The Komisar Scoop Reports & Analysis by Investigative Journalist Lucy Komisar

Sunday, December 25, 2016

“A Bronx Tale” is musical coming of age with a twist: kid grows up among hoodlums

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 1:21 pm

By Lucy Komisar

It’s a knock off of “West Side Story,” here Italians vs blacks, and very hokey, but “A Bronx Tale” has a certain charm and pizazz nonetheless. The place is Bedford Avenue, tenements with fire escapes and pushcarts. And kids singing doo-wop. They are working class Italians, circa 1960.

Nick Cordero as Sonny, Hudson Loverro as Calogero, photo Joan Marcus.

Nick Cordero as Sonny, Hudson Loverro as Calogero, photo Joan Marcus.

A young boy, Calogero (Hudson Loverro), sees a local hoodlum, Sonny (Nick Cordero), a numbers guy, shoot a fellow who was beating up one of his gang, and he doesn’t tell the police. The story song is “Look to your heart.”

These are Sicilian-Americans and even hoodlums have a sense of community. Or they know they have to stick together. The swaggering Sonny has an exaggerated Damon Runyon New York voice, which we see in “Throwing the dice.” And a breathy baritone. The kid has panache.

Sonny offers, “I’ll take you for an egg cream.” [My childhood favorite drink; if you were born too late, look it up.] And takes him under his wing. The nine-year-old does useful gofer tasks, nothing nasty. But this is coming of age with a twist as “C,” as Sonny nicknames him, is growing up among petty criminals.

Richard H. Blake as Lorenzo, Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, Nick Cordero as Sonny, photo Joan Marcus.

Richard H. Blake as Lorenzo, Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, Nick Cordero as Sonny, photo Joan Marcus.

Eight years later, when Calogero (now Bobby Conte Thornton) is 17, the challenge is what he will do with his life. His parents opposed his connection to Sonny all along.

His father Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake) is an honest bus driver. He had wanted to be a musician, but when he and his wife had a child, he got a working class job.

Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, photo Joan Marcus.

Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, photo Joan Marcus.

Calogero bought into the story that workers are chumps. He wears a black leather jacket and fedora and seems dressed for the part of moving up in the illicit world. Because Sonny has become the Capo di tutti Capi, the East Coast mafia’s biggest “name,” with “wise guys” coming to pay their respects.

Thornton has a strong baritone and is a bit tough, gritty, but a charmer in the role.

Bradley Gibson as Tyrone, Ariana DeBose as his sister Jane, Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, Lucia Giannetta and Richard H. Blake as his parents, photo Joan Marcus.

Bradley Gibson as Tyrone, Ariana DeBose as his sister Jane, Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, Lucia Giannetta and Richard H. Blake as his parents, photo Joan Marcus.

Then at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Calogero meets Jane, the very good, appealing Ariana DeBose, a smart saving-for-college black girl he likes. DeBose has a sweet thrilling sound. And Jane has the values of his father.

She wants to get out of the neighborhood. The blacks live on Webster Avenue, which is just as down-scale as Bedford. Calogero is smart, but hasn’t thought of that path.

Suddenly the Italian gang, his friends, are not just thuggish but racist. And misogynist. There was some vulgarity I could have done without (though in the age of Trump that might become commonplace), but that was to establish that these guys are really crude as well as nasty. They harass black people. And women.

Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero between tenements of the Italians and the blacks, photo Joan Marcus.

Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero between tenements of the Italians and the blacks, photo Joan Marcus.

Sonny gives Calogero some life advice, based on what he learned about “Nicky” Machiavelli. Then he has a chance to show it.

When some tough bikers come into the bar in the gang’s turf, Cordero says to give them beers. They pour it over the bartender. Then the Italians use their fists and more on the surprised visitors. Sonny throws a biker to the ground and stomps on his face. He tells him, “And never mistake kindness for weakness again.”

