Theatre Matters

Contemplations on the dramatic arts from a national perspective

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Steven Oxman has contributed to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, Stagebill, and, most frequently, Variety, for which he has written over 300 television and theatre reviews.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Cast of Lord of the Rings

Well, I suppose if you can't get actual hobbits, Canadians will do. I hear they tend to be a friendly people.

Playbill.com has the announcement of casting for Toronto's $27 million production of Lord of the Rings. I've discussed it here and here. Did I mention it's costing $27 million to produce?

Director Matthew Warchus certainly sounds committed and enthused, saying all the right things about creativity and casting. I imagine he didn't have to turn anyone away cuz he couldn't afford 'em.

Vegas Victorious

Another show follows "Avenue Q" to Vegas. This time it's "Spamalot." The LA Times has details, which include the fact that the show won't tour the western states and will sit down in at Steve Wynn's new casino (also soon-to-house "Q").

The ramifications of this are significant. It makes Broadway producers of the shows happy to have this alternative, and could easily become a big-time cash-cow if the show has staying power. But those who book the roadshows are starting to freak out. If the biggest shows go to Vegas, what will they put on?

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Jaw-Dropping $27 Million

This article from Toronto's Globe and Mail provides an update on the progress of "The Lord of the Rings" -- the stage version, discussed originally here. With a $27 million budget -- my jaw dropped -- it's the "most ambitious and expensive musical production in theatre history." (OK, sorry for the snideness, but has there been a more expensive non-musical production?)

How awful would it be if this was... awful? This is the kind of event that puts faith in the theatre as an art form, and I really want it to succeed. If it doesn't, theatre loses more of its shrinking claim as a popular art form.

Another question popping up in my head: should I book a ticket to Toronto for the opening?

And, yet, one more question: Is anyone planning a Harry Potter musical?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Peppermint Patty?

Amidst the cacophony of blognoise or blog-a-boo out there about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, there appears to me to be only one genuinely interesting fact worthy as a subject for this blog. As reported in the NY Times:

"The school yearbook from 1972, his junior year, shows he played Peppermint Patty in the production of 'You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.'"

Given the fact that our current Chief Justice wears a costume inspired by a Gilbert and Sullivan production (he added stripes to his robe after seeing one of their operettas), this seems to me of great significance.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"Purlie" in Pasadena

Almost a month ago, I said I'd post when I saw something worthwhile in LA. Seen some decent things, but none worth writing home about, know what I mean?

Dry streaks tend to turn quickly, though. Saw 2 shows this week, both very good.

Two days later, I'm still finding it difficult to believe how much I enjoyed the revival of "Purlie" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Confession: I'd never heard of it before. It's based on a play by Ossie Davis and played Broadway for 700 shows in 1970.

This musical satire never gets revived, and given its blatant use of racial archetypes, it's easy to see why.

Turns out, the very thing that undoubtedly made nobody want to touch it makes it so strangely refreshing. You'll probably never see anything else quite like it.

You can read my Los Angeles Times review here.

Went from that to a French juggler artiste named Jerome Thomas. Very imaginative. I'll post the review when it runs.