February 11, 2015

Cozy At-Home Options for Theater Lovers

We’re in that annual lull between the shows that rushed to open before the holidays and those waiting in the wings to make their bows in the spring. A few shows have bravely ventured out over the past few weeks and I’ve already talked about some of them (you really should try to see Constellations if you can before it closes on March 15) and I plan to chat about some others once they’re officially open (although I’m going to cheat a bit and say that you really should see Hamilton if you can find a way to get a ticket). But like most theater lovers at this time of year, I’m on the prowl for other kinds of theater-related diversions, particularly those that can be enjoyed at home on cold wintry nights. Here are three that have recently kept me good company:

Shakespeare UncoveredPBS has been airing the second season of this terrific show that devotes an hour to one of the Bard’s plays. Each installment is hosted by a celebrated actor who has starred in that play and he or she interviews others who have taken on the same role about its challenges and delights. It’s great fun to see clips of past productions (including silent movie versions), to be reminded of more recent stagings and to hear the lore and the gossip that accompany them all. The last two episodes of the six-show season will air on Friday night and are scheduled to feature Kim Cattrall talking about Antony & Cleopatra, while Ralph Joseph Fiennes discussing Romeo and Juliet.  You can find out more about it here.

The Producer’s Perspective podcastI’ve really missed the old “Downstage Center” shows in which my pal Howard Sherman conducted hour-long interviews with all sorts of theater people who shared stories about their careers and so I’m delighted to have discovered this new podcast in which the industrious producer Ken Davenport talks to Broadway insiders about the jobs they do. His guests so far have ranged from playwright Terrence McNally (represented on Broadway this season by the hit comedy It’s Only a Play and the book for the upcoming Kander and Ebb musical The Visit) to PR wiz Rick Miramontez (who oversaw publicity for the notorious Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and just parted ways with the Peter Pan musical Finding Neverland). This week, the controversial New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel spouts off on a whole bunch of stuff. Davenport, who’s worked as a company manager as well as a producer, has personal relationships with all his guests and so the sessions are like eavesdropping on a conversation at one of the side tables at Joe Allen. You can subscribe to them here.    

Dancing Sondheim iPhone app: There have been so many tributes to, and interpretations of, Stephen Sondheim’s music that I thought the possibilities had been exhausted. And then I came across this app, which is the most recent installment of choreographer Richard Daniels’ “Dances for an iPhone” series. Each video runs between three and four minutes and features a dance set to a Sondheim song and performed mainly by dancers of a certain age, adding an extra layer of poignancy to the lyrics of Sondheim’s wistful love songs. I dare you to watch 84-year-old Carmen de Lavallade’s rendition of Sunday in the Park with George's “Children and Art” without swooning.  You can get a sneak peek here.

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