SPOTTED! If you didn’t catch him on Smash, don’t fear: mega casting director Bernie Telsey is featured in this bank ad…
Members of the animal kingdom may pop up occasionally in shows (here’s looking at you, Annie) but these appearances are usually simple and little more than “awwww”-inducing.
And yet! Trevor (by Nick Jones at Lesser America/TFNC) takes a different tack, placing a chimpanzee dead center of its wild story. How exactly is this managed? By casting a human in the part. (Diversity advocates Animal Equity are surely up in arms about the decision.)
Actor Steven Boyer inhabits the primate with little more than a waddle and gimp arms. Costume designer Elizabeth Barrett Groth continues with the minimalist approach, clothing Boyer not in fur but a polo and overalls. The suggestion of animal-ness rather a declaration of it avoids prosthetics and leaves much of the imaginative work to the audience.
The recent Bengal Tiger at the Bagdhad Zoo functioned similarly: As the titular tiger of this Broadway show, Robin Williams looked basically human at first glance; it was only through the text, Williams’s performance, and a scraggly beard that the tiger-ness shone through. (Oh yeah—and the title.)
But the 2005 Broadway revival of Seascape took the opposite approach, outfitting its lizards in costumes that aimed for intense verisimilitude.
Which do you think is the more effective approach? And what do you make of other tactics for depicting animals onstage, like the puppetry used in War Horse or The Lion King? Inscribe below!
Trevor photos by Hunter Canning
At All in the Timing, that’s where.
What you see above is the G-rated version of what actually goes on in one segment—an Einstein on the Beach satire—of this crazy, whakkadoodle show. Modesty standards prevent me from putting up a picture of the yeasty act of life-making… but suffice it to say that each bread-child comes about thanks to… well… a rolling pin.
Snaps all around for David Ives and Walter Bobbie, who’ve given me the resources to answer every child who asks, “when does bread come from?”
Not the stork, little one, not the stork…
photo by James Leynse
If you’re like me, old, repurposed theaters both thrill and dismay you. On the one hand, it’s exciting to see something familiar in a surprising light (how will they use that mezzanine?!); on the other, it’s always a bit sad to see the breeding grounds of art turned into a deli or a shoe store.
That melancholic mixture—half smile, half tear—arrives full bore at the Empire Garden Restaurant in Boston. Known in legitimacy as the Globe Theater or as Loew’s Globe Theater, the EGR successfully retains much of its theatrical charm, making a hell of a backdrop for dim sum. Still… it makes a hell of a backdrop for dim sum. Enough said.
Dipping under its deep red marquee, a small, uneventful lobby takes you to a TV-studded, classical stairway.
Another lobby waits at the top…
… and snif snif—you’re in dim sum land!
Make sure to mind the carts as you enter the gorgeous seating area. (Apparently the panels in the proscenium open up to reveal another dining area, opened for weddings and such.)
After ordering, run on up to that proscenium and take in the plaster.
Just don’t think too hard about the strange collision of Eastern and Western art behind you!
The entire restaurant, the owner explained to me, sits one floor level above what would’ve been the orchestra section. (As if the stairs weren’t enough of a giveaway, the proscenium’s legs tell the original story: They’re almost comically short.)
But that original ground level grants no hint of its glitzy, lavish past. Today, it’s an Asian foods market.
So: Yes, it’s cool to have your lunch in such gilded splendor. Who doesn’t want a little cherub watching as you eat pork dumplings?
But it’s also a bit sacrilegious, isn’t it? Knawing your way around a temple of theater?
Forgive us, Bacchus, as we slurp and chew.
There are few sights quite so tantalizing as that of a Broadway load-in…
Are you salivating yet?
BRING IT ON, BABY! 2013 GONNA REPRESENT!
