Thursday, January 10, 2019

THEATER: "Choir Boy" -- It's The Same Old Song

CHOIR BOY ** 1/2 out of ****
MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB AT SAMUEL J. FRIEDMAN THEATRE

It's been six years since actor Jeremy Jordan enjoyed a rare splash on Broadway: he starred in two new musicals (Bonnie & Clyde and Newsies) within weeks of each other. A star was born. (Ok, it was born the moment he took the stage at the Papermill Playhouse where Newsies debuted. But you get the idea.) Much the same appears to be happening for Jeremy Pope, who stars on Broadway right now in Choir Boy (a play with a lot of singing). And a few weeks from now, he'll be starring in the hotly touted Temptations musical Ain't Too Proud To Beg? Is lightning going to strike twice? And if so, will every parent dreaming of musical theater start naming their sons Jeremy?

It's also the Broadway debut for Oscar-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. He won the Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay of Moonlight. McCraney also wowed critics with the bold, experimental and moving trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays at the Public Theater.

Prepare to be wowed? Not quite. The strong cast led by Pope and the graceful presentation by director Trip Cullman and his design team is what one would hope for. But Choir Boy proves far more conventional and uninspired than one might expect. It's the same old song given a new but unconvincing arrangement. And if you're eager to point out that's a hit by the Four Tops (and not the Temptations), I'd applaud you and suggest that's precisely the attention to detail that Choir Boy lacks.



Pharus Jonathan Young (Pope) is the golden-voiced member of the choir at an exclusive prep school catering to young men of color. He is very excited about taking a lead role in the ensemble and maybe breaking precedent by taking a solo at his own graduation. Pharus is also very gay. He is out, sort of, because being in is simply not much of an option for him. Pharus is proud and discrete at the same time, a tricky balancing act he manages with humor, defiance and by following the rules of the school both official (hey, no romance!) and unspoken (no ratting out a fellow student).

Most students just shake their heads at Pharus sometimes being a little too open. But Bobby Marrow, the nephew of the headmaster, can't stand Pharus and they butt heads constantly. When Bobby disrupts practice once too often, Pharus calls for a group vote and Bobby is ousted, creating even more tension between the two. Toss in a fellow student who is preparing for a life in ministry and a new (white) teacher who oversees the choir and you've got plenty of material for a drama, all of it pretty obvious. Sadly, Choir Boy follows the old script of a tragic but noble gay character, the repressed religious figure, and a stalwart straight best friend. It never surprises. The cast and presentation elevate the proceedings, but not enough to mask the play's essential flaws.

Beyond the charismatic ensemble, the best part of the show is the music, mostly old spirituals and an original posing as the school's theme song. They are woven into the action with simplicity and ease. Choreographer Camille A. Brown and Cullman keep the 100 minute show moving briskly and seamlessly between story and song. While the connections to the drama aren't always obvious to me, they were clearly chosen with care and feel of a piece with the action.




The highpoint of the show is a locker room scene. Bobby (played gruffly and a little too obviously by J. Quinton Johnson) has been touchy throughout over any mention of his mother. Indeed, when the would-be preacher David (Caleb Eberhardt) references her and Bobby's hackles rise, he immediately apologizes and says he forgot. Dead? A disgrace? It's not quite clear but Bobby's mom is a source of pain for him. In the locker-room David starts singing "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" directly to Bobby. (That answers that question, since now we know Bobby's mom is dead.)

It's an entreaty, a peace-offering and an invitation to grieve and heal all at once. The rest of the cast freeze in tension and empathy. David keeps singing and offering it up to Bobby...and finally Bobby takes the lead. Soon, the rest of the choir are joining in on harmony to support him. It's touching and powerful. And then Pharus steps in and starts show-boating on vocals until Bobby and everyone else stop singing and leave in disgust. Only Pharus' roommate A.J. (John Clay III) stays behind to shake his head and chide him. Everything about this scene is good. It's the best use of a spiritual and music in general. It moves the story forward meaningfully. And it complicates our hero, letting us know however much we sympathize with him, Pharus is human and can be brash and self-centered at times too.

But later in the play, this dramatic peak is undercut when we're supposed to believe Pharus had NO IDEA that Bobby's mom is dead. Since everyone else knows and Bobby is the nephew of the headmaster, his life is already an open book and if his mom weren't there for a school event it would be pretty obvious even to Pharus, that's hard to believe. And if true, it makes the earlier scene pointless: Pharus wasn't interrupting a precious healing moment; as far as he knew. he was just joining in on a song after Bobby and others had their turn.

Other problems abound, including the saintly AJ, a straight dude in high school so comfortable with himself he both straddles his roomie Pharus to tickle him and then swiftly takes in stride the inadvertent arousal that follows. Even more problematic is the new white teacher played by Austin Pendleton. The actor does his best and as usual is appealing and believable on stage. But what should be an unconventional shaking up of the choir (they've been on their own) proves quite beside the point: about the only meaningful step he takes is to assign them an assignment to learn a favorite song of their parents. This character might have created tension, proven a role model for Pharus, brought the two warring students together or a million other things. And yet, he does nothing. Indeed, when the teacher gets upset over a string of slurs voiced by Bobby, it was hard to tell if he was more upset by the N word or the F word. (Given his immediate understanding when the preacher-to-be references wanting to learn more about the Biblical King David, I'd go with the latter.)

It all ends much as one would expect, more's the pity. Despite the constant flow of music, even the setting of a choir seems beside the point. Pharus has one great scene discussing old spirituals. Yet accept for that locker room scene, the real joy of a choir is absent. Most of the music interludes are dropped into the show, not part of it. We don't see the young men working on an arrangement, learning a new song, striving to make their voices blend together. While Pharus yearns to solo at graduation, he might just as well be striving to deliver a speech as the student with the best academic record or strive to win the big game. It's a goal, but a generic one.

Still, the cast makes you believe. Chuck Cooper breathes life into every moment he's on stage as the headmaster. And the students are a strong ensemble, from Nicholas L. Ashe as the bouncy Junior to Johnson's stolid, dependable AJ. But just as Jeremy Jordan's appearance in Bonnie & Clyde was just a precursor of things to come, we can expect both Jeremy Pope and Tarell Alvin McCraney to be back on Broadway in far better style. Hey, the same was true with that Motown act. Their debut was the so-so Meet The Temptations. But with talent like this, the sky's the limit.

THEATER OF 2019

Frankenstein: Under The Radar Fest at the Public ** 1/2
Minor Character: Under The Radar Festival at the Public ***
Ink: Under The Radar  Festival at the Public  ** 1/2
Choir Boy ** 1/2



Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the creator of BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day with top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Monday, January 07, 2019

THEATER: "Ink" -- The Art of Calligraphy, Performance and Friendship

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL: INK -- A PIECE FOR MUSEUMS ** 1/2
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Have the performance duo/art experts James & Jerome created  a new form of lecture for museums around the world to adopt? A sort of Ted Talk for tapestries and the like? Not really.  I mean, how many people are out there who can hold a stage, speak authoritatively and entertainingly about art and art  history, weave in personal anecdotes, compose beautiful music, play multiple instruments and dance with insouciance? Heck, I'm not even sure James can dance with insouciance, so it takes two here. With Ink, the combination of their talents has created an engaging piece that surely will be welcome at museums around the world.

Their show is broken into five parts. Jerome Ellis kicks  things off with the story of a sabbatical he took away from his friend and collaborative partner James Harrison Monaco. Inspired by a book, Jerome decides to make his own ink. Before you know it, we're off into the history of ink and calligraphy and illuminated manuscripts, scored by music one or both of them perform throughout and backed by projections of various art pieces.

And it is a story. Jerome has a stutter and explains how early on in their friendship he asked James to introduce Jerome to others, saving him the hurdle of repeating his own name. "James gave me my name back hundreds of times over the last ten years," he says. Just like that, they set a pattern.  A close but playful examination of a signature of Suleiman the Magnificent flows into some hypnotic music which leads to more personal comments (such as how the two bonded by spending endless days at the Met soaking in their favorite works together) back to music (maybe with Jerome soloing on the flute or sax)  and back to art history.

Is it an art lecture? A performance piece? A musical concert? Yes.



Photo copyright by Marcus Middleton

Jerome's stutter adds an element of drama to the show. Once the audience realizes  he is not "performing" but simply working to communicate with them, they are immediately on his side, rooting for his thoughtful comments and compelling voice to come as easily as he wants, while patiently making mental room when it doesn't. (Anyone who has seen the British performance artist and comic Daniel Kitson will recognize this phenomenon.) James becomes a helpful counterpoint, contrasting their styles of storytelling and giving both Jerome and the audience a breather. This only adds to the sense of warmth between them and the people hearing their story.

