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Comment Archives: Stories: Theater

Re: “Goodbye Josie: The Memphis Theatre Community Loses a Beloved Educator

I worked with Josie during the summer of '65 at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre. I was 19 and knew it was, even while we were living it, a pivotal time in all our lives. We shared a great appreciation for Steve Malin and Henry Swanson (who had both been my teachers at the University of Florida.) I remember that Josie was willowy, mischievous, had a robust laugh, and was (as we all were) deeply committed to being completely present in her work and in her life. I never saw her after that summer, yet I knew she would make her artistic mark wherever she would reside. It was heartwarming to read of her accomplishments and to know how many lives she touched. ~ H. Richard Greene

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by H. Richard Greene on 07/20/2017 at 6:14 PM

Re: “Sneak Peek at "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

It has turned out better than I could have imagined. I hope people will make the trip out east to give it a go.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by John M Hemphill on 07/17/2017 at 12:46 PM

Re: “PRIZM Ensemble Co-Founder Lecolion Washington Tapped to Head Community Music Center of Boston

The community Music Center of Boston is getting an amazing leader.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Nancy Walker on 06/23/2017 at 5:04 PM

Re: “"Million Dollar Quartet" Wants to Be Your Teddy Bear

I asked the man who did the recording. Cowboy Jack said maybe he wasn't there for very long. He's allegedly singing harmonies, not in his trademark baritone. But the mystery remains. https://www.memphisflyer.com/TheaterBlog/a…

Posted by Chris Davis on 06/11/2017 at 4:47 AM

Re: “"Million Dollar Quartet" Wants to Be Your Teddy Bear

Hey, Pesky, your backgrounding is so good (as usual), I was hoping you would also deal with the mystery of how it was that Johnny Cash is in the famous picture but is nowhere to be found in the equally famous audio. I'll bet you know. Please tell us.

Posted by Jackson Baker on 06/09/2017 at 8:13 AM

Re: “Teaching Moments: Theatre Memphis Visits South Pacific

Spot on Chris! ...and thanks for the pictures. I enjoyed the heck out of this production.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by John M Hemphill on 06/08/2017 at 9:42 AM

Re: “Trash: Killer Joe's a Dark Tour of the American Trailer Park

Hmmm. Plan to see this weekend. Was waiting for your review. Not sure what to make of it. Maybe next year this troupe will do Killer Joe: The Musical :)

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Julie Ray on 05/18/2017 at 12:11 PM

Re: “Theatre Memphis Neuters Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I even have mixed feelings about the set though it was nice, and often beautifully lit. Sad to hear it's still not found its legs. Was hoping this review would have been obsolete in a week's time.

Posted by Chris Davis on 05/16/2017 at 7:51 AM

Re: “Theatre Memphis Neuters Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

In the edition I have at home, there are only a couple of f-bombs. The constant yelling and screaming by one character was extremely distracting. The set was the salvation of the show.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by mayfield on 05/15/2017 at 9:39 PM

Re: “Memphis Theater Community Mourns Actor, Volunteer Ron Gordon

I have come to NOT react to grief immediately, but to look at it for what it is- and then access that person's impact on me. I chose to do what I do about any and everything- Write about it, b/c that's what writer's DO. The account of 3 tearful times concerning Ron Gordon is written in the program of Women's Theatre Festival of Memphis' production of "Don't Tell Me I Can't Fly," (May 13-21-Evergreen Theatre) and I will post on FB and other social media on Monday) I think to myself- a lot of people could say that title after the "Ron Gordon Experience" for many could not have accomplished much in Memphis Theatre without him; Ruby O'Gray

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ruby O' Gray on 05/13/2017 at 5:08 AM

Re: “In the Rough: Hattiloo Stages August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean

The structure doesn't really hold together very well. Individual pieces are as good as anything he ever wrote. The whole, not so much.

Posted by Chris Davis on 05/12/2017 at 12:45 PM

Re: “In the Rough: Hattiloo Stages August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean

Slow burn, indeed, and maybe the weakest of all Wilson's works.

Posted by mayfield on 05/12/2017 at 10:55 AM

Re: “Theatre Memphis Neuters Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I was in the theatre on opening night, long a fan of Williams' play and Richard Brooks' 1958 film adaptation with Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives and Judith Anderson's malleable yet feisty Big Momma. The film adaptation probably shaped my experience with the stage performance more than I could control - Taylor, Ives and Newman cast a long shadow over any other actors performing those roles, at least for me. The mind candy of Tennessee Williams' words careening around in my head, however, was the real treat. I could listen to that play with my eyes closed and just savor the dialogue. I hope to get back before it closes to give Gabe Beutel-Gunn and Natalie Jones another listen. On opening night they sounded a bit too much like they were reciting lines rather than inhabiting Brick and Maggie. And hear Bill Baker deliver again the most memorable and anticipated line Big Daddy utters. Thanks Theatre Memphis for staging this play and thanks to all the actors for taking on the roles.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Anthony Hicks on 05/09/2017 at 9:41 PM

