Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And all that noise

Just looking at this picture makes my ears hurt.

Speaking of which: have you seen ads for the Roundabout's upcoming Sondheim on Sondheim season-padder? I live a block away from the theatre where it will be playing through June, and I still can't quite be bothered to put it on my calendar. New arrangements of Sondheim tunes, performed by...Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat! You know what, I will pass! Thanks though!

I know, Barbara Cook. But still. Does this lack of enthusiasm mean my Sondheim geekitude has totally deserted me? Nope; my inner 14-year-old enjoyed the NYT slide show from "the birthday concert" way too much. (I mean, this! Now that I would pay for.)

UPDATE: I saw Sondheim on Sondheim after all.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Winter and rough weather

I was excited about the return of The Bridge Project, after last year's productions of The Cherry Orchard and The Winter's Tale (which I reviewed for Commonweal). I got tickets months in advance, and I thought I would write up this year's plays too. But I reconsidered on the way home from As You Like It. There just wasn't enough to write about.

Sam Mendes is your man when you want to create a mood or establish atmosphere. He knows how to make a pretty picture onstage, one that looks ethereal but still appropriately theatrical. But interpreting texts in a consistent manner is just not one of his strengths. I got the impression he had read through As You Like It and highlighted a couple of details that intrigued him, and then and then mounted his production without paying any attention to the whole picture. (For example -- "How merry are my spirits" is probably not what Rosalind says at the top of Act Two, Scene Four, but Mendes not only went with "merry" where most would agree that she should say "weary"; he built the entire scene around her unaccountable merriment.) Michael Feingold put it this way: "Mendes's besetting sin as a director is that he seems to fuss over scenes rather than think them through." Exactly right. Mendes came up with some novel ways to present disposable, short scenes -- a little torture here, a random nightmare-vision there -- when he ought to have been focusing on how the long, pivotal scenes were playing out. The result is all trees and no forest.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Songs of thankfulness and praise

I don't have time to write much -- deadlines to meet in the non-Internet-based world! -- but this is awesome, and I thought you'd want to know: a bunch of people I don't know have taken some jokes I wrote years ago and turned them into many more much funnier jokes. (More back story at dotCommonweal.) Ain't the Internet grand?