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Entries in Broadway and Stage (133)

Friday
Feb132015

Stage Door: Bradley Cooper in 'The Elephant Man'

Jose here for a special weekend edition of Stage Door, starring one of our Best Actor nominees...

The stage directions for Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man strictly call for “no prosthetic makeup” to be worn by the actor playing the severely deformed character of Joseph Merrick. It's only during a scene in which surgeon Frederick Treves explains to the audience what his deformities consisted of, that we get to see the actor playing Merrick become “the Elephant Man”.

Seeing Bradley Cooper play the part of Merrick, it's tough to believe it's as same actor you've just seen in his Oscar nominated role as Chris Kyle in American Sniper. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb052015

Meryl is a Rock Star

First image of Meryl Streep as a rock star in Jonathan Demme's Ricki & The Flash via People magazine. Very Melissa Etheridge. (Is it just me or is Meryl getting younger?) So excited for this movie. Demme is always at his best when he focuses on actresses (Married to the Mob, Rachel Getting Married, Silence of the Lambs) and who doesn't love to hear La Streep sing?

Uh oh... I feel a list coming on

10 greatest silver screen uses of Meryl's astounding pipes...
01. "You Don't Know Me" - as Suzanne Vale in Postcards from the Edge (1990)
02. "He's Me Pal" - as Helen Archer in Ironweed (1987)
03. "Stay With Me" - as The Witch in Into the Woods (2014)
04. "I See Me" - as Madeleine Ashton in Death Becomes Her (1992)
05. "Amazing Grace" - as Karen Silkwood in Silkwood (1983)
06. "My Minnesota Home" - as Yolanda Johnson in Prairie Home Companion (2006)
07. "I'm Checkin' Out" - as Suzanne Vale in Postcards from the Edge (1990)
08. "The Winner Takes It All" - as Donna in Mamma Mia (2008)
09. "The Last Midnight" - as The Witch in Into the Woods (2014)
10. "Goodbye to My Mama" - as Yolanda Johnson in Prairie Home Companion (2006) 

Meryl was singing before she ever hit the movies... here she is on stage in her Drama Desk nominated Broadway role in 1976's "Secret Service" the year before her first movie came out (Julia).

Heartily agree with Louis Virtel that she should have released an album by now. I mean, come on. I'd be fine with "Meryl's Greatest Hits" so I didn't have to build my own playlist. How reinforced are her shelves at home do you think what with the 3 Oscars, 8 Golden Globes, 8 People's Choice Awards, 2 Emmys, 2 SAGs, 2 BAFTAs, 2 Critics Choice, 1 Cesar, 1 Theater World, and multiple festival and critics prizes (though those are often less statues than scrolls or certificates or whatnot)? Despite being an awards & nominations magnet she hasn't had much luck with theater or music trophies so she hasn't made any progress on her EGOT since her Oscar win for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) which followed her Emmy win for Holocaust (1978). She's received four Grammy nominations (all for Children's records) and 1 Tony nomination (and multiple Drama Desk nominations) but no wins from those.

 

Saturday
Jan312015

How's Dianne? Still Great. 

Lukewarm off the presses! In a theater article at the New York Times a week ago about the new play Rasheeda Speaking starring Tonya Pinkins, her co-star, the two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest made a statement that quickly raised eyebrows that she didn't have enough work to pay her rent. It came when the actresses discussed the difficulties of finding good roles, which is surely depressing when you're basically a genius. (Tonya Pinkins, for what it's worth, gave one of the all time best theatrical performances I've ever seen in the musical Caroline or Change a decade ago. Idina Menzel winning her Tony was basically as ridiculous as say Benigni taking the one that shoulda gone to Norton or McKellen.)

More...

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Friday
Jan232015

A Quick Chat with Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei with Tracy Letts in "The Realistic Joneses" (L) and John Lithgow in "Love is Strange" (R)

Jose here. Last week I had the opportunity to chat with the lovely Marisa Tomei about her new film Loitering with Intent (out in theaters and VOD) and I couldn't help but mention to her that she ended up giving my favorite supporting performances of 2014 both on film (Love is Strange) and on Broadway (The Realistic Joneses). Much to my delight - and evolving psychic abilities - my fellow Team Experience members agreed with me and she ended up winning our Best Supporting Actress award as well, so I thought I might share this fragment of our conversation...

JOSE: Pony from The Realistic Joneses and Kate from Love is Strange are such rich characters!

MARISA TOMEI: I looooove Pony!

JOSE: Pony reminded me of Honey from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Did you have her in mind at all?

