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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Theater, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 113
1. Disney’s ‘Aladdin’: The Broadway Musical vs. The Animated Film

After three years of tryouts and short runs in a total of four different cities, Disney Theatrical’s version of "Aladdin" finally opened on Broadway March 20th at the New Amsterdam Theatre. So now that it's here, how does it compare to the animated "Aladdin" we all know and love? After seeing the musical a few days ago, here are my observations.

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2. APRIL UPDATE!

BIRDth-DAY! April 1st marks the 11th anniversary of the publication of my first book, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Because of the support of Librarians, Teachers, Parents, Grand-Parents, and Fans the last 11 years have been a wonderful ride filled with opportunities for me to write, draw, and meet fantastic kids and grown-ups all over the world. Thank you for this gift.

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3. Don Hertzfeldt Short ‘Billy’s Balloon’ Turned Into Dance Performance (Exclusive)

Adapting animated films for the stage is no longer just the domain of feature films like "The Lion King" and "Shrek." Italian dance/theater troupe "eVolution" has adapted an unlikely animated short for live performance: Don Hertzfeldt's "Billy's Balloon."

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4. A day with Carol Channing in Disneyland

By Eddie Shapiro


When I began work on my book, I knew I would be fortunate enough to experience a few moments of “Pinch me. This can’t really be happening.” There were, as it turned out, so many that I’d be black and blue if there was actual pinching going on. But of all of those moments, I think the highlight would have to be spending a day at Disneyland with Carol Channing and her late husband, Harry, who were then 90 and 91 respectively.

I had interviewed Carol the day before in front of an adoring audience at the annual Gay Days at Disneyland. But it had been decades since Carol had been in the park and the last time she was, her tour guide was, um, Walt Disney. She had a picture to prove it. Carol, Walt, and Maurice Chevalier on Main Street, USA! I couldn’t exactly beat that, but I did what I could. I mapped out the day with a full compliment of attractions starting gently enough with “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,“ an indoor show at which a robotic Abe recites the Gettysburg address. Carol was moved to tears. “It’s Walt!” she exclaimed. “This whole attraction is his spirit. Exactly who he was.” We emerged just in time to hear the Disneyland Marching Band emphatically playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” We clapped along before we hopped on “The Disneyland Railroad,” a steam train that circles the park. Carol grabbed my hand as we approached and began singing at full voice, “Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out…” the song from Hello, Dolly! that culminates with the full company boarding a similar train. We sang together as we chugged along. I died.

Mickey Mouse bows to Carol Channing. Photo courtesy of Eddie Shapiro.

Mickey Mouse bows to Carol Channing. Photo courtesy of Eddie Shapiro.

We rode the Peter Pan ride and the tea cups, we met Mickey Mouse (who literally got on his knees and bowed down to Carol), and we had our own boat on “It’s a Small World.” It was all just as I had planned it until… the unexpected. As we were walking through Fantasyland, Harry kept staring in the direction of the carousel. I hadn’t planned on an attraction as simple as the carousel because, well, it’s a carousel. But I couldn’t help but notice Harry’s interest. “Harry,” I asked, “did you want to ride the carousel?” “I’m lookin’ at it,” came the reply. “Well Harry,” I said, “we’re here! If you want to ride it, let’s ride it.”  We boarded and I went off in search of a nice bench for Carol and Harry. Carol seated herself but Harry was determined to mount a horse. At 91, however, he needed a hand or two, so I put my shoulder under his lower back and hoisted him up there. I then ran around to the other side and manually swung his leg astride the horse.

Harry, Carol Channing's husband, on the carousel. Photo courtesy of Eddie Shapiro.

Harry, Carol Channing’s husband, on the carousel. Photo courtesy of Eddie Shapiro.

He was beaming, positively giddy. And in that moment, I realized that I was getting a major life lesson here. Carol and Harry were frail (he, in fact, passed less than three months later); one misstep could have been hugely consequential. A jostle from someone in the crowd could have been dire. But here they were, not just tasting everything life had to offer, but gobbling it up. If there was life to live, they were going to live it. And I thought to myself, “How does one become lucky enough to age into these people? Is it genetic? Is it a choice? What can I do to insure that when my golden years are upon me, I make them as golden as I can? Because these people have figured it out. They are who I aspire to be.”

When the sun was finally setting, we headed back to the hotel. I left them sitting in the lobby next to the grand piano while I went up to the room to retrieve their luggage. I returned just as the pianist was arriving for his set. He spied Carol and in no time he was gently tinkling the notes of “Hello, Dolly!” Before I knew what was happening, Carol was on her feet, one hand on the piano, the other aloft, belting out “Hello, Dolly!” for anyone who happened to be passing through the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel at 4:30 in the afternoon. It was something to behold and a moment I will never, ever forget.