This is good since Ink would otherwise lack tension and be merely a lecture with modest anecdotes woven in. No natural suspense arises from the stories shared or information presented, however compelling they might be.

Naturally, their comments are illustrated throughout with images of art. (Media Designer Shawn Duan is the third key element of the show, which was directed by Rachel Tavkin and Annie Tippe.) From Part II onward,  each piece of art projected on the screen was spoken about directly or obviously related somehow to the moment. Not so in Part I, where Jerome  set up his story and their friendship while seemingly random objects were displayed behind him. Undoubtedly they have significance, but that remained  obscure at least to me. A similar disconnect seemed to reoccur with the last few images of the show, though that was so minor it just be my fault. The visuals  and music came together perfectly however when Jerome would step in front of the projections while dancing or playing an instrument, literally becoming a part of the art they so love.

Lastly, an unintentional odd note was struck at the finale. Jerome said something akin to, "I think I'd like to finish this alone" and James left the stage. Clearly this was planned. Perhaps they have several options at the end, depending on the mood, their desire to change it up or Jerome's  temperature-taking of how his speech is flowing and whether he wants to tackle one final bit or pass it off? I've no idea but one thing is clear: James wasn't being "dismissed." But the way that transition was voiced added a discordant note; it should be handled differently in the future.

Just as clearly, this piece will indeed have a future at any museum James & Jerome want to visit. The only pity is that those future audience members won't be able to follow the show by immediately heading upstairs at the Met to check out most of the key pieces mentioned in person with a new appreciation.


THEATER OF 2019

Frankenstein: Under The Radar Fest at the Public ** 1/2
Minor Character: Under The Radar Festival at the Public ***
Ink: Under The Radar  Festival at the Public  ** 1/2




Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the creator of BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day with top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

THEATER: UNCLE VANYA; VANYA -- MY UNCLE; UNCLE IVAN; MY LATE WIFE'S BROTHER...VANYA

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL: MINOR CHARACTER *** out of ****
PUBLIC THEATER

Well, that worked! The New Saloon theater company came up with a clever stunt of a show: find every English translation of the classic Chekhov play Uncle Vanya (including their own hilariously literal version via Google Translate), mash them up, have multiple actors tackle the same roles (often at the same time) and see what happens. Quite a lot, as it turns out. At just 90 minutes and with a strong dollop of humor, any production of Chekhov that doesn't bore is to be appreciated. Minor Character does quite a bit more.

If you don't know the story, don't worry. Despite the on-stage chaos -- sometimes three versions of various characters like Vanya and Yelena and Sonya jostle for space in a scene -- the basic story comes across quite nicely. The cantankerous, grumpy, irascible professor is visiting the country estate that supplies the funds to keep him living well. At his side is the professor's notably younger and more beautiful wife Yelena.

Servants are underfoot but the estate is overseen with tireless diligence by Sonya (the professor's daughter from his late wife) and the dead woman's brother, Vanya. Also dropping in is the Doctor; he is drawn to Yelena while meek, mild, mouse-like Sonya has worshipped the man from afar. Little happens and little changes (it's Chekhov, after all), but done well the play can be devastating and sad.

Those multiple translations also bump into one another throughout the show. At times, a single actor might run through two or three variations of a line or phrase. Instead of seeming comical or bizarre, it  creates a unique rhythm for the production, such as this line by Vanya: "I've been made a complete fool," Vanya says, "foolishly betrayed," Vanya agrees, "stupidly cheated," Vanya clarifies.

A simple but garish set with the same ugly pattern adorning the carpeting, the tablecloth and the drapes along the back wall indicate an off-kilter world, not to mention how the same idea, image, pattern can be repeated over and over (and over) again. And the eight member cast led by a very droll David Greenspan (doing wonders with his delivery of lines) is sterling from top to bottom.


It's lucky enough that this idea worked and better that it didn't lose track of the story being told in the process. The stunt probably shouldn't be duplicated, though the very idea of doing it over and over again with other plays is surely embedded in its very DNA.

Yet it did pay dividends in unexpected ways. When three Sonyas are giggling like schoolgirls over expressing their love and admiration for the Doctor, the text came alive, their voices rising in a chorus of glee. When the Professor makes his desire for Yelena clear, having three Professors surrounding her and touching her made his attention a little creepier and more aggressive than expected. At other times, when a character is talking to themselves, they are literally talking to themselves, with one actor repeating a line or exploring a new avenue of thought followed by another actor in the same role who contradicts them or dully repeats the same idea, revealing how stuck in one way of thinking they truly are.

Suddenly, this approach of multiple actors playing the same roles and multiple translations battling for supremacy illuminated one idea after another: how every production (indeed every performance) brings a play to life in a slightly different way, how diverse casting in gender and race lets us see a person anew or reveal their universal humanity, how every revival is haunted by the past and on and on and on. While simply watching this performance was a solid evening of entertainment (and hence only three stars out of four), I must admit Minor Character is one of those shows that feel more significant the more one thinks about it. And New Saloon is a troupe to keep an eye on, keep tabs on, pay attention to.

********************

And here's my review in Russian.

Ну, это сработало! Театральная компания «Новый Салон» придумала хитрый трюк: найти каждый английский перевод классической чеховской пьесы «Дядя Ваня» (включая их собственную веселую буквально версию с помощью Google Translate), разомкнуть их, заставить нескольких актеров играть одинаковые роли часто одновременно) и посмотрим, что получится. Как оказалось, довольно много. Всего за 90 минут и с сильным приливом юмора любая постановка Чехова, которая не надоедает, должна цениться. Незначительный Персонаж делает немного больше.



Если вы не знаете историю, не волнуйтесь. Несмотря на хаос на сцене - иногда три версии разных персонажей, таких как Ваня, Елена и Соня, борются за место в сцене - основная история довольно симпатична. Странный, сварливый, вспыльчивый профессор посещает загородную усадьбу, которая предоставляет средства для поддержания его хорошей жизни. На его стороне заметно молодая и красивая жена профессора Елена.



Слуги под ногами, но за состоянием усадьбы с неутомимым усердием следят Соня (дочь профессора от его покойной жены) и брат покойной женщины Ваня. Также заглядывает Доктор; его тянет к Елене, в то время как кроткая, мягкая, похожая на мышь Соня поклонялась человеку издалека. Мало что происходит и мало что меняется (в конце концов, это Чехов), но хорошо выполненная игра может быть разрушительной и грустной.



Эти многочисленные переводы также сталкиваются друг с другом на протяжении всего шоу. Иногда один актер может пройти через два или три варианта строки или фразы. Вместо того, чтобы казаться комичным или причудливым, он создает уникальный ритм для постановки, такой как эта линия Ваней: «Я стал полным дураком, - говорит Ваня, - глупо предан, - соглашается Ваня, - глупо обманут». Ваня уточняет.



Простой, но броский набор с тем же уродливым рисунком, украшающим ковровое покрытие, скатерть и занавески вдоль задней стены, указывают на мир, в котором нет места, не говоря уже о том, как одна и та же идея, изображение, рисунок могут повторяться снова и снова ( ) снова. А актерский состав из восьми человек во главе с очень дурацким Дэвидом Гринспеном (творящим чудеса со своей доставкой строк) - сверху вниз.

К счастью, эта идея сработала и лучше, что она не потеряла след истории, рассказанной в процессе. Трюк, вероятно, не должен дублироваться, хотя сама идея делать это снова и снова с другими пьесами, безусловно, заложена в самой ее ДНК.

Тем не менее, он выплачивал дивиденды неожиданным образом. Когда три Сони хихикают, как школьницы, из-за того, что выражают свою любовь и восхищение Доктором, текст оживает, их голоса растут в радостном хоре. Когда Профессор ясно заявляет о своем желании к Елене, окружение ее трех профессоров и прикосновение к ней сделали его внимание немного более жутким и более агрессивным, чем ожидалось. В других случаях, когда персонаж разговаривает сам с собой, он буквально разговаривает сам с собой, когда один актер повторяет линию или исследует новый путь мышления, за которым следует другой актер в той же роли, который противоречит им или тупо повторяет ту же идею, показывая, как они застряли в одном образе мышления.

