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Posts tagged ‘Yale School of Drama’

“Heidi Chronicles” Closing Sunday is a Crime!

Heidi 1“The Heidi Chronicles” closing on Broadway on Sunday is a crime! I just saw it for the SECOND time last night, and enjoyed it all over again. I RARELY, as you know, dear readers, RETURN to revisit a show, especially in this high Drama Desk season, but I’m so glad I did.

The cast was very relaxed and giving and warm, warm, warm and funny, too, as the late Pulitzer winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein was in real life.

Insightful, witty, observant, and yes, timely, too, I do feel that Wasserstein’s “Heidi” is not dated at all and is as relevant today as it was then when it opened to great critical acclaim in 1989. It won the Pulitzer and also the Tony.

And I saw the original production, but I liked this one much better. The performances of Elizabeth Moss in the title role and the redoubtable Bryce Pinkham as her gay best friend were both awards-worthy, and thankfully Moss has been nominated for a Tony for Best Actress. Pinkham however was not, although he did get an Outer Critics nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. The Drama Desk ignored it completely.

I wonder if the shows’ unexpected, premature closing had something to do with the unjust lack of awards consideration “Heidi” has gotten.

Elizabeth Moss was simply magnificent last night, shining like a golden  sun and immensely relatable as the hapless heroine Heidi. Moss’ monologue ending with the famous line “I feel stranded” was a bravura tour-de-force of the highest order.

And Pinkham held his own in a 360 degree turn from his usual villainous musical rogues (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “Ghost”.) as a very warm, relatable doctor. His Dr. Peter Patrone goes from campy to bitchy to saintly in an arc than every gay man was experienced since the ’60s, ending with yes, a penultimate scene dealing with AIDS in the late ’80s. The  hyper-versatile Pinkham captures every nuance, pulse and throb of pain and joy that Peter undergoes.

The house was packed last night. The audience applauded every scene. That’s something that rarely happens with a straight play.

I urge you to try to see “Heidi” before it closes on Sunday. Maybe there will be enough of a demand to see its’ beautiful life extended.

Magnificent August Wilson Doc on PBS tonite at 9!

August WilsonDon’t miss the superb American Masters doc on the late playwright August Wilson tonight on PBS at 9pm! It’s one of their best ever, and they are always good, and usually better than good. But this one really lives up to the Masters title.

And I knew August. And saw him constantly in my days up at the Yale Rep when I was filming my TV show “The Stephen Holt Show” which in those days had the sub-heading “Onstage, America!” because we traveled at the time to Regional Theaters all over the country. And still do.

I always ran into August backstage in the Green Room of the Yale Repertory Theater, and he was always smiling. The happiest, widest smiles, with dark eyes that danced. He seemed in those moments one of the happiest men I’ve ever met.

And why shouldn’t he have been? His plays were being done, one right after the other under the direction of the legendary director Lloyd Williams, who was also the artistic director of the Yale Rep and Dean of the Yale School of Drama at that time.

I never saw him in less than an upbeat moment. And when he was first pointed out to me, that THAT indeed was the great African-American playwright, I couldn’t believe it, because he didn’t look black at all, and also he looked like a journalist or a producer.

This great documentary American Masters — August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand — is premiering nationwide tonight, this Friday, February 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) in honor of the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, 10th anniversary of his death and Black History Month, and available on DVD February 24 from PBS Distribution.

Directed by Emmy and Peabody-winner Sam Pollard (When the Levees Broke; Slavery by Another Name), the first documentary about the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning playwright who chronicled the 20th-century black experience explores his life and legacy. James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, new dramatic readings and rare footage tell the story of “America’s Shakespeare.”

The scenes from Wilson’s 100 year cycle of American plays, one for each decade are marvelously well represented here by all parties. I’d seen most of them, eight of the ten to be exact either on Broadway or at the Yale Rep when they were on their way to Broadway.

And I was very, very fortunate to have the late Lloyd Richards as my acting teacher one summer at the Univeristy of Rhode Island, so I felt particularly effected seeing him live again through his work and discovery of August, his great protegee, and this doc reveals for the first time, I think, just why this great creative team ruptured.

And director Sam Pollard doesn’t flinch with the hard-hitting details. I was riveted from start to finish, and particularly was moved by Phylicia Rashad’s portrayal of the 300-hundred-year old African-America woman who symbolized slavery in a monologue of “Gem of the Ocean.”

This high school drop out wrote many, many great plays in a life that was ended by cancer, just like my friend David Carr, in his 50’s and too soon, too soon.