He tells “C,” “Love or fear – it’s up to you, kid…Nicky told me his secret…I owe the guy my whole career. So now I think it’s up to you kid, you gonna choose love or fear?”

Ariana DeBose as Jane center, and Gilbert L. Bailey II, Bradley Gibson, Trista Dollison and Christiani Pitts, photo Joan Marcus.

Ariana DeBose as Jane center, and Gilbert L. Bailey II, Bradley Gibson, Trista Dollison and Christiani Pitts, photo Joan Marcus.

Things get more dicey when a bunch of the Italian thugs attack Jane’s brother, then go with Molotov cocktails to bomb his social club.

The story veers close to modern bloody but old-time corny TV, but the show is saved by lively staging by directors Robert de Niro and Jerry Zaks, terrific doo-wop singing and dancing (choreography by Sergio Trujillo), colorful tenement sets (by Beowulf Boritt) and the very interesting juxtaposition of black and white music.

A Bronx Tale.” Book by Chazz Palminteri, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, directed by Robert de Niro and Jerry Zaks, choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400. Opened Dec 1, 2016. 12/25/16.

 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” flashes across Broadway

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 5:37 pm

By Lucy Komisar

This immersive, hokey, utterly engaging production is one of the memorable plays to see this season. In fact, it almost feels as if you don’t just see it, you are in it. The audience is dispersed around a gorgeous set, seated at rows and tables, some on the stage, backed by red drapes and paintings, as actors move through the aisles and on risers. Sometimes lighted chandeliers descend or disco lights flash. Everything seems red, white and black.

Josh Groban as Pierre, photo Chad Batka.

Josh Groban as Pierre in a set that seems like a nightclub, photo Chad Batka.

The story — music, lyrics, and book by Dave Mallory — is the Natasha-Andrey-Anatole love triangle from Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” To put it succinctly, “Natasha is young and Andrey isn’t there.”

Andrey is her betrothed, away at the Napoleonic war. So maybe it’s a satire on hokey opera compounded by a complicated Russian novel. Where, as one character explains, everyone has nine different names.

Denée Benton as Natasha and Brittain Ashford as Sonya, photo Chad Batka.

Denée Benton as Natasha and Brittain Ashford as Sonya, photo Chad Batka.

I saw the two previous off-off Broadway performances, at Ars Nova on West 54th Street in 2012 and in the Meatpacking District a year later; loved them both. At those venues, patrons were seated at small tables furnished with vodka and pirogis and actors moved around them; you felt like you were in a nightclub.

This time, no vodka, but at the start, actors walk through the audience, throwing out boxes of the iconic Russian dumplings. One performer embraces a lady at a table near the stage.

Natasha (Denée Benton) young, innocent, always dressed in pure white, including a luxurious white fur, is charming with a sweet soprano. Could anyone be that adolescently naïve? A girl from the provinces, she visits Moscow accompanied by her cousin Sonya (Brittain Ashford).

Denée Benton as Natasha and Amber Gray as Helene, photo Chad Batka.

Denée Benton as Natasha and Amber Gray as Helene, photo Chad Batka.

They are watched over by her godmother, Marya (Grace McLean). Though not quite closely enough. I loved McLean as Marya. A grande dame of Moscow.  Strict, yet kind. And very aggressively present.

Then back to the meme: “Anatole is hot and Helene is a slut.” Helene, Anatole’s sister, is tough, cynical. Hyper sexuality seems to run in the family.

Pierre (Scott Stangland) is desperately unhappily married to Helene. He wants to wake up from drunkenness and despair. Stangland as the understudy to Josh Groban, the popular singer, song writer and actor, was rather flat.

And then Anatole (Lucas Steele) the womanizer swaggers deliciously as he arrives, descending high stairs and blowing kisses. Another satire on hokey opera.

Helene, the countess, exudes corruption in her costumes by Paloma Young. And she helps dress Natasha for the assignation.

Lucas Steele as Anatole and Denée Benton as Natasha, photo Chad Batka.

