Sunday, November 17, 2013
SNL - NOV 16, 2013 - LADY GAGA with musical guest LADY GAGA
This was one of SNL'S better shows. There were no duds. While there was little hilarity, every sketch was interesting and funny. The writing style seemed to be just a bit different from previous shows: more grounded and more nuanced, and notably avoiding "incompetence humor".
Here's a brief recap:
COLD OPEN: Setting the tone for the night, the Mayor of Toronto was skewered, effectively, humorously, but not hilariously. (With a nod to 60 Minutes believing in the Mayor.)
MONOLOG: Setting the tone for her performances, Lady Gaga rocked with a perfectly executed, energetic tribute to cheap applause.
FAKE COMMERCIAL - PAXIL: A treatment for second term problems. Lots of pills for medical insurance systems.
WAKING UP WITH KIMYE: A not terribly interesting take on the Kardashian sound, and the Apple Store look.
WAAT- THE WORST COVER SONGS OF ALL TIME: Some covers were funnier than others. I liked the Counting Crows hair do.
LADY GAGA'S sets were energetic, crazy, entertaining, and fun! LOTSA ENERGY!
WEEKEND UPDATE: Good jokes. The MR SENIOR video trying to save Thanksgiving from being crushed and forgotten in the rush from Halloween to Christmas was great. (But he missed the fact that Hanukkah starts ON Thanksgiving this year! -- Won't happen again for 70,000 years or so I'm told.) GETTYSBURG ADDRESS CRITIC had some funny moments.
CO-OP BOARD INTERVIEW: A simple sketch leading to a simple punch line.
SPOTLIGHTZ- TEEN ACTING CAMP: Very true. Alas!
REQUIEM FOR BLOCKBUSTER: A touching tribute to BLOCKBUSTER and those who gave their lives to serving there.
TALENT PAGEANT: The parents in the audience cheerleading their kid in the talent show. Funny, but it could have gone even further into madcap.
LADY GAGA IN 50 YEARS: A really interesting sketch with Lady Gaga at home in her apartment with smeared lipstick, a bent frame, lots of trophies, and the landlord not remembering her at all. In a nice touch, circling back to her monolog she has a clapping machine finish the sketch.
ROSE ZONE: A show with the highlights of "reality" show mayhem. "HOT GARBAGE 24/7".
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Saturday, November 16, 2013
ALPHA HOUSE AT AMAZON
The new series of political comedy videos ALPHA HOUSE, starring John Goodman and created by Garry Trudeau (from Doonesbury) for Amazon are very funny. Very very funny.
Some Senators, Democrat and Republican, are serious, intelligent, well-informed and valuable lawmakers. The Senators in Alpha House not so much.
Three (roughly) half-hour episodes are available on Amazon now, free to all. More episodes, coming once a week on Fridays will be available to subscribers of Amazon Prime. (Given the other benefits of Amazon Prime, this may be the tipping point to join.)
In addition to being very funny, the episodes are great to look at: expertly shot, acted and edited. It's terrific.
Note: Watch for Yara Martinez to break out from this show as a new young sexy very beautiful star.
UPDATE FEB13, 2014 -- I've watched the entire first season now. It is terrific. From the first show to the last, each episode is smart, interesting, and has sections that are absolutely hysterically funny. (Warning -- do not try to eat or drink while watching this show as food or liquid may spurt violently from your mouth (or worse) at some very very funny moment!)
ALPHA HOUSE ON IMDB
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013
ANOTHER SILLY DATE POST
Today is another one of those interesting dates:
And next month it will again be
Monday, November 04, 2013
JULIE TAYMOR'S EXUBERANT MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM INAUGURATES TFANA'S NEW SHAKESPEARE CENTER
Julie Taymor’s entertaining, profound, beautiful, and often amazing production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM inaugurates a terrific new home for Theatre For A New Audience.
THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE
Polonsky Shakespeare Center
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Directed by Julie Taymor
A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM - TFANA
David Harewood, Tina Benko, Max Casella and Kathryn Hunter
Photo by Gerry Goodstein
Shakespeare’s words are wonderful, but what provides exceptional grandeur to his A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (MSND) is the opportunity to create magic on stage. Julie Taymor, in the new production inaugurating Theatre For A New Audience's new home, creates a wondrous, visually spectacular production.
Perhaps the most amazing things in the production are the brilliant troupe of young performers; and the fabrics with exquisite projections that provide most of the stage design.
The children (as fairies / “Rude Elementals”, animals, tree trunks, and even children) are infectiously enthusiastic, and skillful in their execution of brilliant routines with dancing, prancing, and even constructing the most evocative forest I’ve ever seen on stage. They are a physical troupe integral to the theatrical performance, not simply an embellishment.
Fabric is used for many stunning moments throughout the performance from lifting characters into the sky, to being the medium which holds beautiful projections of images that set the stage or enhance the story. Aside from the creative brilliance, the technical achievement of getting these moving fabrics to hold high quality, beautiful images is astonishing.
The production is inventive and also a reprise and re-invention of some of Julie Taymor’s signature theatrical devices, including the use of three dimensional space (height/air), variations on puppetry, visual projections, and the use of fabrics to organize the stage design.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - TFANA
Photo by Es Devlin
Original music by Elliot Goldenthal nicely complements the action.
The acting is excellent, too!
- The beautiful young actress, Lilly Englert -- just out of Stella Adler -- combines a physically exciting performance with a very well spoken rendition of Hermia’s lines. She is an actress on the threshold of a breakout.
- Jake Horowitz, recently graduated from LaGuardia High School, using a more natural voice than the usual Shakespearean mellifluous tones, provides a refreshing and terrific Lysander.
- The majestic David Harewood as Oberon is well matched with a truly regal Tina Benko, as Titania.
- The youthful, loving energy of Lilly and Jake, complemented by the still younger spirit of the Rude Elementals, contrasts perfectly with the mature, royal power of Oberon and Titania.
- The Rude Mechanicals are very funny, and Max Cassela, as Bottom, is especially good.
- The rest of the cast is fine too.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - TFANA
Zach Appelman, Lilly Englert, Jake Horowitz
Photo by Gerry Goodstein
Still, while this production is superb, I do have some minor quibbles and one serious alert.
- The sub-plot of the changeling is only slightly clearer than usual.
- Note 2013-212-14 Forget this quibble item. I saw the play again tonight and they completely changed the staging of the donkey's head scene just before the intermission. It's terrific now. (Original note:"I found the placement of the intermission awkward (even when you know the play): Just before the intermission, Bottom exits, Puck exits, Bottom returns with a Donkey’s head. Then intermission. And only after the intermission (extra long the night I saw it) does Puck describe what happened. A little business between Puck and Bottom – or at least putting the arrival of the Donkey’s head and Puck’s explanation on the same side of the intermission -- might have been less puzzling.")
- Though Puck is excellent in what she did (some people are calling it the performance of the season!), to my taste I would have preferred a more stylish, more lithe, and more playfully mischievious (sic) Puck, with a more natural puckishness (rather than her skillful artifice).
- Hilarious as it is, I suspect there are even more “obscene” puns and jokes that could have been mined in the performance of Pyramus and Thisbē by the Rude Mechanicals.
- The theater is a marvel of design, and can be extensively reconfigured. In the long rectangular setting used for MSND, it is brilliantly adapted for the staging. However, the further away the actors, the faster they speak, and the more they look away (with the audience sitting on three sides of the stage, no actor can ever be facing everyone) the less clear the dialog becomes.
And one serious note:
- On the night I saw the play, seats in the center mezzanine were not bolted down, and the guard rail was about thigh-high, just right to trip over and fall. While audience members falling from a mezzanine or balcony is a rare event, there is no need to make it easier than it needs to be.
* * *
Julie Taymor has done a brilliant job combining a stunningly visual production with a vocally clear and commanding presentation. It's a glorious production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM that will be remembered as a classic and should not be missed!
Photo by Eric Roffman
* * *
Jeffrey Horowitz is the Founding Artistic Director of the Theatre For A New Audience (TFANA), which began more than thirty years ago, in 1979. Up until now they have performed in a variety of theaters, but not their own.
