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edjames
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A couple of items..

 

Rumor has it Dancing With the Stars hunk, Mario Lopez is headed to the Big White Way for a turn in the revival of "A Chorus Line."!

 

Second, if you haven't seen "August:Osage County" get thee to the theater immediately. At first I thought a 3 hour drama would be a bit too much but this is a truly great drama. Great acting and sure to be at the Tony nominee list later this year. I haven't see a show this good in years.

 

I also saw "The Seafarer" which I also enjoyed but having come from an Irish heritage, I could understand all that booze! Once again, a terrific cast.

 

Next up is "39 Steps."

 

ED

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Guest TorontoJared

I'm excited about going back to NYC in early February and seeing a couple of shows with a client. I haven't heard much about the two showos that he chose and was wondering if anyone had seen them and what they'd thought of them. We'll be seeing "The Little Mermaid" and "Legally Blond". I am especially interested in seeing "The Little Mermaid" for I've quite enjoyed the other Disney musicals and am curious as to how they will show being underwater and swimming.

 

Also, in regards to theatre, here in Toronto the North American premier of "Dirty Dancing" has opened for an unlimited run. Ticket sales are incredible and I've heard that the dancing is magnifiscent. I am hoping to get the chance to see it in the future. One of my good friends saw it and she said that it was a ton of fun to watch.

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Mermaid has gotten awful reviews. That being said its Disney and aimed at probably 12 year old girl demographic, so not exactly aspiring to be great art. I had tickets during the strike, but obviously didn't get to see it, but after the reviews haven't been that anxious to get another ticket. Legally Blonde I have seen and was prepared not to like it, but guess what, I did. Its an entertaining piece of fluff. I saw August Osage County last night and it is amazing; the best play I've seen in ages. Truly monstrous characters, but yet actually more laughs that Mel Brooks last two outings together. But obviously very dark. Highly recommended

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Easily overlooked in this connection - "Come Back, Little Sheba." This is a 1950 play by William Inge, a popular play writer during the 1950s. To the extent people think of it today, it is that it was Shirley Booth's ticket to fame as an actress. She played the bored housewife with the alcoholic husband, who was pining over her runaway dog, Little Sheba.

 

Well, I went with a friend last night. Guys, there's terrific male pulchritude on display, right on the stage of the Biltmore Theater.

 

OK, this bored housewife and her chiropractor hubby are having trouble making ends meet, so they take in a boarder, a college girl. And she's taking an art course, including sketching live models. And she invites one of the live models (with whom she has a bit of a dalliance) over to the house to "pose" for her. And he's a track star at the college - a javelin thrower. And he's a hot young actor, recent Juilliard theater arts graduate Brian J. Smith. And he poses wearing only his track shorts, and has a gorgeous, muscular bod with cute legs and a great smile. Fun to watch, live on stage and big as life. Anybody with a thing for dirty-blond jocks will have an orgasm...

 

And that's not all, at least three other men in the supporting cast -- the milkman, the Western Union messenger, and the boarder's fiancee -- are young cuties. The bored housewife likes to invite into the house the men that show up of a normal day to chat them up. Like the postman. Like the milkman. (Remember milkmen? Not old enough???) Anyway, this milkman is a hunky young guy who likes to lift weights and has photos pending for publication at a muscle mag. (I know, who knew, 1950 legit Broadway play.....?) And he shows off his biceps for her to feel, and wears a sexy white milkman's uniform that came out of the same catalogue as those Navy uniforms we all drool over.... And later in the play he comes back for another delivery and leaves said housewife with a copy of the muscle mag with his pic in it. In Act II, college girl's out of town fiancee shows up - a handsome young man in a suit that doesn't quite reveal he's reasonably well built as well....

 

Now, the javelin thrower was exactly my type and I was practically drooling when he came out on stage practically naked and started striking poses. Wow, those armpits are hot!!! And my theater companion, who likes them more dark and butch, was practically falling out of his seat when the milkman, boasting about how strong he was, dropped to the floor and started doing push-ups, biceps flaring....

