Cris Alexander (1920-2012), the original Chip in “On the Town”

Cris Alexander (1920-2012), the original Chip in "On the Town"
Alexander in 2009 (Luanne M. Ferris / Times Union) Cris Alexander, a Broadway actor and portrait photographer, died on March 7 in Saratoga Springs, where he lived full-time since 1991.  His death at age 92 came just two weeks after that of Shaun O’Brien, the New York City Ballet character dancer and Alexander’s companion of 61 years. Alexander starred in the 1944 premiere of “On the Town,” creating...
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Verdensteatret: “And all the Question Marks Started to Sing” (preview and review)

Verdensteatret:  "And all the Question Marks Started to Sing" (preview and review)
“It looks like a group of very bad, very nervous engineers have been there.” That’s the Norwegian multi-disciplinary artist Lisbeth J. Bodd’s attempt to describe “And All the Question Marks Started to Sing.” During our long-distance interview it probably didn’t occur to her that the theater piece would actually be appearing at an engineering school. “All the Question Marks…” will be performed tonight and...
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Speak, Tony! Speak! (CD Review)

Speak, Tony!  Speak!  (CD Review)
Pianist Anthony de Mare has been a champion of contemporary music of many sorts. Yet his trademark is the amazing things he can do at the piano besides play the keys, namely talking. The pinnacle of his accomplishments, in what might be considered a new genre of works, is Frederic Rzewski’s “De Profundis,” an amazing setting of portions of Oscar Wilde’s letter from prison that de Mare commissioned and...
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Strings of texts, DNA in Sean Griffin’s “Cold Spring” (preview and review)

Strings of texts, DNA in Sean Griffin's "Cold Spring" (preview and review)
Eugenics — the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase desirable characteristics — is a central theme in “Cold Spring,” which plays Friday and Saturday nights (12/3-4/10) in the EMPAC theater in Troy. Creator Sean Griffin chose the title as a reference to the studies in human potential conducted in Cold Spring Harbor, Suffolk County, during the early part of the...
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Laurie Anderson’s “Delusion”

Laurie Anderson's "Delusion"
“I’m a so-called ‘multi-media artist’ but I have no idea what that means,” says Laurie Anderson, who brings her latest show, “Delusion” to EMPAC on Friday and Saturday nights. For those unaware of Anderson’s mix of music, stories, and visuals, the other jargony term commonly applied to her is probably no-less helpful:  performance artist. Maybe it’s better to focus on what she actually produces. In addition...
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A taste of Julia Child (preview and review)

A taste of Julia Child (preview and review)
Music and food have always gone together well, but seldom have they been presented as equals on a stage. Walking the Dog Theatre is serving up just such a combination with “Bon Appetit!” An original theatrical, musical and culinary tribute to Julia Child, the show is produced in association with Diamond Opera Theater. It plays at the Basilica Industria in Hudson for eight performances through Sept. 24. Every performance...
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Major new theater award named for Arthur Laurents and his late partner

Major new theater award named for Arthur Laurents and his late partner
AP:  An annual $150,000 prize has been established by the foundation of Tony-winning playwright-director Arthur Laurents and partner Tom Hatcher. The Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award will be given for an unproduced, full-length play of social relevance by an emerging American playwright. The prize includes a $50,000 cash award for the selected playwright and a $100,000 grant for production costs of the play’s premiere...
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Blitzstein has walk-on in “Me and Orson Welles”

Blitzstein has walk-on in "Me and Orson Welles"
Look for an actor playing Mark Blitzstein in the current feature film “Me and Orson Welles.” The movie is about the final week or so of production leading up to the opening night of the Mercury Theatre’s 1937 production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” which Welles directed and for which Blitzstein wrote music. Early on in the film a playbill for “Caesar” has the clear statement “Music by Marc Blitzstein”...
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Film review: “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell” (a film by Matt Wolf)

Film review: "Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell" (a film by Matt Wolf)
In the bio-pic “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell,” Allen Ginsberg describes Russell as a poet who sings.  I like that because it puts a finger on why I’ve never connected well with Russell’s music. Lord knows I’ve tried many times, always hoping to sink into the numerous posthumous collections of his music that have come out in recent years.  His songs and instrumentals always feel like sketches to...
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Theater Review: Robert Lepage’s “Lipsynch” at BAM 10/11/09

Theater Review: Robert Lepage's "Lipsynch" at BAM 10/11/09
Despite its name, “Lipsynch” is not a drag show.   It’s the latest large scale theater piece from the inventive Canadian writer and director Robert Lepage.  Best characterized as a play, the piece begins and ends with one character singing lengthy excerpts from Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.” As much as I’ve loved that slow and lush music and its popular 1992 recording by Dawn Upshaw,...
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