Thursday, February 4, 2010

Writing Things

Hey, remember that analysis of Outrageous Fortune I was going to write? And the essay on why Passing Strange is a completely brilliant show and you should all track down the DVD? Yeah, me too. I will. But here are some other things.

Apparently Anna D. Shapiro likes plays about families. In the fall she will be directing a revival of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's You Can't Take It With You on Broadway, the New York Times reports. The show is tentatively set for a month-long run at Boston's Huntington Theatre before starting previews on Broadway November 5th (with an opening set for the 14th) at a theatre to be determined.

I'm pleased at this news--I think it's really a wonderful play, and it's insane that it hasn't been seen on Broadway since 1983. It's also good that Shapiro will be back on Broadway--I'm faintly amazed that it will have taken her three years to end up back in New York. Not that I'm complaining--it's great to have her directing shows at a steady clip in Chicago. So congratulations, Anna, and I hope you'll help rescue the show from its reputation as a rather dull and sentimental staple of high schools, and show it for the subversive and very funny play it is.

Also, a few days back, the Oscar nominations were announced. It's not a terribly exciting list--2009 was widely agreed to be a pretty lackluster year, film-wise--but I was personally gratified to see multiple nominations for District 9, a very sharp and exciting science fiction movie/satire of apartheid, and Up, which had me crying like a baby. (I have not yet seen The Hurt Locker, Coraline, or In the Loop, but I imagine I'd be gratified by their inclusion as well.)

It was not a particularly strong year for theatre-related nominees. The film version of Nine did not receive the love many were expecting before it opened, but then it was hampered by sucking. Penelope Cruz was recognized for her work as Carla (Her work was impressive given how poorly she was directed, but it was hardly the best in the film. Unfortunately, Marion Cotillard would have been nominated as leading actress, a much more competitive category.), "Take It All" was nominated as best song (It's a passable piece made much better by Cotillard's brilliant work, and at least the best of the films new songs. I am so grateful that the wretched "Cinema Italiano" won't be on the broadcast.), John Myhre and Gordon Sim were nominated for Art Direction and Set Decoration and Colleen Atwood for costumes, and it was indeed a very attractive movie. Still, not quite the haul one might have expected for the followup to Chicago.

Amazingly, with the exception of Joel Coen, who has written a few plays, none of the screenwriters is known as a playwright. This is rather surprising--the past three years have generally seen at least one or two. Ditto with the directors, none of whom has done significant stage work. (That is, aside from Quentin Tarantino, who appeared in a revival of Wait Until Dark with Marisa Tomei in 1998. Yes, you read that right. Yes, it was as bad as you'd imagine.) The acting nominations have a somewhat better theatre presence: Morgan Freeman, from Invictus, Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer in The Last Station (a drama about the last days of Leo Tolstoy that looks like fun for those of us who love British scenery chewing), Carey Mulligan, Nina in the acclaimed recent Broadway revival of The Seagull, for An Education, Meryl Streep, who still comes back to the stage once in a while, for Julie and Julia, Woody Harrelson (well, he's done two shows on Broadway) for The Messenger, and Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones. So 6 out of 20 nominated actors with significant theatre credits. It's not that many: last year had 8 by my count--Sean Penn (though it's been a while...), Frank Langella, Anne Hathaway, Streep again, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chicago's own Michael Shannon, Viola Davis, and Marisa Tomei.

Anyhow, I'll probably watch, but don't expect any great interest on this end.

1 comment:

Rob Kozlowski said...

The choice of Shapiro for YCTIWY is inspired. Love it. Now, as long as they can cast mostly actors and confine the movie stars to maybe one part at most, it should be excellent.