My thoughts about theater, movies, the media, etc.
I have to confess that I am no fan of the British royal family. Not that I have anything against them; I’ve just never paid much attention to the constant royal gossip, the romances and weddings, the newborn babies and long, long funerals. I felt very bad about Princess Diana’s death — but not bad … Continue reading Meghan and Harry and Will (Oh My!)
I am starting to get discouraged about the Broadway musical. A half-dozen new ones have opened this fall, but the chances of finding something really original or musically adventurous are increasingly slim. It’s not just the surfeit of jukebox musicals— shows that repurpose old pop songs, either to celebrate a particular artist or to embellish … Continue reading Broadway’s New Musicals: Retro Rules
This piece of mine is in today's Washington Post, and judging by the many comments, it's an issue that provokes strong reactions. Read it on the Post's website, or I've reprinted it here: Broadway theatergoing is finally back to something close to normal. No more pandemic-era lines outside the theater to show proof of vaccination; … Continue reading Broadway’s ‘Trigger Warnings’: How Safe Is Too Safe?
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?
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’￼
Almost everyone I know feels bad about Al Franken. The former comedian and Saturday Night Live writer was emerging as one of the strongest Democratic voices in the U.S. Senate when he was forced to resign, in December 2017, amid a #MeToo scandal. It was sparked by a silly comedian’s prank — a photo of Franken pretending … Continue reading Al Franken: Back to the Punch Lines
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
The Tony Awards are this Sunday, and after two seasons disrupted by the pandemic, Broadway finally gets a chance to return to its usual self-congratulatory mode. My theatergoing this season has been spottier than usual, but I’ve seen all of the nominees for best musical and best play, so here’s a little wrap-up and prognostication. … Continue reading A Quick Guide to the Tony Awards
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
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’?