For months afterward, Harry would call me, just to say hello. “You don’t know the gift you gave us that day,” he would always end with. “Harry,” I’d always reply, “you don’t know the gift you gave me.”

Author Eddie Shapiro, Carol Channing, and her husband Harry at Disneyland. Photo courtesy of Eddie Shapiro.

Author Eddie Shapiro, Carol Channing, and her husband Harry on the tea cup ride at Disneyland. Photo courtesy of Eddie Shapiro.

Eddie Shapiro is the author of Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater. His writing has appeared in publications such as Out Magazine, Instinct, and Backstage West. He is also a producer of Gay Days Disneyland and the author of Queens in the Kingdom: The Ultimate Gay and Lesbian Guide to the Disney Theme Parks. 

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5. REVIEW: “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” Pushes The Simpsons Beyond the Apocalypse

I’m sure it will come as no surprise if we tell you that the 24th season of The Simpsons will not stand the test of time. In fact, if Anne Washburn’s new play Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, is any indication, not much will be remembered beyond season six.

In her new play, which was staged last year in Washington by the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and opened at Playwrights Horizons in New York City earlier this week, storytelling is paramount in our world – post-nuclear holocaust. So much so, that reenacting scenes from the long-running animated series, mostly classic episodes like Bart of Darkness and A Streetcar Named Marge, is not simply entertainment, but a means of survival and coping with the fears of a newer, darker world.


The play opens with a group of friends around a campfire recalling lines from the classic Simpsons episode “Cape Feare,” in which Sideshow Bob gets out of prison and begins stalking the Simpson family with the intent to murder Bart. The episode is a parody of the 1991 Robert DeNiro thriller, Cape Fear, which is itself a remake of a 1962 film. Early in the play, these details are mentioned by the characters, but the Simpsons episode then takes on a life of its own and adopts mythic qualities that transform it into a theatrical tragedy rivaling the work of Hesiod or Euripides.

This first scene, which was, according to Ben Brantley’s glowing review in the New York Times, scripted from early workshops as the actors tried to recall lines from the episode in question, is buoyant and funny. It’s a treasure to any hardcore fan of The Simpsons who will be hard pressed to not want to contribute to the conversation, while at the same time, tense and eerie and barely covering up an unknown horror that exists outside of the proscenium.


In the second of the show’s three parts, the campfire group evolves to a fledgling theater troupe, perfecting their version of Simpsons episodes for audiences in nearby areas. Their reenactments, honed by bartering with other survivors for their memories of random lines from the lost episodes, now include commercials and choreographed medleys of Top 40s hits. But regardless of how much they use their craft to distract themselves from the continued fear of uncertainty, it always comes back to The Simpsons and more specifically, Cape Feare.

“That single Simpsons episode becomes a treasure-laden bridge, both to the past and into the future,” says Brantley, “And in tracing a story’s hold on the imaginations of different generations, the play is likely to make you think back — way back — to narratives that survive today from millenniums ago. Every age, it seems, has its Homers.”


In the last part, the source material has been deconstructed and blended seamlessly with popular references as far apart as Britney Spears and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Mr. Burns, Springfield’s dark specter of nuclear power, taking center stage as a post-modern Mephistopheles. The result is self-referential theater about a popular television series that deftly manages to dodge the precious, the pretentious and the snarky, high art about low art and the fuzzy line between the two. It’s a clever, compelling embodiment of storytelling as a cornerstone of our society and asking what, in our world, will live on after society falls and we are forced to rebuild.

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play will be staged through October 20 at Playwrights Horizons’ Mainstage Theater. It is written by Anne Washburn, directed by Steve Cosson, with music by Michael Friedman.

(Photos: © Playwright Horizons & The New York Times)

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6. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in Syracuse NY!

A new production of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL opens on Friday May 24th at Syracuse's Gifford family Theatre (school matinees begin on the 21st) and runs through mid-June. Don't miss the action! The drama! The babbling! The HUGE dancing laundry! Details and tickets are here! If you're in the area, I hope you enjoy the production and tell 'em Mo sent ya!

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7. Here’s Another Play about the Life of Walt Disney That May or May Not Be About His Life

Fictionalized accounts of Walt Disney’s life are all the rage this season, so much so that even the Walt Disney Company is inventing random stories about its founder that are loosely based in fact.

On Monday, the Soho Rep in Manhattan will open a new play written by Lucas Hnath called “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney.” I haven’t found any reviews of the play, but the Wall Street Journal wrote that it “begins with a friendly greeting, but as [Disney] becomes ever more obsessed with his control of the narrative, he becomes less open with the audience, less appealing. He’s striving to dominate the truth.”

