Archive for the Theatre Category

OLYMPIA DUKAKIS: A POWERFUL & LEGENDARY PRESENCE

Posted in Theatre on February 1, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

No one can fault OLYMPIA DUKAKIS with a lack of commitment to her roles.

The ACADEMY AWARD winner has a tendency to return again and again to the same plays and the same parts. By her count, she’s done EUGENE O’NEILL’S LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT three or four times, BERTOLD BRECHT’S MOTHER COURAGE & HER CHILDREN four times, TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ THE ROSE TATTOO five times, EURIPIDES’ HECUBA three times and several Chekhov plays “a bunch of times.”

“I love to go back to plays over and over again,” she said while taking a lunch break from rehearsing her latest project, an off Broadway production of TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ THE MILK TRAIN DOESN’T STOP HERE ANY MORE.

“You go back and there are new things that come up and other things that percolated and cooked. You get into it a little bit differently, in some ways deeper.”

OLYMPIA plays Flora Goforth, a fearsome but gloriously wealthy ill American who has buried four husbands and retired to an Italian villa high atop a mountain to furiously write her memoirs before she dies. Her work is interrupted by a mysteriously attractive younger man who offers his company in exchange for refuge.

“In spite of the fact of her being a monster – so to speak – there’s something so human about her that we all can connect to. None of us want to be defeated by age. We all want to feel passion in our lives.”

And, yes, she’s done the play before, too.

The Massachusetts born actor first played the challenging role in 1996 at THE WILLIAMSTOWN THEATER FESTIVAL and reprised it in 2008 at Hartford Stage under the direction of MICHAEL WILSON. THE ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY has brought both MICHAEL WILSON and OLYMPIA to its LAURA PELS THEATRE on 46th Street.

“She has dared to put the full force of her being and talent into this role,” said MICHAEL WILSON of his star.

“In order to do this, I think Olympia has had to throw vanity out the window, which she is not afraid to do. Not all actors of her stature and success and beauty are willing to do this.”

Considered to be a minor work from a playwright already on the decline, MILK TRAIN has been largely overlooked in the Williams cannon. This production, part of a celebration commemorating the centennial of the playwright’s birth, proves that even his lesser plays can be lyrically powerful.

“Sometimes it annoys critics that these plays are done,” remarked OLYMPIA, visibly exhausted and picking at a turkey burger.

“Sometimes they feel that it’s dated. I can’t see how this play is dated at all.”

MILK TRAIN had a somewhat cursed life on Broadway. It opened on January 16, 1963, during a newspaper strike — meaning no advertising or reviews — and closed after just 69 performances. TENNESSEE WILLIAMS revised his script and it opened again the following January, starring TALLULAH BANKHEAD and TAB HUNTER. It lasted only five performances. A film version was made called BOOM! in 1968 with ELIZABETH TAYLOR and RICHARD BURTON, which OLYMPIA dismissed as “stunning in its obtuseness.”

OLYMPIA is very familiar with TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, having been in productions of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA and SUMMER & SMOKE, in addition to her five times aboard THE ROSE TATTOO.

“I’m drawn to him because it feels like there’s a truth that I understand and live with which is in the plays. I can be honest. It’s the honesty he keeps finding, the truth he keeps finding.”

OLYMPIA’S career has been steady and rewarding, highlighted by roles such as Clairee in STEEL MAGNOLIAS, the TV miniseries adaptation of ARMISTEAD MAUPIN’S TALES OF THE CITY and her OSCAR winning turn as CHER’S sardonic mother in MOONSTRUCK. For almost two decades she also ran her own theatre company with her husband of 48 years, actor LOUIS ZORICH, while they raised their three children.

She isn’t slowing down either, despite her 80th birthday coming up this summer.

After MILK TRAIN ends in April, there’s a movie and then she’s booked to be in MORRIS PANYCH’s VIGIL at The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in November. In between, she’s set to perform ROSE in July at the birthplace of her parents when she attends The International Festival Of The Aegean in Greece in mid July.

And, yes, she’s done that play before, too.

The one person ROSE, written by playwright Martin Sherman, is essentially a two hour monologue by an 80 year old Holocaust survivor. OLYMPIA has played it in London and on Broadway in 2000, among other places.

Even though she’s intimately connected to the piece and has memorized it before in what critics called a tour de force, for the upcoming Greek production she’ll keep referring to the 67 page script on stage — she’s a little out of practice to do it off book.

“I’d have to be doing it every week. And I’d shoot somebody.”

