Theatre Hub

Alan Cumming Discusses the Shia LaBeouf Butt-Grabbing 'Cabaret' Incident: VIDEO


Last week, actor Shia LaBeouf appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and told an insane story about the night he drank too much last June and ended up in a jail cell after causing a scene at a performance of Cabaret on Broadway and grabbing actor Alan Cumming's butt in the process.

Cumming told Conan O'Brien his side of the story last night and showed some concern for LaBeouf's state of mind. He said that the cast of the show that night was "freaking out because somebody seemed to be a crazy person in the audience", or "a LaBeouf quality to the air" as Conan puts it.

Cumming says that he thinks LaBeouf has "made a good recovery" in the public eye given the craziness of the incident and forgives him also given the fact that he said Cumming is "the sexiest guy he's ever seen."


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David Mixner on Activism, History, and His One-Man Sold-Out NYC Show 'Oh Hell No': INTERVIEW



One week from today on October 27, longtime LGBT and civil rights activist David Mixner will take the stage at New World Stages for the world premiere of Oh Hell No!, a theatrical, autobiographical (and occasionally musical) one-man-show in which he will plumb the depths of his history to deliver a storytelling session that promises a few shocks, his signature wisdom, and a hefty dose of humor.

The more than $175,000 in proceeds from Mixner's show, which sold out in less than a day, will benefit The Point Foundation, an organization he has long supported. The Point Foundation empowers promising LGBTQ students with scholarships and enables them to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.

Mixner's activist role in numerous moments in our nation's social struggles — from anti-Vietnam efforts to battling California's Proposition 6 (which would have made it illegal for gays to become schoolteachers), to battling the AIDS epidemic, to the very public split with his friend Bill Clinton over the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, (the list goes on) — has given him one of the most fascinating and unique perspectives on the LGBT and civil rights movement you're likely to find.

I had a chance to sit down with Mixner, who is also a contributor to Towleroad, to talk about his generous gift and what he has in store for audiences.

OhhellnoOn September 27, you wrote on Facebook, "One month away and I am scared to death already! What have I done????" What did possess you to do such a thing and what about it scares you the most?

In February, I almost died in intensive care and I realized that so much of the history that I have witnessed over the last five decades hasn't been shared. Each day as another pioneer of this movement passes without an oral history we are losing a part of ourselves. What scares me the most is that someone will believe that my story is the definitive history of the LGBT movement. It is only about my journey and my recollections. I don't want to diminish anyone else's story or their differing memories.

How do you prepare for such an undertaking?

Practice, practice, and more practice. I have an incredible team working with me. Director Stephen Brackett (Buyer & Cellar) and Musical Director Mat Eisenstein are simply astoundingly talented. Producer Tim Ranney came up with the idea and the team at Point Foundation has been amazingly talented. I'm so proud that we have raised enough funds through this show already to send seven LGBT students to college for a full year!

Why did you choose The Point Foundation as the beneficiary of the proceeds from your show?

I love the concept of being responsible for the next generation of LGBT Americans. The Point Foundation is supporting some of the best and brightest of American LGBT youth.

What part of performing the show do you find the most challenging?

Without question, talking about my personal journey with HIV/AIDS and the loss of friends. It devastates me every time when I have to share publicly about it. Of course, there is the old fashion fear of falling flat on your ass in front of a powerful audience filled with friends.

Did you grow up doing theatre? Do you have any history as a 'showman'?

Actually, no. I did grow up on the old Southern/rural tradition of storytelling. My Grandpa Grove (aka Buzzard Bait) taught me the art and I was riveted by his stories. Storytelling was a powerful art form before the advent of modern media. Only once have I done a similar production, called "From The Front Porch", and "Oh Hell No!" is part two. Of course, I have a little bit of the 'preacher man' in me and I have spoken publicly for all my life.

Your previous show "From The Front Porch" - do you consider that a sort of preparation for this production or are they two separate things entirely?

After the first one, which was well received, I didn't think I would ever do it again. That one was off-off-Broadway at Dixon Place. After being critically ill and in February, I felt an urgency to get more of our history out to the masses. This one will be at New World Stages and is more elaborate in its staging. The two fit together almost perfectly as Part I and Part II.

What can people who were lucky enough to get tickets expect from this one?

Besides an entertaining and moving evening of storytelling, they have a right to believe that I will be honest, forthcoming and not sugarcoat difficult periods in our history. Actually, we could do ten of these shows and only scratch the surface of the stories that need to be passed on to future generations.

DmixnerWhat parts of your show do you think will surprise folks the most?

