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04/22/2013

Richard Greenberg’s ‘The Assembled Parties’ Opens on Broadway: REVIEW

Assembled1

BY NAVEEN KUMAR

A finely tuned and resonant drama written with impeccable wit, Richard Greenberg’s new play The Assembled Parties, which opened on Broadway last Wednesday in a Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Friedman Theatre, manages to meaningfully encompass mortality, ambition, legacy, and the hidden nature of love—and that’s only in the first ten minutes.   

Assembled2Set in a labyrinthian Central Park West apartment (beautifully designed by Santo Loquasto), the play follows the lives of an upper crust Jewish family across a twenty-year span, with the first act set on Christmas day in 1980, and the second on the same day in 2000.

When the play opens, a handsome young middle-aged couple, Julie and Ben Boscov (Jessica Hecht and Jonathan Walker) are hosting Christmas dinner—though all of the assembled parties are in fact, Jewish. Scotty (Jake Silbermann), their oldest son and family golden boy, has deferred admission to Harvard Law, derailing their idea that he’s destined for greatness.

Scotty’s friend and former classmate Jeff (Jeremy Shamos), who accepted his own admission and just completed his first semester, joins the family for dinner. Rapt by their posh sophistication, he makes a concerted effort to insinuate himself with Scotty’s parents, and Julie in particular.

Assembled3Ben’s wry sister Faye (Judith Light) arrives with her husband Mort (Mark Blum), and their awkward 30-year-old daughter Shelley (Lauren Blumenfeld). Though their mother made her life miserable after Faye’s unplanned pregnancy with Shelley and shotgun wedding to Mort, Faye urges Ben to visit her in the hospital as she lingers on her deathbed.

Details about each intricately drawn character unfold strategically through the play’s end, even for those who don’t return twenty years later for its second act. The entire cast is top notch, though ultimately the evening belongs to Jessica Hecht and Judith Light, whose skills with language and emotional nuance are truly marvelous. 

Assembled4Greenberg contextualizes his domestic portrait within broader historical patterns, with each act set during election years that marked the beginning of two double-term Republican presidencies (Reagan in the first, and Bush Jr. in the second). Both years also mark a naïve sort of calm before New York was thrust into the center of landmark national crises—the height of the urban AIDS crises, and the events of September 2001.

Our knowledge of what’s to come casts subtle shadows over the insular world of the play, as the classic mores of drawing room drama are carefully placed within a contemporary American framework. Greenberg’s New York is at once timeless and mythical, and decaying brick and mortar. Had Edith Wharton been a post-war Jewess, she couldn’t have written it better herself.

Recent theatre features...
Playwright Douglas Carter Beane is Back On Broadway With ‘The Nance:’ INTERVIEW
 'Matilda The Musical' Opens On Broadway: REVIEW
'Kinky Boots' Opens On Broadway: REVIEW
Michael Urie Takes On Barbra Streisand in 'Buyer & Cellar': INTERVIEW
Nora Ephron’s 'Lucky Guy' Starring Tom Hanks Opens on Broadway: REVIEW

Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: joan marcus)

Posted Apr. 22,2013 at 2:56 PM EST by in Judith Light, Naveen Kumar, New York, News, Review, Theatre | Permalink | Comments (5)


Former Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) Cites 'Future Husband', Asks Senate Panel to Recognize LGBT People in Immigration Bill

As I mentioned this morning, former Congressman Jim Kolbe testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, asking them to include LGBT families in a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

KolbeSaid Kolbe (from prepared remarks):

Eight years ago, I met my partner and future husband, Hector Alfonso. Hector was born in Panama, and came to the Unites States on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in special education. He has been a dedicated teacher for almost two decades. The schools where he taught, however, could not sponsor him for a green card, and I couldn’t either. Despite being in a committed relationship and despite the fact that he remained in lawful status every day he had been here, Hector was forced to return to Panama when his work visa expired. Our twelve month separation—like that of any American from their spouse—was painful. Hector returned to Panama while he applied for another visa. Eventually, we accomplished this, but it was a long process and it was expensive—far beyond the reach of most families. Our laws should not separate American citizens from their loved ones for such unacceptably long periods of time.

On May 18th—just a month from now—Hector and I will legally marry here in the District of Columbia, surrounded by family and friends. We are immensely fortunate that Hector has now secured an investment visa that allows him to remain here with me. Many other couples, however, are not as fortunate. Even if they, like us, have a marriage, civil union or life-long commitment to each other, their ability to secure a permanent solution that would allow them to build a home, family or business together is elusive and difficult to realize. It shouldn’t be that way, and this Committee has an opportunity to fix this problem.

Read Kolbe's full remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

I'll post video on the site if and when it becomes available.

