Archive for the ‘Film and Theatre’ Category

A Different Joan

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Photo from Facebook

This weekend, I went to see Joan, a NJPAC production performed at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Written and directed by my former theater director, Christian Ely, I was very excited to see the show.

This play was a deconstruction of the myth of Joan of Arc inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan and Bertolt Brecht’s Visions of Simone Machard. The cast consisted of talented students between the ages of 13-18, who had studied both influential pieces for this production.

This play began in an apocalyptic 2008, in a world torn apart by war. The simple set involved a web of ropes woven around the stairs, which served as obstacles through which the actors navigated. It was a physical show, demonstrating the emphasis on physical training that the actors received as part of NJPAC’s Summer Youth Performance Workshop.

I was very impressed with the work of this youthful cast, particularly Samantha Kaye Henning (Joan), Kira Seiger (Mary), and Tyrell Willis (Shekree). The production was compelling and thought-provoking.

The Show Must Go On

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Photo from The Daily News

After a 19-day strike, stagehands are back – backstage. Tourists have happily returned to Broadway to see their favorite musicals.

I, however, am not so happy. I have tickets to see Pygmalion tonight, a show not affected by the theatre strike (something to do with their agreement with the union). I had looked forward to slightly less crowded Times Square streets, but alas, with the strike ending today, it maybe a very busy night in that area. I’m glad the strike ended; I just wish it didn’t have to be right on today.

Oh, well! I’ll be braving the crowds, since, afterall, the show must go on.

The Great White Way — Still Dark

It’s sad that this strike is still going on. But I actually heard a tourist interviewed on the TV news yesterday, who said “We were disappointed that we couldn’t see any shows, but we still found plenty of stuff to do. We visited a few museums and landmarks. We still had a wonderful time”.

C’mon people. It’s not like you flew into Las Vegas and found the casinos closed down. There is so much to do here. But, I do get it. It’s very disappointing to plan on seeing some Broadway theater, only to find the rug pulled out from under you. And I do really feel it for the businesses around the Theater District that are suffering, the any waiters, waitresses, hotel workers, and merchants, who are going to find their pockets a lot emptier this holiday season.

I hear the producers and stagehands are going back to the bargaining table this week, and I really hope they can come to an agreement very soon. I hope at least some of this Christmas season can be salvaged.

Just call him Sweeney Razor Hands.

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Last night I went to this Tim Burton talk/event put on by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I’m a huge fan of Tim Burton’s films, and was psyched to see him in person and hear him talk about his career thus far. And while it was fun to see the retrospective they put together, and he did make some funny comments during his on-stage interview, the real highlight of the night (by far) was the thrilling preview of his upcoming film version of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

While I’m sure I would have gone to see it anyway, now I can officially say I can’t wait to see this movie when it comes out! They showed three full scenes from the still unfinished film, and in my opinion, they were pretty damn spectacular. Who better to handle such dark, gothic subject matter? And truly, from what I saw, the singing–while not Broadway style (thank God)–works amazingly well. Is there anything Johnny Depp can’t do?

[image from Sweeney Todd by Leah Gallo, from the Film Society’s website]

Burlesque, trannys, and omg shoes: the new kind of variety show

CHO showLast Thursday night, on our friend Marisa’s recommendation, a few friends and I (including fellow NYC authors Melissa and Atom) went to see Margaret Cho’s show, the Sensuous Woman. We all like Margaret Cho and think she’s hilarious, and were all curious to see what was up with the new show, which features burlesque performances by Margaret (Ms. Cho if you’re nasty) herself as well as a slew of other interesting performers. We expected it to be good, but didn’t really know what to expect besides some burlesque stuff and, of course, Ms. Cho’s comedy. We didn’t know it would be a true variety show – comedy, singing, dancing, sketches, and of course, sassy burlesque performances.

We were cracking up pretty much from beginning to end. The show opened with a short burlesque number, followed by Margaret performing some stand-up, which was decidedly raunchy. (Basically, don’t bring mom and dad to this show unless they are okay with people talking about eating ass. Fo’ reals.) This was followed by some song-and-dance numbers, some burlesque numbers including two by Margaret herself, in which she shows off her ability to twirl her tassels as well as any seasoned burlesque performer, and some stand-up. All the performers were good, but there were some standouts, including Liam Sullivan as “Kelly”, who you’ve probably seen on YouTube performing the “Shoes” song. As for the other standout performances, let’s just say this – I don’t know if they do this particular performance every night, but if you hear the beginning of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”, pay attention, because the performer dancing to that song will blow your freaking mind. I’ve had that song (and the accompanying dancing!) going through my head ever since.

After the show, the cast goes into the theater’s bar to chat with theatergoers, so you can say hello and heap praise upon them after laughing your ass off. It looks like they’ve extended the run of the show, too! This week, there are performances scheduled tonight through Saturday night – and if the show we saw last week was any indication, I bet the Halloween show tonight is going to be amazing. (And there are still tickets available for tonight’s show, which starts at 8 PM.)

Margaret Cho’s the Sensuous Woman is at the Zipper Factory Wednesdays – Saturdays through November 17. See the Zipper Theater site for information on tickets and showtimes.

