Spotlight

Friday, June 1, 2018

Halloran Centre Announces Supremely Cool 2018-19 On Stage Series

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 12:37 PM

Kisses from Bettye LaVette
  • Kisses from Bettye LaVette

The Halloran Centre's diverse 2018-19 On Stage series includes the award-winning Fats Waller musical Ain't Misbehaving, a visit from classic soul artist Betty LaVette, a monthly jazz series curated by Kirk Whalum, Arthur Miller's evergreen drama, The Crucible, and those are just a few of the headliners.


In a field that runs the gamut from Great Balls of Fire curiosities like Dennis Quaid and the Sharks to soul royalty like original Supreme Mary Wilson, and chestnuts like an evening of Gilbert & Sullivan favorites, I'm probably most excited about LaVette, who starred in the Broadway hit Bubblin' Brown Sugar and whose early recordings showcase the talents of a group of Memphis artists that came to be known as The Dixie Flyers.

LaVette started recording in Detroit, 1962. She charted R&B hits with  "My Man — He's a Lovin' Man", "He Made a Woman Out of Me," and one of my favorite singles, "Let Me Down Easy." (Though, this studio performance is also fantastic).


"I'm not searching for anything," LaVette told The Flyer. In a 2011 interview, she described her long and winding career as a satisfying one. As soon as "My Man" hit she rolled out of Motor City on tour with headliner Ben E. King and an up-and-comer named Otis Redding. The Scene of the Crime, her collaboration with the Drive-By Truckers, had earned a Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues performance and introduced the veteran performer to a whole new generation of audiophiles.

"Old movies are my thing," LaVette said, beginning her life story with  "One scene that used to make [her] cry every time.

"You know the scene where somebody's flying somewhere and you see the plane in the sky and the names of the cities flash up on the screen? New York, Paris, and London. That's the scene that always made me cry, because my friends had been to all those places and I hadn't." That's all past tense now.

"So many people have asked me, 'What was it like to cut a record when you were only 16?' And I tell them that in 1962 in Detroit, that's just what you did. Everybody had a record or was cutting a record," LaVette said.

Fans were loyal, but fame was elusive. LaVette's thankful. "I met a better class of people," she says. "People who didn't want something from me."

Love her.

And now, here's the rest of the season...

ON STAGE AT THE HALLORAN CENTRE, 2018-2019

MUSIC

Saturday, August 18 Rodney Crowell

Friday, September 7 Rhonda Vincent and the Rage

Saturday, September 29 Dennis Quaid and the Sharks

Friday, October 12 Dougie MacLean

Saturday, October 20 Matt Stansberry & The Romance

Saturday, November 3 Bettye LaVette

Friday, November 30 Music of the Knights

2019

Saturday, January 26 Mary Wilson

Saturday, February 2 Jim Brickman, “Share the Love” Tour

Saturday, March 2 Dustbowl Revival

Saturday, March 16 Benise FUEGO! Spirit of Spain (two performances)

Saturday, April 13 Carlene Carter

Saturday, April 27 The Orbert Davis Jazz Ensemble



THEATRE SERIES

Saturday, November 17, 2018               
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (two performances)

Saturday, February 16, 2019                   
National Players in The Crucible (two performances)

Saturday, March 30, 2019                       
New York City Gilbert & Sullivan Players in the Wand’ring Minstrels, Pirates of Penzance, and an Evening of Gilbert & Sullivan Favorites



KAFÉ KIRK

Sunday, October 7, 2018 with Lindsey Webster
Sunday, December 2, 2018 with Jonathan Butler
Sunday, February 3, 2019 TBA
Sunday April 7, 2019 TBA



Friday, May 25, 2018

mömandpöp rock the Memphis Children's Theatre Festival

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 3:19 PM

b531a316_momandpop.jpg
I'm SO EXCITED!

mömandpöp is my favorite kid-rock comedy improv show ever and it's back in Memphis for a limited engagement at Voices of the South's 13th annual Memphis Children's Theatre Festival.

There's always a lot of good stuff to choose from at the MCTF but I can't get enough of these guys. The band's "Comeback Special" may be aimed at the small people in our lives, but the musical variety show transcends. Husband and wife duo Bobby and Virginia Matthews are terrific writers with a knack for improv and a gift for crafting infectious pop ditties so full of love and life they defy easy categorization

The gimmick goes something like this. Once upon a time...
static1.squarespace.jpg

mömandpöp were rock stars. Like, LEGIT. But they abandoned all that to become plain old mom and pop. Now after many (many, many, many) years off the scene, they're pulling their musty British Invasion/folk revival-inspired act out act out of mothballs and retooling it for younger listeners. Think Schoolhouse Rock with a healthy dose of the Cowsills, and a solid pinch of The Monkees.


Pure joy. Check it all out. But check this out for sure.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Murder, Incest, More Murder and a Fun Home: Weekend Theater Roundup!

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 2:07 PM

Stupid Fucking Bird - BILL SIMMERS
  • Bill Simmers
  • Stupid Fucking Bird
This is an abbreviated, "Your theater writer's just about to go on vacation," version of a regular roundup. The long and the short of the matter: It's a great weekend for theater fans in Memphis and here's why...

Theatre Memphis hosts the dysfunctional Weston family of August: Osage County (Review here)
August Osage County
  • August Osage County
Jitney, August Wilson's terrific portrait of the alternative economy is onstage at Hattiloo. (Review here)
theater_playbanner_jitney-mag.jpg
Shakespeare is well represented in Shelby Co. this weekend.

Iago torments Othello at TheatreWorks
New Moon's Othello
  • New Moon's Othello
And a Tempest blows into Germantown Community Theatre.
31213783_10156264522500996_2302889416038809600_n.png
Stupid Fucking Bird continues its run at The Circuit Playhouse


And a highly anticipated Tony-winning musical comes to Playhouse on the Square — Fun Home.

' If music festival's not your thing this is a great weekend to see what area theaters are serving up. Hard to go wrong. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Dirty Dating, Homemade Opera, and God: A Weekend Theatre Roundup!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 1:23 PM

screen_shot_2018-04-06_at_1.11.43_pm.png
If you find yourself in Germantown this weekend, First Date's not a terrible idea for an actual first date. And Saturday midnight performance at Germantown Community Theatre promises to be ... different.

This short, sweet rom-com musical introduces us to artsy, edgy Casey (Christina Hernandez)  and boring, businessy Aaron (Ryan Gilliam). They've been set up on a blind date and their meeting in a restaurant takes us through all the awkward stages from crushing one another's self esteem to Google background checks, to pre-planned bail-out calls, to wondering what to talk about next.

GCT's cast also showcases the talents of Nichol Pritchard, Jimmy Hoxie, Court Nixon, Jess Brookes, Jason Eschhofen, and Joe Johnson.

