February 3, 2016
By Steve Lewis The similarities will seize you by the throat. In Shakespeare's Othello , we are presented with a warrior of impeccable grace, courage, and character who murders his wife. Nearly 400 years later, we would bear televised witness to an athlete-warrior of publicly impeccable grace, courage, and character who (everyone but the jury agrees) murders his wife. Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, was married to a beautiful, fair-skinned woman considerably younger than he was. In time, he grew violently jealous, a powerful weakness of character for one who had earned such a noble and strong reputation.
September 25, 2015 |
NEW YORK - The Metropolitan Opera doesn't always get out its big guns for the season's opening. But Monday's gala occasion was a new production of Verdi's Otello - one of those pieces that can truly fill the Met's hero-size auditorium, this time with musical thunderbolts engineered by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production and casting weren't entirely successful. Much discussion was heard about the executive ruling that the Moorish title character would no longer appear in blackface.
February 25, 2015 |
I will never, ever stop being amazed by the endless directorial interpretations of Othello . I've lost count of how many I've seen, but Curio Theatre Company's new production, directed by Dan Hodge, is the latest, and once again, it teases out new (to me) angles in Shakespeare's 400-year-old script. Here, Hodge, with the help of Brian McCann, presents the lighter side of Iago. Far from the Machiavellian sociopath we've come to know and loathe, McCann's Iago is a frustrated, low-level schemer, little better than poor, doomed Roderigo (Paul Kuhn)
March 9, 2014 |
The last time choreographer Doug Elkins appeared in Philadelphia five years ago, he brought his hit "Fraulein Maria," a delightful frolic. The two frothy pieces he offers for the Dance Celebration Series, presented by Dance Affiliates and the Annenberg Center, are not as fully fleshed, but have an audience-pleasing frivolity and terrific performers. From his new pick-up company, Doug Elkins Choreography Etc., come "Mo(or)town/Redux" and "Hapless Bizarre," which opened Thursday. In "Hapless Bizarre" (a title I'm unable to decipher)
October 15, 2012 |
Women in Shakespeare's day weren't allowed to perform on stage. In Quintessence's production of the Bard's Othello , director Alexander Burns won't let them play, either. At first glance, it seems an odd choice. The central plot revolves around Iago (Josh Carpenter), an ensign passed over for promotion by his Moorish general, Othello (Khris Davis), in favor of pretty-boy academic Cassio (Daniel Fredrick). Othello's marriage to the fair Desdemona (an excellent Ross Bennett Hurwitz)
October 5, 2010 |
Some operas demand to be heard despite their extraordinary risk factor. Bellini's Norma is one, Verdi's Otello is another, both standing like peaks to be climbed if only because they are there. Though Opera Company of Philadelphia fares better in its current Otello than in past seasons with Norma , Otello still requires faith - or at least it did at its Friday Academy of Music opening. Producing an Aida -size opera in the current economy is bound to involve corner cutting, and that was immediately apparent in the refurbished Paul Shortt-designed production dating back to director Robert B. Driver's past life with the Indianapolis and Syracuse opera companies (and a reminder of Driver's less-distinguished early Philadelphia years)
April 4, 2008 |
Any director worth his/her tragic weight knows that in order to have a successful Othello, you have to pair him with an equally dynamic Iago. So if it makes your mouth water to hear that Lantern Theater's Charles McMahon has plucked two Philly favorites - Frank X and Peter Pryor - to fill the roles in the current production of Othello, you should also know you're in good company. The run was extended before the show even officially opened. Both actors have previously taken on Shakespeare at Lantern in Barrymore-worthy turns: X was nominated for the award for his portrayal of King Lear, and Pryor won it for his Richard III. So surprise, surprise, the pair tear up the stage like the pros they are. Pryor has a blast from his opening sneer to his final psychopathic chuckle, when ordered to behold the bloody mess he's caused.
March 26, 2007 |
In Hamlet, Shakespeare tells us that "the play's the thing," and he could be referencing Carmen Khan's peeled-back production of Othello, which opened the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival's 10th season Friday night. The scenery is four large flat-topped trucks. A simple stage-rear entry is black. Everyone's dressed in a dull form of standard modern, more or less. So a sort of naked focus turns your attention almost entirely to the play. I saw a preview Thursday, and during the first half-hour or so, that focus was a liability; this Othello was stilted, with all the hoo-hah surrounding the Moor of Venice threatening to represent the bore of Venice.
September 7, 2006 |
It began as an independent project by Temple University students; now, the production of Naomi Wallace's commanding Obie winner, One Flea Spare, is a full-fledged Live Arts / Philly Fringe piece. Not even the awful acoustics of Temple's Randall Theater could drown out Wallace's rich and realistic dialogue about class, mortality and sexual repression when four people are quarantined in London during the Black Death epidemic of 1665. Tomorrow, the production moves to a church, with perhaps better sound, then back to Randall next week.
October 15, 2004 |
Stage Beauty is set in Restoration-era London when, in the theater at least, men were men - and women, too. Observing a ban in effect since the ancient Greeks, the English barred the fair sex from the boards. Males played females, even Desdemona and Juliet. Richard Eyre's backstage story about the last man and the first woman to play Desdemona on the London stage boasts excellent actors, a good story, and no particular point. Call it Shakespeare in Drag. Billy Crudup is the androgynous Ned Kynaston, last of the female impersonators, celebrated by diarist Samuel Pepys as "the loveliest woman on the English stage.