Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sixth Annual Kevin Kline Awards Nominations

The Kevin Kline Awards honor excellence in St. Louis professional theater, and are presented by the Professional Theatre Awards Council, and the nominees for the Sixth Annual Kevin Kline Awards are out!

The Award winners will be announced in a ceremony on Monday, March 28 at the Loretto-Hilton Theater.  Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Outstanding Production for Young Audiences
"Delilah's Wish," Metro Theater Company
"A Peter Rabbit Tale," The Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company
"Amelia Earhart," The Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company
"The Aristocats," Stages St. Louis
"The Nutcracker," The Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Opening Night" • Whoa… it's a film!

"I seem to have lost the, uh, reality of, of the, uh… reality".
~Myrtle Gordon, "Opening Night"

A film about a Broadway actress having a psychological breakdown during out-of-town previews?! I'm in.

Now don't get me wrong, I have no intention of turning the focus of this blog to movies, but I was recently re-introduced to this film (thanks for the x-mas gift, Kay!), and was struck by it, and felt compelled to write a little bit.

This is one of those films that you show to 7 people, and you get 7 different opinions on what it's about. Reminds me of my college days in film classes watching "non-conventional" movies with subtext all over the place. I'm sure there's been more than one or two film school papers written about this puppy, and for good reason.

I can't talk about this movie without a little examination of its director, John Cassavetes and his style. He was an actor, screenwriter, filmmaker and pioneer of independent film, whose work often examined the lives of those who were on the brink. He avoided the big budget movie system, often financing his own projects, filming parts of many of them in his own house. He was anti-plot devices, anti-big name movie stars, and anti-Hollywood. Although his films have often been mistaken for being improvised, he usually always had a script. But he made sure his films served his most important consideration -- the performance of the actors. Because of this, they often featured long takes (including what happened between takes), natural light, off the shoulder camera work, and tight intimate shots of his actors.  Love…

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE GIVER • Metro Theater Company

Soon to be 12 year old Jonas lives in a drab gray world.  Literally.  Everyone is mechanically polite, eerily agreeable, and although nobody seems to experience any pain, they don't seem to genuinely experience pleasure, either.  Utopian society anyone?  Actually, the environment in this provocative play is more dystopian than anything else.  Dystopian…  Cool word, right?  I learned it reading online about the book…

Anyhoo, THE GIVER, originally an award winning sci-fi book for young readers written by Lois Lowry and adapted for the stage by Eric Coble, is what's on offer at Metro Theater Company.

Jonas (Christian Probst & Mitchell List) along with his friends Fiona (Berklea Going & Anna Nielsen) and Asher (Ian Miller & Elijah Brown), are looking forward to "the ceremony" where "the twelves" get their assignments.  When kids turn twelve, they are given these jobs -- jobs they must carry out for the rest of their lives.  Jonas is assigned "Receiver of Memory".  This responsibility means that he will be the reservoir for the community's memories of things past -- before their society was converted to "sameness".  These memories are transmitted to Jonas by "The Giver" (Nicholas Kryah).  Everything from the memories of color, war and grandparents to music, pain and love must be handed over to their new keeper.  The play gets darker when Jonas learns about the more sinister goings on -- like how those who are deemed not acceptable are "released".  You can just imagine what that's about.  It's a well-trod concept, but one that I enjoyed here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

PERICLES • The Black Rep

The Black Rep opens its 34th season with PERICLES, a Shakespeare play that's seldom performed.  It draws from a couple of sources, and is generally thought of to have been only half written by Shakespeare.

It seems tempting for many directors to play around with times and locations for Shakespeare's plays.  Andrea Frye's direction moves the locales from places like Tarsus, Pentapolis, Ephesus and Mytilene, to Pre-Colonial Africa, 20th century Haiti, 1950's Havana, the Gullah Islands in the 1960's and 1920's New Orleans.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

THE FALL OF HEAVEN • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

This is the first play by best-selling novelist Walter Mosley, best known for his mystery novels, including "Devil in a Blue Dress", "Six Easy Pieces" and "Fortunate Son", among many others.  This play is adapted from his novel, "The Tempest Tales".

Tempest Landry (Bryan Terrell Clark) is a guy who's… well… not perfect.  As he's going back and forth between his wife and his girlfriend on the phone, he's shot and killed on a Harlem sidewalk by police when they think he has a gun.  He finds himself at the gates of heaven, pleading his case to St. Peter.  Tempest insists that his petty transgressions were done for the greater good and that he doesn't deserve to be cast down into the pits of hell.  He refuses to go.  That doesn't sit well with St. Peter, and also seems an unexpected precedent.  Being the first soul to challenge the sentence of heaven, Tempest slips through a loophole and finds himself back in Harlem, with an accounting angel, Joshua Angel (Corey Allen), whose job it is to convince Tempest of his past wrongdoings and accept St. Peter's judgement.