December 14, 2019

I saw *Elements of Oz* at NYU's Skirball Center on 12/8/19.  It was a riff/re-imagining of *The Wizard of Oz* developed by and performed by The Builders Association.  It was a delightful combination of live theatre, filmed theatre, projected YouTube clips, and special smart phone elements.  I might describe it as The Wooster Group mixed with The Elevator Repair Service, or as Ivo van Hove with a sense of humor.  I loved the show.

There were three actors: it opened with the older woman (maybe 60-ish) playing a woman who was an expert on *The Wizard of Oz* and had a large collection of Oziana (my word, not hers).  She was thrown into a Dorothy costume and wig, put on a bed, and filmed moments from the last scene of the movie, with a younger woman (maybe 40-ish) playing Aunt Em and a man (maybe 40-ish) playing Uncle Henry.  Both of these other actors also took a turn at playing Dorothy, and oddly I found the man (who was wiry and had a mustache) the most touching.  The older...

December 13, 2019

I love how the reception on this clip is so awful.  Dinah Shore with Rock Hudson, Martha Raye, Betty White, and is it Dinah's mother?  They refer to her as "Mama."

December 12, 2019

Richard and I heard Chanticleer in concert on 12/6/19, *A Chanticleer Christmas.* They opened the concert processing down the center aisle of the church, singing a plainchant. Just when you think that nothing could be more ravishingly beautiful, they sang the Josquin. That led straight into the Handl, it was a stunning first set.

I’ve listed the program below. It was broken into sets, but when the audience applauds after every number, it sorta spoils it, am I right? I wonder if there’s a gracious way to get the audience to stop doing that. Probably not.

The Victoria showed off their exquisite blend and effortless sense of foreground/background, what a former conductor (Tim Stalter) described as “knowing when you’re Gladys Knight, and when you’re a Pip.” With the Hassler, I started to wonder if they were going to sing every piece on the program sounding sweet and bashful. That turned out to be a pretty accurate prediction.

I knew “I Wonder As I Wander” by John Jacob Niles but hadn’t heard...

December 11, 2019

Two Nicole Kidman movies from the start of the century:

Diva: *Moulin Rouge* (2001)

Mensch: *The Hours* (2002)

December 9, 2019

I didn't know that name, but I certainly did know his work.  He was the actor/puppeteer who did Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.  Here's a very touching tribute by Big Bird from Spinney's retirement party just last year:

And since What's My Line? is so much my jam, an appearance on that show.  Spinney appears as himself at the end of the segment, dressed in a VERY Jefferson Airplane kind of outfit.

December 8, 2019

I heard the New York Philharmonic in a program of Beethoven and Reich on 12/5/19, conducted by their extraordinary music director, Jaap van Zweden.  Here's the program:

Beethoven: 2nd symphony (1801)

Steve Reich: Music for Ensemble and Orchestra (2018)

Beethoven: 4th piano concerto (1806)

I was there to hear the Reich and thought it would be good for me to sit through the Beethoven.  I was shocked at how much I loved the Beethoven symphony.  I was reminded of something that happened in my first year of college, way back in 1986.  Impressionism was having a big comeback, and it seemed that every girl I knew in the dorms (and yes, they were girls, they were teenagers and it was the 80s) had a Renoir or Monet calendar or poster in her dorm room.  It all seemed rather pretty but bland.  But then at some point that year I went to the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time and was blown away by the power of seeing those paintings in person - - the vivacity of the brushstrokes, the vibrant u...

December 7, 2019

I saw *History of Violence* at St. Ann's Warehouse on 11/30/19.  It's a play based on the second volume of the memoirs by Édouard Louis.  The adaptation was done by Thomas Ostermeier, Florian Borchmeyer, and Louis himself.  I had seen a stage adaptation of the first volume of his memoirs, *The End of Eddy,* at BAM in November and that play knocked me out so much I decided to see this.  I should note that *History of Violence* has no relation to the David Cronenberg movie *A History of Violence* (which is brilliant).

The production was by the Schaubühne Berlin, in German with English titles projected onto the stage.  The play didn't have the elegant force of *The End of Eddy,* but it still packed quite a punch.  The central story is about a pick-up that goes quite wrong: Louis met a guy, took him home, had lots of sex and a fair amount of tenderness and intimacy over the course of the night and morning, then the man robbed him and raped him.  We, as audience members,...

December 6, 2019

How cute was he?  He comes in at 18:27.

December 4, 2019

I had such a fun time with Meryl Streep last month, I'm going to do the same thing with Nicole Kidman this month.  In each case it'll be a pair of movies done in back-to-back years.

Diva: *Bewitched* (2005)

Mensch: *Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus* (2006)

*Bewitched* was not a very good movie.  Michael Caine was the best thing in it, he alone seemed to have the right, breezy tone.  And why on earth was Shirley MacLaine playing Endora when Kathleen Turner would have been SO much better?

*Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus* was a peculiar movie, but I loved it.  It's really stuck with me, maybe I need to see it again.  And it's rude to say this, when the focus of my post is Kidman, but Jane Alexander is the thing I remember the clearest in her tiny role as Arbus's mother.  High WASP.

November 30, 2019

I saw *A Bright Room Called Day* at The Public Theater on 11/29/19.  It's Tony Kushner's first play, written in 1985 and updated/revised for this production.  It was directed by Oscar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public - - he directed the first professional production of the play, for the Eureka Theater in San Francisco.  He commissioned Kushner's next play during the rehearsal period - - the next play was *Angels In America,* one of the greatest plays of the 20th century.

I bought my ticket back in September and then more or less forgot about it.  I thought it would be a good experience for me to show up at the performance knowing nothing about the play.  When was the last time I did that?  I arrived at the theater, opened the playbill, and was knocked out by the cast list, which yes, did ring a bell from when I bought the ticket:

Linda Emond: wonderful actor I'd seen in a few things in New York.  Grace Gummer: I'd seen her in a few things on TV, she's best...

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