Theater Talk: Directors reinterpret shows all the time as audiences change. At Stratford in HAMLET, ALL'S WELL, and RICHARD III and in New York for MUSIC MAN or CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.
Theater Talk observes the passing of Olivia Newton-John, perhaps best remembered for her role in the movie musical GREASE playing "Sandy" opposite John Travolta's "Danny." But perhaps our perceptions have changed enough over time to visit her other big movie (which became a stage musical) XANADU, the movie for which the "Razzies" (awards for the worst movies) were created. People loved/panned it then but audiences (all of us) change over time and you might want to re-watch it.
Directors also change how they interpret plays and musicals to appeal to new audiences. When Anthony went to New York a few weeks ago, he noticed how the role of "Big Mamma" (played by Alison Fraser) in Tennessee Williams' CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF had grown to give the character more agency. Today's audience is more used to seeing strong women in movies and on stage. And in the 2022 Broadway revival, the lyrics for the song "Shipoopie" have been altered, with new lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, to get past the "slut shaming" of the original lyrics, printed here:
Well, a woman who'll kiss on the very first date
Is usually a hussy.
And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out
Is anything but fussy.
But a woman who'll wait till the third time around
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground
She's the girl you're glad you found
She's your shipoopi.
At the Stratford Festival they pride themselves on making Shakespeare understandable and relevant for today. As with the example of CAT above, the women in ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL and also in RICHARD III are very strong, and HAMLET even stars a younger, black woman.
Also at The Stratford Festival, one clever use of "updating" is based on the 2017 news story about the discovery of the bones of the actual Richard III under a parking lot in Leicester, England. Richard III died at the climactic Battle of Bosworth, which ended the War of the Roses and ushered in England's House of Tudor. As the play opens, we see the familiar cloth tents used by forensic teams and archeological digs, along with workers in hard hats with picks and shovels. And, slowly, through the mist, climbing out of the "ground" is Richard III in full battle gear, brilliantly played by Colm Feore.
For more on Stratford, scroll down to THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL LIST OF SUMMER PLAYS.
And Theater Talk salutes Buffalo native Jonathan Young, son of Artie Awards Committee member (and so much more) Kathleen Rizzo Young. Jonathan is now starring ("in the Richard Gere role") in the tour of the stage musical PRETTY WOMAN. She posted on Facebook: "There is no greater feeling as a parent than seeing your children’s dreams come true. Jonathan was truly amazing in his debut as Edward Lewis tonight. Thanks for all the good wishes!!"
OPENING IN BUFFALO TONIGHT
AGES, Torn Space’s 10th site-specific performance ritual at Silo City runs August 12-14 and 19-21, every night at 7:30. Tickets run $24-$34 including fees. Visit tornspacetheater.com/home/
AGES BLURB: Ages is an operatic examination of the ages and stages of life. Set in the parkland lawn around a great cottonwood tree, audience, pedestrians and picnickers will gather to witness the overlapping beautiful and banal moments of life.
CONTINUING IN BUFFALO
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by Shakespeare, directed by Brian Cavanagh, presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, the second of their 47th season offerings, opened July 28 and runs through August 21, Tuesdays through Sundays promptly at 7:15 pm (off Mondays) on the newly dedicated “Saul Elkin Stage” on “Shakespeare Hill” in Delaware Park near Marcy Casino and The Rose Garden (199 Lincoln Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14222 for your GPS). These performances are free and open to the public (but bring some cash for an intermission donation, merch, and a jewelry raffle). Also, bring a lawn chair or blanket, a jacket for after the sun sets, snacks and beverages of your choice, and maybe some bug spray and a flashlight (for the walk back to the car). (Stretch-golf-cart rides are provided between the hill and Rumsey Road.) Runtime: 2 hours and 40 minutes
THE BARD'S IN OUR YARD On Mondays (when the production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM takes the night off), you might catch THE BARD'S IN OUR YARD, free touring performances of Shakespeare scenes throughout Western New York presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park. For details visit shakespeareindelawarepark.org/2022-tour-locations/ Performances continue for two more Mondays at 7:00 pm .
