Archive for August, 2003

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Sunday, August 24th, 2003

Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner

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Sunday, August 24th, 2003

So how weird is this? Here’s an article from TheStar.com about Joyce Brabner, the wife of Harvey Pekar and co-screenwriter of the new film American Splendor, was a student in the Drama Dept at the University of Delaware with me in the early 70’s. I recall parties at the apartment in Newark (a slum called Towne Court, if I recall correctly) she shared with two guys – George Stewart, whom she married (I almost typed “harried,” which probably would have been no less accurate), and Joel Berman, who she didn’t. It always seemed like a bizarre menage there, not to mention very intense. And the woman described in this article seems quite like the woman I remember from 30+ years ago. Geez, I gotta see this movie…

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Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

The Village Voice: Film: Children’s Crusades by Ed Park is the article that best captures my own ambivalent feelings about the new movie CAMP. I must admit, my hopes ran high during the opening sequence, which is built around the song How Shall I See You Through My Tears, from Gospel at Colonus – great song, great vocals, a provocative montage. The first Jill and Fritzi scene (“We were in ‘Night, Mother’ together.”) is a red flag that we’re in for some arch writing and weak dramaturgy. The ride on the bus, with all the campers cheerfully singing “Losing My Mind,” has a promising ironic quality. But then comes the arrival of Vlad in the dorm room, and again, the writing has a flat obviousness about it that disappoints. For me, the movie was a continuous push-pull like this – promising moments which piqued my interest, followed by scenes that had me squirming with impatience. The performances are great, though. It was especially fun to see Tiffany Taylor, who was a student in the U Arts Pre-College Program in Musical Theater last summer. She split midway through to go “be in a movie,” she told us; guess she wasn’t lying.

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Sunday, August 3rd, 2003

Here is a link to the NY Times’ review of AVENUE Q. I’m particularly intrigued by Ben Brantley’s consideration of the role of irony in the contemporary (musical) theater-goer’s sensibility. He points out that Avenue Q is only the second musical on Broadway targeted specifically at the younger (under 40) demographic – the first is RENT, which I saw again last month for the first time in a few years. Of course, Off-Broadway has churned out it’s share of these, but none have showed the staying power of Jonathan Larson’s breakthrough opus. [Worth noting, too, that Rent’s profits have helped underwrite Baz’s LA BOHEME as well as AVE Q.]
Brantley’s comments about irony make me recall an interview with Adam Guettel which he gave in Seattle at the time of the opening of THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. Adam announced his desire to create a musical without irony, and he’s certainly a member of the under-40 AVE Q generation. But I suspect Adam doesn’t care too much about what the “typical” member of his generation is seeking from their theatergoing experience.

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Saturday, August 2nd, 2003

Reading this review of “Gigli,” by David´┐ŻEdelstein and others like it (The Phila Daily News seemed gleefully savage), I wonder what the effect will be on Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl, the next onscreen foray for Ben ‘n’ Jen. The Daily News alludes to the fact that the release of Jersey Girl was postponed to February 2004 so that the stink from Gigli would have some time to abate. It’s provocative to imagine the anxious conferences that are going on in the offices of Miramax right now…

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Saturday, August 2nd, 2003

Hey, Lisa, how’s that bagel? We’ve all survived the last four weeks of the summer Pre-College Program in Musical Theater at U Arts, but it’s been a wild and crazy month! Fifty-four teenagers from all over the US coverged in Philly to study singing, acting and dance with me and Charlie’s Angels (Patty Raine, Nancy Kantra and D’Arcy Webb). As always, it seems to be a life-changing experience – they leave deeply affected by the experience. Friday morning, I rediscovered a verse from the Bible that deserves a SAVI card of its own: “I will sing with my spirit, but also with my mind.” (I Corinthians 14:15). If you know me, you know that quoting scripture ain’t a daily event, but this quote captures much of the essence of the work I was doing with my students this summer. I even set it to a little gospel tune, soon to be heard in a classroom near you.
As if that wasn’t enough, I jumped on a train at 4:00 and went to New York for the Asssociation for Theater in Higher Education conference (ATHE), where I appeared on a panel along with Rick Simas from San Diego State, Roger Grodsky from Cincinnati’s CCM, and Mary Jo Lodge from Central Michigan Univ. Our topic was issues relating to copyright and licensing pertaining to classroom materials for musical theater. It was a fairly informal discussion between the panel and the dozen or so participants who came (it was scheduled for 7 pm, and so many of the conference attendees were off at Broadway shows already), and not terribly conclusive – not that there was any expectation that it would be. It seemed particularly bizarre and disorienting to plunge into Times Square after the frantic activities of the day back in Philly. By 10 pm I was on my way home, having a long-anticipated tete-a-tete with mister Samuel Adams and looking forward to a day or two of rest.