January 5, 2013 |
Like a grand diva who can't get enough farewell tours, Les Misérables , the stage musical version, is again on a tour stop in Philadelphia against many odds. This time, it arrives amid formidable competition from the current film version that faithfully follows the musical about oppressed masses and idealistic uprisings in post-revolutionary France. By now, the touring stage shows have a fraction of the scenery seen in the Broadway original. The film is lavishly produced with major stars and has a smaller admission fee. Yet Wednesday night's opening at the packed Academy of Music clearly justified itself, thanks to a bright, unjaded cast at the top of its collective game and exercising a freedom of interpretation not always seen in touring companies that typically seek to reproduce the original-cast experience.
December 23, 2012 |
The day after 20 first graders and six adults were murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, you'd have had a hard time convincing me anything was wonderful. The combination of the mass execution, the fiscal cliff, the Mayan Doomsday, and, heck, even the Eagles, has made this a pretty heavy holiday season. But refuge awaited inside a legendary local theater where a classic show was being offered as a timeless salve for society's woes. The stage lights are back on inside the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, which, since 1939, has showcased the talents of such stars as Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Walter Matthau, and Helen Hayes.
October 1, 2011 |
You can tell the makers of Bunraku were really excited about creating a cool, new movie world, because that's all the movie is: 118 minutes of effects, art direction, and genres. The story unites a gunslinger (Josh Hartnett) and a samurai (the androgynous Japanese pop star Gackt) for the purpose of killing a crime lord (Ron Perlman). So it's a western, a swordsman movie, and a gangster epic, yet it's none of those things. I imagine the writer and director, Guy Moshe, wanted to see what would happen if he pretended a bunch of different iconic styles and archetypal characters could be compressed into a single film.
November 22, 2010 |
The NFL should expand its injury reports. It's time for the league to include media members in the updates. Most weeks, the studio hosts on ESPN, CBS, Fox, and the NFL Network would be listed as questionable (judgment) or doubtful (use of logic). With Michael Vick dominating the NFL and its story lines lately, all of them would have been upgraded to probable (hype and hyperbole). Vick's numbers weren't as cartoonish against the New York Giants on Sunday night as they were against the Washington Redskins on Monday night, partly because his receivers dropped at least two passes that should have been touchdowns.
November 16, 2010 |
In ancient Athens 2,409 years ago, Socrates stood trial for, essentially, being a philospher, and for teaching the youth under his wing to ask questions. I doubt that he had a bunch of jurors as annoyingly responsive as the ones on the soundtrack that plays throughout Plato's Apology: The Trial of Socrates , a Quintessence Theatre production at Mount Airy's Sedgwick Theater. But he would have been lucky to have the stage persona of the production's Socrates, Sam Tsoutsouvas.
September 1, 2008
Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh People in show business talk about Foley sound design - the art of creating such sound effects as footsteps, clanking chains and galloping horses with unseen props. Jack Foley, a key figure at Universal Studios back in the day, originated these techniques; now there are now whole courses in Foley. Jordan Harrison's play, Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh , is having a lively, clever production by Azuka Theatre, under Kevin Glaccum's direction.
May 30, 2008 |
Not a dry eye in the house. Thornton Wilder's Our Town, with its combination of sentimentality and nostalgia, never fails to move people. And the Arden's lavish, leisurely production, capstone of its 20th season, proves that the old American classic is well worth reviving. Our Town is about Grover's Corners, a small New Hampshire town early in the 20th century. We get to know the Webb family and the Gibbs family; we watch Emily Webb (the lovely Rebecca Blumhagen) and George Gibbs (Peterson Townsend)
December 15, 2006 |
It's Christmas Eve. A television station, WKRIS, is going to tape a reading by a formerly famous actor of the traditional Christmas poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas. " Only minutes before the start, the behind-the-scenes staffers learn that this will be a live broadcast, and all of them are pressed into performance. The mistakes and the solutions are hilarious, as we watch both what happens on stage and what the home audience sees on the television monitor. Azuka Theatre's 'Twas the Night, at St. Stephen's Theatre, is an enjoyable hour that could be funnier if it were shorter, although the performance I saw was a preview and it might tighten up. At the start, we're introduced to the Russian cinematographer (John Zak)
January 10, 2006 |
World War I. France, 1916. Two young men, fresh from Yale, volunteer as ambulance drivers. They meet two nurses, one English and one French. If you're interested in plot, all the predictable stuff follows: love, sex, letters, death, grief. (Think A Farewell to Arms. Think Casablanca.) But Pig Iron Theatre Company's Gentlemen Volunteers is thrillingly unpredictable, because along with the surprisingly moving melodrama, we get dazzling theatrical effects. These effects are created by the imagination and precision Pig Iron is famous for: no makeup, no props, no scenery - no net. The play is performed in English, in French and in mime, and the audience is herded from station to station in the vast, nearly empty Drexel Armory.
July 14, 2003 |
I N THE 1930s and '40s, composers from Berlin, Vienna and Budapest came to Hollywood to invent symphonic film music. In the 1970s, when electronics began to take over, John Williams from Long Island brought symphonic music back. Five Oscars, 42 nominations and nine Grammys later, the prolific Williams is the most visible film composer in history. He'll make his first appearance at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow night conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. It's been estimated that 50 times more people know the theme to "Star Wars" than know Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.