Category Archives: Theatre

October Means: All Things Tim Burton

Tim Burton

For the month of October, we thought we’d highlight the most renowned horror directors and producers. Known most commonly for his dark and eccentric fantasy films like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, and so many more, this writer and animator has dominated the arts with all things spooky.

You guessed it, ladies and gentlemen. We give you, Mr. Tim Burton! Let’s highlight two of his most beloved productions.

Edward Scissorhands
This was one of the spookiest yet most creative and popular works of Tim Burton in 1990. He co-wrote and directed this with Caroline Thompson, as he did with The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. It was about Edward, half human, half an unfinished product as a creation of an inventor.

Shot in Lakeland, Florida, the film tells much of Burton’s life and childhood in Burbank. Edward Scissorhands aired as a ballet in 2005, and toured the U.S, Canada, Australia, and Europe.

edward scissorhands

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Burton produced this in 1993 for Disney, and was originally meant to be a children’s story. The film was directed by Henry Selick and written by Burton along with Caroline Thompson.

This production was one of the most popular in the box offices with revenues of over $50 million. It was most popular for its animation, and remains recognized for its unique style.

Horror and fantasy shows make for great theatrical productions. Many people love to see the spookiness, especially right on stage. Burton has gone down in horror production history, and we can’t help but think of him during this season.

Have you seen any of these productions as plays? Which one was your favorite? Were you cast or did you watch from the audience? Versions of Tim Burton pieces are often chosen for theatrical productions and musicals. Comment and share, as we want to hear from you!

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Hot Summer Broadway Musicals

The dog days of summer are over.  But it is still summer.  Some like it hot.  Some don’t.  Here’s a list of a few shows that deal with the heat of summer.

110 in the Shade

110 in the Shade is a musical with a book by N. Richard Nash, lyrics by Tom Jones, and music by Harvey Schmidt.  Tony Award nominations went to Schmidt and Jones as Best Composer and Lyricist.  It also had nominations for best actress, actor and director.  An original cast recording was released by RCA Victor.

Based on Nash’s 1954 play The Rainmaker, it focuses on Lizzie Curry, a spinster living on a ranch in the American southwest, and her relationships with local sheriff File, a cautious divorcé who fears being hurt again, and charismatic con man Bill Starbuck, posing as a rainmaker who promises the locals he can bring relief to the drought-stricken area. Nash’s book is faithful to his original play, although all the interior scenes were moved outdoors to allow for the addition of townspeople for ensemble numbers and dances. Many of Jones’ lyrics come directly from Nash’s play.

The musical opens with “Another Hot Day,” setting the scene for the scorching summer weather that is at the center of the show’s plot.

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here is a musical with a book by Arthur Kober and Joshua Logan and music and lyrics by Harold Rome. The musical was adapted from Kober’s 1937 play, Having Wonderful Time and revolves around a summer camp for adults.  For many years, this 1952 musical was best-known as the “swimming pool musical” because the production featured an actual swimming pool on stage.  The characters could take dip when they weren’t singing the wonderful Rome score.  The story centers around the guests looking for fun in the sun at Camp Karefree in the Catskills as they enjoy a respite from the everyday life.  The show opened at the Imperial Theater and ran for 598 performances and was a lighthearted escape into the world of summer vacations.

Carousel

Carousel is a musical by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics) that was adapted from Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play Liliom, transplanting the Budapest setting of Molnár’s play to a New England fishing village. The show includes the hit musical numbers “If I Loved You”, “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Carousel was innovative for its time, being one of the first musicals to contain a tragic plot with themes of suicide and domestic violence.

The original production opened on Broadway on April 19, 1945, and ran for 890 performances. The musical has enjoyed award-winning revivals (particularly the 1994 revival at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre) and has been adapted as a Cinemascope 55 film in 1956 and as a made-for-television special on videotape in 1967. It is particularly well-regarded among musicals by the theatre community, and Richard Rodgers, in his autobiography Musical Stages, said it was his favorite musical. Time magazine named it the best musical of the 20th century.

