Streaming Theatre

Started by scenicdesign71, May 07, 2020, 12:27 am

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I enjoyed it very much! Audrey Brisson was in my year at drama school and was just as magical then (she also played Amelie in the West End production)
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!


She was remarkable!  And I actually wondered, as I was watching, whether she might have been the West End Amelie!  On the basis of her work in Flying Lovers, she would seem ideal for that role.


Dec 13, 2020, 11:13 am #62 Last Edit: Dec 17, 2020, 10:42 pm by scenicdesign71
The Wilma Theater's Heroes of the Fourth Turning has been extended for an extra week, and will now remain available to stream through December 20.  Though hardly light holiday viewing, I highly recommend it.

But don't say I didn't warn you -- it's really not light holiday viewing.  (Maybe a respite from light holiday viewing, which I found salutary after watching Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square and Ryan Murphy's movie version of The Prom on successive weekends).  There's a lot of politico-religious exegesis and argument, an equal amount of drunken soul-searching, and a careful smattering of mysterious, highly dramatic moments whose precise meanings remain tantalizingly opaque to me.

Indeed, the entire worldview (Christian conservatism) more-or-less shared by all five of playwright Will Arbery's characters in Heroes often feels so disorientingly foreign that I have to take his socio-/ideological accuracy on pure faith.  But it certainly feels sharply observed, and the characters seem sensitively rendered, in part because the dark-night-of-the-soul he's contrived reveals their human vulnerability (actions sometimes belie beliefs, arguments hang unresolved, certitudes give way to doubts) without prescribing any easy solutions, nor glibly equating their personal foibles with their religious or political views.  Among other achievements, Arbery has created -- within a milieu that I'm guessing most of his audiences will find as exotic as I do, and with little quarter given for easy analogy to any more familiar cultural mainstream -- five vividly distinct and specific characters whose deeply-held convictions both link and sometimes divide them.  If these characters fall into discernible "types," with shifting and sometimes uncertain allegiances among them, they nevertheless feel fleshed-out and alive and surprising, even when they're yakking on about the arcane subtleties of Catholic doctrine.  (Getting me to understand, even fleetingly and somewhat notionally, these peoples' passion for such matters is an achievement in itself).

I can't offhand think of a recent (or even not-so-recent) play that has given such open and sustained voice to conservative perspectives without a trace of condescension or knee-jerk condemnation.  It's a spooky watch at times, but a fascinating and sometimes thrilling one.


Dec 23, 2020, 07:58 am #63 Last Edit: Dec 31, 2020, 11:16 pm by scenicdesign71
I got up at 8 this morning to watch my third (and favorite) Christmas Carol so far this season, that of the Old Vic, a matinée live-streamed at 1pm GMT but early morning here.  (The other remaining performances were sold out by the time I finally got around to buying a ticket yesterday).  I'm very glad I did, and now wish I'd seen the production when it came to Broadway a couple of winters ago.  In addition to delightful staging, gorgeously-performed arrangements of traditional carols, and a winning Scrooge in Andrew Scott (heading a very fine cast indeed), Jack Thorne's adaptation wreaks a number of gentle but shrewd and intriguing variations on the story as we know it; I may need to buy a copy of his script for further perusal.

On Monday, after somehow missing the entire nearly-three-week livestream run of Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol, I finally managed to watch the recording which can be viewed on Marquee TV on-demand until January 3.  Like Thorne, MC has done some rejiggering of the story -- mostly, in this case, by framing Dickens's tale in the context of one family's 21st-century holiday tradition: an annual homemade puppet-show Xmas Carol, disrupted this year by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This framing story, reasserting itself periodically throughout, takes a while to gel; and in the end I was reminded that the strength of this talented troupe lies in their brilliance as visual storytellers, not so much as wordsmiths (most of their work over the past decade has been wordless).  But oh, what visual storytelling: it finds its groove around the time the Spirits start arriving, and just takes off from there.  While the bi-level narrative structure (shakily anchored by a Scrooge-figure, the modern-day "Aunt Trudy," whose Scrooge-iness feels oddly tentative and apologetic) never entirely lives up to the visual ingenuity that's been lavished upon it, the overall result manages to be both moving and timely, serving up such a feast of beautiful and inventive design that I can't complain.  I'll be watching it again, probably more than once.

Over the weekend I watched Primary Stages' Zoom reading of A Christmas Carol: briskly efficient, more dutifully faithful than the other two (adaptor/director Theresa Rebeck seems to have restricted herself to editing Dickens for length and occasionally simplifying some of his language), and on both counts less memorable -- though the performances were great fun, most of all Raúl's Ebenezer.  I'd love to see him take on the role in Thorne's version whenever Broadway finally comes back.

Sadly, I managed to miss the Hartford Stage Christmas Carol; if anyone here saw it, please do give us a report.

Finally, I will be watching the Jefferson Mays version at some point, but that streams until January 3 as well, so there's time.


Dec 28, 2020, 06:27 pm #64 Last Edit: Dec 29, 2020, 12:44 am by scenicdesign71
From now through Wednesday (Dec. 30), the aforementioned Jefferson Mays Christmas Carol has a discount code, MARLEY30, good for 40% off -- bringing the price down from $50 to $30.  After they send you the link, you can start streaming the show anytime through Jan. 3; but once you begin the stream, it'll only remain viewable for 24 hours (during which you can watch as many times as you like).


It's available for the next 72 hours.  Make a donation as low as $5.00 for access.  It's just delightful.  (And I totally saw Donna in one of the roles should it ever play live.)
I no longer long for the old view!


Jan 02, 2021, 02:15 am #66 Last Edit: Jan 08, 2021, 06:26 pm by scenicdesign71
Glad to hear you enjoyed Ratatouille, Tom!  I got a ticket shortly before seeing your post last night, though I still haven't watched it myself.  But with your recommendation, I'll try to watch in a less grumpily dutiful frame of mind.  (As much as I did like the movie, I can't find any part of the phrase "crowd-sourced TikTok musical based on Disney" that doesn't fill me with wincing apprehension... but I will get over myself and give it a look at some point today).

And speaking of my inner Scrooge, I finally watched the J. Mays Christmas Carol and enjoyed it enormously.  I still think the Old Vic's might win by a hair if I were ranking the four Carols I've seen this year, but this version sits more-than-comfortably among the bunch: it's as faithful to Dickens as Rebeck's Primary Stages adaptation, and as visually inventive as Manual Cinema's version.  (It's also the spookiest of the four).  Mays himself is a wonderful Scrooge -- I should say he's a wonderful everyone: the final credit-crawl amusingly lists the entire cast of characters, dozens of roles, with Mays's name repeated over and over.

And there's a whole lot to admire about the smart (in both senses, intelligent and stylish) design and cinematography on display here, especially in this spectacle-challenged year of Zoom theatre.  Once or twice I actually found myself questioning whether this virtuosic solo performance needed quite so much visual embellishment.  While the appropriately sepulchral lighting shrewdly declines to flaunt this fact, it does soon become apparent that Mays is in fact sharing the initially rather bare-looking stage with quite a substantial and intricately-crafted machinery of props, automated scenery and projections -- including, among many other goodies, a "doughnut" revolve bearing a small army of furniture through the evening, and a flying rig to swoop Mays off his feet and into Christmas Past.  He's far too good a performer to ever actually be upstaged by all this wizardry, but there were times when I could've settled for less of an eyeful.

(Or perhaps, though I cringe to admit it, I'm just jealous never to have had the ingenuity -- nor, it must be said, the budget -- to have wrought such tidy miracles in any of my own Christmas Carols in years gone by.  My inner Anton Ego, maybe?).

The Sufjan Stevens score also distracted me more than once.  But that's neither Scrooge nor Ego, particularly; that's just me, a mere four years Stevens's senior, becoming an old fart more generally.


Jan 02, 2021, 08:41 am #67 Last Edit: Jan 14, 2021, 02:23 am by scenicdesign71
Okay, I just watched the TikTok Ratatouille and have to admit it was fun.  A hot mess, but a charming one: if anything, I have even less desire to see the justly-beloved Disney/Pixar film brought to the real-live post-Covid Broadway stage after watching this than I had before, but that's not to deny that this virtual smorgasbord provided more than a few moments of genuine delight.  And while, to my mind, the legitimacy of mass crowdsourcing as a viable method of creating musicals now stands exactly where it might have, say, a year ago -- nothing-much to be said in favor of it, almost-literally everything to be said against -- for the current moment, what they've achieved is impressive, even moving, as a kind of group art therapy on a huge scale.  Pre-Covid, that might have seemed the backhanded-est of praise, but under these extraordinary circumstances it's meant with sincere admiration.

My favorite thing about it, oddly enough, was the music -- the orchestra, that is: watching the instrumentalists in various Zoom (or, I guess, TikTok?) panels making it, while hearing the results in the finished sound mix: a kind of concentrated syrup of Disney-Broadway stylings at their most mercilessly irresistible (the arrangements here are eerily attuned to the genre, scrambling any plausible distinction between parody and homage).  Come to think of it, seeing the orchestra -- as one almost never does on B'way -- in studios or studio apartments, wearing street clothes or WFH sweats, has been for me one of the most moving parts of a lot of these virtual events over the past nine months, starting with the Merrily overture that kicked off "Take Me To The World" back in April.


Jan 13, 2021, 06:56 pm #69 Last Edit: Jan 14, 2021, 04:01 pm by scenicdesign71
Irish Rep is bringing back all of their streaming productions from last year!  Donations encouraged but not required (though even the suggested $100 for the whole festival actually breaks down to just 11 bucks per show, if you watch all nine of them).  With or without a donation, reservations are required; and this is appointment viewing, not streaming-on-demand -- but the shows all run in virtual rep for almost a month, January 26 - February 21, so there are lots of showtimes to choose from.

Apparently I'm not the only one who was intrigued, from fairly early on, by the Rep's evident commitment to adapting these performances for this strange new medium: whether green-screened or performed in an empty theatre, the few I saw last year were technically polished and visually astute, a league above your average Zoom reading.  Judging by the pull-quotes on the festival splash page linked above, it seems Theatermania and the Wall Street Journal thought so, too.