Books of The Times: As the News Cycle Lurches, Jill Lepore Offers a Long, Steady View of American History

In the elegant, readable and sobering “These Truths,” Lepore starts with Columbus’s arrival and wends her way through the next five centuries.
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Nonfiction: A New View of Evolution That Can’t Be Represented by a Tree

David Quammen has written a sprawling history of evolutionary genetics, “The Tangled Tree,” that complicates familiar notions of how species evolved.
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Abby Huntsman Leaving Fox News to Join The View

Abby Huntsman The View is adding a second conservative voice: Welcome, Abby Huntsman.
The 32-year-old is set to join the panel of the ABC daytime talk show, which has seen many cast shakeups over the…

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An Idyllic Artists’ Retreat that Invites Guests to Take in the View

With help from architect David Chipperfield, Antony Gormley and Vicken Parsons have transformed an 18th-century villa in Norfolk, England into an inspiring retreat for artists.
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Hill View Montessori Charter Public School Receive Tribute & Healthcare Help By Charles Myrick Of ACRX

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

The Long View: Barbara W. Tuchman, Folly and the Stream of History

Current U.S. politics can be defined by what the historian referred to in her 1984 book “The March of Folly” as a “wooden-headedness” in statecraft.
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Books of The Times: Two Generations on View in Essays by Martin Amis and Zadie Smith

Amis’s “The Rub of Time” and Smith’s “Feel Free” feature pieces about politics, literature, aging and more.
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Margi Gad Launches Fierce + Regal Activewear With More of a Lifewear Point of View

NO TIMEOUTS: As a former private fine jeweler specializing in diamonds, Margi Gad brings a more gilded approach to activewear with her label Fierce + Regal.
A one-shouldered metallic taupe top, a platinum tunic, capri leggings with two zippers on the hip and a hooded blush-colored overthrow are among the styles. As for similarities between activewear and fine jewelry, Gad said, “Well, they both have a lot of gold. We use a lot of gold accents. This is sort of a gem of an activewear line. It is a glittering jewel in an overcrowded marketplace.”
Taking more of a lifewear approach, the collection relies on primarily Italian fabrics, aiming for more of a luxe touch. The neutral colored activewear can be interchanged with wardrobe pieces. The logo-free, minimalist chic collection lends itself to ready-to-wear, Gad said. “I really wanted something sophisticated.”
The company’s e-commerce business is up-and-running and Gad is committed to selectively building Fierce + Regal’s specialty store base. She connected with specialty stores during her first outing at the recent Active Collective at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.
Gad said, “I have always really loved working out and being active, so this really came from a personal need. I found myself running to

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Marina Testino Unveils Point Off View Fashion Brand

Marina Testino is ready for her fashion debut. The recent Parsons School of Design graduate and niece of famed photographer Mario today unveils Point Off View, her fashion brand.
After graduating in May and signing with The Society Management’s creative roster, Testino went to Peru to work on the collection. She says she consulted with some of her teachers from school, as well as her aunt, who lives in Peru and studied fashion. “Really, it was kind of a secret project,” Testino says. “I saw my uncle [Mario] over the summer and I showed him the collection, but once it was done, not a lot of people knew that I was doing it.”
Through Point Off View, Testino hopes to release about two capsules a year, featuring a different artist collaboration with each. The first, designed solely by Testino, is called Edition Zero.
The Edition Zero offerings include a “Risky Business”-inspired button-down for $ 120, a denim jacket for $ 210 and an army jacket for $ 180. Each piece is emblazoned with whimsical phrases like “go skinny dipping” or “buy me a drink” or “misbehaving.” Testino says she designed the line for “young women, ages 16 to 30 years, that are outgoing and fun and

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9 Times The View Co-Hosts Documented Personal Milestones on TV

Sara Haines, The ViewWhen it comes to daytime TV, viewers become very invested with the people they wake up to.
Sure, they may have never met the faces that grace their small screens day after day. At the…

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The Long View: ‘I Have Passed the Point of Reacting’: How the Watergate News Cycle Reads Today

Jon Meacham looks at three signature works about Watergate — by Elizabeth Drew, Art Buchwald and Theodore H. White — to see how the news of the ’70s resonates.
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Why "The Keepers" Was Made From Gemma & Abbie's View

Director Ryan White explains why he made the documentary through the eyes of Gemma and Abbie, the "grandma Nancy Drews."
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"Casting JonBenet" Examines Murder From Community's View

Director Kitty Green reveals why her documentary is unlike any project about the unsolved murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Listen in.
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James Baldwin’s Archive, Long Hidden, Comes (Mostly) Into View

The Schomburg Center in Harlem has bought this author’s rich archive. But the private letters admirers have longed to read will largely remain under seal.
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‘The Invisible Man’ Performance Artist and Photographer Liu Bolin About to Take a More Public View

ALL CLEAR: The Chinese performance artist and photographer Liu Bolin is the art world’s version of “The Invisible Man,” but he won’t be so hard to see in the months ahead.
Annie Leibovitz’s semitransparent shots of him in Moncler’s spring ads are just the start of a hectic work schedule. In April, Bolin will have solo exhibitions at the Gallery Magda Danysz in Shanghai, and at the Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris. There will also be a performance at Centre Georges Pompidou and another at Festival Portrait(s) in Vichy, France later this year.
Before those get under way, the artist will speak May 11 at the “Art of Tomorrow” conference at the W Doha Hotel & Residences in Qatar. The upcoming blitz is a switch for the artist whose “Hiding in the City” series features self portraits in which he camouflages himself by painting himself to blend into his landscapes. “It’s my way to convey all the anxiety I feel for human beings,” the artist has said of the practice.
Along with brands like Guerlain, Fred, Renault and Ford, Bolin said his first fashion-related project was to hide five well-known designers — Jean Paul Gaultier, Alber Elbaz, Angela Missoni and Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier

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Love Takes Action: An Astrological View

For the past two years, my HuffPost blogs have focused on astrology and the myriad ways this ancient art is helpful and meaningful for life today. I was galvanized by HuffPost’s call for articles under the heading #LoveTakesAction. It is an antidote to the swirling hate around us in these fractious and difficult times and I am happy to contribute. Personally, and in my astrology practice, I am encouraging people to focus on what they can do without becoming overwhelmed by the fray, the double talk, and polarization we find all around us.

The first category HuffPost suggested is ways people take action to show and even mobilize love. Each astrological sign takes action in different ways and hewing to your own resonant talents and ability will maximize your effectiveness and keep your energy balanced.

Aries: Leads the campaign and marches. He is a natural warrior for justice.

Taurus: Raises money for organizations that matter and promotes concrete goals towards tolerance and peace.

Gemini: Disseminates real information that encourages people to think and take action.

Cancer: Nurtures those who come across their path whether in a soup kitchen, shelter, or random encounters.

Leo: Dramatizes with very public and heartfelt performances which portray the world you want to live in.

Virgo: Analyzes and categorizes information to discern the actual facts and communicates this information clearly.

2017-02-13-1487000444-7693330-zodiacsigns.jpg

Libra: Engages with tact and diplomacy in relationships, action and dialogue that try to balance love and hate while taking a middle course.

Scorpio: Transforms him or herself with radical, personal actions that serve as a model for passionate tolerance of all the forms love can take.

Sagittarius: Teaches through conversation and ideas that laughter and good humor can overcome obstacles.

Capricorn: Organizes business structures based on responsible solutions and ecological solutions for all people.

Aquarius: Creates a circle of friends and common-minded people who act together on social projects.

Pisces: Works with charitable and religious organizations that reach out with compassion to the neediest.

These suggestions are calls to love action for each sign. I hope they resonate with you and enhance your quest for a more harmonious world.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

One Muslim player’s view of Trump’s banned list (Yahoo Sports)

One Muslim player's view of Trump's banned list

Louisville center Anas Mahmoud is not overly political, but neither is he unaware of what is unfolding around him in real time.



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Peake returning to space: ‘I miss view of Earth’

British astronaut Tim Peake is to return to space on a second mission to the International Space Station.
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The Long View: We’ve Been Here Before: Jon Meacham on the Literature of Our Discontent

Some fiction from our chaotic past repays attention as we seek our bearings now.
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The Ladies of The View Are Coming to Play on Daytime Divas (AKA VH1’s Scripted Series Based on Them)

Daytime DivasIf VH1’s upcoming scripted series Daytime Divas is a case of art imitating life–well, a little bit of that life is coming to play around in the art.
The series, inspired by Star…

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Google’s Daydream View Offers Quality VR for Pixel Owners

The headset delivers an immersive VR experience in a stylish, comfy, and attractively priced package.

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The View From A Darkened Room

The View From A Darkened Room


Things can’t go on like this. After losing her boyfriend, her job, and her confidence all at once, Kate needs to escape from her lonely apartment. In a rustic retreat she finds a welcoming group of hot people, and they involve her in hot, unprotected sex with men and women that pushes her boundaries~ PG Excerpt ~Kate found her suitcase lying on the bed. She opened it, thinking that maybe unpacking would help her get relaxed. The small closet and dresser provided plenty of space for the little she had brought. The bathroom was tiny, and she sighed when she saw there was no tub. So much for the idea of spending relaxing hours in the tub with a good book. A lot of good it did that she had remembered to bring bubble bath and a number of good books with her; the dream had to adapt to the place. She noted a sign on the wall titled Guest Services. A quick look told her that someone named Betty drove to town on Wednesday mornings. For a small fee, she would pick up groceries or things needed from the store, and take in and pick up laundry. That was helpful. She wouldn’t need to go into town unless she wanted to. Besides her clothing, she had brought a few other necessities. She found her box sitting on the counter of the tiny kitchen. She opened it and took out a coffee press, kettle, ground coffee, three bottles of wine, corkscrew and some cheese and crackers. Enough, she thought, to avoid the necessity of going out to eat the first night. With luck, she’d find a deli in town and be able to stock up on some other food and hunker down in her little mansion on Helen’s Hill. She opened a bottle of red wine and poured a big glass. “The first course of my nutritious meal,” she laughed and took a close look at the place that would be home for month. The front porch occupied a corner of the house, with the bedroom taking the rest of the space in the front. The bedroom had two windows. One looked out to where her dusty car sat in the afternoon sun; the other opened onto the

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Prince’s death: The view from front lines of drug epidemic

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2015 file photo, Prince presents an award at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. On the front lines of America's fight against a drug-abuse epidemic, there have been emotional, sometimes contradictory reactions to news that investigators are looking into whether Prince died of an overdose. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)NEW YORK (AP) — On the front lines of America's fight against a drug-abuse epidemic, there have been emotional, sometimes contradictory reactions to news that investigators are looking into whether Prince died of an overdose.



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'I'm at a loss for words' — the sideline view of Michigan State's miracle win

'I'm at a loss for words' — the sideline view of Michigan State's miracle win
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New Photo: The Rear View on Allison Williams’ Wedding Dress Is Everything

If you were freaking out over the front of Allison Williams’ wedding dress, just wait ’til you see the rear view. Four days after marrying College Humor founder Ricky Van Veen in a top-secret ranch…


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“Everest” Is a Stunning View of Man vs the Elements

Movie Review – Jackie K Cooper
“Everest” (Universal Pictures)

“Everest” is a movie of grandeur and beauty. This is because cinematographer Salvatore Totino made the mountains of Nepal his star and created one breathtaking sweeping shot after another. If ever a movie justifies the large screen, 3-D experience this one does, for this is a visual film from beginning to end. Because of this emphasis on the scenic the depth of the characters’ stories are trimmed, but it doesn’t matter. You still have a totally visceral experience due to the majesty of the mountain.

