2018 has officially begun.

Tickets are available at this link. Additional details can be found here. Thanks as always to Memphis magazine and ArtsMemphis for making things happen. And your nominees are...

College Division

Set Design
The Wild Party - Brian Ruggaber, University of Memphis
The Secret in the Wings, University of Memphis - Andy Bleiler
Violet - Montana Pugh, McCoy Theatre, Rhodes in collaboration with the U of M

Costume Design
The Secret in the Wings - Becca Bailey
Nine - Jennifer Ammons, University of Memphis
The Servant of Two Masters - jennifer ammons

Lighting Design
The Secret in the Wings - Nicholas F. Jackson
Nine - Anthony Pellecchia
Violet - Emily Murphy

Music Direction
Nine - Jason Eschhofen
Violet - Tracy Thomas
The Wild Party - Jacob Allen

Choreography
The Wild Party - Jill Guyton Nee
Nine - Jill Guyton Nee

Supporting Actress in a Drama
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Hiawartha Jackson, Southwest
The Servant of Two Masters - Jasmine Robertson
Cabs, Ogres, Fun
  • Cabs, Ogres, Fun
Leading Actress in a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters, Jordan Hartwell
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Jhona C. Gipson
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Rashidah Gardner

Supporting Actor in a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Toby Davis
The Servant of Two Masters - Tyler Vernon
The Secret in the Wings - Kyle Buchanan

Leading Actor in a Drama
Theophilus North - Ryan Gilliam, McCoy Theatre, Rhodes College
The Servant of Two Masters - Blake Currie

Supporting Actress in a Musical
Nine - Brittni Taylor Rhodes
Violet - Destiny Freeman
The Wild Party - Emily Collins

Leading Actress in a Musical
The Wild Party, Kennedy Staiger
Nine, Ellie Boisseau
Violet, Jenny Wilson

Supporting Actor in a Musical
Violet - Jason McCloud
Nine - Nathan Morton
The Wild Party - Christian Boyd

Leading Actor in a Musical
Violet - Deon'ta White
The Wild Party - Jacob Clanton
Nine - Tyler Vernon

Featured/Cameo Role
Violet - Jaylon Jazz McCraven
The Secret in the Wings - Blake Curry
The Secret in the Wings - Levarius Goods


Excellence in Direction of a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Danica Horton
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Thomas King

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
Nine - Stephen Hancock
Violet - Karissa Coady
The Wild Party - Mark Schnitzler

Best Production
Violet
Nine
The Servant of Two Masters

Community and Professional Division

Excellence in Set Design
Ekundayo Bandele, Jitney, Hattiloo
J. David Galloway, Eurydice, New Moon
Jack Yates, Drowsy Chaperone, Theatre Memphis
Jack Yates, Shrek, Theatre Memphis
Tim McMath, Fun Home, Playhouse on the Square
Dragons, Gods*, Modernity
  • Dragons, Gods*, Modernity
Excellence in Costume Design
Amie Eoff, Drowsy Chaperone
Amie Eoff, Shrek
Kathleen Kovarik, Dreamgirls, Playhouse on the Square
Lindsay Schmeling, Perfect Arrangement, Circuit Playhouse
Patricia Smith, Jitney

Excellence in Props Design
Aubanita Kirk, Perfect Arrangement
Betty Dilley, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Germantown Community Theatre
Jack Yates, August: Osage County, Theatre Memphis
Jack Yates, Shrek
Katharine Hughen, 9 to 5, Playhouse on the Square

Excellence in Hair/Wig/Makeup Design
April Rose Korpitz, Eurydice
Buddy Hart, Drowsy Chaperone
Buddy Hart and Rence Phillips, 42nd Street, Theatre Memphis
Buddy Hart, Rence Phillips, Charles McGowan, Shrek
Lindsay Schmeling, Perfect Arrangement

Excellence in Sound Design
Carter McHann, Crib, POTS@TheWorks
Carter McHann, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse
Eric Sefton, Shrek
Joe Johnson, Eurydice
Zachary Badreddine, Jitney

Excellence in Lighting Design
Jeremy Allen Fisher, Drowsy Chaperone
Jeremy Allen Fisher, Shrek
Mandy Kay Heath, Eurydice
Justin Gibson, Once
Zo Haynes, Fun Home

Excellence in Music Direction
Jeffrey Brewer, Drowsy Chaperone
Jeffrey Brewer, Shrek
Nathan McHenry, Dreamgirls
Nathan McHenry, Fun Home
Nathan McHenry, Once

Excellence in Choreography
Christi Hall, 42nd Street
Ellen Inghram & Jared Johnson, Falsettos, Next Stage, Theatre Memphis
Kim Sanders, Fun Home
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Drowsy Chaperone
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Shrek

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Erin Shelton, All Saints in the Old Colony POTS@TheWorks
Jessica “Jai” Johnson, Ruined, Hattiloo
Kell Christie, Othello, New Moon
Kim Sanders, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Circuit Playhouse
Kim Sanders, Perfect Arrangement

Best Leading Actress in a Drama
Anne Marie Caskey, August: Osage County, Theatre Memphis
Jamie Boller, Shakespeare in Love, Playhouse on the Square
Jessica “Jai” Johnson, Fences, Theatre Memphis
Maya Geri Robinson, Ruined
Morgan Watson, Sunset Baby, Hattiloo