TFANA'S BEAUTIFUL NEW HOME
Photo by Eric Roffman
The Polonsky Shakespeare Center, the new, permanent home for TFANA, represents many years of development, planning and fundraising. It contains two theaters: the beautiful, highly re-configurable Scripps Mainstage, with 299 seats, and the Rogers Studio with 50 seats. It has attractive, comfortable meeting areas outdoors in an “arts plaza” and on the ground floor. There are plans to have a transmedia-capable electronic message board outside, and to have a café, and a book kiosk.
In addition to its own major, mainstage theatrical performances, TFANA has ambitious plans for training and other programs.
MSND, running through January 12, 2014 is the first play in an exciting inaugural season. It will be followed by KING LEAR, directed by Arin Arbus, starring Michael Pennington, running from March 14 to May 4. Then, Ionesco’s THE KILLER, translated by Michael Feingold, directed by Darko Tesnjak, and featuring Michael Shannon will run from May 17 to June 29, 2014.
The second season will feature THE VALLEY OF ASTONISHMENT, a “research” directed by Peter Brook and Marie Helene Estienne, Christopher Marlowe’s TAMBURLAINE directed by Michael Boyd and featuring John Douglas Thompson, and A DOLLS HOUSE, translated by Thornton Wilder, directed by Arin Arbus, and featuring Juliet Rylance.
With a great start to an important addition to New York Theater, TFANA’s new theater is about a block away from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Synergy between the venues is likely to enhance and enrich the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Reaching TFANA from Manhattan is not difficult by subway. Just off Flatbush Avenue, it can also be reached by car easily using either the Brooklyn Bridge or the Manhattan Bridge. (Note: the best approach to the Manhattan Bridge is from the Bowery. Be careful NOT to follow street signs to the Manhattan Bridge BICYCLE lanes.) There is ample parking less than half a block from the theater.
This is a family-friendly show, a great introduction to Shakespeare for children. (Note that it would be helpful, both for children and adults to prepare before the show by knowing the story and even reading, watching a video, or listening to the play. Shakespeare only gets better, the better you know the play.)
This is likely to be remembered as an historic production. Don’t miss it. In fact, with limited seating, limited runs, and terrific shows, grabbing season tickets for the entire inaugural season might be wise.
This entertaining, profound, beautiful, and often amazing production of A Midsummer Nights Dream inaugurates a terrific new home for Theatre For A New Audience.
THEATER AND TICKET INFORMATION
(See below for links and references)
THE POLONSKY SHAKESPEARE CENTER
262 Ashland Street
Brooklyn NY, 11217
(There’s a map here)
Subscriptions for Theatre for a New Audience’s inaugural season are
$147 for a 3-play inaugural season package and
$294 for a 6-play, two-season package,
call (212) 229-2819, ext. 10.
Flex Passes are also available for $208 and include four tickets
to be used in any combination over the inaugural season.
For more information or to subscribe online, please visit
Single tickets are $75.
Tickets may be purchased
online at www.tfana.org or
by phone at 866-811-4111.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through January 1, 2014
Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30pm and
Monday, December 23 at 7:30pm.
EXCEPT: THERE ARE NO 7:30PM EVENING PERFORMANCES
Sundays December 8, 15 and 22 and January 5.
Thursday, November 28;
Tuesdays, December 17 and 24; and
Wednesdays, December 18 and 25.
Saturday and Sunday at 2:00pm.
Tuesday, December 24 at 2:00pm;
Wednesdays November 27 at 2:00pm; and January 1 at 2:00pm.
THE SHAKESPEARE SOCIETY
will be holding a discussion about this production
at the theater on Monday, November 18:
SPIRITS OF ANOTHER SORT
Nature, Art and Imagination in
A Midsummer Night's Dream
November 18 at 7pm
At: Theatre for a New Audience
at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center
To celebrate the opening of Theatre for a New Audience's new home and its inaugural production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Julie Taymor with music by Elliot Goldenthal, cast members David Harewood, Tina Benko and Max Casella will join celebrated Oxford professor Jonathan Bate for a lively evening of commentary, performance and conversation. Professor Bate, the award-winning author of The Soul of the Age and The Genius of Shakespeare, will lead a discussion of the nature of fairies in the Elizabethan world and in the play, and will explore how the "airy nothings" of magic, dreams, and imagination effect "translations" that grow to ultimate "constancy" in love and art.
Shakespeare Society MembersContact: Michelle Palmour (email@example.com) or
Call: (212) 967-6802.
LINKS AND REFERENCES
SHAKESPEARE’S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – WIKIPEDIA
SHAKESPEARE’S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – FULL TEXT (MIT)
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM ON AMAZON
THEATER FOR A NEW AUDIENCE – HOME PAGE
THEATER FOR A NEW AUDIENCE – WIKIPEDIA
JULIE TAYMOR – WIKIPEDIA
JULIE TAYMOR ON AMAZON
ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL – WIKIPEDIA
DAVID HAREWOOD – WIKIPEDIA
MAX CASELLA – WIKIPEDIA
THE SHAKESPEARE SOCIETY – HOME PAGE
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Friday, November 01, 2013
ROMEO AND JULIET with CONDOLA RASHAD and ORLANDO BLOOM
ORLANDO BLOOM AND CONDOLA RASHAD
ROMEO AND JULIET
DIRECTED BY DAVID LEVEAUX
Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad
ROMEO AND JULIET
Photo by Robert Ascroft
Romeo and Juliet on Broadway with Condola Rashad and Orlando Bloom is a great, family friendly Shakespearean Broadway show.
It begins with a bang: with terrific and energetic stage combat; and it continues with the entry of Orlando Bloom (as Romeo) on a motorcycle to screams from the audience. (They scream again later when he takes off his shirt to reveal quite a well developed upper body.)
Orlando is a movie star and Condola Rashad is a great Broadway actress. As Juliet, she conveys a spirit of youth and freshness, and with Orlando they make a convincingly loving young couple. The balcony scene is brilliantly staged and acted.
On the Balcony
ROMEO AND JULIET
Photo by Carol Rosegg
The language is clear and understandable; the production continues with fire (literally) and spirit.
The tragic climax (hopefully this is not a big spoiler) of the play seems somehow less tragic than usual, which may play well with the Broadway audience.
Geoffrey Owens, as Prince Escalus, begins the play with authority, trying to keep peace in a town hosting a notorious feud between the Capulets and Montagues; and he concludes the play as the warring families agree to reconcile after the tragic death of their children.
Indeed I found the ending of the play seemed to have more weight than usual - suggesting a parallel with current politics: I found myself hoping that the Congressmen warring on the government - with opposition to even its normal operations - would find a way to become a part of a constructive government process before some tragedy fully unfolds upon the US.
Juliet (Condola Rashad) and her family are cast with black actors and Romeo's family with white actors. However, there is no attempt to equate the war between the Capulets and Montagues with any form of racial tension. (It does help to keep track of who's who -- something that can otherwise be difficult at times in Shakespeare.)
In the play script, Juliet is perhaps 13; Romeo slightly older. And their sudden young teen crush is partly a justification for their rash and poorly considered actions: leading to their deaths by impatience. (A little waiting and everything would have sorted itself out!) Almost all productions, including this one, cast actors who are much older. Part of the reason being, of course, that it is very, very difficult to find actors capable of performing the roles of Romeo and Juliet when they are that young. Various methods of handling the age discrepancy between actors and characters have been tried over the years. In this production, both actors try to assume the personality of younger (kinda foolish) people. Orland's Romeo is very "romantic", and his head seems always in the clouds; Condola's Juliet is girlish, flirty and physically flighty, but very determined.
All in all, if not a profoundly tragic Romeo and Juliet, this is an entertaining, clear, thoughtful, energetic and enjoyable production.
SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO AND JULIET - WIKIPEDIA
SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO AND JULIET - THE COMPLETE TEXT (FROM MIT)
ROMEO AND JULIET - OFFICIAL SITE BROADWAY PRODUCTION
ORLANDO BLOOM - WIKIPEDIA
ORLANDO BLOOM - IMDB
CONDOLA RASHAD - WIKIPEDIA
DAVID LEVEAUX - WIKIPEDIA
ROMEO AND JULIET - ON AMAZON
ORLANDO BLOOM - ON AMAZON
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