October 2, 2015
IT MAY NOT be the same as thrilling audiences on Broadway, but Audra McDonald nonetheless loves participating in the kind of program she'll be doing Wednesday night. McDonald, who, in 2014, became the first performer to win six acting Tony Awards, will be at the Merriam Theater to kick off the Kimmel Center's Seth Rudetsky Broadway Concert Series, a quartet of Merriam programs that will feature Rudetsky - a musical theater vet and high-profile host on SiriusXM's Broadway channel - conducting conversations with McDonald, Kelli O'Hara (Jan.
June 30, 2015 |
The hard-core classical lover isn't exactly settling when he goes to hear an entire evening of Gershwin. As a melodist, Gershwin is right up there with Schubert. It is especially true that when orchestrated, and orchestrated well, his songs strike a particular vein in the American spirit that is more breathlessly optimistic than Irving Berlin, more urbane than Copland, and yet retains its sincerity to the tender core. The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Cristian Macelaru could not have picked a better banner for these ideals than the opener to Friday night's concert at the Mann Center.
December 12, 2014 |
Conductor/composer Bramwell Tovey doesn't recoil with horror from just anything. The Philadelphia Orchestra's urbane guest conductor for the next two weeks has seen much in life. He grew up in the Salvation Army in his native London, has regularly faced potentially distracted audiences at the Hollywood Bowl, braved the red carpet at the Grammy Awards, and guest-conducted all the Big Five orchestras in the span of one fabulous month last summer. The British-born, Vancouver-based Tovey might be called America's unofficial principal guest conductor, happy to go where needed, whether leading Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at the Mann Center last summer, making his subscription debut with the orchestra this week, or directing its "Glorious Sounds of Christmas" concerts Dec. 18-20 at the Kimmel Center.
March 21, 2014 |
FERGIE DOESN'T want any more big girls crying because they've been abused. The Black Eyed Peas singer says the number of women abused by their partners "is totally unacceptable" and should be protected by existing laws that are often not enforced. The Fergs was at the State Department yesterday to announce a new Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence initiative to launch training programs in India, Nepal, South Africa and Mexico. The training will bring together law enforcement, service providers and advocacy groups to ensure that abused women can rely on laws that too often are ignored or not understood by local authorities.
February 21, 2014 |
If you know only the rich Gershwin music and gorgeous songs of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess , you might be surprised, as I was, when you actually see this opera-turned-Broadway musical, currently on national tour and in Philadelphia through Sunday. Touted as a radical reinvention and updating of the sacred 1935 show, the surprise for me was in how dated it seemed and how little I was moved by the characters and their plight. Never mind the controversy about altering the Gershwins' opera, which Stephen Sondheim famously weighed in on, leaving scorched earth beneath director Diane Paulus' feet; never mind the treatment of a black community that seems to flirt with racist parody.
February 21, 2014
WE'RE pretty sure your local pharmacy doesn't carry a card for a 450th birthday, but that doesn't mean you can't help William Shakespeare celebrate that milestone this year. Last month, the Free Library of Philadelphia began a major, yearlong observance of the Bard of Avon that will feature a multidimensional series of programs. Not surprisingly, at the center of the celebration is Ol' Will's theatrical legacy. "Ninety percent of the programs are related to his plays," said Sandy Horrocks, the library's vice president of external affairs.
February 19, 2014 |
George Gershwin's last visit to Philadelphia, just as his magnum opus Porgy and Bess was leaving Broadway with an air of failure, found the usually ebullient composer talking about happiness as if were a mirage. "If most composers were left to themselves, they would write only sad ballads. Writing happy music is the hardest. I have to imagine what a happy frame of mind is like and then try to compose," he told a reporter at the Ritz Carlton, while going through two books of matches relighting his ever-present pipe.
February 14, 2014
IT IS arguably the most important work of American musical theater of the 20th century. But "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," whose national tour brings it to the Academy of Music for a six-day run beginning Tuesday, could have turned out far differently. As absurd as it sounds today, there was a time when the musical stage adaptation of the book (and subsequent dramatic play), "Porgy," by DuBose Heyward - about the denizens of a Charleston, S.C., ghetto called "Catfish Row" - could have wound up as a musical comedy starring Al Jolson playing the crippled beggar, Porgy, in blackface, rather than as the dramatic jazz-opera that has provoked and enthralled audiences for almost 80 years.
October 8, 2013 |
EDWARD BROADNAX JR. was proud of being a Marine, and he brought some of that military discipline home with him when he was faced with caring for five young sisters. "Without him, we'd have been wild women," said one of the girls, Deborah Broadnax Woodbury. "He brought that discipline from the service to our home, making us better in our own pursuits. "Sometimes, it felt like he was the drill sergeant and we were the soldiers. " But Eddie's real motivation was that he cared deeply about his family, and he wanted to take care of the girls the way their mother would have if she hadn't died prematurely.
April 24, 2012 |
Before we get too far, I need to tell you about the costumes in the new and wonderful Broadway musical comedy "Nice Work If You Can Get It," which opened Tuesday night and may be settling in for a long run. The costumes are by Martin Pakledinaz, a longtime Broadway designer who has taken just about every possible style of clothing in the Prohibition era and put it on stage. You have your shimmying dresses, your vice-squad undercover suits, your house-staff uniforms, your formal wear, your wedding dress with a train as long as, well, a train.When the second act opens and much of the large cast is dancing on a ritzy veranda to what amounts an after-intermission overture, it may take a minute to realize that Pakledinaz matches the colors for each dancer and her partner so subtly — sometimes merely in the stripes of trousers — the effect is like a single palate that comes together or breaks apart as the dancers switch partners and then return.