Tag Archives: off-broadway

“This Time”: A Poignant Music Documentary

This Time chronicles the struggles of singers

This Time chronicles the career of singers, including the Sweet Inspirations

This Time” follows singers’ struggles

This Time“, the new documentary from Victor Mignatti shows the bleak and sometimes tragic side of the music industry. The movie profiles five musical artists—four who were once on or near the top, and one who has been trying to make it for over a decade.

The group Sweet Inspirations (originally with Cissy Houston) sang backup with Elvis Presley for several years, as well as Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklyn, Dusty Springfield and even Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately, very little recognition has come their way. One of the more poignant scenes shows them singing back up for Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas.

Then there’s Pat Hodges. She’s an awesome singer who wound up homeless in L.A.  Despite her travails and her life on the street, she keeps the faith, as do all of the singers in the film. Even though they have faced failure, they pick themselves up and keep on going. They have learned the hard way that talent doesn’t guarantee success.

The movie follows music producer Peitor Angell who tries to revive the careers of the Sweet Inspirations and Pat Hodges—with minimal success. In the meantime, cabaret singer Bobby Belfry tries to makes it in New York. and manages to land a gig at the fabulous Feinsteins at Loews Regency.

I would have liked to see more background info and interviews with some of the celebs they worked with or who knew them. The film was  a bit long and edited erratically, but it is an interesting story and a cautionary tale about how fickle fame can be.

 

Massacre (Sing to Your Children)

Massacre (Sing to Your Children) at the Rattlestick.

You won’t find a more alarming, provocative, startling start to a play, off-Broadway or on- than the assault on the audience in Massacre (Sing to Your Children.) As music blares and lights flash, six characters in outlandish masks burst through a door into a grim slaughterhouse. They are all soaked in blood. A seventh rolls in through a chute.

They’re wild, adrenaline-drunk, frenzied in the aftermath of what they’ve just done—killed a man, Joe. Or at least they hope they have killed him. Sure they hacked him with scimitars, poked him with a pitchfork, pierced him with an icepick, and they all wear gallons of his blood. Still, there’s a fear that they might not have completed the job. Why?

It seems that this character, Joe, is some sort of supernaturally evil being who has taken over their small New England town. With his arrival, crops have withered, births have ceased, children have turned against their parents, people disappear, and all live in fear. At least that’s what this crew of locals—two auto mechanics, a teacher, a housewife, a psychic, a fry cook and a drifter—believe. The info about Joe is revealed in dribs and drabs in the first act. Action is non-stop–and so is the talk, as each of the characters  reveals something about themselves. Until an ominous pounding on the door brings the first act to a close.

Massacre (Sing to Your Children) at the Rattlestick

The second act brings shocks and revelations as all comes undone. Unfortunately, by this time the action has slowed to a crawl and twists and turns become formulaic.

Massacre was written by Jose Rivera and directed by Brian Mertes. The repertory cast does an excellent job in a difficult piece. Massacre (Sing to Your Children) is at the Rattlestick until May 12

Venus in Fur Crackles

Venus in Fur Poster

Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda star

Venus i Fur Crackles on Broadway

You know what happens when you’re in a dark, cold, dry room and you rub a fat long-haired cat the wrong way? Right: sparks fly. And that’s just what happens in Venus in Fur at the Lyceum. The play opens as thunder and lightning boom and flash on a dark stage. What follows is an hour and a half of non-stop building sexual tension between Vonda (Nina Arianda) and Thomas (Hugh Dancy). Just the two of them, a bag full of costumes dragged in by Vonda, a few pieces of furniture and a witty, edgy script full of twists and turns.With it’s play-within-a-play structure and 19th century shadow story, the play is quite Tom-Stoppard-esque. The plot is convoluted, the characters exchange roles, and, in the end, a bit more clarity would have been appreciated. But, when leaving the theater everyone can be hard exclaiming the same thing: Nina Arianda! She is a force of nature. Beguiling. Sexy. Dangerous. Eccentric. Endearing. As electric as the lightning that flashes throughout the show. Hugh Dancy does a great job just to keep up with her. Don’t miss it!

Congratulations to Nina Arianda, just nominated for a Best Actress Tony! And David Ives, Best Playwright nominee for Venus in Fur.

Authors’ Night In Easthampton

Literati Under a Tent at the Library

Scores of authors, both local and national, sat  behind their stacks of books Saturday evening and patiently engaged in conversation with book lovers—and maybe sold a few books in the process. We had a nice visit with Alice Harris who brought the family out to support her and spread the word about her latest book, The Wedding Album. Sitting nearby was the totally charming Marianne Hagan, author of Victoria Hagan, Interior Portraits, a book about her sister’s interior design projects. We also visited with Robert Caro from whom i finally bought a copy of The Power Broker. I told him i had put off purchasing it before because the book was too thick and heavy to lug back and forth on the jitney.

danielle freeman

Danielle Freeman is the Restaurant Girl

Vivacious Danyelle Freeman, The Restaurant Girl, was also there with her book, Try This.

 

Danyelle Freeman’s Latest

I also had a nice chat about one of my childhood heroes with Tom Clavin co-author of Roger Maris. Ex-Yankee Jim Leyritz was there pitching his new book.

Tom Clavin is co-author of "ROger Maris"

Co-author Tom Clavin was at Author’s Night

Also on hand were Martin Amis, Alec Baldwin, Dick Cavett, Robert Klein and many many more.