ON LINE:

THE ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER LOVES PLAYING JOHN BARRYMORE

Posted in Theatre on January 27, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER never met legendary actor JOHN BARRYMORE, but said he has always felt a kinship with the stage and screen great.

“I felt I knew him…because I knew his daughter Diana very well,”
he said at a recent rehearsal for BARRYMORE at The Elgin Theatre.

“Through her, I got a whole feeling of not only (John) but Ethel and Lionel and everybody in the family. I didn’t have a clue I was going to do Barrymore then — I was 16 years old — but she furnished me with such a lot of material that when it came to doing it, I sort of felt I’d done my homework all ready.”

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER won a TONY AWARD for starring in BARRYMORE on Broadway 15 years ago. The latest incarnation of the show opens Thursday night.

Written by William Luce, BARRYMORE is set in 1942 and depicts one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time in the final year of his life.

The setting is the stage of a Broadway theatre, where JOHN BARRYMORE is struggling with the title role of SHAKESPEARE’S RICHARD III.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, who earned his first OSCAR nomination last year for playing Russian novelist LEO TOLSTOY in THE LAST STATION is the only actor on stage throughout the play. A second actor, JOHN PLUMPIS, is heard off stage, playing a prompter helping JOHN BARRYMORE with his RICHARD III lines.

“I’ve played a lot more (Shakespeare roles) than Jack Barrymore has, but his were special, I think,” said the elegant actor, looking fit in a black zip up sweater and an unbuttoned black blazer.

“He worked so hard on his voice and it was a really quite beautiful voice. And his looks — he was astoundingly handsome and the most romantic of all the Hamlets, I would think, ever.”

The Toronto born performer, who has homes in Florida and Connecticut, first starred in BARRYMORE at THE STRATFORD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL and toured with it in several American cities before opening on Broadway in 1997.

For the current revival of the show, he’s had to juggle rehearsals with filming in Sweden and Los Angeles for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, in which he plays the patriarch.

He said the globetrotting has been worth it as he gets to reunite with the original BARRYMORE creative team, including three time TONY AWARD winning director GENE SAKS.

“He’s wicked,” CHRISTOPHER said with a hearty chuckle in reference to Mr. Saks, who was behind eight NEIL SIMON hits.

“He comes up with some wonderful crusty old criticisms and I’m used to that and I love it. And he’s usually instinctively right. It’s terrific.”

JOHN BARRYMORE starred in more than 60 films, including GRAND HOTEL and TWENTIETH CENTURY.

He also hailed from a star studded family dynasty: His parents were performers MAURICE BARRYMORE and GEORGINA DREW BARRYMORE and his siblings were actors LIONEL BARRYMORE and ETHEL BARRYMORE.

JOHN BARRYMORE is also the paternal grandfather of film star DREW BARRYMORE.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, who also has prominent lineage (his great grandfather was Prime Minister John Abbott), said that when he was young, JOHN BARRYMORE “was the ideal actor to emulate.”

“He was on top of the world for a while in the 20s. There was nobody who could touch him, classically — amazing because he only played three parts: Hamlet, Richard and Mercutio (in Romeo & Juliet) where he was mostly drunk throughout the whole thing. And I think he did a Sir Toby Belch somewhere. But that’s it.”

“He didn’t go on doing this wonderful work, which is sad.”

Indeed, the latter half of JOHN BARRYMORE’S life was tragic, with alcoholism leading to a decline in his health and career.

In BARRYMORE, he ruminates on his life while practising for his big comeback, at one point lashing out at his prompter Frank when he thinks he’s disrespected him.

“Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER (as JOHN BARRYMORE) shouted on stage during a recent rehearsal for members of the media.

“You, you miserable old ham!” Frank shouted back.

JOHN BARRYMORE then softened when Frank reminded him that he was great in RICHARD III and HAMLET, remarking: “Yeah? Well what happened to me?”

“I don’t think he liked himself very much,” said CHRISTOPHER.

“I think he sort of put all that on in a grand manner. But underneath he was a pussycat, you could push him anywhere and I think that’s another reason he drank so much.”

“He didn’t think he was terribly good.”

PAUL REUBENS: THE SECOND ACT IS SWEETER

Posted in Phenomenons, Theatre on November 2, 2010 by Miranda Wilding


FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The red bow tie is back. The white chunky loafers are as well. So is that tight grey suit.

The Secret Word today is: Comeback. Pee Wee has returned from exile.

