February 23, 2007

A Bullseye for "Slings and Arrows"

My friend Bill is always on the lookout for great theater stuff. Of any ilk. Two years ago, he emailed me about a TV show that he said I had to watch. The show is Slings and Arrows, a Canadian-made series about the travails of a fictional Shakespearean theater festival that airs on the Sundance Channel. One of the show’s creators is Bob Martin, who also co-created and stars as Man in the Chair in the surprise hit musical The Drowsy Chaperone. Martin, it was recently announced, is leaving the Broadway production to do Chaperone on London’s West End starting in May; John Glover will fill his slippers and chair on Broadway. Like his Man in the Chair alter ego, Martin is clearly a guy who is mad about theater. Slings is filled with all the usual suspects—the temperamental stars, the ambitious ingĂ©nues, the priggish business manager, the mad genius director—but it is also filled with knowing wit and genuine affection for theater and its people and for what it takes to make their magic happen. I watched it. I enjoyed it. But when Bill emailed me last year to alert me that the second season was beginning, I told him I just didn’t have time to keep up with it.

Then last week, I saw a blurb about the premiere episode of Season 3 and, on a whim, I set our Tivo to record it. I watched it today and I’m going to make sure that I find the time to keep up with the other five episodes in the series. That’s partly because I’m so amused by the fact that the show’s New Burbage Theater is putting on King Lear this season at the same time that The Public Theater is preparing to open its much anticipated production starring Kevin Kline, directed by James Lapine and featuring music by Stephen Sondheim. I can’t wait to compare the two. But I’ll also be watching Slings because the silent final scene of its first episode is a powerful testament to how the most talented people often do suffer the slings and arrows of the fortunes that come their way. I’ve not only set up the Tivo to record the entire new season, I've now also ordered the one I skipped from Amazon.com.

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