Friday, April 27, 2007

More of Daisey's dizzy doozy

If you scroll down, you'll see that one of the comments on my original Mike Daisey post says that the "religious right had absolutely nothing to do with the Mike Daisey incident," but, in fact, I disagree. No, they weren't wearing tags saying "I represent the religious right," and no, the school isn't officially affiliated with a religious institition. But surely one need not be a card-carrying member of the 700 Club to exhibit, to wrap one's self in the holy mantle of, the sensibilities and the apparently unassailable righteousness of the right to be considered a member of its ranks.

Here's the bottom line: It is singularly un-American -- and it should be a felony -- to desecrate someone else's art, to plunge a knife (or to pour water on) the First Amendment protections of another citizen. And that, dear friend, is the hallmark of the right's belief system. It is among the tactics they worship and employ.

Libertarians these fascists are not.

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Blonde, Legally Blonde

Seeing it tonight and very excited. The question: Will I bend or will I snap?

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Daisey's doozy

I'm writing a Back Stage editorial for next week's issue on the Mike Daisey debacle, so I want to be a little circumspect -- for the moment -- about how I feel. However (all right, all right, I'm giving a little bit away), bearing in mind that the group that left Daisey's show was apparently not officially affiliated with a religious group, and bearing in mind that the anti-American bozo sleazeball that poured water on Daisey's script was a chaperone, not a student:

If the religious right wants to engage in activities that leads our nation down the slippery slope to book burning and Fascism, let the word go forth to these uncivil foes that such actions will and must be met with actions of equal destruction and desecration at (as George W. Bush would put it, I'm sure) a time and place of our choosing.

If the religious right wants a civil war in the United States on the subject of free speech or over the imperialistic dreams of their pious religiosity, their actions will and must be met with equal fervor and equally unstinting fury, with all words we use and all legal actions we take chosen and taken (as George W. Bush would put it, I'm sure) at times and places of our choosing.

If the religious right believes, as we know it does, that AIDS activists interrupting Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral (once upon a time) are doing something terrible; if they want to pimp their hate-filled souls on Fox News and invent, every Christmastime, imaginary wars against those of the Christian faith; if they want to piss on art (and drown it in water) in the holy name of Christ, let the word go forth to these foes of freedom, these unrepentent maggots wrapping themselves gleefully in the mantle of hate, that the real forces of freedom will and must have the capacity to meet them head on and will defeat them. More and more I feel it is not so much a matter of our nation being in the "long war" against terrorism but a matter of it being in a long war against itself.

And don't even get me started on the explosive device they found in Texas right near an abortion clinic today.

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Love, Sweet Love

So I saw Exposed: Experiments in Love, Sex, Death and Art tonight -- the premiere -- at Collective: Unconscious, which is far from what it left most of us. But what did I think? What will my review be? Give me tonight to get some shut eye (having had mine so clearly opened) and I'll let you know.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Piles and Piles

Wasn't it, like, 12 minutes ago that I got home from the Humana Festival and thought, "Gee, I have all of April ahead of me without a whole lot going on -- except the usual?" Welcome to my seriously messed up life. Jerry Portwood has given me a slew of features and previews to write, I'm on my third book review for Clarion (click here to read a bunch of them), and I agreed to make my column at Back Stage, Now Playing, weekly, as there's so much going on. Plus I'm writing an appreciation of Kitty Carlisle Hart, and I haven't even made a serious enough dent yet in my schoolwork. Smart, right, I know.

You know, I got myself into a long and very...oh, I don't know, what's the word?...moving conversation with Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, the editor of the Best Plays annual volume, while I was in Louisville. His feeling is that I should seriously get on the stick and get done with school, first so it'll be behind me, second so I'll have it in my pocket, and third so that it'll provide me with some, shall we say, employment options for some indeterminate future tomorrow. He's really quite right, and what a lovely guy he is -- he invited me to a very swanky dinner with a bunch of other critics while I was at Humana, and I'm thrilled that he considers me (or so he says) part of his "team." He knows I'm dying to write an essay for a future volume and I'm really hoping that will happen sooner than later. Anyway, everything he said to me in this conversation has really been percolating. I just have to get through a lot of other, um, stuff first.

Meantime, would y'all check out my friend Jen's blog?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The World is Going to the Dogs (and Cats)

Well, while I sit here continuing to recover my voice, I am how everything is about dogs and cats all of a sudden. I mean this in a wierd way. First, you know that Barky von Schnauzer commercial for Petsmart? That guy calling for his ill-named pooch has been repeating in my mind like yesterday's meatloaf. (Here is a link to the commercial -- on You Tube, of course.)