I’m pretty much definitely the only person who finds this interesting (am I? am I?), but it seems that the Roundabout Theatre Company is doing a bit of rebranding. Witness the swanky new poster pasted on 44th Street…
Cool, right? It feels current, stylish, casually affluent. The abstract-y comedy/drama masks, the mod coloring, the artful nod to diversity, the focus on YOU (“exposing you,” “introducing you,” “it’s about you”)–it’s a far cry from the more traditional lettering more commonly associated with this reputable, classics-heavy company:
Does this advertising shift herald a new programming focus?
Time shall tell…
Fun fact: Not all Masonic temples house self-flagelating albino monks or creepy, cloaked knights. (Thanks, DaVinci Code and Eyes Wide Shut for that one.) As I found out in Detroit—on tour with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-–some such temples are pretty normal, pretty cool theaters. (As for the above photos, yes, that’s a prop milk jug. Such are the trappings of children’s theater.)
Our particular haunt sported some religious-y flying buttresses and a Gothic, arched ceiling. But the rest of the digs were purely secular. Some good, blood-red “legs” (as they’re called in the biz) framed our singing and dancing…
… and a set of dainty ropes started their trip to the fly tower, ready to open vents in case of fire.
More vintage treasures were to be found here…
… but pity the actor forced to rely on this set of floor directions:
After all, if they directed him here, to the American Horror Story-style loading dock, who knows what could happen to him?
Even worse, how could he defend himself in the elevator from these terrifying miscreants?
Hmm… maybe “Masonic Temples” aren’t so benign after all…
Can architecture be both modern and primal? Stephens Auditorium at the Iowa State Center, a recent stop of mine, argues yes! it can! For proof, first examine the jagged, toothlike boxes (above) than hang over the vast orchestra (below).
They’re equal parts Modernism and tribalism, reason and fury, security and danger, violent, giant spears put to contemporary use. Looking at them, I think of mod, Le Corbusier-like starchitects, but also of ancient, primitive South American clans. Quite the coupling, eh?
This odd dance of eras plays out all over the space, from the cavern of the house…
… to the starship-meets-temple exterior.
It’s even present in the exquisite patterns of béton brut (“raw concrete”) that tattoo the building’s in- and exteriors. (Béton brut is a gorgeous style in which the imprints of wooden, concrete molds are left intact rather than smoothed over.) It literally collides old world and new, embossing the present with the past.
Past and present… not so separate after all.
Get excited — here comes the new season!!! 45th Street is chock full of new marquees:
From left, there’s the Booth (Other Desert Cities), the Schoenfeld (Bonnie and Clyde), the Jacobs (The Mountaintop), and the Golden (Seminar). Across the street, not in view, is the Music Box (Private Lives).
BRING IT ON!
Ticket prices got you down? Head to the High Line above 10th Ave for a free show where New York herself is the star. This park, a repurposed elevated track, is an exercise in “city as theater:” By framing and focusing our otherwise scattered attention, the High Line reveals New York as the glittery, every-changing diva she really is. Walking along this shrubbery promenade, you stop, breathe, and really see where you are. Is this not the highest task of art? Continue reading
To find out, take a glance at the Eugene O’Neill’s marquee. In the grand tradition of “Cats” (those yellow eyes!), “Phantom” (that mask!) and “Merchant” (Pacino!), words have given way to a single, iconic image– in this case, a shiny doorknob. Tickets cost $8,000,000, it’s “the best musical of the century,” there aren’t seats until 2020, but it’s the marquee, I think, that says it all.
The demand for this (admittedly fun) show is so insane, the brand so instantly identifiable, that titles are superfluous. Now that’s what I call a hit.
Are those South Park guys the new Andrew Lloyd Webber?
London may be theatrical mecca, but British ad firms have a decidedly trashy bent when it comes to marketing shows: shiny, bubbled, or bedazzled lettering. 2D, classy type just doesn’t cut it. If you want to be a populist, West-End hit, you need implants. Examine the evidence.
Here in America, “Rock of Ages” is simple and shiny:
- … but in London, it’s gotten the Agelina Jolie treatment: