aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, April 29, 2005
Everything that’s wrong with Broadway
The New York Times review today:
AND who says Broadway has lost the human touch?
The title character - and undisputed star - of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” the lavish wind-up music box of a show that opened last night at the Hilton Theater, is an automobile that swims, flies and rescues people in distress if they remember to say please. Chitty routinely receives more enthusiastic applause than any of the other cast members; she is allowed the final bow in the curtain calls; and the audience claps along in tribute whenever her theme song is played, starting with the overture. The darn thing probably has a dressing room that would make Nathan Lane choke with envy.
There are also some real and very talented people in the cast, including RaÃƒÂºl Esparza, Philip Bosco and Jan Maxwell. (Ms. Maxwell is the sole reason for grown-ups to attend this show without children.) Of course, you cannot always understand what they are saying or singing. But words muffled by miking and plummy British accents don’t much seem to matter to the alternately fidgety and absorbed audience, which surely has the youngest median age of any show on Broadway. This is, after all, a work that makes “The Lion King” look as lurid as “Mondo Cane.”
No, it’s the playthings that are the thing in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” which is directed by Adrian Noble and (far more important) designed by Anthony Ward: windmills and Rube Goldberg machines and a levitating miniature plane, blimp and (for that irresistible dash of bathroom humor) outhouse.
The criticism starts with the name of the theater, “The Hilton” named after one of Broadway’s bright lights, but a hotel (chain), not a person. The show is overly miked, its singers mumble; the prowess is instead expressed in a technological marvel. The thrill is the attraction, as in an amusement park. There’s nothing new or original in the book or music, rather it’s a remake of a “cheesy movie musical.”
This is a wonderfully legitimate manifestation of the creativity of our time: The Broadway blockbuster. If I were there I’d take my nieces and nephews. (The road show, you know, will make its way here to The Fox, which was originally the headquarters for the 5,000-member Shriner’s organization. How perfect.) Others have observed that Off-Broadway does now what Broadway once did. So Broadway now does this.
But when I think of theater, what I miss most, and what is nowhere to be found here, is the new, young, raw, creative energy and edge that is on display in the small venues that are everywhere in New York. That culture of creativity, and my memories of it, are something to treasure.
In praise of Jon Stewart
‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ Uses Humor to Skewer Homophobes -April 26, 2005
In its “fake news” coverage, ‘The Daily Show’ uses its incisive wit to bring to light the bigotry and prejudice of those who oppose full civil rights for gay and lesbian people. Stewart’s comments on the Texas measure to bar gay men and lesbians from becoming foster parents are particularly on-target.
Bonus video from last week:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Town Hall Meetings with the Samantha Bee Effect
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ From Jimmy Kimmel, Bush on corn (for Earth Day)