Monday, June 22, 2009

Trouble on the Homefront

I've been following this for a while, but since I'm not in Milwaukee I feel a bit out of the swim blogging about it.

The Skylight Opera Theatre appears to be in a bad way.

Managing director, Eric Dillner, along with board president Suzanne Hefty, have apparently commandeered the skylight's board of directors, and used it's name to fire Artistic Director Bill Theisen, among others. This sudden restructuring of the Skylight was done without consent of the board, and, in some cases, without it's knowledge.

Needless to say, the arts community in Milwaukee is up in arms. The best places to follow the events so far (which are moving quite rapidly, including the firing of resident musical director Jamie Johns, daily protests outside the Skylight's space, and a demand by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Tom Strini for the resignation of Dillner) are on Tuesdays, Artsy Schmartsy, and Jamie John's new blog Delight and Amaze, including Strini's own blog.

I have worked at the Skylight twice in my career, first when I was eight years old, and then again just before I graduated high school. But more than just a means of employment, the skylight is a musical theatre center for Milwaukee, and has created inumerable means of creative outlet for me and so many fellow actors, many of whom are life-long friends. The outcry of support for Theisen, and the Skylight itself, is proof of the Milwaukee institution the Skylight is.

What affect this will have on it's upcoming 50th season remains to be seen. As Strini says, "the company will go into its 50th season with no artistic director and no resident music director. It will face the seething anger of almost everyone who's performed at the Skylight for the last five years. It will operate in the shadow of a familiar and popular [artistic director] who was rudely pushed out the door. Dillner, a relative newcomer and mystery man thrust into the role of Skylight figurehead, will stand directly in that shadow. What should be a big anniversary celebration is starting to look like a pit of poison."

And he concludes with, "Dillner, whatever talent and skills he might possess, is damaged goods and has to go, and soon."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Texts from Last Night

From my new favorite website for wasting time...

(858): i mean you're really good at taking the morning after you could put that on your resume..
(720): yeah, i think fast in a bad sitatuion and am able to react with appropriate measures

Proud to be Young

I can't help but feel proud that the voices of the Iranian reform party that continue to reach the international community are those of Iranian youth.

Twitter, youtube, and facebook - social networking groups that were created by my generation, and refined by the one after mine - are flooded with tweets, vids, and posts about what's really going on in Iran. They've become so important, that the U.S. State Department has requested that Twitter delay a scheduled update (which would temporarily shut down the site) to protect the interests of Iranian's using the site.

Andrew Sullivan, at the daily dish, is one of many bloggers doing his best to keep up with the influx of information coming from these sites (good luck finding anything nearly as extensive on the major news networks.)

From, The Daily Dish: a report from an Iranian born in 1984...
"My generation is tired of being disillusioned. We refuse to accept the status quo and we have risen up in defiance."

Rock on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tony, Tony, Tony 2

The "secret" behind NPH's closing number of the Tony's is revealed by, along with extra, discarded lyrics!

As anyone might have guessed, the writing team behind the number was Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman - who wrote Hairspray!, Prop 8: The Musical, and the up-coming musical version of Catch Me If You Can!

When approached by Harris about writing the closing number, the pair was apprehensive
“'We did our best to tell him that once they announce best musical, no one’s going to want to stick around for a closing number,' Mr. Wittman said in an interview. 'But he had a youthful cockiness that was endearing. He said, ‘No I want to do it.’

Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman spent the next few days composing verses that accounted for any number of possible Tony outcomes: What if Jane Fonda wins for “33 Variations”? What if “Billy Elliot” loses?"

See the truly entertaining number here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tony, Tony, Tony!

Some real time thoughts about this years Tony Awards. I'm calling it first: Billy Elliot wins. Okay, here we go!
A 5,6,7,8...!

-And Elton John's mic is off. Love it. Great dress rehearsal everyone, see you at the show.
Will Aaron Tveit ever stop touching himself when he "acts"?
Liza made the high note. Didn't see that coming.
This was a great opening number. Love the HAIR ending, but not crazy about Gavin Creel's Hair.

-Neil Patrick Harris in a pleather suit. Can he please host everything? Oscars? Emmys? He's amazing.

-Angela Lansbury, such a gem. And truly touched. 5 Tonys and she's still caught off gaurd.

-Mamma Mia? Really? Again? Couldn't they have at least called Tony and Rob?

-Next To Normal - I didn't stand at the end, but total props to Kitt for a great score. Very deserved. Lyrics, however....
Why did they cut off Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey? They let Roger Robinson go on and on.

