Inside the acrobatics of Monkey: Journey to the West
Who knew how difficult it was to find performers who can spin plates? That’s what director Chen Shi-Zheng discovered when he traveled to China to find 23 acrobats adept at traditional Chinese circus techniques. It took him half a year to track them down.
“A lot of people have abandoned training in these classic acts,” explains the New York-based director. That’s why he was so intent on incorporating the art form into Monkey: Journey to the West, the opening production for the 2013 Lincoln Center Festival.
“I wanted to give a spotlight on this dying tradition,” Chen says. “I want the people who are practicing, especially young people, to value what they do. In China, it’s very unappreciated.”
July 10, 2013 No Comments
Now on Broadway, Cory Michael Smith stars in his third play of the season
Many actors would be lucky to book one high-profile play in a season, but Cory Michael Smith is on his third. He is currently making his Broadway debut as Fred in Breakfast at Tiffany’sat the Cort Theatre. In the fall, he played Elder Thomas in The Whale at Playwrights Horizons. Over the summer, he starred as John in Cock at the Duke on 42nd Street. “This past year I’ve been really fortunate,” Smith says. “A lot of the things that I’ve pursued and been interested in have just kind of lined up magically.”
It wasn’t quite magic, of course. Smith had to work for the parts. He auditioned for Cock, about a man named John who’s torn between his long-time boyfriend and his new girlfriend, after the actor originally cast as John dropped out. Smith was asked to cold-read two-thirds of the play at his final callback.
March 18, 2013 1 Comment
Paul Downs Colaizzo invites arguments at MCC Theater
In Really Really, a wild party leads to a damaging rumor that tests the loyalties and friendships of a group of college friends. The events of that night are never fully spelled out for the audience, and as patrons left a recent production, they had many theories.
No one knows what happened, however, except the playwright, Paul Downs Colaizzo.
“There’s a fine line between ‘unspecific’ and ‘ambiguous,’ and I feel comfortable and certain that if you listen closely, it’s trackable,” he says. “It’s not trackable in the sense that it’s obvious, or that if you sit down with the text you’ll eventually be able to figure it out. But what I know to have happened as the inciting incident of the play is honored throughout the play.”
Really Really is Colaizzo’s New York playwriting debut. “I think ahead a lot in life, and for whatever reason, I really did not think ahead when it came to this career of mine,” he says. “I only really started focusing on writing as a career in 2009. And I had very little information. I really just found out last month how much playwrights make Off Broadway.” (Colaizzo previously worked as an assistant company manager at Xanadu, where he developed a popular web series about the fictional Broadway mogul Cubby Bernstein, and later, he assisted Douglas Carter Beane as an associate writer on Sister Act.)
February 19, 2013 No Comments
Inside the new Broadway dramedy
The Broadway premiere of a new play is always a major event, but sometimes, it can feel refreshingly modest for the artists involved.
Take Dead Accounts, the new dramedy by Theresa Rebeck that officially opens at the Music Box Theatre tomorrow night. The story of a Cincinnati family that’s trying to keep it together, it features a raft of marquee names. Norbert Leo Butz plays Jack, the son who suddenly arrives from New York with a possibly illegal fortune; Katie Holmes plays his frustrated sister Lorna, who has never managed to leave home; and Judy Greer (13 Going on 30, 27 Dresses) plays his estranged wife Jenny, who turns up in the Midwest for a variety of shady reasons.
But despite all these stars, Dead Accounts is still a one-set, five-character play. Many members of the cast and creative team are happy to work on something so contained.
“Usually, I’m facing either a gigantic army or a big musical,” says director Jack O’Brien, whose Broadway credits include Hairspray, Catch Me if You Can, and Tom Stoppard’s three-play epic The Coast of Utopia. “When you’re working large, you’ve got to come up with a lot of answers fast. You’ve got to hold the center of the room in a way that makes everyone feel they’re being listened to and that they’re going in the right direction, but it’s like herding.”
November 28, 2012 No Comments
Australia Feels Like Home
Most of the time, I could almost feel the distance between Australia and my everyday life.
I was there for my honeymoon—I just flew back to New York on Wednesday night—and despite the fact that everyone spoke English and wanted to talk about Friends, I was aware of being “far removed.”
For one thing, Australia is 14 hours ahead of New York City, so I felt like I was living in the future. Plus, there was the delightful weirdness of climates and animals and plants that I’ll never experience in Manhattan. You know you’ve traveled a long way when you walk past a tropical parrot on your way to lunch… and it flies down to see if you’ll give it a snack.
But as I sit in TDF’s offices, I’m reminded of the times Australia didn’t feel so alien. I’m reminded of the times I went to the theatre.
September 21, 2012 No Comments