The Place To Be this weekend, for musical comedy aficionados, appears to be The American Century Theater performing at Gunston's Theatre II. TACT's "Rescues" series has a crowd-pleaser in its currently offered concert/staged reading of Kurt Weill's "One Touch of Venus" There remain only three more performances of this forgotten gem, which received a love letter from Potomac Stages the day after opening. The first two performances were packed to the rafters with enthusiastic viewers unlikely to ever again hear this beautiful score performed. The large cast of over 30 actors are donating their time and talent to bring this unusual piece, full of humor and romance, to life. Seats are being squeezed in, as TACT hates to turn people away, even when the tickets are free! Remaining performances are Saturday, 7/30, at 2:30 and 8 PM, and on Sunday, 7/31, at 1:30 PM.
In light of this week's fuss about Bob Anthony and WSC, I thought I'd offer this up. Buried in this intermittently entertaining piece about the Avignon theater festival is a hint or two about what, in my view at least, a good critic tries to do ...
I just read that Patti LuPone is starring as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd on Broadway this fall. Is it just me, or does it seem like there's been way too much revising of old Sondheim musicals? This one is based on the London revival--haven't we also had enough of London revivals on Broadway? I adore Patti LuPone, but I'd rather she revise the Maria Callas role in Master Class or even the mom in Life Goes On than see her sing "The Worst Pies in London."
So if it isn't a Sondheim musical revival, a musical based on a semi-funny movie or a Disney cartoon--what's left to see on the Great White Way? If you want to see a musical, that is...personally, I'm going to try to see Silence! The Musical at NYC Fringe Festival next month--definitely not Broadway material, though it is based on a movie.
Perhaps TBoy readers do not care what's going on in New York; however, with DC theatres' proclivity of snapping up Broadway and off-Broadway shows as soon as the rights are out--I think we can be wary of the trickle-down effect.
So apparently it's Jay Hardee, not Jay Hardy. (See previous post.) Tboy is positively crimson.
In his defense, he never reads the WSC press releases. Come to think of it, he rarely hears from Mr. Hardee -- Mr. Henley, for some reason, always nags Tboy about press nights.
In fact -- OK, here's the whole embarrassing truth -- Tboy had the name "Jason Hardy" in his address book for WSC, which just goes to show you that he must've met the company PR guy at an opening-night party, or at Drama Prom, or in some such loud-ass situation where you can't hear properly.
Theater lovers should note that WSC has dropped Bob Anthony (review4u) from their press list because they say that he "made two errors of grammar" in a recent review...which were corrected immediately! How Kafka-esque can it get! Bob Anthony has reviewed WSC shows since the get-go for the past 15 plus years with nary an objection to his reviews. We trust that readers of his freelance webpage and other theater lovers will boycott WSC. Bob was arts critic for ten years with Jazz 90 radio and freelance for the past five years and reviewed over 400 productions and museums the past year.
Washington Shakespeare Company flack Jay Hardy replies that yes, an increase in review-comp requests from blogs and suchlike recently prompted a review of the company's press list, and Review4U, a no-frills 'zine published on an AOL personal-page server, "just is not a professional Web site."
Among other lapses, sez Hardy, Review4U has referred to actor Hugh T. Owen as "Huge T. Owens" and to the company as the Washington Shakespeare Theater.
Hardy points out that Woolly Mammoth, and perhaps other companies, has likewise stopped inviting Review4U to press openings. He claims, too, that Anthony reminded WSC of his regular donations to the company when he called to complain about having been dumped--as if that ought to change the calculus.
The long and short of it, says Hardy: "I feel no need to feed his ego and comp him in as a professional. I've never seen worse writing. And just because he used to review for the radio doesn't entitle him to see free theater for the rest of his life."
Not having been a regular Review4U reader, Tboy has no particular opinion on the quality of Anthony's prose. He does feel compelled to observe that it's generally verboten for a conscientious critic to make a financial contribution to any company he covers.
That said, a quick survey of the Review4U site would seem to indicate that Anthony and his cohorts see more theater than Tboy manages to.
And when you have as much trouble filling houses as WSC does, Tboy wonders whether it makes sense to alienate anyone who can help expose you to potential patrons, however few. Really: What's it cost to let the man in?
Didactic Theater just sent Tboy a note about its new season -- which'll wrap up next summer with God of Hell, the Sam Shepard play getting so much attention right now out in West Virginia.
Which just makes Tboy wonder: Whatthehell? Didactic, which has how much of a budget, got the rights? No offense to anybody associated with Didactic, but was none of DC's bigger companies interested? Yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Woolly and Studio.
that said column is blunt about the sorry state of the theater's physical plant
that said column mentions (and includes a link to!) all the anti-WSC vitriol y'all posted here last week
On toppa that, Tboy hears that the Clark Street air-conditioners, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are dead. And it's officially headed for 100 degrees this afternoon. And tonight's press night for Royal Hunt of the Sun.
Which, when you add it all up, is just a bitch of a day...
... isn't' Joe Banno on the Folger Theatre roster this coming season?
Actually Tboy knows a little bit about why, having heard eye-opening things about timidity and disloyalty from more than one person who isn't Joe Banno, but he's not sure he's allowed to say. Wouldn't want to burn a source, now, not in this town, this week...