-Is Lin Manuel Miranda gay? How did I miss that lisp during In The Heights?

-Liza, another gem. The shoulder shake reminds me of Ray Jivoff. They try to play Liza off, but she's not having any of it. She just uses the incidental music to build her speech all the way to the end. A true star.

-Oliver Platt tells us the plot of Guys and Dolls. Another minute that could have gone to Tom Kitt's acceptance speech.
Another mic not working. Who is running these mics??? Wow, that guy is, apparently.
Literally running.

-Quick story about Rock of Ages - I was there at the beginning of that show. The first workshop in LA? I played piano for the auditions. No joke. Had no clue it would go this far. Kudos.

-John Stamos in Bye, Bye Birdie?? Hmm...

-Oh my's Jaba the Hut! No wait...I mean, Princess Leia. Yikes.

-Damn it. I didn't get Neil's sushi joke. I hate being out of the loop.

-Geoffrey Rush wins his first Tony award for EXIT THE KING. I so wish I could have seen this. Best speech so far.

-In Memoriam: What I Did For Love...totally gonna cry. Bea Arthur, ugh. Eartha Kitt. George Furth. Paul Newman. It's moments like this that I remember how much I love the theatre, and how nothing, truly nothing, comes close to the experience of being a part of a great play or musical, and to go out there night after night and try again and again to get it right, or as close to right as you can get it.

-What is Frank Langella doing? I'm sure this is funny to someone, but how self-indulgent.

-I really wish I could've gotten in to see Billy Elliot. Those much freakin' talent.

-Legally Blonde. I'm glad they're playing more songs from shows that didn't win Tonys. Yay.

-"They are the actor equivalent of Rodger Federer." Sadly, no one in the audience got the sports reference.

-Angela giving Jerry Herman his Tony. Talk about a gem. "It doesn't get any better than this." It doesn't get any better than him. I've been compared to Mr. Herman, but mostly in personality and, unfortunately, stature. I'm...honored?

-I love when Neil makes straight jokes. Anne Hathaway is apparently at a rave. "What's up RADIO CITY!!!"

-HAIR has got to be the most exciting revival broadway has seen in a while. Jay Johnson scored so big. And it just won a Tony. Rock out. "Peace Now. Freedom Now. Equality Now. Justice Forever." Beautiful.

-Hmm. Alice Ripley. Not sure about that.

-Oh, boy. The 3 Billy's are going to share a speech. Can't WAIT for this. They get laughs for all the sisters. Love it. Aww...I think they weren't finished, but at least they got the important thank you's out.

-And the Tony goes to....


--Neil's closing number: icing on the cake. Love it. He's stupid awesome.

And goodnight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Join the Banned

Retro-trends are always coming back.
Everywhere you look - 80's sunglasses, 80's swimsuits, 80's-sounding music.

And there's this fashionable trend from, well, throughout history, really. Book banning. This time in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Ginny and Jim Maziarka believe that teens should not be exposed to sexuality at their local library. That's right, their library. This couple believes that the LIBRARY is the worst place that these kids could possibly get information about teen sexuality. Retro is SO in.

Their complaint was with topics they deemed to be pornographic, which according to Ginny Maziarka is defined as "any sexual activity that is spelled out explicitly, even crudely." 5th grade family life book?

Three of the books in question to be moved, or removed, or whatever their current position is are Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL, The Geography Club, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Basically a book about being a teenage girl, a book about being a teenage homosexual, and a book about being...well, a teenager.

The authors of Deal With It! (based on their website found that that today's teens have the same questions about sex, love, and growing up that they had as teens. "Hearing what they had to say convinced us that there was a need for a new kind of book about being a girl, one that's smart, funny, approachable, and tuned in to the things girls really want to know."

Well, they were wrong. If our parents didn't get real answers to their questions, then why should we?

From the book list review of The Geography Club: Russel is gay, and he knows he better keep it secret, or he'll be a total outcast in his small-town high school.

Guess he was right - he's still apparently an outcast in his small town library.

And from the main character in Perks of Being a Wallflower: "I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why."

Too bad, kid. You're just not meant to know.

The good news is, thanks to people like Maria Hanrahan who started West Bend Parents for Free Speech, the library board voted to keep the books. I guess they figured if books are outlawed, then only outlaws will own books.

Quick, kids! Put down your violent, over-sexualized video games, and websites and head to the library while you still can!