We’ve all admired a performer from a distance. Watching from beyond the footlights or via television, we usually only see what they want us to see. It’s easy to love the persona that is public-facing, but what if we could look backstage or see them when the camera is off? Would we still have the same adoration or would it be tarnished? SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF allows us that access to one of the greatest entertainers of all time — Louis Armstrong. But does that peek behind the curtain make us love this legendary musician even more — or tarnish our views by exposing the real man?
In between political rants, the Oscars will be handed out later tonight. I didn’t get to see all of the films this year but did see some very good ones. Here are my guesses for tonight’s winners.
Before the curtain rose on MEMPHIS last night, TUTS Artistic Director Dan Knechtges (also the show’s director) and Executive Director Hilary J. Hart delivered a pre-show speech, pointing out that for their upcoming 50th Anniversary season, all six shows would be locally produced and focus on using Houston talent. They also explained that the majority of cast and crew on MEMPHIS were local artists. So for better or worse, this show is a watermark of things to come for this performing arts company.
Before the show even starts, we are told this is not a musical. In an interview with Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik, reprinted in the Playbill for LOVER, BELOVED: AN EVENING WITH CARSON McCULLERS, Sheik explains that musicals “come with a set of expectations that this show is never wanting to deliver on.” This feeling was also echoed by Vega and the show’s musical director/arranger Jason Hart at the post-show talkback. So while this may not be a traditional musical, the problem with the show, making its world premiere at the Alley Theatre, is that it’s not really sure WHAT it is.
It’s been a tough few weeks for the Alley Theatre, with the departure of long-time artistic director Gregory Boyd and the subsequent allegations of abuse. So it’s a bit ironic that the next production would be a story of struggles to bring people together in times of crisis. I had personally been torn about continuing to support the theatre but ultimately decided to support my friends in the resident company and their colleagues. The thing the theatre needed the most right now is some good publicity and a big hit — and they have found it with this near-perfect production of THE GREAT SOCIETY.
Putting together a Broadway show is much like assembling a good band. There are specific elements that must be in place to make you successful. One element both have in common is the music. A great musical (and a great band, for that matter) must have songs people want to hear and lyrics that tell a great story or entertain. The biggest problem with SCHOOL OF ROCK, playing this week at The Hobby Center, is that one of these key factors is missing.
Earlier today Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars revealed the shows for their 50th Anniversary season. Here’s the official release and my comments/thoughts.
If you know me at all, you know I love going to the theatre and am a proud subscriber to three different companies here in Houston. So when news broke of Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd’s “retirement” with only two days notice, I was suspicious. Since then, the murmurs have turned into a loud chorus of stories about problems behind the scenes. I’ve been asked about this many times and I’ve been hesitant to give my thoughts until I had time to properly process the news. Today, I feel comfortable enough to give some very preliminary comments.