Lucas Steele as Anatole and Denée Benton as Natasha, photo Chad Batka.

The foolish young lady falls for Anatole. She doesn’t know he is already married.

Steele is perfect as the iconic male predator, a rock star type, his hair out over his forehead, always surrounded by bright theatrical lights. (Was Tolstoy the first TV sitcom writer?)

If sitcoms require weird characters, Andrey’s father, Bolkonsky (Nicholas Belton), fits that bill. He has lost it. He sings (they often sing about themselves) “Old Prince Bolkonsky is crazy!”

Director Rachel Chavkin makes all this nutty stuff seem quite plausible. And enormously entertaining.

I also loved the terrific Russian dancers (choreography by Sam Pinkleton) with their Kazatzky kicks.

Russian novel, Russian dancing. And a terrific, glittering, innovative production. No wonder this is a smash.

Add: Saw this again with Josh Groban as Pierre. He is excellent, strong as an actor presenting a flawed weak character.

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.” Music, lyrics, book by Dave Mallory adapted from “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, directed by Rachel Chavkin, choreography by Sam Pinkleton. Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street, New York City. (212) 239-6200. Opened Nov 14, 2016. 12/24/16.

 

 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

“The Front Page” an engaging politically advanced 90-year-old noirish comedy

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 3:23 pm
Nathan Lane as editor Walter Burns, photo Julieta Cervantes.

Nathan Lane as editor Walter Burns, photo Julieta Cervantes.

by Lucy Komisar

Nathan Lane is superb as the over-the-top newspaper editor Walter Burns in this near 90-year-old noirish comedy that has some political nuggets hidden in its hokey scenario. It’s given a fine, only slightly tongue in cheek, reprise by director Jack O’Brien.

Playwrights Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur had been Chicago reporters, and the action takes place in the press room of Chicago’s Criminal Courts Building. The courts building shares the gallows courtyard with the county jail. Then anarchist Earl Williams (John Magaro), who is accused of killing a policeman and is going to be hanged, escapes.

Hecht and MacArthur were good reporters as well as fine playwrights. This 1928 play is not just a comic thriller. It is about political corruption, the use of race for electoral advantage, the hyping of the red menace — all not far off the mark for the present.

Williams is white and the policeman was black. The mayor (Dann Florek) and sheriff (John Goodman) want him executed to get black votes.

John Goodman as the sheriff with reporters Christopher McDonald as Murphy of the Journal, Dylan Baker as McCue of the City News Bureau, Clarke Thorell as Kurger of the Journal of Commerce, photo Julieta Cervantes.

John Goodman as the sheriff with reporters Christopher McDonald as Murphy of the Journal, Dylan Baker as McCue of the City News Bureau, Clarke Thorell as Kurger of the Journal of Commerce, photo Julieta Cervantes.

The mayor says, “Two years ago we almost lost the colored vote on account of that coon story you told.” The original production used nastier language.

So, they attempt to block delivery of the reprieve the governor has signed and give orders to shoot to kill the escapee.

There are also some tropes of the time about reds. The mayor says, “Reform the reds with a rope.” The only honest guy appears to be the anarchist. “Is it true you’re on Trotsky’s payroll?” the mayor asks. “I ain’t a Bolshevik, I’m an anarchist,” Williams says. “ For poor people crushed by the system. I ain’t important. It’s humanity that’s important.”

The crime reporters are out for the story that occurred just beneath their noses. But, like today, most of them run in a pack. The exception is the inventive Hildy Johnson (John Slattery). Hildy is going to New York to work in advertising, which he suggests is a step up from the grungy newspaper business.

John Slattery as Hildy and Nathan Lane as editor Burns, photo Julieta Cervantes.

John Slattery as Hildy and Nathan Lane as editor Burns, photo Julieta Cervantes.