Re: “Theatre Memphis Neuters Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

First, agreeing to disagree requires two parties signing on to a meaningless cliche. And I so dislike the construction. So have the courage of your convictions and just disagree. It's okay, because that's what this stuff's all about. But I'm confused. Did you see me in Cat? It was 1987-- in Clarksville, TN. I was a teenager, and it was also a deeply flawed production fwiw. What's extra weird -- I never really even talk about that show unless I'm reminded of the extraordinary actor who played Big Daddy (best part of a messy production), or to tell the story of the time I was almost arrested at intermission for peeing behind the theater-- a cautionary story I like to share with fellow hard-drinking Bricks. (There were no backstage toilets-- Brick drinks a LOT). The experience, if anything, makes me extremely sympathetic to actors in that role -- it's incredibly difficult to connect with your scene partners when the character is trying so hard to disconnect from everything. Requires a tight and giving ensemble and attentive direction. No Brick survives on his own.

This show is probably my first real theatrical crush. Saw it a few times before I did it. I've been reviewing for getting close to 20-years now, have seen several Cats in that time too. Some were very good -- far, far better than the one I did way back when. Some pretty bad -- and still better than the one I did way back when. This cast's lines were not there. Had a lovely discussion about that with an exhausted stranger in the lobby at second intermission. When Bill blew "This woman has life in her body," I was fully flummoxed. Such an important moment -- like it had never been rehearsed!

And just to be clear, Bill Baker is one of my favorite actors ever, anywhere, any time. He did not have control of the lines, or the character on opening night. Neither did Big Mama, and Rev. Tooker. Poor Gabe had better moments in the confrontation where he is allowed to interact. But he was only allowed to have those moments when Bill was with him. As expressed in the review, I count on this cast to improve as things settle. Cutting of the servants -- a nearly silent but constant reminder of the Aristocracy's dominance politics -- and an edition that includes more f-bombs, but less colorful language generally may mean it will never be the Cat i want to see -- but that has nothing to do with the events of 30-years past.

People experience theater differently. They tend to see the best in friends and people they love. That makes me happy. But it's concerning (if all too common) when people imply this is somehow personal and competitive. Although every production reminds me of the intermission when I was almost arrested -- the hardest my heart has ever beaten -- I haven't given my sad little cat a second thought.

4 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Chris Davis on 05/05/2017 at 5:13 PM

Re: “Grace Notes: Race and Erasure in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Of course...I just realized......If Gooper did have an intrigue behind the scenes, it would be coercion - not romance.....the power of authority, abused. Interesting how perceptions must keep evolving when we deal with power, race, class, as we work to move toward equality and unity.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Anita Jo Lenhart on 05/05/2017 at 10:51 AM

Re: “Grace Notes: Race and Erasure in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

I believe it is progress, dear friend. And this is why. Over a several week period, I offered these roles over and over again to various artists, from professionals to students. We scoured Memphis high and low.....But, the play was written at a time when the roles of Lacie, Brightie, etc represented a rare opportunity (at the time) in mainstream theatre. Today, theatre includes all sorts of diversity and the concept of breaking into the "mainstream" is a dinosaur... Food for Thought theatre artists in Memphis: If you were an artist of color, would you accept the roles of the servants in Cat in a 2017 production? What I really would enjoy is someone writing the "backside" of Cat, the whole play from these characters' points of view. We believe there are about 40 workers and employees on the plantation. What other stories could be criss-crossing behind the scenes and connected with the drama in the main house? What characters could intersect? I am thinking Gooper has a love interest behind the scenes? Wouldn't that blow everyone's mind? Could anyone write that play for me? I would love to see it!

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Anita Jo Lenhart on 05/05/2017 at 10:46 AM

Re: “Theatre Memphis Neuters Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I am agreeing to disagree. I was there opening night. The show was beautiful from start to finish. I had tears, goosebumps, and lots of laughter.

Just because Brick isn't the Brick you were when you did the show does not make Gabe's performance bad. Gabe's Brick is subtle and finely performed. To each their own.

As for Bill, well, he's a mesmerizing Big Daddy. Probably the best actor on that stage.

And you left someone out...Martha. She brought tears to my eyes as Big Momma.

Simmer down, Chris.

Those considering this show should note that this is a different script and it is definitely worth seeing.

6 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Dora Jones on 05/05/2017 at 10:13 AM

Re: “World Lit By Lightning: GCT's Glass Menagerie Has Flashes of Brilliance

Yes. Word spread.

Posted by Chris Davis on 05/02/2017 at 10:41 AM

Re: “World Lit By Lightning: GCT's Glass Menagerie Has Flashes of Brilliance

I think audience number, fortunately, picked up on the final weekend.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by mayfield on 05/02/2017 at 9:25 AM

Re: “Memphis Theater Community Mourns Actor, Volunteer Ron Gordon

Still hard to believe he is gone. Indeed, he left us much too soon.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by mayfield on 05/02/2017 at 9:20 AM

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