Get ready for a great dance experience via the Mikhailovsky Ballet, a company that combines classical tradition with a modern look, arriving at Lincoln Center's Koch theater for an all-too-short engagement beginning November 11, 2014 and ending November 16.
The original Side Show was an anomaly on Broadway. Although it opened to rave reviews in 1997, it was a mega-flop. Hardly anyone wanted to see a show about “Siamese” twins, freaks, and it closed after only 122 performances and a $6.8 million loss. Now Side Show has been totally reimagined with a new director, a new choreographer, and several new songs. The show has evolved. And so has its audience. We’re a more diverse, open, and tolerant society with a much broader definition of “normal.” The headline of the original review in The New York Times said “Illuminating the Freak in Everyone.” The perspective of that headline today would surely change the words to “Illuminating the Humanity in …”
Vivian Nesbitt, born in Ohio and currently active in Albuquerque New Mexico, where she is Director of the Sol Acting Academy, studied acting in New York, and has been working in theater for many years as an actor, writer and teacher. Her play, The Bark and the Tree, is substantially autobiographical, but it transcends her personal perspective and the specifics of her own life into potent themes, like what is passed down in families, ancestry, history and its deliberate remaking, one's debt to the past, art, creativity, and, ultimately, our spiritual lives, which form a continuum beyond life and death. She addresses all this from deep personal experience, which gives all these different aspects of her play substance and ballast, so that one would have to be a total clod, or stone drunk, not to be engulfed by her story and enlightened by it. You know what it's like when the faeries and leprechauns come out. I assure you there are none of them here.
I have just recently learned about a different kind of music festival, pianoSonoma, which convenes annually in late July and early August at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, under the benevolent guidance of Co-Founders and Co-Directors Michael and Jessica Chow Shinn, both faculty members at the Juilliard School. People attend music festivals for different reasons, most of which are passive, unless they happen to be Tanglewood Music Center Fellows or "young professionals" at Marlboro. They go as members of the audience to hear star musicians they would not normally find in their area, or they like to continue their experiences at Carnegie or Davies Hall in some pleasant rural setting suitable for a summer holiday. Their active participation is usually limited to laying out a picnic, consuming it, a listless read of tedious program notes, uncritical applause, and coping with post-concert congestion in the parking lots, especially after a manifestation of Lang Lang or Yo-Yo Ma.
There are only two days left to view an important exhibition of oils and pastels by Michael Mazur (1935-2009) at the Ryan Lee Gallery. In 1976 Mazur, at a time when he was forty-one and his career was reaching a substantial level, found himself drawn to Stoneham Zoo, which was in a rather derelict state at the time, if I remember correctly, and decided to create a series of works in the monkey cages there. It reminded him of work he had done in mental hospitals as a student and teacher, both offering art therapy and drawing the patients, which he saw more as inmates, people in captivity. As he developed this theme in his work, he began to draw more from memory. Around 1976 and in recent years he had been working concentratedly both with narrative scenes and with landscape. He approached the monkey cages with these three pursuits in mind.
This was a great recital—almost. Richard Goode played the last three Beethoven piano Sonatas and a set of late Bagatelles, and was quite convincing, even revelatory, with all the material except the final Sonata, the forbidding Opus 111. This last came off well, it felt meant—and all those difficult notes were well articulated—but the full emotional daring of the piece was not quite there.
This is probably the best occasion for me to come out of the closet and confess my secret vice—a mild fondness for the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. A viewing of NYGASP's The Yeomen of the Guard with an entirely unvictorian companion set me to thinking about certain genres of theatre and opera in which performance practices are prescribed by tradition or even some legal entity. NYGASP is well-known for throwing in a few uncanonical details, but basically they cleave to D'Oyly Carte's no longer legally binding restrictions, because their audience of devotees expect that—in fact they derive great pleasure from stage routines which have no meaning whatsover in contemporary theater outside of a G & S. Perhaps the tastes of loving audiences have proven more binding than the D'Oyly Carte copyrights.
Stephen Sondheim was just 24 years old when he wrote three songs on spec for the Broadway-bound musical Saturday Night. It became his first post-collegiate musical. The show, based on the play Front Porch in Flatbush by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein never made it to Broadway – then or now. Death, disease, and lack of funding all got in its way. The late 1990s saw both a London and Chicago production. In February of 2000 the show finally had its New York premiere to celebrate Sondheim’s 70th birthday. By then he had written Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd (1979), Sunday in the Park with George (1984) and Into the Woods (1987) to name a few.