Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Treat

If you don't have a New Year's Party to go to tonight, you'll have something better to do...

PBS Broadcasts Audra McDonald's New York Philharmonic Concert Dec. 31

By Andrew Gans
31 Dec 2006

Audra McDonald

photo by Eddie Malluk

"Live From Lincoln Center," which recently broadcast Audra McDonald's American Songbook concert, televises the four-time Tony Award winner's New Year's Eve concert Dec. 31.

McDonald headlines the New York Philharmonic's annual New Year's Eve gala. The evening, titled "Audra McDonald Sings the Movies for New Year's Eve," will feature tunes from such films as "The Wizard of Oz," "A Star Is Born," "Cabin in the Sky," "A Little Night Music," "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "My Fair Lady." Tony Award winner Ted Sperling conducts the New York Philharmonic orchestra.

PBS stations will broadcast the event live at 8 PM ET; check local listings.

A four-time Tony Award winner for her work in A Raisin in the Sun, Master Class, Carousel and Ragtime, Audra McDonald was also seen on Broadway in Henry IV. The singer-actress made her solo Carnegie Hall concert debut in an evening of songs scored for big bands, performing several tunes from her Nonesuch CD "Happy Songs." McDonald's other solo recordings, "Way Back to Paradise" and "How Glory Goes," are also on the Nonesuch label. The acclaimed actress also co-starred in the NBC series "Mister Sterling” and was recently seen in the WB series "Bedford Diaries." McDonald also made her Houston Grand Opera with a double bill of Send (who are you? I love you) and La Voix Humaine.

McDonald will return to Broadway later this season in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of 110 in the Shade.

Beverly Sills hosts "Live From Lincoln Center," which is now in its 31st broadcast season.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Next Show

I will be performing in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Bus Barn Stage Company in Los Altos.

Bus Barn Stage Company


I wish everyone a wonderful New Year. It's been a tough one for the country. Lets hope that next year we can get out of the war and find some peace as a nation.

The older I get the less I enjoy Christmas in the way we seem to be programmed to celebrate it. Thanksgiving is quickly becoming my favorite holiday - no gifts, just togetherness.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mahagonny at L.A. Opera

This is show I would love to see - Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the Los Angeles Opera. It's starring two of my favorite actresses and singers, Patty LuPone and Audra McDonald.

I performed in a local production of the show at West Bay Opera a few years ago. It's one of those operas that are almost musical theatre. That's why performers like LuPone and McDonald get the roles. One of the cool things about the show is that The Doors actually took a couple of the numbers and turned them into rock songs including "Alabama Song".

The opera company provides a nice synopsis of the play here.


What:Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald stars in a new production of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, one of the great 20th-century operas. From composer Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht, the creators of The Threepenny Opera, comes a savage and lyrical satire told in a highly entertaining blend of opera and raucous music hall songs, conducted by Music Director James Conlon. Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and John Doyle, star and director of this season's hugely acclaimed Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd, reteam for their Company debuts, joined by acclaimed tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. It's every man for himself in the newly founded city of Mahagonny, devoted to life's illicit pleasures, where anything goes and the only crime is to run out of money. The brilliant score, featuring the classic song "Moon of Alabama," masterfully creates a vivid picture of determination, desperation and debauchery.
When:Saturday, February 10, 2007 3:00 PM to Sunday, March 4, 2007 4:00 PM
Where:Los Angeles Opera
135 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012




February 10, 2007
7:30 p.m.

February 14, 2007
7:30 p.m.

February 17, 2007
7:30 p.m.

February 22, 2007
7:30 p.m.

February 25, 2007
2:00 p.m.

March 1, 2007
7:30 p.m.

March 4, 2007
2:00 p.m.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Last Waltz

Our little play has ended. It was a magical ride that I will remember always. Thanks to everyone and thanks to Paula and Carl for sharing their souls with us.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Palo Alto Daily News review of The Baltimore Waltz

Palo Alto Daily News

It's so great to have had such wonderful success with this play. It's something that I will always remember..

Waltz' dances around bizarre circumstance A zany comedy about dying from AIDS was how playwright Paula Vogel processed her grief and paid tribute to her brother's death from that disease in 1988. A solid production of the show, "The Baltimore Waltz," is currently running at the cozy, 45-seat Pear Avenue Theater in Mountain View.

Playwright Vogel is best known for her 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "How I Learned to Drive," a play about pedophilia. That play's sympathetic portrait of an older married man's sexual affair with his teenage niece was unsettling.

So, Vogel makes unusual choices as a playwright.

Although "Baltimore Waltz" opens with a brother being fired from his San Francisco library job for wearing a pink triangle, he suddenly finds himself back home in Baltimore visiting his sick sister, a first-grade schoolteacher.

In one of the play's unexpected twists, it turns out that the sister is the one who has AIDS, not the brother. Although it's not that simple.

A confused physician, flummoxed by the symptoms, speculates that the sister has ATD, or Acquired Toilet Disease, and that she caught it from sharing toilet seats with her students. Brother and sister then decide that since she's dying, they will head off on a tour of Europe together and seize life in its last moments.

"The Baltimore Waltz" is a mix of fantasy and reality, and it's not always clear which is which.

Early on the script threatens to degenerate into a pedestrian political rant. A later sequential sexual rampage is redundant almost to the point of numbingnesss.

Director Ray Renati and his cast, however, get good mileage out of the odd characters and situations. Actors Alexandra Matthew and John Romano sell a close and touching relationship between brother and sister.

Their high energy and zany farce performances serve the comedy well, but they also stay focused inside honest emotional characters, in carefully punctuated performances. Romano brings mystery to the San Francisco librarian who was fired for wearing a pink triangle.

Matthew is wrapped tightly and effectively as sister Anna, doomed by Acquired Toilet Disease, and compulsively sleeping with European waiters and bellhops in her last hurrah. The apparent absence of safe sex practices is unsettling. Basically, this is a world turned upside down, in which grown sister and brother share the same bed.

As the play's third actor, Jeff Clarke is amusing in a dozen smaller, over-the-top roles. In Holland, Clarke appears as the little Dutch boy who put his thumb in a dike, and who now makes a living sleeping with female tourists who regard him as something of a celebrity.

Elsewhere, Clarke functions as a government health official promoting Operation Squat, which encourages the use of home toilets. Later, he goes way over the top as a German physician specializing in esoteric urine-drinking cures.

Director Renati, who has been nurtured at the Pear and is one of their emerging success stories, handles the comedy well, then ends this story of compulsive comic excess with a touching emotional shift.

Designer Ron Gasparinetti's effectively resentful set features a mostly bare stage with two rolling toilet bowl consoles, a well-used bed, and a patch of grim, white-tiled bathroom wall up center stage.

This is a bizarre production of a bizarre play that makes for an unsettling evening in the theater. It reminds us that humor is often an indicator of pain.

Rating: Three stars

E-mail John Angell Grant at