And speaking of You Tube -- which I've been thinking really needs a parody site called Boob Tube (oh well, too late) -- here's a cat playing the piano. See what I mean? Can you imagine the talents of the wombat?

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Friday, April 20, 2007

I Sound Like Elaine Stritch

Well, this rather difficult week is coming to a close -- but with a particularly nutty twist. My cold may at last be nearly gone, but what I'm left with is this pesky vocal problem -- laryngitis -- so that I currently sound like Elaine Stritch.

So here's the $64,000 question: If I should happen to be running around town this weekend in nothing but leggings and a white dress shirt, do you think I can get a gig singing at the Carlyle?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Latest Podcast

This podcast was for my good friend and colleague Martin Denton -- a roundtable on 365 Plays/365 Days. Check it out!

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Kitty Carlisle Hart, 1910-2007

Of all the interviews I've done, the one I did with the great, timeless, extraordinary Kitty Carlisle Hart, for my 80 Over 80 cover story a couple of years ago, was totally my favorite.

She gave me an amazing tour of her home, and I saw absolutely everything I had hoped to.

We loved you, Kitty. God bless.
PS I found this fabulous 1992 profile of Kitty from The New Yorker. Read it!

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My Dad

Just a little note for everyone that is reading. My dad had to have a procedure done at the hospital today -- one coronary artery was about 90% blocked, so they put in two stents. I saw him, he's fine, and while the whole thing is scary, of course, it's a much better situation that the alternative. Anyway, I'm sure both my parents will just hate me posting this photo of them -- taken at my mom's 60th birthday celebration in 2002 -- but the really good ones of my dad and mom aren't scanned, and this one is sitting right in my PC. You just gotta love my father's please-get-this-photo-done-already look, and mom acting like "What? A picture?" Funny...

Anyway, here's to continued good health, Dad and Mom, with all my love.
Also, tomorrow, April 19, is mom's birthday -- Happy Birthday!!

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Return of the Dane

My good friend Christopher Carter Sanderson is bringing his Hamlet to the New York theatre -- via his company, Gorilla Repertory Theatre. It's been too long, Gorillas!

Anyway, here's the poop:


Gorilla Repertory Theater Company, Inc. returns to production in New York and begins its 15th anniversary season with an indoor workshop production of Hamlet, in which the text is completely uncut and admission is free of charge.

Founding artistic director Christopher Carter Sanderson will direct the production, which stars recent Yale School of Drama graduate Jacob H. Knoll as Hamlet; Frances You (last seen opposite Sandra Oh in the film Double Happiness) as Ophelia; Larry Weeks (Shakespeare in the
Park(ing) Lot) as Claudius; Beth McGuire (Professor, Yale School of Drama) as Gertrude; Jeff Barry (recent Yale School of Drama graduate) as Horatio; and Jy Murphy (long-time Gorilla Rep veteran and star of The Countess off-Broadway) as First Player/Gravedigger.

Hamlet will run May 9-29 at the Roy Arias Theatre Center, Times Square Arts Center, 300 West 43rd Street at Eighth Avenue. Admission is free, although donations will be accepted after the performance. There is no intermission, although easy access to and from bathrooms and
concessions will be available throughout the performance. Seating is first-come, first-served. No reservations except for members of the press. For more information, see

Wednesday & Thursday, May 9-10, 8:00 PM
Sunday - Wednesday, May 13-16, 8:00 PM
(*additional matinee performance on Sunday, May 13 at 1:00 PM*)
Sunday - Wednesday, May 20-23, 8:00 PM
Friday - Tuesday, May 25-29, 8:00 PM

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Mum's the Word

Not that I want to name names, but do you know what makes me nuts? When a PR house sends out an invitation stating equivocally, absolutely, 100%, don't-ask-because-the-answer-will-be-no that there's only one ticket. And then I get to the theatre and not only was I told the wrong time for the performance (that's happened only once before and it made me nuts), but there are two tickets in my name. Rant over, but people really should get their act together.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Plummer for the Depths

Saw "Inherit the Wind" tonight. Not reviewing the production but I can tell you that any and all opportunities should be taken to see Christopher Plummer on stage. Just spectacular work, even for an old guy of 79 (and a little bit showing his age). That said, I think Mr. Dennehy was a little off tonight, or something. And my dear Denis O'Hare was the picture of perfect casting. I can't wait until my cover story on him comes out on Thursday.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bunny Bunny Time

Great Easter dinner with Paul Quinn and his fabulous Mom, Eileen. My tummy decided to be a little bit uncooperative, but it's always a great time to visit with them. I'm going to be posting about something funny that happened last December involving my grandmother -- I've been meaning to write about it for awhile -- but I'm going to actually hit the sack early and regroup. Sorry kids. More tomorrow.

