Okay, full disclosure. I have a major soft spot for “La Cage.” Ever since I was one of the many who stood and cheered at the end of the 1983 pre-Broadway tryout at Boston’s Colonial Theatre I’ve wanted “La Cage” to succeed wherever it plays.
And it’s not just the crisp score by Jerry Herman or the pungent humor of Harvey Fierstein’s lyrics. It is truly the message of becoming a decent human being and knowing who you are, and why, that’s allowed me to love “La Cage” over the years.
Ah, yes. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow/Bet your bottom dollar.” Most of us remember that lyric. And you know, when “Annie,” after trying out at the Goodspeed Opera House, opened on Broadway in 1977 it definitely earned a lot more than a buck. With its bouncy music and improbable but oh-so-charming, very American narrative the show was up for 18 Tony Awards, and won 14, including “Best Musical.”
They call it The Great Friends Dance Festival and Island Moving, under the direction of veteran Rhode Island dancer/choreographer, Miki Ohlsen, has collected and collaborated with a half dozen or so companies and choreographers.
Some people, many actually, are enthralled by this musical taken almost completely from a poem by that Anglo-American literary icon, T.S. Eliot. “Cats” lovers adore the music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and are happy to forget about the almost plotless story line that finds a beat-up old cat restored to vibrant life.
Others, myself included, enjoy much of the music but really find “Cats” to be a clawless work, more a stagnant showing off piece than anything else.
At Trinity Rep these nights 14 professional actors and half as many kids are romping and stomping, racing and rushing from the upstairs Chace Theater to the downstairs Dowling Theater. And this is no exercise program. It’s actually the simultaneous performance of two separate plays by a single cast.
They fly from one play to another, changing costumes and characters all night long.
Going forward with a famous musical is generally a matter of copying. After all, if you are putting on “Annie” or “Nunsense” you aren’t going to change things—just try to do a crowd-pleasing show as well as you can.
But that’s not the case with Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Three Penny Opera.”
Back in the late 1940s and early ‘50s the talk along the New York Rialto was about whether Tennessee Williams could broaden his approach. Sure, the critics and others said, he’s written great plays such as the ever-so-human “Glass Menagerie” and the stinging “A Streetcar Named Desire.” But can he go in other directions, take us to new places?
"Groundbreaking” is the word used in the press release announcing Festival Ballet Providence’s program this weekend at the Vets in Providence. And you know what? That’s probably not just publicity hype.
Providence’s newest theater, the Wilbury Group operates out of a defunct mill in Olneyville. These nights they are taking on a feisty play, “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” which was a runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. While it begins with a look at professional wrestling, Bill Gale says it aims considerably higher. “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity continues at the Wilbury Group through February 9th. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.