A spoonful of new songs makes Mary Poppins go down

May 09

A spoonful of new songs makes <i>Mary Poppins</i> go down

Some are Shakespeare purists. Or Chekhov purists. Or Star Wars purists. Their simple message is: don't mess with the original. I happen to be a Mary Poppins purist. Not the original P.L. Travers books – I found them harsh and far from enchanting. No, I'm a purist when it comes to the 1964 Disney film that boasted two remarkable things (and countless other simply wonderful things): the screen debut of a perfectly cast Julie Andrews in the title role and a thoroughly charming original score by brothers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman. Andrews and the Shermans all walked away with Academy Awards and, several years later when, at 4 years old, I saw a re-release of the film in my first time out at a movie theater, it also won my lifelong devotion.

All of that personal preamble is to say that I approached the Disney/Cameron Mackintosh stage adaptation with cautious enthusiasm.

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Still Misérables after all these years

Jul 12

Still <i>Misérables</i> after all these years

The 25th anniversary production of Les Misérables now at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the SHN season is annoying and gratifying, pretty much in equal measure.

You have to give credit to super producer Cameron Mackintosh for even attempting something new with such a tried-and-true money maker as Les Miz. He hired new directors and a raft of new designers. They 86-ed the turntable, such a memorable (and thematically important) element of the original Royal Shakespeare Company production and added that now inescapable 21st-century plague, projections.

This musical war horse is certainly refreshed if not necessarily strengthened.

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Thar she blows! Matthew Martin dresses up `Moby Dick!’

Sep 17

[PLEASE NOTE: Moby Dick! The Musical has been extended through Oct. 19] You can bet that Matthew Martin has the greatest gams on the Pequod. Martin, the San Francisco drag superstar, is having a whale of a time heading the cast of Theatre Rhinoceros’ season-opening Moby Dick! The Musical. He’s playing Headmistress Hymen, whose school, St. Godley’s...

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`Brokeback’ sings, `Fair Lady’ redux, `Nine’ lives on

Jun 09

So much information to digest. First comes news that Annie Proulx’s extraordinary short story, “Brokeback Mountain,” which was turned into a less extraordinary but admirable film, is now becoming an opera. New York City Opera has commissioned American composer Charles Wuorinen to create an opera based on “Brokeback” for the 2013 spring...

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