The story is based on the true experience of two teams of mountain climbers who head to the top of Mount Everest in the early months of 1966. Leading the teams are Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), two men who have a lot of experience making this climb. The film focuses on the initial meetings with the climbers and continues through the descent from the top of Everest. In between there is a lot of drama and death.

Even though there is not a lot of depth to Clarke’s character this is his breakout role. He is the leading man of this movie and you never forget it. He has been circling stardom for some time now and this movie is where he gets that one big break. As his wife Jan, Keira Knightley brings an emotional clout to the story another less talented actress might have squandered.

There is a rich, supporting cast in this film. Robin Wright is a cold, standoffish wife, Josh Brolin is a brash Texas moneyman, Emily Watson is the business person behind the climb, and Michael Kelly is Jon Krakauer, the man who wrote a book about the climb. Gyllenhaal is touted as being one of the stars but his too is mainly a supporting role.

The film raises the question as to why people would attempt such a wild adventure as climbing Everest. They certainly aren’t kids off on a fling as they all appear to be over forty. But the answer is never found or shown. The mountain is just there and it is the highest point in the world. And as one character gloomily reflects, “The mountain always gets the last word”.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence.

“Everest” is worth seeing because of the visual beauty and daring camerawork involved. The story itself is a downer and makes the folly of such a trek the idea you remember most. If you do decide to see it make sure you get the 3-D, large screen treatment. It is so involving you leave the theater checking for frostbite.

I scored “Everest” an icy 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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Aisle View: Smiling Man on the $10 Bill

2015-08-06-1438890997-7813837-Hamilton0044rRDaveedDiggsOkierieteOnaodowanAnthonyRamosandLinManuelMirandainHamilton.jpg

Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos and Lin Manuel Miranda
in
Hamilton. Photo: Joan Marcus

“I am not throwing away my shot,” leading man Lin-Manuel Miranda sings again and again and again over the course of Hamilton, the new instant-megahit musical with music, lyrics and book by the same Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda doesn’t waste his shot, for sure, and scores an absolute bull’s-eye. Hamilton is not just an excellent and rousing musical; it brings something new to the musical theatre, and does it so very compellingly that superlatives are in order. I–and I expect just about all my critical colleagues–would tell you to stop reading right now and get yer tickets, except there aren’t likely many to be had for the next year or three.

Alexander Hamilton was heretofore best known as the fellow etched in green on the ten-dollar bill; one of two major Founding Fathers–the other being Benjamin Franklin–who didn’t get to become president; and the patriot who was killed by the then-sitting vice president of the United States, in a duel on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. (To quote Miranda’s Hamilton: “Everything is legal in New Jersey.”)

The playwright fills in the blanks, showing us an orphan bastard immigrant from the West Indies who underwent Dickensian hardship; emigrated to the colonies just in time for the Revolutionary War; and became General Washington’s “right hand man.” He went on to help formulate the U. S. Constitution and–as President Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury–devise the financial structure of the new nation. Miranda–perhaps to avoid tarring his hero, by association–does not bother to tell us that Hamilton also founded the New York Post.

The magic of Hamilton comes from the manner of Miranda’s storytelling. While the action remains in the proper era (which is roughly 1776-1804), the street-talking characters are not so much founding fathers but founding brothers with up-to-the-minute attitude. (Hamilton from Nevis and the Marquis de Lafayette from France, leading the Continental Army at the decisive Battle of Yorktown, stop to jointly exclaim: “Immigrants! We get the job done!!”)

As one might expect from the author of In the Heights, the new show incorporates a considerable amount of street rhythm and rap. While this was the musical base of In the Heights, Miranda herein displays that he is a top-level musical theatre writer. He utilizes rap for a purpose; it turns out that rapid-paced streams of verbiage are the perfect way to cram tons of necessary exposition into the show, rather than making us sit through speech after speech and book scene after book scene. This is faster, funnier, and far more effective. The music ranges from tuneful to exquisite (as in, particularly, “Helpless” and “Satisfied” for the two leading ladies, and the lullaby “Dear Theodosia”), so no harm done. What’s more, Miranda demonstrates with numbers like King George’s “You’ll Be Back” and the explosively sinuous “Room Where It Happens” that he is an accomplished musical comedy writer, and no mistake.

Hamilton catapults Miranda to the head of the class. While breaking new ground in the melding of theatre and contemporary music, Miranda has also managed to focus the national political spotlight on Broadway, and that’s quite an accomplishment. He is abetted by excellent work from close collaborators Thomas Kail (director), Andy Blankenbuehler (choreography), Alex Lacamoire (orchestrations and musical direction) and designers David Korins, Paul Tazewell and Howell Binkley, all of whom make keen contributions to what is an instant classic.

2015-08-06-1438891144-4515585-HamiltonBway0341rDaveedDiggsasThomasJeffersonandtheensembleofHAMILTON.jpg

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton. Photo: Joan Marcus

The supporting players are exceptional without exception. Anthony Ramos, Daveed Diggs and Okieriete Onaodowan–as Hamilton’s Revolutionary buddies in the first act, and as his beloved son and two enemies (and future presidents) in the second–offer perfect performances, as does Christopher Jackson as Washington. (Diggs, though, stands out among them, with a marvelous Jefferson.) Hamilton, and Miranda, could hardly find better women in his life than Phillipa Soo (Natasha of The Great Comet) and Renée Elise Goldsberry (of Broadway’s Good People and TV’s “Good Wife”); both offer a stunning display of dramatic singing.

Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening and “Glee”) is wonderfully droll as King George, who occasionally wanders on to offer malevolent discourse to his colonists (“when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love”). Groff, who played more than half of the Hamilton run at the Public Theater, is the only major replacement; patrons who saw the show during the first five weeks downtown had the added treat of seeing Brian d’Arcy James in the role until he left for the new musical at the St. James.

Sharing the spotlight with Miranda is Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr. Odom, who made a powerful Broadway debut in Leap of Faith and appeared on TV’s “Smash,” is Iago to Miranda’s Othello; the author has seen fit, even, to give his villain material as strong as what he has written for himself. Hamilton–the character–is the center of attention, but Odom’s Burr is the musical’s sparkplug. “Talk less, smile more,” he counsels the young Hamilton early on, “don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” Which is in some ways the model for the modern reactionary politician.

The luckiest person involved, it seems, is Ron Chernow, author of the 2004 biography “Alexander Hamilton.” The book was a best-seller, which was its own reward, but Miranda happened to pick up a copy and latch on to it. Chernow suddenly has a Broadway hit and a major bonanza that he couldn’t have reasonably expected. For that matter, Miranda’s new musical is likely to make Alexander Hamilton more famous–to the public at large–than Presidents Adams and Jefferson combined.

There’s talk in Washington of displacing A. Ham. from the $ 10 greenback; even so, the man seems to have a considerably wider smile this morning. As for Miranda, I don’t recall anyone writing music, lyrics & book and starring in a hit musical since George M. Cohan last gave his regards to Herald Square. Miranda’s demonstration of talent, skill and savvy earn him a well-deserved gold star, and a goldmine too.
2015-08-06-1438891238-2142759-HamiltonBway0258rPhillipaSooandLinManuelMiranda.jpg

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton. Photo: Joan Marcus

.

Hamilton, with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, opened August 6, 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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8 Facts That’ll Change How You View ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ According To Alyson Hannigan

For everyone who thinks they know everything about “How I Met Your Mother,” prepare to be lawyered.

Alyson Hannigan, otherwise known as Lily Aldrin, has been busy since the show ended a little more than a year ago. She’s had her hands full with being a mom, has a role in a new film called “Modern Love” and she’s even working with Ball Park’s Finest hot dogs, which she did admit, though she “usually” doesn’t try to brag, looked so good after she cooked them over a campfire that they wouldn’t even need a filter on Instagram.

During a short reprieve from her busy schedule, Hannigan took some time to chat with The Huffington Post about some behind-the-scenes stories from “HIMYM.” Prepare yourself: they might change the whole way you look at the show.

1. The cast talked about having an intervention for all of their puns.

Image: Netflix

When asked if the cast had any interventions that didn’t make the show, Hannigan said, “We talked about needing an intervention for ourselves to stop making so many puns. We would just pun for hours and hours and hours. It was great, but we were like, ‘We might have a problem,’ but we enjoyed it.”

The puns all started when a guest star mentioned the magazine Cat Fancy, Hannigan added: “We started having cat puns, and we had an afternoon of punning anything about cats. Fancy that!”

2. Alyson Hannigan’s real kid was fired from the show.



One of Hannigan’s kids was slated to play Lily and Marshall’s second child, but then she got some disappointing news. “They fired my kid from that role. She was gonna be the baby, but [producer] Carter Bays was like, ‘Nope. She’s too old,’ and she got replaced,” Hannigan said.

“I was like, ‘You fired my child. First of all that’s ageism. I don’t think you’re allowed to fire her because she’s too old,'” she joked.

3. The Cockamouse was real.

Image: PopSugar

The Cockamouse was the mysterious hybrid creature that Marshall and Lily found in their apartment, and though it seems like something someone made up, like the “South Park” monster ManBearPig, it turns out this was based on a real story.

“Yes, that is based on a story that happened to [producer] Kourtney Kang in New York in an apartment she lived in,” says Hannigan. She continued, “They were not sure if it was a cockroach or a mouse. And they’re pretty convinced it must’ve been both and it did fly away.”

To that, HuffPost responded, “Are you freaking kidding me?” Hannigan said, “I don’t think it flew out of the window, but it flew.”

4. The cast originally wanted Victoria to be the mom.
himym

“Early on, I wanted Victoria to be the mom,” Hannigan said. “I guess Carter later said had we got canceled she would’ve been the mom. But, you know, somebody great would come on [the show] and we would be like, ‘Yeah, we want her to be the mom,’ so it was sort of just like whoever was on for a long period of time. We’re like, ‘Let her be the mom. Let her.’ We just loved everybody.”

5. Some of the cast knew early on that the mom would die.

Image: Giphy

Actor Josh Radnor was told about the major “HIMYM” finale twist during Season 1 of the show and Hannigan actually found out early as well. They had to film a lot of reactions for Ted Mosby’s kids early in the series that would then air in later seasons, the actress said, and after that some “whisperings” started getting out that the series would end with the mom’s death.

“I knew that was the case,” said Hannigan. “I didn’t know who the mom was going to be, but I did know that the reason he was telling all these stories is because she passed away, which was very sweet.”

6. Producers were worried Alyson Hannigan and Cristin Milioti looked too similar.
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Hannigan says the whole process of finding the right actress to play the mom was “very secretive” and caused some suspicion around set when trailers that would “never be locked” suddenly were. Hannigan says she first met the mother, Cristin Milioti, in a makeup trailer because producers wanted to see how the pair looked side by side.

