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Arts

Theater

Filling Bernadette's Shoes

Jenna Russell, who gorgeously resembles Princess Diana, but with real talent, truly shines in her double role in "Sunday in the Park with George." Less iconically the star than Bernadette Peters was, and far more human, she breaks your heart in the crucial lovers' argument, "We Do Not Belong, Together." Real tears welling in her eyes at the March 12 performance I saw. Comment
Theater

Dropped Calls

Will somebody please, please give Mary Louise Parker a role that doesn't require her to perform it in an affectless, semi-catatonic whine? (That is, in addition to the kid-flick "The Spiderwick Chronicles," in which she's marvelous as a mom surprised by the supernatural.) Parker's idiosyncratic performance style has been commoditized to the point where it loses its impact -- in each incarnation it's basically the same thing in a different bottle. Comment
Theater

Pungent Purgatory

There's a moment while you're on a roller-coaster ride, hurtling through time and space, shrieking for mercy, when you surrender to the fates and images of your meager life flash before your eyes. A moment where you feel the agony and the ecstasy collide. Where time stands still. Comment
Theater

Surmounting Disaster

John Doyle's new staging of Britten's "Peter Grimes" at the Metropolitan Opera sinks without a trace - how's that for poetic irony? - but thanks to conductor Donald Runnicles and a strong cast, the score survives the shipwreck. Comment
Film

Client 9 Blues

Italian director Marco Ferreri named one of his films "The Future Is Female." For France's Olivier Assayas, that's a given. Comment
Music

Tender Is the Heart

Christophe Honoré's "Love Songs" is a poignant meditation on grief and how love - of both the hetero and homo varieties - can helps ease suffering. And it's a musical. "Love Songs" is a bold and ambitious film, and it is one that is also incredibly heartfelt and moving. Comment
Theater

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

DiCapo Opera's well-appointed, intimate theater underneath a church at 76th and Lexington regularly gets termed "a church basement" by lazy local press but the reality far exceeds that. DiCapo's performances fluctuate considerably in quality but regularly provide sound stagings of works like "L'amico Fritz" and "Street Scene;" next season promises the ambitious American premieres of Janacek's "Sarka" and Honegger's "Mort de Sainte Almenne." Comment
Music

Stringing Us Along

Jazz has wooed the string section occasionally during the past century - "Charlie Parker with Strings" from 1949 and "Clifford Brown with Strings" from 1953; a number of albums on the CTI label in the 1960s and '70s; and just last week at Birdland, with bassist Ron Carter's Nonet. Comment
Film

Fear, Loathing In Portland

Gus Van Sant has charted an interesting path in his forays in cinema and, for much of it, one that must be admired. A pioneer of New Queer Cinema with his beautifully shot mini-pic "Mala Noche," he went on to grab considerable attention with the independent films "Drugstore Cowboy" and, most notably, "My Own Private Idaho." Comment
Film

Least Among the Exploited

The remarkable "Blind Mountain" tackles the subject of human trafficking with tremendous restraint and control. Set in the early 1990s, in northern China, writer and director Li Yang portrays how money and corruption enable men in rural villagers to buy women, for marriage and breeding, and also painfully captures the despair of the victims, who often resign themselves to their fate because given the forces of social conformity, there is, in reality, little chance of escape. Comment
Music

Confronting Disconnections

In Aviva Geismar's poignant new dance "Line of Descent," she investigates the legacy of the Holocaust from a personal and sociological perspective. Derived from interviews with families of victims as well as those on the other side of the tragedy, Geismar, whose grandparents died at Auschwitz and whose father "did not like to talk about his childhood," wanted to find out how this history has shaped subsequent generations. Comment
Theater

Power Games

Even if the play is often uneven and too abstract to follow, LAByrinth Theater Company's production of Brett C. Leonard's "Unconditional," which just closed its run at the Public Theater, was nonetheless an engaging and evocative piece of theater. Comments (1)
Theater

A Ghost's Eye View

In "The Ghosts of 14th Street," lesbian playwright Barbara Kahn looks back at New York City circa 1908, when 14th Street was entertainment central. Through the lives of a pair of married actors, a dandy, a talented brother and sister, an immigrant maid and her gangster husband, and an African-American dancer, Kahn attempts to render life back when vaudeville was king, blackface was the norm, and no actor worth his salt would be caught performing in the "flickers." Comment
Theater

Mickey and Judy Live

If you ever wrapped your head in "fabulous towel hair" and came down the stairs of your parents' home pretending you were Dolly Levi returning to Harmonia Gardens, have I got a show for you. Comment
Theater

The Great Not-So-White Way

When "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" opened with Terrence Howard taking a shower, his gleaming bare back eliciting howls from a revved-up audience, I knew this umpteenth revival would be like no other. Comment
Theater

Power Games

Even if the play is often uneven and too abstract to follow, LAByrinth Theater Company's production of Brett C. Leonard's "Unconditional," which just closed its run at the Public Theater, was nonetheless an engaging and evocative piece of theater. Comments (1)
Theater

Mickey and Judy Live

If you ever wrapped your head in "fabulous towel hair" and came down the stairs of your parents' home pretending you were Dolly Levi returning to Harmonia Gardens, have I got a show for you. Comment
Theater

The Great Not-So-White Way

When "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" opened with Terrence Howard taking a shower, his gleaming bare back eliciting howls from a revved-up audience, I knew this umpteenth revival would be like no other. Comment

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