Elaine Stritch at Liberty - BroadwayHD
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Elaine Stritch At Liberty, the Broadway legend's Tony Award-winning solo show, will be available to stream on BroadwayHD beginning March 1.
I can tell you a lot about Elaine Stritch who died in 2014 at the age of 89 but none of it would begin to tell you what you need to know of this Broadway legend. For that, you have to watch this, the best one-woman show I’ve ever seen. Only Elaine Stritch can tell you what you need to know about Elaine Stritch.
Elaine Stritch At Liberty ran on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre in 2002, winning the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. In her own incomparable style, the production details Stritch's 50-plus-year career on stage and screen with emotional and witty monologues alongside musical performances of her signature songs like "Zip" and "The Ladies Who Lunch."
To get you started, the facts are that during her career, Stritch was nominated for four Tony Awards for her work in productions of Bus Stop, Sail Away, Company, and A Delicate Balance. She also won three Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety Program for Elaine Stritch At Liberty.
Produced by George C. Wolfe and written by Stritch and John Lahr, this apparently free-wheeling narrative of a life in the theatre delivers excitement, laughter, celebrity-bashing and an awful lot of wicked fun.
This streaming performance was filmed at London's Old Vic Theater.
Philip Goes Forth – Mint Theater
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Mint Theater Company continues its popular free streaming series of past Mint Productions with George Kelly’s Philip Goes Forth. This is an excellent New York theatre company that specialises in reviving half-forgotten plays of a bygone era and reminding the audience of the riches of an earlier theatrical time. By streaming their productions they serve a national and international audience that is unable to see their live productions in person.
Philip Goes Forth was written around 1931, and explores the relationships between parents and their children. It tells the story of a young man who rebels against his father and a career in the family business and ventures to New York to write plays. He leaves home without his father’s support or blessing, but with this warning: “Don’t imagine, whenever you get tired floating around up there in the clouds that you can drop right back into your place down here; that isn’t the way things go.”
It premiered at the Biltmore Theater on Broadway in January of 1931. George Kelly’s comedy has some discouraging words for its title character—and this rubbed a few critics the wrong way. The Times’ Brooks Atkinson was especially disgruntled. “To discourage the neophytes about coming to New York and trying their fortune with the arts is to accept considerable responsibility,” Atkinson proclaimed, while missing the point of the play. Kelly was so disappointed by the lack of critical perception that he gave up writing for the theater for the next five years.
This production—the play’s first in 82 years—finally garnered the critical perception it deserves. “It’s a gem,” hailed Terry Teachout in The Wall Street Journal, “mounted with the company’s accustomed skill and resourcefulness." Joe Dziemianowicz of The New York Daily News wrote, “Philip Goes Forth isn’t about shattering dreams of aspiring writers, but about knowing who you are, what you’re not and what really matters. All three of those themes are worth writing home about.”
Streaming until March 19, 2023.
Life Returns - Matthew Evan Taylor
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Over the course of 2021, MetLiveArts commissioned composer Matthew Evan Taylor for twelve “Postcards to The Met,” small sparks of collaborative inspiration that he developed remotely with members of the orchestral Metropolis Ensemble and South Asian jazz collective RAJAS.
These bite-sized pieces of music, which explored African-American, South Asian, and Western European musical practices, coalesced into “Life Returns,” a monumental evening-length work that melds free improvisation and through composition to celebrate resilience and triumph in the face of despair.
It features Matthew Evan Taylor on winds, with the Metropolis Ensemble conducted by Andrew Cyr. Rajna Swaminathan plays the mrudangam. I had to look it up too. It’s a percussion instrument associated with carnatic music from South India.
Miracle of Miracles – Matt Moisey
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Fiddler on the roof "Miracle of Miracles" - YouTube
My friend Adele, sharp-eyed as always in pursuit of unusual musical theatre items, found this lovely rendering of a lesser-known song from Fiddler on the Roof. The singer is Matt Moisey who was in the Broadway revival of Fiddler and, along with several other singers from that cast, performed a few numbers at the Broadway in the Boros festival in Staten Island. This is an exuberant performance from a young singer who takes and gives joy in every line.
If you’re not familiar with Fiddler on the Roof, the musical, this song comes just after Tevye, the father of the family and the show’s principal character, has agreed to allow his oldest daughter, Hodel, to marry Mottel, the man she loves, a poor tailor, instead of the man he has chosen, a rich butcher. In celebraton, Mottel sings "Miracle of Miracles. This is an outdoor recording so there are wind sounds which don’t detract.
Sylvia – Old Vic
Talking of exuberant, the mostly female cast of Sylvia, at the Old Vic, led by Beverley Knight as the formidable suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and Sharon Rose in the title role as her rebellious daughter, sings up a storm. On the coattails of Hamilton, the musical style is a combination of rap, hip-hop and rock, although not nearly as refined, but what they lose in historical specificity, they make up for in commitment and volume. This show is LOUD.
Initially, Sylvia is just one of the gaggle of Pankhurst daughters who faithfully follow their mum into her historic and dangerous work of winning votes for women. Quite soon, though, Sylvia breaks her own ground by becoming involved, personally and idealogically, with the socialist ideas of David Lloyd George, the Liberal Party leader who would become Prime Minister, eventually being expelled from her mother’s organisation. Emmeline’s only goal was that of women’s suffrage, no matter what the price, no matter what the means. Sylvia wanted suffrage for all men and women, and relief from the burden of poverty that she saw when she went out into the community.
As Sylvia, Sharon Rose is rather more gentle and sweet than the real Sylvia must have been. She was arrested and tried for ‘abusive language and causing a public disturbance’ but Rose’s performance and her splendid voice lack the fire of a true revolutionary.
Beverley Knight, on the other hand, although underused, sets fire to the stage in her two big numbers and it’s easy to believe that this Emmeline Pankhurst was at the same time a rigid unbending woman and a first-rate political thinker, a peerless leader who changed our society forever.
Ruth Leon is a writer and critic specialising in music and theatre.