“They wanted to look at us next to each other to see if they were going change her hair or something because they were a little worried that we looked similar, so I had to go stand next to her and we had some people look at us together,” she said.

7. Alyson Hannigan was the reason Lily never had a musical number.

Image: Giphy

Each of the main cast members on “HIMYM” had a musical number except for Lily — and it turns out there was a good reason for that.

“I begged them not to make me,” said Hannigan. “Yeah, singing has never been something that I wanted to do publicly. It’s actually like a phobia. I know it sounds weird, but it has always been that way. And then I find myself in these shows that want to do musicals, and I’m like, ‘Noooooo!'”

Hannigan says she has gotten better when it comes to singing, but she’s “not gonna be dropping an album anytime soon.”

8. If it was up to Jason Segel, “HIMYM” would have a Hanukkah reunion show.

A photo posted by Jason Segel (@jasonsegel) on



The actress told HuffPost she’d definitely be into a “HIMYM” reunion and that Jason Segel was actually coming up with some ideas during the finale.

“Jason was pitching some really funny specials, like a Hanukkah special and all these things with Carter. It was quite funny… Carter said we could do eight Hanukkah specials. One for each night. I’d be up for it,” she said.

In the words of Barney Stinson, that sounds pretty legen …

Image: Mtvnn

All images courtesy of CBS unless otherwise noted.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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8 Facts That’ll Change How You View ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ According To Alyson Hannigan

For everyone who thinks they know everything about “How I Met Your Mother,” prepare to be lawyered.

Alyson Hannigan, otherwise known as Lily Aldrin, has been busy since the show ended a little more than a year ago. She’s had her hands full with being a mom, has a role in a new film called “Modern Love” and she’s even working with Ball Park’s Finest hot dogs, which she did admit, though she “usually” doesn’t try to brag, looked so good after she cooked them over a campfire that they wouldn’t even need a filter on Instagram.

During a short reprieve from her busy schedule, Hannigan took some time to chat with The Huffington Post about some behind-the-scenes stories from “HIMYM.” Prepare yourself: they might change the whole way you look at the show.

1. The cast talked about having an intervention for all of their puns.

Image: Netflix

When asked if the cast had any interventions that didn’t make the show, Hannigan said, “We talked about needing an intervention for ourselves to stop making so many puns. We would just pun for hours and hours and hours. It was great, but we were like, ‘We might have a problem,’ but we enjoyed it.”

The puns all started when a guest star mentioned the magazine Cat Fancy, Hannigan added: “We started having cat puns, and we had an afternoon of punning anything about cats. Fancy that!”

2. Alyson Hannigan’s real kid was fired from the show.



One of Hannigan’s kids was slated to play Lily and Marshall’s second child, but then she got some disappointing news. “They fired my kid from that role. She was gonna be the baby, but [producer] Carter Bays was like, ‘Nope. She’s too old,’ and she got replaced,” Hannigan said.

“I was like, ‘You fired my child. First of all that’s ageism. I don’t think you’re allowed to fire her because she’s too old,'” she joked.

3. The Cockamouse was real.

Image: PopSugar

The Cockamouse was the mysterious hybrid creature that Marshall and Lily found in their apartment, and though it seems like something someone made up, like the “South Park” monster ManBearPig, it turns out this was based on a real story.

“Yes, that is based on a story that happened to [producer] Kourtney Kang in New York in an apartment she lived in,” says Hannigan. She continued, “They were not sure if it was a cockroach or a mouse. And they’re pretty convinced it must’ve been both and it did fly away.”

To that, HuffPost responded, “Are you freaking kidding me?” Hannigan said, “I don’t think it flew out of the window, but it flew.”

4. The cast originally wanted Victoria to be the mom.
himym

“Early on, I wanted Victoria to be the mom,” Hannigan said. “I guess Carter later said had we got canceled she would’ve been the mom. But, you know, somebody great would come on [the show] and we would be like, ‘Yeah, we want her to be the mom,’ so it was sort of just like whoever was on for a long period of time. We’re like, ‘Let her be the mom. Let her.’ We just loved everybody.”

5. Some of the cast knew early on that the mom would die.

Image: Giphy

Actor Josh Radnor was told about the major “HIMYM” finale twist during Season 1 of the show and Hannigan actually found out early as well. They had to film a lot of reactions for Ted Mosby’s kids early in the series that would then air in later seasons, the actress said, and after that some “whisperings” started getting out that the series would end with the mom’s death.

“I knew that was the case,” said Hannigan. “I didn’t know who the mom was going to be, but I did know that the reason he was telling all these stories is because she passed away, which was very sweet.”

6. Producers were worried Alyson Hannigan and Cristin Milioti looked too similar.
180792549

Hannigan says the whole process of finding the right actress to play the mom was “very secretive” and caused some suspicion around set when trailers that would “never be locked” suddenly were. Hannigan says she first met the mother, Cristin Milioti, in a makeup trailer because producers wanted to see how the pair looked side by side.

“They wanted to look at us next to each other to see if they were going change her hair or something because they were a little worried that we looked similar, so I had to go stand next to her and we had some people look at us together,” she said.

7. Alyson Hannigan was the reason Lily never had a musical number.

Image: Giphy

Each of the main cast members on “HIMYM” had a musical number except for Lily — and it turns out there was a good reason for that.

“I begged them not to make me,” said Hannigan. “Yeah, singing has never been something that I wanted to do publicly. It’s actually like a phobia. I know it sounds weird, but it has always been that way. And then I find myself in these shows that want to do musicals, and I’m like, ‘Noooooo!'”

Hannigan says she has gotten better when it comes to singing, but she’s “not gonna be dropping an album anytime soon.”

8. If it was up to Jason Segel, “HIMYM” would have a Hanukkah reunion show.

A photo posted by Jason Segel (@jasonsegel) on



The actress told HuffPost she’d definitely be into a “HIMYM” reunion and that Jason Segel was actually coming up with some ideas during the finale.

“Jason was pitching some really funny specials, like a Hanukkah special and all these things with Carter. It was quite funny… Carter said we could do eight Hanukkah specials. One for each night. I’d be up for it,” she said.

In the words of Barney Stinson, that sounds pretty legen …

Image: Mtvnn

All images courtesy of CBS unless otherwise noted.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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Odd Mom Out Stars Jill Kargman and KK Glick Tour Brooklyn From a Manhattan Chick’s Point of View

Bravo's witty Odd Mom Out has given us a hilarious (semi-fictional) look inside the lives of Upper East Side Manhattan moms, but what happens when you transplant them into the Brooklyn hipster scene? Tonight on…


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Aisle View: Gloria’s Wild Ride

2015-06-20-1434823620-1980435-Gloria0216croprtJenniferKimRyanSpahnandCatherineCombsPhotobyCarolRosegg.jpg

Jennifer Kim, Ryan Spahn and Catherine Combs
in
Gloria by Brendan Jacobs-Jenkins. Photo: Carol Rosegg

How do you describe a play that is so surprising — and so excellent — that you don’t want to give readers an idea of what they are in for? So surprising and ingeniously written, in fact, that your immediate reaction is to want to see the play again so that you can better appreciate what the author has wrought. How do you describe it? Carefully.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is the playwright, and Gloria — at the Vineyard — is the play. This verdict might not come as a surprise to playgoers who saw An Octoroon, with which Jacobs-Jenkins raised eyebrows in April 2014 at the Soho Rep (and in its transfer last February at Theater for a New Audience in Brooklyn). Which is not to say that the new play occupies the same terrain — philosophically, thematically or stylistically — as An Octoroon. Gloria is very much a spitfire office comedy, with a disparate group of insightfully-drawn characters providing wildly funny humor. Until…

The author, it seems, has other things in mind. He rivets us to attention at the end of the first act in a manner that leaves you catching your breath and saying, well! But where, you ponder during intermission, can he possibly go from there? Jacobs-Jenkins changes course and enhances his theme in the first scene of the second act, and then shifts again for his compelling ending. The whole thing works out magnificently, in my view. But you really must see for yourself.

2015-06-20-1434824004-9211352-Gloria0191rtJeanineSerrallesandRyanSpahnPhotobyCarolRosegg.jpg
Jeanine Serralles and Ryan Spahn in Gloria by Brendan Jacobs-Jenkins.
Photo: Carol Rosegg

The Vineyard’s production of this exceptional play is itself exceptional. The cast of six are superb, each and every one; it helps that Jacobs-Jenkins has seen fit to give everybody two or three dazzling extended speeches that take us on roller-coaster rides of words and thoughts and images. Three of them — Catherine Combs (Ani), Jennifer Kim (Kendra) and Ryan Spahn (Dean) — are making their off-Broadway debuts; Michael Crane (Lorin), Jeanine Serralles (Gloria) and Kyle Beltran (Miles) have numerous local credits, with the latter having recently played a major role in Fortress of Solitude. Individual praise is withheld, the better to avoid spoiling what the author is up to. But they are good.

The staging by Evan Cabnet (of A Kid Like Jake and The Dream of the Burning Boy) is impeccable; there is a lot going on, here, and Cabnet firmly guides the players and the audience. There is also a keenly helpful set from Takeshi Kata, along with intelligent sound design from Matt Tierney (of Machinal).

But the play’s the thing, especially in this case. Jacobs-Jenkins has come up with a provocative theme, filled it with dazzling language, and managed to build it into something likely to resonate in your mind long after you climb the stairs of the Vineyard and spill out into the relatively placid Union Square.

2015-06-20-1434824117-4090491-Gloria0251rtCatherineCombandMichaelCranePhotobyCarolRosegg.jpg

Catherine Combs and Michael Crane in Gloria by Brendan Jacobs-Jenkins.
Photo: Carol Rosegg

.

Gloria, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, opened June 15, 2015 and continues through July 18 at the Vineyard Theatre

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Groomed: From Proposal to Vows, Wedding Planning and an Engagement from a Groom's Point of View.

Groomed: From Proposal to Vows, Wedding Planning and an Engagement from a Groom's Point of View.


A billion industry hinges on two terrified people investing their lives into answering four simple words: Will You Marry Me? Once the catalyst begins, however, their relationship becomes an afterthought to the thousands of decisions made planning the wedding.

There are more than 2 million weddings each year in the United States. Wedding magazines reach circulations in the hundreds of thousands, and wedding guides, tips and how-to books line the shelves of bookstores to tell couples how to plan the best wedding. But what about planning for the marriage? What happens to the relationship before a couple says their vows?

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Groomed: From Proposal to Vows, Wedding Planning and an Engagement from a Groom’s Point of View.

Groomed: From Proposal to Vows, Wedding Planning and an Engagement from a Groom’s Point of View.


A billion industry hinges on two terrified people investing their lives into answering four simple words: Will You Marry Me? Once the catalyst begins, however, their relationship becomes an afterthought to the thousands of decisions made planning the wedding. There are more than 2 million weddings each year in the United States. Wedding magazines reach circulations in the hundreds of thousands, and wedding guides, tips and how-to books line the shelves of bookstores to tell couples how to plan the best wedding. But what about planning for the marriage? What happens to the relationship before a couple says their vows? "Groomed" is a story not just about wedding planning, but the relationship of an engaged couple from proposal to vows, all told from a groom’s perspective. It’s 14 months of flower arrangements and guest list bloopers, and a humorous commentary that anyone who’s ever been a part of the wedding process can relate to. A couple in limbo for more than a year, a family adjusting to new members, friends watching their relationships change as a wedding nears. Getting down on one knee is merely the beginning.
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    Rosie O’Donnell Is Leaving ‘The View’ After Split From Wife

    Rosie O’Donnell is leaving ABC’s “The View,” after a split from her wife Michelle Rounds.

