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Monday Morning Roundup


by Stephen Becker 18 May 2009

KURT WEILL COMES TO TOWN: If you are familiar with German composer Kurt Weill, it’s most likely from his The Threepenny Opera, which he wrote before immigrating to America in 1935. Weill continued to work once he got here, but those musicals are not seen as often as the ones he wrote in Germany. Theatre […]

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KURT WEILL COMES TO TOWN: If you are familiar with German composer Kurt Weill, it’s most likely from his The Threepenny Opera, which he wrote before immigrating to America in 1935. Weill continued to work once he got here, but those musicals are not seen as often as the ones he wrote in Germany. Theatre Three is aiming to change that tonight when it stages Lost in the Stars, the adaptation of Alan Payton’s novel Cry of the Beloved Country, which Weill worked on with Maxwell Anderson. The story centers on a black pastor in South Africa looking for his missing son.  Lost in the Stars musical director Terry Dobson discusses the challenges of staging Weill’s ambitious work in the above video. The show runs at Theatre Three through June 14.

CLIBURN KICKOFFS: The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition begins on Friday, and each of the major North Texas dailies devoted major space over the weekend to getting everyone ready for the event. The Fort Wort Star-Telegram traveled to New York to get to know four of the competitors: Naomi Kudo, Spencer Myer, Vassilis Varvaresos and Andrea Lam. If you’re into all things Cliburn, definitely spend some time pouring through the online features on the paper’s sister site, DFW.com. Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News gets into a debate about competition in the arts and the purpose that it serves.

AND THEY SAID IT WOULD NEVER BE BROKEN: This is normally the time of year when college students are taking final exams and possibly trying to get a job. But 242 students at the College of William and Mary had more important work to do, like breaking the world record for most people simultaneously doing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance in one location. The previous record was 147 people. What does that have to do with North Texas? Absolutely nothing as far as I can tell. But the urge to pass along a link to the video was too strong to ignore.

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  • nmlhats

    Lost in the Stars:
    I went to see a preview performance last night and I’d say the production has potential but I’m not sure it will be polished to a nice gleam before tonight’s opening. The music itself is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s a treat to hear some familiar Weill tunes in their original context (“Stay Well”, “Trouble Man”, “Lost in the Stars”).

    I don’t have my program, but the actor who played the racist Jarvis patriarch was very good in a non-singing role; Cedric Neal, Akin Babatunde and Liz Mikel are fine in their singing actor roles, too, but the young woman who plays Irina needs to sound a lot more miserable when she sings “Trouble Man”. I suggest she take a listen to its treatment by Lotte Lenya, Weill’s wife.

    The second half is better than the first to my mind, but that’s got more to do with Maxwell Anderson’s book than the cast performances, I suppose. By the time it was over I was tearing up on cue, and I’m going to check the source material (Cry, The Beloved Country) out of the library sometime soon.

    The “accents” are also inconsistent, almost across the board. I often think that if all the actors can’t accurately or closely reproduce an accent that conveys the setting of the play, perhaps the director should consider just not doing it with accents? Can we as the audience suspend disbelief long enough to buy the play without accents? Would it be less distracting than people constantly switching accents or trying too hard to fake their accents? I don’t know the answer but with 27 people in the cast the problem is a big one.

    This one’s got a few problems but it’s worth seeing , since with more performances under its belt, the cast is bound to improve its product. (I’d shoot for the last week.) Kudos to Jac, Terry & T3 for keeping an adventurous spirit even in these times.

  • I would encourage KERA to do the obvious. After the Cliburn competition, invite all the Cliburn competitors to do a concert for TV. Tape it and turn it into a tv special or weekly series. Then share that program with other public stations.
    This is a world event. Cover it and give yourself a hit program.

  • re: Thriller

    It would seem this Philippine jailhouse would hold that record. They had 1600 inmates doing the dance:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6917318.stm