THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

OUT: The Broadway issue

The April 2010 issue of Out magazine is pretty much what you'd typically expect from a magazine geared toward the gay community - lots of trendy ads for clothes, scents, "family friendly" vacation destinations, health and fitness, and sprinkled in, articles that run the gamut from political essay to celebrity interview to social trends and the arts.  But this month's issue is different in one key way for this blogger: almost all of the articles have to do with Broadway, with a little something for every gay/straight and theatre-loving reader.  You don't have to be queer to appreciate this issue; you have to be a fan of Broadway.

Oh, it isn't the perfect issue.  There is the typical, bitchy essay (page 62) on how Broadway isn't what it used to be - get this - it has become too commercial (really?), with producers more interested in the merchandizing possiblities beyone the stage production than they are the quality of the production.  Ok, maybe in "the good old days" there was less pressure to recoup.  But have things really changed?  There are just as many hits and just as many flops as ever - we just know the gorey details more readily via the Internet.  Does anyone who produced theatre really EXPECT a return on their investment?  Or is it more that they want to be a part of a project that they love with big ticket prestege?  Making money is nice, but more in the "cool!  I didn't expect it kind of way." 

And there is the little sidebar of Rock Musicals: Your guide to Gay Classics (page 40).  3 titles that loosely fit the rock musical genre, only one of which has anything to do with the gay experience.  No RENT, no Spring Awakening, no Hair.  They chose the off-Broadway cast recording of Godspell, the off-Broadway cast recording of Little Shop of Horrors, and the off-Broadway cast recording of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Only the final title seems relevant to both the genre and the sub-genre they picked.  Godspell and not Jesus Christ Superstar?  Little Shop of Horrors, really?  Of course, the real bottom line here is: what gay man isn't aware of at least 10 titles better suited to this than what was chosen?  Please...

But the highlights far outweight these two little piffles.  Your $5.99 gets you some really good stuff:


  • page 6: A cute photograph of Wesley Taylor that teases a future article - see below.

  • page 25 - 26: A nice article about playing gay with Next Fall's Patrick Heusinger (a couple of nice photos, too.)

  • page 31: A one-pager on style, based on choices by twin brothers and Broadway designers (Promises, Promises) Scott and Bruce Pask.

  • page 34: A one-pager on what to do that isn't too touristy in Times Square (including eating at my beloved Edison Cafe)

Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern

  • page 43: A one-pager column called "Girlfriend" with guest gal pal, Valerie Harper, currently starring in Looped.  She offers advice to gay guys in a piece titled, "Can I Be Blunt?"  I'll leave it at that.  (above)
  • page 49: An op-ed piece about religion and gay marriage by Tony winner Alan Cumming.
  • page 52: An adorable pictorial spread featuring the dogs of Broadway celebrities, dressed as famous Broadway characters.  The precious pups of Gavin Creel, Kristin Chenoweth and others are part of this funny and sweet photo shoot. (below)

Zora Jackson (Cheyenne's pup) as Little Edie in Grey Gardens

  • page 58:  An interview (more than candid, bordering on, to use his own words, "being an asshole") with Arthur Laurents, who dishes on his disdain for the original cast of the West Side Story revival, his love for the newer cast members,  La Cage aux Folles, Stephen Sondheim, being in the army, and who his favorite Gypsy star is.  If catty, witty and unnecessarily sharp barbs are for you, this will be a feast; if you are willing to wade through it, he offers a perspective only a very few people can.
  • page 64:  The sidebar, "Ten Out-of-the-Box Musicals," offers a history of the musical as controversy maker, from Show Boat to Passing Strange.  Just a reminder that some day, probably soon, Spring Awakening will seem quaint.
  • page 66: A sexy photo collage featuring the boys of Fela!
  • page 68:  A poignant essay about life 20 years after Angels in America.  Time flies when not much changes.
  • page 72:  The cover story about Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and American Idiot fame.  Being that it is Out magazine, there is some discussion of the media fixation over his sexual orientation, but the majority of the piece is about how he and the band play a role in the creation of the Broadway musical based on their work.  Most appropriately, he recognizes that the crafting of a theatre piece out of their songs and lyrics adds a legitimacy and weight to their value as more than "pop music."
  • page 80:  And what would Out magazine be without a lot of hot guy pictures (aside from the underwear ads and the Macy's spread, which looks nothing like what we get here in Vermont...).  This month, fittingly enough, the spread is called "Prints Charming" and it features three of Broadway's hottest (in all senses of the word) stars: Wesley Taylor (The Addams Family),  Kyle Dean Massey(next to normal) and Tom Lenk (who just left Rock of Ages).  Who knew prints could be so sexy?  And the pages featuring Kyle Dean in particular are not work friendly!  Click HERE for a link to those pics, plus a nifty video of the photo shoot itself.
About as gay as everything that Broadway is anyway, I think theater fans in general will appreciate this issue.  Sure it has a gay slant, but it is well-written, thought provoking and a little more "real" than the Playbill you'll get at a show.


Comments?  Leave one here or email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com.
Jeff

2 comments:

  1. while it's great that they're focusing some attention on Broadway, I wish they would have gotten some people with real Broadway knowledge to provide their editorials. That sidebar of rock musicals is inexcusable! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are so right. It's like people who think they "know" theatre because they've seen Wicked 5 times and Billy Elliot a couple of times. Get back to me when you've sat through Cry-Baby and Is He Dead?! LOL.

    Jeff

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