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September 2014

BSO Rachmaninoff & Korngold – Exiles on Sunset Boulevard

Marin Alsop has programmed a concert this weekend (9/26-28) that looks to be a homage to Hollywood, so closely do the works of these Tinseltown transplants suggest the moods of various film scores (updated)

The Seven Year Itch – See You in September

Some delightful stage business is being conducting in Arlington, VA at The American Century Theater … (more)
 
The High Price of Excellence – Performing Arts Injuries  Yesterday’s cancellation of Hilary Hahn from the BSO season opener due to “muscle strain” - she was scheduled to play Beethoven ’s Violin Concerto-  got me to thinking about repetitive motion injuries in the performing arts.   ... (more)
 
National Book Festival – Going Corporate
 
Readers and writers were poorly served by the latest iteration of the Library of Congress’s – its 14th – annual event. … (more) 

August 2014

Sunday in the Park with George - Connecting the Dots

Sondheim's masterpiece about artist Georges Seurat gets an edgy and eye-popping look at Signature Theatre ... (more)

Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It – Speak Easy!
 

Gabriel Wyner’s “How To” book broadly promises to upload and download a new language in your cortex with blazing speed and keep it there.  Can he deliver?  (more)

Stupid [expletive] Bird - The Seagull on Seventh Street

So what's last year's best play look like?  Find out soon or see again before this encore production closes Sunday (8/17) at the Woolly Mammoth ... (more)

Essentialism 101 – When Good Enough Is Best

We’ve been programmed by our culture to seek out the best.  Certainly in the DC area, where overabundance is the norm and expectations exceed our grasp, we want (no, expect) excellence on demand.   If the show’s not a rave or your team’s not winning (or playing), the clock’s ticking: find something else.  Does this make sense? (more)

July 2014
 
BSO All-Beethoven – Da Capo
 
You say you don’t understand classical musical and the ticket prices are too high.  Well, the BSO is offering a concert next week I can pretty much guarantee will overcome those objections ... (updated)

Uncanny Valley – Science Fictions

Uncanny Valley , an aptly named play by Thomas Gibbons, does produce an unusual aesthetic effect and a most jarring theatrical experience for the viewer at the Contemporary Theater Festival at Shepherd University (to 8/3).  (more)

Fallout: A Novel by Sadie Jones – Break a Leg!

Sadie Jones’s latest about the 1960s and ‘70s London theater scene comes with a lot of advance critical praise, but mixed reader response. Can a novel with predictable plot turns, almost stereotypical characters, and dialogue that often lapses into clichés be considered a good one? (more)

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson - There's Something Happening Here

Clear design, whether it's an idea or a blueprint for further development, is a thing of beauty.  When it leads to a fully implemented product, system, or service, it's a driver of the economy. (more)

June 2014 

Philippe Entremont, Pianist, National Gallery of Art

My eyes did a double take on the announcement.  Was that The Philippe Entremont playing in the West Wing ... for free?  The famous soloist who performed the great Romantic Piano Concertos with Eugene Ormandy and Leonard Bernstein in the 1960s and 1970s, whose vinyl LP recordings I still own and play? (more

Charm City Postcard  - Wired

A pleasant Father's Day Sunday drew us to Baltimore for some siteseeing ... (more)

John Updike Biography by Adam Begley - Fortunate Son

This entertaining and engrossing account of Updike's life fills in the blanks in a most satisfying way.  A literary bio which analyzes the works vis à vis the author's life, it is respectful to a fault to the writer, family, and friends ... (more)

May 2014

A Symphonic Celebration of Kander & Ebb -  All That Jazz

Conductor Jack Everly's rousing finale to the BSO Pops season last night at Strathmore Music Center was something to behold ... (more)

April 2014

Arguendo - Razing the Bar

Who knew that oral arguments before the Supreme Court could be so, well, funny?  That's the verdict in the latest production by the New York-based Elevator Repair Service now being performed at the Woolly Mammoth (to 4/27) ... (more)
 
Audience Appreciation Night Should Be Every Night - Rules of Engagement
 
It was refreshing to read Christine Quintana's article posted recently by DC Theatre Scene: "Thank You for Coming - audiences as seen from the front line"  ... (more)

The Virtual Theatergoers Union - See Them All!

In an effort to spur interest in the local performing arts scene an advocacy group known as the Virtual Theatergoers Union (VIRTU) announced exciting plans for the 2014-2015 season.  Starting this fall, you can "see" your favorite play or musical without actually attending a performance. ... (more)

March 2014

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad

The 1960s play by Arthur Kopit, with a mouthful of a title and domineering mother par excellence, is the theater of the absurd's apotheosis of momism.  Now receiving a most creative revival by The American Century Theater (to 4/12) in Arlington, VA ... (more)