Oh, there is no question there will be surprises. I plan on a very frank discussion of the dialogue I had with President Clinton and members of his team around the issue of LGBT Americans serving in the military. I have never spoken of these meetings before this production.

I will also speak for the first time about some highly illegal activities that I engaged in during the HIV/AIDS crisis. However, the art of storytelling is not about 'shock value'. It is about passing on knowledge in a funny and moving way.


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North Carolina High School Cancels Play With Gay Scene for 'Sexually-Explicit Overtones'

53-5-K_a3jrgB8cRuJZfSKFAfSyyOKmo9eL7g5Ea0b0Though in 2010, it became the most widely-produced play among American High Schools, "Almost, Maine" has been cancelled due to opposition at a North Carolina high school, Maiden High School. The play is made up of nine vignettes about love, and one of the vignettes is about a gay couple. 

According to WSOC, “some parents and area churches complained”  about the play. The school then decided "Almost, Maine" was too controversial, cancelling it. In a statement on the decision, the school's Principal Rob Bliss (pictured) cited “sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.”

According to a Maiden student, Conner Baker, who spoke with ThinkProgress, the students had already paid for rights to produce the play — a cool $300. The show had already auditioned and was in rehearsals.

Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing Open in ‘It’s Only a Play’ on Broadway: REVIEW



Anyone who thinks theatre people are a bunch of eccentric, egotistical, navel-gazing kooks will find little to prove them wrong in the starry Broadway premiere of Terrence McNally’s 1982 comedy It’s Only a Play, which opened last week at the Schoenfeld Theatre. Directed by Jack O’Brien, the backstage farce meets drawing-room play takes up with a team of show folk anxiously awaiting reviews on opening night.

It's only play 3If you’re determined enough to snag tickets to the nearly-sold-out run, you’ll find its crowded marquee of big names, including Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, Megan Mullally and F. Murray Abraham, preening around the opulent interior of an upper east side townhouse, wringing their hands over the trials of mounting a play and goosing the audience with an exhaustive litany of de rigueur insider jokes and name drops.

The bedroom of this lux abode (lavishly designed by Scott Pask) belongs to theatre producer Julia Budder (Ms. Mullally), and tonight it’s doubling as a coat room for the opening party of her first big Broadway venture. Peter (Mr. Broderick) wrote the play’s lead role for his friend James (Mr. Lane), who turned it down to continue his stint on a mediocre sitcom and has flown in to make sure he didn’t pass on a hit.

It's only play 2The play’s leading lady Virginia (Ms. Channing) is a pill-popping star out on parole (complete with security anklet) and its British director Frank (Rupert Grint) is prickly, bizarre and apparently brilliant. A predatory critic is also on hand to generally antagonize all (Mr. Abraham), and the coat check boy (an aspiring actor, of course, played by Micah Stock) is charged with the running gag of schlepping outerwear for increasingly outlandish guests (Shia LaBeouf! The cast of The Lion King! Lady Gaga!).

Lane and Channing are both a delight, incidentally as caricatures of their own profession. Mr. Lane’s animated ease and precise comic timing make light work of his many rapid-fire one-liners. Ms. Channing is spot on as the industry-weary grand dame, all sharp-tongue and taut-face.

With a mild southern drawl and coiffed wig, Ms. Mullally doesn’t cut quite as extreme a figure as some of Broadway’s more eccentric producers. And while charming, Mr. Broderick seems a bit dazed—even as a playwright facing reviews on opening night. He’s also saddled with thanklessly delivering McNally’s sentimental odes to the art form, the sincerity of which seem stodgy and out of place.

It's only play 4In updating the original script for this production, McNally has packed it to the gills with jabs and winks aimed at celebrities big and small—with audiences invited to listen in on the fun (show people sh*t talking behind the scenes!). But like most opening night parties this one is relatively uneventful, aside from people waiting around for reviews to come in and reacting when they do. The rest of the play is taken up with the artists’ neuroses (at their most stereotypical) and these often backhanded zingers.

Much of McNally’s humor is low-hanging fruit (spoiler alert: the cast takes a group selfie), and much of the story (such as it is) gets buried in it. Though often funny, the players in McNally’s satire are gleefully narcissistic—and no more sympathetic than the critics they delight in vilifying. The play (like the play within the play) is obsessed with its own critical reception, though it's hardly clear why when the names above its title are enough to ensure box office gold.

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

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Opens on Broadway: REVIEW



The best plays, like the best fiction, force us to see the world in a new way. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a breathtaking new play by Simon Stephens adapted from Mark Haddon’s book of the same name, goes one step further—plunging us deep into the frenzied, myopic mind of an uncommon boy investigating the murder of a neighborhood dog. Directed by Marianne Elliott (Tony winner for War Horse), the electrifying National Theatre production, which arrived on Broadway Sunday at the Barrymore Theatre, cracks open the imagination and kicks it into the most thrilling kind of overdrive.

