Danny Aiello returns to film at Loews Theater Read more: Hudson Reporter – Danny Aiello returns to film at Loews Theater Short film hopes to revive interest in Off Broadway musical

by Al Sullivan

Vincent Favale, vice president of CBS Late Night Programming, hadn’t planned to film his musical video “Hereafter” at the Historic Landmark Loew’s Theater in Jersey City. He had researched two other historic locations, one in Middletown and another in Staten Island, but neither had the historic elements he needed for his film, or else they gave off vibes that didn’t seem right for the project.

So Favale, with credits that included work with Howard Stern and David Letterman, turned to the internet. He had grown up near a Loew’s Theater, so he simply typed into Google, “Loew’s New Jersey.”

He was amazed at what he found in Jersey City. It was almost too good to be true, he said, especially when he called and got good vibes from the staff.

Favale, however, was wary. Sometimes internet information is akin to what you find on dating sites. Sometimes the information shows off only the best side, not the flaws.

But once he came to Jersey City and Colin Egan, president of the Friends of the Loews Theater, turned on the lights, Favale realized he found what he wanted.

A mini movie

Designed in part to revive interest in an Off-Broadway play “Hereafter, the musical,” that Favale co-authored several years ago, the 19 to 25-minute video delves into the realm of magical realism. The original play focused on the lives of three psychic mediums, but the video focuses on one, an older psychic played by veteran stage and screen star Danny Aiello.

His character is based on a romantic irony. He has helped others find their loved ones in the afterlife, but has always been denied access to the person he has loved since he was a young man.

A singer and Oscar-nominated actor, Aiello is well-known in Hudson County, especially in Hoboken, where for years he frequented local restaurants.

In the opening of the video he is seated in his armchair at home watching TV, on which

film critic Rex Reed plays the host of a program called “Hollywood Movie Classic,” which is showing a film featuring fictional movie star Anita Moriarty. Played both by Arlene Dahl and Frankie Keane, she is Aiello’s character’s unrequited love.

Keane, a resident of Weehawken and a well-established, singer, writer and actor, joked about her co-authoring the play and the video.

“When I can’t get a part, I have to write one for myself,” she said.

In the video, Aiello, surrounded by his loved one’s movie paraphernalia, is transported out of his living room, and finds himself outside the old theater where the star’s name is on the marquee. He goes in, finds a seat, not yet aware that the ghost of the woman he loves is in the theater with him as well as on the screen.

The emotional high point of the video is when Aiello sings to the woman on the screen, and is eventually transported into the film where they sing together.

Dahl, who has been to the Loews in the past to introduce one of her classic films, is expected to return to the Loews for the debut of this video next year, 70 years after her first film debut in 1947.

Aiello was a good fit

Favale, a producer of “The Late Show With Steven Colbert,” said he met Aiello years ago during a TV shoot.

“Danny sort of drags you into his world and we became friends,” Favale said.

Aiello coincidentally recorded one of the songs on a recent album, sparking the idea for the short-subject musical as a spinoff from the original play.

“We said this was a music video, but it’s really a mini-movie, a musical,” Favale said. “More than 50 percent of the film is music.”

But the film also sets up many of the emotional scenes with non-musical scenes giving it the texture of a short film.

With shoots still scheduled for other locations, Favale expects to have the debut at the Loew’s in 2017, and will submit it for several key film festivals before seeking a nomination in the short film category in Academy Awards.

Favale said the theme of the short film is similar to the original play: people looking to find the missing parts of their lives.

“In this case, the main character helped others, but could not help find the person he loves,” Favale said.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com

Read more: Hudson Reporter – Danny Aiello returns to film at Loews Theater Short film hopes to revive interest in Off Broadway musical

Curtain Call: Singer Rebecca Pidgeon Takes on Acting in The Anarchist

Pidgeon stars opposite Felicity Huffman in the David Mamet play running at Theatre Asylum

 

Actress/singer Rebecca Pidgeon has a suggestion for people planning to see her and Felicity Huffman in a production of David Mamet’s play The Anarchist currently running at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood. “It’s a dense play. I recommend they read it first.”

The Anarchist opened on Broadway in December of 2012. It closed after only 17 regular performances. The 70-minute play depicts Cathy, a felon (played by Huffman) trying to convince Ann, an unspecified representative of the prison system (played by Pidgeon) that she has reformed herself, found God and should be released after 35 years in prison for killing a police officer. Ann isn’t sure if this conversion is real or a manipulation.

