CMU School of Drama

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Memory of All That: Contributors Choose Unforgettable Experiences of 2011 The Playbill staff takes a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2011.

SAG National Executive Director Re-Ups Through 2014

Backstage: The Screen Actor Guild's board has voted to extend National Executive Director David White's contract, which was due to expire at the end of February 2012.
However, THR has learned that move to re-up White came in April or May, i.e., at least seven months ago, and the extension is through February 2014—not 2015, as has been reported elsewhere.

108 years later, & lessons still not learned. Lest we forget…

Backstage at | Life behind the scenes…: On December 30th, 1903, 602 people were killed in what remains the worst theatre fire in the US. This tragedy occurred at the Iroquois Theatre, only 5 weeks old and boasting to be “fireproof”, in post “Great Fire” Chicago, the home of some of the most strict fire codes in the world, both then and now.

Grad School Math: Which Degrees Are Worth the Debt

DailyFinance: With unemployment high and wages stagnant, now's a rough time to be entering the job market. Historically, when an unwelcoming economy awaits, graduating college students tend to run for grad school. But the monetary value of an advanced degree varies greatly depending on major, school, and how much debt you take on to get it.

Cultural Trust and stagehands union attempting to reach agreement

Post Gazette: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and its stagehands are making 11th-hour attempts to resolve a jurisdictional dispute that could lead to union leafleting and sign-carrying during the city's big New Year's Eve bash.
The trust and Local 3 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have been exchanging proposals all week, said city Councilman Bill Peduto, who is trying to help the parties find common ground. The disagreement is "solvable" by New Year's Eve, Mr. Peduto said.

Business Forum: Union stagehands circumvented for First Night

Post Gazette: Mr. Brown recently addressed unionized stagehands before a meeting at City Council, where he told them: "I know you guys are tired of hearing about stage work in Pittsburgh that's not available to you. I know you know what's going on. Its obvious to us. ... We see Pittsburgh tax-funded event stages not staffed by us, and venues going up across the river without our labor, too."

T&G Plywood over Stud Walls

TheatreFace: Over the last few weeks I’ve examined built-up platforms, but in some situations, simply using plywood over stud walls can be an efficient use of materials and labor. Slapping tongue-and-groove plywood down over stud walls spaced every two feet harkens back to traditional residential construction where subfloors were laid over joists spaced every 16 to 24 inches; it was—and still is—a solid, reliable flooring construction technique that costs relatively little in either materials or time. Using ¾” Sturd-i-Floor tongue-and-groove-sheets with stud walls running perpendicular to the face grain every two feet will achieve the same 50 pound-per-square-foot load previously discussed with other panels.

10 Things I No Longer Need for Freelance Success

Freelance Switch: I have been a freelancer for more than a decade and over that period of time, I have seen a lot of changes–everything from a giant increase in credibility if you actually are a “freelancer”, to technology changes in such a short period of time as to rival any other sort of change over the last century.
Through all of these changes, one major thing has happened. Specifically, the list of things that were once considered de rigeuer in order to have a successful business no longer apply.

My Top 10 Broadway Moments from 2011

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: It's that time of year . . . for Champagne Toasts, New Year's Resolutions and Top 10 Lists! So here's mine!
The following is a list of my top 10 Broadway Moments from the past drama-filled year (That's the one constant about our constantly changing biz - great drama is both on and off the stage).

New Tools for the New Year: Management

Stepcase Lifehack: This has been a tough year for a lot of businesses. The economy has yet to rebound (it may never fully) and with a downtrodden economic situation often comes a despressed workforce. I’m not talking about the overall unemployment problem; I’m talking about the problem that those who have jobs are dealing with: elevated stress and a heavier workload.

NBC bets the nest on 'Smash'

Variety: "Good for them," Theresa Rebeck thought when she read in Variety that Steven Spielberg had sold a drama series at Showtime revolving around an effort to mount a Broadway musical.
Rebeck, a playwright, novelist, TV and film scribe, had pitched a similar concept to various networks over the years, to no avail. When she learned in November 2009 about the project DreamWorks TV had in the early stages of development at Showtime, she felt vindicated that her idea had been a good one, and happy that someone was finally tackling an arena that she knew to be full of potential for TV.

Directors revived U.K. stage in 2011

Variety: Looking back, 2011 was the year of the helmer, as far as U.K. theater is concerned. In venues large and small, directors didn't so much revive shows as reinvent them. For proof, look no further than the year's most talked-about smash "One Man, Two Guvnors."
The now Broadway-bound comedy was the year's best new play and, at the same time, was a re-working. Playwright (and former standup) Richard Bean took "Servant of Two Masters," an eighteenth century comedy by Carlo Goldini, and relocated it to the faintly down-at-heels seaside town of Brighton in the Beatles-era 1960s.

'Wicked's' universal appeal Dear little girls and Gleeks of America: You can't have "Wicked." Give it back, OK?
When I first saw "Wicked" on Broadway in 2003, it seemed clear that the show was a subversive satire designed expressly for disillusioned middle-agers like me.

Balcony Seats Can Help Economic Inequalities in Arts THE Juilliard School’s inviting 275-seat Paul Hall was nearly packed recently for an early-evening concert, a free 60-minute Liederabend program on which four gifted student singers, each paired with a comparably gifted pianist, sang songs by Schumann. Classical music has struggled for a long time to fight the perception — an unfair perception — that it is elitist and inaccessible. But here was a program that didn’t even require tickets. People just showed up.

City arts staff gone missing—again

Bleader: Yikes! An e-mail sent to the city's widely admired music programmer Michael Orlove this week came back with this auto-reply: "I no longer work for the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture."
Orlove's innovations include the World Music Festival, Downtown Sound, and SummerDance; his departure would be a huge loss—if it should actually happen.
It might or might not, since what we have here is round two of the city's magic arts-and-culture-staffing show: now you see a whole team of arts workers, now you don't.

South Africa’s Conscience Reflects “Blood Knot,” the 1961 play that vaulted Athol Fugard into international prominence, features two young South African men, one black and one white, grappling over what the world owes them. “The Train Driver,” which Mr. Fugard, left, wrote in 2010, features two older South African men, one black and one white, grappling over what they owe the world. These works bookend a rich career for Mr. Fugard, who turns 80 this June and is being honored this season with four major New York productions. These two plays, along with the 1989 political drama “My Children! My Africa!,” make up a big part of the Signature Theater Company’s inaugural season in its new home.

West End ticket prices: are they out of control?

Telegraph: The phrase of the year, or so the Oxford English Dictionary would have us believe, has been the “squeezed middle”. It conjures an image of ordinary hard-working people pincered by the cruel hand of economic fate, sapped to within an inch of their lives.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The soul of 'Memphis' music soars at Heinz Hall

Post Gazette: A tide of social change is about to sweep over Memphis in the 1950s and, as Mama sings, "Change Don't Come Easy." And Mama knows best.
The 2010 Tony winner "Memphis" has its roots in musicals from "Showboat" to "Hairspray," and like those Broadway hits, its success is the ability to transport audiences to a specific time and place and tell a story in a clear and powerful voice. The dynamic touring company at Heinz Hall through New Year's Day preaches the gospel of rock 'n' roll according to Mama's son, unorthodox disc jockey Huey Calhoun, played with goofy charm and enthusiasm by Bryan Fenkart. Huey meets his match in Felicia Farrell, played by Felicia Boswell. Memphis club singer Felicia is the whole package: beautiful, talented and ambitious enough to want for herself what Huey and her doting brother Delray want for her: to make her a star.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A love of music, no matter who makes it, at heart of 'Memphis'

Post Gazette: Get ready to shout "Hockadoo!" cool cats and kittens. The national tour of Tony-winning best musical "Memphis" drops into Heinz Hall this week, spreading the word of rock 'n' roll and racial harmony according to Huey Calhoun.
"Hockadoo" is the oddball slogan of deejay Huey, a character loosely based on the real-life Dewey Phillips. Huey is colorblind when it comes to music and love, which serves him well when it comes to both but wreaks havoc when circa-1950s Memphis gets a gander of his uncompromising act.

Review: Music, overall presentation lift the seriousness of 'Memphis'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Even viewed from the distance of six decades, the story of "Memphis" remains painful and troubling. It's set in the deep South of Memphis, in the 1950s, when racial segregation was not only legal, but an unchallenged way of life. Interracial marriage was illegal, and whistling at a white woman could get a black man lynched.
The musical "Memphis" playing at Heinz Hall through Sunday as a presentation of the PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh series embraces those realities with a bittersweet tale of how one man's passion for black music and love for a black songstress helped break down the wall of segregation.

Pittsburgh Opera throwing its own New Year's Eve party

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Opera is building its own bank of memories not to "be forgot" with New Year's Eve galas, introduced in 2009. The concert sets operatic and musical bonbons amid the splendor of Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.
Pittsburgh Opera will present "Auld Lang Syne III" on Saturday night at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. Soprano Danielle Pastin is the guest artist, and will perform solos and with the young professional singers of the company's Resident Artists program. Tickets are available for the concert only or, for a premium price, the full event, which includes pre-concert cocktail reception and dinner, the concert and a New Year's Eve party.