All I know about Saturday's special midnight show is that it's being described by cast and crew as "EXTRA raunchy," so bring your smelling salts.

screen_shot_2018-04-06_at_1.04.30_pm.png
Daily Show writer Savid Javerbaum penned the comedy An Act of God, which gives the Supreme Being an opportunity to set the record straight on a variety of topics. Over the course of 90-minutes, the Good One discusses his famously mysterious ways, addresses longstanding misconceptions, weighs in on Adam and Steve, and pretty much lets it all hang out. Theatre Memphis' NextStage production is directed by Cecelia Wingate and stars Kevar Maffitt as God with Jason Gerhard and Stuart Turner as the angels Gabriel and Michael.
Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Company is showcasing original works focusing on Memphis and the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. BCTC Remembers reunites the 2-woman African-American comedy team Royston & O’Gray who wrote and toured together for more than a decade.
Friends of George's presents Dragnificent 2018: Dragnificent Doo-wop with music from the ‘50s and ‘60s, original skits, production numbers, and group performances featuring the ensemble cast.
Dye & Shoup
  • Dye & Shoup

The Opera 901 Showcase is about as Memphis as you can get without somebody grilling ribs on stage. The lineup of short works includes "Formidable," which tells the story of a woman scattering her father's ashes in the Mississippi River and hip-hop artist Marco Pave's dystopian "Grc Lnd," about a future outbreak of Yellow Fever and a rising tide of activism. "A Pretty Little Room" is technically set in Bolivar at the Western State Hospital for the Insane, while "Going Up" — originally created by Opera Memphis as part of its Ghosts of Crosstown project — tells the story of an elevator operator working for Sears. "Kayfabe" is subtitled "A Wrasslin' Opera," and unites librettist Jerre Dye with composer, arranger, and old-school rocker Sam Shoup to tell the story of a pretty boy grappler called Face coming to grips with his personal demons — and the big bad heel.

"This isn't about an actual Memphis wrestler. It's not about Jackie Fargo or Jimmy Hart," says Shoup, a veteran of MTV's weird video vanguard band the Dog Police and staff arranger for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, New York Pops, and Memphis Symphony Orchestra. "But it is set in the Mid-South Coliseum in the 1970s. And let me tell you, it ain't Mozart.

"I played in a lot of '70s rock bands," Shoup says, describing the opera's attitude and sonic texture. "This show is 15 minutes of pure fun."

Speaking of fun, here's a little project Shoup did with Kallen Esperian — "The Immigrant Song."



Monday, March 26, 2018

Voices of the South Announces Fringe Festival Lineup

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Berry & Madden
  • Berry & Madden
There are all kinds of fringe festivals big and small. A local fringe festival like the one Voices of the South is producing this spring, is an opportunity to sample a whole season's worth of independent performance in only a weekend or two.

Fun fact: Voices was born 22 years ago when Jenny Madden and Alice Berry were developing Southern narrative theater to take to the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. This year Berry, Madden and the rest of the company will bring a taste of Edinburgh to their hometown with The Memphis FRINGE Festival, a two weekend event highlighting a diverse slate of area actors, movers, writers, and storytellers working just outside the mainstream.   

Here's The Memphis FRINGE Festival lineup.

The Laramie Project with Central High School

Fri., April 13 @ 7pm; Sat., April 14 @ 6pm; Sun., April 15 @ 5:30pm

In October 1998 Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tied to a fence, beaten, and left to die alone on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. Five weeks after this attack, members of the Tectonic Theatre Group traveled to Laramie to conduct interviews with the residents. They used these conversations to draft The Laramie Project, a narrative portrayal of life in Laramie the year after the murder. Sadly, many of the issues raised by Shepard’s brutal murder have not gone away in the twenty years since. Central High School’s theatre program is pleased to present an abridged version of this powerful play.



Stories in the Water with Latrelle Bright

Fri., April 13 @ 8pm; Sat., April 14 @ 7:30pm; Sun., April 15 @ 2:30pm

Stories in the Water explores deeply rooted relationships black people have with our most precious resource. From the shore of the vast ocean to the “community” swimming pool, a woman leads an expedition through the memory water holds. Leaving the safety of solid ground, water engulfs her, carries her across space time and delivers her home again.



The Feeling is Mutual with Sarah Ledbetter

Fri., April 13 @ 9pm; Sat., April 14 @ 9pm; Sun., April 15 @ 1:30pm

THE FEELING IS MUTUAL is a one woman show that creator Sarah Ledbetter really, really hopes you’ll like. It’s about gravity and other pesky inevitables. It involves dancing, talking, and thinking. It is somewhat challenging for the audience member in that it makes some pretty wild connections between different things, and is not always a display of virtuosity. It is, rather, a display of daring and sometimes mistaken efforts for the purpose of sharing with you, the audience, what it feels like to be dancing in front of a group of people who deserve to see something really beautiful happen.



Melanie with Myesha Williams

Sat., April 14 @ 11am; Sun., April 15 @ 4:30pm; Sat., April 21 @ 11am

Melanie tells a story of a strong lady who visits home after being adopted as a child. While reuniting with her grandmother, Melanie rediscovers a book filled with stories of her past grandmothers’ lives, reminisce unwanted feelings that she had as a child before adoption, and seek understanding for her upbringing. Melanie learns the expanded definition of unconditional love as she forgives her family and connect back with her roots.



Squaring Up: Project 1

Sat., April 14 @ Noon; Sun. April 15 @ 3:30pm; Sat. April 21 @ 1:30pm

Project 1 and Thistle & Bee hope to act as catalysts leading to a community that is aware of the human sex trafficking issue, and ready to take action to support services that help victims recover from the trauma. At the end of each performance, audience members are invited take part in an immersive artistic co-creation experience and a talk-back to process the performance and discuss how community members can work to help end sex trafficking in Memphis. Net ticket proceeds will be gifted to Thistle & Bee and the Lisieux Community.



The Cabin by Adam Remsen

Sat., April 14 @ 1:15pm, Sat., April 21 @ 3pm; Sun., April 22 @ 7:15pm

Quark presents The Cabin, an original play by Adam Remsen. Hilarity erupts as a brother and sister learn the dark secrets of their deceased mother's troubled past. Laugh yourself silly as two siblings delve deep into their family's unsettling history. This heart-wrenching family drama will leave you in stitches! A harrowing laugh riot!



The Sound of Cracking Bones with Jason Gerhard

Sat., April 14 @ 2:30pm, Sun., April 15 @ 7:30pm; Sat., April 21 @ Noon



The Healing Power of JC with Sara Kaye Larson

Sat., April 14 @ 3:45pm; Sun., April 15 @ 6:30pm; Sun., April 22 @ 4pm



The Curator with The Perry Library of Theatre

Sat., April 14 @ 5pm; Sat., April 21 @ 8:15pm; Sun., April 22 @ 5pm

THE PERRY LIBRARY OF THEATRE presents an original play by E. Warren Perry, Jr., The Curator. This one-act play grapples with the results of applying postmodernism and historical revisionism to a museum’s collection, to its logical and uproarious extreme. Set in a fictional southern museum, curator Dr. Ronald Saulsbury fights new museum influences and his axe-wielding young assistant to try to prevent the annihilation of every real artifact in the collection – and history itself.



Far Away by Caryl Churchill; Directed by James Kevin Cochran

Sun., April 15 @ 8:30pm; Sat., April 21 @ 7pm; Sun., April 22 @ 6pm

Joan wakes up in the middle of the night and sees something she’s not meant to see. She’s convinced to keep a secret that will forever alter the course of her life. Caryl Churchill’s brief and chilling Far Away paints a not so-far-away future where fear of “the other” rules supreme, and beauty, politics and violence strike an uneasy kinship. Confronting our deepest fears, Far Awaydepicts a chilling world where everyone and everything is at war, and not even the birds in the trees or the river below can be trusted. Whose side is the right side?



Sinners on a Southbound Bus with Danica Horton

Fri., April 20 @ 7pm; Sat., April 21 @ 5:30pm; Sun., April 22 @ 2pm

An evening bus ride from Montgomery to Dothan, Alabama; two men on the run– but was their action a sin or a virtue? This dark one-act explores power, morality, fear, and the ghosts we leave behind.

Please note: Strong language and violence. Not suitable for children.



Rebound with Jill Guyton Nee

Fri., April 20 @ 8pm; Sat., April 21 @ 4pm; Sun., April 22 @ 3pm


Friday, March 9, 2018

Theatre Memphis, Playhouse on the Square Announce 2018-19 Seasons

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 3:10 PM

unnamed-10.jpg
Theatre Memphis and Playhouse on the Square have announced their 2018-2019 seasons. Local theater lovers can look forward to a number of regional and world premieres in addition a handful of popular favorites and certifiable classics.

With Louisa May Alcott adaptations coming to both POTS and Theatre Memphis we can expect a lot of Little Women on Stage.

THEATRE MEMPHIS' LOHREY STAGE

Ragged newspaper boys take on the newspaper industry in a nostalgic reminder of how we used to think organized labor was awesome...
•Disney’s Newsies August 24 – September 16, 2018

The shape-shifting, blood-sucking aristocrat hunter becomes the hunted...
•Dracula October 12 – 28, 2018

The original nightmare before Christmas...
•A Christmas Carol, November 30 – December 23, 2018

A beloved story about childhood, race, justice and its double in the American South —
•To Kill a Mockingbird, January 18 – February 3, 2019

The founding fathers sing about the weather (it's hot), death (it's sad), and an economic system built on molasses, rum, and slaves...
•1776, March 8 – 31, 2019
If a jerky celebrity has an accident at your party, maybe they should convalesce elsewhere. Think Stephen King's Misery in reverse — but funny-ish...  Add glamor.
•The Man Who Came to Dinner, April 26 – May 12, 2019

John Waters' 16-magazine-inspired valentine to big hair, cool R&B, and an ultimate, kid-led triumph over white assholes.
•Hairspray, June 7 – 30, 2019

NEXT STAGE at Theatre Memphis

The classic tale of an a not quite elderly British butcher meeting a no longer young waitress, receptionist, assassin etc. Uncertainty happens...
•Heisenberg — September 21 – October 7, 2018

A perennial favorite about teenage awkwardness and spelling...
•The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, November 2 – 17, 2018
Size matters? A new adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic...
•Little Women, February 8 – 24, 2019

Sarah Ruhl's Pulitzer finalist about a brazillain housecleaner who'd rather be doing standup comedy...
•The Clean House, April 5 – 20, 2019
Meanwhile, at...

PLAYHOUSE ON THE SQUARE

Gentlemen fall in love and become homicidal in the highly theatrical...
•A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder — August 10th – September 2, 2018
Speaking of love and murder, how about an epic mystery that begins when a boy finds his dog has become the victim of murder most foul?
•The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time — September 21 – October 7, 2018

The story of a little boy who won't grow up...
•Peter Pan — November 16th – December 30th, 2018

Until she does, of course.
•For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday — November 30th – December 22, 2018

Life, love, and silliness go on and on and on in...
•Tuck Everlasting — January 18th – February 9th, 2019


But the line “Your wedding is my funeral” comes from another show called...
Significant OtherMarch 1st – March 24th, 2019

And as long as we're talking about life old chum, whether it be everlasting and bittersweet or short, brutish and cruel, it's only a...
•Cabaret — May 3rd – May 26th, 2019

Also, kids have superpowers and we'd all do well to remember that.
•Matilda — June 21st – July 14th, 2019

THE CIRCUIT PLAYHOUSE

Wolves, Wall Street and making money off...
Junk August 24th – September 9th, 2018

"Something something something," mumbled Jo lying on the floor...
•Little Women: The Broadway Musical — October 5th – October 28th, 2018

Much like Richard Nixon (and the current White House resident)...
•Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook — November 23rd – December 23rd, 2018

Lynn Nottage takes on deindustrialization in the Pulitzer Prize winning drama...
•Sweat — January 25th – February 17th , 2019

I can't even with...
•Madagascar: A Musical Adventure — March 15th – April 7th, 2019
Big Brother's watching. Listening. Mining your data. Etc. Shame we don't adapt Brave New World as often as we adapt...
•1984 — April 19th – May 12th, 2019

Elvis + Drag = Dang, what took you so long?
•The Legend of Georgia McBride — June 7th – June 30th, 2018

POTS@THEWORKS

•Back When Mike Was Kate —January 4th – January 27th, 2019

World Premiere

•The Miraculous and the Mundane  — July 12th – July 28, 2019

World Premiere

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Hamilton" is coming! Orpheum Unveils 2018-19 Broadway Season.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 11:28 AM

ORPHEUM THEATRE GROUP
  • Orpheum Theatre Group
Spoiler alert: We've known Hamilton was going to be part of the Orpheum's 2018-2019 season for a while now. Now we know the rest of the story — and there are some nice surprises.

From the media release:

LOVE NEVER DIES September 4-9, 2018

This story of boundless love, full of passion and drama, follows Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, one of the most successful musicals of all time, which has now been seen by more than 130 million people worldwide and is the winner of over 50 international awards. The ultimate love story continues in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and The Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island. In this new, electrically charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar,

but he has never stopped yearning for his one true love and musical protégée, Christine Daaé.


SCHOOL OF ROCK October 9-14, 2018

SCHOOL OF ROCK is a New York Times Critics’ Pick and “AN INSPIRING JOLT OF ENERGY, JOY AND MAD SKILLZ!” (Entertainment Weekly). Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage. Vanity Fair raves, “FISTS OF ALL AGES SHALL BE PUMPING!”


LES MISÉRABLES November 27-December 2, 2018 (SEASON OPTION)

Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an unforgettable story of heartbreak, passion, and the resilience of the human spirit. Featuring the beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars," “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck. “Les Miz is born again!” (NY1).


WAITRESS January 15-20, 2019

"THE WOMEN OF WAITRESS ARE CHANGING BROADWAY!" (Time Magazine). Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting for Godot) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland). "It's an empowering musical of the highest order!" raves the Chicago Tribune. Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. "WAITRESS is a little slice of heaven!" says Entertainment Weekly and "a monumental contribution to Broadway!" according to Marie Claire. Don't miss this uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie. www.WaitressTheMusical.com


ON YOUR FEET! February 12-17, 2019

From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. ON YOUR FEET! takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet. Directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and an original book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), ON YOUR FEET! features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century — and one of the most inspiring stories in music
history.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF March 19-24, 2019 (SEASON OPTION)

“An entirely fresh, funny, and gorgeous new production. A REASON FOR CELEBRATION!” – New York Magazine.

Tony®-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. You’ll be there when the sun rises on this new production, with stunning movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins. A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family. Featuring the Broadway classics “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “To Life,” FIDDLER ON THE ROOF will introduce a new generation to this uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy! To love! To life!
ANASTASIA June 4-9, 2019

Inspired by the beloved films, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical ANASTASIA is on a journey to Memphis at last! From the Tony Award®-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family. ANASTASIA features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) with direction by Tony Award® winner Darko Tresnjak.

HAMILTON July 9-28, 2019
HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.

Tags: , , ,

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sarah Ruhl's "Eurydice" opens. Also "Virginia Woolf" at GCT

Posted By on Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 12:48 PM

27067080_10155419727358507_2041077095551547082_n.jpg
There are a couple of really fantastic plays opening this weekend. And it's killing me that I'll be off covering the Ameripolitan Awards and unable to see either Sarah Ruhl's nifty interpretation of Eurydice or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at GCT in their opening weekend! Okay, I'm a honky tonk junkie and love all the musicians playing Ameripolitan events, so it's not TOTALLY killing me, but missing Eurydice — a reinvention of the Orpheus myth — is making me extra sad because it's Ruhl at her most painterly and poetic, effortlessly reshaping rules of narrative and what can and can't happen on stage.

Here's what Eurydice director Jamie Boller had to say about New Moon's production opening this weekend at TheatreWorks.

Intermission Impossible:
Why did you want to direct this play?

Jamie Boller:
Eurydice is one of my favorite stories—it has some of the most gorgeous language of any contemporary play that I’ve read. Ruhl’s play takes the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and tells it from the eyes of its heroine. It’s an incredibly powerful female story (and the first play for New Moon directed by and written by women, I might add!) I find the show to be incredibly relevant, both personally and politically. The play is a dark and magical adult fairytale—kind of an Alice in Wonderland meets Pan’s Labyrinth. Ruhl employs the surreal to examine the stark reality of what it means to lose someone you love. The story can be taken quite literally, but it can also be interpreted as an allegory for the grieving process. Ruhl wrote the play after she lost her father in her early twenties. She has said that writing this piece gave her an opportunity to talk with her father again. Audience members who have lost a parent or another loved one will be quite familiar with Eurydice’s journey. As our country is experiencing somewhat of a collective experience of grief over our current administration, this story is quite timely, as it asks the question: what happens to language and the ability to effectively communicate through grief?

Eurydice is Ruhl at her most poetic and painterly. And raw in the wake of her own father’s death. What kinds of challenges did this present for a small company, and how did you address them?

Ruhl’s script demands numerous seemingly impossible tasks such as: a raining elevator, three inanimate characters (the Stones), a ten-foot tall Lord of the Underworld, a river, a string room, and MORE. As New Moon is a smaller independent theatre company with limited financial resources, we tackled these design challenges with innovation, humor, and wit. Not to mention the strongest design team I have EVER worked with. The show has all original music, composed by Joe Johnson (currently starring in Once at Playhouse on the Square). David Galloway designed our otherworldly set, and Jake Lacher masterfully served as Technical Director. Mandy Heath designed the lights, which will take audiences to another world completely. The costumes, designed by Austin Conlee, are absolutely to die for. And last, but certainly not least, Brittany Church choreographed the abstract movement pieces in the show, which enhance and serve the surreal world in which the characters exist. This is one of the most technically ambitious productions New Moon (or TheaterWorks for that matter) has ever seen, and I think audiences will “oo” and “ah” at all of our surprises. A lot of the theatrical magic in this show is created right before the audiences’ eyes—we aren’t pretending this isn’t a play, and I think that makes things even more magical.

“Don’t look back” is one of the more obvious takeaways from the original Orpheus myth. But is it good advice?

Oh man, what a question, Chris! Through working on this process, it seems to me that the answer to this is complex and definitely lives in the grey area. For Eurydice and Orpheus, looking back is what, ultimately, leads to both of their downfalls. However, for Eurydice, looking back upon her childhood memories also helps her remember who she is, apart from her relationship with Orpheus. She becomes empowered through memory. For Eurydice and her father, nostalgia provides comfort and illumination. However, to dwell on the past is also to die a second death. For Ruhl, writing this play was a way for her to communicate with her deceased father. Through this process of memory and language, she was able to find some sort of peace. I think the grieving process involves a delicate balance of memory and moving on. This theme is certainly at the core of our piece.
26805211_10156019090110996_328227380242523393_n.png
"A Delicate Balance"
Well, that closing remark seemed like as good a segue as I could hope for into a conversation about A Delicate Balance author Edward Albee and his most famous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, opening at Germantown Community Theatre this weekend.

With its themes of science and technology consuming history, Albee's profane and booze-soaked drama is the rare play that seems to become more urgent as it grows older. The cunning and hateful games of master and servant, which the aging academic George and his wife Martha play with their unsuspecting houseguests, may be viewed as a brief history of Western civilization. Their games reflect the cruelty of nature and of natural selection. The question keeps coming up: "Fight, fuck, or flight?" — whatever it takes, not only to survive but to dominate. It's terrifying, savagely, and often savagely funny. It's also a good fit for the intimate playhouse on Forest Hill-Irene. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

You Can't Go Wrong With "Once," "Fences," or "Sunset Baby"

Posted By on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 2:16 PM

playbanner_sunsetbay.jpg
I’ll have fuller reviews of all these plays available shortly. In the meantime I just want to encourage everybody to take advantage of an opportunity to go to the theater on a weekend when you'll have to try extra hard to see a bad show. The mix of musicals, dramas, classics and world premieres makes for an especially rich spread. So if you’ve got a hole in your schedule this weekend, fill it. If you've got plans, cancel at least one. Whether you’re already a theater lover or just a little bit curious any all of these pieces will satisfy.

Once at Playhouse on the Square

Take a peek at this seconds long video. I’ll wait.

That clip's from the pre-show. You know, the half-hour or so after audience members are allowed into the theater but before the show actually starts. It’s the (mostly) full cast of Once having a fiddle-sawing, guitar-picking, mandolin-strumming, box-beating, foot-stomping, tin whistle-tooting jam session. It's fantastic and they carry the joyful Celtic momentum into this bittersweet Irish ballad of a musical that invests far more in the power of live music and honest theatrical performance than it does in Broadway spectacle.

Once is the story of a depressed young songwriter who lives with his old Da above the shop where they make Hoovers that don’t suck suck proper again. His girl’s left him for New York, and nobody’s listening to his music except for the struggling Czech immigrant who becomes his muse and chief motivator.

The ensemble's amazing but the secret star of this Once is  simple wooden stage that looks like it was designed not to impress visually but to maximize the warm sounds of acoustic instruments and lightly amplified human voices. It’s a little like hearing guitars played inside a bigger guitar. It’s hard not to get swept up in the songs, and swept away by the story.

Highly recommended.
Sunset Baby at The Hattiloo

You want to see one really great performance? Oh baby. Decked out in fuck me boots and the war paint of a woman who lures Johns into her car in order to rob them Morgan Watson's Nina is as hard and multifaceted as cut diamonds. It’s hard to eclipse actors as strong as TC Sharp and Emmanuel McKinney, and they both hold their own as Nina’s long absent father and gangsta boyfriend respectively. But whether she’s rolling her eyes and saying, “I love you,” or holding forth on what it really means to be “children of the revolution,” it’s hard to take your eyes off Watson long enough to look at anybody else in a tight, terrific ensemble.

Sunset Baby’s set after the death of a one time Civil Rights icon named Ashanti X who had struggled economically, becoming a less than inspiring crack addict in later years. Now that she’s dead her papers are worth more than she ever was and Nina’s long-estranged father shows up looking to get back into his daughter’s life. And for letters Ashanti X had written to him while he was in prison.

Sunset Baby is a GenX story looking at lives shaped by a stalled  Civil Rights movement, when protest gave way to politics, and old heroes became fringe figures and outlaws. It’s a little play telling a big story.

Highly recommended.
All Saints in the Old Colony at TheatreWorks

Here’s an excerpt from my review of a great fookin’ world premiere launched right here in Memphis.
All Saints in the Old Colony feels like Homokay's New England-flavored answer to Katori Hall's housing project drama Hurt Village. The Old Colony, Boston's second oldest housing project, has changed quite a bit in recent years, but was once a dense cluster of brick towers populated by poor Irish families. As with Hurt Village, All Saints is set against a backdrop of gentrification and change. It tells the story of Kier, an Irish-born immigrant and disabled dock worker who, in the absence of parents, raised his siblings as best he could, making hard decisions that still haunt his malnourished, whiskey-soaked brain.
All Saints in the Old Colony: real people, real problems - CARLA MCDONALD
  • Carla McDonald
  • All Saints in the Old Colony: real people, real problems
More specifically, it tells the story of an attempted intervention where the whole family comes together — including sister Fiona who was given up for adoption at an early age — to help Kier into a healthier lifestyle. But, in the words of playwright Sam Shepard, whose work is also reflected in All Saints, there's no hope for the hopeless. Opportunities for temporary escape abound, but for these siblings normalcy will always be relative, and there's no hope that these four — five, counting an offstage brother too unforgiving to appear — will ever find peace, let alone happiness.
Highly recommended. 
download.jpg
Fences

Theatre Memphis’ second production of Fences is another good opportunity to revisit favorite topics like exceptionalism and how badly our legacy playhouses serve Memphis’ communities of color, and how productions like this first-rate go at an August Wilson classic are the very thing we talk about when we talk about exceptions proving the rule. But I've buried the lead, so put those thoughts on hold long enough to consider this: No matter how overexposed Fences may be relative to some of Wilson’s consistently strong oeuvre this perfectly cast and lovingly-staged production is something you’ll want to see. Maybe more than once.

Highly recommended.
Perfect Arrangement

This is the only one of the bunch I haven’t seen yet, but it sounds awfully intriguing. Here’s how the folks at Circuit Playhouse are describing it.

It’s 1950, and new colors are being added to the Red Scare. Two U.S. State Department employees, Bob and Norma, have been tasked with identifying sexual deviants within their ranks. There’s just one problem: Both Bob and Norma are gay and have married each other’s partners as a carefully constructed cover. Inspired by the true story of the earliest stirrings of the American gay rights movement, madcap classic sitcom-style laughs give way to provocative drama as two “All-American” couples are forced to stare down the closet door.

Verdict: We’ll have to wait and see, but it better be good because the competition is stiff.
screen_shot_2018-01-26_at_1.26.00_pm.png

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"Finding Neverland" Star John Davidson Has Some Advice for Actors

"Bring your own shoes."

Posted By on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 11:23 AM

John Davidson - JEREMY DANIEL
  • Jeremy Daniel
  • John Davidson
Finding Neverland star John Davidson has an affinity for the double role he plays in the spectacle-laden musical adaptation of Finding Neverland. "As Captain Hook, I give [Peter Pan author J. M.] Barrie the same advice I'd give anybody getting into the business," he says. "Find the child within yourself, because to find out who you are is the greatest challenge of life. I'm telling Barrie, 'Don't write what you been writing. And don't write what everyone expects you to write. Write your story.' Then, as Charles Frohman who's Barrie's producer, I'm trying to talk him out of writing a play for children. 'It will be a disaster,' I tell him. 'Children don't have money; they can't buy tickets!'"

When it comes to the business of show there are worse people to take career advice from than Davidson. The clean cut actor started on Broadway in the 1960s before packing up his Pepsodent smile and taking his act to Hollywood, where he became a ubiquitous game show presence, recorded albums, and landed notable guest spots on popular shows. Davidson hosted That's Incredible, The New Hollywood Squares, and was a frequent substitute for Tonight Show icon Johnny Carson. But between appearances on The American Style and in made for TV films like Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders II, Davidson continued to work as a song and dance man.

"Until this time, my favorite roles have been Don Quixote in Man of la Mancha and playing Harold Hill in The Music Man. But now this is by far my favorite role," Davidson says. "I'm at my best when I can chew on the scenery, and each of these roles gives me a chance to do that. It is exhausting and I just love it and I'm so grateful.

"In my mind, I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have this role," says Davidson who, at 76, describes Finding Neverland's Hook/Frohman as, "the role of a lifetime."

Intermission Impossible: Critics really seem to like you in this role. Even those who don't love the script seem to love you in this double role as Hook and Frohman

John Davidson: It's true that it's not a typical Musical. It is not Sondheim. It's not Rodgers and Hammerstein. But it's a magical show with a hit song in every scene. It's British pop music and very singable. I just love the music. The story will make you laugh. There's a lot of funny funny pieces. But it's guaranteed to make you cry. It's a very moving script. Of course it's paste on the film where Dustin Hoffman play Charles Frohman and Johnny Depp played J.M. Barrie. But I think the Broadway show. It has incredible special effects. It is a powerful two and a half hours in the theater.

As I read the reviews I wondered if there was some surprise among people who may mostly know you as the host of Hollywood Squares or from That's Incredible. It's got to be at least a little gratifying to turn heads: "Wow, he's really a good actor!"

That is true. My career has been very confusing. I would call it variety. But it is confusing. Is John Davidson just a game show host? Is he just a singer or not an actor? Whatever. I've been so many different things, and that's been the fun of my career, but it's true that it does surprise people. A lot of people who saw me on That's Incredible didn't even know that I sing or act. But I have a Bachelor of Arts in theater and I started out on Broadway as a leading man. That is at the heart of what I do. That kind of storytelling is what I started out doing, and it's nice to get back to that. But I understand. It is surprising people. And that's okay, it's kind of fun to surprise people.

The great thing about being a generalist writer is getting to wake up in a new world every day depending on your subject. So I really appreciate that perspective.

I'm sort of old school. You know, the performers that came on the scene in the 50s and 60s and before always thought of being multifaceted performers. I had an early manager who said, "Don't be a spear, be a pitchfork." By that he meant a spear has one prong. But a pitchfork can handle a lot of points of attack. The variety is what's kept me going all these years. That's the old-fashioned way of doing it, and that's my advice to a lot of the kids in our cast. I'm 76, and most of the kids in the cast from their late 20s. When they Google me.

You get Googled!

Oh yes. And they come back the next morning and they're surprised by all the things I've done. And I say to them, "You could do that too. Don't just think about playing roles in musicals. The greatest role you play is yourself. You got to figure out who you are, Because that will help you play other parts."

You talk about being old school. But you really have worked with generations of artists. Your first Broadway show was with the Cowardly Lion, Bert Lahr. As a host and panelist on Hollywood Squares you worked with so many people including the great Rose Marie who just passed — best known for The Dick Van Dyke Show, but whose career goes all the way back to Vaudeville and variety when she was Baby Rose Marie. Were there performers like this who inspired you particularly?

I think Bob Hope. I worked on a lot of his specials. He was an early supporter of mine and he was a total performer. I guess he didn't do any serious roles, but he did Broadway film television. And Betty White. Any person who has a talk show always wants Betty White on because she's mischievous and funny and she's a total performer. I was always attracted to people who knew yeah, but to tell a story with a song. To take stage. To master the space. I think that excites me more than just a singer. Robin Williams was an inspiration to me.

I knew you'd been a guest host for Johnny Carson before he retired from The Tonight Show. I honestly can't think of anything more intimidating than sitting in for an icon like Carson who so completely owns his format.

When you substituted for Carson you always knew it was his desk. It was his desk, it was his chair. His name was on the pencils. His name is on the coffee cup. I couldn't book my own guests. They were very tight about getting people on. I remember trying to get Kenny Rogers on. I told them, "You understand Kenny Rogers is a major performer, right? He's a Storyteller he's a singer, he's a great talker." They saw him as just a hit record guy. I finally got him on. I want to have a Jacques Cousteau on because I'm a scuba diver and a big fan. And I couldn't get him on. Then they finally put him on but in the last 7-minutes of the show so I didn't have enough time with the great Jacques Cousteau. You realize you're just a guest there, you're not the host. You can't really indulge yourself. But I began to have this realization — I replaced Carson. I replaced Mike Douglas on his daytime talk show. When I got the music man I replaced Robert Preston in his Harold Hill. I came to realize you can't feel someone else's shoes. Like in Finding Neverland I'm replacing Kelsey Grammer from Broadway. I began to realize you can't feel someone else's shoes. You've got to bring your own shoes and try and fill them. That became my motto. Bring your own shoes.

But what kind of shoes do you bring if you want to be a game show host? That's its own skill set it seems. Where does one train for that? How do you prepare?

It's a very tough thing. And it's a very good question. That's why I talk about with the young actress in Finding Neverland. We talk about it all the time. How do you make that jump from Broadway to television. Because you can play Broadway all your life, and it's great it's very fulfilling. But if you want to have some power, and the freedom to pick and choose, and if you want to have producers call you instead of you trying to call them you've got to get some television so that you mean something. And fame gives you power. That's the reason for being famous. But when I first started on Broadway, a television producer named Bob Banner Who had just found Carol Burnett signed me to a five-year contract. And he brought me to television. And he helps me do my Las Vegas act. And he help me find out who John Davidson was. He developed me as a television variety show performer. I was very lucky in that way.


So we've talked about how you were a goto replacement guy. But you were also at the leading edge of some things. That's Incredible is a pretty clear antecedent to reality programming.

That's Incredible and another show at the same time called Real People.

With Sarah Purcell who you sometimes had as a guest on Hollywood Squares.

Yes. And they were some of the first shows to bring real people to television in that way. It was fun working on That's incredible with Fran Tarkington and Cathy Lee Crosby. I think that advanced my notoriety, but it didn't advance my talents as a singer or actor. It gave me the power to say okay now I want to do Man of La Mancha. So I can go to a theater and people would come because they see me on That's Incredible. That's Incredible was at its best when we celebrated human triumphs over physical and mental obstacles. We were at our worst when we dealt with ghost stories and psychic phenomena, and some of them really superstitious stuff. Just these pitfalls the imagination can get us into. I think we were at our best when we should real stories, and not people who just wanted to be on TV.


Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hamilton Star Mandy Gonzalez Launches New Recording in Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 2:02 PM

mandy-gonzalez-fearless.jpg
Mandy Gonzalez is fearless, and not shy about saying so. The Hamilton and In the Heights star is taking a one-night break from performing on Broadway to “really launch” her Fearless album at the Halloran Centre in Memphis, with a title track penned by none other than Hamilton’s author, composer, and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“Memphis was where it's was at,” She says excitedly, talking a mile-a-minute. “Because when I was a kid my dad worked a lot. He worked three jobs, and he worked nights. Sundays were like our only day with dad and by then my mom kind of needed a break. So dad used to put on Elvis movies and we’d watch them. I really fell in love with music and rock-and-roll through Elvis. So I've always wanted to go to Memphis. It's kind of where I feel rock and roll began. I wanted to see Sun Records, and Graceland. It's the perfect place to start.”

