My Two Left Feet

A blog of brief reflections & reviews

June 15, 2018

I’m a 35-year-old man who spent half of his week immersed in stories for kids, attending performances of “Frozen,” the new Broadway musical, and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the recent Tony winner for Best New Play. I did not bring a niece, nephew or young cousin for cover, and I’m not ashamed of it. Both shows were damn fun. Exciting theater? Only one of them, and I’m sure you can guess which. But I’m not going to get on the bandwagon and knock “Frozen.” It’s a fine imitation of the film, mixing cartoon silliness with earnest sisterly love, told with relative efficiency. It’s a safe production, h...

April 11, 2018

It’s embarrassing to be a lifelong musical theater fan and not have seen classics like “Carousel,” the revered 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein show. So watching Jack O’Brien’s Broadway revival last night was first and foremost a relief. Another hole in my musical theater history plugged! But that also means I approached the show without context, as if it were new, which is an interesting test for a 73-year-old story. And while a joy in many ways, it was also a perplexing and ultimately underwhelming experience, too. (No fault of the performers, who were stellar across the board, particularly Joshua Henry’s i...

April 9, 2018

I’m well aware that there is an international refugee crisis currently redefining our world. The United States has, thus far, largely been untouched by it. We talk (or yell) about it and debate what small and symbolic number of refugees we might accept (the preference of the current leadership seems to be zero) but we are not forced to reckon with fleeing people begging at our borders. We know of them, from news reports and photographs, but it seems that most Americans are unmoved by their plight or unwilling to make them a political priority. I’m not exempt from this, and I’m not proud of how little I’ve...

April 9, 2018

Why does “Angels in America” still feel so relevant? It shouldn’t. A quarter century after its Broadway premiere, in the age of gay marriage and PrEP, Tony Kushner’s magnum opus on AIDS and the Reagan era should feel like a nightmare from which we’ve awakened. Watching it should be like looking back down a treacherous mountain from its peak, having successfully climbed and conquered it. And yet, Marianne Elliot’s stunning Broadway revival feels somehow both of its time and completely contemporary.

I watched both parts in an epic eight-hour theatrical marathon last week. (Even with two intermissions for eac...

March 28, 2018

All teen comedies have a moral, and the moral of “Mean Girls” is “be your authentic self” (which, to be fair, is the moral of most teen movies). Tina Fey’s twist was to give it a “girl power” bent or, rather, potential girl power if girls could just stop hunting each other like a leap of leopards on the savanna. When the film came out in 2004, we weren’t yet burdened by smartphones and cursed with social media and hashtags. That crucial evolution in our species is probably the most significant difference between the film and the new Broadway musical, which opens soon.

The Plastics are back. Regina George h...

March 26, 2018

Kenneth Lonergan’s 2001 play “Lobby Hero,” which makes its Broadway debut this week, is not really a play about politics, even though it touches on stuff like race, misogyny and shady internal police dynamics. It’s not an issues play in the social sense, more an issues play in the people sense and all the things they’re grappling with, big and small, in their personal and professional lives. There’s nothing ripped-from-the-headlines about it – even the critical police scrutiny – but there’s something about the characters and their choices that feels of-the-moment. Two security guards (Michael Cera as slac...

March 23, 2018

Nearly 20 years after seeing first seeing the Paul Taylor Dance Company, in high school, with my mom, and more than a decade after officially choosing a dance path (as a presenter and writer, not a dancer), seeing Paul Taylor’s work is often a strange experience of mixed emotions: appreciation for what it meant to me, and the realization that what moved me then doesn’t necessarily penetrate me now. But last night, I found myself moved all over again by “Promethean Fire,” Taylor’s 2002 masterpiece featuring Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue,” which I hadn’t seen in at least a decade and which I might have called,...

March 20, 2018

The deconstruction of identity is typically the concern of academics and activists, not so much magicians. But Derek DelGaudio’s “In & Of Itself,” the intimate, oft-extended off-Broadway show next to Union Square uses literal illusions to explore identity as perhaps the greatest illusion. It’s a clever conceit, and it kinda works. Through a series of vignettes, anchored by the tale of a suicidal sailor known as the Roulettista (as in, Russian Roulette), and interspersed with tricks that involve cards, personalized letters and some ingenious audience participation, DelGaudio manages a fine balance between...

February 28, 2016

An evaluation of this year's nominated films,

and why none of them should win. 

 

 

The Big Short

The Revenant may have been a brutal shoot, but The Big Short is the year’s most ambitious film. It has been accused (by Stephen) of being nothing more than a supped-up Power Point, and that assessment is not wrong. It doesn’t care much about its characters, we don’t get to know them (and when we do, in glimpses, it hardly matters). But that’s the point: it’s not about people, it’s about systems – systems invented by, but indifferent to, people. What’s ambitious here is the storytelling – Steve Carrell is good, Ch...

September 18, 2015

 

When we think of what defines nationality, we tend to think language, politics, the various components of culture. We generally don’t think about agriculture, at least not here in America. Our birth coincided with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and a move away from the farms. 

 

Quick: Think of a national cuisine, a national dish. Apple pie? The hamburger? Does “fast food” count as cuisine? What is this country's food identity?

 

Last night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan presented a work called “Rice,” which is about what it says it is. For more than an hour...

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