    O’Donnell’s spokesperson Cindi Berger confirmed to HuffPost that next week will be O’Donnell’s last on the daytime talk show. It would be the second time she left the program.

    ABC also confirmed her departure.

    “Rosie is an immensely talented star who comes in each and every morning brimming with ideas, excitement and passion for the show,” ABC’s statement said. “When she told us she wanted to exit ‘The View,’ we respected and understood her desire to put her well-being and her family first. We’re delighted she’s still part of the ABC family with upcoming guest appearances on ‘The Fosters,’ and we know she’ll return to ‘The View’ often with her unique point of view and updates on her work and her family.”

    O’Donnell returned to “The View” in September 2014, having previously been a co-host in the 2006-2007 season. Her latest departure was in order to concentrate on her family’s well-being, following her separation from Rounds.

    Sources close to O’Donnell told the New York Post’s PageSix that O’Donnell and Rounds had been living apart for months before their separation was announced on Friday night. PageSix, who was first to report the news, said that O’Donnell felt she had to leave the show to be with her five children.

    “I can confirm that Rosie and her wife Michelle split in November. Rosie has teens and an infant at home that need her attention. This has been a very stressful situation. She is putting her personal health and family first,” O’Donnell’s spokesperson told HuffPost.

    O’Donnell, 52, married Rounds in June 2012, her second marriage. In 2013, they adopted a daughter, who joined O’Donnell’s four other children.

    In 2014, “The View” brought on O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, and Nicolle Wallace, in hopes of rejuvenating the show. But ratings continued to struggle, and there have been reports of tension amongst O’Donnell and co-host Whoopi Goldberg, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    On Valentine’s Day, HBO will debut a documentary about O’Donnell’s heart attack in 2012.
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    Aisle View: Suicide Is Painless

    2015-01-10-3318.jpg

    Joey Slotnick (in coffin) and the Cast of Dying for It. Photo: Ahron Foster

    “Suicide is painless” goes that innocuous-but-satirical ditty written for the 1970 movie “M*A*S*H.” Suicide was also painless in Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 play The Suicide, but the satire was so severe that the Soviet authorities cancelled the production and sent the author off to Siberia. This despite, apparently, a plea from the great Stanislavsky to Stalin himself on Erdman’s behalf. The Suicide was sent into a deep freeze so deep that it went unproduced in Russia until decades after the author’s death. The Atlantic Theatre Company now gives us Moira Buffini’s adaptation of The Suicide, at the Linda Gross Theater. Dying for It was initially produced by The Almeida Theatre in London in 2007.

    Erdman’s piece was an absurdist comedy, falling somewhere between Gogol’s The Inspector General and Marx’s “Duck Soup.” (Not that Marx, but the subversive brothers from East 93rd Street–who in any event didn’t make their film until Erdman was already in exile.) Semyon Semyonovich is a henpecked failure who decides to end it all. His neighbors are scandalized; this was 1928, when suicide wasn’t quite so common as today.

    Once accepting the notion, the locals realize that Semyonovich’s death can support their own individual causes. A member of the intelligentsia sees him as a hero for the former elite; a free-spirited floozy wants him to die proclaiming his love for her; the priest thinks the suicide will drive people back to the church–and they each provide Semyonovich with suicide notes to that effect. In the end, the hapless hero doesn’t commit suicide and in a farcical climax bursts out of his coffin.

    This makes for an intriguing evening of ideas, and a dangerous one in 1928 since Semyonovich’s complaints were not-too-obliquely aimed at the Soviet government. (The language is fairly direct in this adaptation, although it’s impossible to know just how seditious Erdman was without reading the Russian original.) In any event, the play–which in its time was a dangerously-sharp satire–now has the danger removed, making it a farce of ideas. As such, it has its points but eventually runs out of comedic steam. The Atlantic’s Dying for It is a play that you want to like and support, but after a while you reach the point where it starts to wear down.

    Let it be added that Buffini–an English playwright whose recent Elizabeth II/Thatcher satire Handbagged was an Olivier Award-winning comic delight–has given us a far more engaging adaptation than the one that landed on Broadway in 1980 at the ANTA. That production, called The Suicide, featured Derek Jacobi–at the height of his stardom–as the hero, and is remembered by this viewer as somnolently lethargic. After seeing Dying for It, one concludes that Jacobi was severely miscast.

    Joey Slotnick, in the present production, does better as Semyonovich. Even so, the 2007 London production of Dying for It apparently got an enormous lift from the actor in the role, which does not happen here. Jeanine Serralles as the wife, Mary Beth Piel as the mother-in-law, Peter Maloney as the priest, Mia Barron as a café owner and CJ Wilson as the thuggish boarder all offer amusing portrayals; the entire cast, in fact, does an admirable job. There is also a superbly decrepit set from Walt Spangler. But while the production under the direction of Neil Pepe offers numerous sparks, it never quite catches fire.

    .

    Dying for It, Moira Buffini’s adaptation of The Suicide by Nikolai Erdman, opened January 8, 2015 and continues through January 18 at the Linda Gross Theater
    Arts – The Huffington Post
    ENTERTAINMENT NEWS-Visit Adults Playland today for the hottest adult entertainment online!

    Aisle View: Suicide is Painless

    2015-01-10-3318.jpg

    Joey Slotnick (in coffin) and the Cast of Dying for It. Photo: Ahron Foster

    “Suicide is painless” goes that innocuous-but-satirical ditty written for the 1970 movie “M*A*S*H.” Suicide was also painless in Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 play The Suicide, but the satire was so severe that the Soviet authorities cancelled the production and sent the author off to Siberia. This despite, apparently, a plea from the great Stanislavsky to Stalin himself on Erdman’s behalf. The Suicide was sent into a deep freeze so deep that it went unproduced in Russia until decades after the author’s death. The Atlantic Theatre Company now gives us Moira Buffini’s adaptation of The Suicide, at the Linda Gross Theater. Dying for It was initially produced by The Almeida Theatre in London in 2007.

    Erdman’s piece was an absurdist comedy, falling somewhere between Gogol’s The Inspector General and Marx’s “Duck Soup.” (Not that Marx, but the subversive brothers from East 93rd Street–who in any event didn’t make their film until Erdman was already in exile.) Semyon Semyonovich is a henpecked failure who decides to end it all. His neighbors are scandalized; this was 1928, when suicide wasn’t quite so common as today.

    Once accepting the notion, the locals realize that Semyonovich’s death can support their own individual causes. A member of the intelligentsia sees him as a hero for the former elite; a free-spirited floozy wants him to die proclaiming his love for her; the priest thinks the suicide will drive people back to the church–and they each provide Semyonovich with suicide notes to that effect. In the end, the hapless hero doesn’t commit suicide and in a farcical climax bursts out of his coffin.

    This makes for an intriguing evening of ideas, and a dangerous one in 1928 since Semyonovich’s complaints were not-too-obliquely aimed at the Soviet government. (The language is fairly direct in this adaptation, although it’s impossible to know just how seditious Erdman was without reading the Russian original.) In any event, the play–which in its time was a dangerously-sharp satire–now has the danger removed, making it a farce of ideas. As such, it has its points but eventually runs out of comedic steam. The Atlantic’s Dying for It is a play that you want to like and support, but after a while you reach the point where it starts to wear down.

    Let it be added that Buffini–an English playwright whose recent Elizabeth II/Thatcher satire Handbagged was an Olivier Award-winning comic delight–has given us a far more engaging adaptation than the one that landed on Broadway in 1980 at the ANTA. That production, called The Suicide, featured Derek Jacobi–at the height of his stardom–as the hero, and is remembered by this viewer as somnolently lethargic. After seeing Dying for It, one concludes that Jacobi was severely miscast.

    Joey Slotnick, in the present production, does better as Semyonovich. Even so, the 2007 London production of Dying for It apparently got an enormous lift from the actor in the role, which does not happen here. Jeanine Serralles as the wife, Mary Beth Piel as the mother-in-law, Peter Maloney as the priest, Mia Barron as a café owner and CJ Wilson as the thuggish boarder all offer amusing portrayals; the entire cast, in fact, does an admirable job. There is also a superbly decrepit set from Walt Spangler. But while the production under the direction of Neil Pepe offers numerous sparks, it never quite catches fire.

    .

    Dying for It, Moira Buffini’s adaptation of The Suicide by Nikolai Erdman, opened January 8, 2015 and continues through January 18 at the Linda Gross Theater
    Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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    Mr. Turner Movie CLIP – The Finest View in Margate (2014) – Mike Leigh Biopic HD

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    Rosie O’Donnell Dishes On New ‘View’ Crew, First Meeting With Nicolle Wallace

    Despite having some political differences with one of her co-hosts, Rosie O’Donnell says things have been going smoothly over at ABC News’ “The View.”

    During an interview with David Letterman Thursday night, O’Donnell ran down the list of the show’s new panelists. Things got a little tense, however, when she reached former George W. Bush communications director Nicolle Wallace, who joined “The View” as a co-host back in September. O’Donnell — who leans left politically — detailed the pair’s somewhat awkward first encounter in which she grilled Wallace about Bush’s decision to fly over Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    “I asked her the first day if it was her idea to do the fly over Katrina, and I don’t know if that was the best way to open conversation with her,” O’Donnell said to laughter from the crowd. “Luckily she was on her wedding and she had nothing to do with that, so we actually get along very well.”

    Letterman pressed further though, wanting to know the “high moments” of Wallace’s tenure with the Bush administration, and O’Donnell snuck in a couple light jabs.

    “I think there were some interesting moments with, well, maybe illegal wars. There was that,” she said. “Last week there was a big torture debate we had. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, I’m against torture on the whole. Just across the board.”

    H/T Mediaite

    Comedy – The Huffington Post
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    Forget the Media: Another View of Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler is about a freelance news videographer who hunts down the most graphic shots of mangled bodies and still-warm blood he can find, and then sells them to local television news. He becomes quite good at his craft and makes lots of money. And if that was all it was all it was about, it would be a compelling condemnation of our current media culture.

    But it’s about much more than that. And as such, it is far more compelling and far scarier.

    When the videographer in question, Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), repositions a dead body in the aftermath of a traffic accident in order to create a better shot, it might seem inhuman. But there’s really nothing new there. Haskell Wexler did something very similar 45 years ago in Medium Cool, a movie which is in fact primarily concerned with the role of the media in modern America, and which should be much better-known than it is in 2014. Several years later, the Sidney Lumet/Paddy Chayefsky collaboration Network provided the definitive satire on the subject. I think first-time director Dan Gilroy is aiming at a broader and more insidious modern problem in Nightcrawler.

