‘Strong’: one brave Texas Ranger vs. the ‘true America’

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Thrillers are one of my favorite genres, but some of the writers in this field tend to be a tad too politically conservative for my taste — it’s not a coincidence that Glenn Beck has had many of these guys on his Fox TV show. We read mysteries and thrillers to gain a sense of […] [Read More]

‘The Book of Mormon’: first top 10 cast album since 1969 (!)

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Business on Broadway has been fine for the past several years — the just-ended 2010-2011 season set an all-time ticket sales record — but the music of Broadway disconnected from the mass audience a few decades ago. The long-running hit musicals of the new century with original scores — “Wicked,” “The Producers” and “Avenue Q,” among […] [Read More]

Look out! The Amoralists are going site-specific (in a hotel room)

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As movies have gotten bigger and more impersonal, some theater artists are going smaller and highly personal with site-specific productions that put the audience in real spaces with the actors only inches away. New York’s Transport Group has scored big hits recently with “Hello, Again” staged in a SoHo loft and the current “Lysistrata Jones” […] [Read More]

‘Catch Me’: a tasty collection of 1960s-style tunes

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The backlash to “The Book of Mormon” began right after it received the best set of notices given to a musical since “The Producers” opened in 2001, and the chorus of disapproval will probably grow louder after last night’s big Tony wins. Broadway chat room critics have already been blasting the musical’s cast album as undistinguished. […] [Read More]

The Tony Awards, or: Grading New York theatre on the curve

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The American Theatre Wing is a great organization and like most other stage fans I enjoy watching the group’s televised Tony Awards telecast (CBS will be airing the show tonight at 8.) It’s fun to see stage stars like Sutton Foster and Patti LuPone get some face time on network television. But it’s still a […] [Read More]

‘Shock Value’ from ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ to ‘Alien’

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Jason Zinoman has written a very smart and very entertaining look at the radical changes in the horror movie genre from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, “Shock Value” (The Penguin Press). The book carries an apropos quote from Mark Harris, who wrote “Pictures at a Revolution,” one of the very best accounts of […] [Read More]

‘Right Time, Right Place’: William F. Buckley Jr. without tears

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On the surface, William F. Buckley Jr. was one of the most charming people you could ever hope to meet. I interviewed him several times at his beautiful home on Long Island Sound in Stamford — in most cases, we talked about his Blackford Oakes spy novels — and he couldn’t have been more gracious […] [Read More]

Staying in the here and now at ‘Now. Here. This.’

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The charming and super-talented quartet of actors and writers who were responsible for the cult musical “(Title of Show)” — Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff — are in the early stages of a new show called “Now. Here. This.” Presented as part of the Vineyard Theatre’s developmental lab program, the new […] [Read More]

How Agatha Christie and Philip Roth can save your sanity

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Just published today, Nina Sankovitch’s “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” (Harper) is a gripping and inspiring book about the year the author spent reading a book-a-day while trying to recover from the death of her older sister. Subtitled “My Year of Magical Reading” — a nice tip of the hat to Joan Didion — the […] [Read More]

Must see TV: HBO’s ‘Bobby Fischer Against the World’

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Tonight at 9 p.m., HBO is unveiling Liz Garbus’s terrific documentary, “Bobby Fischer Against the World,” which is as good as any theatrical movie I’ve seen so far this year. I had a chance to talk to the filmmaker recently and she said the project began with her reading a front-page Bobby Fischer obit in […] [Read More]