But tough-guy editor Burns, a terrifying screamer, is holding him hostage to get the one last scoop, to find Williams. Then the guy arrives through the window and pleads that he shot the cop by accident.

To keep him secure for an exclusive interview, they hide him in a roll-top desk. (The rest of the set is a pretty realistic wood table and chairs, with wood blinds on glass windows, which is how press rooms looked before TV designed them.)

Somehow, Slattery’s Johnson doesn’t seem smart or tough enough to be so enterprising. He is so blasé, he doesn’t look like he really cares. He is sure not the committed journalist who hunkers down to get the scoops. He looks like he belongs in advertising. But, stick with it till the denouement.

Jefferson Mays is great as Bensinger, an erudite, very pristine (especially about germs), not-one-of-the-gang reporter who likes poetry. In an in-joke among journalists everywhere, he is bribed to not interfere with the Hildy-Burns plot by the promise of a New York job. But stick with it till the dénouement, which won’t be revealed here.

Micah Stock does a comic turn in a small part as Woodenshoes Eichhorn, a fey cop with a funny accent, maybe Scandinavian. An unsung hero is Pincus (Robert Morse), who doesn’t follow orders and instead waves around the governor’s reprieve.

The women in the play are rather unimportant: Hildy’s nonentity socialite fiancée (Halley Feiffer), her overbearing mother (Holland Taylor), and a prostitute, Mollie Malloy (Sherie Rene Scott), who befriended Williams. The only interesting female character is Jennie (Patrick Conolly), the cleaning lady. The authors’ attitude towards women seems not very different from that of the reporters they have drawn.

But, otherwise, the play’s politics was pretty advanced for its time. And this lively cinematic production is a diversion worth seeing.

The Front Page.” Written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur; directed by Jack O’Brien. Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200.   Opened Oct 20, 2016, closes Jan 29, 2017. 12/18/16.

 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

“The Band’s Visit” is a charming gem about human connections across political divides

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 5:03 pm

by Lucy Komisar

Tony Shalhoub as the conductor, Alok Tewari as the clarinet player, Ari'el Stachel as Helad, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Tony Shalhoub as the conductor, Alok Tewari as the clarinet player, Ari’el Stachel as Helad, photo Ahron R. Foster.

An Egyptian police band, the grandly named Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, in 1996 is supposed to play at an Arab cultural center in Israel, but gets the town’s name wrong at the bus station and ends up in an Israeli backwater.

Haled (Ari’el Stachel), a somewhat laid-back trumpet player who loves Chet Baker, sings “My Funny Valentine” to female soldiers at the bus station. But the diversion plus imperfect English turns Petah Tikva, the city with the Arab cultural center, into Bet Hatikva. And so hangs the tale, and a charming, moving, slightly sentimental gem of a play.

Israelis and Egyptians meet, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Israelis and Egyptians meet, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Twenty years ago was a tough time, when hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister of Israel. But the people in Bet Hatikva are welcoming, warm-hearted and, like most folks, involved in their own personal desires and disappointments. And so, it turns out, are the Egyptians. The music – classical Arab music, Israeli music – also connects them.

Katrina Lenk as Dina, Tony Shalhoub as the conductor, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Katrina Lenk as Dina, Tony Shalhoub as the conductor, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Tony Shalhoub plays the band’s conductor Tewfiq, “the general,” a rather stiff man in his 50s whose rigid demeanor hides a personal tragedy. And Katrina Lenk is the subtle, sensuous Dina, who runs a small restaurant and whose failed marriage has left her angry, but still ready to taste life’s enjoyments.

Haled, who keeps on asking the Israelis, “Do you know Chet Baker?” goes out with two young women to see the city. Dina, who is subtle and sensuous, takes the general to a café with music. A song tells about the Egyptian actor and heart throb Omar Sharif.

Rachel Prather as Julie, Daniel David Stewart as Papi, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Rachel Prather as Julie, Daniel David Stewart as Papi, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Everyone’s sorrow is represented by a guy (Erik Liberman) sadly waiting at phone booth for a woman to call. An Egyptian clarinetist plays the prelude to an overture for a concerto he has never written.