    The most terrifying moments in Nightcrawler do not involve Louis staging crime scenes or manipulating information to benefit his film clips. The brazenness he shows in ducking under police tape to get closer to the scene is de rigueur in the paparazzi era. It is when he talks about his ambition, his carefully-considered business plan, his savvy branding strategies, that Louis is at his scariest. And that is where Nightcrawler moves beyond the mostly-effective satire on modern media and becomes a sharp condemnation of 21st-century corporate mentality.

    I had a feeling something was off in Gilroy’s message about the media as I watched Louis interacting with TV news producer Nina Romina (Rene Russo). If Gilroy wanted to say something specifically about the way “news” has been commodified in 2014, a smart guy like Louis would not be going to a third-rate local network affiliate. That’s so 1980s — back when local network affiliates mattered. Today, they have become so marginalized that most media outlets would jettison them in a heartbeat if the FCC would allow it. If this were about media, at the very least, Louis would be going to cable news programs which have been making good coin by engaging in the fear-mongering that Nina champions. And he’d more likely be seeking out online tabloids — especially sites like TMZ or Radar that may want to move their celebrity-based reportage into general suburban blood and mayhem.

    I was also confused while watching as to the effectiveness of the other main figure in the movie, Riz Ahmed’s Rick. Rick is a very weak character. Gilroy gives him the briefest of backstories. He is young and homeless and ethnic, and desperately needs the job which Louis offers. He speaks up for himself in a halting voice but is generally overwhelmed by the hurricane that is Louis. In all their scenes together, Louis is the driving force. Rick’s role is almost entirely reactive. When he does attempt to stand up for himself, Louis has no trouble putting him down. As I watched, it seemed clear to me that Gilroy was far more interested in Louis and Nina, and even in rival nightcrawler Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), with whom Louis may or may not partner. Upon reflection, I’ve come to believe that Gilroy essentially abandoned the character of Rick on purpose, because it serves as a good metaphor for his larger message.

    So if Nightcrawler is not, at its core, a condemnation of the current condition of news media, what is that larger message? Gilroy’s movie is about a society that has become unmoored, a society in which traditional economic and moral structures no longer function. Corporations may have always been greedy, but in Nightcrawler those corporations don’t even exist. They are not present to offer a pension or health care or a set of guiding principles. It is crucial that Louis is a freelancer. He has taken the place of the corporation. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, corporations are treated as individuals today. The Supreme Court said so. Why shouldn’t individuals turn into corporations as well? Corporations with no accountability beyond individualistic morality. No checks or balances. Louis essentially can do whatever he wants. Nina tries at times to rein him in. Rick raises tepid moral objections. Late in the story, law enforcement tries to intervene. None of these entities make a dent, and in Nightcrawler, there are no other regulators to be found.

    Louis, as he says twice in the movie, is a very quick learner. He is disciplined and motivated. And he has a computer. He applies the lessons he learns through his online research. He takes business classes. He gathers facts and figures pertinent to his career. He speaks the language of entrepreneurship very well. He negotiates in a very straightforward and aggressive manner. He counsels Rick on ethics and cautions him not to sully his reputation in the business world. He is often refreshingly honest and direct. Until such time as it no longer benefits him. Then he commits various acts, usually hovering just around the threshold of criminal activity, without the slightest regard for anything beyond his own self-interest. That is the message of Nightcrawler. There have always been ambitious “go-getters” like Louis Bloom. But today they have more power at their disposal, and less regulation of their actions, than ever before. They have a reach that extends far beyond your local network news.

    I didn’t think so much about Medium Cool or even Network while watching Louis Bloom at work. Those movies are more genuinely about media. I was reminded more of movies from that earlier era that featured very sharp outsiders who used modern technology to foster their careers: Lonesome Rhodes, the monstrous media personality played by Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and J. Pierpont Finch, the ambitious young ladder-climber played both on stage and screen by Robert Morse in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (film version, 1967). Both are as unscrupulous as Louis Bloom, though they represent opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Lonesome is brutal and coarse, arguably more cruel than Louis. Finch (or Ponty, as he is called), is a pussycat. His role is primarily comic, and though he has the “bold brave spring of the tiger that quickens his walk,” he is ultimately a good guy. In the version of America that produced Lonesome and Ponty, a monster like Lonesome could be stopped and defeated, while an ambitious nice guy like Ponty could learn a couple of lessons and be rewarded. Louis Bloom is their 21st-century progeny: an evil bastard who, upon learning a few lessons, cannot be stopped.

    And what of the poor abandoned Rick? Whereas Louis and Nina are members of the old school American immigrant class, classes which have long-established identities as Americans (and not as Jewish-Americans or Italian-Americans), Rick is the newer ethnically-diverse immigrant. I think the decision to give Rick minimal backstory was deliberate. Rick is essentially fodder. His employer sells him on the traditional American dream, but has no intention of allowing the dream to come true. When corporate self-interest is at stake, people like Rick have no standing. But Louis? If you listen closely, you can almost hear Louis singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Prairie View Clinic Receive Tribute & Medication Help By Charles Myrick Of ACRX

    ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
    http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

    The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

    Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

    The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

    American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

    American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

    DESIRE RESORTS – 15% off Deluxe Garden View at Desire Resorts! Travel through 12/1 – 12/25.

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    A Producer’s View of Billy Bob’s Master Class #OWNSHOW

    RETWEET THIS: http://bit.ly/BillyBobMasterClass
    Billy Bob Thornton is not the tabloid sensation we though he was. Go behind the interview with Executive Producer Jon Sinclair, as he give insights into Billy Bob and some of his hilarious views on life.
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    Aisle View: It Takes a Village Bike

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    Greta Gerwig and Scott Shepherd in THE VILLAGE BIKE (photo by Matthew Murphy)

    Penelope Skinner’s The Village Bike was termed “a provocative and darkly comic look at fantasy and romance” when it was produced in 2011 at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. The play enjoyed a sold-out, extended run, winning the author the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. The Village Bike is now resident at the Lortel, under the auspices of MCC Theater. This American version, albeit with heavy English accents, is not nearly so provocative and dangerous — or funny — as it must have been at the Royal Court.

    Personable young Brit couple are getting ready for bed in a cottage they are renovating in a quaint village. Small talk includes discussion of a second-hand bicycle that English teacher Becky (Greta Gerwig) intends to buy so that she can exercise during her first trimester, despite misgivings by husband John (Jason Butler Harner). They talk about the bicycle, the village, and their troublesome plumbing. Yes, he is “neglecting the pipes.” She talks about how she used to watch “boys on their bikes just shooting down the road,” but she could never “let go.” During this, she puts on a new sexy nightgown, but he — busily reading a book on what they can expect now that Becky is pregnant — evades her desires. “I’ve got to make a lasagna tomorrow,” he explains. “From scratch.”

    After a half-scene worth of loaded comments — is this talk suggestive? — Becky pulls out some porn films to entice her husband, although he rolls over asleep. We hear the porn soundtrack, which will become aural punctuation throughout the play. We then watch as the pregnant wife flirts with two locals. One is, indeed, a plumber. (“You got sweaty pipes. Nice and tight for now, but I’ll have to pop back.”) The other is a village bad boy, who enters carrying the bicycle he is selling and wearing re-enactment garb with what he explains are uncomfortably “restrictive britches.” “Isn’t she gorgeous?” the men converse. “Hardly been ridden.” But are they talking about Becky, or the bicycle, or both?

    There are two-plus hours of this. The play lurches from comedy to sex to violence to comedy in bumpy and never-involving fashion. (Some playgoers might consider it “Thomas Bradshaw with clothes on,” although Village Bike is considerably more palatable than Intimacy or Burning.) Does something get lost in the translation from English to — well, English? Very possibly. “The village bike” is readily recognizable slang, for British audiences, signifying “the village slut.” As in, everyone in town gets a ride. This knowledge would presumably change the way audiences at the Lortel respond to the play, early on. But that in itself wouldn’t help much, I imagine. Becky indulges in dangerous, violent and risky (for the baby) behavior. At no point, though, do we seem to care. Perhaps that’s the playwright’s aim, but even so. We don’t care, we don’t laugh, we aren’t engaged.

    The six-person cast is headed by Gerwig, whom all the publicity tells us is the star and co-author of Frances Ha. Not having seen Frances Ha–a 2012 film by Noah Baumbach–that is not much help. It turns out that she does an admirable job here, despite what she is given to do, and we’ll gladly see her when next she takes the stage. (Gerwig was a late replacement for the previously announced Maggie Gyllenhaal.)

    Staging the play is the always interesting Sam Gold, who has been known to work wonders when he has wonderful material — but this is not the present case. Laura Jellinek’s set is also worth mentioning. The first act takes place in Becky and John’s cottage. The second act set incorporates three distinct houses simultaneously, with the rooms intermixed. It is an impressive use of space, although not quite successful in execution. Although let it be said, the intermission — with something of a fifteen-minute ballet by stagehands — is almost more engaging than some of the play.

    The Village Bike, by Penelope Skinner, opened June 10, 2014 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: Branagh’s Monumentally Masterful Macbeth

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    Photo: Stephanie Berger, courtesy of Park Avenue Armory

    New York has seen recent Macbeths by the handful, including two star-topped Broadway productions in the last year, but they are best forgotten. Now we have Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth–starring Branagh and Alex Kingston as his lady, directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford–and it is monumental.

    The play begins even before the play begins. Upon arrival at the Park Avenue Armory, ticketholders are separated into twelve Scottish clans (signified by colored wristbands and clan-specific program inserts). This is not, happily, prefatory to some sort of Scottish audience participation; rather, it is a method of crowd-control which allows them to fill the oddly-configured hall in an effective manner.

    An alarum bell within summons each clan to step through the sturdy Drill Hall entrance doors and pass along a path of paving-stones through a dark, dank and windblown Scottish heath–the ground is peat and puddles, you can feel the damp–and approach an arch formed by what I guess you could call a stone henge of massive boulders. This leads to the inner auditorium, an enormous rectangle with side stages (backed by boulders) at each end. There is a dirt-filled trench cutting through the space, eighty feet long by sixteen feet wide. Bench seating is on either side, rising from ground level into the darkness about twenty rows up.

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    Photo: Stephanie Berger, courtesy of Park Avenue Armory

    The play begins with those weird witches, of course, in this case suspended in niches of the stone henge like kernels in a hot-air corn popper. Then comes the battle, offstage in the text but very much on stage here. A score of soldiers traverse the dirt-filled trench, which the witches’ “thunder, lightning and rain” quickly turn into a muddy morass upon which most of the play is staged. Yes, people in the front row get splashed, and some get muddied; swordsmen crash against the walls like hockey players being slammed into the boards. (At the preview I attended, Branagh–preparing to charge into the fray–seemed to vehemently spit into the crowd.)

    This is pretty clearly a different Macbeth. It is indeed played to the crowd; given the long, two-sided configuration, there are about sixty front-row seats. That puts some three hundred patrons in the first five rows, close enough to see the sweat and smell the mud. There is also some body-checking when the lusty hero returns from the field and “takes” his lady, more or less in the lap of the patron in A 14. (The hall has been filled with 1,090 seats; how the action plays from above I cannot say, although I suspect the immediacy dissipates in the upper reaches.)

