Talking with the team behind Spring Fling
When you ask six playwrights to write short plays on the theme “the morning after,” what do you get? A stage full of mermaids, Amish teenagers, soccer dads, women’s libbers, dirty dishes, and broken hearts.
I was lucky enough to be included as one of the playwrights in F*It Club’s 3rd annual Spring Fling, a short play festival that runs through Sunday at the Medicine Show on West 52nd Street. Since creating the festival was such a wild ride, I sat down with my collaborators to discuss the challenges and joys of mounting a fast-paced DIY production.
April 9, 2013 No Comments
Nellie McKay adds zip to Bill Irwin’s “Old Hats”
Nellie McKay’s limbs might not be as nimble as those of Bill Irwin and David Shiner. (Whose are?) But her ukulele-strumming and piano-playing fingers, to say nothing of her deceptively barbed tongue, get every bit as much of a workout in the two men’s long-awaited reunion, Old Hats.
Irwin and Shiner shot to tandem fame in Fool Moon, which reached Broadway three separate times in the 1990s. That piece featured the old-timey musical shenanigans of the Red Clay Ramblers, and it is roughly this role that McKay and her four-piece band play in Old Hats, now at the Signature Center. When she’s not providing pastiche support for the two men as they cavort through everything from an inept magic act to a raucous political debate to a beloved Fool Moon routine, she herself takes center stage, singing a variety of wickedly witty ditties that suggest the Great American Songbook with a few shivs tossed in.
March 7, 2013 No Comments
How “Bunnicula” became family-friendly fabulousness
Are you surprised that Charles Busch has adapted the beloved children’s book Bunnicula into a family-friendly musical? That’s okay. He’s a little surprised, too.
Now at the DR2 Theatre in a production from TheatreworksUSA, the show follows Chester and Harold, a cat and dog who believe their human owners have adopted a vampire bunny. After all, something is draining the juice out of the vegetables every night, and Bunnicula was found at a movie theatre showing a vampire flick. Based on this evidence, Chester and Harold decide to save their family from an adorable monster.
February 22, 2013 2 Comments
The Tony Award-winner brings a fairy godmother to life
Welcome to Building Character, TDF Stages’ ongoing series about actors and how they create their roles
The Broadway premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, now at the Broadway Theatre, is certainly family-friendly, but it’s far from childish.
The production’s ambitions are most apparent in the radically revised book by playwright Douglas Carter Beane, which gives Ella (Laura Osnes) a political spirit as she helps Prince Topher (Santino Fontana) realize he must take care of his neediest subjects. Meanwhile, new characters like a quasi-political organizer populate Cinderella’s village, and even the fairy godmother makes her first appearance as a bag lady named Marie. It’s only after Cinderella is kind to her that she reveals herself as a magical force of nature.
For Victoria Clark, a Tony Award-winner for The Light in the Piazza and a recent nominee for Sister Act, playing Marie means coming to terms with magic. “This part is giving me the opportunity to tap into the supernatural part of my life and the supernatural part of this world,” she says. For research, she’s read everything from Joseph Campbell’s work on mythology to Anne Lamott’s reflections on prayer, and she says those large ideas strike at Cinderella ‘s heart.
February 20, 2013 2 Comments
Inside the world of a professional child guardian
This season, Broadway is practically a kiddie convention. There are currently eight Rialto shows featuring child actors, including Annie, The Lion King, and Once, and with the musicals Matilda and Pippin opening soon, there will be even more youngsters on the boards.
And behind every child actor, there’s at least one child guardian. Sometimes called “child wranglers,” they’re the professionals who oversee a young performer’s backstage life, making sure homework is done, entrances are made, and lines are memorized.
As a sign of how vital these people are, Actors’ Equity stipulates that Broadway producers must provide guardians for actors under 16, and the wranglers themselves officially unionized last summer.
But for all their responsibility, child guardians are typically unsung heroes. What does it take to work with kids backstage?
January 17, 2013 2 Comments