Stage-Hand Strike Revisited, and What Else To Do in NYC

Since my entry about this looming strike, I find it becessary to clarify a few points.

Yes, I oversimplified. One tends to do this in limited space. Here is the link to the NY Times story for more information, and to read more about the issues: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/nyregion/22theater.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/S/Strikes
However I simplified it, the stagehand staffing issue isn’t the only issue, but it is the main one. As the Times reporter says “the producers have proposed loosening restrictions on when stagehands are needed for work, how many are needed and what tasks they are allowed to perform.

The union has said that any alterations to the rules that would mean less work for stagehands need to come with exchanges of equal value.”
I never meant to insinuate that there WOULD be abuses. However, when given the choice, as in the corporate world, management and investors can go for “downsizing” to cut costs. Again, read the NY Times article for the whole story. Personally, I have been on both sides of the labor fence — union member and management. I can see both sides.

As for “Lady” saying that I have no compassion for tourists. Well, shopping isn’t the only other thing to do in NYC. Try checking out our many museums, including Ellis Island. And how about some live theater you can get for free — go to a neighborhood like the Lower East Side, Inwood or to one of the outer boroughs. I guarantee a cast of characters you won’t find on a Broadway Stage, and without spending $80 or more to see a staged production of something you already saw in the movies or on DVD for a few dollars!!!!

Stage-Hand Strike Looming

The New York Times reports that members of Local One, the Broadway Stage-Hands Union, voted unanimously to authorize a strike in December if negotiations with the League of American Theaters and Producers producers don’t meet their demands. The issue is number of stagehands working on a show, as well as tasks they are required to perform. The League wants to relax restrictions, which would mean that there will be a whole lot of room for directors and stage managers to reduce numbers of stagehands, overwork the ones they have, and give them tasks that maybe they don’t usually perform.

Of course, December is the target month for the possible srike, because that time of year is prime tourist season. But, a strike would be a terrible thing for the Broadway people who would be out of work, and I hope there is a settlement for that reason. I don’t feel bad for the tourism and hotel people. EVEN IF Broadway goes dark, the tourists will still come– for the shopping and everything else NYC has to offer at holiday season, and every other season throughout the year. The difference will be that the greedy hotels in the Theater District, may not be able to double or triple their room rates

Sleepytime for Cabby

Since the 4,5,6 stopped got all screwed up during rush hour, I was forced to take a $25 cab ride from the UES to the Zipper Factory in Midtown to see Margaret Cho’s variety show, The Sensuous Woman. Which by the way, was FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC! I will now fondly refer to myself as Queer because I too want boys and girls to LOVE me. Why the hell not!

Anyway…………… back to my cab story.

Like I said, the 4,5,6 were having issues so I hopped in a cab. There was actually a point in the VERY slow moving ride where I thought I should put my seatbelt on. This guy was so bangry (bitter and angry) that he kept pounding his fists on the steering wheel, bitched about how the traffic was screwing him over (only 3 fares in 2 hours) and was driving WAY too close to the cars ahead of us. Then all of a sudden – “BAM!!!” – he smacked into the cab in front of us.

I really didn’t know exactly what happened until he turned around and started to laugh while he told me that he fell asleep. Yeah, that’s HYSTERICAL.
Not really knowing what to say, I asked him if he wanted me to take over.
Funny how he didn’t find that amusing. I did!

You know things have gotten bad when your driver readily admits that he fell asleep behind the wheel!
Something to be proud of. Idiot.

Upright Comedy

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I went to the 9:00 improv show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre last night. Having failed at getting tickets for Shakespeare in the Park, I was in the mood to see some kind of theater.

UCB is always a good time. The tickets are just around $8 and you can get very cheap wine or beer at the theater. Located in Chelsea, there’s plenty of great spots to go to for dinner beforehand or drinks after, right in the area. The performers continue to impress with their talent at long form improv. While some nights definitely end up funnier than others, it’s always a good place to go for a laugh.

Last night was no exception. When they asked for a suggestion from the audience for a movie line, someone shouted, “Screw the Pooch”. The performers quickly launched into a series of totally improvised skits, most of which had little or nothing to do with the quote, but were still hilarious. The skits ended up being oddly interrelated, coming together in a bizarrely funny production.

A Saturday Night’s Lost Dream

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I got up early today to get tickets in Central Park for Shakespeare in the Park. In line at around 8:30, I was hoping for a free ticket for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, possibly my favorite play. By the time I lined up, a large line of hopeful theater-goers already existed, people with blankets, chairs, and even air-mattresses set up for the long wait.

I had never tried to get tickets for Shakespeare in the Park before and it was quite an experience. Around 9 am, a Shakespeare-in-the-Park-line-Nazi came by and gave a big scary speech about line etiquette and our chances of actually getting tickets. She warned us it would be several hours before the line moved. My friends and I easily passed the time just chatting. With such a beautiful day, just waiting in the park with good company was a worthwhile experience. As the line began to move and we edged towards the theater, it really looked as though we would get tickets. However, when we were about 10 people from the theater, the line-Nazi appear to cheerfully tell us that all tickets and vouchers had been given out.

It was rather sad, but at least I’d spent the day outdoors with good friends. I hear the chances of getting tickets will be even worse tomorrow. One dream lost.

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