· Monday August 15: Raymond Klimek Veterans Park, North Tonawanda;
· Monday August 22: Galanti Park, Lackawanna.
FOR A PREVIEW OF THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL
Interested in more Shakespeare (and a whole lot more)? Check out Peter's preview of The Stratford Festival here.
SHAWFESTIVAL LIST OF SUMMER PLAYS:
(Note, visit shawfest.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2022Calendar_print.pdf for a printable calendar with days, dates, ande times)
Shaw Festival Theatre NOTE: Mask use is optional and proof of vaccination is not required by Shawfest. However, it is required to enter Canada. Download and fill out your ARRIVECAN app (get it on Google Play or the App Store) prior to your border crossing.
AT THE FESTIVAL THEATRE
DAMN YANKEES Words and Music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST By Oscar Wilde
THE DOCTOR’S DILEMMA By Bernard Shaw
Opens Saturday Aug 20 at 6
ROYAL GEORGE THEATRE
By Johnna Wright and Patty Jamieson
Based on the play Angel Street by Patrick Hamilton
CHITRA By Rabindranath Tagore (11:30 am Lunchtime One-Act) at the Royal George Theatre
JUST TO GET MARRIED By GB Shaw contemporary Cicely Hamilton opens Sun Aug 21 at 11:30 am
BLURB: “It is 1910 and Georgiana is 29, so the burning question is: how can we get her married?”
JACKIE MAXWELL STUDIO THEATRE
TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD By Bernard Shaw is a three act play dealing with a host of (still contemporary) issues.
EVERYBODY By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
GEM OF THE OCEAN By August Wilson (The first play in August Wilson’s THE AMERICAN CENTURY CYCLE) opens Fri Aug 19 at 6
THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL LIST OF SUMMER PLAYS:
The Stratford Festival recommends downloading their Visitors Guide to discover information about Shows, Forum Events, Special Performances, Speakers & Panels, Workshops, Tours & Exhibits and much more. Click here: https://cds.stratfordfestival.ca/uploadedFiles/2022-Visitors-Guide.pdf
Read Peter's preview of the 2022 summer season here.
The Stratford musical this summer is
CHICAGO by Kander & Ebb & Fosse
Runs Through OCT 30 at The Festival Theatre
The comedy this summer is
THE MISER by Moliere
Runs AUG 09 - OCT 29 at The Festival Theatre
The family show this summer is
LITTLE WOMEN (a modern adaptation of the Luisa May Alcott classic)
Runs Through OCT 29 at The Avon Theatre
And there are three Shakespeare plays
Runs Through OCT 30 at The Tom Patterson Theatre (newly rebuilt from the ground up!)
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Runs Through OCT 29 at The Tom Patterson Theatre (newly rebuilt from the ground up!)
Runs Through OCT 28 at The Festival Theatre
And there are four “Modern” plays this summer at Stratford:
EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE at the Studio Theatre
Runs Through OCT 01
Runs JUL 28 - OCT 02 at the Studio Theatre
DEATH AND THE KING'S HORSEMAN
Runs AUG 11 - OCT 29 at The Tom Patterson Theatre (newly rebuilt from the ground up!)
Runs AUG 23 - OCT 29 at the Studio Theatre
SHEA'S 2022-2023 SEASON is only two months away!
The M&T Broadway series at Shea's for 2022-2023 includes:
THE PROM Sep 27-Oct 2, 2022
TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Nov 8-13, 2022
COME FROM AWAY Dec 13-18, 2022
HADESTOWN Feb 21-26, 2023
BEETLEJUICE Mar 21-26, 2023
SIX Apr 25-May 7, 2023
JAGGED LITTLE PILL Jun 6-11, 2023
with two "special engagements"
Disney's ALADDIN Nov 22-27, 2022 and
DEAR EVAN HANSEN June 20-25, 2023.