#Fearless started as an online movement to create support “squads” and combat negativity on Social Media. “Everybody needs a squad,” Gonzalez says explaining four simple rules of membership: Embrace differences; Help one another when we fall; Look for the good; and dream big. “I don’t know where I’d be without my squad,” she says. “And if somebody doesn't have a squad, they can be a part of mine.”

Gonzalez says she always wanted to make a record but was too busy doing other things — until now.

Intermission Impossible: You’re a pro. You’ve done this for a while now. But Hamilton’s not just another show, it’s a cultural touchstone. That’s got to be different.

Mandy Gonzalez: It's so different. Because people are screaming because before the show even starts. They're so excited because they’ve waited so long to see it. They worked so hard to get tickets. And when the lights go out people start screaming. And I never heard that before. Screaming tears of joy. Not, you know, terrified screaming. At the end people jump from their seats and I see so many people crying. And to hear what Hamilton means to so many people. I’ve heard a lot of beautiful things from people about In the Heights because it connected to so many young college students. And my character Nina was part of that. But you come to Hamilton and you see a young person with their parents with their parents, and their parents, and they're all sitting together. And they're all screaming. And they're all cheering. And it really is this ray of bringing people together which is a beautiful thing. It's what theater is supposed to do.When I go to the stage door at night it takes 45 minutes to get through because everybody has a story about what Hamilton means to them. Because I think that it's the first time they've really felt connected to our forefathers. The first time they’ve seen them as people. And they go, “Oh, I can do that. I can move mountains.” Or, “This person had a characteristic that’s a lot like mine.” I hope it gives people that. It gives people hope. It certainly does for me performing it.

True story. I heard someone playing Hamilton in the checkout line at my neighborhood dollar store. People may blast show tunes when they’re out buy toilet paper in New York but that just doesn’t happen in Memphis.

It used to be, if you were in the theater, you felt like you were only part of this certain community. But the community continued to grow. Like The Greatest Showman, the movie The soundtrack is by Broadway composers. There's something happening. Now it's become a part of our culture and it's something that, if you can't get a ticket to Hamilton, you can go and see another incredible show. It's opening up culture which, I think, is a beautiful thing.

via GIPHY

Don’t tell anybody, I don’t want to be run out of town. While I do really like Hamilton, I love the street life of In the Heights. It may be my favorite. Okay, it’s my favorite.

I love them both.

Can you tell me just a little bit about having had the opportunity to work on both shows?

The beautiful thing about Lin and Tommy and Alex and Andy is they are the same guys that I met when I did a little reading of In the Heights in the drama book shop.They're the same. They're humble and passionate about what they do. It's about collaboration. It's about lifting people up. It's just now everybody recognizes their brilliance. I think this thing about Lin is he just shines this light wherever he goes. Not like literally with a light.

Yeah, that would be weird.

Now to see him on all these talk shows and in all these places, that's the same guy I met when I first started. And he's got the same heart. And the same passion for what he does. The beautiful thing for me, is to watch my friends have the success. That's an incredible thing. But also to have him say, “Hey, why don't you come along with us?” is a very rare thing. I don't take any of it for granted and I'm very super grateful and proud of this. The people that they are. And what they represent. My love for them started with in the Heights, and we really became like a family, that cast.

Hamilton has a life apart from the script and story. It’s associated with ideas about action and accountability. And being fearless. When you are a part of that are there expectations?


I don't know about that. But I know because of social media, if you have a platform I think it is your right and your hope to do good with that platform to help people.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Waiting for Godot, J & K Cabaret, Elves, Fairies, Ghosts, and Actors

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 1:46 PM

121717_dixon_godot.jpg

The holidays are a time of reassurance when we celebrate familiarity and comfort in all things, from food and drinks we consume to the entertainment we gobble up like sugar cookies and milk. It's the caroling time of year when area playhouses turn to beloved titles like A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan, or maybe even the Santaland Diaries for folks who prefer their cocoa on the bitter side. But the Tennessee Shakespeare Company isn't like other area theaters. The Bard-minded professional troupe has always gone its own way and, true to form, TSC has another kind of classic in mind for this season of giving — a widely celebrated, often misunderstood clown show penned in the wake of WWII, at the dawn of a frightening atomic age. Samuel Beckett's austere comedy Waiting For Godot is the 20th-century "bounded in a nutshell," as Shakespeare might say — a slapstick hymn to eternity in all its terrifying glory.
TSC's founding director Dan McCleary says he's wanted to produce Godot for years, but he waited for the right moment and the right group of people. "To work as a clown means that you feel everything very deeply, whether it's joy or loss," he says, considering what it takes to fill the ragged pants and ill-fitting shoes of Beckett's famous hobos Vladimir and Estragon, who, in the face of a random, sometimes malevolent-seeming world, turn to one another for affirmation and survival. "Clowns feel things very deeply, then in the next breath they let it go. So clowns have short-term memories.

"Out of extremes comes a play of tremendous compassion and understanding and inquiry," McCleary says, describing Godot as beautiful in timing and grace. "It's always struck me as a fine seasonal, holiday play. It's very funny."

Speaking of very funny, the J&K Cabaret is back starring Jenny Madden and Kim Justis. I've written a lot about this pair over the years, and about this show, which owes its origin to a very funny production of Parallel Lives.

Count on music, comedy, bigger comedy, and generous performances from two of the city's most gifted and committed entertainers.

A Christmas Carol is back at Theatre Memphis, Peter Pan's flying around Playhouse on the Square, and Junie B. Jones is at Circuit. And Santaland Diaries too.
 

Tags: ,

Friday, November 10, 2017

Prime Cuts: A Pulitzer finalist, and an Orwell fable

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 9:52 AM

Looking for something interesting this weekend? Whoever you are, the Memphis theater community's probably got something for you. 
22894213_1631430100252666_3207962345033844054_n.jpg

Cloud9's a relatively new company still getting its legs. That sets up Jordan Harrison's Marjorie Prime — a significant regional premiere — as a probable coming of age story. This Pulitzer finalist is near-future science fiction about a time when artificial intelligences can be programmed to serve as companions for the elderly, even taking on the look and characteristics of lost loved ones. It would easily be the most smartly-written thing on stage this week if Voices of the South hadn't staged a narrative adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm, or if Theatre Memphis' wonderful production of Falsettos had been produced at some other time. As it happens, there's a lot of smart work to choose from. Choose well!

And there's always the ballet.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Free Shakespeare! Julius Caesar visits the Germantown Library

Posted By on Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 4:47 PM

Michael Khanlarian, Khalil LeSaldo
  • Michael Khanlarian, Khalil LeSaldo
On a cold rainy pre-Halloween weekend the only thing I can think of that might be better than a free indoor production of Julius Caesar might be a free indoor production of Macbeth. But since the latter's not being performed you'll just have to settle for Shakespeare's tragically timeless story of murder and political intrigue in ancient Rome as performed by members of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company. 
The Ides of March come late this year. The original conspiracy theory goes down Saturday, Oct. 28 at 10 a.m.

Did I mention it was free?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What's Your Damage? "Heathers," "Stage Kiss" Open this Weekend!

Also onstage: "Hamlet," "Romeo & Juliet," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Fetch Clay, Make Man"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 6:49 PM

collage-2017-10-05_1_.jpg
“If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn’t be a human, You’d be a game show host.” — Heathers.

I'm pretty sure Brooke Papritz has been on a collision course with Heathers the musical since she embodied brutal, ambition-free entitlement in Carrie. She played the telekinetic title character's teenage antagonist Chris, and sang the hell out of a muddled show's best song. Papritz moves into the protagonist position this time, albeit one whose teen angst bullshit has a body count. She'll play Veronica — the non-Heather-Heather made famous by a 16-year-old Wynona Ryder. She'll be joined by a deliciously terrible threesome: Gia Welsh (Side Show) as Heather Chandler (in power red), Heather Duke (in envy green) and Heather McNamara (in cowardly yellow) as her school-ruling mean-girl compatriots.


High school is a foreign land — perhaps even another, needlessly cruel dimension where every choice a teenager makes, from scrunchie color and sneaker brand to pants-or-be-pantsed, is a matter of life and death. Heathers' twisted romance/revenge plot took that idea literally turning Ryder and co-star Christian Slater into a Bonnie & Clyde for the Clearasil set.

The original film version of Heathers was 1989's antidote to everything John Hughes ever shot (that didn't include Harry Dean Stanton) and in retrospect film critic Roger Ebert's uncommonly cautious review makes an instructive frame for a film that threw caution to the wind.

"I approach Heathers as a traveler in an unknown country," Ebert wrote, admitting it made him feel like a foreigner. "One who does not speak the language or know the customs and can judge the natives only by taking them at their word."

via GIPHY

Heathers' screenwriter Daniel Waters fully understood that teenagers don't speak in slang or jargon but in code. Shocking as a comedy about murder and teen suicide may have been for some in 1989, Heathers was always more classical than edgy, especially in terms of complexity,  idiomatic color and meaning. It set an appropriately dark and literary tone tone for Gen-Xers heading off to college and kicked open the door for savvy adaptations like 1995's Jane Austen-inspired Clueless. Wisely the adaptors Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) and Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde) held on to all the best lines (and most of the important tropes) while transforming Heathers into an unlikely musical, but they've also built it to function more of an extension of the original than a perfect carbon copy.


Memphis' favorite Tracy Turnblad, Courtney Oliver, is no stranger to adapted films about teen angst and budding sexuality. Past directing credits include Carrie the Musical, Debbie Does Dallas.

via GIPHY

screen_shot_2017-10-05_at_5.02.20_pm.png
Also opening this week at Theatre Memphis: Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl starring John Moore and Tracy Hansom with Stuart Turner, Chase Ring, Lena Wallace Black, Laurel Galaty, and Gordon Ginsburg.

Stage Kiss is a play you can almost judge from the title. What happens when two old are cast opposite one another in an old romantic melodrama? What does it mean when two actors find themselves really kissing? These are the obvious questions but when Ruhl's writing nothing's ever that obvious or exactly what it seems to be.

Directed by Tony Isbell who recently staged the terrific if under-attended Years to the Day for Quark.
21370906_10154640107137691_563468297543040149_n.jpg
ONGOING: Fetch Clay, Make Man: Muhammad Ali enlists Stepin Fetchit to teach him Jack Johnson's anchor punch. Solid acting, intriguing relationships. To read more about the background, click here. For the review click here.
Shakespeare, Love, etc. - CARLA THE MAGNIFICENT.
  • Carla the magnificent.
  • Shakespeare, Love, etc.
CLOSING: Shakespeare in Love is the fictional story of how Shakespeare wrote Romeo & Juliet set in London's complicated theater world during the reign of Elizabeth I. Read the review here.

And speaking of Romeo & Juliet (and brutal social environments/teen suicide, to harken back to Heathers).Tennessee Shakespeare's bringing a free performance of R&J to the town Square in Collierville. Catch them both!
unnamed-1.jpg
CLOSING: What a Piece of Work...
Our Own Voice Theatre turns its attention to another Shakespeare play — sort of. With What a Piece of Work is this relentlessly (but not indefatigably) experimental company aims to interpret Hamlet and criticize America's current president and all things that lead to complacency.

Our Own Voice has a long history of developing topical, political work but there's more at work here than mere resistance.  Maybe it's easier to share a director's note from Bill Baker.

"So, why an hour own voice production of Hamlet? Have I lost my mind? Perhaps the second question answers the first. Our Own Voice has been having a bit of an identity crisis. Reaching our 25th anniversary has involved a lot of soul searching for this company, considering if and how we should continue on our theatrical mission. It seems time for a bold move. I know it is an insane decision, to undertake one of Shakespeare's most difficult plays with a troupe of actors characterized by their lack of conventional theatrical training, a company more at home with making up plays then with serving the text of a great playwright. And, yes, I am aware that TheaterWorks has very recently been the home to a very fine production of Hamlet. New Moon Theater did an excellent production this past February. I was in the audience and I enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I was inspired. I should say it is more because of that production than in spite of it that we have undertaken this one. Watching New Moon’s talented ensemble playing Shakespeare's glorious language in this space set me to thinking about how to OOV might go about telling the story, interpreting these words. The juxtaposition of the two ensembles telling the same tale should highlight what, for me, is the true glory of theater, the unique human encounter that happens every time an actor performs for a spectator. The potential of that encounter is what our own voice has always devoted to exploring and expanding. Our patron saint Antonin Artaud said, “No more masterpieces!” And recognized that the true language of the theater is what human bodies do in the space. So we have not yet undertaken the classic dramatic texts. The time has come. Hamlet is perhaps the greatest play ever written, and it is in the public domain! This great story, these beautiful words are no one's intellectual property. They belong to all of us. They are ours!"
So just what is Hamlet? A play about ham?
  • So just what is Hamlet? A play about ham?

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation