Tuesday, September 18, 2007
One thing I didn't have space to address, and which I'll just mention briefly here, is that, as humbling an honor it was to be in the same room as Sir Ian McKellen, it wasn't quite the same experience being in the same room as his penis - which came bounding out of his trousers about halfway through the show. And since Sir Ian got stuck while disrobing, his wang flopped about like a herring for more than two minutes.
It was awkward, as if it was happening in front of my eyes at a party, not in a play.
Hmm. Maybe I should have cut other parts of my published review and made room for more penis commentary.
Let me know.
Friday, September 14, 2007
(P.S. This picture has nothing to do with the review or with Walmartopia. I just couldn't get the show's poster photo to upload 'cause I don't fully understand the concept of links, bandwidth, copyright law, or my computer machine. Thank you.)
Walmartopia bears the subtitle “A Musical on a Mission.” That mission is clear from the start: to make everybody hate Wal-Mart as much as its writers do. Luckily, Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn have hit on the secret ingredient for their cause: wall-to-wall toe-tapping fun. That’s what makes Walmartopia’s harsh mission go down like a spoonful of sugar, and its unforgivably annoying title seem kind of funny once you’re there. The cast is stocked with an outstanding team of musical theater vets delivering incredible punch in every scene, and memorable tunes and clever patter lyrics pack the score. It’s crowd-pleasing Times Square zazz served up with anti-establishment Downtown gall.
The problem is Walmartopia has only one joke. The joke—that Wal-Mart is a power-hungry corporate monster intolerant of dissent among its staff or suppliers—does not sustain laughs over two hours. The show is at its best (and funniest) when it makes mincemeat of the company’s specific atrocities: low wages, stripped benefits, racial and sexual discrimination. When it paints broad strokes of Wal-Mart’s Gestapo-like vigilance and its effects on a poor single mom’s dreams, that’s when it gets schmaltzy and tiresome. The whole second act shows us exactly what we saw in Act One, only zanier and with more dystopic clichés, giving us an hour-long ending that left little room for surprise. This makes me wonder if the show shouldn’t have stuck with its original 40-minute format, which had lines around the block in the Fringe Festival last year.
While the writing team deserves applause for originality, having created a funny, musically memorable show that unashamedly attacks one of the biggest corporations in the world, its admitted weakness for heart-tugging leaves us with more than a few pat moments. Lyrics such as “How can I think of starry ideals when I can barely get by?” and “We need a new American dream” do not help the anti-Wal-Mart cause.
Wal-Mart, as the show quickly points out, is big. So big that my Word spellchecker has corrected me several times when I forgot to put the hyphen in. Makes me a little worried for this plucky downtown play and its Broadway ambitions. From everything Walmartopia has taught me, I wouldn’t be surprised if the retail giant raised its enormous foot and squashed the bitty bugger. I pray this doesn’t happen. However, I do pray that the people of this world find effective ways to dismantle Wal-Mart’s power, with more musical theater as a last resort.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Even after seeing this play and reviewing it, I'm still never sure if I've spelled the title correctly.
I'm learning the trouble with writing a piece and then seeing it printed two weeks later. Once it hits the stands you want to change every single line in it.
But, luckily, it's short. If you love heady social commentary, read on!
Okay, so, this is so far the only photograph I have of me with a Python. And he isn't even looking at the camera, and it's quite possible he didn't know I was standing there. However, he did get my name right in the autograph, so that proves that he is still a genius.
Michael Palin gave a talk last night to promote his new book containing all of his Python-era diaries. He was interviewed by Lorne Michaels at the 92nd Street Y.
You can see I brought my big honking Python book with me, the biggest and heaviest in my collection, which my parents gave me two Chanukahs ago. I was hoping he might say something about it (since everyone else was there to get his new book autographed). Instead, he barely knew I was there. Some old dingbat monopolized all my time trying to convince Mike to do some stupid TV show of hers. I don't know what it is, but I hope he never does it. It's because of her that he and I couldn't have "a moment." Oh well. That's the risk one takes.
At least I greeted him with the highly original line, "It's a great honor, sir." Followed by "Just a quick snap?"
The snap was taken by my friend Sue Keller, or as I like to call her, The Greatest Lady in the Whole World.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Saturday, September 1, 2007
From my band days with "Eli and the Indoor Boys." In this one I play all the members of my family having a fight at dinner. (I don't have a baby brother in real life. The directors just thought it would be funny to dresss me up in a bib and smear mashed potatoes on my face.) I do have a mom and a dad though, and they are fairly like this.
Film by Dave Murden and Josh Taub.
This is my first picture posting. I'm not sure what this picture is exactly. I found it in the archives of the Science Department at U of Penn. Dated 1961. There were no other records attached. What I gather is that these two somber gentlemen have just invented the turntable, or some part of the turntable, and this is their newspaper shot. Previously, records could only be played by tables that didn't turn. You had to walk around them with a stick.
I wound up using this photo for all of my early band promotion. The band was called "Eli and the Indoor Boys."
And sometimes I have to go see whatever's open, like "Walmartopia! The Musical."
Two weeks ago, I had my choice of "Xanadu" on Broadway or nothing. So I saw "Xanadu." The great thing about going to see shows in this fashion is that at least I have free reign to let loose my frustrations in print.
Well, let loose as much as 300 words will allow. That's how much space I get from The L.
And, of course, calling a PR company and saying "Hi, I'm with The L Magazine," doesn't quite give me the heady feeling I might get if I were saying, "Hi, I'm with the New York Times." This is especially true when I'm emailing the PR companies, since I don't yet have a "The L" email address . It's still gmail, which is so completely bush league. My agent's email address is still at AOL, and that bugs the hell out of me.
But still they believe me every time - which makes me wonder why I didn't start calling PR companies long ago asking for free tickets for "reviews."
If I was really bothered that "Xanadu" and "Walmartopia" weren't snobby enough to suit my critical tastes, I will be in seventh heaven next week. That's when I get to see the RSC's production of "King Lear" at Brooklyn Academy of Music starring Sir Ian McKellen. Awesome. I hope it's as long as it is classical - that'll give me something to brag about. Ha! Take that kitschy new fangled musicals - I'm going to see Shakespeare!
Hmm. I should re-read this blog entry and see if I can start to figure out why I don't have many friends. The answer may very well lie within.
Good thing I don't have many friends, though. Otherwise they'd all be fighting over me and with each other to come with me for a free ticket to "King Lear."
And that's doubly lucky 'cause BAM only gave me one ticket.
Huh. I suppose if I said i was with the New York Times, I'd get, like, eight tickets.