DON’T MISS IT!

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Gentleman’s Guide Sweeps Drama Desk Awards with 7!!!

Gentlemen's 1Gentlemen's Guide 2Gentleman's Guide Sweeps Drama Desk Awards with 7!!!

It was quite a big night for wit and brilliance on Broadway as the super-smart “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” swept the Drama Desk Awards tonight with seven wins at a gala awards presentation at Town Hall. The glamourous packed audience roared its’ approval.

It won Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical Jefferson Mays, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Lauren Worsham, Best Director of a Musical Darko Tresnjak, Best Book of a Musical Robert L. Freedman, Best Lyrics Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman, Best Projection Design in a Musical Aaron Rhyne.

I only wish it could’ve been a three way tie, and the stupendous Bryce Pinkham, who was also nominated for Best Actor in a Musical, could’ve won, too. And Lisa O’Hare should’ve been nominated, too, for her super-slinky Sibella.And may I say, Steven Lutvak should’ve won for his glittering score. And so should the set and costumes, too! I’m such a fan! I hope it sweeps the Tonys, also! I think it will.

The unusual,odd occurance of a double tie, something that has never happened before in my memory as a Voting Member of the Drama Desk, happened tonight as Best Actor in a Musical, the most hotly contended of all the categories, except perhaps Best Musical, got BOTH Neil Patrick Harris of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” AND Jefferson Mays, as I said, Best Actor in a Musical Awards.

And in Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Lauren Gorsham, as the colortura soprana ingenue Phoebe in “A Gentleman’s Guide…” tied with Anika Larsen, of “Beautiful” who plays Carole King’s wise-cracking best friend and rival composer. Interestingly both actresses were profiled together in a New York Times article that combined the two lovely young performers and strangely predicted the tie in their category.

Audra McDonald won Best Actress in a Play for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grille” for her searing, elegiac performance of the late Billie Holliday in the last days of her life. Many thought she was in the wrong category since she sings over a dozen of Holiday’s greatest hits in the show that is presented as if it were in a supper club as the audience is grouped in small cocktail tables on what is usually the floor of the orchestra of the Circle in the Square theater.

But it mattered not what category she was in to the Drama Deskers, who voted her Best Actress in a Play anyway! Didn’t think they would, but they did! Damn the semantics! Full speed ahead to the Tonys! Where she might become the very first performer to ever win SIX!?! If she wins there, too. If she won this big award, from the persnickety Drama Desk voters, (she already won the Outer Critics Circle), she’ll win the Tony, too, I think. DONE!

How many Drama Desk Awards has she won? More than Tonys even, I bet!

Best Actress in a Musical was Jessie Mueller as Carole King in “Beautiful,” a juke box musical consisting of Carole King’s many many hit songs.

Best Actor in a play went to Bryan Cranston in “All the Way” which also won Best Play.

All these performers in the major categories, Audra McDonald, Brian Cranston and Jessie Mueller could very well repeat at the Tonys NEXT Sunday night June 8. But who will win Best Actor in a Musical? Will both Jefferson Mays and Neil Patrick Harris tie again? This is something that has never happened at the Tonys. Stay tuned!!!

A complete list of the winners, as well as the nominees, is below. The winner are highlighted in bold.

http://www.DramaDeskAwards.com
DRAMA DESK AWARD NOMINEES FOR THE 2013-2014 SEASON
(WINNERS IN BOLD)

Outstanding Play
Nell Benjamin, The Explorers Club
Steven Levenson, Core Values
Conor McPherson, The Night Alive
Richard Nelson, Regular Singing
Bruce Norris, Domesticated
Robert Schenkkan, All the Way
John Patrick Shanley, Outside Mullingar

Outstanding Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Fun Home
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Rocky
The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Revival of a Play
I Remember Mama
London Wall
No Man’s Land
Of Mice and Men
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Model Apartment
Twelfth Night*

*Shakespeare’s Globe Production

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Misérables
Violet

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Hamish Linklater, The Comedy of Errors
Ian McKellen, No Man’s Land
David Morse, The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Daniel Radcliffe, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Denzel Washington, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Barbara Andres, I Remember Mama
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Laurie Metcalf, Domesticated
J. Smith-Cameron, Juno and the Paycock
Harriet Walter, Julius Caesar

