History has shown that child actors on film and television often face tremendous “growing pains,” with many of them spiraling into drug and alcohol abuse and falling prey (in a variety of terrible ways) to older people that they trust. But according to one academic, child actors of today have it easy compared to child actors in the Elizabethan era.
Dr. Bart van Es of the University of Oxford says that child actors in the Elizabethan era underwent “systematic exploitation and abuse.” By studying court documents, Dr. van Es discovered that children were picked up off the streets and made to perform by “violence and force” (including whipping). Read more
After hosting the Tony Awards, Neil Patrick Harris won’t be away from Broadway too long. It looks like as soon as he’s done with the last season of How I Met Your Mother, he’s headed back to New York to start in the Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
The musical, by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, will open in the spring of 2014.
The remaining creative team members, additional casting, and the theatre will be confirmed at a later date.
Neil Patrick Harris said, “I am simultaneously ecstatic and terrified to be stepping into Hedwig’s heels. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime role and I can’t wait to begin the journey.” Read more
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
Jersey Boys has not only been a Broadway hit since opening in 2005 at the August Wilson Theatre, but has been a popular favorite in in theaters all over the world. All in all, the various Jersey Boys productions have grossed over one billion in sales over the past eight years — so all those talented performers must have been doing something right.
Clint Eastwood seems to agree with that sentiment because now that he is directing the film adaptation of Jersey Boys he isn’t looking to cast Hollywood or pop music stars to tell the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. According to Deadline, Eastwood wants to cast the movie with the stage performers who have done those roles night after night all over the world. 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
Second Stage Theatre just announced that 2013 Tony Award nominees Stephanie J. Block and Will Chase will co-star in this fall’s production of the new musical comedy, Little Miss Sunshine.
With book and direction by James Lapine and music and lyrics by William Finn, the musical will kick off Second Stage’s 35th anniversary season on October 15th, with opening night set for mid-November.
Block and Chase are both Tony nominees for this season’s revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Read more
The New York Times has a feature called, In Performance, featuring actors doing monologues from shows, films and theatre and they’ve all been pretty great.
Recently, they’ve invited some Broadway actors to go on location as part of their series. In this video, the great Shalita Grant performs a “cinematic interpretation” from Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, where she plays a waitress predicting gloom and doom.
Shalita, who I interviewed last week, is up for a Tony Award for her performance in Vanya and Spike this weekend and I’m crossing my fingers that she wins!
Check it out below! Read more
I know what you’re thinking — I’ve seen Hamlet before. But if the world made more sense, buses of high schoolers and college kids who are studying Shakespeare would show up at the Sargent Theatre to experience Shakespeare with this engrossing production of Hamlet from The Seeing Place instead of experiencing his work through Sparknotes (or worse, Wikipedia).
The great thing about writing a review of Hamlet is that I don’t have to write a plot summary. Its language is so ingrained in our culture that probably everyone uses a phrase from its text daily without even realizing it (I always loved the Isaac Asimov quote, “There is the story of the woman who read Hamlet for the first time and said, ‘I don’t see why people admire that play so. It is nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together.’”) The Seeing Place presents a very contemporary version of Hamlet, yet at the same time the group adheres to some Shakespearean traditions. Like in Shakespeare’s day, the supporting actors double roles (in one particular smart match, David Arthur Bachrach plays the ghost of Hamlet’s father and also the Player King, who is a stand-in for Hamlet’s father in the play-within-a-play “The Mousetrap.” Oh yeah, he also makes a fantastic Gravedigger.) Read more
Jenna Fischer on Why She’s Doing Theater After ‘The Office’ Finale: “My heart wouldn’t allow me to step into another television show”
So life after The Office begins for its principal cast, like Jenna Fischer, who had been with the show for the entirety of its nine-year run. For Fischer “life after” starts with her New York theater debut at the strictly limited engagement world premiere of Reasons to Be Happy, a play by Neil LaBute, which runs through the end of June at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Fischer spoke to The Wrap about why she decided to make her stage debut after the end of the biggest success of her career and how she feels about taking on a totally different role than The Office‘s Pam Halpert.
Fischer admits that she couldn’t see herself doing another television show immediately after The Office. She explains, “My heart wouldn’t allow me to step into another television show. The Office was just such a special work environment that I would have felt disloyal or something. It’s like a relationship. How do you date again after you’ve had your heart broken? So I wanted a work experience that was totally different. I moved to a different city, I worked in front of a live audience on a stage with no cameras or set or anything to remind me of The Office.” Read more