PAUL REUBENS, who virtually abandoned the cult character he created nearly two decades ago following scandal, is making his Broadway debut with a reworking of the same theatrical show that started Pee Wee’s career in the late 1980s.

“I think it’s full circle. I view it even a little fuller, I guess. I feel that it’s full circle in that I can come back around to a really good place where I was. As opposed to having my career end on this sour note,” commented PAUL during an interview before a recent rehearsal.

“I absolutely feel like I want to redeem myself to a degree and this seemed like a really pure way to do it.”

PAUL has been soaking up the attention this time around. He has donned his Pee Wee suit and popped up all over New York to drum up attention for THE PEE WEE HERMAN SHOW, which officially opens NOVEMBER 11.

Everywhere he goes, people say: “Glad you’re back.”

“I really just never got any of this the first time around,” he remarked, getting a little teary.

“I feel really lucky and really blessed right now. I just feel like it’s my time. The stars are aligning for me.”

PAUL, who is as quiet and thoughtful in real life as Pee Wee is zany and high pitched, is still slim and boyish. He’s dressed for California on this chilly New York day — jacketless in jeans, a plaid shirt and a clunky digital watch. He’s pressed for time.

So much of it has been lost.

“I wasn’t feeling it for a long time. And then all of a sudden it became a long time. All of a sudden I was like, ‘Wow. How do you come back now out of this?’ And you know what the answer was? You just do it.”

“I didn’t feel like I needed anyone’s permission to come back. And what do I have to lose? Nothing really.”

Much of Pee Wee’s exile has been self imposed since PAUL’S July 1991 arrest for indecent exposure in Sarasota, Florida. He was handed a small fine but the damage to the character was incalculable.

“When I was arrested in 1991, offers poured in. All kinds. I mean, some of those offers weren’t things that I wanted to do and were taking advantage of the luridness of my situation, but I haven’t really had trouble working or existing or having a career. It just changed. Everything changed.”

For a performer who had spent a long time and a lot of energy tying to make people think Pee Wee was real, PAUL watched as the public unmasking put a cloud over his best known alter ego.

“It was one thing to say, ‘Paul Reubens, he’s this or that.’ But to move that into this work that I loved and that I thought was special and that I thought was important — that was extreme to me. That was something that the second it happened, I went, ‘Wow, that is so sad.'”

“And I can’t do anything about it.”

PAUL continued to act, playing characters other than Pee Wee and scoring successes in BATMAN RETURNS in 1992 and a 1995 EMMY nomination for a recurring guest role on MURPHY BROWN. He has also been on TV shows like 30 ROCK and the late lamented PUSHING DAISIES, as well as prominent roles in the films NAILED and LIFE DURING WARTIME.

In the years since the arrest, some could argue that PAUL got a raw deal, at least in comparison to other public figures who have almost instantly jumped back from controversy.

“I’ve become wise and mature. Not Pee Wee, but me. I’m absolutely a different person. All those cliches about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Somehow, I wound up being this evolved, wise person.”

Even in exile, he and Pee Wee had unfinished business. PAUL, who has several TV and movie scripts in his head starring his quirky nerd, wanted to bring him back.

“I didn’t see any reason to put Pee Wee away.”

So he went back to the beginning: a live show based on THE PEE WEE HERMAN SHOW that debuted in Los Angeles in 1981 and was a success with both kids during matinees and adults at a midnight show.

It inspired Tim Burton’s feature PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE in 1985 and another film BIG TOP PEE WEE three years later. His television series PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE ran for five seasons, earned 22 EMMYS and attracted not only children but adults to Saturday morning TV.

Both silly and subversive and championing nonconformity, the Pee Wee universe is a trippy place, populated by things such as a talking armchair and a friendly pterodactyl. The host, who is fond of secret words and loves fruit salad so much he once married it, is prone to lines like, “I know you are, but what am I?” and “Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer.”

The act was a hit because it worked on multiple levels, even though PAUL insisted that that wasn’t the plan.

“It’s for kids. People have tried to get me for years to go, ‘It wasn’t really for kids, right?’ Even the original show was for kids. I always censored myself to have it be kid friendly.”

“The whole thing has been just a gut feeling from the beginning. That’s all it ever is and I think always ever be. Much as people want me to dissect it and explain it, I can’t. One, I don’t know and two, I don’t want to know and three, I feel like I’ll hex myself if I know.”

The new 11 actor show brings back many of the favourite characters in a plot centred on Pee Wee’s desire to fly. PAUL is the star, producer and cowriter, with renowned puppetry artist Basil Twist and director Alex Timbers also aboard.