MARISA TOMEI: No, other than that she was around a lot! Because Tracy Letts’ wife, Carrie Coon, played Honey on Broadway the year before (laughs) and I did keep thinking she’d be much better in this part...but then I got over that. I wasn’t really drawing any parallels though, other than that I’m drawn to those kinds of parts and that I like the part of Honey and that their names are so cute…

JOSE: And you were so amazing as Kate in Love is Strange.

MARISA TOMEI: They were the same producers as this. I got that because while we were shooting Loitering with Intent and going to get a sandwich or something, one of the producers, Jay Van Hoy, said “ I think one of our actors is dropping out of our movie, do you wanna be in it?” (laughs). He then said that Ira [Sachs] was directing it and Ivan Martin and I had gone to see Keep the Lights On and we loved that movie. I was familiar with Ira’s work and so it all came around.

JOSE: Both characters are so heartbreaking and they both feel so lived in…

MARISA TOMEI: I didn’t have a lot of heartbreak with Pony, that was really easy, because she really didn’t think that deeply, so I don’t think she made compromises for her husband, he made a lot of compromises for her actually. I think both of them were in a bargain, a whole “let’s not talk about stuff” deal. A lot of times before I’d ask myself what was my preparation, and I feel stupid for saying this (laughs) but sometimes my preparation would be visual. I’d think “pink” and also did a background story and my regular homework...but in general it was a lot of hoola-hooping and thinking in pink.

Of course, I was sent home with visions of Marisa Tomei as Kay Thompson in Funny Face. God, does she always make me think pink. What about you dear readers, were you in love with either of these performances? What are some of your favorite Marisa Tomei characters?

Tuesday
Dec302014

CAST THIS: Pippin coming to the big screen!

Manuel here bringing some exciting news for us musical junkies.

We've got magic to do... Just for you

It seems we have another big screen Broadway adaptation coming our way courtesy of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, a pair of producers who have almost single-handedly kept the screen musical alive. NBC’s Sound of Music Live? Zadan & Meron! Oscar-winning Chicago, SAG-nominated Hairspray and Emmy-nominee Smash? Yep, you guessed it: Zadan & Meron! They are even responsible for some of the less celebrated attempts at live action adaptations of Broadway musicals, from the swiftly forgotten 2003 adaptation of The Music Man featuring Matthew Broderick and the Kathy Bates-led 1999 Annie to the Bette Midler TV adaptation of Gypsy back in 1993.

Needless to say, they’re invested in this genre in ways not many other producers are. We can argue about their batting average. For every attempt at ‘modernizing’ a piece to its very detriment -- see 2011’s Footloose, there’s an ill-fated attempt at old-fashioned family entertainment like this year’s Peter Pan Live! Which brings us back to Pippin, the 1972 Stephen Schwartz penned musical loosely based on Pippin and his father Charlemagne, whose circus-inspired Broadway revival is set to close this weekend and which Zadan and Meron are bringing to the big screen soon.

 

I’m curious as to who they nab for directing (though maybe more importantly for screenwriting duties). This is a clearly stage-bound piece: the conceit is that what we see on stage is a number of players acting out the story of Pippin as, in true 1970s fashion, he tries to “find himself.” The original production was directed by Bob Fosse, so these are definitely big shoes to fill. More for our amusement though, this offers up the chance to play casting directors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, I’ve broken down the main characters below from the casting call the American Repertory Theatre used to cast the revival.


PIPPIN
- male, 18-26. The son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, Pippin has returned from university to discover that he does not know what to do with his life. He searches for something in his life to be fulfilling, while the Leading Player and the troupe of players guide and manipulate him. Tenor.

LEADING PLAYER
- (Can be male or female)- Dangerous, charismatic, extremely charming and seductive, the Leading Player is the leader of the troupe and the mastermind behind Pippin's journey. The Leading Player must be an incredibly strong performer with the willingness to take risks and dig deep and dark; a powerful presence. Male: Tenor, Female: Alto/Mezzo with a strong belt.

CHARLEMAGNE
-male, late 40s-early 60s, Pippin’s father and the King of the Holy Roman Empire. He rules the empire with an iron fist, and his focus on the battlefield inspires Pippin to try becoming a soldier. Legit Baritone.

FASTRADA female, early 40s-early 50s, Pippin’s stepmother, Charlemagne’s wife, and Lewis’s mother. A manipulative woman with sexual appeal and a strong desire for power, Fastrada aims to get her son Lewis to be first in line to the throne. Dancer.

LEWIS
-male, early 20s-early 30s, The son of Charlemagne and Fastrada, Pippin’s half brother. He is a soldier in Charlemagne's army and he prides himself on his athleticism and physical prowess.

