CMU School of Drama

Monday, June 28, 2010

Before the 'Curtains' rise, a backstage peek

Post Gazette: It's fitting that Sally Struthers and Malcolm Gets spent most of their lunch hour Tuesday swapping stories from their theater travels and from Day Two of rehearsals for Pittsburgh CLO's "Curtains: A Backstage Murder Mystery Musical Comedy."
In the Kander and Ebb whodunit, a Boston police officer who loves musicals is assigned to solve a murder within a stage company struggling to open a new show in Boston. "It's a big love letter to musical theater," Mr. Gets says.

CLO's 'Curtains' is a fun throwback to screwball comedies

Post Gazette: As "Curtains" unfolds, you can imagine a lover of musical theater and a fan of Peter Falk's Lieutenant Columbo having that "Ah-ha!" moment, then running for a keyboard or pad and pen.
Coming from the creators of the edgier "Cabaret" and Chicago," John Kander and Fred Ebb, this "Musical Comedy Whodunit" is a surprising throwback to screwball comedies, Fred and Ginger, and let's-put-on-a-musical moxie.

Rocker Grushecky signs on for gritty barebones production of "Killer Joe"

Post Gazette: There's nasty business afoot in "Killer Joe," with the title character a sexual predator and murdering cop, plus enough dysfunction to fill the New Hazlett Theater to bursting.

'Abduction' auditions at CMU

Post Gazette: ABX Productions and WSA Casting will hold auditions for extras and background performers of all types and ages -- especially those who can play high school juniors and seniors -- for the feature film "Abduction."

St. Vincent dolls it up for Twain-authored farce

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Is He Dead?" is a farcical play focusing on mistaken identities, mixed signals and hilarious misunderstandings. Twain wrote it in 1898, and it was later adapted by David Ives. Twain loosely based his main character on the French artist Jean-Francois Millet. The account is highly fictionalized and highly entertaining.

'Killer Joe' cuts deep into vein of trailer trash comedy

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Recent productions of his "August: Osage County" and "Superior Donuts" have put playwright Tracy Letts on the radar for lots of theatergoers.
"August: Osage County," which debuted in 2007 on Broadway, passed through Pittsburgh in April as an offering of PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh. A production of "Superior Donuts," which appeared in 2009 on Broadway, is planned for the Pittsburgh Public Theater 2010/11 season.
Patrick Jordan wonders what took them so long.

'Mad Honey' took a while to crystallize for playwright

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "We are interested in the project and the play, more than a sense of power or personal competitiveness," says Walsh, who is directing the Unseam'd Shakespeare Company production in Oakland. "The cast and everybody (involved) is primarily interested in the play, in having fun, collaborating and telling this story."

'Curtains' offers amusing look at show business

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Following in the successful footsteps of earlier musicals such as "Kiss Me Kate," "A Chorus Line," "42nd Street" and "Gypsy," "Curtains" takes the audience into the backstage world where what goes on behind the scenes can be more interesting than the show onstage.

Microscopic Opera company hopes big success continues in next offerings

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Microscopic Opera, which formed in late summer 2009, is a collaboration between conductor Andres Cladera and soprano Erica Olden. They met at Carnegie Mellon University's school of music and share the administrative and production responsibilities of the company before performing in the shows with additional singers and instrumentalists.

Review: CLO's 'S'Wonderful' a welcome for cabaret audiences

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: If you like the Gershwins' music, you're going to love "'S Wonderful."
This brand-new musical revue of George and Ira Gershwin's songs is having its world premiere at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown, through Sept. 5 as a production of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's Cabaret series.

The Battle Behind the 12-Hour ‘Demons’ IN a huge former factory that once churned out engine parts for electric trains and is now used for art shows and sundry performances, the director Peter Stein moved among his actors on a makeshift stage area. He was blocking the first act of “The Demons,” a complex scene full of exits and entrances, and a square metal column on the left side of the stage was complicating the cues.

Broadway Sees Benefits of Building Its Black Audience While the “Memphis” producers estimate that 25 to 30 percent of their audience is black, the producers of “Fela!” and “Race” say that their outreach has resulted in black theatergoers’ making up 40 percent of attendees. “Fences” and its star, Denzel Washington, are also drawing large numbers of black people, though the show began selling out early and has been a tough ticket to obtain, a spokesman said.

Mad Men's Matthew Weiner and Janie Bryant: Threads of the Story

WSJ: For “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, it was instant intrigue. He first noticed Janie Bryant, the show’s costume czarina, in an office elevator three years ago. The Tennessee-born stylist, who had recently finished designing late-19th-century costumes for the American Western series “Deadwood,” was on her way to interview with Weiner, but both were unknown to each other at the time. Bryant was sporting a gargantuan belt buckle. “It was like something a prizefighter would wear,” Weiner says. “I thought, ‘How bold. How cool.’ ” It didn’t take long for Weiner to make a decision after the two-hour interview that followed—he hired her two days later.