“He’s terrific,” said Alex Timbers of PAUL.

“He’s very collaborative. He’s really funny. He’s a terrific actor. You’d think in a way that after doing a character for 30 years that he wouldn’t have a light hand, but he’s very open to new ideas.”

PAUL checks his watch. He knows it’s time to get back on stage and do a million things to tune up his show before opening night. This second bite of the apple seems that much sweeter.

“The future seems very bright and full of positivity…and I’m excited.”

ON LINE:

www.peewee.com/broadway

THE LEGENDARY ELAINE STRITCH: A TRUE ORIGINAL

Posted in Phenomenons, Theatre on October 19, 2010 by Miranda Wilding



FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ELAINE STRITCH has an off the wall anecdote to share. And when ELAINE STRITCH wants to tell a story, you listen.

“I have no secrets,” the 85 year old Broadway legend said by way of introduction as she sat at a makeup table getting her eyes done a few hours before a performance of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC.

A few days ago, she began, she was at her Midtown hairdressers for a three hour appointment before a show when she realized she’d forgotten her teeth. Ms. Stritch, who calls herself “a brittle diabetic,” has two sets of dental implants – one for the stage and one for regular life. She didn’t have the ones for the theatre.

She had no time to waste: She called over to THE CARLYLE HOTEL, where she lives these days, to ask an assistant to find the stage teeth — they’d be in a little white container in the bathroom. She wanted them brought down to the front desk.

Then she tried to contact her hired limo driver, who was idling outside the salon. But she didn’t have his number and there was no time to get hold of the car service. So Ms. Stritch, in a bit of a panic by now, went out to find him.

“I run downstairs. I’ve got on the robe from the hairdressers.” And she leans into the window of the limo and bellows: You’ve got to drive up to The Carlyle and pick up my teeth!!!

“Suddenly, I’m standing in the middle of 57th Street. And there are about 20 people laughing,” she recalled with a sly smile.

“Publicity stunt? No way! No way. You don’t do publicity stunts like that. Not even I could do that unless it was really happening.”

Spend an hour with her and you’ll get a lot of stories like that — funny, self effacing and revealing. The woman seems to have an iron core: brassy and exacting and salty, but also accommodating and full of wit.

“I like anything I don’t know about,” she remarked at one point. “And I don’t like most of the things I do.”

At another point, she offers this: “The most horrible line in the English language for me is, ‘God, you haven’t changed a bit.’ It’s the worst thing you can say to anybody.”

STEPHEN R. BUNTROCK, her costar in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, has long admired the actor and has learned to stay on his toes around her.

“You have to bring your A game when you’re around her. If she senses any kind of weakness, she will dive in. And in her wonderful, strong personality way, draw it out of you.”

ELAINE STRITCH has become a sort of shorthand for acting longevity since she made her Broadway debut in LOCO in 1946. Since then, she’s performed in both musicals and dramas, from EDWARD ALBEE to NOEL COWARD to STEPHEN SONDHEIM. She’s appeared in numerous films (including two WOODY ALLEN movies: SEPTEMBER and SMALL TIME CROOKS) and on TV as the EMMY winning mother of ALEC BALDWIN in 30 ROCK.

Her one person show ELAINE STRITCH AT LIBERTY won her a second TONY in 2002 and her cabaret shows at THE CARLYLE HOTEL are legendary.

Each generation finds her relevant and hip. She was recently parodied on an episode of THE SIMPSONS in which Lisa Simpson attends a fancy performing arts camp. One class was on making wallets with ELAINE STRITCH and ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.

She got an enormous kick out of it. “That’s worth being in the business for 150 years,” she said with a laugh.

Ms. Stritch has been getting standing ovations lately for her turn as Madame Armfeldt in a revival of STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. She and BERNADETTE PETERS replaced ANGELA LANSBURY and CATHERINE ZETA JONES over the summer and have agreed to stay on until JANUARY 9.

Ms. Stritch plays a wheelchair bound aristocrat who offers dry and hysterical pronouncements in her half dozen scenes and mourns the loss of standards in her big song LIAISONS, in which she looks back on her profitable sexual conquests of dukes and barons.

“Where is skill?” she asks. “Where’s passion in the art? Where’s craft?”

She is at an age — and with such goodwill built up — that simply appearing on stage will earn her bursts of applause. But she still tries to earn it every time with a heart tugging take on Madame Armfeldt.

“It’s a very hard part for me. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why. Some parts just don’t blow me away. This one did. There’s a lot of new kind of emotions. You don’t want to go into that because an actor talking about how they do their stuff is more boring than anything I can ever think of.”

She calls the song LIAISONS interesting, intelligent and unusual. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“It can creep into meaning you’re getting close to leaving the building time at my age. There’s no sense not paying attention to it because it’s absolutely true.”

“You know where I’m at in age? I don’t need anything. That’s a little scary — when you know that the last two bras you bought are it. You won’t need any more. I’m not going to live long enough for any big new discovery at Victoria’s Secret.”

She has one issue she’d love to leave as her legacy: reducing the standard eight shows a week contract that performers sign.

“I wish I could leave the building with that having been accomplished — seven shows a week. Eight shows gets to be too much.”

When producers of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC asked her and the cast to do nine performances a week, she had a fit.

She gleefully displayed a letter she wrote demanding a change: “Try to understand our physical, emotional, physiological desperation,” it read. Producers soon backed down.

Ms. Stritch is already planning her future when this musical ends. She’s considering doing an evening of just ELTON JOHN songs.

“You don’t know what I can do with those songs,” she mused.

“It might be fun and unusual.”

ON LINE:

www.NightMusicOnBroadway.com

MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE: A FRESH TAKE ON A BELOVED CLASSIC

Posted in Dance, Theatre on October 18, 2010 by Miranda Wilding


FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the imagery of classical dance, the swan is innocence personified. It is ethereal. It floats, it flutters, it wobbles and it dies — ever so delicately.

The swan does not have rippling biceps or chest hair. It does not have 10 pack abs. It does not thunder. It does not hiss.

Unless, of course, we’re in Matthew Bourne’s world. And what a mesmerizing place that is.

More than a decade after Mr. Bourne’s eye popping troupe of male swans first hit New York in his reimagined SWAN LAKE, winning three TONY AWARDS, the production returned Sunday for a nearly four week run at CITY CENTER.

And it should not be missed.

Call it theatre, dance or something perched happily in between, the return of MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE is a chance for those who didn’t catch it in 1998 to see what kind of life a fertile mind can breathe into a century old classic, exposing it to audiences who might never dream of entering an opera house.

It’s also a chance to dispel some myths about the show that may still exist even as it has become a classic in its own right, with runs in London’s West End and on Broadway, touring productions world wide and even a reference in the final scene of the movie BILLY ELLIOT, when Billy grows up to perform as — you guessed it — a Bourne swan.

This is not, for example, an all male production of SWAN LAKE, with men in tutus taking over female roles.

Women play women…and men play men.

It’s also not really about being gay.

Yes, the young prince falls in love with a male swan. But the themes here are much broader: It’s essentially about a search for connection and a yearning to belong somewhere…and that universal experience of wanting what we can not have.

All that yearning belongs to the Prince, played here with a thoroughly winning vulnerability by the boyish Dominic North (alternating in the role with Simon Williams).

It’s not hard to sympathize with this young man, who is confined to a life of royal drudgery — ship christenings, statue unveilings and the like — with a mother who is incapable of affection, unless it’s of a sexual nature.

As the curtain rises and the lush Tchaikovsky score begins (the music is taped in this production) the prince is sleeping uneasily, a stuffed toy swan in his arms. His mother enters his room to check on him: She refuses his outstretched arms.

Briefly, the subject of his dreams — or are they nightmares? — appears above his bed: a swan, majestic and menacing.

But these creatures will not fully appear until later in the show, when the prince, having been tossed out of a divey disco (you wouldn’t think it would be easy to stage a disco scene to Tchaikovsky, complete with an Elvis impersonator, but Matthew Bourne does it) and now in utter despair, heads to a park at the edge of a lake. He writes a suicide note and prepares to jump.

And then there they are…

Matthew Bourne’s barechested creatures, in their satyr like costumes by Lez Brotherston, emerge from the water with soaring leaps, muscular yet graceful, dangerous and alluring at the same time. Mr. Bourne has found ways for his birds to flap their arms and jerk their heads and necks in a manner that seems much more swanlike than their idealized ballet versions.

As their leader, Richard Winsor (alternating with Jonathan Ollivier) is not only a stellar dancer but charismatic, with a penetrating stare under those black lined eyes and the black strip coming down his forehead. Later, at the Royal Ball, he resembles an androgynous rock star in black leather pants and wielding a riding crop as The Stranger. It is the human incarnation of his swan, the manipulative Odile to his first act Odette. It’s easy to see why he makes both men and women swoon.

Like so many of the other performers, Richard Winsor is an actor as well as a dancer. There is no actual dialogue in this SWAN LAKE but there is certainly acting – and not merely the canned dance acting facial expressions one sees in so many story ballets.

Particularly fine on the comic side is Madelaine Brennan as the kooky, bubble headed lass who tries to lure the prince. And Nina Goldman is a chillingly effective Queen.

The costumes are first rate, too. Check out the Queen’s stunning red ball gown covered by a black cape. It’s worthy of a red carpet appearance.

Of course, things never turn out happily in SWAN LAKE for either prince or swan — not in the original and not certainly not here. Though Matthew Bourne has made many changes in the plot and has tweaked the production, he says, to this day, the end is still sadly the same: Only in death can a prince and the swan he loves finally be together.

MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE, a New Adventures production, runs through NOVEMBER 7.

JULIANNE MOORE’S FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY BECOMES OFF BROADWAY MUSICAL

Posted in Books, Theatre on September 25, 2010 by Miranda Wilding





FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Freckles shouldn’t be any kind of a drawback for JULIANNE. Everyone that I know thinks that she’s incredibly beautiful…and I totally agree.

JULIANNE MOORE is tickled pink about a glowing early review of a new musical based on her FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY children’s book.

Then again, it was from her daughter.

The actor recently took 8 year old LIV to a performance of FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY: THE MUSICAL and was delighted to discover that she didn’t have to bribe her daughter with sweets to stay still.

“When kids watch shows, they’re not very quiet. Usually when I bring my kids to a musical, whenever there’s a ballad, they ask for more candy. She didn’t turn to me once.”

The off Broadway musical is adapted from JULIANNE’S bestselling adventures of a 7 year old relentlessly teased by her schoolmates for having bright red hair and freckles, something the actor knows a lot about.

“I think what they did is absolutely charming. It’s not so easy. I mean, it’s a picture book. It’s a small book. To make it into a show that lasts an hour and a half and maintain the message — a very simple childhood message — I think is pretty phenomenal.”

Now showing at New World Stages, the show features a cast of seven adult professionals and officially opens OCTOBER 1. The music and lyrics were written by GARY KUPPER, with a book by him and ROSE CAIOLA.

ROSE CAIOLA, who runs the MANHATTAN YOUTH BALLET as well as the MANHATTAN MOVEMENT & ARTS CENTER, got the project up and running when she came across JULIANNE’S first book and thought it would be perfect to workshop with children.

To mount it as a real theatrical event, she decided to cast adults, including Hayley Podschun (Pal Joey, Hairspray) as Strawberry.

JULIANNE, the star of such adult dramas as BOOGIE NIGHTS, THE END OF THE AFFAIR, THE HOURS and CHLOE, has tried to let the producers mount their adaptation without too much interference.

“They’ve been incredibly receptive to all of my notes. I certainly never expected it to be a production of this scale.”

Ms. Caiola said JULIANNE’S tweaks have genuinely helped: “She’s really agreed with most of what we’ve done. Little notes here and there have helped to make the show better. She gave me this wonderful opportunity and I want to make her happy.”

The musical, which includes original songs such as I CAN BE ANYTHING and DIFFERENT, stays close to the message JULIANNE hopes to convey in her books: Be happy being who you are.

“There are things about yourself that you’re not going to like necessarily. What we hope will go away as children doesn’t always go away,” stated JULIANNE, who has finished work on a third Freckleface book and plans a fourth.

“I hoped my freckles would go away. They didn’t. They’re still here. I still don’t like them, but they don’t loom as large a problem in my life any more because I have other things that are more important.”

ON LINE:

frecklefacethemusical.com

MARGOT KIDDER: THE 80S VERSION OF LOIS LANE LOVES MONTANA…& WORKING WHEN SHE WANTS TO

Posted in Theatre on August 11, 2010 by Miranda Wilding


FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

MARGOT KIDDER still has the ball gowns.

“(They’re from) when I was being Margot Movie Star,” she said with a chuckle in an interview on Tuesday, referencing her high profile days as LOIS LANE in the blockbuster SUPERMAN films.

“You went to premieres and you went to charity dos and galas and all that sort of thing,” continued the actor, who was born in Yellowknife and now lives largely out of the spotlight in Montana.

“Thank God I don’t have to do that any more. It’s so much work!”

MARGOT mined her clothing memories as she prepared to star in the play LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE in which a panel of female characters give monologues about outfits they’ve worn.