Character actor Larry Pine (House of Cards, Moonrise Kingdom, Oz) plays the role of Disney. It runs through May 26. The official show description:

Tonight Walt is going to read you a screenplay he wrote. It’s about his last days on earth. It’s about a city he’s going to build that’s going to change the world. And it’s about his brother. It’s about everyone who loves him so much, and it’s about how sad they’re going to be when he’s gone.

Right? I mean, how can they live without him? How can anyone live without him?

Artistic Director Sarah Benson directs the world premiere of Lucas Hnath’s adrenaline-charged odyssey, a supersonic portrait of the man who forever changed the American Dream.

Set Design by Mimi Lien, Costume Design by Kaye Voyce, Lighting Design by Matt Frey, Sound Design by Matt Tierney, Props by Jon Knust, Choreography by Annie-B Parson, Special Effects by Steve Cuiffo, Production Stage Manager: Heather Arnson, Production Manager: BD White.

Featuring Larry Pine as Walt Disney, Amanda Quaid as Daughter, Brian Sgambati as Ron and Frank Wood as Roy.

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8. You Say Hello, But I Say Dubai (+Great News & Theatre stuff)

I'm off to talk and draw with students in Dubai for a week or so (really).  It should be great fun as I love that part of the world and have yet to go to Dubai itself (pal Jack Gantos had fun there, but he can have fun anywhere). I'll report on the trip upon my return. And what an incredibly nice send off, Elephant & Piggie's brand new adventure LISTEN TO MY TRUMPET! has debuted this

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9. Royal Shakespeare Company Bringing Dahl’s ‘Matilda the Musical’ to Broadway

The Royal Shakespeare Company will bring its production of "Matilda the Musical," based on the Roald Dahl children's book and now running in London, to Broadway next year.

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10. Wonka!


Fantastic projects have been keeping me up late at night and, of course, I can't share any of it. But I did remember that I was going to post some pics of a side personal project.
Two years ago I was swept up in the enthusiasm for my kids school play and volunteered to help produce the sets for the next show. The date of the show was approaching and I was essentially out of time but the good folks at Arts Alive had applied for and received some grant money and suddenly we had money for printing-large scale printing! Large scale as in 15 feet high and 30 feet long. I did a bunch of 8 foot square panels as well. Two nights of photoshop painting, a very accommodating large format printing company and ta dah! A show!
The amazing and fearless kids made the show a smash hit. But I look at the backdrops now, a year later, and I think they still look pretty good!



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11. Mo' Theater: Chicago, NYC, & Bahrain!

There are 3 theater events based on my books on two ends of the planet coming up in the next few weeks. Starting this weekend ( March 17th) and running until the first weekend in May, Chicago's Lifeline Theatre will be presenting their version of NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED on the weekends. (Wonder what the Dress Rehearsal will be like! Tee Hee.)  Check it out, and be sure to bring

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12. Theater Talkback: Frank Langella Telling Tales

In his terrific new memoir, Frank Langella reflects on the "impermanence" of the actor's life.

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13. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in SAN ANTONIO!

San Antonio's  Magik Theatre begins a run of it's production of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL next week on Friday May, 11th.  The show will run through June 16th. If you're in area, I hope you get a chance to see the show, and I hope you enjoy it. Tickets and info are here! And if you're in Everett, WA on this Sunday, May 6th, the Village Theatre is running "Fancy Nancy & Other

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14. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in CAPE COD!

If you're planning to spend some time in Cape Cod this Summer, why not visit the Cape Cod Rep on Wed. or Thursday mornings for a performance of KNUFFLE BUNNY A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL? The performances begin next week (June 27) and run through August 30th! Details are here! Enjoy the show.

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15. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in Buffalo, NY!

The fine folks over at the Theatre of Youth are putting on a production of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL at the Allendale Theater in Buffalo, NY. The show opens September 13th and runs through October 14th. Don't miss the action! The drama! The over-sized laundry! Speaking of Buffalo, NY, The Buffalo News likes the just published GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS, saying new

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16. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in Lindenhurst, NY

KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL begins a 4 week run at the Studio Theatre of Lindenhurst on Saturday, September 22nd! Don't miss the action! The drama! The over-sized laundry!

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17. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in LAFAYETTE, INDIANA this weekend!

The Civic Theater of Lafayette Indiana is mounting a production of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL that runs from Feb. 15th - 17th.  If you're in the area, don't miss: The Music! The Laughs! The Laundry! Details are here.

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18. Elephant & Piggie's WE ARE IN A PLAY!