CuriousFans of Haddon’s best-selling 2003 novel may remember its unusual narrator, Christopher Boone: a 15-year-old, self-proclaimed “mathematician with behavioural difficulties.” Though Haddon has written that his book is not a story about Asperger’s or autism, Christopher has qualities consistent with points along the spectrum and, above all, his mind is an extraordinary sort of kaleidoscope through which to observe and navigate the world.

Stephens’ adaptation begins as the novel does, with Christopher (played with dizzying precision and sensitivity by Alex Sharp) discovering his neighbor’s dog, murdered in the yard. In the ensuing interactions, first with a policeman and later his father, Christopher’s particular way of seeing and relating quickly becomes clear: he doesn’t like to be touched except for palm-to-palm, he always tells the truth and his relentless devotion to logic finds ultimate solace in math while leading him to think (quite reasonably) that metaphors are really just lies. 

Curious4Christopher’s recount of the play’s events is narrated, initially, by his teacher Siobhan (a robustly heartfelt Francesa Faridany) as a story he has written for school. As the plot launches from his canine recon to shattering revelations about his family, Christopher is thrust onto a collision course with his most terrifying mental roadblocks—including a narrow capacity for emotions, paralyzing fear of sensory chaos and limited ability to move about the world.

A nimble, multi-talented ensemble morphs into the drama’s many characters and creates the show’s people-powered stage magic (who says a boy needs suspended cables to dream of flying?). Sharp, a recent Juilliard grad, makes a dazzling Broadway debut, animating Christopher’s every frenetic mental shift with mesmerizing agility. As his parents, Richard Hollis and Enid Graham reveal the heartbreaking heft of raising and loving a child like Christopher.

Curious1Every facet of Elliott’s deftly imaginative production works to visualize Christopher’s inner life—from his revelatory, often moving flashes of mental clarity to moments of overwhelming terror. An ingenious team of designers does stunning work creating a world ordered around Christopher’s experience—lines, light, noise, arithmetic—all imbued with a sort of magical realism.

At first, organizing his experience into words is a way for Christopher to cope with being an outsider; Siobhan reading them aloud acts as a kind of validation. Watching Christopher take control of his own story as the play unfolds is as beautiful as it is empowering—particularly for anyone who's ever felt like a misfit.

Recent theatre reviews...
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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: joan marcus)

Theatre News: Lohan's Debut, 'Wolf Hall', 'Zhivago', Estefan Musical Aim for 2015


This month in theatre news, Lindsay Lohan debuts on the West End, and the KGB, Henry VIII and a deaf leading lady will all play Broadway in 2015.

> Lindsay Lohan opened at London’s Playhouse Theatre in David Mamet’s Speed the Plow, in a role originated by Madonna and most recently played by Elisabeth Moss on Broadway. The jury is split on whether ‘fetch’ happened—the Mean Girls actress reportedly forgot a line or two in the 90 minute drama, and drew mixed (though assuringly few terrible) reviews from critics.

Doctor-zhivago> A musical adaptation of the classic film, Doctor Zhivago will come to Broadway in 2015 directed by Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys). Featuring music by Lucy Simon, lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers and book by Michael Weller, the show first premiered in 2006 at La Jolla Playhouse in Calif., followed by a significantly revised version in Australia last year. The production will take over the Broadway Theatre, where Cinderella is set to close Jan. 3.

> Producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Matthew Byam Shaw announced that the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2 will transfer to Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre (where Rocky closed this summer) beginning performances March 20, 2015. Based on the best-selling novels by Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the plays tackle the drama of the court of Henry VIII (meaning heads will roll!). Both shows will run in repertory.

Luftig> Gloria Estefan told the New York Daily News that pop star Ariana Grande is her top pick to play the Grammy-winning icon in On Your Feet!, the new musical based on Estefan’s life and career slated to arrive on Broadway at the Marquee Theatre in October, 2015. Grande was previously seen on Broadway in the 2007 musical 13. Fingers remain crossed for Nick Jonas to play Emilio.

> Mark Medoff’s 1980 play Children of a Lesser God, about the romance between a deaf woman and a hearing man, will be revived on Broadway in the 2015-2016 season by Kinky Boots producer Hal Luftig (pictured right). Kenny Leon, who won a Tony for his direction of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington last season, will direct. No casting has been announced, but the team is committed to assembling a diverse cast and presenting a deaf actress in the leading role, according to the New York Times.



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