The play, which has been a hit off Broadway, is adapted from the book by Ilene Beckerman and a collection of stories by screenwriting sisters Nora and Delia Ephron.

The Canadian production, which began last month at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto and was recently extended to OCTOBER 2, has a rotating cast.

The first group included SCTV phenomenon ANDREA MARTIN.

The second cast, which takes over Thursday, includes MARGOT, WENDY CREWSON, CYNTHIA DALE, LINDA KASH and LAUREN COLLINS.

MARGOT plays the main narrator Gingy, who muses about how her mother made almost all of her clothing when she was a child and how she desperately longed for a store bought outfit.

“I, like Gingy, had a mother who made my clothes,” commented MARGOT, who is staying with a friend during her time in the city and has bought a bicycle so she can ride to the theatre.

“Oh, it was: ‘Please can we order that pretty dress out of the Eaton’s catalogue?‘ And Mommy would be working really hard. So you don’t want to hurt her feelings. But oh my God, I wanted a store bought dress…”

“I remember getting to go to Eaton’s with Mommy, when I was sent to school here from Labrador because she was afraid I’d get (involved with) one of the miners…and it was pretty exciting.”

MARGOT said she agreed to do LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE because she loved the script and Nora Ephron’s previous work.

“This is such beautiful writing,” she remarked, wearing a black dress and her red hair in a bun during a break from rehearsals.

“And not only that, you get to create a sisterhood with the women you’re working with, which I had once before on The Vagina Monologues…and it was such a joy.”

MARGOT admitted, though, that she’d never heard of the play before she was asked to be in it.

Living in what she calls a “culture free zone” in Livingston, Montana, she only has access to two small theatres and doesn’t hear about the showbiz headlines in New York and Los Angeles.

Living in the Rockies is “heaven.” Her daughter and grandchildren live three blocks from her home.

“When I go away to work, it’s a big, wonderful holiday. I have a great time.”

“But my heart is up there in the wilderness and the mountains and I hike with my dogs and we try and do what we can to keep our part of the world clean and green.”

MARGOT stated that she likes working in “little pieces here and there.”

“It’s about as wonderful a way to work as humanly possible,” she explained. She recently appeared on the TV series Brothers & Sisters.

“I don’t have to live in that zoo of a place in L.A. and worry about how I look all the time and you know, get stuff injected into my face. I don’t have to live in New York which means I don’t have to weigh 10 pounds and have six facelifts.”

“I get to be me. It’s one of the things that happens when you get older: you cross 60 and you just get to be yourself.”

COME FLY AWAY: FROM BROADWAY TO A NATIONAL TOUR NEXT YEAR

Posted in Theatre on July 29, 2010 by Miranda Wilding


FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The FRANK SINATRA musical COME FLY AWAY will run throughout the summer on Broadway.

Its last performance will be at the MARQUIS THEATRE on SEPTEMBER 5, producers announced Wednesday.

The production was conceived, choreographed and directed by TWYLA THARP, who won a DRAMA DESK AWARD for choreography.

COME FLY AWAY will embark on a national tour in MAY 2011 in Chicago. More details on the tour will be announced later.

The show features a 19 piece band, 15 dancers and many of Sinatra’s most popular songs.

THE INCOMPARABLE ANDREA MARTIN

Posted in Entertainment News, Theatre on July 16, 2010 by Miranda Wilding



FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

SCTV performer ANDREA MARTIN can not part with her old Canadian cat sweatshirt.

The U.S. born comedy giant said she received the pink cotton jersey — which is adorned with black velvet cats and the words TORONTO, ONTARIO on the front — as a gift when she moved from New York in 1971 and has kept it as a reminder of that memorable time.

“Occasionally I put it on,” the two time EMMY winner said in a recent phone interview.

“I very seldom wash it and I handle it with care. It still fits — I’m the same size, thank God. My ex husband gave it to me. It was a beautiful time in my life when I came to Canada. I got married and had two children and we were very happy and my career started out…and so I think it symbolizes a kind of innocent time in my life.”

ANDREA thought of the fanciful feline sweater this week when she arrived in the city to costar in the Canadian debut of LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE, which begins performances on Friday and officially opens next Wednesday at the Panasonic Theatre.

Based on the book by Ilene Beckerman and on a collection of stories by screenwriter sisters Nora and Delia Ephron, the show features monologues of women’s memories connected to articles of clothing.

Off Broadway, the play has won a 2010 DRAMA DESK AWARD and featured a top tier cast including KRISTIN CHENOWETH, JANE LYNCH and BROOKE SHIELDS.