Внезапно, этот подход нескольких актеров, играющих одинаковые роли, и нескольких переводов, сражающихся за превосходство, высветили одну идею за другой: как каждый спектакль (на самом деле, каждый спектакль) воплощает пьесу в жизнь немного по-другому, насколько разнообразное распределение по полу и расе мы снова видим человека или раскрываем его вселенскую человечность, как каждое пробуждение преследует прошлое и так далее, и так далее. Хотя простой просмотр этого спектакля был насыщенным вечерним развлечением (а значит, только три звезды из четырех), я должен признать, что «Незначительный персонаж» - это одно из тех шоу, которое тем значительнее, чем больше думаешь об этом. А New Saloon - это труппа, за которой нужно следить, следить за ней, обращать на нее внимание.

********

And French.

Eh bien, cela a fonctionné! La troupe théâtrale New Saloon a imaginé tout un programme: retrouvez toutes les traductions en anglais de la classique pièce de Chekhov, Oncle Vanya (y compris leur propre version littéralement hilarante via Google Translate), écrasez-les, demandez à plusieurs acteurs d'assumer les mêmes rôles ( souvent en même temps) et voir ce qui se passe. Beaucoup, en fin de compte. À seulement 90 minutes et avec une bonne dose d'humour, toute production de Tchekhov qui ne s'ennuie pas est à apprécier. Caractère mineur fait un peu plus.



Si vous ne connaissez pas l'histoire, ne vous inquiétez pas. Malgré le chaos sur scène - parfois trois versions de personnages différents tels que Vanya, Yelena et Sonya se bousculent pour trouver de la place dans une scène - l'histoire de base est assez belle. Le professeur sarcastique, grincheux et irascible se rend dans le domaine rural qui lui fournit les fonds nécessaires à sa survie. À ses côtés se trouve la femme particulièrement jeune et plus belle du professeur, Yelena.



Les serviteurs sont sous les pieds, mais Sonya (la fille du professeur de son défunt épouse) et le frère de la femme décédée, Vanya, surveillent la succession avec une diligence infatigable. Le Docteur fait également son entrée; Il est attiré par Yelena, tandis que Sonya, douce et douce comme une souris, a vénéré cet homme de loin. Peu de choses se passent et peu de changements (c'est Chekhov, après tout), mais bien joué, la pièce peut être dévastatrice et triste.



Ces traductions multiples se croisent également tout au long du spectacle. Parfois, un seul acteur peut parcourir deux ou trois variations d’une ligne ou d’une phrase. Au lieu de paraître comique ou bizarre, cela crée un rythme unique pour la production, tel que cette ligne de Vanya: "Je suis devenu complètement idiot", dit Vanya, "stupidement trahi", reconnaît Vanya, "stupidement trompé". Vanya clarifie.



Un ensemble simple mais criard avec le même motif laid qui orne la moquette, la nappe et les rideaux le long du mur arrière indiquent un monde décalé, sans parler de la façon dont la même idée, image, motif peuvent être répétés encore et encore (et plus encore). ) encore. Et le casting de huit membres dirigé par le très droll David Greenspan (qui fait des merveilles avec ses lignes) est remarquable du début à la fin.

Il est assez chanceux que cette idée fonctionne et mieux qu’elle ne perd pas de vue l’histoire racontée au cours du processus. La cascade ne devrait probablement pas être dupliquée, bien que l’idée même de la répéter encore et encore avec d’autres pièces soit sûrement inscrite dans son ADN même.

Pourtant, il a payé des dividendes de manière inattendue. Quand trois Sonya rigolent comme des écolières pour exprimer leur amour et leur admiration pour le Docteur, le texte s'anima, leurs voix s'élevant dans un choeur de joie. Lorsque le professeur a exprimé clairement son désir pour Yelena, le fait d'avoir trois professeurs l'entourant et la touchant l'a rendu un peu plus effrayant et plus agressif que prévu. D'autres fois, lorsqu'un personnage se parle à lui-même, il se parle littéralement à lui-même, un acteur répétant une phrase ou explorant une nouvelle voie de pensée suivie par un autre acteur du même rôle qui les contredit ou répète la même idée, révélant à quel point ils sont coincés dans une façon de penser.

Soudainement, cette approche de multiples acteurs jouant les mêmes rôles et de multiples traductions en lutte pour la suprématie a éclairé une idée après l’autre: comment chaque production (et même chaque performance) donne vie à une pièce de manière légèrement différente, et à la diversité du casting selon le sexe et la race. nous voyons une personne à nouveau ou révélons son humanité universelle, comment chaque réveil est hanté par le passé et ainsi de suite. Bien que regarder cette performance ait été une solide soirée de divertissement (et donc seulement trois étoiles sur quatre), je dois admettre que Minor Character est l’une de ces émissions qui se sentent plus significatives plus on y pense. Et New Saloon est une troupe à surveiller, à surveiller et à surveiller.

**********

And what the hell, Russian back into English.

Well, it worked! The New Salon theater company came up with a cunning trick: to find every English translation of the classic Chekhov's play “Uncle Vanya” (including their own fun literal version using Google Translate), unlock them, force several actors to play the same roles often at the same time) and see what work out. As it turned out, quite a lot. In just 90 minutes and with a strong tide of humor, any production of Chekhov, which does not bother, should be appreciated. Minor Character does a bit more.



If you do not know the story, do not worry. Despite the chaos on the stage - sometimes three versions of different characters, such as Vanya, Elena and Sonya, fight for a place in the scene - the main story is quite pretty. A strange, grumpy, hot-tempered professor visits a country estate, which provides the means to maintain his good life. On his side, the young and beautiful wife of Professor Elena is noticeable.



The servants are under their feet, but Sonya (the daughter of the professor from his late wife) and the brother of the deceased woman Vanya are following the state of the estate with tireless zeal. The Doctor also looks in; he is drawn to Elena, while the gentle, soft, mouse-like Sonya worshiped a man from afar. Little is happening and little is changing (after all, it is Chekhov), but a well-executed game can be destructive and sad.



These numerous translations also collide with each other throughout the show. Sometimes one actor can go through two or three lines or phrases. Instead of appearing comical or bizarre, he creates a unique rhythm for the production, such as this line Vanya: “I became a complete fool,” Vanya says, “foolishly betrayed,” Vanya agrees, “foolishly deceived.” Vanya clarifies.



A simple but catchy set with the same ugly pattern that adorns the carpet, tablecloth and curtains along the back wall, indicate a world in which there is no place, not to mention how the same idea, image, pattern can be repeated again and again () again. And the cast of eight people, led by the very stupid David Greenspan (doing wonders with his delivery lines) - from top to bottom.

Fortunately, this idea worked better and that it did not lose track of the story told in the process. The trick probably should not be duplicated, although the very idea of ​​doing it again and again with other plays is certainly embedded in her very DNA.

However, he paid dividends in unexpected ways. When three Soni giggle like schoolgirls because they express their love and admiration for the Doctor, the text comes to life, their voices grow in a joyful choir. When the Professor clearly declares his desire for Elena, the environment of her three professors and touching her made his attention a bit more creepy and more aggressive than expected. In other cases, when a character talks to himself, he literally talks to himself when one actor repeats the line or explores a new way of thinking, followed by another actor in the same role that contradicts them or stupidly repeats the same idea, showing as they are stuck in the same way of thinking.

Suddenly, this approach of several actors playing the same roles and several translations fighting for supremacy highlighted one idea after another: how each performance (in fact, each performance) brings the play to life a little differently, how varied the gender distribution and to the race we again see man or reveal his universal humanity, how every revival pursues the past, and so on and so forth. Although the simple viewing of this performance was full of evening entertainment (which means only three stars out of four), I have to admit that “Minor character” is one of those shows that is more significant the more you think about it. And New Saloon is a troupe, for which you need to follow, monitor it, pay attention to it.


THEATER OF 2019

Frankenstein: Under The Radar Fest at the Public ** 1/2
Minor Character: Under The Radar Festival at the Public ***



Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the creator of BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day with top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Friday, January 04, 2019

The Movies, Books, Theater, Concerts, CDs I've Seen/Read/Heard So Far In 2019

Updated Jan 4, 2019

KEY: star rating is on the four star scale
          meaning of "/" or "\"
          *** is three stars out of four
          ***/ is three stars leaning towards  3 1/2
          ***\ is three stars leaning towards 2 1/2


BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS
(Increasingly, I am sampling books, reading 10%, 20% even 40 or 50% before deciding to move on. The books below are only the ones I've read completely. That also explains what looks like generous grading -- more and more, if I sense a book is not going to be among my favorites, I stop reading. Too many books; too little time!)


1.


CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS (A strong emphasis on the ones I like, so don't think I love everything I listen to -- I just don't bother really listening to the ones I don't )

1.

MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES 

(Not TV movies, of course, but movies and TV -- and TV movies if it comes to that. Mostly I only list TV shows when I've tackled an entire season at once or reappraising an entire series after it's over This doesn't really capture my ongoing watching of current TV.)

1.

THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS
(The names after the shows are the people who joined me at the performance.)

1. Frankenstein (at Public) ** 1/2 
2. Minor Character (at Public) 
3. Ink (at Met) 
4. Choir Boy (at MTC) 
5. Chambre Noire (at Public) (w Noam) 
6. Weightless (at BRIC) (w Diego) 

KEY: star rating is on the four star scale
          meaning of "/" or "\"
          *** is three stars out of four
          ***/ is three stars leaning towards  3 1/2
          ***\ is three stars leaning towards 2 1/2

Updated January 4, 2019

THEATER: It's Alive! "Frankenstein" at the Public's Under The Radar Festival

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL: FRANKENSTEIN ** 1/2 out of ****
THE PUBLIC

It's alive! Mary Shelley's gothic masterpiece Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published in 1818 but it took this new multi-media work of theater to prompt me to finally read it. (The 1931 movie is better but the differences are fascinating; the book is very different.) Like me, most people are familiar with the story through that first film, the equally great sequel Bride Of Frankenstein from 1935, countless remakes ever since and the creature's omnipresence in popular culture, from Abbott and Costello films to Halloween and Saturday morning cartoons and the Spanish classic film The Spirit of the Beehive and the Mel Brooks comic masterpiece Young Frankenstein and the stage version from the UK in 2011 with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller and on and on and on. Yes, the idea of becoming a god and bestowing life on another is a powerful idea that never dies, anymore than the Creature himself.

The Chicago troupe Manual Cinema has crafted a silent film homage of sorts to that story. But they've expanded the tale in numerous ways. They also draw on the life of Mary Shelley, including the early death of her prematurely born child. And while the narrative mostly sticks to the version in the novel, it also adds some new elements to simplify the tale, along with key scenes from the film and its overall attitude towards the man-made Creature. That's when it's not reminding us that Shelley wrote this story in the first place.

In short, it's a bit of a Frankenstein's monster itself, stitching together all sorts of ideas about the novel, the film, what inspired it, Shelley's life and the creation of art in general. If it's a little ungainly, who would be surprised?

First the good. Manual Cinema works in a style similar to a number of new creative theatrical troupes like Pigpen Theatre. In this case, they combine puppetry, actors, the sound effects of classic live radio and projections to create a visual film right before your eyes. You can see an actor holding up the prop of a door with one hand on stage or you can look at the screen hanging about the cast and musicians to see the effect fully realized. You can watch puppeteers manipulate a tiny Frankenstein's monster on a tiny little set that features waves lapping onto a shore. Or you can look at the screen where the creature looms large and the moment is alive and touching.

That constant tension between observing how an effect is created or simply watching the story unfold is great fun. Very minor slip-ups (a pause before a projection appears, an image slightly askew) only add to the pleasure, reminding you how challenging such a performance can be. It's a refreshing, delightful approach to theater that is both hand-crafted and up to the minute. If you've never seen anything like this before, Frankenstein is a fine introduction.


However, adopting the tropes of silent cinema for this particular show is daunting. All the dialogue and narration appear as text onscreen and creating a 90 minute silent movie is not easy, even with the welcome pleasure of seeing it done right before your eyes. It seems this Frankenstein has been trimmed by 30 minutes from an earlier version they developed and that surely is all for the good.

While they make some wise adjustments to the novel's story within a story within a story structure, they've also tossed in Shelley a bit haphazardly. They clearly show Mary treated with condescension by her husband Percy and Lord Byron early on. So her triumph over them in this contest should be sweeter. But after beginning with her story, the show moves onto the tale of Frankenstein. And it goes on so long before they bring her back, one assumes Mary Shelley's story will be a bookend. Instead she pops back into the narrative rather jarringly.

Worse, she's seen writing out the words detailing a scene that took place ages ago. It would only make sense if we saw her crafting the moment we just saw, describing what comes next or offering some information that relates to the story's creation that was pertinent at that moment. Instead, we're essentially told, "By the way, Mary wrote that scene you saw half an hour ago!" It muddies the moment, makes her presence at that stage feel pointless (surely the last thing they intended) and breaks up the suspenseful story.

Nonetheless, the score is marvelous.  And the varied techniques of puppetry, live radio, theater and cinema are a pleasure to watch in action by this talented troupe. Manual Cinema gives Shelley her due by showing even bold, rule-breaking rebels like Byron and Percy Shelley dismissing her efforts.  Fittingly, Shelley's triumph over men by drawing on the horror of watching her own baby die is yet another reminder of how painful and difficult the act of creation can be.


THEATER OF 2019

Frankenstein: Under The Radar Fest at the Public ** 1/2



Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the creator of BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day with top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Movies, Books, Theater, Concerts, CDs I Saw In 2018

Updated Dec , 2018

KEY: star rating is on the four star scale
          meaning of "/" or "\"
          *** is three stars out of four
          ***/ is three stars leaning towards  3 1/2
          ***\ is three stars leaning towards 2 1/2


BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS
(Increasingly, I am sampling books, reading 10%, 20% even 40 or 50% before deciding to move on. The books below are only the ones I've read completely. That also explains what looks like generous grading -- more and more, if I sense a book is not going to be among my favorites, I stop reading. Too many books; too little time!)


1. Pietr The Latvian by Georges Simenon (1931) (Maigret #1) ** 1/2
2. Enter Talking by Joan Rivers with Richard Meryman (1986) *** 1/2
3. The Common Good by Robert Reich **
4. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis (1961) ***
5. The Carter Of La Providence by Georges Simenon (1931) (Maigret #2) ***/
6. The Triumph of Christianity by Bart Ehrman ** 1/2
7. The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon (1931) (Maigret #3) ***
8. A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (1968) *** 1/2
9. Coffin, Scarcely Used by Colin Watson (1958) ***
10. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren w Caryle Adler **
11. The Throne Of Caesar by Steven Saylor ** 1/2
12. A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey ***
13. Bump In The Night: A Flaxborough Mystery by Colin Watson ***
14. The Woman's Hour by Elaine Weiss *** 1/2
15. Space Odyssey by Michael Benson ** 1/2
16. Circe by Madeline Miller *** 1/2
17. Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Bway Revolution by Scott S. Purdum ***
18. Rocket Men by Robert Kurson ** 1/2
19. Factfulness by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund ** 1/2
20. Bob by Wendy Mass and illo by Rebecca Stead ** 1/2
21. Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? by Robert Kuttner ***
22. The Emissary by Yoko Tawada ***
23. Beneath A Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King *** 1/2
24. Endling The Last by Katherine Applegate *** 1/2
25. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston ***
26. The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis **
27. Imperial Twilight by Stephen R. Platt *** 1/2
28. The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert ***
29. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed by Sulari Gentill **
30. Calypso by David Sedaris *** 1/2
31. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson *** (but *** 1/2 in terms of influence)
32. Lincoln's Last Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher ** 1/2
33. Small Country by Gaël Faye *** 1/2
34. The Street Where I Live by Alan Jay Lerner *** 1/2
35. Island Of The Mad by Laurie R. King ** 1/2
36. The Button War by Avi ** 1/2
37. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje *** 1/2
38. Conan Doyle For The Defense by Margalit Fox ***
39. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik *** 1/2
40. I'm A Free State by V.S. Naipul *** 1/2
41. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively ****
42. Skippy: Daily Comics 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby *** 1/2
43. Fly Girls by Keith O'Brien *** 1/2
44. Farmer In The Sky by Robert Heinlein (1950) * 1/2
45. Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert Heinlein (1957) ** 1/2
46. The Divided Earth by Faith Erin Hicks *** 1/2
47. Skippy: Daily Comics 1928-1930 by Percy Crosby ***
48. Skippy: Daily Comics 1931-1933 by Percy Crosby ***
49. The Spy Of Venice by Benet Brandreth ** 1/2
50. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (1959) ** 1/2
51. The Complete Terry and the Pirates 1934-1936 by Milt Caniff ** 1/2
52. Toaff's Way by Cynthia Voigt ***
53. The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories by Joan Aiken *** 1/2
54. The Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyker *** 1/2
55. Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke ***
56. Playing To The Gods by Peter Rader *** 1/2
57. Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter ** 1/2
58. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin ***/
59. Marilla Of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy ***
60. Little Man, Little Man by James Baldwin and illos by Yoran Cazac (1976) *** 1/2
61. Transit by Anna Seghers (1944) *** 1/2
62. The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams ** 1/2
63. The Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older **
64. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (1943) *** 1/2
65. The Assassination Of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin ** 1/2
66. A Knife In The Fog by Bradley Harper ** 1/2
67. #SAD: Doonesbury In The Time of Trump by Garry Trudeau *** 1/2
68.  Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel by Val Emmich with Steven Levonson and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul **
69. The Library Book by Susan Orlean *** 1/2
70. What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera **
71. The Fifth Season by N.J. Jemisin (Broken Earth Trilogy Vol. 1) *** 1/2
72. Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson ** 1/2
73. The Reckoning by John Grisham *
74. Knights vs Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan ** 1/2
75. Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee (bio of John W Campbell and sci-fi) ***
76. The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag * 1/2
77. Perfect by Max Amato (eraser vs pencil picture book) * 1/2
78. The War Before The War by Andrew Delbanco ***
79. Wolves Of Eden by Kevin McCarthy *** 1/2
80. Aladdin (a new translation by Paolo Lemos Horta) ***
81. God in the Qu'ran by Jack Miles ***
82. We The People by Erwin Chemerinsky ** 1/2
83. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (Broken Earth Trilogy, Vol. 2) *** 1/2
84. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo *** 1/2
85. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (Broker Earth Trilogy Vol 3) *** 1/2
86. Endless Night by Agatha Christie ** 1/2
87. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson **
88. There There by Tommy Orange *** 1/2
89. The Tangled Tree by David Quammen *** 1/2
90. The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius *** 1/2
91. Camelot's End by Jon Ward ***





CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS (A strong emphasis on the ones I like, so don't think I love everything I listen to -- I just don't bother really listening to the ones I don't )

1. The Alan Parsons Project -- Eye In The Sky (1982) **
2. Dinah Washington -- The Fats Waller Songbook aka Sings Fats Waller (1957) *** 1/2
3. Nina Simone -- Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Singles ***/
4. The James Hunter Six -- Whatever It Takes ***/
5. Lee Wiley -- West Of The Moon (1956) ** 1/2
6. Petula Clark -- Living For Today ** ("While You See A Chance" cover nice)
7. Kendrick Lamar et al -- Black Panther soundtrack ***/
8. They Might Be Giants -- I Like Fun ** 1/2
9. Fall Out Boy -- Mania ***/
10. Anderson East -- Encore **
11. Jimmy Buffett -- Buried Treasure Vol. 1 **
12. Josh Ritter -- Gathering ***
13. Gaz Coombes -- Matador (2015) ** 1/2
14. Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello -- Flowers In The Dirt demos (1985) *** 1/2
15. Boz Scaggs -- Some Change (1994) *** 1/2
16. Various Artists -- Blade Runner 2049 Soundtrack
17. Jo Stafford -- Autumn In New York (1950) **
18. Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams (2015) *** 1/2
19. Tracey Thorn -- Record ***/
20. Joan Baez -- Whistle Down The Wind ***
21. Thelonius Monk -- The Complete Prestige 10 Inch LP Collection ****
22. Thelonius Monk -- Thelonius Monk Trio (1954) ****
23. Thelonius Monk -- Monk (1954) *** 1/2
24. Thelonius Monk -- And Sonny Rollins (1954) *** 1/2
25. Curtis Roush -- Cosmic Campfire Music ** 1/2
26. Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson -- Landfall ** 1/2 (not enough Laurie)
27. Steve Winwood -- Greatest Hits Live ** 1/2
28. Philip Phillips -- Collateral **
29. Carmen McRae -- Book Of Ballads (1958) ****
30. The Eagles -- Hotel California (1976) ** 1/2
31. Carmen McRae -- By Special Request (1955) ***
32. Brian Fallon -- Sleepwalkers **
33. Paul McCartney and Youth as The Fireman -- Electric Arguments (2008) ***
34. Mabel Mercer -- Merely Marvelous (1960) ***
35. MGMT -- Little Dark Age **
36. The Moody Blues -- Days of Future Passed (1967) **
37. John Oates -- Arkansas ***
38. John Moreland -- In The Throes (2013) ***
39. Jo Stafford -- Starring Jo Stafford (1953) **
40. Glenn Gould -- Bach: The Goldberg Variations (1981) ****
41. Franz Ferdinand -- Ascending **
42. Merle Haggard -- Mama Tried (1968) ***/
43. The Clash -- The Clash (1977) *** 1/2
44. Simple Minds -- Walk Between Worlds ** 1/2
45. Andy Gibb -- Greatest Hits (1980) **
46. Kacey Musgraves -- Golden Hour ** 1/2
47. Jimi Hendrix -- Both Sides Of The Sky **
48. Tim Christensen -- Honeyburst (2003) *** 1/2
49. The Four Lads -- The Singles Collection 1952-1962 * 1/2
50. Cecile McLorin Salvant -- WomanChild (2013) *** 1/2
51. Meshell Ndegeocello -- Ventriloquism ***
52. Don McLean -- Botanical Gardens * 1/2
53. Ashley McBryde -- Girl Goin' Nowhere ***
54. Paul McCartney -- Memory Almost Full (2007) ***
55. The Fratellis -- In Your Own Sweet Time ***
56. Elizabeth Mitchell -- The Sounding Joy (2013) * 1/2
57. Kurt Elling -- The Questions **
58. Jack White -- Boarding House Reach **
59. Toto -- Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around The Sun * 1/2
60. Brandi Carlisle -- By The Way, I Forgive You *** 1/2
61. Sonny Rollins -- Way Out West (1957) ***/
62. Habibi -- Cardamom Garden * 1/2
63. Ben Harper and Charles Musselwhite -- No Mercy In This Land **
64. Born Ruffians -- Uncle, Duke and the Chief **
65. Bettye LaVette -- Things Have Changed ***
66. The Meters -- Rejuvenation (1974) *** 1/2
67. Patrick Wolf -- Lupercalia (2011) ***
68. Rick Springfield -- The Snake King ***/ (heretic!!)
69. Rhye -- Blood **
70. Vivian Leva -- Time is Everything **
71. Calum Scott -- Only Human **
72. Scotty McCreery -- Seasons Change ** 1/2
73. The Clash -- Give 'em Enough Rope (1978) *** 1/2
74. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong -- Cheek To Cheek: Complete Duet Recordings *** 1/2
75. Vance Joy -- Nation Of Two **
76. Tom Williams -- All Change **
77. Tom Rogerson -- Finding Shore **
78. Tal National -- Tantabara ** 1/2
79. The Clash -- Combat Rock (1982) ***
80. Donna Summer -- Bad Girls (1979) ** 1/2
81. Donna Summer -- The Wanderer (1980) * 1/2
82. Janelle Monáe -- Dirty Computer *** 1/2
83. Mandy Patinkin -- Diary, January 27, 2018 *** 1/2
84. John  Prine -- The Tree Of Forgiveness ***
85. Frank Turner -- Be More Kind ** (but "The Lifeboat" lovely)
86. Joshua Hedley -- Mr. Jukebox ***/
87. Sting and Shaggy -- 44/876 **
88. Mary Chapin Carpenter -- Sometimes Just The Sky **
89. Sonny and Cher -- The Beat Goes On: The Best Of Sonny and Cher ** 1/2
90. The Magic Numbers -- Outsiders ** 1/2
91. Charlie Puth -- VoiceNotes ***
92. Jason Aldean -- Rearview Town ***/
93. Josh Rouse -- Love In The Modern Age *** 1/2
94. Beach House -- 7 ***
95. Nellie McKay -- Silver Orchid *** 1/2 /
96. Courtney Barnett -- Tell Me How You Really Feel *** /
97. Old Crow Medicine Show -- Volunteer ** 1/2
98. Maddie Poppe -- Songs From The Basement **
99. Jennifer Warnes -- Another Time, Another Place **
100. Shawn Mendez -- Shawn Mendez ** (but "In My Blood" v good)
101. Kanye West -- Ye ** 1/2
102. Leon Bridges -- Good Thing ***
103. Arctic Monkeys -- Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino *** 1/2
104. Willie Nelson -- Last Man Standing **
105. The Temptations -- Psychedelic Shack (1970) *** 1/2 \
106. The Temptations -- Meet The Temptations (1964) ** 1/2
107. The Temptations -- Sing Smokey Robinson (1965) ***
108. Kelly Willis -- Back Bein' Blue ** 1/2
109. Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore -- Downey To Lubbock **
110. The Temptations -- The Temptin' Temptations (1965) ***
111. The Pointer Sisters -- Our Hits ** 1/2
112. Dierks Bentley -- The Mountain **
113. Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd (1973) ***
114. The Meters -- Fire On The Bayou (1976) ***
115. Neko Case -- Hell-On ***
116. Betty Buckley -- Hope *** (title track great)
117. Brad Mehldau -- Seymour Reads The Constitution ** 1/2
118. Benjamin Jaffe -- Oh, Wild Ocean of Love ***/
119. Ry Cooder -- The Prodigal Son *
120. Ruen Brothers -- All My Shades of Blue **
121. J Balvin -- Vibras ***
122. Birch Pereira -- Western Soul ***/
123. The Temptations -- With A Lot O' Soul (1967) *** 1/2
124. Panic! At The Disco -- Pray For The Wicked ***/
125. Parquet Courts -- Wide Awake! **
126. American Aquarium -- Things Change **
127. Kasey Chambers -- Campfire ***/
128. Kamasi Washington -- Heaven and Earth *** 1/2
129. The Temptations -- In A Mellow Mood (1967) *
130. Frank Sinatra -- Standing Room Only ** 1/2
131. Jerry Reed -- The Unbelievable Guitar And Voice Of Jerry Reed (1967) ***
132. Elvis Presley -- The Searcher (documentary soundtrack) ** 1/2
133. Nas -- Nasir *** 1/2
134. Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Second Helping (1974) ***
135. Tom Rush -- Voices ***/
136. Rufus Wainwright -- Northern Stars ** 1/2
137. Various Artists -- Universal Love: Wedding Songs Reimagined **
138. Sugarland -- Bigger **
139. The Temptations -- Wish It Would Rain (1968) ** 1/2
140. Paul Simon -- Graceland: The Remixes *
141. Van Morrison -- You're Driving Me Crazy w Joey DeFrancesco ** 1/2
142. The Temptations -- Diana Ross and the Supremes Meet The Temptations (1968) * 1/2
143. The Temptations -- Cloud Nine (1969) *** (side one ****; side two ** 1/2)
144. 5 Seconds Of Summer -- Youngblood **
145. John Coltrane -- Both Directions At Once (1963) *** 1/2
146. The Last Poets -- Understand What Black Is **
147. The Temptations -- Puzzle People (1969) ** 1/2
148. Booker T and the MGs -- UpTight (1969) ** 1/2
149. Joan Armatrading -- Not Too Far Away **
150. Françoise Hardy -- Personne d'autre **
151. Arthur Buck -- Arthur Buck **
152. Kadhja Bonet -- Childqueen **
153. Ray Davies -- Our Country -- Americana Act Two **
154. Various Artists -- Baby Driver Volume 2: The Score For A Score **
155. Death Grips -- Year Of The Snitch ** (could be the soundtrack to The First Purge)
156. Don Flemons -- Black Cowboys ** 1/2
157. Corey Harris and Henry Butler -- Vu-Du Menz (2000) *** 1/2
158. Buddy Guy -- The Blues Is Alive And Well *** 1/2
159. The Temptations -- The Temptations' Christmas Card (1970) ** 1/2 but "Silent Night"
160. Gaël Faye -- Rythemes et Botanique (2017) ** 1/2
161. Gaz Coombes -- World's Strongest Man ** 1/2
162. The Temptations -- Sky's The Limit (1971) ***/
163. The Temptations -- Solid Rock (1972) ***
164. Chastity Brown -- Silhouette Of Sirens ** 1/2
165. Ike Reilly -- Crooked Love ** 1/2
166. The Rails -- Other People * 1/2
167. Ben Rector -- Magic **
168. Mike and the Moonpies -- Steak Night at the Prairie Rose **
169. The Milk Carton Kids -- All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn't Do *1/2
170. The Poppy Family - A Good Thing Lost: 1968 - 1973 ** (but nice voice)
171. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever -- Hope Downs ** 1/2
172. Ron Sexsmith -- Carousel One (2015) ***/
173. Cowboy Junkies -- All That Reckoning ** 1/2
174. Van Morrison -- His Band and the Street Choir (1970) ** 1/2\
175. Scott Matthews -- The Great Untold ***/
176. Martin Courtney -- Many Moons **
177. Mary Gauthier -- Rifles and Rosemary Beads *** (esp "Bullet Holes In The Sky")
178. Matt Costa -- Santa Rosa Fangs **
179. Ray LaMontagne -- Part Of The Light **
180. Lori McKenna -- The Tree **
181. Otis Redding -- Dock Of The Bay Sessions (1968/2018) ***\
182. Ruel -- Ready ** 1/2
183. Rev. Shawn Amos -- Breaks It Down (2017) **
184. Corey Harris -- Daily Bread (2005) (weak prod; liked "The Peach")
185. The Free Design -- Kites Are Fun (1967) ** 1/2
186. Ashley Monroe -- Sparrow **
187. Billy Price -- Reckoning **
188. Beth Nielsen Chapman -- Hearts Of Glass **
189. Birds Of Chicago -- Love In Wartime * 1/2
190. Birdtalker -- One **
191. The Bookshop Band -- Accidents and Pretty Girls (2017) **
192. Bombino -- Deran ***
193. Bobby Sanabria -- West Side Story Reimagined ** 1/2
194. Brent Cobb -- Providence Canyon **
195. Clay Parker and Jodi James -- The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound **
196. Ron Sexsmith -- The Last Rider (2017) *** 1/2
197. Boz Scaggs -- Out Of The Blues *** 1/2
198. The Free Design -- You Could Be Born Again (1968) * 1/2
199. Bettye Lavette -- Things Have Changed ***
200. Charles Lloyd and Lucinda Williams -- Vanished Gardens **
201. Cale Tyson -- Careless Soul ** 1/2
202. Nathaniel Rateliff -- Tearing At The Seams ** 1/2
203. Punch Brothers -- All Ashore **
204. The Jayhawks -- Back Roads and Abandoned Motels ** 1/2
205. Matthew Sweet -- Tomorrow's Daughter ***/
206. Rodney Crowell - Acoustic Classics ** 1/2
207. The Coup -- Sorry to Bother You ** 1/2
208. Gorillaz -- The Now Now *** /
209. The Free Design -- Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love (1970) **
210. Bettye LaVette -- Child Of The Seventies (1972) ***/
211. Jim Lauderdale -- Time Flies ** 1/2
212. H.E.R. -- I Used To Know Her ** 1/2
213. Gene Clark -- Sings For You (1967 unreleased demos; put out 2018) **
214. Drake -- Scorpion *** 1/2
215. Gene Clark -- With The Gosdin Brothers (1967) **
216. Lucy Dacus -- Historian **
217. Various Artists -- African Scream Contest 2 *** 1/2
218. Washington Phillips -- And His Manzarene Dreams (1927-1929 recordings) ** 1/2
219. The Left Banke -- Walk Away Renee/ Pretty Ballerina (1967) *** /
220. Various Artists -- Restoration: The Songs Of Elton John **
221. The Vines -- In Miracle Land *** 1/2
222. Amanda Shires -- To The Sunset **
223. Angelique Kidjo -- Remain in Light *** 1/2
224. Brad Mehldau -- After Bach ** 1/2
225. Engelbert Humperdink -- His Greatest Hits (1974) ***
226. Zuli -- Supernatural Voodoo (2015) ** 1/2
227. The Left Banke -- Too (1968) ** 1/2
228. Virginia Wing -- Ecstatic Arrow **
229. Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein -- Viper's Drag (2014) *** 1/2
230. Years and Years -- Palo Santo ***
231. The War and Treaty -- Healing Tide **
232. Wallows -- Spring EP ** 1/2
233. Buffalo Springfield -- Buffalo Springfield (1967) ***
234. Buffalo Springfield -- Buffalo Springfield Again (1967) ***\
235. Margo Guryan -- Take A Picture (1968) ** 1/2
236. MC5 -- Kick Out The Jams (Live) (1969) ***
237. John Coltrane -- Ballads (1963) ** 1/2
238. The Magpie Salute -- High Water I ** 1/2
239. Mary Halvorson -- Code Girl **
240. Manic Street Preachers -- Resistance Is Futile **
241. Mon Laferte -- La Trenza ** 1/2
242. Moses Sumney -- Black In Deep Red, 2014 (EP) ***/
243. Natalie Prass -- The Future and the Past ** 1/2
244. Agnes Obel -- Late Night Tales **
245. Aisha Burns -- Argonauta **
246. Ben Howard -- Noonday Dreams **
247. Alessia Cara -- Know-It-All ** 1/2
248. Buffalo Springfield -- Last Time Around (1968) *** 1/2
249. King Princess -- Make My Bed ** 1/2
250. Let's Eat Grandma -- I'm All Ears **
251. The Beths -- Future Me Hates Me ***
252. Amine -- Good For You **
253. Anna Burch -- Quit The Curse **
