Recently by Alicia Anstead

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There's a lot of star power packed into the actor Barbara Tirrell. As Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, the mayor's wife in "The Music Man" at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., she's fabulously funny and surprisingly layered in a role that could easily slide toward buffoonery. In Tirrell's care, Eulalie is a woman with an inner glow that has been snuffed by Iowan provincialism - but awakened in the show by the traveling con man Harold Hill. Even before Hill 76-trombones his way into River City, Eulalie is larger than life. Tirrell fashioned her that way based on memories of her own Irish-Italian background growing up in Nahant, Mass., not far from Boston. Her parents were both engineers, and Tirrell went to the University of Pennsylvania to study chemical engineering: She wanted to be the first female astronaut. She got sidelined to theater on a dare: A classmate challenged her to audition for a play. She did. She got the part. "And so began this journey," said Tirrell when we spoke recently. "The only thing I really looked forward to every week was the stuff I did with the Penn Players. At the end of the first year, I said to myself: I think I want to do this, and if I don't try, I'll wonder my whole life if I was supposed to do it." Clearly, she found the right answer. Below is an edited and condensed version of our conversation. "The Music Man," directed by Arena's artistic director Molly Smith, plays through July 22. 

How did you develop Eulalie's personality? 
Early in rehearsal, Molly asked each one of us to create an improvisation. Every member of the cast had to come in with a five-minute improvisation including a reference to a star, a piece of music and some turning point for your character. I took this to mean: These are people who have dreams. It's not like Harold Hill brings to this town something that isn't there. What he does is awaken something. 

And the turning point? 
For Eulalie, the turning point is when it is suggested she be the head of the dance committee. I created an improv of her as a child loving to dress up in all the family's clothing and dance around her living room - until her mother said, "You look stupid. You're a Mackecknie. Don't do that." The book "The Four Agreements" talks about how you only have to say once to a child in a moment of anger: "God, your singing sounds awful. Stop it!" You can never un-ring that bell. But once the child is awakened in Eulalie again, she doesn't care anymore what people think. 
June 4, 2012 2:19 PM | | Comments (0)
ImageProxy.mvc.jpegAnne Bogart's newest work "Cafe Variations" is a theatrical and dance meditation on texts by playwright Charles Mee. The work is essentially about romantic relationships, how they blossom, fracture, repair or perish. Although "CafĂ©" is an ensemble work, combining Bogart's SITI Company actors and Emerson College students, Ellen Lauren, a longtime member of SITI, has one of the primary roles, if not one of the most demanding theatrical roles. She plays "Edith A," the type of character who could have sprung from the minds of Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin. But this one is pure Lauren. Opposite Leon Ingulsrud, Lauren is brassy, bossy, bitchy and ultimately very sympathetic. She is surrounded by a "Mad Men" elegance with the young actresses onstage and yet her elegance - the elegance of comedy - is writ large. "Directing Ellen is like driving a Rolls Royce," said Bogart. "She has smooth gears and can do things that most others cannot. Working with her is a constant lesson in what acting for the stage can encompass. ArtsEmerson presented the world premiere of "Cafe" last week at the Cutler Majestic in Boston, where it continues through Sunday, April 22. The following is an edited and condensed interview with Lauren about developing a character, telling stories onstage and being funny. 

How do you know in your body when a movement is a funny movement? 
It's a combination of experience, my own personal taste and intuition. I tend to work very intuitively when I develop a role. I made a decision with "Cafe Variations" to work very quickly and not agonize. I knew from bits of information in the text that I could jump on and highlight. I immediately got an image of somebody. It came very quickly to me. I did not have an image of the physical broadness of the performance until I got inside this character and got to play around. 

Can you feel it in your body physically when you slunk your shoulders or sit aggressively in your dress that you're being funny? 
Those are little revelations of my own inner insecurities or my looking at myself and highlighting and amplifying a quality. If that goes south, you feel like crap about yourself. If I have puny shoulders and I blow that up into a cartoon, I'm not putting out something funny. I'm putting out something that makes me feel incredibly self-conscious. And how can I compete with the pretty girls on the stage? I'm not going to. I'm going to say to the audience: "This is how I feel up here next to a gorgeous sophomore." And what fun? What fun to be able to use my own resources and insecurities that way. I think that's what people are generally drawing on when they are funny. 

What happens inside of you to see your character's qualities? 
It's a rhythm thing. I read the text, and I can see it immediately on the page. The sentences are short. The words are one syllable. They're demonstrative. They're active. This is a real alpha person. A lot of the sentences begin as verbs. She tends to play it as it lays. She's bossy. Doesn't brook any shit from anyone. This came off the page very quickly to me. That's what I didn't second guess. I pick up a scent, and I try not to worry. Often to my detriment. But when you make work quickly, you learn to go with the thing. 
April 20, 2012 8:29 AM | | Comments (0)

ANE_SO11_Cover.jpgFor the last few years, I've been occasionally writing for Art New England -- and I've always enjoyed the experience. It's a niche magazine, but one that is dear to the hearts of many artists and visual arts readers. The magazine is undergoing a leadership change and looking for a new chief. Here's the skinny for those looking to lead a magazine and work for (I assume, based on fees to writers) labor-of-love wages.

Editor-in-Chief  Art New England
DESCRIPTION
New Venture Media seeks an Editor-in-Chief to lead, develop, and direct all editorial functions for Art New England, a bimonthly contemporary art magazine. The position includes strategic, long-term brand development and content planning; day-to-day editorial oversight; developing, assigning, editing, and writing content for the magazine and website; content acquisition, selection, and preparation; day-to-day management of staff members; works with art director,  production, sales staff, and publishers; cultivate relationships with museum directors, curators, gallerists, and artists; attend art shows, lectures, and special events; and provide the sales department with assistance in areas that require editorial input. The Editor-in-Chief will have overall responsibility for ensuring effective and timely delivery of a high-quality magazine.
RESPONSIBILITIES
Oversees editorial content. Generates and obtains original content, ensuring stories are well-written, thoughtful, and engaging. Develops an editorial calendar.  
Supervises the daily activities of the publication's staff. Schedules and manages work load. Oversees and evaluates the staff's daily operation. Interviews and works with interns. 
Cultivates a pool of exceptional freelance writers.  Assigns stories to both staff and freelance writers. Works with writers on story development, direction, style, and revision.
Writes and edits copy, headlines and photo captions; fact checks; proofreads; and performs page corrections. Oversees entire production process, ensuring all deadlines are met until final product is uploaded to printer.
Provides input on page design and cover photo selection; assists in acquiring images and captions. 
Guides editorial content of Art New England's website and writes content for blog. Supervising updates and changes of website as needed.
Stays current with museum and gallery shows, art trends, art news, and museum changes, and items of interest to readers.
 QUALIFICATIONS
Bachelor's degree in journalism, writing, or art history. A minimum of 5 years editorial experience with some supervisory experience as a newspaper or magazine editor. Must possess exemplary editing, writing, organizational, and time-management skills, and must be detail oriented. Must have a strong interest and/or background in contemporary fine art. Must have experience using Chicago Manual of Style and ability to adapt to Art New England's editorial style. Familiarity with WordPress desired.  
A candidate who is interested should send a resume to Rita Fucillo at rita@artnewengland.com.
October 8, 2011 1:57 PM | | Comments (0)

sebphoto-thumb-200x280-39131.jpgSebastian Smee, the chief visual art critic for The Boston Globe, was on a furlough day enjoying the beaches of Miami last Friday when executive editor Marty Baron called to say the writer had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. When Smee landed in the newsroom on Monday, he gave a speech that praised his editors for holding to "a belief that the arts matter, and that good writing about the arts is going to be an important part of newspapers as they evolve.'' When I called to congratulate him this week, Smee reiterated the passion he has for his work in New England, spoke of the importance of value judgments in reviews and explained why he believes arts coverage is necessary to the future of journalism. 
 

In your 2008 article The Mind of the Critic, you mention three categories people tend to associate with criticism: to judge, to educate and to entertain. What is the role of criticism?

It may not be the most interesting part of a critic's job, but it is the most important: that he or she expresses an opinion. That's what people are expecting from a critic. There's a tendency out of politeness or good manners or fear for critics to sit on the fence sometimes. I understand that, and sometimes I succumb to it myself. But I do think you need to form and express an opinion about the merits of something. Of course, that opens onto a whole world of much more interesting questions, and you can delve into ambiguities and mixed feelings and a certain amount of education.

You're not talking about stating that something is good or bad. You're talking about expressing an opinion. 

Yeah, but good or bad is part of that. That's a critic's job: to make a value judgment on what they see. It's not imposing that value judgment as the only possible judgment about the thing. I see it very much as starting a discussion, but the discussion is going to get off to a much less interesting start if the critic hasn't actually said whether he thinks the thing he's looking at is good or bad.

What do you think about Boston generating two Pultizers in the arts this year? We might expect such numbers from New York, but what does it say about Boston right now?  

April 20, 2011 12:15 PM | | Comments (0)

CH mille.jpgThe glassworks of Dale Chihuly, on exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts through August, stir competing passions between elites and aficionados like almost no other work by a living artist. He's high art for the masses. He's low art for the mavens. His "joyfulness" and "commercial success" are problems for some people, Malcolm Rogers, director of the MFA, said recently in the Boston Herald. The work is "tasteless" and the show is "enervating," ragged Sebastian Smee in the Boston Globe. The battle rages on in the comments that follow Smee's story, but at least one commentator -- "letsplaytwo" -- fell squarely into the pro-Chihuly camp: "I saw the exhibit yesterday and absolutely loved it. Now I'm no art snob, but I do know I respond deeply to color and light. The use of both in this show was breathtaking."

Another approach to Chihuly's work might be embedded in the title of the MFA show: "Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass." The pop-culture reference is obvious, but as I descended into the bunker-like Gund Gallery in the basement of the MFA Art of Americas Wing, I felt the Alice label was only the beginning of a journey. Maybe Chihuly for all his twirls and twists and whimsy and wackiness is really an artist of the remix.

CH organe yellow.jpgHere are all the associations I made while walking through the exhibition (backward first, and  then forward aided by wall narratives): the poster for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz, a Mozart overture, I Dream of Jeannie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Johnny Depp), every touristy store in Venice, a chemical stew of nuclear waste, Disney World's It's a Small World and mutations in nature after a post-apocalyptic disaster. (Sorry, I have no image for that.) 

Yes, I feel the love in Chihuly's work, too. But I also felt as if I had stumbled upon a mad scientist's secret (and very moodily organized) laboratory that investigates the impact of over-loving Italy, primary colors and drugs.

CH green.jpgBarbara Rose, who wrote about Chihuly in 2000, called the artist a "mischievous, cunning, inspired shaman--a magician, a contemporary Merlin, a Ken Kesey Merry Prankster who produces the psychedelic experience of a magical, glowing, and sparkling, brilliantly alive panorama without drugs. This enchanted glass world has as much to do with Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz as it does with the great Renaissance and Baroque festivals that sovereigns arranged to entertain their courts and subjects."

So I guess I'm not alone. But I'm also not put off, pissed off or particularly captivated by Chihuly. To me, his work is puzzling in the most engaging sense of the word. Best of all, seeing his creations made me curious to know more about his influences outside of RISD and Venice. Through the Looking Glass got me thinking about the history of glass art in this country -- and that got me climbing up the vaulting Americas Wing staircase. And wouldn't you know, three floors higher: works by two of the most famous glass pros -- Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge.

In the end, the experience reminded me of what I like best about art: It sends you on a quest. Like Alice down the rabbit hole.

   

Photos: Alicia Anstead

April 17, 2011 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)

Having worked behind the scenes on a number of non-arts national conferences, I know the challenge arts leaders face when suggesting that non-arts types consider arts as a viable and provocative session theme in nearly any industry. Think of the potential conversations between those who work in the arts and those who work in: science, politics, healthcare, education.

When I found out that the National Conference for Media Reform, held April 8-10 in Boston, not only had arts sessions, but an entire arts and culture track, I was jazzed. Sign me up.

What distinguishes arts discussions at a media conference (as opposed to arts conferences such as for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, which I have helped organize for six years) is the drive to look at the arts from outside the arts industry bubble. Plus organizers of NCMR included performing arts -- a dance party -- at the end of the day. (Extra points for that.) 

I was drawn to the conference for other reasons, too: a determination to see the arts in relation to media, a line that gets blurrier and blurrier in our blogosphere era. While most of the conversations I heard were about net neutrality and its impact on the industry -- from grassroots efforts to major commercial artists -- or about how culture, especially online communities, have replaced watchdog media as an agent of change, the most compelling panel I heard was Artists and Advocacy: Engaging Creatives in Cultural Change.

This discussion, which will soon be available on the NCMR site, covered the Hollywood writers' strike, the rise of one classically trained musician to director of programs at the Future for Music Coalition, the training process for young artists to be activists and the importance of copyright rentention for DIY artists.

As a journalist, arts activism and media are still uncomfortable bedfellows for me -- even as I was impressed by the level of commitment on the part of this group of arts spokespeople for the role of activism in their art forms and their adamancy about the importance of artists engaging in policy conversations at all tiers -- locally and globally. Each of these members of this panel regularly interacts with media, acknowledging the continued power of both traditional and new media outlets in the arts.

If the inclusion of arts and culture at NCMR reinforced anything for me it was the importance of not silo-ing ourselves in the aesthetics of the arts. I, for one, would prefer to write about the infusion of dignity and inspiration of empathy in F. Murray Abraham's portrayal of Shylock in the Theater for a New Audience production of The Merchant of Venice than about the wonky policy issues of the FCC, the difference between the 501(c)(3) and the 501(c)(4) tax exemptions, and the social, political and financial implications of the idea that "code is god." But this conference reminded me how tied the aesthetics are to policy, corporate control and social media. Like the artists, journalists must stay attuned to the changes that take place behind closed doors and in the fine print.    

Finally, I was also interested in a session on The State of Boston Media, in which not one person on the panel mentioned the arts. "Culture" as a general term, yes. But nothing about the arts, which was disappointing because Boston has such a rich arts life right now. I also didn't see any local arts media in the audience. That doesn't mean they weren't there. It means I didn't see them -- at any of the sessions I attended. Which only supports my earlier call to arts journalists: The arts are not just about what happens onstage. Or better: The stages for the arts are far greater than the ones in performing arts centers. They are on the floor of the government halls, the tables of corporate power and the forums in which artists make their voices known.  

April 11, 2011 10:50 AM | | Comments (0)

PrometheusPHOTO.jpgMaybe it's true of all botched vacations: There can be a silver lining. To paraphrase Dorothy, sometimes when you're looking for your heart's desire, you may not have to go any further than your own backyard. Which is a good thing because that's how far I got when I had to abandon plans to spend spring break in Chile visiting my brother and reporting on the arts. I ended up staying in the Boston area where the arts chops are pretty sharp these days. And yeah, it's true: I didn't have to go more than four T stops to find my heart's desire.

1. Prometheus Bound directed by Diane Paulus at American Repertory Theater's Club Oberon in Cambridge.

Do you like your revolutions Greek style? Diane Paulus does. Her decision to focus American Repertory Theater's season on classics - as in Aeschylus and Sophocles (add her touring Broadway revival of Hair which, coincidentally, stops in Boston this month) - has turned out to be prescient given the headlines in Africa and the Middle East. Prometheus is another example of Paulus' gift for musical spectacle with gender-social-political-choreographic (did I leave anything out?) commentary glinting from a disco ball. For a show in which the protagonist is chained to a rock for most of the story, there's a lot going on here. There's no escaping the action whether you're with the groundlings - the throngs of fist-pumping youths on the center floor - or seated off to the side in a banquette where a trio of hauntingly pale chorus angels in combat boots might nudge you aside to use your table for a scene. Paulus had a dream team in script and lyrics writer Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) and composer Serj Tankian (System of a Down). The storyline may feel Greek to our ears because of the volume, but the production is rousing - and features the usual lineup of hyper talented performers who seem to give their souls to Paulus' vision of Outsiders Are Powerful. Thank you, Prometheus, for the bright ideas. We have some people in Wisconsin who would have found you very inspiring.

2. The Sun Also Rises by Elevator Repair Service at Arts Emerson's Paramount Theater.

After last year's Gatz, which ranks in the Top Ten Performances I've seen in three decades of theater going, I hoped Elevator Repair Service wasn't going to be a one-trick pony. It isn't. Select14_sm.jpgDirector John Collins has three important talents: He understands pacing - and isn't afraid to take it slow. He understands humor - and isn't afraid to combine the nuance of the aforementioned pacing with the nonsense of stagecraft. And he loves literature enough to know that a book is one thing and a stage play is quite another and that the two are related but not pathologically. If anything, Collins is a master of the remix. Purists may have walked away saying, "This isn't Hemingway!" Fine. That is fine. But I walked away wondering if I got the cultural wink in the Ferrante & Teicher poster on the wall - and not caring much for the answer because, well, it seemed very Hemingway not to overwork a symbol. In the end - and Collins crafts one of the

March 23, 2011 12:31 PM | | Comments (0)

  Gallery_Atlantic_Yards_1.jpgEveryone knows that identity runs deep in Brooklyn -- and I confess that one of the reasons I like living there part time is that it reminds me of the willful neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., back in the 1960s and 1970s when I was a kid in Anacostia and Hillcrest. But like all places of identity, you don't really get to claim ownership unless you were born there or somehow got there when the most mythical neighborhood-building activity was going on. By every definition, I'm a latecomer to Brooklyn. I'm a post-hipster, post-hardscrabble, post-we-did-it-our-way interloper.

All of this was reeling in my thoughts when I saw the recent Boston premiere of In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards at ArtsEmerson's Paramount Theater. In the spirit of The Laramie Project and journo-actor-writer Anna Deavere Smith, the Brooklyn-based "investigative theater" group The Civilians conducted interviews, residencies and research around politicians, activists and neighbors involved with the controversial development projects in their beloved community. They developed the script based on those stories. ArtsEmerson provided a residency to the cast last year and, after its Brooklyn premiere, brought it back to Boston -- where similar civic issues such as the Big Dig and Harvard's Allston project have also been contentious -- even as everyone seems to agree that the stunning Paramount renovation has been good for the city and the arts.

The Civilians piece is a primer about Brooklyn's spirit and acreage -- the neighborhoods -- and about the power of The Man. But I found myself distracted by another quality that I've come to associate with documentary theater: righteousness. That's the nature of political theater, of protest theater and (I guess) of investigative theater. It may even be the soul of a community done wrong. In some way that righteousness tells the story better than newspapers, but it rarely makes for a gripping night of theater. (And I've seen the Civilians do gripping.)

More importantly, the show left me wondering: What is the role of narrative in reporting-based theater? And why is theater increasingly taking on the documentary format? Is it our longing to see neighbors, rather than celebrity, depicted onstage? Is life really stranger than fiction?

In the Footprint has a scrappy, gutsy cast digging around at scabs that go beyond building a sports arena. The piece has much to teach us about standing up, acting out, fighting strong, and writer/director Steven Cosson makes sure there's a lot of humor amidst the anger, angling and displacement, particularly in Michael Friedman's original tunes. I wanted more story, but I did get the picture.   

PHOTO: In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards, presented by The Civilians. Photo: Carol Rosegg.

January 24, 2011 7:18 AM | | Comments (0)

Thumbnail image for Meklit half shot high res[1].jpgToday the web magazine Edge published the answers to its annual "question of the moment." This year's heady inquiry was: What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit? I didn't read all of the 151 responses by some of our biggest brains, but I read many of them and was instantly reminded of a conversation I had last month with the musician Meklit Hadero (pictured here -- photo courtesy of her). 

Hadero and I were preparing for the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference, and I asked her about the new APAP program for artist fellows she was heading. My question was: What can the rest of us learn from artists, particularly in tough economic times?

Her answer could easily have been published in the Edge lineup, but instead it appeared in Inside Arts, the magazine I edit for APAP.

"We conduct so much experimentation in our everyday lives about how to be artists," Hadero said. "You do it creatively. You do it economically. You do it in terms of how you tour and the ensembles you want to play with. And you're always experimenting. Right now, we're in a place where we don't know what's going to happen in the arts, and we don't know how the field is going to change and develop and morph and shift. The thing that's going to get us through and help us adapt the most will be our creativity and our ability to take risks -- which artists are doing all the time. In order to survive, you have to constantly be experimenting, and that's the spirit of openness and willingness -- to embrace the not-knowing, the ability to be flexible and to be responsive creatively to changing circumstances. Artists are great at that."

At the conference, Hadero and I heard many attendees talk about the value of creative thinking -- the type artists and scientists do every day. I suspect arts journalists, particularly those of us who are freelance, have a special insight into this mode of thinking, too. In the process of problem-solving, the best in our fields are fearless about risk, open to discovery and dedicated to finding meaning in unexpected places.

You can read an analysis of the Edge "mini abstracts" in today's Guardian, but you might find stimulating and useful answers if you contact the artists in your community and pose a similar question: What artistic process would improve everybody's toolkit? My guess is that most of the answers will cite risk, discovery, letting go and, yes, embracing the non-knowing.

January 15, 2011 9:20 AM | | Comments (1)

This weekend, I may stop by the Paramount Center's Bright Family Screening Room in Boston to see a free screening of "The Sound of Music." By my calculation, I've seen the film 20 times, as a child and again as the parent of a child. It showed up in my life around the same time as other movie musicals such as "Peter Pan" and "Cinderella" that were made in the 1960s and were on TV each year when I was a kid. That was before DVDs and Netflix (and VHS), so the annual showing was a fairly exciting family event. It was also before replay buttons on remote controls, and I feel sure I watched TV with far more focus and clarity than I do these days when I'm likely to also be tweeting or texting at the same time.

 

In other words, my little mind was taking in far more information with fewer distractions, and I memorized those musicals in the same way I learned to say prayers at Mass: It was all rote, but the practice with musicals was far more challenging given that they came on once a year and Mass was once (or more) a week.

 

ELKINS.jpgIn any case, it was a testament to just how deeply "The Sound of Music" was embedded in my long-term memory when I recently attended Doug Elkins & Friends' production of "Fraulein Maria" running through Oct. 3 at the Paramount Center in Boston.

 

Elkins is an award-winning choreographer whose creds come from the break dancing world. For "Fraulein Maria," he combines modern dance and ballet with his street moves and the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein's soundtrack featuring a full-throated Julie Andrews. Which means that when Elkins started popping and botting and ticking as the Mother Abbess in "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," he augmented the song from an operatic pep talk about dreams to a display of just how much tutting a righteous B-Boy can achieve within about a four-foot halo of spotlight. He wore a black and white hoodie - a kind of wimple for the hood couture - and embedded the symbols of the tune (his hands do an itsy-bitsy spider-like move when the refrain is sung) and of contemporary hand jive such as basketball shots and, for lack of a better term, the pinkie-and-thumb-connecting-to-the-mouth-and-ear "call me" action. His moves and the choreography throughout the show were utterly new to me and yet they made perfect satirical sense given my familiarity with the movie.

 

von trapps.jpgElkins is a virtuoso. And he has surrounded himself with a troupe of virtuosic dancers who suggest what it must have been like in, say, Shakespeare's time or in the early years of traveling circuses when you had to be a polymath of artistic ability to be part of the company. Many of the Elkins dancers have had conservatory training. But they are also gymnasts, martial artists, trapezists, break dancers, actors and comedians. Their previous tenures are as varied as the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Bill T. Jones, the Metropolitan Opera and "trained Chris Brown." So there was 20-year-old Gui Greene defying gravity with his airborne power moves performing an "I Am Thumbnail image for Parker.jpgSixteen (Going on Seventeen)" pas de deux with David Parker, who was swan-like as a corporeal, middle-aged, cross-dressing Liesl. And there's Deborah Lohse who strutted on her tiptoes to connote the high heels her stridently bitchy Baroness might wear but suggesting in elegant slapstick the way Carol Burnett might have played the role had she been cast in the movie instead of Eleanor Parker. I wasn't exactly surprised even as I still gasped during the sentimental duet "Something Good" when Jeffrey Kazin, as Von Trapp, did a full-out run at Meghan Merrill, as Maria, and leapt into her arms for a traditional, though role-reversed, ballet catch.

 

It strikes me that Elkins takes his street aesthetic to the level of "cultural remix," which his company represents: a diverse group of dancers in terms of race, age and gender roles (plus five Emerson College students who join the troupe for one number). But he also engages in a form of remix in his use of varied dance genres that equally celebrate ensemble and individual talent. From this complicated pastiche emerges an appreciation of the American musical as a form so pliable it breaks down the high-low art rules - ballet meets graffiti dance - and becomes a trope about the elasticity not only of the human body but of a work of art. In other words, "Hamlet" is still becoming "Hamlet." "The Great Gatsby" is still becoming "The Great Gatsby." And thanks to Elkins, "The Sound of Music" is still becoming "The Sound of Music."

 

And I, for one, can't wait to see the movie for the 21st time.

 

Photos: Doug Elkins as Mother Abbess by Yi-Chun Wu; troupe photo and Robert Parker as Liesl by Christopher Duggan.

 

September 24, 2010 3:15 PM | | Comments (0)


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