TESTIMONY OF FORMER CONGRESSMAN JIM KOLBE
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
22 APRIL 2013
Chairman Leahy and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for inviting me to testify before you today on behalf of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. As you may know, I had the privilege of serving in the United States Congress from 1985 until 2007, representing Arizona’s 5th and 8th Congressional Districts. Immigration is an issue that has always been in the forefront in this border district, with a large and vibrant immigrant community and all the strains on law enforcement and social services that accompany illegal immigration. At one point less than a decade ago, nearly half of all apprehensions of illegal immigrants in the entire country were occurring in this single congressional district.

I applaud the senators in the so-called “Gang of Eight”, and especially Senator Flake from my home state of Arizona, who spent many months preparing this legislation. I am hopeful that this Committee will engage in a bipartisan effort to fix our country’s broken immigration system with legislation that offers meaningful solutions. The bill currently before the Committee is an excellent start that offers many positive provisions to help U.S. businesses, our immigrant population, and our country as a whole. Others on this panel will discuss various economic considerations, but I want to talk about one particular provision—completing family unification.

I know first-hand from my days of representing my district in Arizona that immigration laws impact all of our lives. I also know, as the partner of a Panamanian immigrant, how especially difficult it can be to build a life and protect your family, under our current, cumbersome system. While the bill you are considering is an excellent starting point for reform, I submit to you that it is still incomplete. Families like mine are left behind as part of this proposal. Equally important, U.S. businesses and our economy suffer because of the omission of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families from the bill introduced last week.

Eight years ago, I met my partner and future husband, Hector Alfonso. Hector was born in Panama, and came to the Unites States on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in special education. He has been a dedicated teacher for almost two decades. The schools where he taught, however, could not sponsor him for a green card, and I couldn’t either. Despite being in a committed relationship and despite the fact that he remained in lawful status every day he had been here, Hector was forced to return to Panama when his work visa expired. Our twelve month separation—like that of any American from their spouse—was painful. Hector returned to Panama while he applied for another visa. Eventually, we accomplished this, but it was a long process and it was expensive—far beyond the reach of most families. Our laws should not separate American citizens from their loved ones for such unacceptably long periods of time.

On May 18th—just a month from now—Hector and I will legally marry here in the District of Columbia, surrounded by family and friends. We are immensely fortunate that Hector has now secured an investment visa that allows him to remain here with me. Many other couples, however, are not as fortunate. Even if they, like us, have a marriage, civil union or life-long commitment to each other, their ability to secure a permanent solution that would allow them to build a home, family or business together is elusive and difficult to realize. It shouldn’t be that way, and this Committee has an opportunity to fix this problem.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)—legislation sponsored by Chairman Leahy and Senator Collins—would make a profound difference in the lives of many Americans and their families. By amending our immigration laws to treat lesbian and gay families as our nation treats other immigrant families, UAFA would ensure American citizens are not torn apart from their loved ones, or forced in to exile abroad. The Williams Institute at the University of California estimates that some 36,000 couples who are raising more than 25,000 children, would be given the permanence they need to protect their families and build a life here in this country. It is a small number overall. Including this provision would place virtually no additional burden on our immigration system. For those families and their children, however, UAFA’s inclusion in the committee b ill would make all the difference in the world.

The comprehensive immigration reform bill now under consideration by this Committee includes important provisions to make U.S. businesses more competitive. The UAFA does the same, which is why it is supported by Fortune 500 companies like Intel, Marriott, Texas Instruments and US Airways, who have called on lawmakers of both parties to support its passage. The failure to recognize lesbian and gay families in our immigration laws has a direct impact on American business.

A survey last year by the American Council on International Personnel (ACIP) found that ten percent of their member organizations have lost valuable employees who were forced to leave the United States because the employee’s spouse or partner had no ability to remain in the country. An additional forty-two percent reported missing out on a significant recruiting opportunity because a job candidate was unable to bring their partner to the U.S. with them. Meanwhile, six of America’s top ten trading partners, as well as sixty-five percent of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, recognize lesbian and gay couples for immigration purposes. That puts those countries at a distinct competitive advantage over the United States.

In a letter last month to the eight Senators who authored the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, a coalition of 28 of our country’s most prominent companies wrote:

“We have each worked to help American employees whose families are split apart because they cannot sponsor their committed, permanent partners for immigration benefits. We have lost productivity when those families are separated; we have borne the costs of transferring and retraining talented employees to they may live abroad with their loved ones; and we have missed opportunities to bring the best and the brightest to the United States when their sexual orientation means they cannot bring their family with them.”

It isn’t just major corporations that lose out; small business owners are also suffering. In Columbia, South Carolina, a restaurant owner with 25 employees recently made the difficult decision to close his business in order to move so he could be with his partner. In Los Angeles, a young entrepreneur who employed 30 U.S. workers shut his doors after his Canadian partner’s visa expired and they were forced into exile. These are stories that should give us all pause, and cause us to reflect on the price to both American businesses and American families when we choose to leave some of our fellow citizens out of a reform to our immigration laws.

Prior to serving as a Member of Congress, I also had the privilege to serve our country as a member of the United States Navy, including a year’s tour in Vietnam on small boats alongside now-Secretary of State, John Kerry. Both my service in our armed forces, and in the U.S. Congress has reinforced my strong belief that America is unique among the nations of the world in its dedication to equality, liberty and justice for all. Our country is changing and our laws must change with it in order to protect all American citizens and their families, and to strengthen our position in an increasingly competitive, global economy. The immigration reform bill currently before this Committee is a step in the right direction, and I commend the Committee for taking up the difficult task of immigration reform. It can be made better, however, by including American citizens like me, and American businesses—like the 28 who recently wrote many on this Committee—who need your vote for this important addition of the Uniting American Families act to the bill now before you.

It is time, Chairman Leahy and members of the Committee, to fix our immigration laws. The opportunity is too rare, and the positive impact too great to leave anyone behind. Adding UAFA to the committee bill would be a big step toward making it truly comprehensive.

Thank you.

Posted Apr. 22,2013 at 2:24 PM EST by in Immigration, Jim Kolbe, News | Permalink | Comments (15)


Cheyenne Jackson Suits Up for the Onion News Empire: VIDEO

Cheyenne_jackson

Here's Cheyenne Jackson in the trailer for Onion News Empire, the new show that takes place behind the scenes of the satirical Onion News Network. The pilot episode is now live over on Amazon.

Also starring Jeffrey Tambor, Chris Masterson, William Sadler, and Aja Naomi King.

Watch the trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted Apr. 22,2013 at 2:03 PM EST by in Cheyenne Jackson, News, The Onion | Permalink | Comments (8)


Darren Criss Sings Gay Rights-Themed Version of 'Call Me Maybe': VIDEO

Criss

Darren Criss took the stage at this weekend's GLAAD awards in Los Angeles and said he'd be performing the original lyrics from "Call Me Maybe", some of which went like this:

"Hey Supreme Court, we say no hate, so good-bye DOMA, and so long Prop 8."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted Apr. 22,2013 at 1:44 PM EST by in Carly Rae Jepsen, Darren Criss, DOMA, GLAAD, News, Proposition 8 | Permalink | Comments (12)


Family Research Council Caught Stealing, Lying: PHOTOS

Frc

Does the Family Research Council believe thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal?

Is their character morally straight?

Apparently not, because supersleuth Jeremy Hooper at Good As You caught them lying and stealing in a video attacking the idea of inclusive scouting. The hate group apparently needed a visual for its video, so they found one and said it was of Boy Scouts officials holding a policy meeting.

Hooper writes:

FRC simply Photoshopped a Boy Scout logo and a "2013 Policy Meeting" placard onto an existing picture that they lifted from another site. The picture in question is actually from the website LegalGeekery.com and is described as being from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts:

Courtphoto

Posted Apr. 22,2013 at 12:54 PM EST by in Boy Scouts, Family Research Council, News, Tony Perkins | Permalink | Comments (15)


'Independence Day' Director Roland Emmerich Planning Movie About Stonewall Riots

Director Roland Emmerich is planning a movie about Stonewall, he tells Empire online:

Emmerich“I may want to do a little movie – about $12-14 million – about the Stonewall Riots in New York,” revealed Emmerich. “It’s about these crazy kids in New York, and a country bumpkin who gets into their gang, and at the end they start this riot and change the world.”

Emmerich says John Robin Bates is working on a script that follows the story of a homeless gay teen who finds his way to the Stonewall Inn and "gets caught up in the riots."

Emmerich says Bates owes him 20 more pages on the script.

Empire adds:

“I’ve got more and more involved in the Gay & Lesbian Centre in Los Angeles,” says Emmerich, “and I learned that 40% of homeless kids are gay. So things haven’t changed very much. But I put this together and said, I should make a movie about that, so it starts with a kid who gets thrown out of his home and ends up on the streets of the village, and becomes friends with all these kids. In a weird way, it shows that it’s still something that happens today.

“I read a lot about it and was so surprised,” says Emmerich of the process of discovery he's undertaken on the currently untitled movie. “It was the first time that gay people had shown the police that they should take them serious. And when the riot police came – this has always been fascinating for me – these kids formed a chorus line and sang ‘We are the village girls, we wear our hair in curls!’ It was such a cool thing.”

Posted Apr. 22,2013 at 12:24 PM EST by in Film, Roland Emmerich, Stonewall | Permalink | Comments (28)



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