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Posts Tagged ‘Other Desert Cities’

“Harvey” Does Broadway, LuPone Does Time & More Theater News

June 15th, 2012 Comments off

Carol Kane & Jim Parsons in "Harvey". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jonesing for more star power after getting a taste of glamour at the Tonys? Need a fame injection to get you through withdrawal? Well, this week’s theater news wrap-up is glittering with full-strength big names…

  • Emmy-winner Jim Parsons and the sublime Carol Kane are the first hit of the 2012-2013 season with the Roundabout revival of Harvey. Reviews are all over the place so it looks like we may have to check this one out ourselves to get the scoop.
  • Patti LuPone. Image via PlaybillVault.com.

    You want some staaaahhh quality, you can’t go wrong with the original Evita herself, Patti LuPone, back on Broadway and joined by acclaimed film actress (and Wonder Woman’s little sister) Debra Winger in Anarchist, a new two-hander by the legendary David Mamet. Set to open November 13, the play is set in a women’s prison — though don’t expect to see a ready for Cinemax shower fight with this pedigreed team.

  • Two stars not enough to satisfy your fix? The starry revival of The Best Man is dipping into the TV well to replace four departing cast members. Cybil Shepherd (Moonlighting), John Stamos (Uncle Jesse), Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) and Elizabeth Ashley (Evening Shade) will take over for Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, Kerri Butler and Angela Lansbury.  If this show lasts and the turnover picks up, I can’t wait to see Charo as the President of the United States. No, really, I’d love that.
  • Remember when I said that Vasser in the summer was like the cool kids’ table in the high school cafeteria? Check out who they just announced for their Powerhouse Summer Theatre: Greg Kinnear (Oscar-nominated for As Good As It Gets), Maura Tierney (ER and wonderful last summer at Williamstown) & Jennifer Westfeldt (Friends with Kids and Jon Hamm’s significant other). Yep, stars just doing a little summer theater between big gigs.
  • Finally, get out your score card, we’ve got some post-Tony openings and closings to discuss. Godspell, Other Desert Cities, Venus in Fur will shutter in the next two weeks, a Sutton Foster-less Anything Goes sails away August 5; the musical Fela is making a short return engagement to Broadway July 9 – August 4, and the Tony-winning Best Play Clybourne Park is adding an extension to its full house through September 2.

 

 

A Plea to the Tony Nominators

April 27th, 2012 Comments off

With the Tony nominators meeting this weekend, I’d like to make a final plea for a few performances that I fear might be overlooked come Tuesday morning’s announcement (which I’ll be posting with my comments as they happen). We all know Newsies and Once and Death of a Salesman and Follies are likely to wrack up big nods, but please, Mr. Tony, don’t forget about:

Off-Broadway Production of "Lysistrata Jones". Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Now it’s your turn. Which long-shot Tony nomination are you pulling for?  Lobby the committee with a shout out in our comments section!

Revisiting “Desert Cities” & the Greatest Soap Clip Ever

March 7th, 2012 Comments off

Judith Light in "Other Desert Cities". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Family. No matter how distanced or strained, the bond between family is a thin but neon-glowing thread, unmistakeable to anyone watching two family members interact. The bond between siblings or parents and children is so unspoken yet obvious that it is a particular challenge to recreate on stage with people who may have only known each other since rehearsals began.

So when I returned to see the Broadway production of Other Desert Cities, the tightly constructed and eminently satisfying play by Jon Robin Baitz I saw and enjoyed in its Off-Broadway incarnation last year, I was pleased to find that it had grown and deepened, mainly because the family dynamics felt more “right” with a new cast. Returning vets Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach have enriched their performances with an ease and specificity that is moving. Newest cast member Justin Kirk (Weeds) has slipped into his role as the truth-telling son with a world weariness that makes the character more likable and coherent than before. (I saw one of Rachel Griffiths‘ last performances as the daughter whose memoir unravels her family. The role is now being played by the Off-Broadway originator Elizabeth Marvel so it should be in equally compelling hands.)

But the real surprise (and the strongest source of that familial connection) turned out to be Judith Light, taking over the role of the alcoholic Aunt Silda. Linda Lavin, who originated the role at Lincoln Center, was hugely enjoyable in the role and, at first, Light doesn’t hit the laughs like Lavin (causing some concern)–but then you see that she’s up to something different. This Silda is more fragile, more wasted away and, tellingly, more clearly the sister of the tough as nails Polly, played by Channing. They feel like sisters. They feel like Texans (I hadn’t even noticed that they were from Texas the first time I saw the play.) They have history. Light finds a neediness and a despair under the laughs that enriches (and truly supports) Channing’s towering performance, while she also amplifies the core surprises of the play. It’s great work.

Light has always had the goods. She’s had a varied and impressive career in TV and theater beyond Who’s the Boss but, even better, I have to say that she appears in one of the greatest–if not the greatest–soap opera scenes of all time. Call it silliness, but I defy you to watch the following clip from One Life to Live without welling up with tears at the fierceness of Light’s performance. Sure, it’s beyond melodramatic and rife with barely rehearsed awkwardness, but darned if it isn’t spectacularly riveting. Watch as married good-girl Karen Wolek (played by Light in an Emmy-winning role) finally unravels on the stand at a murder trial, revealing what she’s really been doing on the street corners of Lanview. (If you can’t take the build up, start at 2:30 to get right to the suds.) Read more…

Stockard Channing’s Sitcom Past Exposed

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

Stockard Channing in "Other Desert Cities". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Celebrities must hate youtube. All it takes is a few clicks and we can see video proof of their most embarrassing moments. (To understand, imagine someone followed you around high school with a camera and then posted it online. Shudder…)

Well, the glorious Stockard Channing, currently giving an award-caliber performance on Broadway in Other Desert Cities, spent 1979 and 1980 in two short-lived television sitcoms (Stockard Channing in Just Friends and The Stockard Channing Show); given her name placement, Ms. Channing had a good agent at the time. Well, at least in terms of contract writing.

Someone has kindly edited together a montage of her “best” moments for the second effort in which she played an investigative reporter, going undercover each week in a new wacky (and often un-PC) disguise. Watch (I recommend skimming lightly) and discover what being in the blockbuster film Grease can do for your career… Read more…

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