    What we get is a fast-paced Macbeth of two hours duration. The text has been cut, yes; but Ashford and Branagh keep the show in constant movement, with the staging spread along the length of the trench. No time wasted on scene changes, here. Along with the co-directors, the third hero of the evening–and an integral contributor to its enthralling effectiveness–is set designer Christopher Oram, a Tony-winner for Red. (He is also responsible for the 150 or so costumes, finely detailed from the close seats–and built to withstand all that fighting, and all that mud.) There are several breathtaking stage images, including Lady Macbeth sleep-walking on the boulders, twenty feet up; a blazing wall of fire; and the altogether stunning vision of Great Birnam wood approaching high Dunsinane across the Armory’s distant, boggy heath.

    The cinematic sweep of this Macbeth is not altogether unexpected; Branagh, since appearing in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry V in 1984, has engaged in no less than six filmed Shakespeares. Somewhat surprisingly, this marks his New York acting debut. He makes a powerful and rugged Macbeth, especially from the up-close rows at the Armory. He is well matched by the voracious Ms. Kingston (an RSC veteran, familiar from television’s ER and Doctor Who.) The rest of the imported company of twenty-eight is fine, albeit with few standouts other than the Banquo of Jimmy Yuill and the Duncan of John Shrapnel. There is also a presumably-American ensemble of thirty for crowds, battles, and sentry duty on the heath.

    2014-06-05-MACBETH_BER_4943_CP.jpg
    Photo: Stephanie Berger, courtesy of Park Avenue Armory

    This Macbeth–which premiered last summer in a 280-seat derelict church in Manchester, England–is a joint production of the Park Avenue Armory and the Manchester International Festival. The two groups share an artistic director, Alex Poots, who founded the MIF in 2007. The play–which appears to be the hottest ticket in town just now–is a major coup for the Armory, originally built for the Seventh New York Militia Regiment in 1880 and in the midst of an ongoing renovation. Macbeth is in for a three-week run of twenty-one performances, through June 22. Catch it if you can, although tickets are scarce.

    A note for less durable patrons: Macbeth runs about two non-intermissionless hours, with seating on backless benches (with reasonably comfortable cushions, in the lower rows at least). While the preliminary entrance of the separate clans enhances the experience, it does add to the duration of your time on the bench. The helpful house staff is understanding, so it is possible to delay your personal entrance until closer to the actual curtain time.

    .

    Macbeth, by William Shakespeare and directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, opened June 5, 2014 at the Park Avenue Armory
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: Lambeth Lad Makes Good

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    The Roundabout gives us just Jim Dale — casually attired in gray trousers, gray shirt and gray hair, on an empty stage but for a baby grand piano — in their latest offering at the Laura Pels. Dale is trim, slight, and approaching eighty, but he turns out to be more than enough to fill the stage entertainment-wise. Simply put, Just Jim Dale is unalloyed joy, starring the self-proclaimed “hosted, toasted, roasted lucky Jim.”

    Young Jim Smith hailed from middle-of-nowhere Rothwell, a factory town with no room for advancement nor prospects. The bright spot of his existence, he tells us, was the local music hall. At seventeen, he escaped by clowning his way into a traveling troupe of teen talent, landing his spot by lacing his act with pratfalls (billed as “Jimmy Smith, the Laff Smith”). As music hall started to die out in the late ’50s, the twenty-ish Dale became a chart-topping rock ‘n’ roller, with his recordings produced by a pre-Beatles George Martin. Dale’s song-writing career peaked with the Oscar-nominated lyrics for the title song of the 1966 film, Georgy Girl.

    All of this is related in song — songs from Dale’s career, or existing songs with new lyrics by Dale — and story. The star makes it look effortlessly simple, weaving his tales and adventures into gloriously funny set-pieces. He has made a side career as reader of the phenomenally-successful Harry Potter audiobooks; he clearly knows how to tell a tale.

    Dale moves from recording studio to TV to Shakespeare to Broadway, gliding along in a seemingly low-pressure, endearing manner which leaves us defenseless. His singing is droll; his dancing is in the eccentric comedy style, a skeleton on springs with ankles turned in impossible positions; and he peppers the narrative with corny jokes of the music hall variety. (A toff in top hat walks onstage and calls into the wings “put the Rolls in the garage, James.” Then adds: “I’ll butter them later.”)

    Among the set pieces are a pas de deux by eleven-year-old Jimmy with his cousin Ruth, except she fails to appear; a nimble-tongued spiel of familiar phrases from Shakespeare; an audition of the song Georgy Girl, for two Godfather-style gangsters; a monologue from Noël Coward’s play Fumed Oak; an audience participation scene from A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, which Dale memorably played for the Roundabout in 1985; and a mélange of Potter voices. Dale is accompanied by pianist Mark York, on a simple but elegant set from Anna Louizos. Richard Maltby, Jr. directed the show, which was originally mounted at the Long Wharf in New Haven in 2012.

    Special attention is given to Dale’s Broadway appearances. He tells us how the first musical he saw as a child–a West End revival of Me and My Girl, starring Lupino Lane — instantly made him want to be a performer, and forty years later he was himself on Broadway, “doin’ the Lambeth Walk, oi!” (Dale grew up in Northamptonshire, far from the London district of Lambeth, but no matter.) Just Jim Dale also reprises three selections from Barnum, the 1980 musical for which he won a Tony Award: “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute” and “The Museum Song” showing off Dale’s vocal dexterity, and “The Colors of My Life” as a salute to his wife.

    Dale also pauses to mention Scapino, the 1974 treat with which the talented Englishman veritably exploded on Broadway. Those of us who saw this Dale/Frank Dunlop adaptation of Moliere’s Scapin, at the Circle in the Square or Ambassador Theatre, are still marveling over Dale swinging through the air on a rope brandishing an oversized salami. It is a supreme pleasure, for at least some of us, to hear him once more sing his Neapolitan “Minestrone, Macaroni” song.

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    Just Jim Dale, by Jim Dale, opened June 3, 2014 at the Laura Pels Theatre
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: Laughter in the Heir

    Playgoers who left David Ives’ 2011 School for Lies blissfully entranced need only be told that Ives — working once more at the Classic Stage Company — has done it again with The Heir Apparent. Those fortunate enough to have seen the first will no doubt gleefully head down to 13th Street for the second (through May 4); other theatergoers who are keen for wildly literate, wildly funny, wildly stylish comedy are advised to join the fun.

    Ives — who is best known for his early play All in the Timing, his late play Venus in Fur, and dozens of Encores! script adaptations in between — has based Heir Apparent on the 1709 Le Légataire universel by Jean-François Regnard, a next-generation successor to Moliere at the Comédie Française. (School for Lies — loosely grafted atop The Misanthrope — and Heir Apparent are two of four classic French comedies that Ives has adapted, initially for Michael Kahn’s Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC.)

    Ives doesn’t just adapt these plays; he keeps them carefully in period but provides a continual overwash of up-to-the-minute anachronisms, so up to date in this case that he rhymes the heroine’s name “Isabella” with last week’s Encores! production of Most Happy Fella. The play is also peppered with a philosophical overlay of pure Marxism; the famed mirror scene from Duck Soup is lovingly inserted in this early eighteenth Century romp, and at one point I half expected Chico to stroll by the upstage window peddling tutsi fruitsi ice cream. The play — set in yet another one of John Lee Beatty’s friendly and openly-cluttered designs — starts with the grinding of an old grandfather’s clock which mixes chimes with what can only be described as a mechanical Bronx cheer. Which breaks the ice, as it were, even before the first rhymed couplet is hurled at us.

    This is one of those doddering-old-codger-with-a-million plots, filled with delectable parts for delectable hams. Said codger is played by Paxton Whitehead, over-aged and floppy in nightdress and nightcap with earmuffs, looking like something out of Daumier (with costumes by David C. Woolard). On the other end of the scale is David Pittu, limner of numerous eccentrics over the years, as the scrupulous lawyer Scruple. They are the long and short of it, literally so; the lanky Whitehead towers over the two-foot ten Pittu. (Yes, he’s two-foot ten here, working with shoes attached to his kneecaps, as “a lawyer no bigger than a loophole.” Which contributes a dozen or so distinct laughs.)

    These two actors work their usual comedic magic, although they are out-hammed by the man in the middle, Carson Elrod. Viewers who saw last summer’s Explorers Club at the Manhattan Theatre Club will remember Elrod as the droll tribal native in blue body paint who turned out to be a first-rate mixologist. He served time in Peter and the Starcatcher as the pompous orphan Prentiss, and seems to be a head-of-the-class graduate of the Christian Borle Institute of scenery-chewing. At one point, Elrod engages in a knock-down fist-fight, while pretending to be an anachronistic Davey Crockett from Tennessee, which is as funny as anything we’ve seen of late. (Elrod is the one cast-member who originated his role in the 2011 premiere of The Heir Apparent.) The cast also includes Dave Quay, Claire Karpen, Amelia Pedlow and the veteran Suzanne Bertish, all of whom provide high comedy without quite the opportunities afforded Elrod, Pittu and Whitehead.

    But it is Mr. Ives, and his director John Rando (of Urinetown and A Christmas Story) who make The Heir Apparent a ludicrously luscious affair. Unlike other new comedies recently arrived in town, this one is packed with characters, laughs, and enough information for us to discern an actual plot (such as it is). Plus two acts worth of dandily daffy rhymes, like one which mates “far Crimea” with–what else?–“diarrhea” plus some other nonsense about venomous enemas. Both of which directly stem from that sputtering grandfather’s clock at curtain’s rise, which is intrinsically linked to the play’s core.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: New High School Musical

    And here we have a raucous, bright and vulgar musical comedy about fun-loving, middle-American teens who bully each other, murder each other, attempt suicide, and finally blow up the high school. Raucous, bright, uneven, and distasteful for viewers who don’t quite buy into the joke.

    The final preview audience at Heathers–based on the 1988 film of the same title–ate it up, lavishing the familiar characters with entrance applause, cheering the fondly remembered lines from the screenplay, and altogether having a high old time (although a jaded playgoer might suspect that the house was loaded with investors, friends of investors, and friends of friends). There is, certainly, a built-in audience for this sort of thing; as at Rock of Ages, the lowbrow jukebox musical at the Helen Hayes now finishing its fifth year, alcoholic beverages are aggressively hawked up and down the aisles. Like Rock of Ages, Heathers might indeed be more palatable with a drink or three.

    We professional critics, of course, aren’t swayed by alcohol, crowd response or political correctness. I myself have a soft spot for maniacal musicals about macabre murderers, like the one about the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and all those savory, meaty treats (like shepherd’s pie peppered with actual shepherd). But not this new one at New World Stages.

    The problem with Heathers–and if the show finds an audience like Rock of Ages, this will not be much of a problem–is one of tone. It seems like lyricist/librettist Kevin Murphy and director/coproducer Andy Fickman, from film-and-TV-land, snapped their fingers one day by the pool and said: wouldn’t a musical comedy version of Heathers be cool? In much the same way that some years ago a similar light bulb went off in the cartoon-bubble over the same two heads inspiring the musical comedy version of Reefer Madness!, which achieved some success in Los Angeles in 1998 but no success in New York in 2001.

