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  • Posted 8/18/17 at 8:00 AM
  • Art

Protest Art: What Is It Good For?

This past April, I wrote this piece for New York Magazine asking whether the fervent production and presentation of political art in the wake of Trump’s election would or could do any good — whatever good might mean — or for that matter, produce particularly good works of art.

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  • Posted 8/17/17 at 3:00 PM

Kathy Najimy’s 10 Favorite Books

Bookseller One Grand Books has asked literary celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and they’ve shared the results with Vulture. Below is actress Kathy Najimy’s list.

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See the LARP-Ready Costumes for the Broadway-Bound Frozen Musical

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Hans will arrive on Broadway wearing the armor of level 5 characters in what appears to be a Frozen video game. Entertainment Weekly has a first look at the musical adaptation of the film’s costumes, with Patti Murin (Anna), Caissie Levy (Elsa), Jelani Alladin (Kristoff), and John Riddle (Hans). Frozen starts its out-of-town run in Denver tonight, and will come to New York in February next year, as long as the actors don’t faint under all this fabric beforehand.

Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda Lead a Joyous Ham4Ham Revival in Los Angeles

A far cry from the chilly, cloudy New York City evenings where Ham4Ham originated, a mob of screaming fans crowded outside the Pantages Theater on this sunny Los Angeles afternoon, eagerly awaiting Lin-Manuel Miranda’s one-time-only revival of his beloved Hamilton lottery performance tradition. With Daveed Diggs on hand to help out with the selection process and a new cast around to perform a selection of Cali-themed hits — from “Hotel California” to “California Love” and many more — the atmosphere amid the new Ham4Ham was positively jubilant, the crowd so large and so hungry for $10 tickets that Hollywood Boulevard was closed off in advance of the musical’s West Coast premiere. So: No, Hamilton mania is not dying down anytime soon, and yes, Miranda’s combination of passionate energy and sheer talent remains as infectious as ever under the L.A. sun.

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Broadway’s Groundhog Day Will Close September 17 (and on September 17 and on September 17)

Phil Connors will stop having to live the same day over again (and again and again) in Broadway’s Groundhog Day on September 17. The musical, based on the film with a book from screenwriter Danny Rubin and music and lyrics from Matilda’s Tim Minchin, opened to acclaim in London, winning Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and for star Andy Karl, but stumbled in its transition to Broadway, with lower-than-expected ticket sales in previews, reviews that were not uniformly positive, and Karl’s ACL injury in a performance just days before opening night. Still, the musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards, and earned a rave from Bill Murray himself, who saw it twice. After Groundhog Day’s Broadway closure, the show’s producers are planning an 18-month national tour and a London production.

  • Posted 8/15/17 at 5:12 PM

Kara Walker Introduces Her Next Show With an Artist’s Statement About Being Fed Up, With America and Also Artist’s Statements

Kara Walker, who has become known as both an artist and a public figure since the success of her sugar sphinx, introduces her next show with an artist statement about how she doesn’t really want to write another artist statement. “I know what you expect from me and I have complied up to a point,” Walker says in advance of a show of paintings and drawings at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. from September 7 to October 14 this fall. “But frankly I am tired, tired of standing up, being counted, tired of ‘having a voice’ or worse ‘being a role model.’ Tired, true, of being a featured member of my racial group and/or my gender niche.” Walker continues:

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Ben Platt Will Leave Dear Evan Hansen This November, Finally Letting His Tony-Winning Tear Ducts Rest

Dear Evan Hansen will soon have to carry on without its Evan Hansen. Ben Platt, who won a Tony for his role in the Best Musical–winning show about an anxious teenage boy, suicide, and Kickstarter, will end his Broadway run on November 19. Platt started performances last fall. Yearlong contracts are fairly standard in Broadway shows and Platt has been with the production for nearly four years, counting its workshops and out of town and Off Broadway runs. Evan Hansen has yet to name Platt’s replacement, and it’ll likely need quite the talent to fill his loose-fitting polo shirts and sustain its big ticket sales. That low moaning sound you hear in the distance is every awkward 20-something theater actor in New York trying to learn how to cry and belt at the same time.

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  • Posted 8/15/17 at 11:36 AM

What the Departure of the Times’ Michiko Kakutani Means for Books Coverage

Except for the few people who were privy to Michiko Kakutani’s growing estrangement from the job of country’s most powerful book critic, most readers were surprised by her decision last month to take a buyout after 38 years at the New York Times. But one book publicist did have a premonition a week before the announcement. She had emailed Kakutani about a controversial political book for the early fall, which was technically under embargo, and hadn’t heard back with a request for an early copy. Books that break news are zealously guarded from most reporters and critics, but when Kakutani asked, you just mailed it off and bit your nails waiting for the verdict.

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Okieriete Onaodowan Is Bowing Out of The Great Comet of 1812 With a Poignant Dedication

Today, August 13, will serve as the last evening that former Hamilton star Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan will be playing the lead in Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. The news is a bummer for enthusiasts of the eclectic musical, as the show was recently marred with a casting controversy when the show’s producers announced that Oak would be replaced with Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin. Many people in the theater community expressed disappointment that a black lead was being replaced with a white actor, although the producers said the casting of a big name was necessary to keep the show from closing due to dwindling ticket sales. (Which it will now be doing on September 3, owing to Patinkin ultimately choosing to withdraw from the role amid the controversy.)

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Theater Review: Blocks From Trump Tower, Michael Moore Stands Up and Barks

The Terms of My Surrender, the new solo show by filmmaker and self-described “high-profile shit-stirrer” Michael Moore, isn’t a play. It’s a pep rally.

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  • Posted 8/9/17 at 10:55 PM

Broadway Musical Bandstand Will Close in September

Despite strong reviews and a Tony for best choreography, Bandstand is set to close September 17. Directed and choreographed by Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and set in America shortly after World War II, the musical boasted phenomenal swing dancing and was evocative of Broadway’s Golden Age. Yet, it struggled to break out from the pack of other musicals that opened this season, earning lackluster box office sales. The show opened April 26, 2017, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. When it shutters next month it will have played 24 previews and 166 regular performances.

Let’s Pitch Some Book Ideas to Younger

TV Land’s Younger never shies away from friendly ribbing of the New York publishing industry. From its blatant send-up of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series with Edward L.L. Moore’s Crown of Kings and its H Is for Hawk homage in the award-winning P Is for Pigeon — not to mention its commentary on the unfair way romance novels are scoffed atYounger likes to have fun with the world in which it lives.

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  • Posted 8/9/17 at 3:00 PM

Amber Tamblyn’s 10 Favorite Books

Bookseller One Grand Books has asked literary celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and they’ve shared the results with Vulture. Below is the list from Amber Tamblyn: actress, author, poet, and film director.

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Bruce Springsteen Is Going to Try Out a Little Theater As Part of His Broadway Show

It’s never too late to stage that one-man show you’ve always dreamed of doing. Bruce Springsteen, for instance, is planning to set up shop on Broadway at the 1,000-seat Walter Kerr Theater for eight weeks this fall starting October 3, performing music, as you might expect, but also reading from his memoir Born to Run and “performing other spoken reminiscences written for the show,” according to the New York Times. As Springsteen performs his script — as written spoken reminiscences are usually called — the show will “loosely” follow the story of his life and career. “My show is just me, the guitar, the piano, and the words and the music,” Springsteen said in a release. There will also be scenic design by Heather Wolensky, lighting design by Natasha Katz, and sound design by Brian Ronan.

Unlike the Internet, The Frozen Musical Will Have No Trolls

With the exception of parents’ bank balances, cute sidekicks tend to be the primary victims of an animated musical’s transfer to Broadway. Anastasia recently cut Bartok the bat, and now, according to a report from the New York Times, the musical adaptation of Frozen will leave off the trolls. In case you have willfully blocked out that part of the film, the trolls are the ones who raised Anna’s love interest Kristoff, and they have a very cringe-inducing comic song called “Fixer Upper” — basically “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” minus the love. In the new stage adaptation, currently in rehearsals in Denver before it moves to New York in 2018, the trolls will be replaced by hidden folk, tailed creatures from Scandinavian folklore. To add insult to injury, the hidden folk will also get the musical’s opening number, replacing the human workers who sing “Heart of Ice.” Instead, the stage Frozen will open in a “verdant landscape,” with the hidden folk in “scruffy” “sexy” outfits made of greenery. As if the trolls weren’t sexy enough!

  • Posted 8/9/17 at 8:10 AM

Theater Review: The Workshop, Where Dead White Men Do Have a Point

In the cramped backstage space behind the seating bank at the tiny HB Playwrights Theatre in the West Village, playwright Torrey Townsend is ripping the American Theater a new one. It’s the kind of raw, audacious evisceration that only someone who truly loves the messy, awful (in all senses) art of the stage could perform. If you see as much potential for transcendence in theater as Townsend does, then you probably also sense its seemingly bottomless capacity for narcissism, pettiness, and bullshit. Fortunately for those of us in the audience at Townsend’s intimate new play The Workshop, this combustion of frustration and exhilaration makes for one hell of an evening of theater.

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Bill Murray Fully Committed to the Part of Groundhog Day Broadway Audience Member

We wouldn’t mind getting stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again, if it meant we were in the August Wilson Theatre with Bill Murray as he saw Groundhog Day on Broadway for the first time. New York Times reporter Sopan Deb was there with Murray as he relived Groundhog Day. According to Deb, Murray, who starred in the critically lauded 1993 movie, spent most of the musical openly expressing all of his feelings, from the beginning, when he “immediately started bobbing his head to the music,” to the end, when he “was visibly sobbing.” At points in the middle he could also be seen (and heard) guffawing, pumping his fists, and yelling “Wow!”

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  • Posted 8/8/17 at 7:26 PM

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 Will Close In September

Despite earning outstanding reviews and a dozen Tony nominations, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 will be closing on September 3, the New York Times reports. In addition to being hailed by critics, the Broadway show performed well behind the performances of Josh Groban and then Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan in the lead role of Pierre, but a casting controversy involving Mandy Patinkin being brought in to replace Onaodowan created a lot of bad PR for the show it has been unable to bounce back from. Following the announcement that Patinkin would take over the role of Pierre, many were upset that a black actor was being replaced by a white actor. Patinkin apologized and shortly thereafter withdrew himself from the role, and to make matters worse, both Onaodowan and singer Ingrid Michaelson left on August 13. With no plans to add another high-profile name to the cast, Great Comet, which the show’s creator and composer described as being in “desperate shape” after Michaelson’s departure, has been forced to close.

  • Posted 8/8/17 at 4:12 PM

Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart Is a Knockout

The tricky thing about child narrators is that, like children themselves, they are often obnoxious. They can also be too cute, too smart, cloying, fatally earnest, or too innocent to be interesting. You want to put them to bed or kick them off the plane, or seek out the company of a real child, whose every remark doesn’t have behind it adult manipulations. Their least appealing quality may be that the only thing they have to talk about is childhood itself. Often writers who wear the child’s mask seem merely to have found an occasion and an excuse for their own regression. It can be creepy.

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Broadway Legend Barbara Cook, the Original Marian the Librarian, Dies at 89

Barbara Cook, a soprano who was known for originating the role of Marian Paroo (the Librarian) in The Music Man on Broadway and for her cabaret and concert performances, has died at 89.

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