Monday, November 26, 2007

Young Frankenstein & Old Friends

Roger Bart and Christopher Fitzgerald in Young Frankenstein.
Tell me Me Brooks isn't one of the luckiest bastards around. The day after his Young Frankenstein opens to mixed-to-negative reviews, the Broadway stagehands go on strike and his show becomes one of eight still standing. Here's my review of Young Frankenstein.

On the unlucky front, four days earlier Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll opened to rave reviews, and after five post-opening performances has been completely shut down by the strike. I'm very glad I got to see it on its last — but hopefully not final — night. Having been rather nonplussed by the Coast of Utopia trilogy, I thought Stoppard was back on track with the sort of wistful intellectualism he does best and was terribly moved the performances of Rufus Sewell and Sinead Cusack. (Incidentally, we spotted them along with Brian Cox at Angus McIndoe the night we went to Young Frankenstein a week and a half ago. See how this post is coming full circle?)

I numbed the pain of that first day back at work after a long holiday weekend by finally breaking the seal on the digitally remastered Merrily We Roll Along CD that my friend Brian gifted me with sometime ago, and I don't know what took me so long. The score ranks right up there with Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music as one of Sondheim's best. There isn't a clunker of a song in the bunch. My only complaint: No lyrics or plot synopsis in the liner notes, which the original cast album had. Yes, the history of the show in its various incarnations is interesting, but seeing the Sondheim's lyrics laid out before your eyes is the best way to appreciate them — and learn some new vocabulary words in the process.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

If He Only Had a Heart

I haven't spent much time on the Gawker boards lately, but their take on Jon Robin Baitz's rant against Charles Isherwood on The Huffington Post won me back. (I now have this image in my head of Ben Brantley penning boy-band profiles for Tiger Beat.)

But I don't understand Baitz's complaint about theater critics being advocates for consumers, especially when one mediorce show is selling tickets for $450. He seems to be saying that critics and reviewers should be an extension of the arts community, which I think we are to some extent, but we are and should be journalists first.

And how ironic that Frank Rich, much maligned during his tenure as Times theater critic, is now so wistfully remembered.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It Sucks to Be Shakespeare

Strolling past the TKTS booth at 6:30 Saturday night, I took a peek at the Broadway board to see if any of the eight shows not affected by the stagehands strike still had seats available. Wouldn't ya know, Cymbeline at Lincoln Center still had half-price seats! Even when more than two-thirds of all the shows on Broadway aren't performing, Shakespeare has trouble selling out. Thanks heavens he doesn't have to live off royalties.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pain in Spain

Annabella Sciorra and Michael Aronov in Spain

The quirky premise held promise — I can certainly appreciate a good Diana Gabaldon time-travel romance — but Spain relies too heavily on symbolism instead of simple human interaction. Not much of a vacation. My review.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Druken Family Fun

Harvey defends Fred Flintstone

The DirecTV listing for the finale of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law:

"Harvey falls into a drunken depression. Kids & Family."

Sounds just like the holidays at home!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Star-Crossed Brooklyn

Clayton Dean Smith and Jenny Fellner in Crossing Brooklyn

I enjoyed the Transport Group's fun little musical The Audience a couple of years ago. Not so much their current project Crossing Brooklyn.