Broadway leaps into spring
Some big-name actors return to the stage and stir up the classics.
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As top-tier theater now routinely begins life outside the Manhattan ZIP codes, we include the works of two Broadway veterans that had their world premières this past week in Los Angeles, where staff writer Gloria Goodale took in the scene:Skip to next paragraph
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Banks are closing. People are losing their jobs. They just want to go to the theater and have some fun.... If these sentiments from "Minsky's" – a new musical – feel timely, the producers of the show, which has been in development for more than a decade, couldn't be happier. Based on a 1960s book and film ("The Night They Raided Minsky's") about the Depression-era trials and tribulations of a third-rate New York burlesque theater, this Valentine to the classical tap dance and flirty costume revues of another era is, no doubt, far cheerier than the bygone real world it depicts. With music by veteran Charles Strouse ("Annie," "Bye Bye Birdie"), "Minsky's" is full of hummable, foot-tapping tunes and impressive stagecraft. While critics have rightly noted that it does not break creative theatrical ground, it is a solid, enjoyable evening of escapist fun that will no doubt make it to Broadway.
'Time Stands Still'
"Time Stands Still," from Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, is a lean, four-person meditation on love, death, and the possibility of human connection. In a tightly emotional style familiar from other Margulies plays, the drama here plays out through the lens of Sarah, a photojournalist; James, her boyfriend and fellow reporter; Richard, a photo editor; and Mandy, his ingenue girlfriend. (She's played by Alicia Silverstone, a bit of casting which is bringing some celebrity and younger buzz to the show). After a war-zone injury brings Sarah back to the US, the two couples tackle the moral and emotional quandaries faced by reporters – and lovers – particularly in crises, such as war. As the only nonjournalist, the young outsider Mandy angrily says, after asking why a nature documentary film crew couldn't help a stranded bear cub find his mother, "Couldn't they make an exception?" Despite the confidence with which Sarah answers that doing so would violate a cardinal rule of separation from her subjects, in fact the whole show is an exploration of the ways in which, ultimately, all these lives interconnect. To deny this fundamental humanity is to risk losing one's own soul, if not one's life. This world première is a commission by the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, where it runs through March 15.