It’s always weird to me to see Amazon credited for a film on the screen. It makes me want to re-order my bamboo-handled toothbrushes. But Love & Friendship, written and directed by Whit Stillman and based on Jane Austen’s epistolary novel, Lady Susan, is a treat. You’ll meet Lady Susan Vernon, Kate Beckinsale, the widowed villain you’ll love to hate. In the face of rumors about her scandals, she ruthlessly finagles to snag a rich husband for her and one for her neglected daughter. The title was taken from a childhood letter by Jane Austen to amuse her family. Enjoy the shameless social climbing, the affairs, the gossip. Oh, I love gossip. Especially if it’s Austen-esque.
If you go to this site and scroll down below the graphics for Stickman Review you’ll find my two poems–THE POINTER FINGER about my Sweet Sixteen and VALENTINE FOR OUR FORTY-FIVE YEARS TOGETHER (for my husband.) Look for my name and click on my poems. Proud to be in this journal with prize-winning poets.
TUCK EVERLASTING, the children’s classic by Natalie Babbitt, is now a musical with a score by songwriters Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) and a book by Tony Award-nominated playwright Claudia Shear ( Dirty Blonde) and Tim Federle (NYT Notable Novel: Better Than Nate). The songwriters are the recipients of the 2014 Fred Ebb Award. The director/choreographer is Tony Award-winning Casey Nicholaw (Alladin, Something’s Rotten, The Book of Mormon.)
When my daughter was assigned Tuck Everlasting in fifth grade, she cried so hard that I had to read it along with her to give her support. The Tuck family accidentally drink magic spring water that gives them the gift and the curse of immortality. My daughter was just the age of ten-year-old Winnie Foster (Sarah Charles Lewis) who bridles against the over-protectiveness of her mother (Valerie Wright, veteran of eight Broadway shows) and her nana (Pippa Peartree of Noises Off, You Can’t Take It With You) and runs off into the forbidden woods. There she meets 17-year-old devil-may-care Jesse Tuck (Andrew Keenan-Bolger of Newsies, Mary Poppins, Seusical). He brings her home to meet his father Angus (Michael Park of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Carousel) and his mother Mae Tuck (Carolee Carmello of Finding Neverland, Scandalous) and his brother, Miles (Robert Lenzi of South Pacific). Soon the Tucks’ secret is found out. Jesse is really 104, for one. Although Winnie can be trusted, the Tuck secret, the villainous Man in the Yellow Suit (Terrance Mann of Pippin, Beauty and the Beast) wants to sell the spring water and use it to gain immortality for himself and power over others. The Tucks have to run off again and Winnie is left with a choice—to drink the water when she’s seventeen so that Jesse can come back and marry her, and they can travel the world together, never setting up roots, or grow old and live in the world as nature intended.
There are no spoilers here. As in opera, it’s better to know the story beforehand as many in the theater did. This is a show you can take your kids to, and assure that Tuck remains everlasting.
The sets are an enchantment. The theme of the circle of life is repeated in a spectacular scene of Winnie and Angus circling a lake, haze coming up like smoke. The creative team includes set designer Walt Spangler ( A Christmas Story The Musical), Tony Award-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes ( Kinky Boots, Follies), Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kenneth Posner ( Kinky Boots, Pippin) and Tony Award-winning sound designer Brian Ronan (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Book of Mormon).
One of my favorite songs was performed by the witless town constable (Fred Applegate of Wicked) and his assistant, Hugo (Michael Wartella, also in Wicked) who go off on a bumbling search for Winnie.
The ballet at the end is the showstopper for me. Take out your Kleenex. It’s a magnificent weeper.
Opening April 26th
TUCK EVERLASTING: THE MUSICAL, TICKETS AND INFORMATION
In person, Go to Box Office at
235 West 44th Street
(Between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10036
Open Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. -8 p.m
Sunday, Noon to 6pm.
Or Call Telecharge at 212-239-6200
Soon to be mosquito time and the dangers of the AZIKA virus. They not only causes birth defects in pregnant women, they also can cause an autoimmune disorder that has the same effects as MS. I know a healthy college girl who was paralyzed from the waist down from a mosquito bite she got in Mexico. The news should be buzzing with this instead of every nuance of the political campaigns. Order long sleeve and long pants light weight clothes for this season and bug spray, lots of bug spray.
Who could play the 5’5” Cagney better than Cagney’s look-alike, sing-alike, dance-alike, and act-alike—Robert Creighton? Creighton, a veteran of Broadway, was in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Anything Goes, and The Lion King. Now, along with Christopher McGovern (Fame, First Wives Club), he wrote the music and lyrics for Cagney. And of course, much of it was written by George M. Cohan. The book is by Peter Colley (The Donnelly).
I admired the real Cagney so much that I was afraid the show would reveal something about him that I didn’t want to know. Am I sick of stories about drug-addicted, alcoholic, actors that abuse everyone close to them! But Cagney is portrayed as I’d hoped. He was loyal to his wife, Willie, a singer and dancer he met while doing Vaudeville. He remained as scrappy as he’d been growing up in the Lower East Side of New York, fighting bosses for fair pay for the working poor. For charitable contributions that turned out to have a link to the Communist Party, Cagney was hauled before the Dies Committee, a precursor of the House of Unamerican Activities. When Jack Warner made him do one gangster film after another that brought the studio, not Cagney, a fortune, Cagney battled him and became an active member of SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild). What was Cagney’s preoccupation that almost cost him all his money? He didn’t want the last reel of his life to be himself as a gangster. He broke away from Warner and made films with a positive message which were such a loss that he had to go back to the dreaded studio.