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch TIE!
Adam Jacobs, Aladdin
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder TIE!
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Margo Seibert, Tamar of the River
Barrett Wilbert Weed, Heathers: The Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Chuck Cooper, Choir Boy
Peter Maloney, Outside Mullingar
Bobby Moreno, Year of the Rooster
Bill Pullman, The Jacksonian
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Betty Buckley, The Old Friends
Julia Coffey, London Wall
Diane Davis, The Model Apartment
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Jan Maxwell, The Castle
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Rory O’Malley, Nobody Loves You
Bobby Steggert, Big Fish

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, Little Miss Sunshine
Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (tie)
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Laura Osnes, The Threepenny Opera
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (tie)

Outstanding Director of a Play
Joe Calarco, A Christmas Carol
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Thomas Kail, Family Furniture
Bill Rauch, All the Way
Anna D. Shapiro, Domesticated
Julie Taymor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Bartlett Sher, The Bridges of Madison County
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Alex Timbers, Rocky
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Choreography
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett, Kelly Devine, Rocky
Danny Mefford, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Sonya Tayeh, Kung Fu

Outstanding Music
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Andrew Lippa, Big Fish
Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Alan Menken, Aladdin
Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, Heathers: The Musical
Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home

Outstanding Lyrics
Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Michael Friedman, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Michael Korie, Far from Heaven
Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Robert L. Freedman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, Murder for Two
Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Douglas McGrath, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Marsha Norman, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Orchestrations
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Big Fish
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Michael Starobin, If/Then
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Music in a Play
Lewis Flinn, The Tribute Artist
Elliot Goldenthal, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Rob Kearns, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle
Tom Kochan, Almost, Maine
Nico Muhly, The Glass Menagerie
Duncan Sheik, A Man’s a Man

Outstanding Revue
After Midnight
I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Musik from the Weimar and Beyond
Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz
Til Divorce Do Us Part
What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

Outstanding Set Design
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Richard Hoover, Small Engine Repair
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Ian MacNeil, A Doll’s House
Donyale Werle, The Explorers Club

Outstanding Costume Design
Constance Hoffman, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Zane Pihlstrom, Nutcracker Rouge
Loren Shaw, The Mysteries
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
David C. Woolard, The Heir Apparent

Outstanding Lighting Design
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Jane Cox, Machinal
David Lander, The Civil War
Peter Mumford, King Lear
Brian Tovar, Tamar of the River
Japhy Weideman, Macbeth

Outstanding Projection Design
Robert Massicotte and Alexis Laurence, Cirkopolis
Sven Ortel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Aaron Rhyne, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Shawn Sagady, All the Way
Austin Switser, Sontag: Reborn
Ben Rubin, Arguendo

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Kai Harada, Fun Home
Peter Hylenski, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Peter Hylenski, Rocky
Brian Ronan, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Dan Moses Schreier, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Jon Weston, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
M.L. Dogg, The Open House
Katie Down, The Golden Dragon
Paul James Prendergast, All the Way
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Christopher Shutt, Love and Information
Matt Tierney, Machinal

Outstanding Solo Performance
David Barlow, This is My Office
Jim Brochu, Character Man
Hannah Cabell, Grounded
Debra Jo Rupp, Becoming Dr. Ruth
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned
John Douglas Thompson, Satchmo at the Waldorf

Unique Theatrical Experience
Charlatan
Cirkopolis
Mother Africa
Nothing to Hide
Nutcracker Rouge
The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Vol.

Special Awards Each year, the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theater. For 2013-2014, these awards are:

To Soho Rep.: For nearly four decades of artistic distinction, innovative production, and provocative play selection.

To Veanne Cox: For her ability to express the eccentricities, strengths, and vulnerabilities of a range of characters, and notably for her comedic flair as evidenced in this season’s The Old Friends and The Most Deserving.

To Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, the Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award: For his visionary directorial excellence. This season’s The Golden Dragon and The Mysteries exemplify his bold and strikingly original imagination.

To the ensembles of Off-Broadway’s The Open House and Broadway’s The Realistic Joneses and to the creator of both plays, Will Eno: For two extraordinary casts and one impressively inventive playwright.

The Open House: Hannah Bos, Michael Countryman, Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, and Carolyn McCormick

The Realistic Joneses:Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, and Marisa Tomei

Individual artists and productions singled out for these special awards are not eligible in their competitive categories.

PRODUCTIONS WITH MULTIPLE AWARDS

7 A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

3 Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

2 Twelfth Night*

2 After Midnight

2 All The Way

2 The Bridges of Madison County

2 The Glass Menagerie

2 Hedwig and the Angry Inch

2 Rocky

*Shakespeare’s Globe Production

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Michael Place talks Lupita at Yale

Michael Place talks Lupita at Yale

Michael Place is a wonderful, talented, inspiring young actor just like his classmate from Yale Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o. He just went on NPR radio and talked about her soooo eloquently that I just felt I had to share what he had to say about his best friend and her ASTOUNDING Oscar journey.

I met Michael the night I met Lupita in May 2012, and his description of her school days and the naming of their class as “The Wilsons” is goofy and historical at the same time.

His heartfelt description of her beauty and her talent and just how she made the transition from her native Nairobi to where she is now with so much grace, poise and intelligence and yes, ease, is just wonderful, and wonderfully insightful and detailed. And take it from me, his acting is just as good as his interview(s).

You have to wade through the NPR show about geneologies and Google glass before you get to Michael on Lupita at about 25:00, but it’s worth the wade.

Michael says and I quote:

“When your friend wins an Oscar people ask you questions about them on the radio: http://wnpr.org/post/scramble-are-aj-jacobs-lupita-nyongo-and-john-rowland-related starts at 25:00 #teamlupita #TheWilsons

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One of Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o’s “Wilsons” William DeMerrit

Lupita with Oscar

In her history making Oscar acceptance speech when she won Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave” last night, Lupita Nyong’o thanked “the Wilsons” her “adopted family” which is the nick name the Yale School of Drama Class of 2012 called themselves, and here’s my interview with one of them, William DeMerritt. Shot last May 2013 at the Drama Desk Reception, William talks about his class.

And let me tell you, they are all just as talented as Lupita! And I’ll mention a few of them by name, Michael Place, Seamus Mulcahy and Fisher Neal among many others.

Michael Place helped hook me up with William for this great shoot at the Essex House last May. He was helping me along with my former co-host T.J.Craig, who were helping be my “Celebrity Pullers” or the distinguished gentlemen who were helping bring the newly named Drama Desk nominees over to be interviewed by me that May morning. Enjoy!

Notice that William names Lupita first when he starts listing other classmates that I didn’t mention.

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She’s Everywhere! Lupita and I

She's Everywhere! Lupita and I

I sat down to have a coffee in a favorite, unprepossessing coffee shop thinking about the Oscar Race this year. When am I ever thinking about anything else as Oscar Day grows closer and closer? Next Sunday, March 2 is the Awards themselves. Tuesday at 5pm the AMPAS voting closes. FINALLY! Has this been the longest Oscar year ever or what?

Well, it’s still the same two movies battling it out til the end, “12 Years a Slave” vs. “Gravity”. It’s been like this since TIFF’13.

Exactly like this, with a little “American Hustle” thrown in.

And as I sat there sipping my excellent cup of non-starbucks coffee, I glanced up, and there she was again! Lupita Nyong’o!!!! On ANOTHER cover! This time the theatrical newspaper Backstage! She’s everywhere!

She’s on the cover this week of EW, also New York Magazine, also Vanity Fair. I can’t keep up with it all.

She is extraordinarily photogenic. The camera loves her.

In reality, she’s tiny. So she’s always looking up at you with those big, dark soulful eyes.

I’ve met her twice. Once when she finished doing her “Leagues” or actor’s “Scene Night” or “The Actor’s Presentations” with her graduating class of the Yale School of Drama less than two years ago this past May.

She had an incredibly talented class, BTW. Michael Place being the actor who jumped out at me, but there were QUITE a few others, Fisher Neal, William DeMerritt. And of course Lupita herself.

We spoke briefly after it was over and she’s was polite and poised and I asked her to send me a picture and resume and she did, with a charming hand-written note, thanking me, which I still have. Her penmanship BTW was perfect. She charmed me instantly.

Then again we met at the Toronto Film Festival this past September, where “12 Years a Slave” was making a tumulutous debut, after she held what was to be the first of many, many press conferences that were to come her way this Awards Season.

She seemed overwhelmed. And most of her castmates and director Steve McQueen did all of the talking. I asked him about Lupita’s audition. And I believe he said, “It was like a dream walking into the room” or “My dream walked into the room” or something like that. “And there she was. I knew immediately, it was her.”

After the press conference was over, I got to talk to her again VERY briefly and I’m sure she remembered me from the post-Yale audition, and I complimented her profusely.
Telling her performance was “beyond words” and “Lupita,I’m known as the Oscar Messenger and I’m here to tell you that you are going to the win the Oscar and beat Oprah” Well, it’s true so far. Oprah wasn’t even nominated.

And Lupita’s response? She just giggled!

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