    Reefer Madness was a 1936 propaganda film about the evils of marijuana, which was later repackaged as a cult exploitation favorite. The heightened hysteria was well-suited to a satirical stage musical. Heathers, the movie, is a very different sort of property; the filmmakers use extreme anti-social violence to make a point, but it is eerie rather than slap-happy funny. The stage version goes for colorful, funny, satire–the more gags the better–and that leaves the purveyors peddling jokes about bullying, suicide, and blowing up schools.

    That being the case, the score is loud and jokey with such inelegant offerings as “Blue” (about an anatomical problem the nasty football players are having as they prepare to rape the heroine) and “My Dead Gay Son.” The latter put much of the audience in stitches altogether. Conversely, there are a handful of impressive songs, presumably ascribable to the presence of coauthor Laurence O’Keefe (of Bat Boy and Legally Blonde.) “Seventeen,” sung by the heroine lamenting her loss of innocence, is altogether fine. It catches the tone of what Heathers ideally should be, and is likely to become a favorite in cabarets and at auditions.

    The cast is large; seventeen Equity members on off-Broadway salaries, which makes a mighty hard nut to crack. Barrett Wilbert Weed carries the show as Veronica, the girl who battles and defeats the clique-girls known as the Heathers. She is well supported by Ryan McCartan as the bad-boy hero J.D. Neither, though, has the undefinable oomph that emanated from the then little-known actors who played the roles in the film version, Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. Others stand out when the material warrants, specifically Jessica Keenan Wynn–who from the sound of it must be the great-granddaughter of the great Ed Wynn–as the meanest of the Heathers; Elle McLemore, who provides the evening’s funniest moment when she tries to swallow a bottle of pills; and Michelle Duffy as an ex-hippie schoolteacher who still lights candles. Hidden away in a small role–singing about the aforementioned dead son–is 1993 Tony Award-winner Anthony Crivello from Kiss of the Spider Woman.

    The staging by producer Fickman, the set, and other production elements don’t offer much to speak of. Choreographer Marguerite Derricks, though, keeps her portions of the show sprightly enough to grab our interest, and there are several effective moments from lighting designer Jason Lyons.
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    Aisle View: Rock ’em Sock ’em

    Taking a blockbuster audience-pleasing motion picture phenomenon, adding songs, and transforming the thing into a big, spectacular Broadway musical capable of pulling in every rabid or incidental fan of said movie who passes through the City of New York can be a recipe for success. Or failure, as the purveyors of the recent Spider-Man learned when they drowned in a sea of Spiderman-red ink.

    Now we have yet another extravaganza in which the title alone tells you just about everything you need to know: Rocky. (Refreshingly, they refrain from calling it “Rocky The Musical.”) If you wanna see Sylvester Stallone’s iconic pugilist battling Apollo Creed live on stage, in an arena where you can viscerally absorb the blows and pretty much smell the sweat, the Winter Garden is the place to be. (The Winter Garden building was converted, 103 years ago, from William K. Vanderbilt’s American Horse Exchange.) Expect no surprises. But then, fans who know the film frame-by-frame do not need or desire surprises. You can tell this by the roars of recognition that greet assorted lines or “business” from the movie.

    It turns out that Rocky is better than the aforementioned Spider-Man, by several notches in the proverbial heavyweight belt. The Cinderella story, such as it is, is durable; and the sure-to-be-much-talked-about staging of the climactic boxing match more or less delivers the punch of excitement required. This despite score, libretto, staging and choreography that are unlikely to merit awards even in this thus-far lazy season for new Broadway musicals.

    Mr. Stallone, who wrote the screenplay and created the role of the iconic “Italian Stallion” in the 1976 Best Picture-winner and five sequels, is back on the ropes as co-librettist (with Thomas Meehan of Annie and The Producers) and co-lead producer. Fortunately, though, he has seen fit to hang up his trunks. Andy Karl, who theatergoers will remember from The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Legally Blonde, is today’s Stallone. He is incredibly hard-working and just about has his brains knocked out in the title role; one is impressed by his durability more than his singing and acting, maybe, but that is a perquisite for this particular role.

    Otherwise, the leading players aren’t given much to work with. Margo Seibert, who played the title role in last fall’s intriguing-but-overlooked downtown musical Tamar of the River and here makes her Broadway debut, gives the evening’s most appealing performance as Adrian. The character is drawn as a drab wallflower who is suddenly and unapologetically transformed–offstage, when she stops at a dress shop–into a wise and attractive leading lady. Still, the musical is at its best (non-pugilistically speaking) when Seibert is singing.

    Rocky’s nemesis Apollo Creed is played by Terence Archie, who fights the role well. His character is a walking racial stereotype, bordering on the offensive; the authors also give him three “girls” for backup in musical numbers that might raise a snicker or two. Dakin Matthews plays crusty trainer Mickey, the role which put oldtimer Burgess Meredith back on the showbiz map in 1976. Here, Matthews isn’t given much to do and he is saddled with one of those creaky how-it-was-back-in-the-old-days songs.

    Songwriters Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, who are known for creative and intriguingly crafted musicals such as Ragtime and Once on This Island, have weighed in with disappointingly flavorless wares. One gets the impression that they were glad to get the job–every good Broadway songwriter deserves at least one smash hit musical, to put them in permanent royalty heaven–but wound up simply writing what the employers wanted. It is mighty difficult to write intelligently theatrical songs for barely literate characters, which might be part of the problem. And which might be why Ms. Seibert’s songs come off better than the rest.

    The book is not helpful, but what more can the librettists do than meanderingly get us to the culminating nine-minute boxing match? (Mr. Meehan, typically, throws in jokes along the way.) Director Alex Timbers (Here Lies Love) keeps things moving, literally, while the choreography of Steven Hoggett (Once) and Kelly Devine is underwhelming. The training montages, presumably by Hoggett, are far more effective–which might be why the second act seems infinitely more engaging than the first. But still, all the audience can do is wait until Rocky gets in the ring.

    Said ring is something of a marvel, the highlight of Christopher Barreca’s massive scenery. As the fight approaches, patrons in the first ten rows center–which they are calling the “Golden Circle”–are herded to onstage bleachers. A clutch of Local One stagehands scurry into the house with stage braces and other paraphernalia to support the ring, which then rolls out over the prime orchestra seats. (The Winter Garden’s mezzanine is wide but not especially deep–it’s an old horse barn, remember?–making this perhaps the only Broadway venue with sight lines that would accommodate the production.) This allows them to stage a rock ’em sock ’em battle, right down front.

    Karl and Archie land their punches, all right, although the match is sculpted, edited, time-compressed and slo-moed. It is, all told, a crowd-pleasing rouser. (Broadway saw more artful fighting action last season in Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of Golden Boy, but Rocky is pitched to a decidedly different market.) Rocky‘s title bout puts the show over the top, entertainment-wise. This might not be enough to please the dedicated theatre crowd, but no matter; if diehard Rocky fans leave the show enraptured, word-of-mouth and repeat visits could provide the Winter Garden with yet another long-running superhit.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: A Muddled New Play and an Engaging Forgotten One

    Right off the bat, Adele (Kathryn Erbe)–the main character in Craig Lucas’ Ode to Joy, a Rattlestick Production at the Cherry Lane–screams out in pain. Moments later, Bill (Arliss Howard) prefaces his first speech by screaming out in pain. Mala (Roxanna Hope), the other character, doesn’t scream. She has a tendency, though, to collapse onto the floor. All three of them periodically collapse–splat!–over the course of two hours; even an off-stage character collapses. Otherwise it is an affair filled with booze, drugs, howls, a heart transplant, and the first instance I can recall where one actor clearly and visibly vomits into the mouth of another. Ah, stagecraft! Ms. Erbe, a long-time Steppenwolf member, has lately been gainfully employed in one of the precinct houses of the Law & Order franchise. Things were less messy there, violence-wise and dramaturgically.

    Early on, we are told that Ode to Joy is “the story of how the pain goes away.” At the end they say “forgiving is giving up the option for revenge” and “true joy is acceptance.” In between there is talk of Jesus, Hitler, Elvis, the torturous breaking wheel of the Middle Age, and Auschwitz. So much beauty, and then that stinking rotting bullshit right down front and center. That’s a quote from playwright/director Lucas in the second act, not me.

    *

    Of considerably more interest is the Keen Company production of Paddy Chayefsky’s Middle of the Night at the Harold Clurman. This was early Chayefsky, his first Broadway play. (The Philco Television Playhouse presented Marty in May 1953 and Middle of the Night in September 1954. The film version of Marty was released in April 1955, followed by the stage version of Middle of the Night–which opened at the ANTA in February 1956, six weeks before Chayefsky won his Marty Oscar.)

    Middle of the Night had a healthy run of 477 performances but has receded from memory and seems not to have ever been professionally revived in New York. This is no doubt due to the fact that it was a star vehicle, the star in question being Hollywood’s Edward G. Robinson returning to the stage after a quarter century. (Robinson appeared in almost thirty Broadway plays through 1930, including the original production of the Elmer Rice classic The Adding Machine.)

    The Chayefsky play tells of an unlikely romance between a fifty-three-year old widower–a well-to-do, garment district type–and a twenty-four-year old secretary. (Nowadays fifty-year-olds are spring chickens, but in the 1950s they were considered old; all his friends are “dying, retired or in the hospital” he says.) The Manufacturer is likeable, sympathetic, and–like Chayefsky’s Marty–a decidedly unattractive candidate for romance. The Girl is young, naive, and trapped in an unhappy marriage. The pair tentatively feel their way forward, on the snowbound Upper West Side, from friendship to a marriage proposal. She proposes to him, initially, as he is too timid to suggest such a thing. All the while, they face protests from his sister (who considers the girl–whom she hasn’t met–to be a gold-digger) and her mother (who calls him a Sugar Daddy and, even worse, a Jew).

    Robinson’s stature–and his apparent excellence in the role–marked this as a role suitable to him alone, in the same way that Marty has ever belonged to Ernest Borgnine. This might explain why the play disappeared after Robinson took it out on a six-month post-Broadway tour. Or it might have been that the 1959 film version–which opened up the plot, added soap-like complications and sex scenes, and was sculpted into a star vehicle for Kim Novak (post-Vertigo)–scuttled the play’s future.

    Director Jonathan Silverstein and his Keen Company have unearthed Middle of the Night and given it an admirable if economical production. While it is not revealed to be quite as strong as other plays of the day like Cat on the Hot Tin Roof, Long Day’s Journey into Night and Bus Stop, Middle of the Night makes for an enjoyable domestic drama.

    At the heart of things is the performance of Jonathan Hadary as the decent, likable and slightly depressed widower. Hadary, with a kind smile and an occasional tremor in his hand, walks as if he is encased in a protective shell of resignation. He at first politely offers The Girl (Nicole Lowrence) kindly encouragement; then he sits, then he removes his overcoat, then he leans forward with something approaching enthusiasm. In this one scene, we watch as his shell cracks and he becomes engaged–albeit without entertaining the prospects of a relationship. Hadary is terrific in the role, a joy to behold. (Robinson was 62 when he played the role; Hadary seems ages younger than Robinson, though he is 65.)

    Ms. Lowrence does well as the young blonde, in a role originated by Gena Rowlands. Herein is what might be the flaw of the play: Chayefsky does not quite convince us that this girl would cling to this man. The rest of the cast is uniformly winning, especially Denise Lute, Melissa Miller and Todd Bartels as The Manufacturer’s sister, daughter and son-in-law. They share an explosive scene with Hadary at the end of the second of three acts, with all of them effectively firing away. (Bartels, who only has one scene as The Son-in-Law, stands out for his impassioned defense of The Manufacturer. He then switches to the role of The Girl’s jazz-playing husband.)

    Director Silverstein keeps our attention firmly in hand and smoothly handles the necessary production economies, with doubling in four roles and one set necessarily serving as two different apartments. It all adds up to a surprisingly enjoyable evening of mid-century drama. Chayefsky and Hadary, over on Theatre Row, merit a visit.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: Sex, Live on Stage

    “NOTICE: THIS PLAY CONTAINS NUDITY, SEX & BAD LANGUAGE,” says a bold-lettered, red-bordered sign in the box office lobby at Intimacy, the new offering from the New Group at New York City’s Acorn Theatre, running through March 8. The language, as it turns out, is not all that out of line by today’s standards. But bad playwriting? Yes.

    Thomas Bradshaw, whose Burning was presented by this same company in this same space two winters ago, picks up where he left off — which is to say with sex slathered across the stage. In this case, there are bodily fluids spurting through the air. Yes, bodily fluids. And that’s just in the first 20 minutes. One of the teenaged girl actors uses said fluid to help control her acne. There is also a toilet bowl on stage, which gets used. You can only sit there and wonder whether there are limits to what some actors will do to get — and keep — a role.

    Bradshaw sets his play in a wealthy suburb in what seems to be California. Four horny neighbors live in three houses with three horny teenagers, which provides the author with all sorts of combinations. The plot evolves when the straight-laced father of one of the families discovers photos of the neighbor’s daughter in a skin mag. (What was he doing with that magazine, anyway?) His son, who is the most over-exposed character in the play (and I only hope the actor’s mother doesn’t come see it), decides to direct a porn movie starring the girl and his father, who is suddenly not so straight-laced anymore. The girl’s parents, meanwhile, have anal sex while watching their daughter in a porn movie; it’s that kind of play. The audience, meanwhile, gets to see the anal sex on a big-screen TV, in full color. Oh, and Bradshaw makes use of Goodnight Moon in a manner that the publishers of that childhood staple would probably not be too happy about.

    As for those poor actors, they do what they are told, and I hope they get enough union workweeks for health coverage. The names will be withheld, in hopes that they quickly rebound. There are at least three of them whom I would like to see more of — that is, less of — in future dramatic endeavors. We can say that Intimacy is directed by Scott Elliott, who also directed Burning and — as artistic director of the New Group — presumably picked this new play on purpose.

    There was a time when we used to get plays laced with dirty words, with the authors purposely trying to shake up the audiences to allow their messages to get through; David Mamet did this, and effectively so. Bradshaw does something of the sort with sex acts, rather than cuss words, but from my seat it seems more gratuitous than purposeful. He also throws in a distinct amount of gratuitous bigotry, in a manner hinting that it is not the characters who are bigoted but maybe the author. Or perhaps he has a dramatic purpose, which in this case doesn’t reach across the footlights.

    Intimacy is the sort of play that could make you nostalgic for simulated sex scenes. Supporters of hard-core porn repeatedly exclaim that if people don’t want to see this stuff, no one is forcing them to get a ticket; nobody has to see Intimacy. Expect long-suffering drama critics, that is.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: We Need a Little Christmas Story

    The Tony Award race for Best Musical of the 2012-2013 season was a hard-fought battle between Matilda and Kinky Boots. The most delightful musical of the season, though — and the one with the finest score — was the limited holiday engagement of A Christmas Story. The show arrived in November, received the most superlative reviews of the season (far cheerier than either Matilda or Kinky Boots), packed the folks in at the Lunt, and then departed as scheduled to make way for the incoming Motown. Had the theatre been available, A Christmas Story might have been able to extend well past its scheduled eight weeks. It’s a seasonal show, yes, but so are Annie and 1776.

    That was Yuletide, 2012. This year, the producers arranged a seven-week mini-tour, starting with visits to Hartford and Boston and winding up at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, where it opened Thursday night (through December 29). This has been the business model from the start, with the show unfolding its tent every fall for the Thanksgiving/Christmas crowds. A Christmas Story premiered in Kansas City in 2009, after which the producers made the canny decision to throw out the score and bring in new songwriters; after the 2010 edition, they replaced the director and choreographer as well.

    When producers make drastic decisions like these, nowadays, they are usually counter-productive desperation moves. In this case, each choice paid off handsomely. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — at the time, untried college grads just starting out — have written a joyous, endearing and delectable score. Very funny, too. This is in the old-fashioned musical vein, yes; but that’s what the material, which takes place in 1940, calls for. (When the songs are good — like in Guys and Dolls or Kiss Me, Kate, say — nobody considers the score old fashioned.) Pasek and Paul, as it happens, are not simply purveyors of traditional fare; this was demonstrated even before A Christmas Story reached the Lunt, by their under-appreciated Dogfight.

    A Christmas Story is in fine shape at Madison Square Garden, although what it looks like from the far perches of the 4,000-seat venue is hard to say. The four adult stars have returned. Dan Lauria charms his way through his role as the strolling narrator, John Bolton carries the show as a limber-legged comedian in the Ray Bolger/Dick Van Dyke mold, Erin Dilly provides the emotional center as the mother of the clan, and English/Australian import Caroline O’Connor steals every laugh she can mine as the local school marm. Last year’s excellent Ralphie and Randy have outgrown their roles, alas. The parts are now played by talented newcomers Jake Lucas and Noah Baird. The show’s hidden asset, ten-year-old tap specialist Luke Spring, happily remains in place.

    As before, director John Rando (Urinetown) keeps the show floating on laughter, with just about everyone in the thirty person cast given a moment or two to shine. Choreographer Warren Carlyle (After Midnight) whips things to a frenzy with three zanily-contrived production numbers: “Ralphie to the Rescue,” a nine-year-old’s fantasy of the Wild West; “A Major Award,” a ludicrous song-and-dance led by Bolton which expands to include a stage-full of illumined lady’s leg lamps; and the knockout showstopper “You’ll Shoot Your Eyes Out,” a Capone-like speakeasy dream with Ms. O’Connor doing a challenge dance against Master Spring, the pint-size tapper with a smile nearly as wide as the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

    A Christmas Story is a modern-day rarity: a holiday family show that’ll enthrall the kids while offering adults flavorful, top-flight entertainment.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    Aisle View: Four Bites of the Apples

    The greatness of Richard Nelson’s The Apple Family Plays (now at the Public, with all four in rep through December 15) is not that the author manages to weave them around four pivotal dates in his characters’ — and his audiences’ — lives. This is a portrait, in four slices, of an American family. Not a typical American family, mind you. These are upper middle class, New York liberals: Baby Boomers dealing with life, family, death, and politics 60 years after the Boom.

    The events in question certainly lend the plays an immediacy. That Hopey Changey Thing — titled borrowed from a Dangerous-to-Democrats political rabble-rouser of the time — took place, and opened, on Election Night 2010 (the night the Republicans and their Tea Party won the House). Sweet and Sad occurred on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Last fall’s Sorry, again, centered on and opened on Election Day, 2012. (Obama beat Romney.) The final installment, Regular Singing, opened last Friday, the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The sheer feat of writing these plays before the fact — all started previewing prior to the actual event, with playwright/director Nelson making changes to keep up with fast-changing current events — is beyond impressive, especially when things turned out so well.

    But The Apple Family Plays are about family, in this case a family as American as apples. (Nelson — with a bow to Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya: Scenes from Country Life — subtitles his Apple plays Scenes from Life in the Country.) The leader of the family — at least during the seven hours or so of playing time, or maybe due to the power of Maryann Plunkett’s performance — is Barbara, a schoolteacher who lives in Rhinebeck, New York. She shares her house with her divorced sister Marian (Laila Robbins) –also a schoolteacher — who moved in between the first and second plays. Younger sister Jane (Sally Murphy) is a writer, who lives apart but is closely tied to her sisters. Richard (Jay O. Sanders), the man of the family, is a lawyer who drifts from job to job and talks a good game but can’t really win a point against the Apple girls. They are joined by Uncle Benjamin, a famous former actor (Jon DeVries), and Jane’s boyfriend Tim (Stephen Kunken), a nonfamous actor who as of last week — when Regular Singing takes place — was working as a waiter at the Beekman Arms.

    Regular Singing is built around an unseen guest: Marian’s ex-husband Adam, who is not a character in any of the plays, is dying in a room upstairs. (Given a brief life expectancy by his doctor, he determined to stay alive until the day of the Kennedy anniversary — just about the only not-quite-convincing aspect in Nelson’s four plays.) This, understandably, brings up numerous family issues, including the unexplained suicide of Marian and Adam’s twenty-year-old daughter between the first two plays. At the same time, the three sisters are worried about their failing uncle — who was moved to an assisted living facility after Sorry — and their flailing brother, who is now working in Albany and sprinkles the evening with Cuomo jokes that are far more interesting to him than to anyone else.

    The acting company has played a key role in the creation of the plays; one feels that by the third Nelson was writing not only for the characters but for the actors playing the characters. Ms. Plunkett — who is best remembered hereabouts as a wisp of a thing singing, dancing, and winning a Best Actress Tony Award opposite Robert Lindsay in the 1986 Me and My Girl — gives a monumental performance as the bedrock of the family. She is matched by Mr. Sanders. (Given the thrust staging of the play, I spent at least 20 minutes of the play directly behind Sanders seated at a table. Who knew that you could fully feel the strength of a performance by staring at someone’s back?) Robbins — distracted by her estranged, dying husband upstairs and the ghost of her daughter in the kitchen — gives yet another impressive performance.

    The current Public productions of all four plays in rotation bring two newcomers to the group. Ms. Murphy makes a winning Jane, tiptoeing around one of the never-to-be-answered skeletons in the family cupboard (which is to say, is favorite Uncle Benjamin actually her father?). Mr. Kunken has the largest shoes to fill, those of Shuler Hensley who is presently supporting the Messrs. McKellen and Stewart in Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land. (When Hensley was unavailable last year for Sorry, his character was simply said to be out-of-town doing a show.) Kunken is fully equal to the rest as this member of the family who is not quite a member of the family. The prize of the evening, though, is DeVries as the gentle elder struggling with severe memory loss, smiling graciously when the memories slip away from him.

    The political landmarks are the posts on which Nelson’s four plots are staked, but it is the interwoven strands of character and family history that make The Apple Family Plays so very moving. And they are what make the plays viable individually; viewing all four in succession will obviously add to your comprehension, but they more than stand on their own. (I would select Sorry as the most indispensable, with Regular Singing a close second.) Taken alone or as whole, they mark a distinct peak in modern-day American playwriting. There are obvious parallels to Horton Foote’s Orphans’ Home Cycle and Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, not only in familial subject matter but in quality. And that’s a mighty strong group to be in.
    Arts – The Huffington Post
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    As Seen On The View: Hot Girls Pearls Cooling Necklace

    As Seen On The View: Hot Girls Pearls Cooling Necklace


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