STAGE VIEWS: Helen Hayes Award Winner Natascia Diaz's new series features brief chats with Broadway actors commenting on their recent theatregoing experiences, what productions they are looking forward to and more. Here, via e-mail, we speak with singing actress Natascia Diaz.

Part of American Voices New Play Institute Will Exit DC's Arena and Enter Boston's Emerson College Research programs of The American Voices New Play Institute (AVNPI), which have been under the roof of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, DC, will move to Emerson College's Office of the Arts in Boston beginning July 1, 2012.

The Biggest Stories for 2012... from 2011

Backstage: From building a future for the soap opera to preparing for union merger, the biggest stories of 2011 were about paving the way for 2012 (and beyond).

But Mom, Chicago has it! Why can't we?

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: Yep, that's right, downtown Chicago has Ticketmaster ATMs (Automated Ticket Machines). Aren't they pretty? Easy to use and easy to put in any location, these machines not only make purchasing tickets for theater easier, but their simple existence helps remind people that live theater exists. It helps keep buying a ticket to the theater "top of mind".

3D Concrete Printing Could Be The Future Of Construction I think one of the coolest advancements over the last few years is in 3D printing. The process is desirable because it allows architects, designers, inventors, etc, the ability to see their concept in 3D in a matter of hours. One of the most common 3D printing methods involves inkjet printing a binder onto a layer of powder. Each layer is stack printed in place, thus creating a 3D model. If you are watching the current season of This Old House, you have seen the method in action.

Clothes on Film's 2011 Costume Design Round Up

Clothes on Film: By no means intended as an exhaustive list, Clothes on Film ponder an overview of 2011 in costume. Concentrating on mainstream fare that those outside of big cities are likely to have seen, we consider which costumes delighted, surprised and best of all, enlightened us. Expect to spot Drive, Melancholia and Hugo on this list somewhere.
Costume encompasses every item of clothing worn on film. By strict definition costume is not ‘wardrobe’; wardrobe is what Oprah Winfrey wore on her talk show. While at Clothes on Film we embrace all forms of costume, we do have a slight bias for contemporary, although only because it is often underrepresented in the face of (admittedly dazzling) period or fantasy wear. This roundup will comprise both period and contemporary, but with very slight emphasis on the latter.

New Tools for a New Year: Communication

Stepcase Lifehack: Communication is an essential part of being productive in work and life. We talk about communication quite a bit here at Lifehack and think that you should be ready to communicate effectively and efficiently in the upcoming year. Here are a few new tools that you may need to add to your arsenal in 2012.

The worst in Chicago theater 2011

WBEZ: Last week, just in time for Christmas, my colleagues Kelly Kleiman and Laura Molzahn and I posted our “best-of” theater and dance lists of the year. It seems apt, therefore, that one of us should conclude the year with a review of some of the season’s disappointments.

The Hobbit: An Unexpectedly Complicated, Expensive Journey

Topless Robot: Peter Jackson released a new Hobbit video blog, this time with the dull-sounding subject of "logistics." However, if you've ever wondered how movies get made -- especially movies as massive as the two Hobbit films -- and especially especially movies that have to get literally hundreds of people and thousands of tons of equipment to a variety of remote, not easily accessible locations throughout New Zealand -- then this video will be fascinating to you, as it was to me (it helps that Peter Jackson and the rest of the crew are enthusiastic narrators, and the editing on all this video blogs is brilliant. Seriously, it's the most fun 12-minute video on logistics you'll ever see).

The rules of a creator’s life. Creative Ideas & Inspiration

Creative Something:

Broadway turns to Hollywood for inspiration

Yahoo! News: As Broadway theater experiences unprecedented success with its highest-grossing year of $1.1 billion in ticket sales and the US film box office dips by up to 5 percent, according to The Wrap, it is no wonder that Hollywood is turning its films into musicals.
Stage-to-screen productions have been common for decades as a way to reach a broader audience. In 2011, Tony winners God of Carnage and War Horse as well as Farragut North (known as Ides of March on film) became films.

Can struggling Hollywood ride Broadway's coattails?

Yahoo! News: Broadway is enjoying a renaissance -- and Hollywood is hoping to get a piece of the action.
With the motion picture box office in a slump, and Broadway on an upswing, an increasing number of film franchises are being transformed for the stage.
In fact, theatrical productionsof feature films including "The Notebook," "Rocky," "Austin Powers," "Ghost," "Finding Neverland," "Once," "Diner" and "The Goonies" are all in the works. It's easy to see why.

'Hand to God' to Return for 8 Weeks, Possibly Longer The creators of “Hand to God,” a well-reviewed, recently shuttered Off-Broadway production that revolves around a demonic sock puppet, are in talks with several producers about a possible commercial run of the play in New York, according to people involved in those discussions. Meanwhile, the head of the nonprofit theater where “Hand to God” ran this fall disclosed that it would return there for an eight-week encore this winter.

In a Rough Year, London Theaters Embraced Comedy and a Deluge of Shakespeare Was it the sight of the matinee idol (Jamie Glover) leaping up a set of stairs, the gravity-defying aplomb amplified by the fact that his shoelaces had been tied together? Or maybe it was the wild-eyed, sunken-cheeked octogenarian waiter (Tom Edden) with a habit of tumbling backward into some unseen abyss?

C is for censorship For any British person under the age of 50, the idea of theatrical censorship is totally alien. It's something we associate, if we think about it all, with past authoritarian regimes: with the Soviet Union and its satellites, with South Africa under apartheid, with Spain under Franco. But it's salutary to be reminded that, in Britain, it was only the Theatres Act of 1968 that finally put paid to a system of censorship that existed here for over 230 years. While we rejoice in our current freedom, we should be wary of a creeping caution that exists in the UK and other western democracies.

Musicals: it's time to make a song and dance again

Telegraph: It’s highly likely that at some point this week, I’ll settle down with a plateful of spare stuffing balls and watch the musical Enchanted. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll probably watch it more than once. In fact, chances are I’m watching it right now.

Political theatre's final curtain

The Independent: As sure as night follows day, shortly after a newsworthy event, a play tackling the issues raised will be staged. Most recently, three months after the riots during the summer, and three months before the official Government report on the events is due, was the Tricycle Theatre's production, imaginatively titled The Riots. The piece examined what happened as described to the writer, Gillian Slovo, building a "real-time" representation of what took place, using tweets and interviews with police, victims, teachers, lawyers and community leaders.

Upstaging all that holiday cheer

The Globe and Mail: At a time of year when feel-good carols and Sugar Plum Fairies rule the stage, Vancouver’s Blackbird Theatre Company has been creating a different kind of holiday tradition: hard-hitting, challenging plays. From a violent Greek tragedy to a marathon examination of a dysfunctional marriage, Blackbird has been going up against all that fluffy holiday fare with works not typically associated with the Christmas season. It continues the tradition this week, with a production of one of theatre’s more difficult modern masterpieces, Waiting for Godot.

Collegiate Readership Program: Spotlight on Carnegie Mellon University

USA TODAY College: Carnegie Mellon University first implemented the Collegiate Readership Program in 2005. The program provides students with daily access to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA TODAY and The New York Times in academic halls, housing and multiple general-purpose buildings. To date, over 685,000 newspapers have been read by CMU students!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Five Tips For Your PTM Interview & Portfolio Review

CMU School of Drama: Interviewing for a college program can be a nerve-racking experience. But it doesn’t have to be if you have the tools to get ready for it.
David Boevers, Associate Professor and the Option Coordinator of the Production Technology & Management (PTM) Program, provides five useful tips to prepare for your interviews.

PHOTO SPECIAL: A Year in Images 2011 Which theatrical images from 2011 stuck with you? Book of Mormon-mania? Sutton Foster and the cast of Anything Goes tapping away at the Tony Awards? Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark finally opening on Broadway? Mark Rylance's powerhourse performance in Jerusalem on both sides of the Atlantic?

Flashdance Musical Will Play Toronto Prior to Summer Opening on Broadway Flashdance, the movie-inspired pop-rock musical that had a short life in London in 2010-11, will play a pre-Broadway engagement in Toronto, according to an Equity casting notice.
The musical, which The New York Times previously reported will be revised before arriving on these shores, will play Toronto June 26-Aug. 5, 2012, according to the casting notice. Broadway rehearsals are scheduled to begin Aug. 6 with a first preview later that month. Opening on Broadway is currently scheduled for Sept. 20.

Women Playwrights and Gender Stereotypes on Broadway Female playwrights historically have not found Broadway a welcome home to their new plays, but this season has been a surprising exception. Along with a darkly comic one-act from the veteran Elaine May, Katori Hall and Lydia R. Diamond are making their Broadway debuts, and Theresa Rebeck, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has her second Broadway production to date, the comedy “Seminar,” now at the Golden Theater.

Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo “The Addams Family” musical will close on Broadway next Saturday without earning back its $16.5 million capitalization during its 22-month run, a disappointment to the producers. Yet the national tour production of “The Addams Family” was a hit this month at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, grossing $995,000 in a week, more than most shows pull in on Broadway — including “The Addams Family,” which hasn’t earned that much money in a week since April.