Then, with all the unhappiness, they help each other. Haled advises Papi (Daniel David Stewart) how to talk to women who frighten him.

Dina asks the conductor to sing a song he sang when he courted his wife. And she connects romantically with another of the band.

Kristen Sieh, John Cariani, Alok Tewari, Andrew Polk, George Abud, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Kristen Sieh, John Cariani, Alok Tewari, Andrew Polk, George Abud, photo Ahron R. Foster.

Several musicians have dinner with a local family, where a couple has their own problems. Turns out they have a baby, but the husband has never moved out of adolescence.

And so it goes. Director David Cromer has delicately made the point that shared humanity makes connections, including across political divides. The result is a very enchanting evening of theater.

The Band’s Visit.” Music & lyrics by David Yazbek, book by Itamar Moses, based on screenplay by Eran Kolirin, directed by David Cromer. Atlantic Theater Company, 336 W. 20th St., New York City. 866-811-4111. Opened Dec 7, 2016, closes Jan 1, 2017. 12/17/16.

Monday, December 12, 2016

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” is a hokey Sex in the City in 18th century France

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 9:53 am

By Lucy Komisar

Liev Schreiber as Le Vicomte de Valmont, Janet McTeer as La Marquise de Merteuil, photo Joan Marcus.

Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont, Janet McTeer as la Marquise de Merteuil, photo Joan Marcus.

I seem to be using the word a lot lately: hokey. Chandeliers with lit candles descend to sounds of operatic “ah ah” and pretentious violins. The story is based on a French epistolary novel written in 1782 and meant as a satire. But with the direction by Josie Rourke, you get the feeling that audiences are invited to enjoy the sex stuff. It’s basically about a guy putting notches on his bedpost. (“Sex in the 18th-century French City”?)

The anti-hero, the Vicomte/Vicount of Valmont (Lev Schreiber), is conspicuously charming. His former lover, the Marquise of Merteuil, played by a take-no-prisoners Janet McTeer, wants revenge against her former lover Jacour, who has announced that he is going to marry a very rich young girl. And Valmont, because it amuses him, wants to seduce married women known for their high morals. So these are the games the 18th-century aristocrats played.

Liev Schreiber as Le Vicomte de Valmont, Elena Kampouris as Cécile Volanges, photo Joan Marcus.

Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont holding the chamber key of Cécile Volanges, played by Elena Kampouris, photo Joan Marcus.

The scheming Marquise makes a deal. (Her favorite word is cruelty. Why jump a low bar?) She will sleep with Valmont again if he succeeds in seducing Jacour’s intended, Cécile, (the very good ingénue Elena Kampouris) who has just left the convent, ie is exceptionally naïve, and been betrothed by her mother. Meanwhile, Valmont is dependent on money from his aunt. So, as always, sex and money.

And in exchange, the Marquise will facilitate Valmont’s seduction of the married Mme de Tourvel (the very fine Birgitte Hjort Sørensen). He arranges to stay at his aunt’s estate when he knows Tourvel will be there. He ingratiates himself on walks and by his “goodness,” giving some cash to a local family in distress, which will be duly reported to the lady. She ignores warnings about him. And he is a virtuoso of deceit. He even uses the buttock of a courtesan on which to write a letter to her.

Meanwhile, he is a child seducer, bedding Cécile who he has deceived into leaving her chamber key for him. Though his taking sexual advantage of a minor certainly grates on one, it is rather comical when this convent-girl discovers sex and is over-the-top enthusiastic.

Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Mme. de Tourval and Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont, photo Joan Marcus.

Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Mme de Tourval and Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont, photo Joan Marcus.

But it all becomes too cartoonish. A hand hiding behind an arras comes out with wine. Valmont is always with a carafe of red wine and a glass. While he is obviously an ogre, Schreiber is too diffident. OK, romance is deception. I’ll buy that. He is a compleat liar. But he is not believable. The women are weak-minded. I was looking for a romantic albeit seductive leading man. A love ’em and leave ’em Casanova. Valmont wants them to want him, which I suppose is romantic in a way. He doesn’t want to be a rapist, really.

The Marquise seems jealous at his success with Tourvel. Does she want him back? She says she wants to sleep with him and then part. Unless there is love involved, pleasure may lead to disgust. But he won’t give up Mme de Tourvel. In fact, he seems smitten. Now it gets interesting. Also a bit complex when the Marquise take the Chevalier Danceny, the beau of Cécile, as a lover. (Do you need a scorecard?)

The Marquise tells Valmont, “I still love you.” She accuses him of loving Tourvel. He replies, “It’s beyond my control.” He’s come to spend the night, they made an agreement. Her passion is now anger. And it is war. By the way, he tells Mme de Tourvel, “I’m so bored, it’s been four months.” Oh, and there’s a duel between…. Guess.

Indeed, this was meant as a satire, but it doesn’t come across that way now. I would say soap opera. Which doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining, just not high drama.

Janet McTeer as La Marquise de Merteuil Liev Schreiber as Le Vicomte de Valmont, photo Joan Marcus.

Janet McTeer as la Marquise de Merteuil and Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont, photo Joan Marcus.

Analyzing, you get the self-destruction of the seduction and revenge model. Valmont and the Marquise are hoist on the petard of love, which they disparaged. They want pleasure, which they define as sex and seduction.

She wants men she controls. He wants women who he seduces to want him.  And they refuse to acknowledge their own powerful connection of love and lust. In this case, more love by the Marquise and lust by Valmont. Though she has learned that women are weakened by love, so she will never submit to it.

The problem of play is that Lev Schreiber is not seductive or villainous enough. He is flat. He hardly seems interested in the seduction game. And it is hard to believe that Mme de Tourvel is so naïve as to spend weeks meandering in the garden with a fellow she mistrusts and then so readily fall for him. As Schreiber portrays him, he is just not that charming.

Think of the novel written in 1782, when the satire was more biting. The characters need to be a lot more subtle to make it work on that level today.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” Written by Christopher Hampton, from the novel by Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos; directed by Josie Rourke. The Donmar Warehouse at the Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200.  Opened Oct 30, 2016; closes Jan 22, 2017.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

“Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” is charming fluff highlighting great songs of the 40s

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 8:45 pm

By Lucy Komisar

It’s light fluff, but if you love 40s music, as I do, just forget the silly plot. Besides, the production and the actors are charming. And there is 40s scat. Also jazzy music, dance kicks, swing and tap. The show is based on a 1942 movie, but a lot of the songs have been added.

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Megan Sikora as Lila, photo Joan Marcus.

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Megan Sikora as Lila, photo Joan Marcus.

They are Irving Berlin classics: “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” “Blue Skies,” “Heat Wave,” “It’s a Lovely Day Today,” “Shaking the Blues Away,” “Let’s Take an Old-fashioned Walk,” “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Easter Parade,” (how did that get in a Christmas show?) and of course the favorite Jewish Christmas carol, “White Christmas.” Thank you, Irving. All the songs move the story.

So to deal with the story by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, which has been moved forward to post-war 1946-7. Rather hokey, with New York accents. Bryce Pinkham, a great baritone with charm, plays Jim Hardy who is giving up show biz to move to Connecticut and take “life” out of the storage boxes. Girlfriend Lila (Megan Sikora) will stay on the stage, even gets a bid to Chicago’s Pump Room. She’s pretty good, as you see her with dancer Ted Hanover (Corbin Bleu)

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Lora Lee Gayer as Linda, Bryce Pinkham as Jim, photo Joan Marcus.

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Lora Lee Gayer as Linda, Bryce Pinkham as Jim, photo Joan Marcus.