Produced by Riki Kane Larimer (Fiddler on the Roof, Tappin’ Thru Life, On The Town, Gigi) and under Matt Perri’s musical direction (Finding Neverland, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) and Bill Castellino’s direction, there’s a delightful vaudeville feel to the show.
The cast of six characters morphs seamlessly into so many roles that it’s fun trying to pick out who is playing who. Danette Holden who played Mrs. Hannigan in Annie was Ma Cagney, Warner’s assistant Jane, and more. Jeremy Benton (42nd Street) plays Bob Hope, and an associate choreographer, and Dance and Fight Captain. Josh Walden (Ragtime) plays Cagney’s brother, and more. I stopped counting the parts Ellen Zolezzi (Ellen Zolezzi of Seussical) played and all the parts besides Jack Warner that Bruce Sabbath, (Company) played. Creighton was Cagney all the way through.
Choreographer Joshua Bergasse (On The Town, Gigi), has the cast tapping their hearts out (and mine.) Wait until you see the scene of writers tapping out scripts on imaginary typewriters!
The creative team includes James Morgan (set), Martha Bromelmeier (costumes), Michael Gilliam (lights), Janie Bullard (sound), Mark Pirolo (projections), Larry Lelli (music coordinator), and Christian Kelly-Sordelet and Rick Sordelet (fight directors). The Production Stage Manager is Larry Smiglewski. Carol Hanzel is the Casting Director and Brierpatch Productions provides General Management.
You’ll be giving your regards to Broadway and on your feet, applauding.
Cagney is playing at The Westside Theatre – Upstairs, 407 West 43 Street. Tickets for Cagney may be purchased by calling Telecharge: 212-239-6200, or by visiting Telecharge.com.
Producers of Cagney include Jamie deRoy, Joe Cecala, Barbara Freitag, Joel B. Grossman and Emily Conner.
What if you are paid to stay at a clinic for a month to test the effect of an antidepressant and romance is forbidden because it will play havoc with the controlled experiment? Despite signed contracts, two young participants, Connie Hall (SUSANNAH FLOOD of Tribes, Scenes from a Marriage, SVU, Chicago Fire) and Tristan Frey (CARTER HUDSON of Abyss, HBO: Crime, Codes of Conduct) tumble wildly into love and into bed. (Not necessarily in that order). Connie, a psych major, freaks out about whether their feelings are drug-induced or the real deal. Is she the one on a placebo or is it Tristan? Connie has to know. She has a life outside the walls of the clinic—a degree in psychology to finish and a 40ish boyfriend/professor with a son who is leaving his wife for her. Tristan, on the other hand, takes life by the seat of his pants when he isn’t taking his off. Her questions madden him. He just wants to run away with her, backpack across the country, not live a nanosecond outside the moment.
To complicate matters, they are under surveillance by Dr. Lorna James (KATI BRAZDA, A Moon for the Misbegotten) a psychiatrist with a history of depression that is amped by her fear about the dangers and validity of this test. The ruthless Dr. Toby Sealy (STEVE KEY, A Thousand Acres, Chicago Fire, Blackmail) on his third marriage, has toyed with Dr. Lorna romantically, and is browbeating her to make the test results in the drug’s favor. “Emotions aren’t real, anyway,” he says. You have to wonder if they are all test subjects being watched.
Playwright LUCIE PREBBLE’s The Effect, won the Critic’s Circle Award for Best New Play in 2013 when it was performed in London. What a twist on boy meets girl! What a philosophical, witty probe into the role of antidepressants in our lives.
GEORGE DUMAS was a convincing lab assistant.
Director DAVID CROMER helped pull terrific performances from these gifted actors.
Speaking of effects, wait until you see the way shadow and light is used to relieve the white florescence of the clinic and the multimedia approach that heightens the drama. A woodsy mural brings in a breath of air at just the right times.
Even as I left the theater, I was still worried about the fate of Connie and Tristan. Valium, anyone?
Barrow Street Theatre (Off Broadway). 27 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014
Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.
I heard “Happy Easter” in more languages that I can alliterate. People were snapping pictures of me when all I was wearing was a knitted beret that had some gems sewn to the front. The guy dressed as a bear, looking so ferocious, gave me a bear hug afterwards. I promise someday I'[ll find out how to rotate these pictures for my blog. The hats were done with the amazing detail, humor, and artistry of a Red Grooms.
Beware the Orchid, its seductive beauty, heady scent. Orchids are venomous to eat. And check out a closeup of their inner workings–looks a spotted maw with teeth. “All the better to eat you, my dear.” That’s why most poems about orchids twine death with beauty. Here’s one by Sam Hamill.
Fredrick Sanders, a notorious Orchid Hunter, sent men out on treacherous expeditions to bring back orchid specimens. The hunters risked their lives and often lost them, were underpaid, and underfed, while Sanders reaped a fortune. And he treated the environment the same way. He would take thousands of specimens and cut down trees, destroying the plants so competitors couldn’t get them.