Patrick Healy Looks Back at Theater in 2011 RARELY does a Broadway show become one of the biggest cultural news stories of the year. But “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” had more offstage intrigue than any production in recent memory — as well as a record-setting budget of $75 million, six delays to its opening night and the gold-plated creative team of U2’s Bono and the Edge and the director Julie Taymor. So it’s no surprise that from beginning to end Spidey dominated the year in theater news. But his wasn’t the only story (just about a third of them, in this modest account):

Critics Look Back at Favorite Stage Moments of 2011 ASKED to recall unforgettable moments from the year in theater, one writer after another for The New York Times suggested scenes from Jez Butterworth’s “Jerusalem,” which won Mark Rylance a Tony Award for best actor last spring. Stipulated: “Jerusalem” was full of memorable moments. Stipulated: The Times’s critics Ben Brantley and Charles Isherwood already named it among their Top 10 shows of the year. Further stipulated: No “Jerusalem” here. But much else to remember, some of it surfacing in the smallest and most offbeat of places.

An education in funding Arab arts

THE DAILY STAR: Time was, artists and arts administrators in this country wished that Lebanon were more European. Standards vary from state to state but, historically, Western European governments have demonstrated a degree of financial and institutional commitment to art and cultural production that the managers of Lebanon’s meager state had no means, and little interest, to emulate.

Colorado Symphony to revamp concerts, emphasize community focus

The Denver Post: To have a future, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra​ has decided it must relinquish some of its past.
The new classical-music model it unveiled Thursday still includes Beethoven and Brahms masterpieces but also borrows a bit from the pop- music world, adding shorter concerts, touring shows, smaller ensembles, even video screens at concerts.
And it earns its own way rather than relying too heavily on contributions.

Best of Theater 2011 | Revival of the Fittest: Great Shows Roar Back How often do you get to see "Follies" three times in one year? In May I went to Washington for the Kennedy Center's revival of the 1971 Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical, in which Danny Burstein and Jan Maxwell outdid themselves. Four months later I saw the show a second time when it moved to Broadway—after which I saw Chicago Shakespeare's more intimate version, directed by Gary Griffin on the company's Elizabethan-style thrust stage. Only the very best musicals repay such intensive immersion, and seeing "Follies" in back-to-back stagings of such quality led me to wonder whether it might just be Mr. Sondheim's masterpiece.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best Play(s): 'House & Garden'

Post Gazette: The world is so much with us, racing forward, that it's restorative to pause, recall the theatrical year past and savor its pleasures. You should try it yourself -- trying using the search box at the top of this page.
But the odds are you don't have as many memories to sort through as we do, and that makes it hard when faced with the annual directive to pick the top 10. There is too much range and variety in Pittsburgh's professional theater scene, both local and touring, plus the best of the semi-pro and university shows, to make it easy.

Best Dance Concert: Nora Chipaumire

Post Gazette: Pittsburgh dance is in a growth spurt, a good thing for the art form. But that meant, due to scheduling jams on weekends, it wasn't possible to see it all. It also meant that it was harder than ever to pick a Top 10. With a nod to other contenders like Gia Cacalano, Nicole Canuso, Heidi Latsky and Staycee Pearl dance project, the list was undeniably a hair-splitter as never before.

Love, race and music: 'Memphis' explores volatile '50s

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Collaborators Joe DiPietro and David Bryan spent 10 years taking their musical "Memphis" from first draft to its opening on Broadway in 2009.
Their perseverance paid off when the show, which begins performances Tuesday at Heinz Hall as a presentation of the PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh series, won four 2010 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Original Score (Bryan and DiPietro), Best Book (DiPietro), and Best Orchestrations (Daryl Waters and Bryan). It continues performances on Broadway.
Both DiPietro and Bryan were already seasoned professionals.

Paul Nolan, Josh Young, Chilina Kennedy and Tom Hewitt Will Rock Jesus Christ Superstar On Broadway Much of the original Stratford Shakespeare Festival cast of Jesus Christ Superstar will repeat their work in the Broadway production of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice rock opera, which will begin previews March 1, 2012, at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Confessions of a Serial Intern

HowlRound: By all measures of intern metrics, my experiences as an intern at seven theater organizations in New York and Chicago have all been pretty wonderful. I’ve cultivated crucial relationships with artistic leaders in the new play world I have always aspired to play in. I have had significant insight into the structures and functions of a hefty handful of respected institutions. I’ve gained access to the work of writers that I would never have known about otherwise. I’ve improved my writing and communication skills, become savvy to industry politics, and gained an insider vocabulary that enhances my credibility as a serious theater practitioner. But the “dark side” of the internship has taught me not to speak up or make independent decisions, and demanded my gratitude for the privilege of having my intelligence and labor exploited. I’ve learned to accept whatever breadcrumbs I’m given. I’ve learned to apologize incessantly or, even better, shut my trap. I’ve become accustomed to working outside of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, and gotten used to sucking up sexism. Internships have been responsible for eroding my sense of my own value.

"As Above, So Below"

NOTCOT.ORG: From the world of Light Harvest comes this incredible projection experience on the Manhattan Bridge which brought together many artists from varying backgrounds (read about them all here). "Unfolding like an animated modern Botticelli painting, flowing above our heads and spreading outwards in every direction, “As Above, So Below” immersed viewers in the architecture of the Manhattan Bridge. Audiences physically entered the story and explored the shimmering surface as it ignited with messages and symbols."

2011's funniest and best-dressed Chicago shows

WBEZ: Being funny and looking good aren’t mutually exclusive (see below), but they don’t always go together either. Just think of your high school boyfriend.
Most of these dance and theater shows were new—because to me, though original work can be downright awful, it can also pay off big-time. Seems like, once all the creative juices get flowing, they flow into every corner of the work. (And, as the Washington Post’s Peter Marks recently remarked, what stage artists are creating right now is “the true measure of a nation’s artistic vitality.”)
Two of these shows—candidates in both categories—are currently running: the Hypocrites’ remount of The Pirates of Penzance and the Neo-Futurists’ Burning Bluebeard. Actually, so is perennial favorite That’s Weird, Grandma.

Michael Kaplan Talks Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Clothes on Film: Costume designer for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Michael Kaplan, talks us through his choices and intentions for clothing in the film. Prepare to be disappointed if you want Tom Cruise’s blue silk suit worn in Dubai; it was custom made by Mr. Kaplan himself. At least Cruise’s Persol sunglasses are available to buy, however.

Judge in 'Y.M.C.A.' Copyright Termination Battle Asks to Hear More Information

Hollywood Reporter: A federal judge is taking the unusual step of allowing an amicus brief to be considered at the early stages of litigation that will determine whether the original lead singer of the Village People has a right to terminate copyright grants on 32 songs, including the big hit "Y.M.C.A."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Next to Normal, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jeffrey DeMunn, Bryce Ryness, Patti Murin Are Craig Noel Nominees in CA Nominations for the 2011 Craig Noel Awards, celebrating excellence in San Diego-area theatre, were announced Dec. 20 by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. In resident production categories, nominees include The Old Globe's Jane Austen's Emma, La Jolla Playhouse's Sleeping Beauty Wakes and ion Theatre's Angels in America, among others.

IRIS: A Journey Through The World Of Cinema As the home of the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard is the perfect setting for Cirque du Soleil’s newest major resident show “IRIS,” which looks at the evolution of cinema through astounding action and effects.
Since September, the show has been stunning audiences with its acrobatics that are so precise and gravity-defying, that it’s sure to create plenty of sweaty palms and pounding hearts throughout the show.

How Do I Stop Coworkers From Distracting Me While I’m Trying to Work?

LifeHacker: Dear Lifehacker,
I have a few coworkers that always seem to be at my desk talking to me. Whether I'm in the middle of a task and obviously working or I'm trying to talk on the phone or I'm having lunch or a snack at my desk, these folks keep coming up to socialize. I like them, and our office environment is pretty casual, so I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but how can I make them stop bothering me when I'm trying to work or eat at my desk?
Not-So-Chatty Kathy

The You-Missed List: Top Shows of 2011

WBEZ: Best show of the year in any category: Gary Griffin’s Follies at Chicago Shakespeare. This flawless version of an underappreciated early Sondheim should be remounted somewhere and run forever; there’s not a false note or step anywhere in it. In short: absolutely brilliant.

Award-winning work from the next generation of concept artists

io9: Every season, the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood picks the best work from its students in areas from 3D environments to creature design (like this creature, pictured, by Maggie Toh). We've got a special preview of winners from Gnomon's summer session

Wanna intern at my office this Spring/Summer?

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: If you're a reader of this blog or are a follower of mine on Twitter, then you know that we've got a lot of fun stuff going on here in my office, from Godspell to Be A Broadway Star to a tour of Miss Abigail's Guide to a couple of new not-yet-public musicals, and maybe, just maybe, even a revival of A Few Good Men.

The AP picks its Top 10 theater for 2011

Yahoo! News: As 2011 dawned, a new crackerjack Jon Robin Baitz play was opening off-Broadway and a rowdy Spider-Man was getting bad press on Broadway. A year later, that crackerjack Baitz play is now on Broadway and "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has (gasp!) turned into a respectable tenant, making its rent each month, not injuring people, keeping the noise down.

