Category Archives: Movies

TIDEWATER STAGE’S THE 39 STEPS: A HILARIOUS HOMAGE

“Spoof’ was originally a late 19th century drinking game involving coins. By the late 1950s the term began to be used to describe a skit or “send-up” of a popular literary or cultural genre. By the late 1970s “spoof” had engendered a theatrical movement known as the “Theatre of the Ridiculous”, itself a send up […]

LYRIC OPERA’S MAGIC FLUTE: A Metatheatrical Spectacular

Reviewing an 1879 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the anonymous Chicago Tribune critic noted, “it would be absurd to try to explain the plot…. All sorts of explanations have been attempted but, if anyone ever really knew what it meant, he died before he said anything about it. It is a hodge-podge, nonsense, and […]

Chicago Opera and CITIZEN KANE

“Samuel Insull built the Civic Opera Building for his mistress, an opera singer.” “Samuel Insull built the Civic Opera Building for his mistress, Mary Garden, an opera singer.” These two similar tales are told daily by Chicago River tour guides. And these two tales are totally false. The only truth in the tales is that […]

The Raven Theatre’s A LOSS OF ROSES: The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

The story of Chicago’s role in fostering the career of Tennessee Williams is well known. But Chicago’s role in the career of America’s other great playwright, William Inge, is not as familiar. In 1944 the young drama instructor, William Inge, met the would-be playwright Tennessee Williams in St. Louis where both men lived. Williams invited […]

Lyric Opera’s Bel Canto: The Music, The Music, The Music

“It has a tremendous variety of expression, of musical ideas. It has a virtuoso quality to it. It has very driven and barbaric moments about it, very lyrical moments, very sensual moments. It has chamber music in the midst of all this bombastic stuff. It’s incredibly exciting.” The words of Leonard Bernstein’s former pupil Yakov […]

Kenneth Branaugh and Rob Ashford’s THE WINTER’S TALE arrives

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, the first offering of Kenneth Branaugh’s Plays at the Garrick, arrived on American movie screens last evening. After an interminable unedited film of the Garrick audience doing nothing but sitting, the production began, the American audience not as well-disposed as it had been forty minutes earlier when the unedited […]

SFO’s SHOWBOAT: New Excellence in Live Performance Recording

The recently released two disc DVD of the San Francisco Opera’s 2014 production of Hammerstein and Kern’s pioneer opera Showboat is a treat for many reasons. First, rarely has the art of live performance recording been practiced to such great effect than by screen director Frank Zamacona and his EuroArts team. The shots are beautifully […]

AMERICAN SNIPER: The Sheepdog

The great films of Clint Eastwood have a fascination with the nature of male friendship. From Unforgiven through Invictus, Gran Torino, Letters from Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers, Mystic River, and even Jersey Boys, the director has explored philia (brotherly love) with a depth and understanding rare in any other director. At times Eastwood’s […]

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS: The Wrong Protagonist

The differences between the Exodus story according to film director Ridley Scott and the Biblical account of the Exodus is in the chosen protagonist (chief actor; hero). Ridley Scott casts Moses as the protagonist; the story is about him. The Bible recounts the heroic actions of God; the story is about Him. Scott’s Moses is […]

ST. VINCENT: Bill Murray Explains It All

Bill Murray has played a remarkable collection of curmudgeons and misanthropes – Tripper, Carl Spackler, John Winger, Dr. Peter Venkman, Frank Cross, Bob Wiley, Phil Connors, Frank Milo, Ernie McCracken, Wallace Ritchie, Herman Blume, and Raleigh St. Clair among them. All seem as warmups to Vincent McKenna in Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent. Vincent McKenna is […]