Paying Your Taxes: A Democratic Plot?

I’ve been immersed in local politics for the past few weeks, trying to put some of my ideas on Democratic messaging into practice, in support of Bridget Fleming’s campaign for Congress (from the Suffolk County congressional district that Lee Zeldin just gave up to run for governor).  Her Republican opponent, Nick LaLota, has been faithfully regurgitating … Continue reading Paying Your Taxes: A Democratic Plot?

Before the Fall: Revisiting ‘Ragtime’

A few months ago I wrote an article for the New York Times on Garth Drabinsky’s comeback to Broadway. The Canadian theater producer was riding high in the 1990s with prestige hits like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime, but suffered an ignominious fall when his company imploded, he was charged with financial improprieties, and he wound up serving a … Continue reading Before the Fall: Revisiting ‘Ragtime’

Elvis and the Colonel: How Baz Luhrmann Blew It

I wrote a book called Elvis in Vegas, so I probably know too much about the subject to fairly judge Baz Luhrmann’s new biopic, Elvis. But it’s hard not to have strong reactions to Luhrmann’s frenetic, fast-cut, over-the-top treatment of the King’s life and career.  Some of the movie is gratifying. I was glad, for instance, that it … Continue reading Elvis and the Colonel: How Baz Luhrmann Blew It

Democrats, Get Your Messaging Act Together

I generally try to stay away from politics on this blog. But I’m obsessed with Democratic messaging — mainly, how bad it usually is — so, with the primary season heating up, let me play amateur political strategist for a few minutes.  Like many liberal Democrats, I’m constantly frustrated at the way the party has … Continue reading Democrats, Get Your Messaging Act Together

Could ‘Suffs’ Be the Next ‘Hamilton’?

Suffs, the new musical at the Public Theater, may be the first clear descendant of Hamilton. Like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit, the show is a lesson in American history, dense with exposition, mostly sung-through, and the product of a single creative mind. Like Miranda, singer-composer Shaina Taub has written the book, music, and lyrics — and also … Continue reading Could ‘Suffs’ Be the Next ‘Hamilton’?

A New ‘Music Man’: No Trouble in River City

Broadway loves to welcome back its classic musicals, especially when accompanied by a major star to juice the box office, and provide at least a whiff of reinvention. But the new revival of The Music Man, starring Hugh Jackman, has gotten a surprisingly sour reception from many of the critics.  “A huge let-down,” wrote the New York Post. “The … Continue reading A New ‘Music Man’: No Trouble in River City