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Bailey Dumlao, Lost in Yonkers Germantown Community Theatre
Benjamin Greene, Fences
Bertram Williams, Ruined
John Maness, All Saints in the Old Colony
Justin Raynard Hicks, Fences
Tommy “TC” Sharpe, Jitney

Best Leading Actor in a Drama
Greg Boller, All Saints in the Old Colony
John Maness, Othello
John Maness, The Flick, Circuit Playhouse
Lawrence Blackwell, Jitney
Marques Brown, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Annie Freres, Drowsy Chaperone
Brooke Papritz, Fun Home
Carla McDonald, Fun Home
Heather Zurowski, Fun Home
Sarah Johnson, Fun Home

Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Breyannah Tillman, Dreamgirls
Emily Chateau, Falsettos
Gia Welch, Drowsy Chaperone
Lizzie Hinton, Once
Lynden Lewis Jones, Shrek

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Cordell Turner, Dreamgirls
Jimmy Hoxie, First Date
Joshua Pearce, Falsettos
Kevar Maffitt, Shrek
Napoleon Douglas, Dreamgirls

Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Justin Asher, Shrek
Stephen Huff, Fun Home
Jason Spitzer, Drowsy Chaperone
Conor Finnerty-Esmonde, Once
Cary Vaughn, Falsettos

Best Featured Performer in a Drama
Ann Marie Hall, Shakespeare in Love
Greg Fletcher, August: Osage County
Jamel “JS” Tate, Jitney
Jason Spitzer, Shakespeare in Love
The Stones, Eurydice

Best Featured Performer in a Musical
Annie Freres, Shrek
Breyannah Tillman, Drowsy Chaperone
James Dale Green, Once
Jason Eschhofen, First Date, Germantown Community Theatre
Tamara Wright, 9 to 5

Ensemble
All Saints in the Old Colony
Falsettos
Fun Home
Jitney
Perfect Arrangement
Myths, Sports, Sunsets, Chaperones
  • Myths, Sports, Sunsets, Chaperones
Excellence in Direction of a Drama
Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bouldin, Ruined
Jamie Boller, Eurydice
Jeff Posson, All Saints in the Old Colony
Steve Broadnax, Jitney
Tony Isbell, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse

Best Production of a Drama
All Saints in the Old Colony
Eurydice
Jitney
Perfect Arrangement
Ruined

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
Cecelia Wingate, Shrek
Dave Landis, Fun Home
Jerry Chipman, Falsettos
Jordan Nichols, Dreamgirls
Jordan Nichols, Once
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Drowsy Chaperone

Best Production of a Musical
Drowsy Chaperone
Falsettos
Fun Home
Once
Shrek
Dreamgirls

Best Original Script
Some Day for a Crown
All Saints in the Old Colony
Crib

Best Production of an Original Script
Some Day for a Crown
All Saints in the Old Colony
Crib

Once, Perfect, Flicks, and more Flicks
  • Once, Perfect, Flicks, and more Flicks
* Totally not nominated for anything. But look at that set! Check those lights! And remember, to check back with Intermission Impossible for Ostrander-related features including memorials, an interview with lifetime achievement honoree Tony Isbell, as well as picks, pans, and "Who got robbed?!?!

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

For Your Consideration: Tell the 2018 Ostrander Judges Who to Nominate

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 2:39 PM

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The Ostrander Awards are scheduled to go off Sunday, August 26th. The judges have not yet convened, and it's only a matter of days now before the haggling begins over who gets nominated for one of Memphis' coveted theater awards, and who goes home with the plaque. In other words, if there was ever a time to make your feelings known as to who you think they should choose, now would be the time to make some noise. I'm suggesting not that any of our upstanding judges could ever be swayed by outside influence. But it sure can't hurt and might even be fun to try.

What I'm proposing is that theater fans post their own "for your consideration" suggestions in comments here, or on the social media platform of your choosing. You can make it text only, or — if you're feeling creative — make Academy Awards-style "for your consideration" ads and share them around. My only request is, if you make ads, either email a copy to me or tag me when you post it. If we get enough I'll create a second post with the best homemade ads out there.

For my sample I picked John Maness because that guy could easily be nominated in a couple of categories, and absolutely deserves a play prize this year.

Have fun and stay tuned to Intermission Impossible for Ostrander updates including nominees, interviews with honorees, and this year's installment of WHO GOT ROBBED?!?!

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Summer Stock: Revues, Debuts in this Week's Weekend Theatre Roundup

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 3:57 PM

Emily Chateau sings. Gary Beard plays.
  • Emily Chateau sings. Gary Beard plays.
Playhouse on the Square's New Works @The Works playwriting competition has resulted in some impressive debuts. The latest to see production is Crib, a 2016 winner opening at TheatreWork this weekend. Crib tells the story of Tracy, an African-American professor fighting for tenure, Rajon, a star athlete accused of plagiarism and threatened with expulsion, and of Coach Pari who reminds everybody that athletic money means more than academic honor.
crib_poster.jpeg

Crib sounds like a timely pick and is directed by Jaclyn Suffel, who helmed a previous winner, Victory Blues.


Does that sound a little heavy? Theatre Memphis goes light in the summer with musical revues and cabarets. This year's event, Ladies & Legends brings together Annie Freres, Lynden Lewis Jones, Emily Chateau, and Jacqueline Skoog. That's a lot of vocal dynamite. They'll perform pop hits, Broadway favorites, and movie classics. 
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