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Paper Mill, the Paper Tiger

I know everybody in the industry has gotten hysterical, and probably rightly so, about the financial problems that at first seemed to threaten the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. What makes me personally nuts, though, is how everyone gets hysterical without dealing with the blame issue -- as if huge nonprofits like Paper Mill have every right to stay open when its board -- as the Star-Ledger has reported about today -- has been so fiscally irresponsible. Not irresponsible, I should say, in the sense of improprieties committed or someone well-manicured hand reaching into the proverbial kitty, but simply not doing the fundraising, the financial due diligence, required to sustain such institutions. And what makes me every more upset is how little theatre people, much less general audiences, tend to understand about board governance and the nonprofit business model.

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a nice house on a corner lot in College Point, Queens. Nice backyard, cute front yard, and relatively quiet -- but this particular corner represented the intersection of two main arteries in and out of the area, and it didn't take much for drivers to use it like a drag strip. So my grandparents used to have accidents on the corner all the time. My grandmother, I think, used to say that nothing would change -- say, a stop light or a stop sign being put up -- until someone was injured seriously enough for people to pay meaningful attention, which is what ultimately proved to be the case. Well, Virginia, ditto with Paper Mill and a lot of nonprofit theatres across the country that have lazily coasted on old models or old thinking or old(er) generations for too long. And now that there's been an accident at Paper Mill (following the metaphor), all of a sudden everyone is concerned and paying attention? Feh, and a pox of their houses: There shouldn't have to have been a death or a dismemberment on my grandparents corner for a stop sign to be put up, and there shouldn't have been the threat of bankruptcy and closure for the board of Paper Mill -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to pay attention.

Oh, but that's right -- this in a society where the sacrific of preventative medicine is considered a monetarily prudent thing to do. Let the people suffer.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ramp It Up, Baby

So here's my goal...trying to blog every day from here on out. Now, you just KNOW that ain't gonna happen, but hopefully I'll make a good enough attempt at it not to totally embarrass myself.

Tonight we saw Blackbird at Manhattan Theatre Club. I'm reviewing so I'll withhold comment for now, but at least there's more there there than that horrible The Pirate Queen.

Tomorrow we head to Rockland County for our friend Paul's house for Easter. Will we eat that wascawy wabbit?

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Denis O'Hare...Watch Out!

I just finished a cover story on one of my favorite actors, Denis O'Hare. In fact, I told him that the first time I saw him on stage was in Lonely Planet, the Steven Deitz play of about 4 million years ago. He was great -- his reaction was "Wow!" And now the Gerontological Society of America is investigating.

Anyway, I'm off to see Blackbird at MTC tonight, on the heels of seeing Men of Steel, the Vampire Cowboys show, last night with my friend Jon Stancato.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Back from the Humana Festival of New American Plays

Got back from Louisville on Monday after catching a 7:05am flight that left me feeling like that wretched refuse Emma Lazarus wrote about. Anyway, one highlight was the cocktail party (I should say parties) on Thursday night when I arrived. Now, I must confess that what I've written below was actually part of an email I wrote to my good friend Stephen Van Gorden, but I thought y'all would like to read a bit about it.

"...It was basically 9 shows, 2 receptions, 1 cocktail party and 1 breakfast in 3 lots of that fine Kentucky spirit, y'all...

Actually, I'll tell you something. The reason I went down on Thursday is that there's always a fancy-schmancy reception for the critics and guests on the evening before the weekend gets underway, and everyone more or less advised me that it was way too much fun (plus there's free food and free booze) to miss. Well, they were all right. What Actors Theatre of Louisville does is ask their trustees to open their homes, and so we're talking about the creme de la creme of Kentucky Derby Society (initial caps intentional, y'all). And this year, there were, I guess, 4 or 5 different parties, so we all just went to wherever we were assigned to go. So, I walk into this palatial villa (for lack of a better word) and the first person I meet is a member of the press who is there to cover all of us! She's about 90 if she's a day, with gorgeous snow white hair combed back and sort of blown out, the most exquisite and penetrating blue eyes, and simply the thickest, most utterly impenetrable Southern drawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwl I have ever heard in my life. She's from Mississippi originally, so that explains that, but I would be remiss if I didn't confess to you that half of me was expecting Sally Cato to suggest a fox hunt and the other half was expecting to find Mother Burnside sitting outside by the fireside (the outdoor fireplace sits on a bluff).

Anyway, so here I am, feeling like I had the words "Yankee" and "Jew" emblazoned on my forehead. That was when a friend of mine appeared with the Maker's Mark and all was very well with the world."

And why not?

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