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Syd
Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:25 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
The Hollywood 14 schedule site had the wrong opera listed. It was "Francesca da Rimini," by Zandonai, which I'd intended to see anyway, so that's all right. Great constumes and sets, but I didn't get into it until the battle sequence in Act II (of four acts), which is really outstanding. Francesca meets Paolo and is under the impression that she is to marry him, but it's actually his lame brother she's to marry. She and Paolo fall in love, but it's reading the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere that convinces them to break their vows, and you should know what happens because it's an opera. [Or if you've read Dante's Inferno. Francesca and Paolo are the lovers in the whirlwind in the second circle of Hell, the circle of the lustful. It hit me around the beginning of Act II. I probably would have caught on when they were reading the book in Act III, because that's what makes that tale from Dante so memorable.]

There are no famous melodies in Francesca, but the ode to spring in Act III is beautiful, and the martial music in Act II is striking. There is a really beautiful gypsy woman/servant who's in all four acts, with really striking eyes. I was startled when she finally got to sing in Act III and her voice was an octave lower than I was expecting.

The opera I thought I was going to see is Handel's "Giulio Cesare", which is April 27. There's an encore of "Francesca da Rimini" on April 3, which I recommend for anyone interested in costume design. Seriously, they're among the best I've ever seen. If you ever visit a Renaissance Fair, THIS is what you should wear, if you don't mind cleaning off the drool from the other attendees.

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Syd
Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
One thing I don't remember being mentioned in Francesca da Rimini is that not only was she committing adultery with her husband's brother, but Paolo was himself married (which was probably the reason Francesca and Paolo couldn't elope--Although that didn't stop Percy and Mary Shelley six centuries hence.)

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daffy
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 8:37 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 1939 Location: Wall Street
I saw The Book Of Mormon the other night and had an absolute blast. Only a few minor quibbles; this is a terrific show.

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inlareviewer
Posted: Wed May 22, 2013 4:56 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
Sheepishly Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.:

Our latest item in the Koch Bros./Rupert Murdoch potential-purchase-imperiled blog, er, paper of record, which may have particular sentimental value for Billy:

LAT -- Review: 'The Fantasticks' an ingenious musical revival

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billyweeds
Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 6:38 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20393 Location: New York City
inlareviewer wrote:
Sheepishly Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.:

Our latest item in the Koch Bros./Rupert Murdoch potential-purchase-imperiled blog, er, paper of record, which may have particular sentimental value for Billy:

LAT -- Review: 'The Fantasticks' an ingenious musical revival


Finally got to read this review. Sounds exceedingly interesting and entertaining. Wish I could be there.

As a side note, "Round and Round" has always been the low point in the show from the beginning--monotonous, repetitious, and way too long. Jones and Schmidt tried for years and years to fix it but nothing worked. As an actor, it was hard getting through that number, especially since what followed it was so beautiful and we didn't want to lose the audience before we got to it. The rest of the show, cloying as it may be at times, is and always has been enchanting.
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inlareviewer
Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 11:28 am Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
Well said, willybeeds. As ever, limited space and deadline craziness allows context to fall by the wayside. Were I to write it over again, I'd say "potentially" cloying, because that's how the show is all too often handled. The piece itself is a magical will o' the wisp, which hopefully phrases like "delicate theatricality," "evanescent charm" and the like made clear. There's a reason it's the world's longest-running musicaley.

Two examples of how Ms. Dehnert's approach approximates in post-modern stagecraft terms what cardboard moons and confetti snow must have seemed to audiences in 1960 through 2002:

The Narrator announces that we need a moon. So, he pulls from his pocket a glowing, grapefruit-sized sphere, tosses it to the Mute -- only it somehow shrinks to the size of a ping pong ball when the Mute catches it. And he then tosses it into the air, where it vanishes, and one of the "Os" in the burnt-out "ROCKY POINT" arch over the stage lights up.

Act 1 ends, as ever, with a pose "worthy of Watteau." After the curtain is pulled back in front of the quartet, "I wonder if they can hold it" cues the Mute to rip the drape right back off, to reveal nobody behind it. He flips the curtain around, and there's the quartet imprinted on it. Everyone gasped aloud as one person at that one.

The "Round and Round" issues were as much, if not more, about the tricks grabbing focus (Luisa gets transformed into a carnival girl, Matt gets really set on fire, the fakir's bed of nails becomes a magician's sword-box, etc.), than the innate weaknesses in the number. Mr. Ojeda and Ms. McDaniel performed it to a turn, and the illusions/effects, distracting or not, were utterly jaw-dropping. It got an automatic ovation at its sustained high-notes conclusion.

"They Were You" and the final maneuvers made me cry. And, like Dorothy Parker afore me, I can't possibly love anything more than that. It's a thoughtfully heartfelt, wildly creative yet somehow still thematically apt revival. I hope to catch it again.

