Monday, April 20, 2009

Mondays are Dark #2

Not a lot of articles this weekend: most writers were out reviewing the astonishing number of plays that opened this past weekend. Ten plays is a lot, but only 6 of them were really on the "must see" list.

So some of these matters actually come from before the weekend, but I have not addressed them until now: but it's funny; they all seem to have a theme of "change" going for them..must be something in the air...

Changing of the Guard brings Unexpected Bonus
Christine Dolen notes that Something's Afoot marks the end of Michael Hall's tenure as Artistic Director of the Caldwell Theatre. As if to celebrate, the Caldwell is offering its patrons a little gift:
...two kids from 10 to 17 can see the show for free when they go with an adult who buys a full-priced ticket at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and 7 p.m. this Sunday and April 26.

Changing Line-up brings, um, Change to a...Changed Line-up.

Promethean Theatre has had yet a another change in its line up; David Mamet's Speed The Plow has been replaced with the regional premier of Joe Penhall's Dumb Show. Speed the Plow, as you may recall, was a replacement for the originally scheduled Kimberly Akimbo.

According to Promethean's Producing Artistic Director, Deborah L. Sherman, she had a specific cast in mind for Kimberly Akimbo, and when those casting choices became unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances, she chose to hold off that production until she could have her ideal cast perform it. Thus the change to Speed the Plow. So what happened to Speed the Plow?

"We lost the rights," she told me shortly before the Carbonell Awards. "We did have them, but there was a conflict with another theater." She declined to tell me which one.

This isn't all that unusual; a few years ago, through a clerical error, both Actors' Playhouse and GableStage were given the rights to Anthony Horowitz's Mindgame. Apparently, the agency handling the licensing didn't realize that the two theatres were not only less than 90 miles from each other, they were less than a single mile! Actors' Playhouse had secured the rights first, but GableStage had placed it earlier in its season. GableStage's Joe Adler finally convinved the Playhouse's David Arisco that since the Playhouse was doing the show months later, they'd have more time to find a replacement, and Arisco grudgingly agreed.

Unfortunately, Arisco got stung by another licensing snafu: he read the original script to Anthony Shaffer's Murderer, and thought that it would be a good fit. He licensed the show, and his assistant ordered scripts for the actors, and then discovered that there was a new script; Shaffer had re-written the play shortly before he died, and the new script...was frankly awful. It completely deflated the dramatic tension, and took the play from being a dark thriller into a very bad mystery spoof. The agency screwed up by not notating the fact there were two versions of the play, and that only the new version was being licensed. Arisco did the best he could, but it's very hard to overcome a bad script. It's a shame, because there were some staging gimmicks that were fun to rig, but with no payoff to the stories, no one remembers the high production values of the show.

Anyhow, back to the change from Speed the Plow. This is a notable difference from the first time Speed the Plow was announced for a Florida production; the old Florida Rep (the one that was located where the Cuillo Center is, not the one in Fort Myers) announced it 20 years ago, while the show was still on Broadway, with Madonna drawing in crowds. Of course, their season lineup included phrasing to the effect that "shows are subject to change without notice, no refunds or exchanges" or more accurately: "shows are subject to change without notice,no refunds or exchanges."

A not-so-welcome change in a line-up; New Vista Theatre has added a series of fund-raisers to its season. I only wish it weren't being done out of necessity; the sluggish economy has dried up usual streams of donations for the arts. Avi Hoffman is popular in the performing community, so look for some great evenings of entertainment. If you're a performer, sign up to perform, and if you're not, buy a ticket.

Change for Change's Sake..whatever.

Speaking of Palm Beach, the Shiny Sheet has done something kind of contrary; usually, the papers do a puff piece about the show a week or so before it opens, and follows it up with a review. But Jan Sjostrom's article in Sunday's Daily News about Cagney comes after the review, and after the play's been running for a few weeks. Well, any story's a good story, I say.

Change of Venue...Medium? Well, it's different for them.

Conundrum Stages is going from reading plays in front of a live audience to reading them on camera. Well, not permanently: they'll be taping for an upcoming OnStage with Iris Acker on BeconTV.

But Change Out Of Your Jammies.

The Alliance Theatre Lab now has its tickets available online:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Alliance has finally entered the 1990s! You can buy tickets for "Strange Snow" right now, from that comfy computer chair, without even having to put pants on!

Well, I guess that's change for the better. But please get dressed before coming to the theatre.

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