BERTHE
-female, early 60s-80s. Pippin’s grandmother, and Charlemagne’s mother. An incredibly spunky older woman with excellent comedic timing, Berthe leaves the kingdom to enjoy the "simple joys" of life. Alto.

CATHERINE
-female, late 20s-early 30s. Pippin’s love interest, a tragically widowed farmer’s wife with a young son. She rebels against the Leading Player's scheme by actually falling in love with Pippin. She is kind, generous, romantic, and strong-willed. Mezzo with a strong mix.

Who would you cast for each? I'm hoping they don't offer Berthe to Meryl, if only because I want Andrea Martin to reprise her Tony winning role on screen. Does news of Pippin the big screen treatment fill you with, as Nat mentioned in his Into the Woods review, a hesitation “between devastating disappointment and ecstatic pleasure”?

Friday
Dec262014

Entertainers of the Year, An Alternate Take

Year in Review. Two yummy lists each day. Here's Matthew Eng on "Entertainers of the Year"

Let’s face it: Jimmy Fallon is an okay if utterly predictable choice for Entertainment Weekly’s annual “Entertainer of the Year” title, which can occasionally become more of an honor for being widely-known and well-liked than, you know, being consistently entertaining. (Have they made a truly interesting choice since that three-year, Oscar-certified run of Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Denzel Washington from 2000-02?)

Rather than continue to pat the backs of those like Ben Affleck, Taylor Swift, Robert Downey, Jr., and J.K. Rowling – i.e. prominent pop culture presences and former “Entertainers of the Year” whose dominance over their respective industries is already deep and durable – let’s take a moment to honor some of our favorite hard-working actors and actresses who zig-zagged across mediums this year, making crucial contributions to the entertainment landscape, but who likely won’t be collecting any golden statues for their unique and indispensable achievements in 2014.

 

Alan Cumming, who lent his impish, adventurous energy to two wildly disparate roles this year, reprising his bawdily iconic take as the Emcee in Roundabout’s Cabaretrevival, while continuing to play his most unusual role as the sardonic and perpetually stressed-out campaign manager Eli Gold on The Good Wife, which is still the best thing on television. It’s a testament to Cumming’s versatility that he seems equally at home warbling in an evening gown and defiling chorus boys, as he does striding around an office and barking into a cellphone. In between suiting-up on screen and dressing down on stage, Cumming also penned a moving and well-reviewed memoir about his troubled childhood in Scotland entitled Not My Father’s Son.


Viola Davis, who continues to be better than any of the material she’s given, but still acts the hell out of everything she appears in, all the same. I’ve already written about how gorgeously she improves the standard mother-son arc of Get On Up, but let’s also give Davis her due for surpassing such esteemed company as Jessica Chastain and Isabelle Huppert to present the only credible human being in that weirdly noncommittal triptych The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, in which she plays Chastain’s professor and newfound confidante to weary, seen-it-all perfection. And finally, I still have my fingers crossed that How to Get Away with Murder will work some Scandal-like magic and pick up as it goes, but Davis is unqualifiedly great and effortlessly magnetic even amid mediocrity. We can never stop beating the drum for this gloriously gifted woman.

Lindsay Duncan, who, yes, played an indelible cobra as Birdman’s venomous voice of theatrical critique, but who also single-handedly dispels the lazy claims that 2014 was a weak year for lead actressing. I wish enough “pundits” would take it upon themselves to journey past their Wilds and Gone Girls and take a well-deserved look at Roger Michell’s marital dramedy Le Week-end, in which Duncan and a never-better Jim Broadbent work through the poignantly personal travails of ripened couplehood while celebrating their anniversary in Paris. Proudly reckless, boldly tetchy, and gleefully tongue-in-cheek, Week-end’s Meg is a marvel of deliciously detailed characterization and one of the acting achievements of the year, thanks to Duncan’s slyly sublime sorcery. (I mean, that voice alone!) Duncan’s also currently on the boards as Glenn Close’s acerbic, alcoholic sister in the revival of Albee’s A Delicate Balance and she’s still a staple on British television, having made appearances this year on SherlockBlack Mirror’s jaw-dropper of a first episode “The National Anthem” (only recently made available on Netflix), and The Honorable Woman, providing the latter with a quietly memorable take on the exasperated ex-wife, which leads us to…


Maggie Gyllenhaal, who never really reached the summits of critic-stamped screen stardom that surely seemed attainable during the Secretary and Sherrybaby days, but who has nonetheless continued to offer terrific and thoughtful work across a variety of mediums. New Yorkers have a little more than a week to catch her in the current revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (closing January 4th), in which Gyllenhaal pairs her usual flair for emphatic (if often unstable) eroticism with an intriguingly assured intelligence as an impassioned actress who throws herself heart-first into a relationship with a married playwright. She’s hilariously and cuttingly unhinged as the only reason worth watching Frank, playing the bitter, Bening-ish bandmate/protector of Michael Fassbender’s bobble-headed lead singer. Gyllenhaal’s great in both projects, but she’s downright fantastic in The Honorable Woman, the BBC miniseries that is equal parts timely political thriller and trenchant character study, and which has given Gyllenhaal her juiciest role in years as an unraveling Anglo-Israeli arms heiress urgently trying to bring peace to the Middle East. Gyllenhaal’s elegant and emotionally daring performance is just another compelling reason to keep this weirdly underappreciated actress in play.