The Toronto production has a rotating cast that also includes MARGOT KIDDER, MARY WALSH, WENDY CREWSON and CYNTHIA DALE.

“It isn’t just for women,” stated ANDREA.

“I mean, if you’re a son, if you’re a husband, if you’re a father, you certainly can relate to these stories for sure.”

ANDREA — a Broadway veteran who has won a TONY, a THEATRE WORLD AWARD and a DRAMA DESK AWARD — had received several offers to star in LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE since it hit New York last fall.

The Toronto opportunity was perfect, she said, because she recently bought a house in the city’s lush High Park neighbourhood and was looking for a way to spend the summer there.

She also already had plans to head to Huntsville, Ontario in late August to stage her new one person play FINAL DAYS! EVERYTHING MUST GO!!

“I feel like I’m going back to my roots,” said ANDREA, who hasn’t performed in a play in Toronto since her 1996 solo show NUDE, NUDE, TOTALLY NUDE.

“It’s a really nice feeling, actually. All these memories are coming up.”

ANDREA will perform FINAL DAYS! EVERYTHING MUST GO!! at the Algonquin Theatre in Huntsville on AUGUST 27 & 28.

It features monologues, sketches and songs about her time in show business — from her salad days in the famed musical Godspell and the SCTV sketch comedy series in Toronto, to her film and TV career in Los Angeles as well as her theatre success on Broadway.

“It’s kind of a garage sale of my life,” explained ANDREA, who recently starred in the indie film BREAKING UPWARDS and plans to film another one in September. She also hopes to do another television show eventually.

“Think of it as a comedy tag sale. I talk about my celebrity friends and exploit them just shamelessly — anything to get anybody in the theatre. I talk about my early days in Canada. I do sketches from SCTV. I do my Broadway songs. I think that’s what’s so apropos about coming back here.”

“It brings me back to when I first came to Canada in 1971.”

THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL: CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER OPENS IN THE TEMPEST TONIGHT

Posted in Theatre on June 25, 2010 by Miranda Wilding




FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

They’re rolling out the red carpet at THE STRATFORD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL for tonight’s highly anticipated opening of THE TEMPEST, starring Canadian acting legend CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER.

The Toronto native, who earned his first OSCAR nomination at age 80 earlier this year for THE LAST STATION, plays Prospero the sorcerer in the show that Stratford officials say is of historical importance.

THE TEMPEST is helmed by Des McAnuff, the artistic director of the theatre festival in southwestern Ontario.

He said CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER is the greatest stage actor of our time and to see him at Stratford is a rare opportunity.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER was just at the Stratford festival two years ago for his tour de force performance in CAESAR & CLEOPATRA, which was filmed and broadcast on BRAVO and screened in movie theatres.

But earlier this year, the two time TONY winner told The Canadian Press that he likely won’t be able to return to Stratford for several years once THE TEMPEST is done.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER — whose great grandfather was Prime Minister John Abbott — has appeared in dozens of films and starred on stages from Broadway to Stratford to London.

For his role as Russian author LEO TOLSTOY in THE LAST STATION, he also received GOLDEN GLOBE and SAG AWARD nominations.

OSCAR winning British actor HELEN MIRREN, who costarred with Mr. Plummer in THE LAST STATION, calls him “one of the world’s greatest actors, no question.”

“He is one of the world’s Top 10 actors,” she told The Canadian Press in a recent phone interview.

“He’s just absolutely remarkable. I saw him recently in Caesar & Cleopatra (on television) and he was so fabulous in that. The whole production was great, actually.”

Ms. Mirren and Mr. Plummer have even had a running joke going on lately over THE TEMPEST, since she, too, just shot a film adaptation of it for possible release later this year.

Only in her case, she plays Prospera, a female version of the Bard’s protagonist.

“He keeps laughing at me whenever I see him. He always says, ‘I think I might play it in a skirt,’ because he knows that I just did Prospero, which he thinks is just hysterically funny.”

THE TEMPEST is a romance set on a mysterious island with themes of love, revenge and greed. The leading role of Prospero is said to be one of the greatest roles ever written for a classical actor.

“Prospero is a role of great complexity, richness and paradox, the culmination of Shakespeare’s skill as a dramatist,” commented Des McAnuff, who also worked on CAESAR & CLEOPATRA.

“There are very few actors who can play this part and we’ll have had two of them here within a decade: first William Hutt and now Christopher Plummer.”

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