It’s bad form when critics attack each other in print, but after the shocking stupidity on display in the mixed reviews of the new Broadway production of Porgy and Bess, the temptation to open fire stretches from here to deadline. Cognizant of the boundaries of good taste and a dedicated defense of any critic’s right to an informed opinion, I won’t name names. But in this case, stupidity still reigns supreme.
It’s been years since I have been part of an opening-night audience so slam-dunked by greatness that people rose to a thunderous ovation the minute the opening bars of the Gershwin overture began and refused to stop screaming at the end, bringing back the entire cast for so many curtain calls that it felt like the applause might extend well into the night. The fear of paying union overtime to the stagehands was the only reason the cast and creative team ever left the stage at all. I am yelling “Bravo!” still and join the disillusionment of theatergoers who were crestfallen over the lack of enthusiasm in the next morning’s reviews. If there is any sanity left after The New York Times called The Book of Mormon “the greatest musical of the century,” I’d like to urge every living person who loves the theatre to ignore the critics and run to the Richard Rodgers Theatre immediately.
When the denizens of Catfish Row come alive in the dank ghetto of Charleston, S.C., they are not in Technicolor. They are black and white and real as breathing, scars and fake dreams in unison.
I didn’t want to wear tails,” Jean-Yves Thibaudet said. The renowned pianist was recalling the controversies over his onstage sartorial choices-which tended toward unconventional, brightly colored outfits by Gianni Versace-at the start of his career.
“I got attacked from left and right,” Mr. Thibaudet, 48, said in a phone interview with Read More
Brian Wilson will be completing and recording at least two unfinished Gershwin songs for an album to be released next year. Says the L.A. Times:
The Gershwin-Wilson project may strike some as an odd coupling: one New York musician famous for sophisticated 1920s and ’30s pop songs including ” ‘S Wonderful” and Read More
THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT: WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM IRVING, COLE, AND A CREW OF ABOUT FIFTY
By Wilfrid Sheed
Random House, 335 pages, $29.95
“What comes first, the words or the music?” Songwriters used to get asked this so often, apparently, that the question was once a cliché. Read More
Although it’s a little unfair to Hershey Felder, I couldn’t help feeling a certain yearning for my favorite “Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop” song from The Producers as I went to see his solo stage biography of George Gershwin.
Mr. Felder, a Canadian concert pianist and actor who also wrote his rousing tribute to Gershwin, is Read More
The Tedium on Mars
These are the finger-counting days when the movies are like the national elections. Maybe by Christmas something will relieve the gloom and we’ll have a winner, but don’t count on it. Nobody wants to go to Mars, but Hollywood hasn’t got the message. Red Planet is the second movie this year Read More
Willie Morris’ Best Friend
A slice of Norman Rockwell America about a boy and a dog that makes you laugh and cry at the same time, My Dog Skip takes the joy and pain of small-town adolescence into higher dimensions of artistry and intelligence. The new century is so new we’ve scarcely had Read More
I’m not sure why I haven’t written at length about Smokey Robinson before. I began this as a column devoted to buttonholing readers with my own impassioned enthusiasms for artists I felt were overlooked, taken for granted or not understood the way I felt they needed to be understood. Ones I thought deserved to be Read More
For the something different crowd, Chinese Box is a brooding and elusive love story, as literal as a smear of dark purple lipstick on the starched collar of a white linen shirt and as puzzling as the exquisitely constructed, meticulous, delicate and fragile layers of a Chinese box that hides the mysteries of the human Read More