the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Theater (Page 2 of 2)

Tradition, Tradition


With Broadway all abuzz with the casting of Rose O’Donnell as Goldie, Tevye’s prototypical Jewish wife in the revival of "Fiddler on the Roof," top Broadway producers have quickly added "crowd-pleasing" but inappropriate stars to their upcoming shows:

Carrot Top is "The Wiz"

Fran Drescher is "Evita"

Lindsay Lohan  is "The Man of La Mancha"

Louie Anderson in "A Chorus Line"

Dave Chappelle in "Oklahoma"

Phyllis Diller is "Annie"

Paul Reubens is "The Phantom of the Opera"

Shaquille O’Neal in "Hair"

Carson Kressley in "The King and I"

James Earl Jones in "Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk"

Margaret Cho in "1776"

*NSYNC in "Beatlemania"

Patrick Stewart is "Funny Girl"

Dennis Miller in "Grease"

Tony Awards

(Spamalot, this season’s
most popular musical)

When I was a kid growing up in Flushing, my grandfather, who lived a few blocks away, retired and set out to accomplish his dream of seeing every single musical that opened up on Broadway.  One little catch, he was very frugal.    He was also a bit of a goniff.  He came up with a plan where he would wait outside the theater until intermission, then sneak inside when no one was looking at the tickets anymore.

The next day, he would come over and tell me all about the show.  Of course, he had only seen the second act.  So, I’m very knowledgeable about Broadway musicals from the last thirty-odd years — but only the second half.

That said, Sunday night is the Tony awards.  As Lawren writes:

You have no idea how pumped I get for the Tony Awards. Seriously folks, watch them. If you aren’t that interested in theater or musicals, watch anyway–you get the absolute best of every show–without having to sit through them. It’s a star-studded affair–you won’t be disappointed.

Keeping up with my family tradition, I will then be able to talk about one song of each musical.

Where is Bennett Cerf?

Bennett Cerf

Bennett Cerf

One of my guilty pleasures is watching old game shows.  I’m particularly fond of the original “What’s My Line?” (1950-1967), especially because it gives us a glimpse into post-war New York life.   The panelists, such as Dorothy Kilgallen, Arlene Francis, and Random House publisher and wit Bennett Cerf (see photo), were actual members of New York high society.  The contestants, many from the outer boroughs, try to help the panel guess their odd occupations.  All of the men wear suits, the women wear pearls.  It seems funny today, but I find it comforting.

I bring this up because last night I went to a stage production of “What’s My Line?” at the Acme Theater in Los Angeles.  Every Wednesday night (the show is on hiatus until next month), there is a live attempt to capture the flavor of the original show, using regular Angelenos with strange jobs, and a celebrity for the special “blindfold” round.  Yesterday, the most interesting round was about an L.A. couple that produces their own vodka, and the celebrity was Brett Butler.  The panel themselves consisted of B-list celebrities.

My only real complaint about the evening was (at least on my night) the panel didn’t capture enough of the wit and banter that made the original so much fun.  Maybe sophisticated banter is a lost art, as much as wearing pearls to the theater.

All in all, it was a fun evening and recommended, but where is Bennett Cerf when you need him?

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