'Addams' retools for road

Variety: After opening to scary reviews in Chicago in 2009 and worse ones in Gotham in 2010, legiters might have expected the folks behind Broadway musical "The Addams Family" to close the crypt door quietly and fade away into oblivion.

A New International Theater Festival for New York Thanks to festivals like Under the Radar and Coil, January is a busy month for devotees of international theater in New York. But things promise to be even more active than usual next month, when a new event called the Times Square International Theater Festival makes its debut.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vaclav Havel, Czech dissident, president, playwright and moral beacon, dies at 75

Post Gazette: Vaclav Havel, the writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Havel himself into power, died on Sunday. He was 75.

A look at audiences from the actors' points of view

Post Gazette: Two plays, two theaters, two tales of Pittsburgh audiences as seen from the stage.
Jeff Still starred as Mark Rothko and Jack Cutmore-Scott as his assistant Ken in the recently concluded Pittsburgh Public Theater production of "Red," a duel between a passionate, confrontational artist and his aspirational apprentice. The O'Reilly Theater's thrust stage was set as the gymnasium remade into a studio that could accommodate Rothko's murals. Luke Macfarlane goes it alone for City Theatre's "Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir" in the intimate Hamburg Studio Theatre, which has been transformed into a cabaret setting.

Bright Lights, New City: Out-of-town actors share experiences of getting to know Pittsburgh

Post Gazette: Actors who live in other cities come and go through our many local companies, but they take a little bit of Pittsburgh with them. How they experience the area for the first time may depend on where they are housed, the intensity of producing the show and their curiosity. Three actors performing at Pittsburgh Public Theater and City Theatre this month discussed the challenges and joys of getting to know a new city while working onstage.

CLO exec to make directorial debut in January

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera executive producer Van Kaplan will make his CLO Cabaret directorial debut with "Ruthless! The Musical," the Off-Broadway comedy that opens Jan. 26 at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown.

Performer Hurt in Fall During 'Faust' at Met Opera

Backstage: Mezzo-soprano Wendy White has been hospitalized after falling about eight feet from a platform to the stage during a performance of Charles Gounod's "Faust" at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Musical Based on 'Because of Winn-Dixie' Planned

Backstage: Plans are under way to create a musical based on Kate DiCamillo's book "Because of Winn-Dixie" with songs by Duncan Sheik and a real dog on stage.
Producers said Thursday they plan a workshop reading for the project this spring, followed by an out-of-town engagement and perhaps a spot on Broadway down the line. They've even found their star: Taran, an Irish Wolfhound, has been cast in the title role.

AFTRA, Labels Reach Sound-Recordings Deal

Backstage: The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has reached a deal with the recording industry on an extension to the union contract covering audio recordings. The Sound Recordings Code covers artists working on "recordings in all new and traditional media and all music formats, in addition to audiobooks, comedy albums, and cast albums," according to AFTRA. The existing agreement was scheduled to expire Dec. 1.

Brooklyn's Holiday Light Spectacular

- John Huntington's Blog - : Over the years, I've covered a lot of holiday light displays like the Time Warner Center, the Wannamaker/Macys show in Philadelphia, and many others I have listed here. Yesterday, I checked out a show closer to home: my friend Ryan Powers and his friend Chris Schneider's Holiday Light Spectacular only a few blocks from me here in Brooklyn. It's definitely a home-brew, low-budget affair, but what they lack in funding they make up with theatrical know how, a story, and the polish so often lacking in other shows. This year the show is Frosty themed, and runs every 20 minutes

Turning Our Eyes Forward

HowlRound: Intersection has an epic story of convergence that is still unfolding. A story of synergy and serendipity—a new home, extraordinary partnerships, and a leap that is unmatched in the organization’s nearly fifty-year history. We think our story is an important one for right now.

Urban Flipper: Playable Pinball Machine Projection

HypeDot: To celebrate the Festival of Lights 2011, French lighting design company CT Light Concept, created this giant interactive pinball game with 3D projection mapping, onto the facade of the Celestine Theater in Lyon, France.

Stressed-skin Panels

TheatreFace: The typical 2x4 platform design is based on the strength of joist and girder construction: the joists are the members running perpendicular to the grain, while the girders are the members running parallel to the grain. The design of a stressed-skin panel derives its strength from the same concepts that give an I-beam strength to resist bending over long distances: concentrating the cross-sectional area at top and bottom of the member helps resist the compression and tension stresses that build up at the top and bottom of a beam that is under bending stress. In a stressed-skin panel, stringers run along the grain and are bonded to a top (and usually also a bottom) lid; the combination of the stringers and the lids form a series of I-beam shapes across the width of the panel.

A Holiday Tip: Creating Blocks with Multiple Insertion Points in AutoCAD

Lynn Allen's Blog: Happy Holidays Everyone!
As you're getting ready for the upcoming holidays - here's a holiday video tip that almost all of you AutoCADders can use!
Multiple insertion points in certain AutoCAD blocks could really come in handy! You can change the insertion point of any block on the fly (by keying in "B" for Basepoint when inserting) but if you're consistently switching between multiple insertion point of a specific block - why not hard code that into the block definition?

Deal To Avert Government Shutdown Cuts Pell Grants For Up To 100,000 Students

ThinkProgress: Congressional leaders last night agreed to a $1 trillion bill to fund the government, averting a shutdown that would have started at midnight tonight. The bill reportedly dropped many of the unrelated policy riders that House Republicans had tried to insert into it.
However, the bill does include a cut to the Pell Grant program that could affect up to 100,000 low-income students. Republicans have been pushing for months to slash the Pell Grant program — which provides low-income students with money for higher education — and to limit it’s eligibility requirements. Though the maximum grant will be preserved under the spending deal, students on the edges of eligibility will be out of luck next year

Leaving New York City

Prop Agenda: Today is my last day as the assistant props master at the Public Theater, and on Monday, I’ll be gone from New York City as well. I’ve been planning this for some time; my wife has been teaching scene design down at Elon University for the past year and a half, and when her position became more permanent, I decided to finish up the autumn productions up and move down there with her. A year and a half is long time to be over five hundred miles apart.

Why Studying Abroad Is Worth the Expense

Lifehacker: Studying abroad is one of the ten most important things we learned about college, but it can be expensive depending on where you go. Studies, however, say that studying abroad can really pay off for your post-college career and employability.

SDCF Masters of the Stage - In Conversation With... Susan Stroman - July, 2011

American Theatre Wing: Directors rarely get the opportunity to spend time and share ideas in a room with other directors. This new one-on-one conversation series was conceived by director Thomas Kail to give himself, and his peers, an opportunity to do just that. This series of conversations explores topics that stretch from finding the spark in their work, making a life as a director, and how they landed on this side of the table. Each director's vision is distinct, and their way of working is their own, but this series also addresses all they have in common beyond the shared title.

Broadway tax breaks in Illinois. Is NY next?

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: Here's a trivia question for you . . .
How many of the musicals debuting in the 2011-12 season kick-started in Chicago?
Answer? Zippo.
Chicago was once one of our go-to tryout cities, thanks to its smart audiences, local resources, proximity to NYC, etc. But rising costs (not to mention "lake effect" snow), have kept Producers from the Windy City as of late.

Geekery and the humanities

Geek Feminism Blog: The idea that the humanities is not important to geek cultures is patently ridiculous; most of the time geek fan cultures are based on books or TV shows (you know, things written by writers and performed by actors, who are by definition in “the arts”); and game designers and writers are likely to have studied literature and the arts to prepare for their jobs, not just programming and computer science. The study of the King Arthur myth, Tolkien, fantasy, and history are not part of physics or chemistry; they are part of the humanities. Obviously, science and math and computers are all important parts of geek culture, but so is literature and history and the arts.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Christmas Carol' a dickens of a show

Post Gazette: The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera is putting on a brand-new Christmas show this season: "A Musical Christmas Carol."
Yes, this is the 20th year the group has performed the "play with music" based on the Charles Dickens' book "A Christmas Carol" that was published way, way back in 1843.
But it's all brand-new to the children who've never seen or read it.

"A Christmas Carol for Two Actors" review

Richmond Times-Dispatch: In its farewell performance, "A Christmas Carol for Two Actors" has returned for a brief run at CenterStage's Gottwald Playhouse. Richmond Shakespeare has presented this version of the Dickens classic — adapted by Grant Mudge and Cynde Liffick, who are the two actors in question — annually, and now it's to be retired.
This is a jam-packed 70 minutes of the Scrooge story, boiled down to its essentials — a miserable man who has lost his humanity is shown the consequences of his choices while he still has time to change.

A Christmas Carol: Family Theater at the Westminster Arts Center

Bloomfield, NJ Patch: With Christmas about a week away, a small army of children got an early present in the form of a theatrical event: “A Christmas Carol” at the Westminster Arts Center.
Of course, some of the rambunctious youngsters risked getting on Santa’s naughty list waiting for the show to start. But once the lights went down and the show began, the children took their seats and became quickly enraptured.

