This is a play about dementia. Some people might accuse me of “spoiling” with that statement, but theme trumps plot in The Other Place – what is said in this play is of infinitely greater importance than the way it is said, and I don’t think it hurts anything to announce the subject up front. Playwright Sharr Whitehas some truly thoughtful and insightful things to say about dementia, he’s not merely using it as a clever plot device. White is indeed a masterful craftsperson, but he’s put his craft in service of saying something intelligent and moving about the human condition, and that’s something more like art.
This is not to be missed – and the last show is next Wednesday, and the seats are selling fast! Ella Fitzgerald once called Marilyn Maye “the greatest white female singer in the world.” That’s no exaggeration; she may be the only singer alive who combines a great vocal instrument with interpretative flair and savoir faire equal to Ella’s own. There are younger singers who might posses more powerful voices but I can think of no other singer who possesses Maye’s combination of interpretive ability, rhythmic verve, and vocal range – at 84, her voice is the envy of singers 40 years her junior.
Donna McKecknie is the definition of triple threat – Broadway dancer/actor/singer – being herself one of the first generation of such creatures. And one of the best triple threats of that time (the 1960s and 1970s), who has famously played exactly that kind of triple threat in A Chorus Line (her character, Cassie, has to work hard to stop acting so that she can blend in with the rest of the chorus). So it’s a great boon that the stage at 54 Below has enough room for her to move – she’s a dancer before everything else.
Jonathan Warman will direct a reading of the new musical The Passion of Ed Wood, presented by Musical Mondays (on Thursday) Theatre Lab, on Thursday January 10, 2013 at 6pm at the Jerry Orbach Theater in the Snapple Theater Center. The Passion of Ed Wood has a book and lyrics by Justin Warner and music by Rob Kendt. Musical director is Jody Schum.
In The Passion of Ed Wood, the infamous 1950s Z-movie director, labeled the “worst director of all time,” gets a chance to redeem himself by presenting his incredible life story, narrated by his idol Orson Welles.
Forbidden Broadway has relentlessly and lovingly assaulted the Great White Way since 1982, when Gerard Alessandrini, then a struggling singer-actor, created the first edition for himself and his friends to perform. After a break between 2009 and now, Forbidden Broadway is back with a vengeance in this new edition sub-titled Alive and Kicking. The show, as always, is wickedly clever from the “Prologue”: A quartet wanders around the theatre district, stumbling down the aisle, saying “isn’t this the theatre where Forbidden Broadway used to play?” and then break into music from Brigadoon – a distant chorus chanting “Broadway’s on the brink-of-doom, brink-of-doom.” Alessandrini always has an obvious soft spot for certain shows, and this season it’s Newsies, which he mostly dishes for its almost-too-frenetic energy. Some of the harshest barbs go to Once in “Once is Enough”. The “Finale”, as often is the case for Forbidden Broadway, is a love note to the future of musical theater. Alessandrini seems to see plenty of hope (which he didn’t in 1982), and that’s a very good sign.
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For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen.