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Hedwig and the Angry Inch Director on Those Fake Hurt Locker Playbills

Turns out, the "updated" production of Broadway's Hedwig and the Angry Inch was not just updated by casting Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, but the entire show had to be given a slight time shift. In fact, the very premise of the musical takes place on the set of another play — for this production, it's a modern-day-inspired Hurt Locker: The Musical, which closed after just one performance. To further drive that point home, the Belasco Theatre is covered in fake Playbills for the failed musical. For theater buffs, inside the Playbills are a ton of hilarious Easter eggs.

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When Faced With a Career Decision, Daniel Radcliffe Asks, ‘What Would Fassbender Do?’

Daniel Radcliffe has a test he applies to post-Potter career decisions these days: As he told Vulture this week, after the opening of his new Broadway play The Cripple of Inishmaan, he often asks himself, "What would Fassbender do?" Laughed Radcliffe, "I should just get a little bracelet made with that on it. Michael Fassbender is one of a group of actors that I really, really admire, and I think everything he does in his career is brilliant."

Radcliffe asked him, "Would Fassbender do something like this?" »

  • Posted 4/24/14 at 12:00 PM

Neil Patrick Harris on Hedwig, Dressing Rooms, and Getting All That Glitter Off Every Night

Neil Patrick Harris's stage chops have been well known to the Broadway community for years — mostly for his Über-charming Tony-hosting duties (and a memorable supporting turn in the 2004 revival of Assassins) — but as of Tuesday night, he's officially proven his ability to carry an entire show on his shoulders. Starring as the East German transgendered would-be punk rock star Hedwig in John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harris prances around stage in platform heels, goes through a formidable collection of wigs, and shreds like Iggy for 90 minutes straight. (Read Jesse Green's review here.) He spoke to Vulture about his backstage transformation, from dressing room décor to dance tracks.

"It takes a good couple hours to get ready, a girl’s gotta look pretty, you know?" »

Saltz: At This Point, George W. Bush Is Actually a Better Artist Than James Franco

Art critic Roberta Smith (my wife) wrote a damning review of James Franco's 65 silly self-obsessed demi-drag re-creations of Cindy Sherman's 1977-80 "Film Stills," now being shown at Pace as “New Film Stills.” The review's last line sums up the situation: "Someone or something, make him stop." Amen.

In his repeated efforts to be an artist, Franco is only making bad art. »

13 Choice Quotes From George R.R. Martin’s Rolling Stone Interview

If there’s one thing that George R.R. Martin wants you to know, it’s that the world is full of moral ambiguity. Any Game of Thrones fan can attest to this: There are no real heroes or villains, just people who do good things and bad things, and usually in combination. In a long interview with Rolling Stone published yesterday, the cap-wearing fantasy novelist talks about killing your darlings, his days writing for network TV, and the limitations of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s worth reading in its entirety to hear him expound on the following topics:

“Ideas are cheap ... To my mind, it's the execution that is all-important.” »

See Rediscovered 30-Year-Old Andy Warhol Amiga Computer Art

The Andy Warhol Museum has recovered artwork Andy Warhol made in the mid-1980s on a Commodore Amiga home computer. It all started with a YouTube clip of Andy Warhol at the Amiga launch event, making a portrait of Debbie Harry. Artist Cory Arcangel saw the clip and embarked on trying to find the images. Working with curators from the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Warhol Museum's chief archivist, they found Amiga floppy disks. Fortunately, Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club is known for its "collection of obsolete computer hardware" and was able to easily extract many doodles, photographs, and riffs on classic Warhol images like the banana, Marilyn Monroe, and, as you can see below, the Campbell's soup can. Also, below you can see a self-portrait and a three-eyed Birth of Venus. Even though it's only been a few hours since they've been made public, Jay Z has already written a verse about them.

  • Posted 4/24/14 at 8:00 AM
  • Art

Parisian Street Artist JR Prepares His First Foray Into Ballet

Earlier this year, the enfant terrible photographer who calls himself JR made his New York City Ballet debut, wrapping the promenade of the David H. Koch Theater in an enormous photographic mural. The result has been Instagrammed nearly as often as Ellen’s Oscar selfie was, and a relationship with NYCB was born. On April 29, it will bear fruit, as JR’s first foray into ballet—a collaboration with the video director and musician Woodkid, with an assist from NYCB’s Peter Martins himself—premieres. It’s called Les Bosquets, and, he says, it “is about the French riots of 2005. I was even thinking of taking the dancers to the streets of Paris. I am sure that these two worlds that are completely opposite, the projects of Paris and the ballet world, could actually get together.” They certainly do cross paths in JR himself, a graffiti brat turned sophisticated photographer, seen here in his lower-Manhattan studio during a rehearsal-happening as he worked out the placement of every graceful, exquisite limb. He couldn’t resist putting one dancer’s foot in the (cold) oven—or parking himself at the center of the array.         

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Theater Review: A Fascinating, Somewhat Musty Look at Transvestism in Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina

In the dressing rooms of at least seven Broadway shows right now, men are donning wigs and dresses and other gear to appear onstage as women. Chicago, Matilda, A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder, and, more overtly, Kinky Boots have built their brands on varieties of drag, whether as part of the story or just a casting gimmick. Earlier this season, too, we had male witches in Macbeth and traditional boys-will-be-girls productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III. And now, in the furious pre-Tony throes of April, the falsies are really flying. Just yesterday, Neil Patrick Harris opened as the semi-transgender title songstress of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; his falsies are tomatoes. Tomorrow, Alan Cumming opens as the androgynous Emcee in Cabaret, performing as a Kit Kat Girl in its tawdry kickline. And nearly the entire cast of Casa Valentina, opening tonight, relies on Miracle Gel inserts or plain old duct tape to portray the bosomy patrons of a Catskills retreat for heterosexual men in 1962. 

Only Casa Valentina really focuses on the phenomenon, and for each character, the meaning of the act varies widely. »

The Cut’s Recommended-Reading List for Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift was spotted shopping at a bookstore yesterday, and not just any bookstore — McNally Jackson, the literary heart of Soho. Fans gathered outside to gawk, and since "Taylor Swift carrying big bags of books" probably falls somewhere between Reading Rainbow and Oprah when it comes to inspiring literacy, they were perhaps moved to make a few purchases. But what is Taylor reading? the internet wondered. The McNally booksellers would not say.

The Cut has a few suggestions.

Our 15 books for Taylor Swift: »

  • Posted 4/23/14 at 8:00 AM
  • Books

Drafting Darth Vader: Early Drawings From Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy

Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO didn’t emerge fully formed from George Lucas’s brain in 1977—he had help from storyboard artists like Alex Tavoularis, Joe Johnston, and Ivan Beddoes. The new book Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy collects the early drawings that gave the Star Wars movies their visual inspiration. Click through the gallery ahead to see nascent versions of a pipe-smoking Yoda, young Luke Skywalker, and more.

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Former Daily Show Head Writer’s Religious Satire Heading to Broadway

The Last Testament: A Memoir by God, a comedy book by former-Daily Show head writer and executive producer David Javerbaum, is being adapted for the stage and is scheduled to open on Broadway in 2015. The book is billed as God's celebrity autobiography, as transcribed by Javerbaum, who continues to serve as a mouthpiece for the almighty on his popular Twitter account, @TheTweetOfGod. Javerbaum also co-wrote the musical Cry-Baby and penned songs for Neil Patrick Harris when he hosted the Tonys. “I am deeply disappointed that Jeffrey Finn has decided to produce this show,” Javerbaum said in a statement. “It will force me to continue my unwanted professional association with God, an abstract entity who has given me nothing but discomfort and agita. It is my desperate hope that we close out of town.” Irreverent religious humor has been working pretty well for the Book of Mormon, so hopefully Javerbaum and Finn will be able to replicate some of that success. Having The Daily Show on your resume seems to be kind of a golden ticket these days too, so we're optimistic.

Theater Review: A Touching, Great Production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch Reveals The Show's Flaws

He was born a boy named Hansel around 1962, on the wrong side of the Berlin wall. When the opportunity to escape presented itself 26 years later, in the form of a GI who wanted to marry him, Hansel had sex-change surgery and became Hedwig. The surgery was a botch — hence the “angry inch” — and so was the marriage; the GI dumped the partly transgender émigré a year later in a Kansas trailer park as the wall came down in 1989. Bad timing, Hedwig! And yet these disappointments started her on the path to becoming the “internationally ignored song stylist” she is today.

"Happily, Hedwig is plenty touching — and fun — most of the time." »

A Quick Chat With Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman About Passing Gas Onstage

In the off-Broadway play Annapurna, real-life awesome couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman hold nothing back. From the opening scene, they rage against each other, throwing barbs and dragging skeletons out of the closet. Offerman’s character, the cowboy-poet Ulysses, wearing nothing but a grease-stained apron and his pride, is living in a trailer home and dying of lung cancer. Learning of the news, his ex-wife, Emma, played by Mullally, returns 20 years after having walked out on him.

“It didn't dissipate for, like, ten minutes.” »

Gillian Flynn Says Gone Girl Won’t Change That Much

Kind of, anyway. During a Reddit AMA, Flynn was asked about changes to the movie adaptation of Gone Girl, and her answer was necessarily vague, but promising: "Those reports have been greatly exaggerated!" (Presumably she is referencing the rumors of a new twist at the end.) Flynn went on: "Of course, the script has to be different from the book in some ways — you have to find a way to externalize all those internal thoughts and you have to do more with less room and you just don't have room for everything. But the mood, tone and spirit of the book are very much intact." Notice that she didn't say "ending." 

  • Posted 4/22/14 at 11:25 AM

6 Artists on the Closing of Legendary Art-Supply Store Pearl Paint

For months, rumors have swirled that Pearl Paint, the legendary art-supply store on Canal Street, would be closing its doors. Yesterday, the red landmark was gated and locked, apparently marking the end of its eight-decade run as the supplier of choice to multiple generations of established and emerging downtown art stars. In the days before assistants did all the shopping, Pearl was more than a store — it was a scene in its own right, where artists would mingle and get hints about what their peers were working on based on the supplies they were buying. To mark the end of this chapter in New York's cultural history, Vulture asked a handful of top local artists to reminisce about the six-story retailer, which multimedia-installation specialist Justin Lowe lovingly referred to as "the StairMaster, helping lower Manhattan burn off those giant-cola calories for years."

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  • Posted 4/22/14 at 8:00 AM
  • Theater

Changing Rooms: Where James Franco, Denzel Washington, and More Get Ready for Broadway

This season, the Broadway stages are filled with men of the screen — with James Franco in Of Mice and Men, Denzel Washington in A Raisin in the Sun, Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan, and Bryan Cranston in All the Way, among others. These five allowed photographer Andreas Laszlo Konrath to shoot portraits in their dressing rooms, and told us all about their fan gifts, celebrity visits, and pre-show rituals. Click through the gallery ahead to see them all.

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Theater Review: The Velocity of Autumn Ticks Off Every Item on the Bad Playwriting Checklist

In 1981, after seeing a very bad play called The Whales of August, I invented a party game. The rules are simple: Using nouns that don’t belong together — one of which ideally suggests the sad passage of time — create a portentous but nonsensical title for a future television-type stage drama. My favorites until today were November’s Carburetor and The Last Gesundheit of Indian Summer. But ladies and gentlemen, we have a new winner in The Velocity of Autumn. This new Broadway production is ridiculous not just on the copyright page of the script by Eric Coble but also on every page thereafter.

79-year-old Alexandra has barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone. »

Theater Review: In Violet, an Unlovely Accident Yields a Lovely Musical

The disfigurement was an accident. The shim on her father’s hatchet came loose, the blade flew, and 13-year-old Violet, playing nearby, was forever left with a face “split in two.” Twelve years later — now parentless, friendless, and nearly hopeless — she makes a 900-mile bus pilgrimage from North Carolina to glittering Tulsa in search of a miracle. Can the TV evangelist she’s seen cure cancer also fix her face?

A song about penny-ante poker is in fact about much more. »

Theater Review: It’s Daniel Radcliffe vs. the Irish Stereotype, in The Cripple of Inishmaan

Who’s the worst Irish on Inishmaan? The competition is fierce. There’s the “newsman” Johnnypateenmike, who extorts food for his paltry gossip while trying to kill off his ancient and hideous mammy with drink. There’s young Helen, as nubile as she is vicious, who enjoys kicking grown men in the bollocks for no reason and pegging eggs at clergymen. (“If God went touching me arse in choir practice,” she blithely explains, “I’d peg eggs at that fecker too.”) Her dimwit little brother Bartley is interested in exactly two things: telescopes and sweets, about which he chatters at soul-numbing length. And the two old sisters who run the general store, which sells the sweets and little else, are half-mad with stage eccentricity. Eileen hoards their stock of Yalla-Mallows and Mintios, eating their miserable profit and frustrating Bartley. Kate, when anxious, talks to stones.

Radcliffe has grown tremendously as an actor. »

10 Pop-Culture Questions Answered by Vulture This Week

Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we were shocked by the latest episode of Game of Thrones, watched the premiere of Mad Men, and shook our heads as James Franco continued to be, well, James Franco. Naturally, spoilers follow. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.

How was the premiere of Mad Men? »

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