Back at the farm Jim is failing at farming. Though he has met a sweet school teacher, Linda (Lora Lee Gayer). But Lila and her show biz friends save the day. The performers will come to the farm on holidays and put on shows the locals will pay for. (Connecticut locals love the theater, right?)

A highlight is Louise, played in the performance I saw by the excellent understudy Jenifer Foote as a Latin dancer who goes only as far south as the South. Foote is terrific in her red hair and glittery dress doing “Heat Wave” with a voice like a horn and backed up by a troop of equally glittery dancers.

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Lora Lee Gayer as Linda, Bryce Pinkham as Jim, and company, photo Joan Marcus.

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Lora Lee Gayer as Linda, Bryce Pinkham as Jim, and company, photo Joan Marcus.

Ted Hanover (Corbin Bleu) also has lots of charm as he hoofs and proves “I’m easy to dance with.” Denis Jones’ choreography and Greenberg’s direction make you twist and smile.

OK, it’s hokey, not great theater, but a lot of fun. Love the 40s!

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn.” Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Gordon Greenberg & Chad Hodge, directed by Gordon Greenberg, choreographed by Denis Jones. Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., New York City. 212-541-8457. Opened Oct 6, 2016; closes Jan 15, 2017.

 

Friday, December 9, 2016

“The Encounter” is a hokey gimmicky pretentious conceit

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 12:23 pm

By Lucy Komisar

Simon McBurney and the sound machine, photo Joan Marcus.

Simon McBurney and the sound machine, photo Joan Marcus.

Simon McBurney, founder and artistic director of the British theater company Complicite (a French word here pretentiously spelled without the acute accent on the e) has produced a hokey often loopy and generally pompous conceit under the pretext of an anthropological mission to the Amazon.

He pretends to be the photographer Loren McIntyre in 1969. But the visual, as it would appear to an audience viewing the stage, is not enough. You get earphones to enjoy surround sound and sense that you are partaking of McIntyre’s adventures and dangers. Something blows in your ear, a noise comes from behind and you want to turn. You hear the crashes and echoes of the jungle. Think radio show sound effects.

The purpose of the trip we share is to meet the Myaruna people and connect them to civilization, which is partly represented by cheese doodles. But they don’t appreciate his finer possessions and burn his watch and sneakers.

Simon McBurney as McIntyre racing around the stage (jungle), photo Joan Marcus.

Simon McBurney as McIntyre racing around the stage (jungle), photo Joan Marcus.

A jaguar hunt gives McBurney/McIntyre the chance to race around the stage in multiple laps. But it’s a fake jaguar hunt (that is, a fake of a fake). He is pushed into a thorn bush and bitten by mosquitos. With all that audio in your ear, and our hero lost in the jungle, it is like a 3-D naturalist horror movie.

A real annoyance is the character’s 5-year-old daughter repeatedly asking for something in a voice beamed right into our ears.

Finally, he meets someone he can talk to. Six years before, a gunman working for developers attacked the tribe, but escaped. Working for a radio operator, he learned Portuguese. Now he is called “Over Over.” (At least, I think that’s what happened. The hyper-action is enough to make anyone dizzy.) In fact, westerners would come looking for oil with guns, planes and alcohol.

Simon McBurney as McIntyre and his destroyed film and tapes, photo Joan Marcus.

Simon McBurney as McIntyre and his destroyed film and tapes, photo Joan Marcus.

Alas, all the film and tapes our photographer had made are destroyed by the unappreciative natives.

The real McIntyre eventually got home to Arlington, Va. The play is inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu. The photographer/explorer died in 2003.

Now if McBurney had only turned this into a 3-D movie, he’d have the kind of adventure tale that 13-year-olds would flock to.

The Encounter.” Written, directed and performed by Simon McBurney. Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200. Opened Sept 29, 2016; closes Jan 8, 2017.

 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton bans Lucy Komisar from Wm Browder speech

Filed under: Blog,offshore,Russia,tax evasion — Lucy Komisar @ 2:55 pm
William Browder, at Columbia University Nov 2013, photo by Lucy Komisar.

William Browder, at Columbia University Nov 2013, photo by Lucy Komisar.

By Lucy Komisar
Dec 2, 2016

Today, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton banned me from attending a talk by William Browder, a controversial American-born investor whose undocumented stories about the theft of several of his Russian companies and the death of his accountant Sergei Magnitsky have led to a ban in the U.S. (2012) against people he has accused, without evidence, of human rights abuses and the theft of those companies.

About a half hour before I was to leave for Penn Station to take the train from New York City to Princeton, Chris Ferrara, the media director for the Institute for Advanced Studies, called to say I had been banned from the event. I had previously gotten confirmation of my attendance.

This decision by the Institute [no connection to Princeton University] is an egregious violation of its commitment to open discourse. If it is now to ban people who might raise challenging questions from attending campus meetings open to the public, that is a terrible black mark on its reputation. It should apologize for this action and pledge not to repeat it. [I’ll let you know if that ever happens. Don’t hold your breath.]

Here is the confirmation I got several days ago:

Subject: Form submission from: World Disorder Lecture – Bill Browder
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:30:45 +0000
From: Institute for Advanced Study <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
 
Thank you for registering to attend the World Disorder Lecture Series
featuring Bill Browder on Friday, December 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall.

Should you have questions or need to change your registration, please email
[email protected]

Today I called to get more details and indicated I was a reporter. Then I got this message:

Subject: William Browder Event
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2016 14:03:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Christine Ferrara <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]


Dear Ms. Komisar,

Thank you for calling us earlier about the lecture by William Browder this evening. Unfortunately, we cannot grant you access to the lecture nor the reception that follows. This event is not open to the general press, and in any case, all press must be vetted and approved by Mr. Browders London office. I understand from the office that you have not sought approval to attend, so we cannot permit you to attend. Please note that your name has been removed from the registration list.

As I mentioned earlier, the talk will be live streamed via the Institute website at www.ias.edu, so you are welcome to view it live and also view it afterward on our site. The video should be uploaded within a few days.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation and understanding. I will also follow-up with a phone call to ensure that you received this message.

Best regards,

Chris Ferrara


Christine Ferrara
Director of Communications
Institute for Advanced Study
1 Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ  08540
609-734-8239
[email protected]
www.ias.edu

Browder was obviously not happy at the idea I would attend, as I had exposed him as an offshore tax evader in this story for 100Reporters.

In the same story on my own website I included many links to documents.

Russian Sanctions Highlight Role of Western Enablers

The matter is important beyond Browder’s personal interests as it has damaged relations between Russia and the U.S. The willingness and ability of conservative Arizona Senator John McCain and liberal Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern to lead their colleagues into drinking Browder’s Kool-Aid is another story.

I suspect cold warrior politics in the first and “believe any human rights claims” naïveté  in the second. No surprise from McCain, but too bad for McGovern, who was a congressional staffer working against Ronald Reagan’s Central American wars.

Look to my future story about how Magnitsky helped Browder organize multi-million-dollar tax evasion schemes in Russia and how, when Magnitsky was arrested, Browder threw him under the bus. And snookered mainstream western politicians and media.

Some tweets:

Katrina VandenHeuvel, editor of The Nation

https://twitter.com/KatrinaNation/status/804859807106822144

William Browder a Censor? Princeton’s Inst. for Advanced Studies/ designed for free inquiry/bans indpt journalist Lucy Komisar from lecture

and Mark Ames, who co-edited The Exile in Moscow in the late 1990s-2000s:

Mark Ames Retweeted Lucy Komisar

Bill Browder, the billionaire hedge funder who asset-stripped Russia & pays hacks to PR him as a modern-day Sakharov

 

 

Powered by WordPress