Money Christmas: Hillsong ensures show in tune with spirit of season

Sydney Morning Hearald: EBENEZER SCROOGE, the season's most famous miser, proved no match for the glossy production values of Hillsong's Christmas Spectacular at Baulkham Hills yesterday.
The free tickets for six sessions across two days were snapped up weeks ago, before close to 20,000 people headed to the Pentecostal mega-church to watch a reimagining of Charles Dickens's tale of redemption, A Christmas Carol.

Old Time Radio 'A Christmas Carol' to be Performed

Portsmouth, NH Patch: Experience the magic of old time radio as Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is staged one night only, Wednesday, December 21st at 7:30pm at The Stone Church Music Club.
Longtime radio and television personality Mike Pomp leads a lively cast in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Admission is $15 with all proceeds to benefit the Newmarket Millspace, an upcoming center for arts, culture and heritage in the renovated Newmarket Mills.

'Christmas Carol' rendered true to timeless spirit

Worcester Telegram & Gazette: The production of “A Christmas Carol” by The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts has become one of Worcester’s best Christmas present(ation)s.
The fourth annual fully staged production of Troy Siebels’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella drew an audience of about 1,900 Friday night, as the show opened a seven-performance run and once again proved to be a captivating experience. This is a show of 21st-century dimensions, with its often stunning visuals and the almost cinematic vision of Siebels, who is The Hanover Theatre’s executive director.

Memories keep Christmas spirit glowing

Evansville Courier & Press: An excellent production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at the Henderson Fine Arts Center last week has me dwelling on the powerful effect of Christmas on our thoughts and feelings about the past, present and future.
For those who missed the show I can say it was great all around: The actors, the music and singing, the elaborate sets and surprising on-stage special effects (I've got to get one of those fog machines) combined for a rousing rendition of Dickens' Christmas classic. At times it was downright scary, just as intended by the author and appreciated by his readers in the mid-1840s.

Review of A Christmas Carol

Mountain Xpress | Asheville, NC: Charles Dickens was never one to shy away from good old-fashioned sentimentality, but his A Christmas Carol is downright shellacked with it. Stage versions of the story typically either give it one more half-hearted buff, or try somewhat desperately to scrape away the goo with a little irony. Now, however, we may rightfully speak of a third option: Cram the whole damn thing into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and populate it with Children of the Corn. Oh, and throw in a little cross-dressing for good measure.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: New details keep Pittsburgh Ballet's 'Nutcracker' fresh

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Theatrical evergreens need the constant attention of a loving gardener to maintain their freshness.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's artistic director, Terrence S. Orr, introduced his locally themed version of "The Nutcracker" in 2002. In it, the story of Marie's magical Christmas Eve begins and ends in Shadyside, and takes in the vista from Mt. Washington on the way to the Land of Enchantment, where most of the second act takes place.
Orr tweaks the production every season, and gains further variety from the combinations of his rotating casts. "The Nutcracker" certainly worked its charms at the noon performance on Sunday at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Company Presents 'The Nutcracker'

Canon-McMillan, PA Patch: Celebrate the holiday season with Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Company’s 28th-annual full-length performance of "The Nutcracker."
Internationally recognized for the excellence of its dancers, PYBC stands alone in bringing to the South Hills the brilliant, timeless and unrivaled choreography of George Balanchine’s “Snowflakes.”

Why we love the Nutcracker

calgaryherald: Spotlight
Alberta Ballet presents The Nutcracker through Dec. 24 at the Jubilee Auditorium. Tickets: 403-245-4549 or
Although not a hit when it first landed on the boards in St. Petersburg in December 1892, The Nutcracker finally found its footing in the middle of the last century and hasn't stopped moving since.
Seriously, this time of year you can't toss a sugar plum and not hit a production.
"It's what you do at Christmas," said Alberta Ballet's choreographer, Edmund Stripe. "Your list is eat turkey, decorate a tree, see The Nutcracker."

Nutcracker gets naughtier with Dolls' new spin That rumbling under your feet is the sound of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Marius Petipa and Peter Tchaikovsky rolling in their graves.
Of course, the 19th-century writer, choreographer and composer might not be altogether surprised that Ballet of the Dolls has once again tampered with their traditional holiday confection "The Nutcracker." The first time around, choreographer Myron Johnson put Barbie and Ken in the story. Now it's the burlesque divas of Le Cirque Rouge, led by Amy Buchanan. Suffice to say, that the goody-two-shoes Sugar Plum Fairy is nowhere to be found in this totally twisted endeavor.

A joyful 'New Nutcracker' by Cincinnati Ballet The program cover touts “The New Nutcracker” as the “World Premiere of the Decade.”
Well, maybe. The decade is young. We have a long way to go.
But it’s the holiday season, so perhaps we should forgive Cincinnati Ballet a bit of overstatement.
Besides, the all-new $2 million production of “Nutcracker” that the company premiered Thursday evening is downright spectacular.

A 'Nutcracker' with a beat and burlesque flair

Seattle Times Newspaper: Emcee Jasper McCann has it right when he says, "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker" has become "a new Seattle holiday tradition." It's to the point where, when I hear swing-band arrangements of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," visions of tassels and pasties start flying around in my head.

'Nutcracker' comes to the Ragland Monday

Herald and News: A holiday tradition returns to the Ross Ragland Theater with a Monday, Dec. 19 performance of the Eugene Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker.”
Magic in the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy will include skaters in the snow and Clara’s ride on a carousel horse accompanied, of course, by Tchaikovsky’s gloriously magical music. As always, the lavishly produced and choreographed show will feature elaborate costumes.

Nutcracker performance is an eye-opener

Montreal Gazette: They cheered even as the lights went down. For 2,800 kids age 6 to 11, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens' performance of The Nutcracker at Place des Arts Tuesday afternoon was a voyage as full of discovery as Clara's trip to the Land of the Sweets.
For the past several years, the Montreal company has staged free performances of the Tchaikovsky ballet for regional kids, most of whom come from families without the financial means to buy tickets to the ballet.

Star in The Nutcracker says dance helps her get through hard times without her father

ABC Tampa: This weekend you can see The Nutcracker at the Straz Center, and the girl who is playing Clara, has a unique story.
Gabriela Schiefer says she feels like she is dancing in a dream. The teen has been dancing just four years, and she already snagged a crucial role in The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker: backstage at the Royal Ballet

Telegraph: In the ballet world – and for many beyond it – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Adapted from Hoffmann’s children’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, it was first performed at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in December 1892, shortly before Tchaikovsky’s death.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 10 Most Hipster Campuses

collegemagazine: Now that “hipsters” are close behind the Kardashians in the race for world domination, we were curious as to where these art-loving, flannel-wearing, vegan-eating youths are going to college. By researching dozens of schools and assessing a few criteria – location, how many awards their college radio stations have earned, what their fashion programs are like, how their liberal arts and fine arts programs stack up, whether or not they offer sustainable and vegan-friendly eating, and the number of boutiques and thrift stores nearby – we put together our list of the Top 10 Most Hipster Campuses.

George Clooney to Star in Dustin Lance Black's Proposition 8 Play

Backstage: George Clooney has signed to star in the West Coast premiere of "8," a stage play chronicling the historic federal court trial overturning Proposition 8, the ballot measure that denied gay and lesbian Californians the right to marry.
The production -- directed by Rob Reiner and written by Dustin Lance Black -- will run one night only at Los Angeles' Wilshire Ebell Theatre on March 3. Proceeds will benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights in its national fight for marriage equality.

SAG/AFTRA Merger Committee Sets Unprecedented Meeting to Work on Plan

Backstage: They've been working plenty hard, but now they're amping up to another level. "They" would be the SAG/AFTRA merger committee, and in a few weeks they'll holding what must be an unprecedented eight- or nine-day meeting, AFTRA and SAG said Monday.

'Book of Mormon' Co-Director in Talks to Helm 'Austin Powers' Musical

Backstage: Casey Nicholaw, who co-directed "The Book of Mormon" as well as the stage version of "Elf," is in talks to direct the "Austin Powers" musical being developed by Mike Myers and Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.
Colin Callender, the former HBO Films president whose run included the acclaimed "Band of Brothers" and "Angels in America," and partner Sonia Friedman are producing the musical, which will be set to the music of Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello.

Equity in Cultural Funding: Let Them Bake Pies

Arlene Goldbard: Grantmakers in the Arts has been sponsoring an Online Forum on Equity in Arts Funding, inspired by The National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy’s (NCRP) recent report, authored by Holly Sidford, Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy. Nearly two dozen contributors involved in arts funding as researchers, foundation officers, public agency leaders, service organization leaders, and consultants have weighed in on the report’s findings, which document disparities in cultural grantmaking that turn on race, ethnicity, scale, subject, and other factors. (Several of the bloggers were advisers to the study or directly involved in making it happen.) It provides a useful foundation for a discussion of equity, one I want to go much deeper. This essay suggests how.

How to Accomplish More by Doing Less

Harvard Business Review: Two people of equal skill work in the same office. For the sake of comparison, let's say both arrive at work at 9 am each day, and leave at 7 pm.
Bill works essentially without stopping, juggling tasks at his desk and running between meetings all day long. He even eats lunch at his desk. Sound familiar?

From Artist to Artistic Director

CirqueClub: Neelanthi has been Artistic Director for Saltimbanco since 2010. Her professional journey shows her love for the stage, which has grown as her career has progressed. She started a career as a professional dancer touring with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal — a lifestyle she simply could not get enough of. In 2007, she joined Dralion to play Oceane. As coaching began to play a bigger role in her career, Neelanthi left the stage to become Assistant to the Artistic Director and eventually Artistic Director on Saltimbanco.

Stage Truss Collapse in Italy Kills One, Injures Seven

Theatre Safety Blog: The concert trussing for a Jovanotti concert in the Palazzetto dello Sport an arena in northeastern Italy collapsed as it was being erected and a 20 year old student worker, Francesco Pinna, died from injuries sustained. Italian news agency ANSA reported that rescue crews said the stage structure was nearing completion when the front buckled and collapsed, crushing workers below. The accident took place at about 2 pm. Around twenty technicians were erecting the stage, lighting, and PA system when the structure collapsed. Rescue services intervened to take the injured workers to hospital.

Lending a Hand to Titus

Prop Agenda: Our last show of this calendar year was Titus Andronicus, which, depending on the budget, could be a prop person’s dream or nightmare. Meghan Buchanan was the prop master on this show, and her company, Paper Mâché Monkey, was handling most of the acquiring and construction of the props. Since King Lear was winding down, I offered to lend a hand, and as luck would have it, they needed a hand. Jay O. Sanders hand, to be precise; after he cuts it off, it shows up in a later scene.

Rockettes wrap up audience in a 3-D spectacular

Post Gazette: This year, Radio City Music Hall has a new way of putting the spectacle in its Christmas Spectacular. The venerable institution unveiled an updated version of its 79-year-old production, complete with 3DLIVE and numerous digital projections.
Apparently the whole idea was high on a lot of people's holiday lists. With festive crowds virtually shoulder to shoulder around New York City's Rockefeller Center, the long queue stretching down the block for the spectacular looked daunting but moved along at a comfortable pace.

Broadway plays take different approaches

Post Gazette: In Wednesday's reviews of "Seminar" and "Chinglish," I ventured that the best, most demanding of the four new Broadway plays I just saw is "Venus in Fur," and that the one we're most likely to see first in Pittsburgh is "Other Desert Cities."
Less than a week later, I still think that's what I think. If you're a Pittsburgher who's seen all four, see if you agree.

China Opens the Stage Curtains Watching from the front row at 8 Space, a new theater in the southwestern city of Chengdu, Lei Bing hooted with laughter as three actresses in panda costumes slapped playing cards on a table and, in wisecracking dialogue, laid bare their struggle for love, dignity and affordable housing in the play “Fight the Landlord.”

Staging Your Own Theatrical Table Reading I’m a fan of reading plays — new ones, old ones — as literature, and I have written before about how Americans are missing out by not keeping up, on the page, with the best theater in New York City and elsewhere. The only thing better than reading a play yourself is reading it with people you like, a fact I am reminded of by the opening tomorrow of Roman Polanski’s new film “Carnage.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Christmas Carol' a dickens of a show

Post Gazette: The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera is putting on a brand-new Christmas show this season: "A Musical Christmas Carol."
Yes, this is the 20th year the group has performed the "play with music" based on the Charles Dickens' book "A Christmas Carol" that was published way, way back in 1843.
But it's all brand-new to the children who've never seen or read it.

Theater Notes: After Hours show

Post Gazette: Billy Porter will emcee an After Hours concert with the stars immediately following the performance of "Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir" on Friday. At the conclusion of Luke Macfarlane's one-man show (approximately 9:45 p.m.), Mr. Porter will be joined by fellow Broadway veteran Lenora Nemetz, Daphne Alderson, Chris Laitta, Bria Walker and more.

Anything Goes Will Embark on National Tour in Fall 2012 A national tour of the 2011 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival Anything Goes will launch in October 2012 at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, OH, Roundabout Theatre Company announced on Dec. 12.
Following its Cleveland engagement, the Kathleen Marshall-directed production of the Cole Porter musical comedy — set aboard a transatlantic ocean liner — will play 25 other cities including major markets like Los Angeles.

Actor Pens Open Letter To IMDB; Says He's Years Younger Than They Claim

Backstage: Dear IMDb: Actors have a tendency toward narcissism, so I try not to Google myself too often. Of course, occasionally I need reassurance that there is, in fact, a body of work attached to my name.
But reassurance is not what I get when I click on my name at IMDb, the industry's bible for factual information about movies, television shows and the people who make them. Yes, my credits are listed (more or less correctly) on the site. But IMDb informs me that Robert Lesser is a 73-year-old gentleman who was born in Los Angeles on May 28, 1938.

Stop Being So Damn Productive

LifeHacker: A couple weeks ago an article titled If you're busy, you're doing something wrong floated around the internets. It was about a study comparing the crème de la crème of violinists at an elite school in Germany with those that are just the crème.
Think of it like comparing Senna and Schumacher. Newton and Feyman. Even Turing and Torvalds.
The study found that despite putting in the same amount of measurable work (hours spent) those at the very top report being significantly less busy than those who are merely near the top. They also report having heaps of free time and generally having a rather easygoing lifestyle.

Occupy Lincoln Center (part 4)

Theatre Ideas: This is a question so often asked of the Occupy Movement: what do you want, what are your demands, what are your solutions. While I am not an expert in the Occupy Movement, my impression is that it is comprised of a very diverse group of people who represent different priorities and different ideas of what is to be done, but that they agree about one thing: the income disparity in the US is wrong. Their protest is a moral one that points at gross inequity that has ramifications for all aspects of American society, and declares it wrong.

A Slushy in the Face: Musical Theater Music and the Uncool

HowlRound: Glee, in its presentation of Broadway songs as contemporary pop music, shamelessly auto-tuned and lip-synched, has helped to make musical theater more popular now than ever—The Book of Mormon reached #3 on the Billboard charts (the first Broadway cast album to break the Top Ten since Hair), High School Musical is an institution, and Spider-Man continues to make astounding amounts of money in spite of everything. But, as the high school microcosm of Glee tells its characters (and by extension its fans), musical theater is still decidedly uncool. Why is this?

“A New Twist on CirqueCon”

cirquefascination: Over the years, CirqueCon has journeyed across oceans and transcended borders, reaching fans of Cirque du Soleil in Canada, North America, and Japan to great success. And while it had only been a few short months since we’d wrapped up our very successful multi-cultural event in Monterrey, Mexico (CirqueCon 2009; thanks to all!), before long we were ready to jump back into the fray and announce our next exciting CirqueCon adventure – CirqueCon 2010: New York City.

Goodspeed fest lineup set

Variety: New musicals about a gay men's chorus in Kansas, a family surviving a great flood and the dogs of Chernobyl will make up Goodspeed Musicals' seventh annual Festival of New Arts, running Jan. 13-15 in East Haddam, Conn.
Fest at the Goodspeed Opera House unspools with a staged reading of "Harmony, Kansas," music by Anna Jacobs, book and lyrics by Bill Nelson.

Children answering culture's call

The Australian: WHEN the Sydney Opera House this year presented a stage show based on Julia Donaldson's popular children's book The Gruffalo, promotional flags were hung in the city.
My then three-year-old shouted "the Gruffalo!" when she saw them and asked what they were for.
When I told her there was a stage show featuring the menacing beast with "terrible teeth in his terrible jaws" there was no question, she wanted to go.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

‘Penelope’ playwright reinvents epic Greek poem

Chicago Sun-Times: Enda Walsh is often referred to as an “exciting new Irish playwright.” Actually, he’s not all that new.
The author of nearly 20 plays, Walsh first gained notice for 1996’s “Disco Pigs,” the tragic portrait of two misfit teens. And while his plays haven’t garnered attention in this country like those of Conor McPherson and Martin McDonagh whose works have reached Broadway, Walsh is making inroads with plays that reflect complex Irish storytelling traditions.

El Stories: Holiday Train by Waltzing Mechanics (3 stars) and Crossed: How Going South Flipped Our Script by Teatro Luna (2 stars) Anyone who regularly rides public transit has their stories. Buses and train cars are delicate ecosystems. Smashed up against your fellow Chicagoans and learning far more about these complete strangers than you ever wanted, the ride home from work can turn into short-attention-span theater faster than you can say "Doors are closing."
The CTA's annual holiday train, however, inspires a special brand of lunacy — and touching whimsy. There you are, waiting on a frigid platform, when suddenly this thing festooned in lights and tinsel comes barreling into the station, replete with a waving Santa. "It's strange. It's surreal. It's overdone," as a CTA riders notes in Thomas Murray's latest "L" train-themed show.

Chris Jones picks the top 10 Chicago theater shows in 2011 Here are the top 10 theater shows of the more than 200 I saw in Chicago this year -- in order of merit, as reductive as that inevitably ends up being, and without regard to their point of origin. Some were forged from distant points; most were conceived right here in our town. All came with astonishments.

LIDA health-care epic: Home theater for what ails us

The Denver Post: The LIDA Project, an experimental theatrical collective best known for infecting audiences' minds with disturbing takes on everything from Columbine to 9/11 to the global economic crisis, has now set its sights squarely on health.
"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" is the 17-year-old company's most comprehensive and welcoming undertaking to date. This unprecedented, original epic is actually a series of six separate plays that examine "health and care," as artistic director Brian Freeland describes it, "as well as mortality and dying in the United States."

Theater on wheels: 'The Car Plays' If you think there's already enough drama on your daily commute, wait until "The Car Plays: San Diego" rolls into town.
The just-announced project, coming in February, is the second production in La Jolla Playhouse's "Without Walls" series of site-specific works, and it rides on a seriously clever premise: Five 10-minute plays, each of which takes place inside a different car.

Acting's role: Opening new worlds For an actor, stepping into somebody else’s shoes — even if those shoes are figurative and that somebody is fictional — is the very essence of the art.
For a person with autism, seeing the world from someone else’s perspective can be one of the very hardest things to achieve.

Tracy Letts, Ian Barford, Scott Jaeck, Yasen Peyankov Pursue Penelope in Chicago Premiere, Opening Dec. 11 The Chicago premiere of Enda Walsh's Penelope, the absurdist-flavored take on the tale of the Trojan War wife who waits for her soldier husband and is courted by unsuitable suitors, opens Dec. 11 following previews from Dec. 1 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Downstairs Theatre. Amy Morton directs.

Heather Knight part 2 Social roboticist Heather Knight explains how she merged her desire for storytelling into her work with robots.

Tragic inspirational hero Randy Pausch’s muse? CMU’s drama professor

Innovation Investment Journal: It all begins with an existential crisis: Professor Marinelli tries to Google himself (just before Google exists) and learns of the man who, in 1909, founded the futurism movement, Filippo Marinetti

How Hugh Jackman’s Two Sides Make Women Swoon IT takes two to be Hugh. The most adored performer on Broadway at the moment is, without question, Hugh Jackman, both of him. “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway,” at the Broadhurst Theater, has created this season’s most virulent case of box office fever by presenting the snazziest single double act New York has known since Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner played Siamese twins in “Side Show” 14 years ago.

Donation to Library Opens New Portal to Caffe Cino JOSEPH CINO didn’t set out to be a pioneer. He began presenting plays at his Cornelia Street cafe on a whim, as an offshoot of the poetry readings that expressed his desire to create a place where artistic types would want to spend time. A dreamer and newcomer to Manhattan by way of Buffalo, he opened that establishment, Caffe Cino, in 1958 and over time became a veritable spokesman for the intimate and uncommercial productions mounted on its shabby, makeshift stage.

George Street Hosts Parody, ‘The Nutcracker and I’ Two score and several Christmases ago, three boys were growing up in Needham, Mass. Childhood friends, they went on to forge individual careers in show business.

Molière Meets Punch and Judy You have never seen a bosom like this one. It begins at the armpits and droops down to the waist, a sort of humpback in reverse. Like any good bosom, it can heave on cue. And its rhythmic flappings signal the kind of lewd-icrous jokes we are in for at the Yale Repertory Theater’s production of Molière’s classic comedy “A Doctor in Spite of Himself.”

John Hurt’s Roles Befit His Name Lantern-bearers led the crowd through the darkened streets of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on Tuesday night to a lavish dinner after a performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Gala.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Andrew Lloyd Webber May Be Readying Sunset Boulevard for Film Close-Up With live stage films of Love Never Dies and The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall rolling out, Andrew Lloyd Webber is again looking at a film of his Tony Award-winning musical Sunset Boulevard.

Top 10 Ways to Create a More Focused and Productive Work Environment

Lifehacker: Although the office is supposed to be a place for productive and efficient work, that isn't always the case. In fact, sometimes your workplace can turn into one of the least effective locations for getting things done. Instead of succumbing to reduced productivity, here are ten ways to help you create a more focused work environment.

Performers' union negotiates new TV contract Actors and other performers who appear on such shows as "Saturday Night Live," "Days of Our Lives" and "Dancing with the Stars" would get modest pay raises under a new contract secured by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Smartsheet helps transform a school district

Online Collaboration: Smartsheet brings spreadsheets into a cloud-enabled, social world. Currently, members of 12,000 teams and organizations are using Smartsheet. Teams can build their own Smartsheet with the ability to securely attach files, share by the row, and get alerts. Or they can use one of Smartsheet’s 243 templates. These templates include spreadsheets for project management (with Gantt and dependencies), sales pipelines, expense reports, time tracking with rate tables, office move checklists, marathon training schedules, and the ability to collect research via Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Never Argue With Idiots

TheatreFace: They will drag you down to their level, and then they will beat you with experience.
It sometimes seems like a never-ending battle when you are trying to get people to do things your way. Especially if your way takes more time, money, or effort. You can throw your arms up in the air and walk-away mumbling, or you can explode at them, or you can stop and take a deep breath and try one more time to get your point across.

Nonprofit theaters spy hope

Variety: After a tough couple of years, things are finally looking up for legit nonprofits, but they're still living hand-to-mouth on a day-to-day liquidity basis.
Those are among the findings of a couple of economic reports recently released by Theater Communications Group, the grant-making, advocacy and networking org of U.S. theater nonprofits.

Why the Odds Are Still Stacked Against Women in Hollywood

The Hollywood Reporter: Given the number of impressive women who wield power in film and television -- many of whom are honored in this issue -- surely women are making huge strides toward equality in Hollywood, right?

‘Blood and Gifts’ Brings Afghanistan to the Experts “Blood and Gifts,” J. T. Rogers’s play about the history of America’s involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s, has gotten strong reviews from the critics, who have praised its subtle depiction of a Central Intelligence Agency operative who thinks he is financing anti-Soviet freedom fighters only to see them morph into something more menacing.

Friday, December 09, 2011

CMU tackles a tough play in the chilling 'Mad Forest'

Post Gazette: Oblique, staccato, disjointed, "Mad Forest" is not an easy play. But it delivers a political wallop. And how often does a play written in immediate response to a historical moment have such contemporary resonance 20 years later?

Rose Brand Extends Scholarship Deadline

Stage Directions: Rose Brand has extended the deadline for their scholarship application. The new deadline will be Jan. 16, 2012.


The Ghost Light Collective: This term, the Collective played host to Anne D’Zmura, head of directing at California State University at Long Beach. Anne is an expert in both devised theatre and eco-drama (drama that has a “green,” or environmental, political agenda). We redrafted our regular fall schedule so that the entire Collective, and many of our friends, could participate in a course offering called, you guessed it, “Devised Eco-Drama.”

_Dog Sees God_ reveals bittersweet transition

The Tartan Online: “Grief ain’t good” is sloppily spray painted against a yellow background, a reference to the iconic black and yellow polo shirt Charlie Brown is so famously associated with. This cleverly-constructed set design and spray painted message set the tone for the play before the production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead began this past Saturday.

Tweets and a Show

Technology in the Arts: The lights dim, the orchestra tunes one final time, and the audience begins to liveblog. Perhaps you’ve heard about operas creating apps or navigating an art museum with your iPhone, but have you considered tweeting during your next trip to the theatre or musical hall? While most venues view cell phones as a rude violation of decorum, others have embraced this modern culture of mobile communication in an effort to enhance the artistic experience. Enter the “Tweet Seat”

PHOTO CALL: Molly Ranson, Marin Mazzie and Cast of Carrie Meet the Press The much-anticipated New York revival of the 1980's cult musical Carrie, starring Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie and Molly Ranson, greeted the press with a Dec. 9 photo op.

Ridiculous Reptile tradition: Tattoo Friday

Berkeley Rep Blog: Some offices do “casual Friday.” Clearly, Berkeley Rep is too unique to partake in such a trite ritual. What do we do instead? Fancy you should ask! Every Friday morning no matter which campus our ducklings find themselves on, we all have one thing in common: temporary tattoos.

Occupying the Arts Shouldn't Be a One-Time Thing

ThinkProgress: I’m sorry I missed Occupy Broadway, which sounds like a joyful, entertaining evening of live street theater. And of course I agree with Benjamin Shepherd, who told Wired that “Social movements are about imaging a more just, democratic, joyous set of social relations and I think that begins with art. We’re using public space to create a more colorful image of what our streets could look like through open-access performance.” But I’ll admit I’m a bit more excited about the long-range planning going on in the Occupy Comics movement, which has a three-stage plan for 2012, starting with digital comics, moving to a limited-edition paper run, and culminating in a hardcover edition.

Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Clothes on Film: Playing computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace embodies the character in such a exhaustive way that picturing anyone else in the role was, until recently, impossible. Defined by copious piercings, a ragged biker leather jacket and skinny jeans, Lisbeth is a blatant symbol of unconformity. From author Stieg Larsson’s creation to costume designer Cilla Rörby’s interpretation for the screen, Lisbeth harks back to the mid-1970s; the early days of punk and a desire to skew superficial expectations.

Gypsy of the Year Competition Raises $4.8 Million for BC/EFA

Stage Directions: Big congrats to the 53 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies who raised a record $4,895,253 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, during their 23rd annual Gypsy of the Year drive. The Gypsy of the Year competition pits ensemble members of Broadway shows in good-spirited competition with each other to win the title of Gypsy of the Year, and is combined with a six-week drive to raise funds for BC/EFA during shows.

Secrets of Rise of Planet of the Apes' Epic Golden Gate Bridge Battle!

I09: The bloody final battle between humans and apes was the climax of this summer's blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But how did Fox capture a human-vs.-animal showdown on the legendary Golden Gate Bridge?
Simple: Weta Digital, and lots and lots of ape-men in grey performance-capture pajamas. Watch how this film brought an imaginary war to life, in this exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the DVD extras.

On Being a Noob at Networking Events and Conferences

The Savvy Intern by... - StumbleUpon: As a student, recent grad, or newbie to the work force, you might be (and you SHOULD be) going out of your way to get to all kinds of events and meet people – happy hours, panels, workshops, conferences.
But once you’re there, they can be a little intimidating – everyone knows everyone else, there’s the “cool kids” table at the back, and suddenly you’re back in middle school, wondering if you’re going to have to eat your lunch in the bathroom stall again.
There are a few tactics you can have up your sleeve to make sure you don’t end up without a date at the prom conference.

On Location: ISS prop house going great guns in Hollywood On a shelf in his Sunland office, Gregg Bilson Jr. displays one of his proudest props: a Nambu semiautomatic pistol that a Japanese soldier used for a suicide scene in “Flags of Our Fathers.”
The weapon was among nearly 600 guns that Bilson’s company, Independent Studio Services, shipped to Iceland for the 2006 Clint Eastwood World War II movie.
One of the Southland’s largest prop houses is going great guns in Hollywood. Over the last decade, Bilson’s family-run operation has emerged as one of the largest suppliers of arms to the movie and television industries, building a $20-million-a-year business by offering a one-stop shop for props, especially the firing kind.

Broadway Strikes an Autism-Friendly Chord

Yahoo! News: For most Americans, attending the theater is just one more form of entertainment. But for Katie Sweeney and her family, a recent trip to Broadway was true cause for celebration.
"It was absolute redemption," said Sweeney, recalling the afternoon in October when she, her husband Michael, 16-year-old son Dylan, and 14-year-old son Dusty -- who has autism -- caught a unique performance of "The Lion King."
"It was a special, special moment," she said, because the performance was the first-ever staging of a Broadway musical specially adapted for an audience of people with autism.

Could a Reconceived 'Cinderella' Get Invited to a Broadway Ball? The first Broadway production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” is in the works for the 2012-13 theater season, with a new libretto by Douglas Carter Beane (“Lysistrata Jones,” “Sister Act”) based on the 1957 television musical that starred Julie Andrews, the producer Robyn Goodman said on Thursday.

Catholics protest against 'blasphemous' play in Paris

The Guardian: One of Paris's most prestigious theatres was being protected by riot police and guard-dog patrols on Thursday after it became the latest target in a wave of Catholic protests across France against so-called "blasphemous" plays.
The head of the Théâtre du Rond-Point on the Champs-Elysées complained of death threats in the runup to Thursday's premiere of the play Golgota Picnic by the Madrid-based, Argentinian writer Rodrigo García. Two men reported to have links to fundamentalist Catholic groups were arrested at the weekend while attempting to disable the theatre's security system.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Mad Forest

Pittsburgh City Paper: There are always two emotions running side by side whenever I see a Caryl Churchill play. And the Carnegie Mellon Drama production of Mad Forest, her examination of the 1989 Romanian revolution, is no exception.
The first reaction is always shame. Churchill is blessed with one of the most awesome intellects of the 20th century, and with each play she drives herself and the audience to use every bit of comprehension we have. Meanwhile, I use what little intelligence I've got left on things like crossword puzzles and movie magazines.
My second, and overbidding, emotion is sheer awe. Churchill's vision of what theater can be is as broad as it is deep. Mad Forest isn't just a play about the Romania revolution and the dispatch of the Ceauşescus -- like that's not enough. It's also an examination into how theater can be used to tell a story.

School of Drama tests boundaries of theater

The Tartan Online: A blood-lusting vampire, a rebellious son, and a bigoted father were among the characters that took the stage Friday night in the School of Drama’s production of Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest. Set in the years surrounding the 1989 Romanian Revolution, the play explores life in Romania under the dictatorship of communist leader Nicolae Ceaucescu, the violent uprising that overthrew him, and the ensuing period of insecurity. Infused with documentary-like elements and magic realism, Mad Forest draws attention to human drama during a little-known revolution and tests boundaries between theater and film, fact and fiction.

Review: Quantum tweaks a classic with 'Fat Beckett'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Brainy theater critics and academics have long regaled us with the idea that Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" is really very funny.
But, most productions prefer to emphasize the more dour and philosophical side of two men waiting at a crossroads, beneath a barren tree for someone -- or maybe something -- that never arrives.
Irish theater critic Vivian Mercier has famously described it as "a play where nothing happens, twice."

Review: Laughs come as fast as clues in 'Mask of Moriarty'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre's Christmas gift to area theatergoers is a hilarious and highly entertaining production delightfully free of holiday references or iconography.
Instead, "The Mask of Moriarty," which plays through Dec. 17 in the Charity Randall Theatre at the Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland, transports us, not to the London of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" but to that of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

'Christmas Carol' is still very much alive for CLO's Bob Crachit

Post gazette: The press notes for Pittsburgh CLO's 20th "A Musical Christmas Carol" say that Jeff Howell "is a veteran of numerous productions," but he knew how many right away.
"This will by my 17th, and I've been Bob Cratchit every time," he said. "I was Scrooge for just one performance, I had to go in for Edmund [Lyndeck]. That was a lot of fun."
He missed those three years because he was in other shows, but the holidays were not quite the same without that tradition.

2 comedians deftly juggle Beckett

Post Gazette: Fat isn't a word you associate with Samuel Beckett. Try angular. Wry. Spare.
But "Fat Beckett," a new comedy by Gab Cody in collaboration with Rita Reis, isn't actually Beckett. The world premiere staged by Quantum Theatre is a response, an extension or parody of the most influential and perhaps greatest play of the 20th century, Beckett's "Waiting for Godot."

'OCTAVIA' indicates maturing of Staycee Pearl group

Post Gazette: It's always rewarding to watch a young company take a quantum leap forward. Such was the case with Staycee Pearl dance project, just halfway into its second year and unveiling "OCTAVIA" at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater last weekend.
The title refers to Octavia Butler, a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant awardee and best known as a science fiction writer. But the author was more than that to Ms. Pearl, who immersed herself in Ms. Butler's writings for nearly 20 years.

Clues in 'The Mask of Moriarty' lead to a zany time

Post Gazette: In "The Mask of Moriarty," the late playwright Hugh Leonard has played upon the comic potential of iconic characters, influenced as much by Benny Hill as he is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The thick London fog pouring onto the stage as the play opens can't mask the satiric intentions as Sherlock Holmes faces off, so to speak, with his arch nemesis Moriarty.

Miller troupe to celebrate resilience of human spirit

Post Gazette: Turn on the television or browse the Web, and the world can look like a pretty bleak place: Nations are warring, terrorists are plotting and economies are spiraling further into the red.
But humans are a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sort of species and can overcome whatever life hurls at them, says Mary Miller, founder and artistic director of MillerDANCE.

Fat Beckett

Pittsburgh City Paper: Quantum Theatre has embarked on another maiden voyage. It's world-premiering Fat Beckett, created by Pittsburgh's Gab Cody with Portuguese/Luxembourger Rita Reis.
They chose to spin off Samuel Beckett's bleak conundrum of futility Waiting for Godot, given that Beckett's estate prohibits women from playing the roles. They also express a fondness for "the French language [and] serious comedy." A valid impetus: Beckett's play was first published in French, and the work has always been open to multiple interpretations pointed up with comic touches.

Theatre Festival in Black & White

Pittsburgh City Paper: Compendiums of new plays are a mixed bag, sometimes with more tricks than treats. In its eighth incarnation, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.'s Theatre Festival in Black & White -- presented in two evenings of four one-acts each -- seems to have kept its soapboxes but lost its edginess.

Two local stage artists retool Waiting for Godot from a contemporary female perspective

Pittsburgh City Paper: Like most of Samuel Beckett's work, Waiting for Godot takes place in a world of poverty, failure and loss. It's a world over which figuratively looms the gaunt, hawklike visage of Beckett himself, iron-gray hair bristling, blue eyes piercing.
Nonetheless -- or perhaps inevitably -- a few years ago, writer and performer Gab Cody announced to grad-school classmate Rita Reis, "We should do a show called Fat Beckett." And, recalls Cody, "She said, ‘OK!'"

The Mask of Moriarty

Pittsburgh City Paper: For those of us who have misspent much of our lives wallowing in the Golden Age of British Crime -- both fiction and fact, paper and celluloid -- Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre's production of The Mask of Moriarty is an unbridled romp of knowing chuckles, nodding guffaws and the occasional horselaugh. Hugh Leonard's 1985 play leaves few stops unpulled in this dissection of that first and greatest of franchise detectives, Sherlock Holmes. Director Alan Stanford, the show's original Dr. Watson, wraps it as a pretty package for holiday entertainment.