As someone who writes reviews of films and theater, I’m no stranger to the creators of what I review lashing back at me if I say something critical about their work. Of course, this is nothing new — just recently Alec Baldwin called for the firing of New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley because he felt Brantley’s review of his recent play was too harsh and said nobody he knows likes Brantley anyway — but most people in the arts seem to understand that the simple act of making your work public immediately opens yourself up to criticism, both constructive and petty. However, because of the internet and social media, it’s easier for those criticized to bite back.
Such is the case with playwright Neil LaBute and a recent review of his play Reasons to be Happy, which is now running off-Broadway at the MCC Theatre and stars The Office‘s Jenna Fischer and Crossing Jordan‘s Leslie Bibb. Time Out‘s David Cole not only gave the play a negative review, but he called aspects of it boorish, monotonous, predictable, and banal. In fact, he began his review with, “If Neil LaBute were to teach a course on playwriting, I bet his lesson plan would look something like this: ‘Week 1: Dumbing down characters to pad out dialogue and pump up conflict’” and it just went downhill from there. Read more
Last week, I analyzed examples of the most successful examples of star casting on Broadway in recent years. While those productions are on the top tier, other productions don’t fare as well – with some even closing early, which is usually considered a major embarrassment for the star in question in additional to the significant financial loses faced by the producers.
A recent example of a production that closed early is Orphans, which starred Alec Baldwin, which provides a microcosm of all the reasons why a production starring a famous actor can fail. Baldwin caused a minor commotion when he largely blamed the early closing of Orphans on New York Times critic Ben Brantley’s negative review. However, there are a myriad of other reasons that seem for more likely the cause of the early closure. First, it seems that the bad publicity stemming from Shia LaBeouf and Baldwin’s public feud – which both actors fed in the media – had a negative impact on potential audiences (in his rant Baldwin blamed this also, but didn’t exactly take his share of the blame). However, Baldwin’s $50,000 per week salary was more likely a major culprit considering that while Orphans sold well (an average of 82% capacity for its 64 performances), the average paid ticket price was $71.99, way below the top ticket price of $225. That indicates that few premium seats were bought at face value, which significantly hurt the amount of money the production made. Read more
The Tony Awards, the best of all the awards shows in my opinion, crowned their winners last night and Kinky Boots was the clear winner with 6 total awards. The new show by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein won Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Billy Porter, among others.
The big shocker of the night was Tom Hanks not winning Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. That went to Tracy Letts. I saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf last December and while I’m not a fan of Edward Albee, I have to say, the actors in the show were outstanding and I didn’t think Letts winning was a long-shot at all.
The actual show started off with a bang. Neil Patrick Harris‘ opening number was freakin’ gold as was two other numbers he did during the show. Aside from Annie with Jane Lynch, the numbers with the kids (Matilda, Christmas Story) I could have done without. And how bad was Bring It On? No wonder it closed early.
The musical number I thought killed was Kinky Boots. How great did that look? I haven’t seen the show yet, but one thing I loved was that the chorus look like normal people. They weren’t your typical showgirls, guys… all buffed-up dancers. They looked like me and you (I suppose). Stark Sands and Billy Porter rocked the number.
Below is the list of winner. Check it out! Read more
Nick Offerman made a career appearing in small roles in sitcom to sitcom for about a decade before gaining steam in the late 2000s, which eventually led to his starring role on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. He is now a unique comedic element of thee show that has led to roles in both comedic and dramatic films. In a conversation with The New York Times, Offerman speaks about his late-blooming career
Offerman has become known for his deadpan delivery on Parks and Recreation. He explains that he developed this comedic approach because he didn’t think he could equal the crazy energy of other comedians. He says, “Something about stentorian authority figures has always made me laugh. I also noticed that lots of the performers I was working with had a big, obnoxious energy that I quickly realized I could never match — and that when they finally finished being loud, with one well-placed remark I could also achieve some sort of comic victory.” Read more
Zachary Levi (Chuck, Thor: The Dark World), will make his Broadway debut in First Date, a new romantic musical comedy.
Smash‘s Krysta Rodriguez (who also starred in The Addams Family on Broadway – I knew I recognized her from somewhere) will also star.
Next time you see a play in New York City be very sure not to use your cell phone during the performance… not only because it’s really, really rude, but also just in case you are sitting next to Kevin Williamson.
Williamson, who is the Deputy Managing Editor for The National Review and writes about theater for New Criterion, was in attendance at a performance of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, a cabaret-style musical adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The production takes place in a tent and the audience is seated at small tables, which led to an incident in which Williamson was thrown out for throwing another close-sitting patron’s cell phone across the room. Read more
It’s been a while since Michael Douglas really had a role he could get into. With Behind the Candelabra, in which he portrays Liberace, Douglas might have his best role in over a dozen years. He gave a lengthy interview to New York magazine about the HBO film about what was so different about playing such a campy real-life individual and what it was like acting opposite Matt Damon, who portrays Liberace’s young lover Scott Thorson.
Playing the flamboyant Liberace exposed Douglas to a new aspect of acting that his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones is far more familiar with — sitting in the makeup chair and then hours of costuming. Douglas explains, “I was the girl on this movie! The hair and makeup for Liberace took two and a half hours. I’ve never done elaborate hair and makeup before. Up until now, my entire career has been contemporary.” Read more
Your career doesn’t automatically change once you’ve won an Oscar—at least according to Colin Firth. The British actor claims that transformation happens slowly.
“In some ways it’s happening now…An Oscar doesn’t suddenly work the miracle that manufactures a plethora of great writers who are suddenly ready to come to you with fully financed films, with the right director attached, landing on your table saying: Take your pick. It’s not as coherent as that,” he said in an interview with Yahoo! News. Read more
Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson announced the nominations for the 2013 Tony Awards this morning (way too early for us West Coasters) and with 13 nominations, the musical Kinky Boots is the one to beat.
Right behind it is Matilda the Musical with 12 nominations, Pippin received 10 and Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella got 9.
Check them all out below and then watch Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson make the announcements here! Read more
It’s definitely an adjustment to go from shooting a huge blockbuster movie to an independent film. Just ask Clark Gregg who has appeared in films like Iron Man and The Avengers, and is now starring in the dark comedy, Trust Me.
“If you’re used to having a giant trailer from your trips to the Marvel Universe, [indie film] can be jarring,” Gregg admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “But, so much of the most interesting work, some of the most interesting writing—[this is the] place where you can afford to take risks, because as things have gotten more expensive and blockbuster-oriented, those are carefully thought out by the marketing teams.
“The marketing teams are involved in the early script meetings. For better or worse, however people receive this movie, this is the movie I wanted to make. The limitations came from budget and logistics, they didn’t come from people saying, ‘You can’t talk about that, you can’t try to do a movie that takes these chances with tone.’” Read more