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Lobby Heroes

How many people does it take to film a farce?  If you're Wes Anderson, thousands. It's style over substance in this throwback fable about the loss of standards in a changing world.  Marvelous cinematography, art design, and music compete with tongue-in-cheek dialogue and convoluted plot based on (inspired by more likely) the writings of Stefan Zweig.  A frolicsome Ralph Fiennes and just about any bankable male actor Hollywood could muster join box office draws Soairse Ronan and Tilda Swinton to flesh out this cinematic excess.  The full-court-press marketing is paying big dividends, where the movie is playing everywhere, the reviews are great, and the customers sated.  A feast for the eyes with sober themes, like Gravity, this is one to see on the big screen.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - Making the Old New

I just couldn't take another Mendelssohn Violin Concerto ... Or could I?  (more)

Death of the Playwright? - The Revolution Will Not Be Accredited

Who really writes the script we traditionally assign to the playwright?  This question has been raised in the past about novelists and screenwriters, but today the line of authorship has also been blurred in the theater ... (more)

Tribes - Emotional Intelligence

Are we determined by language or family or biology, and if so, how much?  The artistically inclined characters in Tribes are spring-loaded to state their case in Nina Raine's British dramedy now at Pittsburgh's City Theatre Company (to 3/30) ... (more)

Short Takes - Moving from Me to You in One Sitting

Research has shown that reading fiction increases empathy, yet as reported in an NEA study less than half of American adults read at least one novel, play, or poem [my emphases] in 2012.  Art lovers, that's pretty bad.  For those who need to get back in the game, start with short stories.  If one doesn't suit, pick another. Try any collection of Nobel-Prize winner Alice Munro, George Saunders, or Steve Millhauser.  If you're into variety, hit the shuffle mode for authors and select Best American Short Stories of any year.  To bone up for longer works or classics, a short story collection is often the royal road to interpretation - Dubliners (James Joyce), Go Down, Moses (William Faulkner).  Start anywhere, but get going!   

Season's Greetings - More Noise, Less Signal

Just last month the NSO mailed me their subscription series for 2014-2015; yesterday I received the BSO's.  Earlier Strathmore provided the good news of their upcoming season.  These are just the music venues.  Each day my mail box comes filled with exciting programming announcements from theaters. ... (more)

Baltimore Museum of Arts - Free All the Time

Charm City's flagship museum is in dry dock while renovations are underway and the Cone Collection travels, but the accessible galleries never looked better.  A German Expressionist exhibit and a newly opened Contemporary Art Wing (featuring some Andy Warhols I'd never seen) fill some of the gaps nicely; and the rest are shown to best advantage with the donated works of arts patron extraordinaire Saidie A. May (1879-1951).  A cousin of the Cones, the relatively unheralded Ms. May fashioned a shadow collection that rivaled her more celebrated relatives.  But history has a way of rectifying fame's omissions: a stolen Renoir from the May bequest - much in the news of late - is about to be returned and reunited with its family after 60 plus years. See them all  3/30.      

Taking One for the Show - Living to Play Another Day

Backstage dramas come in many forms, though the public usually reads about the ones dealing with last minute cast changes ... But it's not only actors that have to suck it up for the good of a production ... (more)

Alexandre Desplat - The French John Williams

Watching the credits roll on The Monuments Men - an entertaining, bad movie - I was surprised to find that my favorite film composer scored it. I shouldn't have been.  Just over the last year or so I've heard his work in Philomena, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The Ides of March and earlier in everything from The King (as in his Speech) to The Queen.  Younger moviegoers will have met the composer at least subliminally in The New Moon (of Twilight fame) and the Harry Potter Series.  Search him online and you'll find you've heard him too.  Mr. Desplat, who orchestrates and conducts his own music, favors a soaring and rich symphonic sound.  A smart orchestra artistic director somewhere would do well to feature his body of work in a Pops Program.  There's a big audience waiting.        

Ticket Prices - Cut Them and They Will Come!

I've said in the past that the high price of tickets (and fees) is stifling audience-building initiatives. You can't get new subscribers when your seats are empty; neither will those concessions get sold.  And what about the buzz from a full house marketed the most cost-effective way possible: Word of Mouth?  Rather than blow money on design that no one will see, why not ask your generous donors to underwrite the cost of tickets?  One theater has gotten the message.     

February 2014

BSO All-Mozart & Off the Cuff: CSI - Biorhythms   

Marin Alsop and the BSO do a retrospective or if you prefer a post-mortem of the brief, productive life and the mysterious demise of one of the greatest composers of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ... (updated)

Company Going & An Iliad Coming-Masterpiece Season

Stephen Sondheim fans still have time to catch Pittsburgh Public Theater's production of Company which runs until Sunday (2/23) ...An Iliad, a one-man play starring Teagle F. Bougere, opens next month (3/6-4/6) ... (updated)   

BSO Valentine's Concert - Sealed with a Kiss

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a romantic weekend program you'll want to take in with that special someone ... (updated)

Richard III - Game of Thrones

He's back!  Everyone's favorite Shakespearean villain gets a fresh look and the play a scintillating in-the- round staging at The Folger Theatre (extended to 3/16) ... (more)
 
January 2014

BSO Marvin Hamlisch Tribute:One Singular Achievement

The musical genius of Marvin Hamlisch lived on last night at Strathmore Music Center (more)

