Thursday, May 14, 2009

Three Interesting Tidbits

Three very interesting things have come to light recently, one with national implications, two others more Chicago-based.

1) According to The New York Times and many others, the nominee for the new head of the National Endowment for the Arts is Broadway producer Rocco Landesman. Landesman, the ehad of the Jujamcyn theatre chain, which owns five Broadway houses, is seen by many as a surprise choice. First off, he comes from the world of commercial theatre, not non-profit. I'm also not aware of his having done significant work as an activist beforehand. However, I'm very pleased by this news. First off, someone from the theatre world might end up giving theatre a bit of a leg up. Second of all, Landesman is known for being extremely strong-willed and combative. He gets things done. We need that a hell of a lot more than we need a bureaucrat who'll be polite to everyone. The arts doesn't need someone to beg and make deals, we need a very prominent, very fiery person who will stand up and demand that the nation start to support the arts in the same way that the arts support the nation. Plus, this is one piece of news that actually made Leonard Jacobs happy about something related to government arts funding. And that's a feat in and of itself. Perhaps the much-ballyhooed "new models" will finally start appearing? (L--I tease because I love.)

Also, Landesman got his PhD in criticism and dramatic literature. Who'd have imagined that a critic would get so far? I wonder if it will do anything for us tireless scribblers...

2) As reported by Chris Jones and others, Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts, which had its premiere last summer at Steppenwolf, is in talks for a Broadway move. I really enjoyed the show, but I have some doubts about its commercial possibilities: the critical response, while strong, was not unanimous raves (I was probably one of the strongest supporters), and it is very Chicago-centric--indeed, one of the reasons I loved it so much is that it takes place in my own neighborhood of Uptown, and I could recognize many of the references in the script and production. However, I'm still glad for the move, especially if they maintain the original cast. If it does make the transfer, Jon Hill is certain to get some attention--he's just exceptional. And it is, in fact, a wonderful play, and one that I think has a lot of universal appeal. We'll see if it works!

3) The Goodman's Desire Under The Elms is not doing well in its Broadway run. Reviews were decent, but they are currently filling only 35% of seats at the St James (a theatre usually reseved for big musicals--I still don't understand why they chose such a gigantic house for a revival of a somewhat obscure O'Neill play) and they came up empty at the Tony nominations, even for actress Carla Gugino and Walt Spangler's set. The Times pegs May 24th as the early closing date.

So, thoughts on the NEA and Broadway? Things are interesting, no?

1 comment:

Leonard Jacobs said...

Many things make me happy. Sorry you think I'm a grump. :-)