By: Ellis Nassour
April 30, 2020: You’re isolating, often getting stir crazy, and stepping outside for some sun, when available, isn’t enough. There is programming and things to enjoy, sans mask and latex gloves, though some require a donation, in the comfort of your home that will make you feel less like a prisoner of COVID 19.
Awaiting Hugh Jackman? Wait no longer. He’s here!
Oscar nominee, Emmy and Golden Globe winner, and Tony and Special Tony winner Hugh Jackman will discuss his career and roster of film roles – and perhaps the long list of roles he rejected that proved quite noteworthy, in Hugh Jackman in Conversation on May 7 at 6 P.M. Hosting will be 92Y Reel Pieces moderator and Columbia University professor Annette Insdorf. It will stream on 92Y’s website.
Jackman has starred in The Front Runner, Les Miserables, Prisoners, The Prestige, and as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, including Logan. His latest film role, for HBO, opposite Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy winner and two-time Tony nominee Allison Janney, is Bad Education, currently airing on HBO. Among Jackman’s acclaimed stage performances are The Boy from Oz, (Tony, Best Actor, Musical).
He’s slated to be on Broadway as con man Professor Harold Hill in the revival of Meredith Willson’s Tony-winning The Music Man, still scheduled for October, opposite two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster as Marian. Co-starring are Tony winners Shuler Hensley, Jayne Houdyshell, and Jefferson Mays. Four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks is directing, with Tony winner Warren Carlyle is choreographer.
Tickets for Hugh Jackman in Conversation are $25 with proceeds to benefit future 92Y digital programming. Purchase online at www.92Y.org/event/hugh-jackman.aspx [click on Tickets at the top of page.]
And He’s on HBO
In a far cry from his role as X– Men’s Wolverine, Oscar nominee, Emmy and Golden Globe winner, and Tony and Special Tony winner Hugh Jackman stars in the dramatic role of a preening but beloved Roslyn, NY school superintendent in Bad Education (HBO), a sizzling tale of corruption, vanity [to the point of having plastic surgery], betrayal, and a secret life.
Mike Makowsky scripted this ripped-from-the-headlines true story of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history. Even after the prime suspect is revealed, there’s a jolt you don’t see coming.
Variety raved: “Jackman delivers an acting master class … The best work of his career.” Director Corey Finley describes Bad Education as “a cautionary tale about putting blind trust in institutions, and leaders.”
Oscar, Golden Globe, five-time SAG, and seven-time Emmy winner and two-time Tony nominee Allison Janney co-stars. Featured are Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers), Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford, two-time Tony winner Stephen Spinella, Jeremy Shamos, TV legend, two-time Golden Globe nominee, Rafael Casal (Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Blindspotting) , and Emmy winner Ray Romano. Cudos to Jackman, 51, for being brave enough to do some quite close close-ups and make-up artists Leo Wan and Alberto Machuca for their latex work in attempting to make him, against all odds, age.
If you don’t yet have enough Jackman, he’s voice-starring in the upcoming 3D globe-trotting animated family feature Missing Link (celebrated animation studio Laika], an Oscar-nominee a 2019 Golden Globe winner for Best Animated Feature Film. Writer/director Chris Butler’s comic saga is about Mr. Link (two-time Emmy winner Zach Galifianakis), an enormous furry creature (8’ tall, 630 pounds) from a lost species that’s a link between man and beast (one who can write and speak) living a solitary life in hiding in the Pacific Northwest circa 1886. A charismatic explorer (Jackman), along with his female companion (Zoe Saldana), sets out for the adventure of a lifetime: his last chance for acceptance by the science elite to prove the existence of this creature of legend. Voice-costars include two-time Oscar winner Dame Emma Thompson, two-time Emmy nominee Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood, Fargo, Justified), Golden Globe nominee Stephen Fry (Bones, The Great Indoors), and award-winning British comic Matt Lucas.
YouTube’s The Shows Must Go On will showcase a free full-length all-star concert Andrew Lloyd Webber – The Royal Albert Hall Celebrationon May 1 at 2 P.M. It will be available for 48 hours. Celebrating the composer’s 50th birthday (1999) are Michael Ball, Antonio Banderas, Boyzone, Sarah Brightman, Glenn Close, Keri Te Kanawa, Julian Lloyd Weber, Marcus Lovett, Donny Osmond, Elaine Paige, Bonnie Tyler, the National Youth Musical Theater Choir, and the London Musicians Orchestra.
The revival telecast, directed by David Mallet, is made possible with support from Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.
Broadway’s Official Online Masterclass (BOOM) was founded in response to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the international entertainment industry. The platform is by artists, for artists and aimed at those interested in learning more about theater, acting, dancing, music, and more. It features top industry professionals from stage, TV, and film, who teach digital classes and workshops to students around the world. Founded by Dublin-based theatre director/educator Rory Hughes, BOOM is, and provides students with a place to continue their studies and allow professionals the means to practice their craft in these unprecedented times.
Classes and workshops are led by Chip Abbott (On the Town), Christina Bianco (YouTube’s “Girl with a Thousand Voices,” Forbidden Broadway), Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Hairspray), Broadway vocal coach Andrew Byrne, Lloyd Culbreath (Dancin’, Sweet Charity), Tony-wining choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, My Fair Lady), James Harkness (Ain’t Too Proud, Beautiful), Broadway ensemblist-turned-manager Michelle Kittrell, Telly Leung (Aladdin, Allegiance), Tony nominee Taylor Louderman (Mean Girls, Kinky Boots), film actress Nyle Lynn, Tony nominee Eva Noblezada (Hadestown, Miss Saigon), Amy Penston (West End’s The Commitments), Rachelle Rak (Fosse, Catch Me If You Can), Austin Scott (Hamilton, Girl from the North Country), and Natalie Weiss (YouTube’s “Breaking Down the Riffs,” Emojiland).
BOOM has also partnered with the Verdon/Fosse Estate, and has exclusive rights to bring online global access to the Fosse Legacy Masterclasses.
Prices for BOOM classes start at $10.82. Member subscriptions start at $11.95. Users can also sign-up for individual classes. Video: Broadway Official Online Masterclass, For more information visit www.boomasterclass.com.
New to Blu-ray and restored (1080p HD) in 2019 by the George Lucas Family Foundation with funding from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Film Archive and the Film Foundation in association with the Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Family Trust is the masterpiece adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel Dodsworth (1936, Samuel Goldwyn Pictures) starring the extraordinary Water Huston (father of John; Treasure of the Sierra Madre) and Ruth Chatterton. It was nominated for seven Oscars, including Picture, Director, Screenplay (Sidney Howard, Gone with the Wind; adapted from his 1934 Broadway play), and Actor (Huston).
This quite sophisticated pre-code drama is quite watchable. It was way ahead of its time and it has stood the test of time. You’ll find it hard to believe it was made in 1936. That’s partly due to Oscar-nominated director William Wyler (with 13 more nods to come; and such classics as Wuthering Heights, Oscar-winner The Best Years of Our Lives [a poignant, post WWII classic that’s a must-see], Jezebel, The Little Foxes, and Ben Hur).
This bittersweet tale, with some hilarious moments, is set against the background of the fictional Zenith, Michigan, London, Paris, Berlin, and Naples as a marriage falls apart with middle-aged regret, unreachable expectations, recriminations, and long dormant passions, Automotive tycoon Dodsworth decides to retire and take a second honeymoon around the world with his frivolous wife — maddeningly obsessed with maintaining her youth. She’s determined to become a dazzling socialite, and deserts her husband for swells of the continent. She is smitten by a wealthy, young European playboy – an affair that ends in disaster and the realization that she’s been a fool. She plots a scheme in the hope her devoted husband will take her back. But he’s lost his patience and has met and fallen in love with a woman who’s everything his wife isn’t.
Featured are Mary Astor (Maltese Falcon; Oscar winner, The Great Lie), Paul Lukas (Oscar winner,Watch on the Rhine, Kim), David Niven, Oscar nominee Spring Byington, John Payne, with a scene-stealing performance by two-time Oscar nominee Maria Ouspenskaya (The Affair [later remade as An Affair to Remember], Waterloo Bridge, and The Wolf Man).
Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Geraldine Page and Oscar winner Paul Newman star in a spanking new 1080p HD transfer from the master negative of Richard Brooks’ 1962 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ 1959 play Sweet Bird of Youth, a paean to washed out and wasted youth. Failed actor and gigolo Chance Wayne (Newman) is holed up in a Mississippi Gulf Coast hotel with fading and drunk movie queen Alexandra Del Lago/Princess Kosmonopolis (Page) as her “escort”/boy toy whom she met as her masseuse while hiding out in Palm Beach. His job is to drive her to Hollywood in time for her comeback premiere. But he makes a stop to the town he fled years before. There show ain’t no Welcome sign out for him. Political boss (Oscar winner Ed Begley) and his thuggish son (Rip Torn, eating all the scenery not nailed down), however, are now all-out for him because of the wounds he left in daughter/sister Heavenly (Oscar nominee Shirley Knight).
Co-stars include Mildred Dunnock (Baby Doll) and Madeleine Sherwood (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Page, Newman, and Torn starred in the 1959 play, directed by Elia Kazan. Page and Torn were Tony-nominated. M-G-M heavily sanitized the film to get it pass the censors. They accepted the many changes in the film script that attempts to sanitize the story to pass muster with the censors. The play’s ending is brutal: Chase is about to be castrated. The film changes this to a facial disfigurement. Onstage, Chance is not that likable, but the studio felt audience wouldn’t want hot, film idol Newman that way.
Bonus material includes Page and Torn’s screen test and the featurette, Sweet Bird of Youth: Chasing Time.
Writer/director Ron Shelton had a penchant for sports romances such as Bull Durham and Tin Cup (1996) a romantic triangle set in West Texas between the greatest golf pro to never hit the big time, Kevin Costner in a daring escape from typecasting, and his affair with a doctor, Renee Russo, who to please her PGA star fiancé, Don Johnson in one of his best performances, signs up for lessons. When it goes way beyond that, there’s intense competition between the lustful golfers. That includes Costner out to win the U.S. Open. Co-starring are Cheech Marin and, in a hilarious scene-stealing role, Linda Hart (films Get Shorty, A Perfect World), whom theatergoers will remember opposite Patti LuPone in Anything Goes (1987), Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, and the Off Broadway hoot The Great American Trailer Park Musical (2005), and, as a member of Bette Midler’s Harlettes, her Broadway debut in Divine Madness (1979).
Purchase these three films at www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive or online retailers.
Penny Dreadful Returns – with Nathan Lane
Three-time Oscar nominee John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator; stage, I’ll East You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers) sets Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Showtime), a big-budget historical thriller with a bit of horror for good measure, in Los Angeles 50 years after the original series. It’s the gritty 1930s, during the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood — a time deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tensions. Against a background of espionage from the emerging Third Reich, radio evangelists, city politics, and deities and demons of lore, police attempt to solve a gruesome murder connected with the building of the first freeway. Do you see shades of Chinatown? Evidently, Logan is a fan.
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Thomas Kretschmann (Berlin Station, TV Dracula), Nathan Lane, Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Amy Madigan, Adam Rodriguez (Criminal Minds, Jane the Virgin), and Daniel Zavatto (Lady Bird; Fear the Walking Dead) co-star. But there’re two others deserving of mucho credit: production designer Maria Caso and costume designer Christie Wittenborn.
Watch the Season One premiere episode at YouTube for free.
Veteran stage, film, and TV star and two-time Tony winner (1999 revival Death of a Salesman; 2003 revival Long Day’s Journey into Night) Day) and Golden Globe winner, and six-time Emmy winner, the late Brian Dennehy co-stars in Driveways as a widowed Korean War vet, whose days are defined by bingo games and TV dinners, and the unlikely bond he forms with the shy, eight-year-old son (Lucas Jaye) of a visiting, overworked Asian mother. This is a modest film filled with warmth set off by Dennehy’s barrel-chested gruffness and the change he undergoes. The film co-stars Golden Globe nominee Hong Chau (Big Little Lies, Homecoming, Watchmen) in an unsentimental change-of-pace performance.
Streaming at theavalon.org, afisilver.afi.com, cinemaartstheatre.com, and themiracletheatre.com.
While you are awaiting the reopening of Broadway houses, why not take home a show?
A Few Nights at the Opera
The Metropolitan Opera continues to nightly stream encore performances from the Live in HD series with the top names in opera. Productions are aired free this Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the stunning chandeliers ascending and the magnificent curtain rising at 7:30 P.M. and remain available for 23 hours.
The gem this weekend is the night of renowned diva Leontyne Price on the tumultuous occasion of her farewell performance as the Ethiopian princess in Verdi’s Aida.
May 1: Verdi’s Aida
Conductor: James Levine. Starring Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, James McCracken,
and Simon Estes. (Broadcast January 3, 1985)
May 2: Verdi’s Luisa Miller
Conductor: Bertrand de Billy. Starring Sonya Yoncheva, Piotr Beczała, and Plácido Domingo. (Broadcast April 14, 2018)
May 3: Borodin’s Prince Igor
Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda. Starring Oksana Dyka, Anita Rachvelishvili, and Ildar Abdrazakov. (Broadcast March 1, 2014)
The streams are available at www.MetOpera.org, and the Met Opera on Demand apps for Apple, Amazon, Roku devices, and Samsung Smart TV. These transmissions are made possible by the generous support of founding sponsor the Neubauer Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rolex, and Toll Brothers.
Bernard Gersten (January 30, 1923 – April 27, 2020) was a producer and dynamo to be reckoned with. It seemed his entire 97 years was theater. He was consumed by it. He was kind, generous, always approachable, always curious what you were doing – especially to promote theater. From the mid-60s into the early Oughts, he played a major role in shaping theatrical drama and musical theater. He led LCT as the innovative executive producer from 1986 – 2013 at Lincoln Center Theater, where with Gregory Mosher and, from 1991, especially with Andre Bishop, he oversaw 155 productions. Notable among them was The Coast of Utopia, Contact, The House of Blue Leaves, Other Desert Cities, Six Degrees of Separation,The Substance of Fire, War Horse, andthe acclaimed Anything Goes, The Heiress, and South Pacific revivals.
Before LCT, beginning in 1960 through 1978, he and Joe Papp shaped the Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival. As associate producer, he help shepherd classic theater there – including A Chorus Line, Two Gentlemen of Verona, For Colored Girls…, That Championship Season, and Hair.
Gersten, the recipient of 15 Tony Awards and a Tony for Lifetime Achievement, was also an adjunct professor of Theater Administration at NYU, Yale School of Drama, and Columbia’s School of the Arts. He was a 2003 inductee into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
While you are applauding give deep thanks to the unbelievable dedication of New York’s essential workers who have risked their lives to keep the city safe, hospitals attended, transportation services running, and pharmacies and supermarkets open. Do not forget the thousands of volunteers who uprooted their lives from throughout the nation to offer their help to our city during this time of crisis.