Elton John and Partner are Broadway producers again

Elton John and partner David Furnish are the newest producers of the play Next Fall, with the Off-Broadway production making its opening on Broadway in the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 11th.  Next Fall deals with gay relationships, and all of the ups and downs occurring along the way.

COUPLES DAVID FURNISH ELTON JOHN X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Receiving good reviews during an engagement off-Broadway in 2009, the play has a distinct disadvantage in that it has no star actor, director or playwright to help draw audience members.  The industry is hoping that the star power of Elton John will make up for this.

This is the couple’s first foray into non-musical production – they have previously collaborated on Broadway for Billy Elliot: The Musical. John was Tony-nominated for best original score and Furnish served as executive producer.

REVIEW: Blue Door (Victory Gardens)

biograph-marquee

Victory Gardens presents:

Blue Door

 

by Tanya Barfield
directed by Andrea J. Dymond
through February 28th (more info)

reviewed by Catey Sullivan 

Tanya Barfield’s Pulitzer-nominated Blue Door is mired in the heaviness of academia and leavened by the poetic treatment of events so horrific they seem to defy the very beauty inherent to poetry. That dichotomy makes for a frustrating evening at the Victory Gardens Biograph.

bluedoor On the one hand, Blue Door is a densely packed introspection into history rendered dusty dry by the cerebral self-examination of a mathematician protagonist. On the other hand, Barfield has penned a devastating, multi-dimensional drama that could be a companion piece to the photographic history of James Allen’s “Without Sanctuary.”) Allen and Barfield have no connection that I know of, other than each mined art from the same harsh historical foundation. And if you’ve seen Allen’s work, you may well find it rushing up through your memory in the final, harrowing moments of Blue Door.

Those moments are tough and necessary, arriving as Ivy League math professor Lewis (Bruce A. Young) finally faces the demons that have destroyed his marriage, his career and his sense of self. In the 90 minutes leading up to that emotional breakthrough, Barfield loads her two-hander with a multi-generational litany of sorrows. Wife gone, career in tatters, Lewis finds his home filled with ghosts. Beginning before the Civil War with Lewis’ great-great grandmother and continuing through a family tree afflicted with tragic, strange fruit through decade upon decade, Lewis confronts the woes of a Job. His debilitating personal history is by no means exaggerated – click on any decent U.S. history site and you’ll find many a real-life story that’s far worse. But compressed into a one-act play, Lewis’ family feels more representative than authentic, an overwhelmingly inclusive outline rather than an organically unfolding biography.

The other crucial problem lies with the exposition. It dominates. Andrea J. Dymond’s capable direction can’t change the imbalance of explanation outweighing action. Of course, Lewis’ ghosts are storytellers, so a degree of telling is inevitable. Even so, the drama loses urgency as recitations overshadow events. That’s a shame, because those ghosts – the great-grandfather born into slavery; the hobo grandfather whose life and death call to mind both Robert Earl Hayes and Emmett Till; the alcoholic father who beats his son bloody – are fascinating both as pages from history and as personal narratives. The other man in Lewis’ long night’s journey into day is his brother Rex, a drug addict whose failures provide a telling cracked-mirror image to Lewis’ successes. Lindsay Smiling portrays all of them (as well as Lewis’ great-great grandmother and his grandmother) with vibrancy that’s electric. He’s also cringe-inducing in his pin-point portrayal of race-based humiliation.

Blue%20doo Lewis, by contrast, is problematic, especially when he gets started on subjects such as “the psychological perception of time” as it applies to higher mathematics. He’s an academic, but by having him so often speak in the ultra-erudite language of the very well educated, Barfield leaches the story of some momentum.

The incidents of racism recounted from Lewis’ life – sparking unspoken unease at an otherwise all-white at a cocktail party, an assumption by whites that he’s an expert on racial matters – seem trivial when compared to what his forebears dealt with. It’s only gradually that Barfield unveils just how scarred her protagonist has been by his family history and other peoples’ reactions to the color of his skin. “No matter how many polysyllabic words come out of your mouth, no matter how many tweed suits you wear,” there will always be people harboring the suspicion that you stole those suits, Lewis bitterly notes.

Barfield employs humor to fine effect in the catalyst of Lewis’ crisis – when a student asks a question about Heidegger, Lewis thinks he’s been called a “house nigger.” Without that element of preposterousness , the professor’s lifetime-in-the-making predicament would be almost too depressing to contemplate. But such contemplation is crucial if “Never forget, never again” is ever to be anything more than a bumper sticker. Blue Door (the title comes from the great-great grandmother’s practice of painting the door blue in order to keep night terrors out and family spirits in) opens a portal to history. If only what we glimpsed there were more dramatically resonant and less like chapters in a text-book .

Rating: ★★½

Blue Door, by Tanya Barfield, continues through Feb. 28 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $20 – $48. For more information, go to www.victorygardens.org or call 773/871-3000.

CREATIVE TEAM
Tanya Barfield (playwright), Charlie Cooper (light design), Andre Pluess (sound design), Liviu Pasare (video projections), Judith Lundberg (costume design), Michelle Medvin (stage manager)

CAST: Bruce A. Young, Lindsay Smiling

Wednesday Wordplay – Buddha and the South Park chef

Motivational Quotes

Too many people think only of their own profit. But business opportunity seldom knocks on the door of self-centered people. No customer ever goes to a store merely to please the storekeeper.
            — Kazuo Inamori 

The most decisive actions of our life – I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future – are, more often than not, unconsidered.
        — Andre Gide 

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
        — Abraham Lincoln , speech in Washington D.C., 1865

A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.
            — Patricia Neal 

I am convinced that life in a physical body is meant to be an ecstatic experience.
            — Shakti Gawain 

You must not come lightly to the blank page.
            — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, 2000

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
            — Leonardo da Vinci 

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
            — Georgia O’Keeffe

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
            — Carrie Fisher 

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
 
           — Anna Quindlen 

Love isn’t a decision. It’s a feeling. If we could decide who we loved, it would be much simpler, but much less magical.
            — Trey Parker and Matt Stone , South Park, Chef Aid, 1998

We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.
            — Ethel Barrett 

If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.
            — George Burns

Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons. It must have been the scarcity of detail in that tawny landscape that made detail so precious.
            — Willa Cather, My Antonia

Better to get up late and be wide awake than to get up early and be asleep all day.
            — Anonymous

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
            — Colin Powell

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
            — Charles Dickens

Before you do anything, think. If you do something to try and impress someone, to be loved, accepted or even to get someone’s attention, stop and think. So many people are busy trying to create an image, they die in the process.
            — Salma Hayek

Holding onto anger is like grasping onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.
            — Gautama Buddha


 

Urban Dictionary

Professional Student

Person who receives multiple degrees and keeps taking courses instead of holding a profession related to the degrees earned. Can be a compliment or an insult depending on the speaker.

Ex. 1: a compliment
“Man, I think you’re so cool for writing a dissertation on Mesoamerican maize fertilization. You’re a real professional student!”
Ex.2 an insult:
“Hey Jack, won’t you get a real job and quit being a professional student?”

Jack-Off all trades

A person who does not use profession as criteria for choosing sexual partners

– How’d you swing that? I thought Jane only fucked above a certain income bracket.
Naa man, she’s a jack off all trades


Word of the week

Phantasmagoria (noun)
[fan-taz’-mah-GORE-ee-ah]

1. a dreamlike state where real and imagined elements are blurred together: “She has finally emerged from the drug-induced phantasmagoria of the last decade.”
2. a series of events involving rapid changes in light intensity and color
3. fantastic imagery, especially as represented in art
adjective form: phantasmagoric
adverb form: phantasmagorically


Origin:
Approximately 1802; name of a magic lantern exhibition brought to London in 1802 by Philipstal; alteration of French, ‘phantasmagorie’: art of creating supernatural illusions, from ‘fantasme’; from Greek, ‘phainein’: bring to light.

In action:
“…life is moral responsibility. Life is several other things, we do not deny. It is beauty, it is joy, it is tragedy, it is comedy, it is psychical and physical pleasure, it is the interplay of a thousand rude or delicate motions and emotions, it is the grimmest and the merriest motley of phantasmagoria that could appeal to the gravest or the maddest brush ever put to palette; but it is steadily and sturdily and always moral responsibility.”
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911). U.S. novelist and short story writer. Chapters from a Life (1897).