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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scottish Theatre's Funding In Danger? A highly political Scottish theatre says political pressure has been put on the arts council to cut its funding. "The company said it had evidence that council members were being advised to end its funding at a meeting later this month. Taking its name from the 1960s statistic which asserted that 7% of the population owned 84% of its wealth, the company was founded by playwright John McGrath." BBC 02/16/06

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Vegas Avenue Q Closing After eschewing a national tour and opening in a special theatre in Las Vegas, Avenue Q was expected to usher in a new generation of theatre in the desert. But after only five months, and selling only 65 percent of its tickets, the show is closing. "The short-lived run of "Avenue Q" in Las Vegas will probably give pause to many Broadway producers who have seen long-running blockbusters and newly minted hits alike head to the desert chasing seemingly no-lose propositions." The New York Times 02/16/06

Wedding Singer - A Hit In The Making? Hairspray was a big musical hit spawned in Seattle. Now the same company (The 5th Avenue) that birthed it is producing another musical-made-from-movie: "The Wedding Singer." "Could The Wedding Singer be the equivalent of Pearl Jam, a second cash megacow? Despite the predictable standing ovation that greeted Thursday's world premiere, the answer is, 'No way'." Seattle Weekly 02/15/06

Sondheim Finds New Life In Smaller Chamber Productions "The current miniaturisation of Sondheim makes his more difficult works freshly viable. What it portends is a different kind of musical for our time a chamber musical that can be produced without dependence on conservative theatrical owners and bankrollers, a genre that can take in everything from early Kurt Weill to the sort of work that never gets developed beyond festival fringes. It is exactly what spaces like Covent Garden's Linbury Theatre and the South Bank's Purcell Room were built for, not to mention downstairs at Carnegie Hall. When, I wonder, will these fusty places catch the wind? La Scena Musicale 02/15/06

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

'Ol Blue Eyes Back In London A new show about the life of Frank Sinatra is ready to hit London's West End. "The show has the blessing of the Sinatra family; it is described in publicity leaflets as 'bona fide, 100 per cent Frank', which sounds a little like a junk food chain trying to convince a recalcitrant public of the purity of its burgers. It is a beefy story, all right; but there is also a slightly cheesy whiff to the proceedings. Ersatz tribute shows such as this have their place, but it is surely not proper theatre?" Financial Times 02/14/06

San Jose Rep Struggles To Recover Last year was tough for San Jose Repertory Theatre - a huge deficit, declining ticket sales, and an artictic lineup that was overly ambitious. The company has cut back, reducing its budget and laying off staff. And while it's now running in the black, lessons have been learned... San Francisco Chronicle 02/14/06

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Missouri School Bans "Crucible" After "Grease" Fire A high school in Missouri stages the musical "Grease." But the high school gets complaints, writers "complaining that scenes of drinking, smoking and a couple kissing went too far, and glorified conduct that the community tries to discourage. One letter, from someone who had not seen the show but only heard about it, criticized "immoral behavior veiled behind the excuse of acting out a play." The school superintendent "watched a video of the play, ultimately agreeing that 'Grease' was unsuitable for the high school, despite his having approved it beforehand, without looking at the script. Hoping to avoid similar complaints in the future, he decided to ban the scheduled spring play, 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller." The New York Times 02/12/06

Pushing Back In the years since the 9/11 attacks, Arab-American playwrights have been imbued with a sense of purpose and mission - "to counter stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims" even as America moves inexorably to wipe out extremist Islamist factions in the Mideast. The result has been a new visibility for Arab dramatists in many American cities, and an extended debate on the role of politics and culture in drama. The New York Times 02/11/06

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