Gaby Hoffmann, who is a national treasure. Besides providing such selfless, straight-shooting support to Obvious Child, ensuring that the film remain a warm and witty sketch of a circle of intimates rather than a lopsided vanity project, and giving Girls’ third season a welcome dose of droll derangement as Adam Driver’s loopy sister, Hoffmann is fully deserving of the praise and prizes that Jeffrey Tambor has received for Jill Soloway’s miraculous series Transparent. The entire familial ensemble (to include Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Judith Light) clicks like crazy, with each performer projecting a whole host of complex and authentically-layered affinities, histories, and antipathies around one another, but it’s Hoffmann’s work as impetuous, indecisive baby sister Ali that has somehow lingered the most in my mind. It’s one thing to take the role of the caustic, cash-strapped family fuck-up and make her funny, charming, and inappropriate. It’s another thing entirely to invest so much extra ruefulness, wistfulness, selfishness, self-righteousness, sexiness, continually shifting sensibleness, and totally committed weirdness into a single character that she becomes someone we not only know, but someone we are unable to remember not knowing.

John Lithgow, who has had quite an enviable hot streak this year, the crowning achievement of which is his beautifully loose and lived-in performance as one half of 2014’s most believable onscreen couple, gay or otherwise, in Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange. In addition to his affecting and attentive leading man work, Lithgow also made his mark in two other noteworthy releases, imbuing bit parts in both The Homesman and Interstellar with muted, offhanded conviction. And that’s just on screen! Lithgow also gave good Lear in the Public’s August Shakespeare in the Park production, nailing the punchy imperiousness while adding an ungainliness to the declining King that in its plaintive way was just as tragic as any of the Bard’s plot turns. He’s also currently co-starring with Duncan in that same production of A Delicate Balance, closing out a banner year with yet another reminder that our most abiding and admired talents have endless shades to show us.

Elisabeth Moss, who, on the basis of her sterling work on the Sundance circuit, proves once again that she will be just fine when Don Draper lights up for the last time. She earned raves this year as Jason Schwartzman’s straying, sympathetic girlfriend in Listen Up Philip and rejuvenated some run-of-the-mill themes about marital devotion inThe One I Love with such a persuasive mix of pep and precision that I hardly noticed their familiarity. I’m excited by the prospect of Moss becoming a full-time film presence, but I hope she gets handed at least half as dynamic a role as Peggy Olson, whose professional rise and personal stalling-out Moss continued to chart with instinctive emotionality and endless empathy on the first half of Mad Men’s final season, which began with Peggy collapsing in tears on her apartment floor and ended with her officially taking the reigns from her former boss-turned-humbled colleague. Even if Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe voters failed to appreciate the magnificence of Moss’ work this year, those of us still watching can take pride in seeing this superbly skillful actress finish off her work as one of TV’s most beloved heroines before heading off into the promising future that awaits her.

Thursday
Dec182014

News of the Century: "Bombshell" From Smash Is Happening. June 15th, 2015

FAKE AD FROM THE TV SHOW. BUT THERE WILL BE A REAL ONE IN 2015.

That's right show queens, "Bombshell" is finally getting a stage production. [src] It's a one night only benefit event in NYC so who knows if it will be way above our pay grade but you have to start somewhere.

The Film Experience's troubled marriage to "Smash" the ill fated NBC series about the making of a Marilyn Monroe musical named "Bombshell" lives on! It's impossible to get a full divorce actually from that show and especially the show within the show because social media has guaranteed that all TV series with a devout following remain somehow in the pop culture conversation like they're still on the air.  I can't tell you how many times someone mentions Smash in my twitterfeed (#notcomplaining) and my eyes always flash a bit, like an ocular exclamation point. 

There's no word yet on casting but if Megan Hilty isn't playing Marilyn at this one night only event there's really no point in that day in the world's timeline even existing. This is our only mandatory requirement*. Otherwise proceed, producers. Our hearty gratitude and possible our dollars, depending on ticket prices, await you.

*Requirements are different than wants but we got a string of those too if you need 'em.