After a mill girl, Julie Jordan, marries a handsome, but uncivilized carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, things turn sour for the couple. Billy cannot find a job and he and Julie are forced to live with their cousin, Nettie. Further, Billy has taken to using violence against her. Nevertheless, Julie continues to love her husband. In the end, after Billy discovers that Julie is pregnant, disaster strikes. In a desperate ploy for money, Billy’s friend, Jigger Craigin, convinces Billy to help him assault and rob David Bascombe, the mill owner. After this plan fails, Billy kills himself instead of spending the rest of his life in prison. Nevertheless, fifteen years later, Billy is allowed one more visit to Earth. He attempts to show his love for his daughter, Louise, and Julie – but he is unable. Even still, Julie can sense his love and Billy witnesses Louise graduating from high school.

Greenwillow

This is a musical readers may not be familiar with.  Greenwillow is a musical based on a novel by B.J. Chute with a book by Lesser Samuels and Frank Loesser and music and lyrics by Loesser. The musical is set in the magical town of Greenwillow.  In Greenwillow, the eldest in each generation of Briggs men must obey the “call to wander” while the women they leave behind care for the home and rear their children in the hope that someday their husbands will return.  Gideon Briggs loves his girlfriend, Dorrie, and would like nothing better than to settle down with her, but he spends his days trying to fight his need to travel, instead focusing his energies on his girlfriend.   He finds in the town’s newest inhabitant, the Reverend Birdsong, an ally who will try to help him make his dream come true.  Greenwillow didn’t last for very long (97 performances at the Alvin Theater), but one song did enjoy popularity: “Summertime Love,” a tribute to the excitement and passion of a summer romance.

BONUS

Summer:  The Donna Summer Musical

You read that right.  Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is a musical with book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff and music and lyrics Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, Paul Jabara, and others, based on the life of Donna Summer.  The musical made its premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse from November 7, 2017 through December 24, 2017 and opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to previews on March 28, 2018 before opening on April 23, 2018.

Breaking the 4th Wall

 

red stage curtains

The theater world is full of intricate terms and techniques. These ultimately help actors to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. One term used commonly among thespians is “breaking the 4th wall.” Let’s take a look at what this means, and how these terms help to keep actors focused and in tune with their character.

First, let’s get a visual of the fourth wall in our heads: picture yourself on stage, with the back curtain behind you and the two wings on each side of you. Think of these as your ‘walls.’ The fourth wall would be the invisible wall that connects you to the audience.

acting on stage

We use the term ‘breaking’ the fourth wall when we’re talking about interacting with the audience. Actors almost never want to break the fourth wall unless it’s a clearly defined moment in the script. If you break the fourth wall, this would mean you slipped up, and accidentally came out of character. Don’t worry, there are techniques you can practice to avoid this!

kid actors

Actors avoid breaking the fourth wall by always keeping a center of attention. Some actors will fixate their attention either on the back wall of the theatre auditorium, or on another specific location. Focusing their attention, and acting like they are delivering their role directly to that specific spot helps tremendously.

lights can be distracting

Many things can be distracting as an actor: lights, camera flashes (even though photography is usually prohibited, there are always those few guests) motion, people standing, and loud noises. Not breaking the fourth wall can be a challenge when acting in front of a large crowd, but that’s why actors work so hard on passion, delivery, and attention.

standing ovation

Many of the audience members are really enveloped in the show, and want to be involved with the characters as much as possible throughout their viewing experience. Some guests will try to get the attention of the actors while on stage, wave their hands, or even call out characters’ names (as very unadvised in previous blog, A Guide to Theatre Etiquette). Actors try their best to stay on script, and keep things running as smoothly as possible despite these distractions.

If you’re an actor, there are many things you can do to help practice avoiding breaking the fourth wall. Avoid audience eye contact, and focus on your next move. When rehearsing, and during dress rehearsal even more so, pick your focus point in the auditorium and have it already decided before the show.

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