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‘August, 2008’

Witty parody of Hitchcock’s “39 Steps”

Witty parody of Hitchcock’s “39 Steps”

Aug 29, 2008

The suave hero is racing over moors, pursued by a small bi-plane, while on a hill to the side, a familiar figure watches. It is Alfred Hitchcock, who regularly shows up in his mystery thrillers. Except this isn’t cinema, it’s theater, and old Alfie is a tiny Indonesian-style shadow puppet. It’s a scene from Maria Aitken’s enormously clever production of Patrick Barlow’s parody of Hitchcocks “The 39 Steps.” You’ve never seen anything like it.

It is 1935, just the right year for a film noir spy drama actually made by Hitchcock in that pre-war time and centered around a devilish villain whose accent becomes more Germanic as his malevolent plot is revealed.

“South Pacific,” America’s musical about intolerance

“South Pacific,” America’s musical about intolerance

Aug 12, 2008

In a year when race is an undercurrent in America’s presidential election, it is fitting that the smash musical of the Broadway season is “South Pacific,” a play first presented nearly 60 years ago on the theme of intolerance.

Based on “Tales of the South Pacific” by James A. Michener, who served in the region during World War II, the play turns on the anti-Polynesian prejudice of the heroine, young Navy nurse Nellie Forbush (a vibrant Kelli O’Hara), who is posted to a war-time island base of the U.S. Navy.

While “South Pacific” has been celebrated around the world for its joyous, clever, entertaining musical numbers, and director Bartlett Sher’s staging is exhilarating, it’s worth looking at how the show presents its message.

“Buffalo Gal” goes home again, with nod to “The Cherry Orchard”

“Buffalo Gal” goes home again, with nod to “The Cherry Orchard”

Aug 6, 2008

Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya returns to Russia from Paris, where her finances have been exhausted by the extravagance of her lover and life style. She is devoted to the family estate, especially the cherry orchard, and wants to save it from a threatening debt.

Fast forward about a century from Anton Chekhov to American playwright A.R. Gurney. With the help of a smooth, light-hearted production by director Mark Lamos, Gurney weaves the Chekhov story into “Buffalo Gal,” an often wry tale of Amanda (Susan Sullivan), who is drawn to her childhood home but has to deal with economic realities.