However, given the current, all-too-real possibility that the Koch Bros. could buy (and thereby end) the L.A. Times, am a tad doubtful, not to mention fragile, as I cast about for yet another late-life career. Am assaying George in a table read of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" tomorrow night, as a favor to its director. Tonight, "Scottsboro Boys" at the Ahmanson, just to see it. Ah, the theatah.

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billyweeds
Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:24 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20393 Location: New York City
inla--Break a leg! You're getting to play George--well, at least read it--which is more than Henry Fonda ever did. The woulda-been-perfect-casting Hank saw the Broadway show with Arthur Hill as George and wondered aloud to his agent, "Why was I never sent that script?" The agent moronically answered, "Oh, you were. We turned it down."

P.S. Within hours Fonda (reportedly never Mr. Nice Guy, but here totally justified in his wrath) had a new agent.
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inlareviewer
Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:55 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
billyweeds wrote:
inla--Break a leg! You're getting to play George--well, at least read it--which is more than Henry Fonda ever did. The woulda-been-perfect-casting Hank saw the Broadway show with Arthur Hill as George and wondered aloud to his agent, "Why was I never sent that script?" The agent moronically answered, "Oh, you were. We turned it down."

P.S. Within hours Fonda (reportedly never Mr. Nice Guy, but here totally justified in his wrath) had a new agent.

As well he ought to have, would have been ideal. As much as I've come to appreciate the film more than I used to, I also imagine how much more potent it would have been had Mr. Albee gotten his wish to have James Mason and Bette Davis play George and Martha.

Thanks for the break-a-leg. It's totally the director's notion (he approached me). Given that neither I nor my counterpart Carolyn Hennesy are exactly the faded academic/blowsy earth-mother types associated with the roles, it will be interesting. Knowing the director, should things go well, he'll be pushing for a workshop, then a staging, but that will have to wait until after the Steppenwolf revival takes however many Tonys it takes and comes, inevitably, to Center Theatre Group. LOL.

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Befade
Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:22 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3630 Location: AZ
Daffy......I LOVED Book of Morman. LAUGHS. THE IRREVERENCE!

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billyweeds
Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:48 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20393 Location: New York City
Finally!!! Someone dares to criticize the all-but-untouchable and always wildly overrated Sam Mendes.

http://tinyurl.com/oa9xhkg

And not just criticize, but thoroughly lambaste. After the good-not-great Oscarwinner American Beauty, the far-from-Harold-Prince-level Tonywinner Cabaret, and the achingly pretentious "road pictures," Perdition and Revolutionary, it's about time someone examined this emperor's wardrobe.
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bartist
Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:55 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6410
"...about time someone examined this emperor's wardrobe."


I'd rather watch a plastic bag being tossed around by the breeze.

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marantzo
Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:16 am Reply with quote
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Billy, I've only seen 3 of Mendes directed movies.

American Beauty, a film I didn't care for at all, with silly scenes all the way through except for the sex scene with Bening and Peter Gallagher, That was funny!

Road To Perdition, a film that he absolutely ruined with a drawn out and ridiculous scene near the end with the father and son and a bad guy. It was dragged out way too much up to then also. Mendes doesn't know when to quit. Newman was the best thing in the movie.

Skyfall, another movie that he over-did beyond belief and knocked it down to annoying. Good song though.
marantzo
Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:19 am Reply with quote
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bartist wrote:
"...about time someone examined this emperor's wardrobe."


I'd rather watch a plastic bag being tossed around by the breeze.


Yeah, that was a classic, stupid scene. Shocked
carrobin
Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:54 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7677 Location: NYC
What with a discount Playbill coupon and a closing notice set for next week, my friend Chitra and I went to see "Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike" last night. It was fun, with some very good moments, but it had some strained and over-the-top bits too, particularly concerning the oversexed and super-hyper Spike. I guess there's a rule that you have to keep action going on a stage, but a guy leaping around and taking off his clothes and doing silly exercises is just annoying--it would have been a better show without him, but he was needed to be the boy-toy of Masha, the aging movie star, generating her anxieties and jealousy. David Hyde Pierce was the voice of reason and calm among the clamor, which just emphasized his excellent rant toward the end of the show when he took offense at Spike's texting while he was dramatizing his play. Like some of the psychic housekeeper's rapid-fire predictions, it was something I'd like to read, if I can find the play in print.

And I was reminded why the theater is a problem sometimes. We were on the next-to-last row, and just behind us was a blind man and his wife. He kept asking her rather loudly what was going on, and she would try to explain or describe the action in a whisper. But why go to the theater if you can't see it? Often I missed several lines of dialogue during their exchanges.
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yambu
Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:07 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 23 May 2004 Posts: 6441 Location: SF Bay Area
We had the privilege last night of seeing Ian Mckellen and Patrick Stewart in Pinter's No Man's Land. It's on its way to NY in a few days.

I don't want to say too much, as I think it is open to a few interpretations. I loved it as a non-romantic love story between two unlikely men whose time has not quite past.

Stewart takes two pratfalls. I had to turn away.

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