 

Oh, the play? Well, the first act has its moments, apart from Mr. Javelin Thrower flaunting his smooth, well-defined pecs.... do I have a one-track mind? And the second act gets pretty exciting, what with domestic violence and all....

 

Anyway, you get quite a package with Sheba. A brilliant performance from the leading players, lots of male beauty on display from the supporting cast, and a classic mid-20th century theatrical hit of the "well-made-play" variety.

 

So keep it on your radar for a Manhattan theater visit. It's a Manhattan Theatre Club production, so it may be a limited run, but the performance I saw this weekend was not totally sold out - there were a few empty seats.

 

And, as for Mr. Brian J. Smith... a little on-line checking shows he's been busy with theater and film, so I quickly ordered up the DVD of a 2006 indy film called "Hate Crime" in which he plays the same-sex partner of a young man who is assaulted in a fag-bashing incident. So, Mr. Smith will play gay parts. (In the on-line interviews and articles I saw, there is no mention of his sexual orientation... but one of the interviews was on a gay blog, and he's appeared as a gay man in a gay independent film.... Any dots to connect? One of the roles he played at Juilliard was "Juliet" in "Shakespeare's R&J," a show in which a bunch of English schoolboys stage the Bard's classic love story without the participation of any women. The Juliet gets kissed quite passionately in some productions....)

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Thanks UWSMAN2 for your "alternative review" of "Come Back Little Sheba." Ben Brantley quietly alluded to the buff men on stage in his review in today's NY Times. Your review has perked my interest in this production and I may get a ticket!

 

I saw "The 39 Steps" last night and had a great time watching this recent West End import. Funny, fast, clever, well-acted and well-directed, this little 4 person farce has a lot going for it. If your a classic Alfred Hitchcock buff and enjoy a good silly laugh, this show is a fun evening of theater.

 

Alas, several long-running shows have closed or are on their way out. "The Drowsy Chaperone" closed. "Rent" and "The Color Purple" have posted closing notices.

 

Next up for me...."November."

 

ED

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I saw a preview of November a few days before it opened. Nathan Lane has plenty of talent. He knows how to deliver a punch-line correctly, he never steps on a line, and he tends to be better than the material he's given. In this play he's hilarious. The audience was in stitches much of the time.

 

And there is a gay subplot (which is made even funnier when you know Lane, who plays the somewhat homophobic president, is gay).

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I disagree somewhat on "Rock 'n" Roll." Stoppard never fully convinced me of the link between rock music and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. But, the play is very interesting and beautifully acted, by all

three leads: Brian Cox, Sinead Cusack, Rufus Sewell. Seth Fisher as the The Piper is great eye candy.

 

The New York "Sunday in the Park with George" revival is scaled down from the original Broadway production, both in musicians and scenery. But, it's still a thrill to hear that beautiful Sondheim score. I had forgotten how touching the second act is --- which takes place after the death of Georges Seurat.

 

Finally, a note on the review of John Barrowman's book elsewhere on this site. Good for Barrowman for writing a book that does not concentrate on the angst of gay teenage years. Even better is Barrowman's defiance of Sondheim's declaration (to Barrowman directly) that Bobby in "Company" is not gay. Barrowman came as close as anyone possibly could to playing Bobby as gay (at the Kennedy Center in 2002), with Sondheim looking over his shoulder

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Saw "November' last night and LOVED IT! I was rolling in the aisle with laughter. Fast, funny and a great cast. Laurie Metcalf was brillant!!!! I'm not a big Nathan Lane fan but he was terrific in this role as a bumbling and inept incumbent President.

 

ED

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Guest Bluedawg

Something gets panned by the New York Times, and everyone says it got "awful reviews." MERMAID got both brutal pans and fantastic raves. For the raves, check out TIME magazine, the AP review, USA TODAY, New York 1 News, and the Wall Street Journal....

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Surely, you are joking.

 

The New York Times review is the only one that has the power to make or brake a Broadway or off-Broadway show.

 

On occasion, a quote from the review in another newspaper will be used by producers in advertisements. Most famously: Walter Kerr in the New York Herald Tribune about 1959 original cast "Gypsy." David Merrick and Leland Hayward used Kerr's quote "The Best Damn Musical I've Seen In Years" as a wrap acround on buses, subways and every place else for the entire run of the musical. (Kerr eventually became the drama critic of the Times.) If Brooks Atkinson had not given "Gypsy" a rave review in the Times, Kerr's review would not have saved it.

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It wasn't just the NY Times:

 

Newsday:

Alas, it is even harder to fall in love with the show. In fact, the most amazing part of Disney's latest musical is its amazing shortage of originality - not to mention magic or cross-generational wit.

 

...But theatergoers spoiled by Julie Taymor's boundary-breaking brilliance in "The Lion King" are not served by this doggedly conventional, well-performed, middling bore of a show.

 

Washington Post:

Somewhere out there in the choppy foam, however, the creators of the new stage version that opened last night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre let the compass slip overboard. In director Francesca Zambello's confused production -- a morass of mechanical characters, syrupy new songs and gaudily irrelevant set pieces -- all the warmth and charm of the film manages to get away.

 

The bloated, 2 1/2 -hour show -- an hour longer than the 1989 movie -- represents a low watermark for the Disney-on-Broadway franchise.

 

USA Today:

But the new Mermaid is ultimately less than the sum of its impressive parts, offering neither the richly imaginative spectacle of The Lion King nor the old-fashioned vitality and charm of Mary Poppins

 

New York magazine:

The Little Mermaid is such a splashy bore, you’ve got to wonder: Was The Lion King just a fluke?

 

Should I continue?

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It is interesting to note that the reputation of the New York critics as venomous (especially the New York Times) has brought about a change in the manner in which new show are opening. We are seeing more and more shows opening in places like Toronto, Canada and San Diego, California. They receive good reviews and then move on to national tours and finally end up in New York. By the time they arrive in New York they are hits and the critics are irrelevant. Two good cases in point are “Mama Mia” and "The Drowsy Chaperon” The same thing happens with shows opening first in London where the critics are far less nasty. More and more shows that are successful in London arrive as hits in New York without the comments of the New York Critics.

I wish critics, all over, would come to the realization that the word critic comes from the infinitive to critic NOT the one to criticize. The Los Angeles Times dance critic has made it virtually impossible for ballet to get an audience here because he doesn’t like classic ballet. He makes a point of praising lavishly avant-garde dance companies while panning more traditional ones.

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Guest zipperzone

Quite often I go to see a production that has been panned by the so-called critics only to find that I enjoyed it immensely. I don't go looking for absolute perfection (whatever that is) I just go to be entertained.

 

I find that theatre critics are a lot like the guys who write the reviews of new cars for the automobile industry. They are so critical and impose their own unobtainable standard on the cars they drive that if you paid attention to them, you'd still be walking.

 

I'm not an entertainment snob - sometimes average is also deserving of praise.

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Shows with fart jokes and low class humor often appeal to a large segment of the population, and there's nothing wrong with that.

And there's nothing wrong with people wanting a higher level of entertainment, a larger intellectual challenge, or even just more serious skilled acting. That's the kind of shows the critics are interested in as well.

The purpose they serve is to encourage people to do their best, to keep the bar high. That works for me. I would never go see a show like the Mermaid anyway.

 

But disagreeing with a critic is part of the fun of theatergoing. So enjoy it!

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Guest zipperzone

>Shows with fart jokes and low class humor often appeal to a

>large segment of the population, and there's nothing wrong

>with that.

 

True - what else can the dwellers in double-wides and Rosanne Barr understand?

 

>I would never go see a show like the Mermaid anyway.

 

Neither would I. I would expect the audience to be peppered with pedophiles.

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I saw The 39 Steps yesterday and was not so carried away with it as the reviewers.... It is silly, lacking in any real substance, one pratfall after another, rather broad humor, and relentless invocations of the titles of Hitchcock films. Although there were some very funny moments, I found it hard keeping my attention focused because there was so little substance to hold on to.

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