Stars of Stage and Screen: Review of The Bretts—The Complete Collection DVD box set

The Bretts: The Complete Collection (2011, Acorn Media) My father imagined himself in the tradition of the great old British actor/managers of yore—he was English, and for decades he ran summer stock theaters where he regularly directed, acted and consulted on everything from design to promotion. That actor/manager model seems ancient now, at least in … Continue reading »

Categories: European Theater, Film, Television, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Satire is What Closes on Saturday Night Live

What does “Live from New York” mean to you? It means that Saturday Night Live can be the most theater-conscious mainstream comedy show on TV. You can imagine the SNL writers staring out their Rockefeller Center windows waiting for inspiration to strike, glimpsing Times Square, then rushing to the typewriters. The list is extensive. Highlights: … Continue reading »

Categories: Rock Theater, Stand-Up Comedy, Television, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Theater-related “New Arrivals” on Netflix

Airplane: “What’s his problem?” “That’s Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shellshock. Thinks he’s Ethel Merman.” (The misspelling of Merman’s surname in the YouTube clip above is not my fault.)   Some Like It Hot: Features an actual vaudevillean, Joe E. Brown. Plus Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag. Plus Marilyn Monroe playing a ukulele. Of course … Continue reading »

Categories: Children's Theater, Film, Television, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Norman Conquests on DVD: Ayckbourn with camera angles

A BBC radio documentary found online this week (Ayckbourn in Action, on Radio 4) shows a side of Alan Ayckoborn not often considered by the prolific playwright’s more casual fans—namely that he’s also a prolific director. Indeed, Ayckbourn is quoted in the program saying he considers himself a director first and a writer second The … Continue reading »

Categories: European Theater, Film, Television, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Man’s a Starman

David Bowie—Starman By Paul Trynka (Little, Brown/Hachette, 2011) This is the first Bowie bio I’ve found that gives serious attention to the erstwhile David Jones’ stage- and film-acting projects alongside his musical ones. The book devotes over six pages just to the BBC’s 1981 TV adaptation of Brecht’s Baal, in which Bowie starred. It’s revealed … Continue reading »

Categories: European Theater, Politics, Rock Theater, Television | Leave a comment

Jerry Meandering

I did a pre-show lament about the MDA no-longer-Jerry-Lewis Telethon yesterday on my other page, Having watched as much as I could stand of last night’s Lewis-starved broadcast, I realized that an even greater loss can be registered. The Jerry Lewis Telethon was the last bastion of a certain type of TV variety show … Continue reading »

Categories: Stand-Up Comedy, Television, Vaudeville | Leave a comment

Half a Dozen Great Animated Broadway (or Broadway-style) Musicals

Oh, Streetcar—The Springfield Community Players. I’m one of those Simpsons fans who’s only conversant in the show’s first six or seven seasons. If they’ve ever done a better multi-part Broadway musical parody than this stellar takedown of A Streetcar Named Desire, I need to know about it. Runners-up (also from early seasons): The Planet of … Continue reading »

Categories: Lists, Rock Theater, Television | 7 Comments

The Acorn Doesn’t Fall Far from the TV

Acorn Media has started its own sort of selective Netflix, a Britflix if you will. It’s actually called AcornTV. Acorn is well known to theater geeks as the distributor of such stage-centric DVDs as Discovering Hamlet (reviewed here), the three-DVD television rendition of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests (which I’ve been meaning to review here … Continue reading »

Categories: European Theater, Television | Leave a comment

Richard The Slurred

My friend Stephen Kobasa, with whom I’ve attended many impersonations of Shakespeare plays, alerted me to this. It appears to have been posted by its performer, Jim Meskimen, just a couple of days ago, to promote a Hollywood performance at the end of this month. I laughed loudest at the Paul Giamatti one, because I’ve … Continue reading »

Categories: Shakespeare, Stand-Up Comedy, Television | 1 Comment

The Dick Van Dyke Won’t-Show

Dick Van Dyke—My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business—A Memoir By Dick Van Dyke (Crown Archetype, New York) OK, he’s in his 80s and one of the most well-liked performers of the 20th century, a guy who always worked “clean” and endeared himself to such iconic iconoclastic artistic geniuses as Gower Champion, Carl … Continue reading »

Categories: Books & Magazines, Television | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments