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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Broadway and Stage (145)

Saturday
May232015

Stage Door: "Little Wars" 

If I were a blurb whore I might start this article with:

"If you liked... 

Julia (1977), The Children's Hour (1961), The Little Foxes (1941), Corey Stoll & Kathy Bates as Ernest Hemingway & Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris (2011), and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker in Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle

...than you'll love Little Wars"

But I am not a blurb whore. At least not most of the time. But I do think you'll love Little Wars

Here's a beautiful problem with theater (and smallish movies, too): there's more good stuff than anyone can possibly see. And also, sometimes, depending on promotional budgets and media pedigree or lack thereof in both cases, more good stuff that we sometimes ever hear about. I refuse to be a part of that problem so I blog from the missionary zeal of great entertainments. One of the reasons The Film Experience takes detours to theater and TV and books is that all of the storytelling playgrounds inform and cross-pollinate.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas are the focus of "Little Wars"Which brings us to "Little Wars," one of five works by a very promising young playwright Steven Carl McCasland who I hadn't even heard of until last week. (The five plays run in repertory through May 31st so there's only 4 more chances to see this one). I bring it to your attention because it's entirely affordable ($18 a ticket) and it's an actressexual's delight.

Little Wars riffs on iconic people and though that device can sometimes prove gimmicky (consider that wobbly first season of Penny Dreadful or any number of tacky riffs on "public domain" characters), it's also responsible for great works of art (case in point: The Hours, fictional but inspired by Virginia Woolf's 'whole life in a single day' work on Mrs. Dalloway). McCasland's play happily falls much closer towards the latter pile of fictions. It imagines a 1940 evening inside the Parisian salon of Gertrude Stein (Polly McKie) & Alice B Toklas (Penny Lynn White), then "radical lesbians" -- radical because they were out -- who've invited "The Great Agatha Christie" (Kim Rogers) to dinner... liquid dinner nat'ch. Things don't go as planned since there's an unexpected visitor who goes by "Mary" (Kristen Gehling), a secretive housemaid (Samantha Hoefer) and Christie really disrupts the plans by bringing along Dorothy Parker (Dorothy Weems) and playwright Lillian Hellman (Kimberly Faye Greenberg). Initially just hearing these famous accomplished characters (who did know each other in real life though the play is fictional) verbally spar, boast, and drink like fish is entertaining enough but as the play progresses, organic drama emerges involving differences of opinion about art, the Nazi threat, marriages (gay and straight), and survival through wars large and small.

McKie and White anchor the play with fairly miraculous specificity as the odd (lifelong) couple at its center but most of the women are given at least one shining moment or two in McCasland's generous ensemble writing. I wanted a clearer picture of Dorothy Parker's famous wit, she mostly seems sad and drunk, but there was more than enough to compensate elsewhere. Familiarity with their collective works or previous biopics will undoubtedly aid your enjoyment -- especially if you've seen The Children's Hour (1961) and Oscar favorite Julia (1977) -- but the play is strong enough to stand on its own as a fascinating and unexpectedly moving collision of voices at a pivotal moment in history. 

Kim Rogers as Agatha Christie in "Little Wars" © Samantha Mercado Tudda

P.S. an 'it's a small-world' bonus for readers of The Film Experience. The actress playing Agatha Christie, Kim Rogers (no relation), is a longtime fan of The Film Experience -- we'd never previously met but we talked after the show.

Wednesday
May202015

The Many Cinematic Lives of Anne Boleyn

479 years ago on May 19th the second and most famous of Henry VIII's six wives, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded. But almost 5 centuries after her death, her life continues to fascinate storytellers. It seems that every couple of years there's a new interpretation of the events that conspired in England all those years ago. The latest version of King Henry and his many wives is Hilary Mantel's award-winning books Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Both books have already been adapted to a miniseries that just aired on PBS over the past month and is currently playing on Broadway in a production that originally was staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company and played the West End (and recently received 8 Tony nominations including Best New Play). And while Mantel's books and the subsequent adaptations of her work focus on the events from Thomas Cromwell's point of view, there's no doubt that the reason we're still telling this tale is because of that woman that inspired a king to leave his wife and create an entirely new religion just to be with her: Anne Boleyn. (Even the Broadway production's marketing puts Lydia Leonard in her Tony-nominated performance as the one time queen front and center.)   

Inspired by the current influx of entertainment based on Boleyn and her exploits at court, for the anniversary of her infamous death, let's take a look at three famous actresses that have played Boleyn over the years... 

The Private Lives of Henry VIII (1933)

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Monday
May112015

Tra-Link-La

Deadline RIP character actress Elizabeth Wilson from stage, tv, and film (Roz in Nine to Five & Mrs Braddock inThe Graduate!) passed away at 94
Bryan Singer James McAvoy as Professor X finally going bald of X-Men: Apocalypse
Towleroad Natalie Portman as Ruth Baader Ginsburg?! 
CHUD the ongoing drama of Jennifer Lawrence's paycheck for the upcoming Passengers, a sci-fi drama with Chris Pratt. She's not budging on her 20 million,which is double Pratt's salary though he's the lead. Will Sony cave to save face from all those wage disparity complaints after leaked emails?
Boy Culture tells us about a new LGBT movie That's Not Us about three couples on a weekend getaway. Sounds good
Empire Charlize Theron to star as a spy in The Coldest City, based on a graphic novel
Pajiba highlights from the Alex Garland's Ex Machina AMA 
Antagony & Ecstasy another fine take on Ex Machina 

Small Screen
Coming Soon NBC picked up a series based on Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. I know it was probably impossible to top Samantha Morton's precog but the series will focus on a precog only a male precog zzzz. No offense Stark Sands who I've enjoyed in other things!
/Film ... and that's not the only movie becoming a TV series. Next season will also give us serialized versions ofUncle Buck and Limitless 

Cannes News
Cannes Mother of the French New Wave Agnès Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7, Vagabond, The Gleaners and I) to receive an Honorary Palme D'Or. Yaaas.
Film Doctor UK advice for filmmakers attending Cannes -- this is from last year but there are lots of practical thoughts that apply to any year, non filmmakers and other smaller festivals, too
Guardian with Gaspar Noé's Love on the way a look back at the festival's history of erotic cinema
Awards Daily Sasha geers up for Cannes but still seems hung up on last year's awards race dramas

Stage
Playbill looks back at very tight Best Musical races from the past (West Side Story vs. The Music Man, etcetera) with Fun Home, Something Rotten, and An American in Paris battling it out on Tony supremacy this season
Gold Derby Outer Critics Circle Awards. With Fun Home ineligible American in Paris snatches up trophies. Kristin Chenoweth prevails in the very tight Best Actress race (will Tony go for Chita, Cheno or Kelli O'Hara?)

Showtune to Go
With American in Paris celebrating its Tony nominations, why not a little Gene Kelly to brighten your Monday? Here's Kelly doing "Tra La La." Hollywood never had a more cheekily charming male movie star, give or take Cary Grant.

Monday
May042015

Stage Door: Hand to God

Dancin' Dan here for one of my favorite times of the year: TONY TIME! When the Tony nominations were announced, I had my usual reactions of shock and awe (congrats to all the supporting ladies from Fun Home, but did we really have to include all of them at the expense of their counterparts from On The Town?), but what made me happiest were the multiple nominations for Hand to God, hands-down the best play I’ve seen on Broadway in ages.

When you walk into the Booth Theater (most recently the home to Bradley Cooper’s Elephant Man), you’re immediately greeted with cheery posters extolling the beauty of the world and God’s hand in creating it, along with heavily southern-fried Christian country-rock. If you’ve ever been in a church school, the set will look freakily familiar… do all of these things look alike? But then the lights go down, and we’re greeted by… a sock puppet. This sock puppet’s name is Tyrone, and despite his adorable appearance, he has some not-so-adorable thoughts on his mind.

More...

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Tuesday
Apr282015

Tony Nominations. With Context!

Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe & Tony Nominee Kelli O'Hara in THE KING AND I Tony/Emmy/Globe winner Mary Louise Parker and perpetually undervalued Bruce Willis announced the Tony nominations for the 2014/2015 theater season this morning with the musicals Fun Home & An American in Paris (which are both pretty great) leading with 12 nominations each. Broadway's "Best" will be honored live on Sunday June 7th on CBS with (this just in!) Tony winners and gargantuan cross-media talents Alan Cumming & Kristin Chenoweth co-hosting.

You can expect to see several movie star faces at the ceremony and you can also expect to see several closing notices before then for the shows that were shunned. The big question mark for the night of June 7th is whether perennial bridesmaid Kelli O'Hara (this is her fifth nomination for Best Actress in a Musical and her sixth overall) will finally take home the gold or if one of the living legends she's up against will win another; Chita Rivera and Kristin Chenoweth are not playin' around, each earning rave reviews.

When Oscar makes their announcements we rarely think to consult the list of 300ish movies that are eligible for Best Picture but because the Tony Awards are selected from a very distinct and small group of productions, it's useful to know what else was eligible, so we're serving you context with this full list of nominations

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr252015

"Something Rotten" and/in Adapting "Doctor Zhivago"

Does the classic film / novel translate well to the stage? Stage Door, our theater review series, is in hyperdrive, it's difficult to keep up what with shows opening left and right. The Tonys, like the Oscars, have a glut problem right before the eligibility deadline. Nominations are announced this coming Tuesday.

The Twin Perils of Snark & Earnestness
If you want to be a massive musical comedy hit, the current fever is to be slightly self-deprecating about the thing that you are. Something Rotten, which is expected to do well at the Tonys and already a hit, is a new musical comedy that doubles as an anachronistic in-on-the-joke Shakespeare comedy and a spoof of Broadway song & dance. The actual plot centers around a poor playwright (Tony-winner Brian d'Arcy James) with the surname of "Bottom" -- and yes, that leads to exactly the crass jokes you might expect it does -- who struggles in obscurity while his contemporary William Shakespeare (Tony-winner Christian Borle from Smash doing a full Tim Curry) is treated like a rock star.

More Something Rotten and a new Doctor Zhivago after the jump...

Click to read more ...