Drama Urge Theater Resolutions 2014

You want the audiences to come and come again, but the house remains quiet and empty?  Taking a page from some theater critics and an earlier post these New Year's Resolutions are offered not for my benefit, but the community I follow ... (more

Bad Dates - ISO Solemate

Fans of playwright Theresa Rebeck (Seminar, Mauritius, The Understudy) and The Bay Theatre Company will have double cause for rejoicing  with the top notch production of Bad Dates (2003) playing at the Chesapeake Arts Center ... (more)

December 2013

Drama Urge Awards 2013 - Notable Theater & Performances  

It was a year of highs and lows for me in theater ... my selective, subjective, and small subset of the year's productions .... (more)

True West - Manifest Destiny

The second installment of Pittsburgh Public Theater's Masterpiece Season is a walk down memory lane of sorts for me ... (more)

November 2013

Red - Performance Art
 
John Logan's rumination on creativity, aesthetics, and spirituality gets another go at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore (to 12/8) ... (more)

Meyerhoff Magic - Music Appreciation 21201

The BSO closed out the full program of The Planets concert series on November 10 and a memorable one it was ... (more)

Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill - Model Home

The funniest play I've seen this year is also the saddest.   Paul Downs Calaizzo's suburban teardown is the playwright's second Signature Theatre world premiere (to 12/8) ... (more

BSO Plays Holst's The Planets - Sonic Showstoppers

The stars will be aligned (or should I say the planets?) as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Marin Alsop, takes orbit in a four-day presentation of Gustav Holst's orchestral masterpiece ... (more

October 2013

Merrily We Roll Along - A Good Thing Going

Stephen Sondheim's problem child of a musical finally got the staging it deserved as fans in movie theaters around the world last night found out ... (more)

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
- Chekhov Lights
 
If you've missed this year's Tony Award winner for best play, you're in luck.  City Theatre's production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now running to 11/3, gives you the Broadway experience at Pittsburgh prices and intimacy, without the hassle ... (more)

Project Shakespeare - Call for Former Contestants

Pittsburgh Public Theater is searching for participants of past Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contests to celebrate their twentieth anniversary under the guidance of education director & playwright Rob Zellers. Billed as the Shakespeare Nation Project, the Public plans to compile participant's comments into a commemorative program for distribution at the Showcase of Finalists, 2/17/2014.  Former contestant actress Gillian Jacobs will chair the event. See details.

Rancho Mirage - Truth Or Dare

Steve Dietz's engaging new play Rancho Mirage is showing to best advantage at the Olney Theatre Center to 10/20 ... (more)

"On My Way"- Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin & Porgy & Bess  

The creative hand at the helm of the stage and operatic versions of Porgy was an almost unknown director named Rouben Mamoulian.  Joseph Horowitz's latest musical biography seeks to redress that omission and restore the legacy ... (more)  

September 2013

Thibaudet Plays Bernstein - Master Class

Virtuoso Jean-Yves Thibaudet wowed them twice last night at Strathmore Music Center with a magisterial rendition of Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, "Age of Anxiety" and a deftly performed Piano Concerto in G Major by Maurice Ravel ... (more)

The NEW Helen Hayes Awards Process - Conceptual Art

The one thing you can say about changes to the Helen Hayes Awards process: not much ... (more) 

Detroit - Boundary Conditions

Thinking about the much heralded play Detroit by Lisa D'Amour, now running at the Woolly Mammoth (to 10/6), is almost as much fun as the immersive experience itself ... (more)  

Art's Shelf Life - Seeing With Fresh Eyes

With every revival of a theater blockbuster or classic it seems like the writer is obligated to comment on its relevancy to today's audiences ... (more)

Miss Saigon - The Things We Do For Love

Broadway comes to Arlington with the revival of Miss Saigon, a modern rethinking of Puccini's Madame Butterfly now playing at the Signature Theatre (extended to 10/6) ... (more)

August 2013

The Beauty Queen of Leenane - Rocking-Chair Winner

Can a tragedy be funny?  Resoundingly yes, as you're about to find out in the Round House Theatre's frothy season opener by Martin McDonagh, playing to 9/15 and probably beyond  ... (more)

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes - Arts on Foot

The National Gallery of Art is offering a monumental window into the spirit of modernism with its current summer blockbuster now extended until October 6.  Though you've doubtless heard or read about them, nothing will prepare you for the magnitude and scope of this collaborative enterprise ... a must see! (more)
 
The Helen Hayes Awards  - Too Many Items on the Menu?
 
Just when I thought that the local theater scene held no more drama, surprise, surprise, there comes the Washington Post report of internal strife over the Helen Hayes Awards  ... (more) 

A Chorus Line - I Will Survive

Theater as a Performing (yes, with a Capital P) art is on the main stage at Olney Theatre in its revival of A Chorus Line (to 9/8). (more

Critics and Criticism - Learning To Give and Take

That critics and theater companies have an uneasy relationship was recently brought to my attention in a dust up at a local blog site I frequent.  Can we keep it civil? (more)   


For 2009- 2012 REVIEWS AND BLOGS SEE ARCHIVES
(c) John F. Glass, 2009-2013 - All rights reserved
 






 

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