Ranked

Best use of inset text, Snark Division:

You can find the title of this show rendered in different official places as Diana: The Musical; Diana, The Musical; and even Diana the Musical, as if Diana were either the name of the musical (like Garfield the Cat) or Diana were something you were encouraged to do to the musical (like Pat The Bunny). I have gone with Diana, The Musical.

Plus Oxford semicolons! How did that get past the copy editors?

Some links: 88

A couple of theater-connected stories:

Rider

Something that I make sure to ask about on my next community theater gig:

TOM MOORE: I put the blame squarely on the Nederlanders. I don’t think Jimmy Sr. had any fondness for [1981’s Frankenstein]. And Woman of the Year was waiting in the wings.

VICTOR GIALANELLA: Lauren Bacall had done Applause at the Palace, and her dressing room still had the paint color she had wanted.

Memory work

Casting calls can be miserable. But, in the 17th century, Nathaniel Giles pushed into really bad behavior: he and Henry Evans, exercising a royal warrant, illicitly kidnapped children to perform at Evans’ Blackfriars Theater. They snatched thirteen-year-old Thomas Clifton off the street,

… handed the boy a script and threatened him with a beating if he didn’t learn his lines.

Insurrection Resurrection Service Circus

five minutes, pleaseThe Vermont collective brings a touring version of its low-tech didactic theater to the Washington Monument grounds. It’s a collection of satiric sketches (with some utterly corny gags), provocations, and tableaux—with, shall we say, some stately transitions between—perfectly matched to the outdoor scene of kids running around, cyclists and scooters passing in front of the stage on the paved walkway, and the occasional bark of critique from a dog over my right shoulder. The vibe is a little Woodstock ’69, a little Medieval mystery play. Equally strong and effective are a lament in song for the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide and an enormous five-person puppet that suggests the world tree Yggdrasil, the branches of its crown brushing the proscenium arch. The loose structure of the work admits of breaking-news topicality: a brief memorial dance for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a silly re-enactment of the recently observed collision of two black holes. If the puppeteer-actors paint with an overly broad brush, at least their earnestness is restorative.

Breath and light

The play, as seen from the side, seemed to have little to do with her. She watched it, the way you watch an oncoming train, wondering if it will stop at a far platform—and suddenly you realise it is coming straight at you. There was no avoiding this thing. She would have to step into it, a kind of collision in time. The play was alive. It was made of air, with rules of iron. It was a marvel, and when it was over you were also Marvelous, Darling.

—Anne Enright, Actress, p. 50

Chain

Voice actor Jan Johns nailed it:

Artists spend so much time alone to create. But then the goal is to collaborate and connect and to finally be in that room with the other artists and creators to be able to come up with something together. And that is the joy of it.

Bloomsday

Middle-aged literature professor Robert returns to Dublin to explore a what-might-have-been romance: a chance encounter with a superstitious guide to a walking tour of the city of James Joyce’s Ulysses comes to an abrupt, unsatisfying end. The slippery nature of time, particularly as experienced by Cait, the tour guide, engenders a dialogue between past and present.

When the focus is on young Robbie (Josh Adams) and Caithleen (Danielle Scott), the energy picks up, especially in the key scene in Sweny’s.

But playwright Dietz makes Robert a teacher of literature for no particular reason, unless it is so that Robert can commit the apostasy of bashing the novel for the benefit of audience members who regret never having read the book.

  • Bloomsday, by Steven Dietz, directed by Kasi Campbell, Washington Stage Guild, Washington

The 39 Steps

The stars of this highly theatrical comedy-thriller are Christopher Walker and Gwen Grastorf, each playing “cast of dozens”—with the assistance of three backstage dressers. Grastorf is particularly effective as the self-effacing Mr. Memory and is just plain adorable as the innkeeper Mrs. McGarrigle, who dotes on Hannay and Pamela as the “runaway couple.” There are shards of Bernard Herrmann’s film scores from at least three Hitchcock movies in Gordon Nimmo-Smith’s sound design. And, yes, there are shadow puppets.

  • The 39 Steps, adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and the movie by Alfred Hitchcock, directed by Nick Olcott, Constellation Theatre Company, Washington