Category — Musical
Inside the Choreography of “Here Lies Love”
Choreographer Annie-B Parson, who founded Big Dance Theater in New York City, creates with a post-modern style all her own, and while she was influenced by dance giants like Merce Cunningham, she was also inspired by another giant from the world of pop music. “I’ve always been a huge fan of David Byrne’s gigantic, imaginative powers and omnivorous appetite,” she says. “When I was at Connecticut College and first heard his music, I was enamored by his particular aesthetic of detachment, a blend of nobility and paranoia that thrilled me. When I went to his concerts, his music totally rocked. Everything was factual and functional with a sense of being what it was, not an illusion. And, the way he danced, with a fantastic, detached quality in terms of how his limbs related to his torso with a separate grace. In my young mind, this was it.”
As fate would have it, admiration led to collaboration. Parson eventually choreographed two of Byrne’s world tours, and now, she’s choreographing Here Lies Love, a musical based on Filipina First Lady Imelda Marco’s life that is playing at the Public Theater.
April 26, 2013 No Comments
Sheldon Harnick and Margery Gray Harnick create a book about the city
Margery Gray Harnick’s photographs offer three visions of New York at the same time.
There’s the city as a landscape, packed with buildings and treelines and sky; there’s the city as a community, full of tourists and natives hustling on their way; and there’s the city as a private story, brimming with details that have shaped Harnick’s life.
Those overlapping identities define The Outdoor Museum, a collection of Harnick’s photographs paired with poems by her husband, Sheldon Harnick. Taken together, the words and images ask us to reexamine how we look at the city. A mannequin, say, can be more than just a figure in a window. It can change how we see the people walking past it. Even a grimy puddle on the street can reflect a nearby building, making it look like a wavering mirage.
April 25, 2013 No Comments
On Broadway, designer Tobin Ost isn’t a perfect Victorian
Tobin Ost is not interested in being Victorian. Or at least not slavishly so. He might be designing sets and costumes for the Broadway revival of Jekyll & Hyde, now at the Marriott Marquis, but if it helps him tell a story, he’s happy to manipulate the style of 19th century England.
That might surprise audiences expecting a period version of the musical, which has a score by Frank Wildhorn and book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Based on the 1886 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, it follows a scientist who tries to separate good from evil and ends up turning himself into the evil Mr. Hyde. For Ost, the implications of that transformation are more significant than a particular historical era. “The story is hard-edged and aggressive, and we needed to find ways to make it sinister and dangerous onstage as well,” he says.
To that end, Ost looked at materials that could exist in Victorian England but also feel contemporary. For example, when Dr. Jekyll, played by Constantine Maroulis, transforms into Mr. Hyde, he doesn’t drink a potion. He uses a large contraption with colored liquids and wires to inject himself with a drug, which Ost felt would have more contemporary resonance and be more stage worthy and frightening.
However, Ost and director Jeff Calhoun—who have collaborated for a decade on musicals like Newsies and Bonnie and Clyde—misfired at least 4 times before landing on a design idea that could support the entire production.
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April 11, 2013 No Comments
Inside the casting for Broadway’s “Motown The Musical”
Casting a Broadway show is never easy, but finding the right actors for Motown: the Musical was especially daunting.
After all, the stars of the show not only have to sing and dance, but also have to capture the essence of R&B legends like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Since millions of people love these entertainers—not to mention the music they made for the Motown label—audiences will know if the Broadway performances are inauthentic.
To up the ante even more, Berry Gordy, the legendary producer and Motown founder, is heavily involved with the musical, which follows the story of his label and the people who made it succeed. Gordy wrote Motown‘s book and serves as a lead producer, and when it came to casting decisions, he had the final say.
April 8, 2013 1 Comment
How the wild new musical “Mr. Irresistible” came to the stage
In April, New York’s theatre scene can be dominated by talk of Broadway, since shows have to open by the end of this month to be eligible for the Tony Awards. However, tucked among the splashy premieres, there are plenty of scrappy productions making noise all over town.
This week, for instance, adventurous theatregoers can catch Mr. Irresistible, a musical about a mail-order love robot whose faulty “empathy chip” makes him go on a killing spree. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?)
Running through Sunday at La MaMa (and available to TDF members via the Off-Off @ $9 program), Mr. Irresistible is the latest project from D’Arcy Drollinger, a writer-director-performer who thrives at the intersection between high camp and genuine feeling. (He was at LaMama in 2011 with Project: Lohan, a performance piece based on Lindsay Lohan’s life in which he dressed in drag to play Lohan.)
April 1, 2013 No Comments