Box-office futures ban headed toward law, dashing plans of proponents

Company Town | Los Angeles Times: In a significant and possibly fatal blow to controversial proposals for box-office futures markets, a ban on them has survived a marathon House-Senate negotiation over financial reform legislation and will likely be passed by Congress next week and then signed into law.

Fight director stages the hits

Post Gazette: Patrick Jordan violently shoves John Steffenauer into the open door of a refrigerator, leaving only his legs hanging out as he smashes Mr. Steffenauer's head back and forth. The refrigerator shakes with each forceful punch.
Randy Kovitz jumps into the fight. "Keep your knees bent when you're punching him," he says, demonstrating by standing above Mr. Steffenauer and delivering more punches.

Working in the Theatre - Developing Musical Theatre - April, 2010

American Theatre Wing: The development and production of musical theatre was the focus of the discussion with our panel of producers - Sue Frost, Robyn Goodman, Paulette Haupt and Scott Sanders. They talk about what attracts them to a project; if playing on Broadway is the ultimate success for a show; whether going out of town is helpful, or necessary, for a new show; the impact of audiences on the show; dealing with critical reviews that remain on line when trying to get a show launched; the difficulty of closing a show or halting a show in development; and advice for young producers who want to develop musicals.

ASCAP Members Pissed Off At ASCAP's Attack On Creative Commons

Techdirt: Last week, we posted about how ASCAP was attacking EFF, Public Knowledge and (most bizarre of all) Creative Commons, as part of its fundraising drive. As we pointed out, this showed ASCAP's true colors. For an organization that presents itself as trying to supports artists' rights, it's downright ridiculous to attack a group like Creative Commons that only looks to give musicians more choices in what they do with their own rights.

Singing Nuns Return, George W. Bush Gets Loaded

Bloomberg: When it opened off-Broadway 25 years ago, “Nunsense” struck enough people as whimsical and charming to sustain a run of 3,672 performances and spawn a global franchise that made a multimillionaire of its creator, Dan Goggin.
Revived now, Goggin’s musical revue about the Little Sisters of Hoboken is as tired and slight as a flower pressed in a book with no meaningful memory attached.

When Cirque du Soleil Met Theater - ‘Shpeel’ Failure Less than six weeks after opening in New York, “Banana Shpeel” — the latest high-budget, high-profile show from Cirque du Soleil — is scheduled to close on Sunday. For Cirque, the show was supposed to be another milestone: a production that could compete artistically and commercially with Broadway, blending signature Cirque acrobatics and clowns with elements of vaudeville, dance and musical theater. Instead “Banana Shpeel” will go down as one of the most frustrating failures in Cirque’s history.

New Plays Like ‘The Little One’ Put Scary Onstage JAMES COMTOIS, a 33-year-old playwright, has fond memories of his parents’ taking him to see a production of Edward Albee’s “Delicate Balance,” but if you want to know what really got him interested in writing, go back to when he learned about Freddy Krueger.

Minn. Theater Mixes Disabled, Nondisabled Actors

Backstage: As the play unfolds, the woman's Down syndrome seems to melt away at Interact Theater, a troupe that for 18 years has sprinkled its casts with nonprofessional actors who may be blind, have a traumatic brain injury or use a wheelchair. The Minneapolis group aims to break down audience perceptions of people with disabilities.

NYMF Announces New Musicals

Backstage: The New York Musical Theater Festival announced today 11 new musicals to be presented at this year's fest. Set to take place Sept. 27-Oct. 17 around Manhattan, the shows will be performed alongside Next Link Project productions, NYMF's primary writer service program. In its seventh year, the festival will host a Developmental Reading Series and other special events.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tony Award winners

Post gazette

Floating Andrew

Carnegie Mellon University: Andrew Carnegie recently surfaced near his old North Side home in Pittsburgh — in a way.
A 20-foot bust of the steel magnate and university's founder, complete with snorkel and diving mask, turned heads as it floated on the Allegheny River during the city's annual Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Scenes from the "Fences" post-Tonys party

Post gazette: "Things don't just happen, they happen just," said Stephen McKinley Henderson at the "Fences" post-show party, quoting playwright Lorraine Hansberry. He was responding to my regret that he lost the supporting actor Tony in Sunday's Tony Awards.

At the Tonys, 'Fences' wins three top awards

Post gazette: It looked like "Red" would rain on "Fences" Tonys parade last night, as the play about artist Mark Rothko and his assistant was winning awards early and often. Then came the announcements of best actor and actress in a play, and Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were declared winners for their roles as August Wilson's Hill District denizens, Troy and Rose.

Dance Africa and founder Chuck Davis coming to town

Post Gazette: African dance has been incorporated into many dance genres in America. Now Chuck Davis, founder of Dance Africa, will bring his own American-influenced version of this piece of African culture to Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh connections prevalent at the Tonys

Post Gazette: This is how you earn your theater reporter stripes: standing in the rain by the plastic-draped red carpet outside Radio City, waiting for the nominees to stroll by as all around you yell for their attention.

Film stars captivate and capture Tonys Sunday's show was a night for celebrities and for the meaning of celebrity, when Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Catherine Zeta-Jones took home their first Tonys, and when the most honored play, "Red," was itself a meditation on art and commerce. Other familiar faces included Will Smith and Michael Douglas, Helen Mirren and Daniel Radcliffe, and "Glee" stars Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele.

CLO-connected shows hope for Tony bump

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: If trophies are your criterion, shows with Pittsburgh connections did not fare well at Sunday's 2010 Tony Awards ceremony.

''S Wonderful' a gem for Gershwin lovers, young and old

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: When it comes to musical theater revues, Ray Roderick is not unlike a fine jewelry artist.
He takes polished, vintage gems like the songs of Irving Berlin or George and Ira Gershwin and remounts them in new pieces for contemporary buyers.
Last summer, Roderick had just begun touring "I Love A Piano," a musical revue that showcases Irving Berlin's music, when he was approached by officials of the Gershwin estate.

Movie Interns

Craigslist: Sports radio movie seeking interns and PA's for 21 days in July

Dark and alternative theatre company seeking set designer/builder!

Craigslist: The Rage of the Stage Players, Pittsburgh’s dark/alternative theatre troupe, is now seeking a volunteer with set design/set construction experience to join the ranks of our warped little arts collective. If you are in school for design, this may also be a worthwhile endeavor for you. We are always looking for designs far removed from the norm.

Dark and alternative theatre co. seeks imaginative/fantasy costumer!

Craigslist: The Rage of the Stage Players, Pittsburgh’s dark/alternative theatre troupe, is now seeking a volunteer with costume design/construction experience to join the ranks of our warped little arts collective. we will especially require aid on our next project, a premiering dark (and faithful) stage adaptation of the Grimms' folk tale, SNOW WHITE. If you are in school for design, this may also be a worthwhile endeavor for you.

‘Red’ and ‘Memphis’ Win Top Tony Awards The American rock ’n’ roll story “Memphis” won the Tony Award for best musical on Sunday night, and the British production “Red” took best play and five other Tonys, one of the highest totals for a play in recent years. Yet all but eclipsing those shows was the unusually powerful star wattage in Radio City Music Hall, full of well-known figures from film, television and music who became dominant forces on Broadway during the 2009-10 season.

Time Is Short to See Some Tony Winners If you want to see a 2010 Tony Award recipient onstage this summer, you are probably out of luck. Or you may have to shell out big money, depending on the newly crowned show or star you want to see.

Theater Talkback: One Night Only As is often the way in New York, to get to heaven, you had to pass through hell. Times Square was especially infernal on Monday evening, shrouded in a sooty humidity and colonized by a promotional encampment of the reality television series “Dance Your Ass Off.” This meant there were women on a tented stage gyrating away the pounds to BeyoncĂ© (“Single Ladies,” of course), along with someone in a dancing-bear suit and a Statue of Liberty crown.

With Sketchbook for iPhone, Autodesk Wants to Democratize High-Tech Design

Fast Company: Autodesk does well-over $2 billion in annual revenues, but unless you're a designer, you probably don't know the company: They produce sophisticated programs, often costing thousands of dollars, which are necessary tools in design professions ranging from architecture to digital animation.
So it's a bit of surprise that lately, they've been fooling around with iPad and web apps geared towards a mass audience. Some of their offerings include Sketchbook, an iPhone/iPad app that's been downloaded almost 2 million times

Synthe FX Lifts the Lid on Luminair for the iPad After months of speculation leading up to the announcement of the Apple iPad and then finally the release of the iPad to the gen pop, the lighting industry and iPhone lovers have been craving something special for the iPad to control our rigs. Since the announcement of the iPad, Synthe FX, the iPhone app developer of the Luminair app has been dropping hits about their plans and release for Luminair as a native app on the iPad.

Atlanta studio opens as filming in Georgia booms

Los Angeles Times: After beefing up its film incentive program in 2008, Georgia has emerged among the top five states in the country for film production, attracting such movies as the Academy Award-winning "The Blind Side," the Woody Harrelson horror flick "Zombieland" and the fifth installment of Universal's "Fast & Furious" franchise.

Contested Will Looks at the Nuts Who Think Shakespeare Didn't Write Shakespeare

Village Voice: I love Shakespeare so much that I can never understand why people want to make a religion of him. When you love someone, deeply and persistently, you don't want to pretend your love is perfection and install him on the high altar of a shrine, far out of your reach. You want to be with your love every day, knowing him so intimately that even his little faults become part of his charm.

Holocaust on Stage

The New York Review of Books: Recreating—if that is the right word—the daily routine of mass murder at Auschwitz with miniature puppets made of plasticine may not seem a promising enterprise. However artfully done, it could make what actually happened look trivial, like a kind of game.

'Banana Shpeel' splits

Variety: Looks like Cirque du Soleil has officially slipped on "Banana Shpeel." The vaudeville showcase will shutter its Gotham run at the Beacon Theater two months ahead of schedule.

'Spider-Man' still swinging

Variety: Word is spreading that much-delayed, megabudget musical "Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark" is getting it together to begin Broadway perfs in October for an opening in November or December. And this time they really, really mean it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

'Howling Miller' opens Quantum's 20th season

Post Gazette: In its 20 years, Quantum Theatre has not only moved around the city to stage its productions, but has sought out plays with exotic backdrops like, well, Lapland?
"I've always been fascinated by Scandinavia, and the farther north I go, the more I'm fascinated," said Quantum artistic director Karla Boos, explaining why she chose to adapt the obscure Finnish novel "The Howling Miller" to kick off the troupe's 20th season next month.
The stage will be set at the Frick Environmental Center off Beechwood Boulevard in the East End's Frick Park.

Arts groups make a splash with festivals

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: As the economy continues to be sulky and donors and foundations zip their wallets, the climate is far from festive for arts presenters and producers.
You'd never know it from the area's cultural calendar.
Two weeks after Pittsburgh International Children's Festival completed its 24th appearance, Three Rivers Arts Festival opened its 51th event. In late July, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre will roll out its celebration of the works of playwright Harold Pinter. Before the run finishes in late August, Pittsburgh New Works Festival will have begun celebrating its 20th anniversary with staged readings of new one-act plays.

A Look Behind the Curtain at Broadway's Billion-Dollar 2009-10 Season The Broadway box office hit $1 billion in 2009-10. Its leaders offer their perspective.

Five Questions for the Designer of the Tony Awards Show When the Tony Awards are handed out Sunday night, an ersatz Broadway — faux marquees, lights, posters — will cover the stage at Radio City Music Hall. The audience inside the hall will see a show that includes musical numbers, excerpts of plays and a parade of celebrity presenters.
At home, however, television viewers will get access to parts of the set and backstage area that most theater designers don’t have to worry about a live audience seeing.

Predicting Winners of the Tony Awards AS a new Broadway theater season loomed last summer, some producers couldn’t wait to start forecasting the 2010 Tony Award races, whispering that there would be three front-running new musicals to watch: “The Addams Family,” “American Idiot” and “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark.”

World of Color marks a new generation in theme park entertainment

Themepark Insider: Disney's World of Color marks the next generation in theme park entertainment, a visually stunning and musically engaging 25-minute celebration of animation art. The show reviews the best of the past 20 years in Disney animation, but in doing so delivers animation from the film screen into the elemental media of water, fire and light.

In The Wings - Dramaturg - June, 2010

American Theatre Wing: Dramaturg Anne Cattaneo explains her primary responsibilities, and likens her job to an acquisitions editor in a publishing house. Cattaneo has developed an extensive knowledge of languages, culture, and theatre history. In-depth research is often required for productions with complex timelines such as The Coast of Utopia trilogy. The current production of The Grand Manner seen here utilized historical documents found at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

When Elevator Speeches Don’t Work for You

FreelanceSwitch: Permit me to introduce you to my mouth, the black hole from which no elevator speech can escape.
For some reason, which is probably embedded in my DNA, I’ve never been very good devising short, catchy descriptions of what I do for and how people will benefit from it. It’s to the point where, if someone asks, I’ll say, “I mangle elevator speeches!” Or words to that effect.

Broadway rocks, conclude The Times' theater and pop critics Theater critic Charles McNulty and pop music critic Ann Powers began their conversation about the changing sound of the Broadway musical in the lobby of the Sam S. Shubert Theatre in New York, where they ran into each other at a Sunday matinee of "Memphis," one of the four Tony nominees for best musical. The discussion that ensued, provoked by the new indie spirit struggling for a place in an increasingly commercialized landscape, unfolded by e-mail.

Stratford Festival's 'Evita', With Chioran, Young, Kennedy, Opens; Griffin Directs

Yahoo! News: Gary Griffin, director of Broadway's The Color Purple and The Apple Tree, stages a new production of Evita, opening June 10 after previews from May 28, at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Performances play the Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.
New York actor Josh Young plays Che opposite Chilina Kennedy as Eva in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita, about Argentine political icon Eva Peron. It is Stratford's first rock musical.

Edinburgh Fringe Grows Bigger Than Ever

Backstage: In the true spirit of its founders, the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will defy the effects of a gloomy global economy by staging its biggest ever line-up of acts and performers. British rapper Dizzee Rascal will join thousands of actors, dancers, comedians, musicians, artists and acrobats in August at the 64th Fringe in a month-long talent showcase for everyone from top stars to unknowns chasing fame.

Broadway goes mobile

Variety: Mobile device application iBroadway, loaded with Rialto information guides and ticket-purchase links, just launched, and soon will be followed by another called the Broadway App. A BroadwayWorld application, affiliated with the website of the same name, has been available for download since October.
And all that's in addition to the apps available for individual shows, such as the one for "Mamma Mia!" that allows users to paste photos of their heads onto production images and send them out to friends via email and social networking sites.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Community theaters work hard to survive

Post Gazette: "Everything is a gamble anymore," said Jan Gerber, treasurer of McKeesport Little Theater, as she selects plays for the upcoming 50th season.
But then, mounting a season of live theater is always demanding for small community theaters.

CLO's 'Miss Saigon' conveys heartache of star-crossed lovers

Post Gazette: Audiences who have never before witnessed the wrenching emotions and guilt that drive "Miss Saigon" don't know how good it can feel to feel so bad.
At Pittsburgh CLO's reprise of its 2003 production Tuesday night, I counted three young women, all born well after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, wiping away tears as they left their seats.

Celeb memoirs entertain in theatrical context

Post Gazette: The sometimes self-indulgent tales of celebrities -- whether A-list or D-list -- often warrant groans and eye-rolls, maybe even an abrupt change of TV channels.
Celebrity reader Lee Meriwether
But the raw wit and simple approach of "Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words" finds an audience entertained by such stories, like Vanna White lamenting the challenges she faces on "Wheel of Fortune" or Tommy Lee offering crass relationship advice.

Review: Powerful 'Miss Saigon' offers moving story

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The good stories are the ones that endure long after the headlines fade.
It's now been 35 years since the last American helicopter winged its way skyward from the U.S. Embassy compound in Vietnam.
Yet Claude-Michel Schonberg, Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boulblil's musical "Miss Saigon" continues to stir emotions that are raw, painful and dramatic.
Set between 1975 and 1978 in the chaos and aftermath of the Vietnam War, "Miss Saigon" is a contemporary adaptation of Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly".

Apple Hill's 'Opal' is a timeless comedy

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: A music and drama teacher at Greensburg Central Catholic High School returns to Apple Hill Playhouse this week to reprise her role as director of a mainstage production.
Joette Salandro, of Latrobe, who also serves as chairwoman of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Greensburg Central Catholic, directed "Glorious" last summer and is back to lead a cast of five local actors in "Everybody Loves Opal" by John Patrick, opening Thursday at the Delmont community theater.

Review: City Theatre's 'Celebrity' a guilty pleasure

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Add "Celebrity Autobiography" to your list of guilty pleasures.
Breezy, silly and laugh-out-loud funny, this 90-minute reading of excerpts from celebrity autobiographies and memoirs plays to both our fascination with the private lives of celebrities and our secret belief that they're not quite as smart as we are.

Perfect Live Sound

- John's Blog Main Page - : There is no such thing as "perfect" sound. That's what I argued back in April, as part of our World Voice Day "Microphone Workshop" at City Tech (my writeup of the event with photos here). My talk kicked off the day's sessions, and in it I attempted to lay out many of the challenges to getting good live sound. I targeted the singers and voice teachers in the conference's audience, but my hope is that the talk will be interesting to anyone who is a live music fan or who buys a ticket to a show, as I also proposed some basic, non-technical, objective criteria about what "good" sound is in the first place.

Stephen McKinley Henderson, an August Wilson Stalwart He didn’t realize it at the time, but the actor Stephen McKinley Henderson first auditioned for August Wilson on a street corner in Pittsburgh in 1990, seven years before they first worked together on the Wilson play “Jitney.” Mr. Henderson was researching the city’s Hill District for a role in Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” and a chance encounter with one of the playwright’s sisters led to an introduction.

Stephen Hendel, the Unlikely Backer of ‘Fela!’ As a student at Phillips Exeter Academy in the mid-1960s Stephen Hendel found comfort in his old turntable, the kind that could stack six records at a time, his Paul Butterfields and Sonny Boy Williamsons. Out on campus you endured bullies by keeping your emotions in check, he believed. But lying on his bed, listening to blues and jazz and soul for hours on end, the teenager felt his first stirrings of excitement and rich imagination.

How One Event Designer Got Gotham Glam With A Sensational Digital Printed Backdrop

Rosebrand: When we introduced Matthew David of 360 Design Events LTD. to our digital printing on specialty fabrics, he knew he had found the perfect way to produce his vision for a grand format backdrop at a Lincoln Center gala event. As explained to Matthew, our Lightbox fabric is made to be lit from behind. When the fabric is direct-dye printed and backlit, it produces a brilliantly luminescent effect that’s similar to viewing film on a light box. Having viewed a backlit fabric sample, Matthew said, “I didn’t know you could do that with fabric!”

The School of Film, Photography and Digital Media of Pittsburgh Filmmakers will be holding an open house

Pittsburgh Art + Technology: The School of Film, Photography and Digital Media of Pittsburgh
Filmmakers will be holding an open house on Thursday, June 22,
5:30-7:30 in its facility at 477 Melwood Ave. in Oakland.

Chicago Audiences Rock!

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Blog: First things first: Chicago audiences rock. They are hungry for new work in a way that I find truly inspiring. Garage Rep was an opportunity to see this passion for new work over the course of an almost 3-month run. These were three risky shows - bold subject matter, heightened theatricality and non-traditional protagonists. Yet, I remember when we were in tech, we saw the first box office report showing us that quite a few people had already bought the three show package, and it was so humbling.

The Not-So-Harmless Simple Interview Question

Psychology Today: Many interviews open with what I like to call "inkblot test" questions. Inkblot questions are those open, seemingly harmless questions which interviewers use as icebreakers to learn more about what's important to someone. I call them "inkblot" questions because, like the traditional Rorschach test, they ask candidates to express an opinion about a seemingly neutral item. As innocent as they seem, however, a poor or strange response from a candidate can end their chance of getting the job.

Independent producer opens a window on the filmmaking process

Company Town | Los Angeles Times: "You have a great butt," one of the producers observes.
Normally, such behind-the-scenes banter would be off limits to movie audiences or maybe only available in the bonus features of a DVD.
But the producers of this ultra-low-budget romantic comedy about a deadbeat actor and his sister who becomes mixed up with the mob took an unorthodox approach: They decided to turn the cameras on themselves, using a live video stream to let viewers watch the production from beginning to end and interact with the film's cast and crew through a chat room.

Dramatists Guild Takes on NYMF

Backstage: In a letter sent last week to members, the guild explained that NYMF's new contract entitles the festival to 2 percent of the applicant and author's gross "on all income received from the play in excess of $20,000 over 10 years." The guild maintains that with respect to future subsidiary rights, such claims are too high for a presenting festival that already asks participants to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Video Games Provide New Opportunities With Transmedia Storytelling

Backstage: When THQ releases its "Red Faction: Armageddon" video game next year, the Martian shoot-'em-up won't arrive alone. The fourth installment of the destructive sci-fi series will be accompanied by a comic book, downloadable arcade-style game and a Syfy television movie that could possibly serve as the pilot for a "Red Faction" TV series.

Actors, Others Pushing NJ to Keep Tax Credit

Backstage: With a television series' dismantled set as a backdrop, a procession of actors, producers and directors made their case for New Jersey to extend its tax credit for production companies, an incentive that could be cut from the state budget by the end of the month.

I Can Hear the Gavel

Backstage: Vig's case arguably pivots on legal minutiae. At the Neil Simon Theatre, where "Hairspray" ran from 2002 to 2009, Local 802 requires at least 20 union members in the orchestra. Even for top-budget Broadway tuners, this can be costly. After the producers' exemption request was turned down by the local, the producers invoked a rule that lets actors play instruments in a show and have them count toward that minimum. Vig was one of five such actors in "Hairspray." This meant he joined Local 802. So the question is, which contract governed his job more? If it was Local 802's, did the "Hairspray" producers violate Vig's run-of-show clause when they prevented him from returning to work?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Illuminating Education

Carnegie Mellon University: "I'm interested in exploring the use of an abstract medium to create mood and deliver a message," Holmes said of her craft. "I want to explore new and different ways of thinking and I find that varied types of projects really push me to find creative solutions and methods."

'Oliver!' proves a rich delight for young and old

Post Gazette: It's ironic that "Oliver!," the musical that opened the Pittsburgh CLO season Tuesday, is widely considered a family friendly show, dealing as it does with thieves, prostitutes, murder and child abuse.

War-torn tragic romance of 'Miss Saigon' still relevant

Post Gazette: It's rare that a musical increases in relevancy as the years pass, but such is the case with "Miss Saigon," a tragic romance set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.

Public's 'Art' deconstructs friendships

Post Gazette: Art is about expression and interpretation. "Art" is about three men whose friendship reaches a breaking point because of the interpretation of a painting and their expression of deep-seated resentments.

'Confluence' offers laughs despite slight flaws

Post Gazette: As my perceptive wife pointed out, Tammy Ryan is so Irish that nothing is too terrible to be funny. Right. Consider Samuel Beckett, where the ultimate joke is that you live and then you die. He was also Irish, even though he lived in France, just as Ms. Ryan lives in Pittsburgh.

Review: Public Theater presents a smart, funny 'Art'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Like the painting it focuses on, what you take away from "Art" depends on what you bring to it.
Short, tense and funny, Yasmina Reza's 1998 Tony Award-winning play revolves around an expensive minimalist painting that destabilizes the 15-year friendship of three men.

Grande Romanza a grand start to First Fridays at the Frick

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Stefano and Nina Tanchietti are trying to bring the glories of opera, operetta and Broadway to audiences that are unfamiliar with the work of serious singers.
"Some people don't know of this great music or of the work of singers who can project beyond the footlights," Stefano says of their work that combines song, acting and dance in variety of music.

'Celebrity' pokes fun at stars' autobiographies - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: If you think celebrities are entertaining, wait 'til you hear their autobiographies.
"Celebrity Autobiography," conceived by Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel, features a rotating cast of five prominent performers reading short passages from an ever-changing library of 300 celebrity autobiographies. It begins performances Thursday at City Theatre, South Side.

Pittsburgh CLO's jaunty, brisk 'Oliver!' can steal your heart

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera celebrated its 64th birthday Tuesday in a decidedly frisky mood.
The season opener is "Oliver!", composer, lyricist and writer Lionel Bart's musical-theater adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1838 novel "Oliver Twist."

Actor Kevin Gray relishes reprise role of Engineer in 'Miss Saigon'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Actor Kevin Gray loves to spend his time with people we might think of as villains or dark characters.
In three of his four previous appearances at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, he has played Billy Bigelow in "Carousel," Dr. Jekyll and his alter-ego Mr. Hyde in "Jekyll & Hyde" and The Engineer in "Miss Saigon."

66th Annual Theatre World Awards Presented June 8 The 66th Annual Theatre World Awards — honoring performers making their New York stage debuts on or Off-Broadway — will be presented June 8 at New World Stages. Peter Filichia hosts the by-invitation-only event.

History Lesson: The NEA & Opera

Art Works: While the NEA Opera Honors is only a few years old, the Arts Endowment actually has a long history of supporting the art form. Beginning in 1967—the second year the agency awarded grants—we gave a $150,000 grant to the Metropolitan Opera National Company, a satellite of the Metropolitan Opera. Since then we’ve awarded nearly 4,500 grants to opera companies, artists, and organizations, totaling more than $167 million. Our support has benefitted everything from young artists’ programs to broadcasts of television and radio programs, such as NPR’s World of Opera, to touring initiatives, such as the NEA’s Great American Voices, which presented free opera performances at military bases nationwide. The catalytic effect of this support is reflected in the growth of opera companies, from 46 companies in 1965 to 129 companies in 2005.

10 Questions for a Broadway Pro. Volume 6: Flora Stamatiades, AEA Union Rep.

PRODUCER’S PERSPECTIVE: When you hear the words, Actors' Equity Association (AEA), you probably think of the more than 40,000 actors (and stage managers) that are represented by that professional union. Well, AEA has a lot of folks toiling tirelessly behind-the-scenes as well, trying to keep all those members working. And in today's theatrical economy, that is not an easy task.

A Procrastination Test to Uncover Procrastination Patterns

Psychology Today: This crash course on procrastination shows how to identify procrastination patterns and it prescribes remedies. The Procrastination Test is a set of self-assessment questions that spotlight areas of changeable thinking, emotions, and behavior that link to procrastination. After you identify your procrastination hot spots, I'll point you to blog themes to find remedies.

Designers Spin Spidey-Worthy Webs From Packing Tape

Fast Company: Packing tape has gotten MacGyver out of many a jam, but he never managed to make an entire home out of the stuff. So he could probably learn something from Viennese/Croatian design collective For Use/Numen. The team uses nothing but packing tape to create huge, self-supporting cocoons that visitors could climb inside and explore.

Tom’s Planner Gets Collaborative

WebWorkerDaily: If you haven’t tried it, Tom’s Planner is kind of like a simpler and more colorful version of Microsoft Project. It doesn’t have any of the complex project management features that make more heavyweight tools like MS Project or Liquidplanner so useful, but if all you need to do is plot out a basic, easy-to-understand project plan to share with your team, Tom’s Planner is more than adequate. It has an intuitive drag ‘n’ drop interface, which should make project planning straightforward, even for complete newbies.

LOL: The Reoccurring Prop Newspaper

/Film:If you watch enough television shows and movies, then you might even start to notice that a bunch of the same props are used over and over again. I first noticed this with a magazine prop in various television shows including Married With Children, which featured a gum advertisement on the back cover. Someone on Reddit recently put together a compilation of photos from various television shows, commercials and movies, showing how one newspaper prop gets around and is reused, and reused again.

Bosch GCM12SD 12" Axial-Glide Miter Saw The big hoo-haa of Bosch's press party last week is, without question, their new take on the miter saw. As an answer to Festool's oddly expensive Kapex, which modified the rail system so the motor travels on a stationary rail, Bosch has altogether eliminated the rail system and replaced it with two articulating arms that look like they fell out of a Bionicle box. The result is a miter saw that you can back right up to a wall. A very nice characteristic if you're a remodeler and you're constantly struggling with open space at your job sites.

peter hennessey: my hubble

designboom: australian artist peter hennessey's bold and intricately constructed large scale sculptures
and multimedia works are imbued with both symbolic intensity and a sense of familiarity.

AutoCAD Data Extraction: Take Your Drawing to the Next Level

Between the Lines: AutoCAD has been used as drafting tools for decades. In the beginning, people used AutoCAD to replace manual drafting table. Many people are still using it that way, at least in my country. I am not sure how people are using AutoCAD in your region today, but I believe many people are still using it that way. Many AutoCAD users forget that Autodesk has added many new features that can increase their productivity.

Ted Shen, Theater Angel, Funds New Mom and Pop Musical in D.C. Ted Shen, a New York investment banker turned Medici of experimental musicals, took a midday Delta Air Lines shuttle last week to Washington for the opening of “Sycamore Trees” at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.

How Jujamcyn Theater Owner Jordan Roth Has Become an Industry Evangelist

New York Magazine: Down a private elevator and through a secret door, executives of Jujamcyn Theaters can commute in less than a minute from their eighth-floor offices on West 44th Street to the largest of their five Broadway houses, the St. James. The space in between, a crossroads of sorts, is one of Jordan Roth’s favorite spots. Sometimes, during a matinee, he will stand there as actors and crew dash from the basement to the stage while, on the other side of the door, 1,700 people take in a show. “That’s the moment,” says Roth, “where you feel what you do every day.”

Fighting the good fight Theater is dead.
OK, maybe not, but I like saying that, for shock value. Anyway, it's not a new statement, but it's still at least a little unexpected in a publication dedicated to the art form, right? And maybe it will wake some people up.We live in one of the greatest theater cities on the planet, but does anybody care? I'm sure someplace is the greatest scrimshaw city on the planet or the greatest lute-playing city on the planet.

Trio honored with League awards

Variety: Nina Lannan, Susan Weaving and Mike Isaacson are among the legiters to take home 2010 League Awards from the Broadway League's recent spring road conference.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

'Ugly Betty' star, Mark Indelicato, plays Artful Dodger in CLO's 'Oliver!'

Post Gazette: Mark Indelicato is best known for his role as Justin Suarez -- the flamboyant, fashion-obsessed nephew of Betty Suarez from the TV series "Ugly Betty."
In terms of fashion, Mark doesn't stray far from his character on the show. His passion for fashion led him to an internship at "Teen Vogue" earlier this year. "Ugly Betty" ended its four-year run April 15. Despite Mark's disappointment, the 15-year-old actor has a lot in store for his future. On Tuesday he takes the Benedum Center stage as the Artful Dodger in Pittsburgh CLO's musical "Oliver!"

Canadian actors to protest U.S. TV purchases

Hollywood Reporter: Canwest Global Communications Corp. is to draw top Canadian TV stars to its fall 2010 schedule rollout on Tuesday, not to praise the domestic broadcaster, but to protest its recent Los Angeles Screenings purchases.

On the London Stage - In 'Billy Budd,' a Cry for Kindness Pierces a Haunting Moral Grayness An inky darkness suffuses the stage at the start of the thunderous new Glyndebourne Festival Opera production of “Billy Budd,” and, even when the stage eventually brightens, a shuddering awareness of man’s capacity for evil hovers in the mist.

What Your Email Address Says About Your Computer Skills


Photos: Broadway Lighting Master Classes 2010 I trust everyone had a nice long and restful memorial day weekend! I would say mine was nice and long, but no where near restful as it was a weekend filled with work. Last week, was the Broadway Lighting Master Classes in New York City. You may have heard me mention this a couple of times already, well, I have more for you.

Billington, Lavey, London, Christiansen headline Chicago theater conference

The Theater Loop: Question for the conference: in a city with the literary history, musical history, and yes, the theater capital of the United States, why can't Chicago support a LORT level black professional theater company? It is a question that baffles me because of the adventurous nature of Chicago theater and I mean, it's CHICAGO, land of Wright, Brooks, Hansberry, Forrest, and many more, why isn't a theater that deals with the diaspora supported by the Chicago community at large?

Expansion of Washington area theaters leads to more plays by visiting companies

Washington Post: In a playhouse in which iambic pentameter has long set the vocal style, get ready for some snarkier rhythms. The profane puppets of "Avenue Q" are coming this summer to, of all places, Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre.

‘Kamp,’ Auschwitz Tableau, Comes to St. Ann’s Warehouse Pauline Kalker, a founder of the Dutch theater company Hotel Modern, never uses the word toy when referring to her company’s work “Kamp,” a 36-by-33-foot model of Auschwitz populated by 3,000 three-inch-tall figures.

Arbitrator rules in favor of SDC

Variety: An arbitrator has ruled in favor of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society -- the legit helmers union that goes by SDC -- in a decision that will require the Broadway League to include a $1 TKTS ticket purchase fee in the calculation of royalties for SDC members.