254. Anna Tivel -- Small Believer ** 1/2
255. Lindsey Buckingham -- Law and Order (1981) ** 1/2
256. Shannon Shaw -- Shannon in Nashville **
257. Eminem -- Kamikaze ***
258. Gruff Rhys -- Babelsberg ** 1/2
259. The Interruptors -- Fight The Good Fight ***
260. Paul McCartney -- Egypt Station
261. Madeleine Peyroux -- Anthem *** 1/2
262. Richard Thompson -- 13 Rivers ***
263. Shakey Graves -- Can't Wake Up *** 1/2
264. Paul Simon -- In The Blue Light ***
265. Willie Nelson -- My Way *** \
266. Bobbie Gentry -- Ode To Billie Joe (1967) ****
267. Logic YSIV ***
268. Beta Radio ***/
269. Kathy Mattea -- Pretty Bird **
270. Bobbie Gentry -- The Delta Sweete (1968) *** 1/2
271. Gilbert O'Sullivan -- Gilbert O'Sullivan ** 1/2
272. Mandy Patinkin -- Diary: April/May 2018 *** 1/2
273. Richard and the Young Lions -- Vol. 1 (fun Nuggets-era sound but weak lyrics) **
274. Bobbie Gentry -- Local Gentry (1968) ***/
275. Bobbie Gentry and Glenn Campbell -- Bobbie Gentry and Glenn Campbell (1968) ** 1/2
276. Richard Swift -- The Hex ** 1/2
277. Bobbie Gentry -- Touch 'Em With Love (1969) ***
278. Bobbie Gentry -- Fancy (1970) ** 1/2 (but great title track)
279. Bobbie Gentry -- Supper Time: The Lost Jazz Album (1970) my own title ***/
280. Mandy Barnett -- Winter Wonderland ** 1/2
281. Bobbie Gentry -- Patchwork (1971) *** 1/2
282. Michael McDonald -- Season Of Peace: The Christmas Collection * 1/2
283. Eric Clapton -- Happy Xmas * 1/2
284. The Monkees -- Christmas Party ** 1/2
285. Tamino -- Habibi EP ** 1/2
286. John Hiatt -- The Eclipse Sessions ***
287. The Mamas and the Papas -- If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966) ** 1/2
288. Bobby Timmins -- Holiday Soul ** 1/2
289. Martina McBride -- It's The Holiday Season *
290. David Ball -- The Greatest Christmas * 1/2
291. CeCe Winans -- Something's Happening! A Christmas Album *
292. Engelbert Humperdink -- Warmest Christmas Wishes * 1/2
293. George Strait -- Classic Christmas ** 1/2
294. Hall and Oatest -- Home For Christmas (2006) **
295. The Mamas and the Papas -- The Mamas and the Papas (1966) ** 1/2
296. Crosby Stills and Nash -- Crosby Stills and Nash (1969) ***
297. Crosby Stills Nash and Young -- Deja Vu (1970) *** 1/2 \
298. The Ronettes -- ...Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica (1964) *** 1/2
299. Kelley Stoltz -- Natural Causes ** 1/2
300. The Mavericks -- Hey! Merry Christmas ***
301. William Shatner -- Shatner Claus * 1/2
302. Rodney Crowell -- Christmas Everywhere **
303. Roseanne Cash -- She Remembers Everything *** 1/2
304. Rod McKuen -- New Carols For Christmas: The Rod McKuen Christmas Album (1971) ** 1/2
305. Rubén Blades -- Una Noche Con Rubén Blades ** 1/2
306. Aaron Watson -- An Aaron Watson Family Christmas **
307. Culture Club -- Life ** 1/2
308. Bob Dylan -- More Blood, More Tracks official revised early version of BOTT incl on boxed set *** 1/2
309. David Archuleta -- Winter In The Air **
310. The Gibson Brothers -- Mockingbird **
311. Gwen Stefani -- You Make It Feel Like Christmas **
312. John Klein -- Let's Ring The Bells All Around The Christmas Tree (1964) * 1/2
313. K.C. and the Sunshine Band -- A Sunshine Christmas * 1/2
314. Kris Wu -- Antares **
315. Diana Ross -- Wonderful Christmastime (1994) * 1/2
316. Pentatonix -- Christmas Is Here * 1/2
317. Pistol Annies -- Interstate Gospel ***
318. Alec Benjamin -- Narrated For You ***
319. Tyler The Creator -- The Grinch **
320. Old 97s -- Love The Holidays **1/2
321.  Tony Bennett and Diana Krall -- Love Is Here To Stay *** 1/2
322. Jill Scott -- By Popular Demand ***
323. The Struts -- Young and Dangerous *** /
324. Prince -- Piano and a Microphone 1983 ***
325. The Beatles -- White Album official Esher Demos on 2018 boxed set ***
326. Frank Sinatra -- Sings For Only The Lonely (1958; 2018 stereo mix) *** 1/2 but unnecessary
327. Mumford and Sons -- Delta **
328. Queen -- A Night At The Opera (1975) ** 1/2
329. Neil and Liam Finn -- Lightsleeper ** 1/2
330. Various Artists -- Gonna Sing Gonna Shout: Bluegrass Gospel From The Pen of Rick Lang ***/
331. Wayne Shorter -- Night Dreamer (1964) *** 1/2
332. Wayne Shorter -- Juju (1964) *** 1/2
333. Wayne Shorter -- Speak No Evil (1965) ****
334. Bob Dylan -- More Blood, More Tracks New York demos of BOTT via boxed set ****
335. The Lemon Twigs -- Go To School ** 1/2
336. Elvis Costello -- Look Now *** 1/2
337. Rosalía -- El Mal Querer ** 1/2
338. Paul Williams -- Elmer Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977) **
339. The Go-Go's -- Beauty and the Beat (1981) ***
340. Hawktail -- Unless **
341. Hozier -- Nina Cried Power EP ***
342. Marianne Faithful -- Negative Capability ***
343. Will Hoge -- My American Dream ***
344. Jess Sah Bi and Peter One -- Our Garden Needs Its Flowers (1985) **
345. Ingrid Michaelson -- Songs For The Season ** 1/2
346. J Cole -- COD **
347. Melissa Ericco -- Sublime Sondheim **
348. Mariah Carey -- Caution **
349. Robyn -- Honey **
350. Straight No Chaser -- Holiday Spirits (2008) ** 1/2
351. Rozalén -- Cuando El Rio Suena (2017) ***
352. Rhett Miller -- The Messenger ** 1/2
353. Loretta Lynn -- Wouldn't It Be Great ***
354. Michael Langoria -- Merry Christmas Darling * 1/2
355. Mike Love -- Reason For The Season * 1/2
356. Mitch Ryder -- Christmas (Take A Ride) *
357. Macy Gray -- Ruby *** 1/2
358. Kaskade -- Christmas Deluxe *
359. The SalSoul Orchestra -- Christmas Jollies (1976) *
360. Los Straitjackets -- The Complete Christmas Songbook * 1/2
361. Various Artists -- Feelin' Right, Saturday Night: The Rick and Ron Anthology *** 1/2
362. The 1975 -- A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships ***
363. Erin Harpe -- The Christmas Swing * 1/2
364. America -- Holiday Harmony * 1/2
365. Vince Staples -- FM! ***
366. Colter Wall -- Songs of the Plain ** 1/2
367. Eric Church -- Desperate Man ***
368. The Carpenters -- Christmas Portrait (1978; new extended version) ***
369. The Carpenters -- Close To You (1970) **
370. The Carpenters -- Carpenters (The Tan Album) (1971) ** 1/2
371. The Carpenters -- A Song For You (1972) ** 1/2
372. The Carpenters -- Now and Then (1973) ** (side one and title track ***)
373. The Carpenters -- Horizon (1975) ** 1/2/ (side one very strong)
374. The Carpenters -- A Kind of Hush (1976) **
375. The Carpenters -- Passage (1977) * 1/2
376. The Carpenters -- Made In America (1981) **
376.  The Carpenters -- Voice Of The Heart (1983) * 1/2
377. The Carpenters -- The Singles: 1969-1973 (1973) *** 1/2



MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES TV MOVIES 

(Not TV movies, of course, but movies and TV -- and TV movies if it comes to that. Mostly I only list TV shows when I've tackled an entire season at once or reappraising an entire series after it's over This doesn't really capture my ongoing watching of current TV.)

1. Downsizing ** 1/2
2. Of Mice And Men (1939) ** 1/2
3. I, Tonya ***
4. Paddington 2 ** 1/2
5. The Post **
6. Black Panther **
7. The Greatest Showman **
8. The Founder *** 1/2
9. Obit ***
10. Good Time *** 1/2
11. Machines ** 1/2
12. Dunkirk ****
13. Una Mujer Fantastica *** 1/2
14. Foxtrot *** 1/2
15. Dawson City: Frozen Time ***
16. Bad Lucky Goat ***
17. Loveless *** 1/2
18. God's Own Country *** 1/2
19. The B-Side ***
20. Love, Simon ** 1/2
21. Logan ***
22. Patti Cake$ ** 1/2
23. The Lost City Of Z *** 1/2
24. Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story ***
25. Only The Brave ***
26. A Quiet Passion ***
27. The Breadwinner ***/
28. Happy Death Day ***
29. Land Of Mine *** 1/2
30. Columbus *** /
31. Frantz ** 1/2
32. Get Out ***
33. Brigsby Bear **
34. Risk (Laura Poitras documentary) ***/
35. A Quiet Place ** 1/2
36. Ready Player One *
37. Lean On Pete ** 1/2
38. The Endless **
39. Blockers (esp Ike Barinholtz and Miles Robbins) ***
40. Annihilation **
41. Captain America: Civil War **
42. Le Corbeau (1943) ** 1/2
43. Isle Of Dogs *** 1/2 (prod, score, voice, screenplay)
44. Miracles For Sale (1939) *
45. Deadpool 2 **
46. Solo: A Star Wars Story **
47. At The Circus (1939) *
48. Summer 1993 *** 1/2 (direction, lead perf)
49. Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939) * 1/2
50. Yes, My Darling Daughter (1939) * 1/2
51. The Guardians ** 1/2
52. 7th Heaven (1927) w Janet Gaynor (w Noam at Moma)
53. Klute *** 1/2 (at Metrograph w Noam)
54. Who We Are Now *** 1/2 (plus lead perf)
55. Les Parents Terrible (1948) *** (at Quad w Noam) (Jean Marais miscast but excitingly shot)
56. Cuatro Corazones (1939) (at Moma w Noam) ** 1/2
57. Won't You Be My Neighbor? (Mr Rogers documentary) ***
58. Killing Eve Season One *** 1/2
59. The Incredibles 2 ***
60. Halelujah (1929 all-black film about man turned preacher but always tempted by harlot) ** 1/2
61. The Royal Rodeo (1939 short) no stars
62. Whitney ** 1/2
63. Sgt. Madden (1939) ** 1/2
64. American Animals *** 1/2 (screenplay)
65. Lady Of The Tropics (1939) *
66. Sorry To Bother You ** 1/2
67. Teen Titans! Go To The Movies ** 1/2
68.  5th Avenue Girl (1939) ** 1/2
69. Mission: Impossible -- Fallout **1/2
70. Eighth Grade *** 1/2
71. McQueen *** (shame the music isn't the original tracks for the shows)
72. RBG ***/
73. BlacKKKlansman ***
74. Wings Of The Navy (1939) * 1/2
75. Crazy Rich Asians * 1/2
76. The End Of The Fucking World S1 ***
77. Museo (w Gael Garcia Bernal) *** /
78. Fahrenheit 11/9 ** 1/2
79. Detectorists S3 *** 1/2
80. Jack Ryan S1 **
81. First Man (sound design) ***
82. The Old Man and The Gun ***/
83. Mid90s ** 1/2
84. The Sisters Brothers ** 1/2
85. Beautiful Boy ** 1/2
86. A Star Is Born **
87. Free Solo ***
88. Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman doc) ***/
89. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald ** 1/2
90. Roma *** \
91. Amazing Grace ****
92. Can You Ever Forgive Me **
93. Hale County This Morning, This Evening ***
94. Ralph Breaks The Internet ** 1/2
95. Mary Poppins Returns **
96. If Beale Street Could Talk **
97. Anna and the Apocalypse ** 1/2
98. Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse *** /
99. Capernaum *** 1/2
100. Cold War ***/
101. The Favourite *** 1/2
102. Second Act * 1/2
103. Mary, Queen of Scots **
104. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) *** 1/2
105. Easy Living (1937) ** 1/2
106. The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973) *** 1/2
107. Shoplifters ***\



THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS
(The names after the shows are the people who joined me at the performance.)

1. At Home At The Zoo: Homelife and The Zoo Story (at Signature w Luis) ***/
2. Escape To Margaritaville (w Franny) **
3. Broadway By The Year: 1947 and 1966  (w TJ) ***
4. Lobby Hero (w Michael Cera) (w Noam) ***
5. Frozen (w Luis) **
6. Rocktopia (w Luis) *
7. Angels in America (w Garrett)** 1/2
8. Mean Girls (w Cohen) ** 1/2
9. The Sting (w Harry Connick Jr.) (w Noam) **
10. Mlima's Tale (w Noam) ** 1/2
11. Children Of A Lesser God (w Joshua Jackson) (w Noam) ** 1/2
12. 
Sancho: An Act Of Remembrance (w Vincent) ** 1/2
13. The Metromaniacs (w Noam) ***
14. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (w Cohen) *
15. The Seafarer (w Zoe) **
16. Henry V (Public Mobile Unit w Zenzi Williams) (w Noam) * 1/2
17. Saint Joan (w Noam) **
18. Travesties (w Tom Hollander and Seth Numrich) (alone) *** 1/2
19. My Fair Lady (w Lauren Ambrose) (w Noam) *** 
20. Summer and Smoke (w Marin Ireland at CSC) (w Noam) ** 1/2 
21. Broadway By The Year: 1956 and 1975 (w Luis) ** 1/2
22. August Wilson Monologue Competition at the August Wilson Theatre (w Noam) ** 1/2
23. Paradise Blues (Dominique Moriceau play at Signature) (w Dave Cohen, Zoe, Noam) ** 1/2
24.  Our Lady Of 121st Street (revival at Signature) (w Dave, Zoe, Noam) ** 1/2
25. Dance Nation (at Playwrights Horizons) (w Joanne) ** 1/2
26. Margo Price at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors ***\
27. The Gospel at Colonus at Shakespeare in The Park ** (this perf, not the show)
28. The Nap (w David Cohen) **
29. Bernhardt/Hamlet (w Noam) * 1/2
30. On Beckett (Bill Irwin) (w Joanne)  ***
31. What The Constitution Means To Me (w Cohen) **
32. The Winning Side (Werner von Braun play) (solo) *
33. Oklahoma (at St. Ann's Warehouse) (w Noam) **
34. Mother Of The Maid (w Glenn Close at Public) (w TJ)  *
35. Shake and Bake: Love's Labour's Lost (w Sam Dolson) ***
36. The Lifespan of a Fact (w Noam) **
37. India Pale Ale (w Noam) *
38. Thunderbodies at Soho Rep ***
39. The Ferryman (w Dave Cohen)
40. The Mavericks at MusikFest Cafe in Bethlehem, PA (alone) *** / (seated audience not as fun as a sweaty standing room bar space.
41. King Kong (on Broadway, w host Joanne) *
42. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (at CSC w Raul Esparza; guest Noam) ***
43. Mike Birbiglia's The New One (w guest Noam) ***
44. American Son (w Kerry Washington; guest Noam) * 1/2
45. The Hard Problem (w guest Noam) ** 1/2
46. The Prom (w guest Noam) **
47. Met Opera: Il Tritticoro (w Placido Domingo; host Stephen) ***
48. Eve's Song (at Public ) * 1/2
49. Almost, Maine (high school prod at Notre Dame Catholic girls school)
50. Alec Benjamin -- at Mercury Lounge ***
51. Ruben and Clay's First Annual Christmas Reunion Show (w TJ) **
52. The Prisoner (Peter Brook) w Noam
53. Network * 1/2 (Byran Cranston) (w Garrett)
54. Slave Play (NYTW) ** 1/2 (w TJ)



KEY: star rating is on the four star scale
          meaning of "/" or "\"
          *** is three stars out of four
          ***/ is three stars leaning towards  3 1/2
          ***\ is three stars leaning towards 2 1/2

Updated December 24, 2018