Yesterday, the Kennedy Center announced their upcoming season which includes a new comission, Elephant and Piggie's WE ARE IN A PLAY! I've been working and writing on the piece for almost a year now in semi-secrecy. The team during our first workshop at Knuffle Manor in May of 2012. That's me, composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, KC big wig Kim Kovac, and dramaturg Megan Alrutz. Deborah

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19. KNUFFLE BUNNY MUSICAL in Colorado Springs!

The Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs will be presenting a production of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL this month. The performances run from March 21st through March 31st. Don't miss the drama! The action!  The laundry! & tell 'em Mo sent ya!

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20. KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL in Berkley, CA & Columbia, SC

The Bay Area Children's Theater begins its 5 week run of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL Saturday, April 13th. They say: Prepare for the clothes to fly in this musical version of the hilarious picture book about the adventures of toddler Trixie and her beloved stuffed animal, a certain Knuffle Bunny, when they go off to the laundromat with her somewhat distracted dad. You'll love

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21. A Play about the Death of Walt Disney That May or May Not Be About His Death

Fictionalized accounts of Walt Disney’s life are all the rage this season, so much so that even the Walt Disney Company is inventing random stories about its founder that are loosely based in fact.

On Monday, the Soho Rep in Manhattan will debut a new play written by Lucas Hnath called “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney.” I haven’t found any reviews of the show, but the Wall Street Journal wrote that it “begins with a friendly greeting, but as [Disney] becomes ever more obsessed with his control of the narrative, he becomes less open with the audience, less appealing. He’s striving to dominate the truth.”

Character actor Larry Pine (House of Cards, Moonrise Kingdom, Oz) plays the role of Disney. It runs through May 26. The official show description:

Tonight Walt is going to read you a screenplay he wrote. It’s about his last days on earth. It’s about a city he’s going to build that’s going to change the world. And it’s about his brother. It’s about everyone who loves him so much, and it’s about how sad they’re going to be when he’s gone.

Right? I mean, how can they live without him? How can anyone live without him?

Artistic Director Sarah Benson directs the world premiere of Lucas Hnath’s adrenaline-charged odyssey, a supersonic portrait of the man who forever changed the American Dream.

Set Design by Mimi Lien, Costume Design by Kaye Voyce, Lighting Design by Matt Frey, Sound Design by Matt Tierney, Props by Jon Knust, Choreography by Annie-B Parson, Special Effects by Steve Cuiffo, Production Stage Manager: Heather Arnson, Production Manager: BD White.

Featuring Larry Pine as Walt Disney, Amanda Quaid as Daughter, Brian Sgambati as Ron and Frank Wood as Roy.

(Thanks, Daniel Savage)

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22. Asylum No More -- Last Night was Closing Night

The cast was really on last night, an even tighter ensemble than the night before. We had a smaller audience, and this time we had an audience who laughed on the inside. Ouch. I always remember that line from an old sitcome "I'm laughing on the inside -- where it counts!" No it doesn't. Not at all. It does make for a shorter show though.
Feedback still says they want to see a full production. Love the show, love the cast. One feedback sheet I haven't read yet because it is definitely for the playwright: covered front and back. I'm not quite ready for that this morning, but I know it is well-intentioned and meant for a playwright who is open-hearted and ready to rewrite.
It was delightful to watch the relationships develop between the characters onstage, even though these were staged readings, and the actors had scripts in hand. They rehearsed enough to be able to look up from their lines and deliver them face to face with feeling, they stepped out of each other's way at particularly heated times, their body language was beautiful to watch. This is one of those memories I feel so lucky to have, one of the reasons I am primarily a playwright instead of a novelist. It is the playing that brings me to the stage. Let's pretend. As the playwright I get to watch the players.
Live theater is a gift to the world and one we must remember to give to ourselves and friends and families. I bring my friends out to see live theater at every opportunity, proselytize constantly. Theater doesn't exist without an audience, it is a living, breathing thing, and the audience makes that so. Opening night, closing night, every night is new and different. There are moments when the world stands still inside the theater building and you can feel the oneness that we all are. You want to be there when that happens. I've been there, more than once. It's why I keep going back.

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23. Knuffle Musical Lives on...

Now that the Kennedy Center production of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical has finished its 19 month run, the musical has become available as a license for professional and community theaters care of Music Theater International. If you think your Theater is the right place for Knuffle Bunny: The details are HERE. MTI's blog post about the show is HERE.

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24. Radio Play Will Honor ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’

Live performances of the play, with a cast that features Phylicia Rashad and Leslie Uggams and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, will be recorded for a planned national broadcast in September.

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25. Radio Play of ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ Is Set

Live performances of the play, with a cast that features Phylicia Rashad and Leslie Uggams and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, will be recorded for a planned national broadcast in September.

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