“It’s a polemical play between these two characters who are both espousing different ideas,” Pidgeon says. “You see the true desires of each character and therefore you see into their souls somewhat. It’s seeing the anguish of two humans, each trying to convert the other. They are locked into this battle that has been going on for years.”

Much like Mamet’s play Oleanna, this play allows audiences to make up their own mind about which, if either character, is right. “Even I as an actress will be watching Felicity Huffman and thinking, ‘I completely agree with what you’re saying.’ He doesn’t write plays with simple answers and it’s a problem. It’s also a wonderful joy.”

When a play like The Anarchist is unsuccessful, how does Pidgeon, as the playwright’s wife respond? “I’m baffled and saddened if his work isn’t received the way I think it should be,” she reveals. “It’s a mine of wealth and gold. I know, of course, it will be appreciated. If it isn’t at the moment, it certainly will be. It’s too rich not to.”

In addition to acting, Pidgeon is a singer/songwriter. Her most recent recording, Bad Poetry, will be showcased at her gig at the Hotel Café on Saturday. “At the moment I’m really loving my music,” she says, “because it’s something that’s completely mine. I’m directing it and producing it and writing it. It’s hard to write a good song and I’m always finishing a song and thinking, ‘yes, I like this.’ And then the next day I feel like, well, let’s write another and see if we can achieve what I’m looking for.”

Her first recording was Glances Askances when she recorded as one half of the duo in Ruby Blue. Her solo debut album was 1994’s The Raven. Bad Poetry is her eighth album as a solo artist.

Where does she find more joy? In saying the poetry that is Mamet’s writing or singing the poetry of her own? “Oh god. What a question,” she responds. “The music of David Mamet’s writing is like you are getting to play the best music ever written. It’s very classical and very structured. It’s surprising and inevitable at the same time. My songs are idiosyncratic and not classical at all. It’s a thrill to get to sing them and I just hope they are good. Sometimes I know they are good. I would say it’s more like an experimental medium for me.”

 

Article Source:

LA Times: Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon work to set ‘Anarchist’ free

In “The Anarchist,” by David Mamet, a former political radical who has served 35 years in jail argues for clemency from a prison official who holds the power to set her free.

Is a second chance in the cards? Perhaps the more relevant question for audiences is whether “The Anarchist” — which flopped on Broadway — deserves one.

For its Los Angeles premiere, two actresses who are no strangers to the playwright’s particular universe have signed on to make the case. Felicity Huffman plays Cathy, the incarcerated leftist who claims to have found Christ, and Rebecca Pidgeon is Ann, her stoic interrogator.

Over the years, they have navigated Mamet’s dialogue numerous times on stage and screen. But in a recent interview, even they conceded that “The Anarchist” has been far from easy.

“I would say this is the most difficult play I’ve ever done,” said Pidgeon. “This wins the gold medal.”

Huffman used a more Mamet-esque description: ” ‘Oh … !’ That was going through my head,” she recalled thinking at the first read-through.

She said the play contains such intricate speech that “it takes me almost two hours to learn a page.”

Both actresses were seated in Hollywood’s Theatre Asylum — a small stage with fewer than 99 seats — where “The Anarchist” is running through late May.

It’s a world away from the 800-seat John Golden Theatre in New York, where the play opened with Patti LuPone and Debra Winger in 2012.

“The Anarchist” was an unconventional choice for Broadway, given its dense, philosophical power plays and minimalist setup — two women in a room, talking.

The play, which runs just 70 minutes, met a quick demise following mostly negative reviews and poor box office. It was a significant setback for Mamet, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist famous for “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Oleanna” and “Speed-the-Plow.”

Both Huffman and Pidgeon said they believe “The Anarchist” is better suited for a small stage.

“I’m so glad we’re here and not at a bigger theater. This tiny, intimate space is claustrophobic, and it feels like the audience is in the room with us,” said Pidgeon. “There’s nowhere to hide here. You’re almost part of the play.”

Huffman said “The Anarchist” requires that audiences be alert and attentive. You “can’t space out because you’re 200 seats back,” she said

 

Read the entire article at LATimes.com

Rebecca Pidgeon Gives New Life to David Mamet’s Short-Lived Broadway Play The Anarchist

Pidgeon, Mamet’s wife, stars alongside Felicity Huffman in this Los Angeles production of the two-character drama.

At the tail end of 2012, David Mamet’s new playThe Anarchist premiered on Broadway. Directed by Mamet himself, the production starred Patti LuPone as a longtime prison inmate engaged in a battle of philosophy and wits with a prison official, played by Debra Winger, who could provide her with parole. The 70-minute drama played only a 17-performance run at the John Golden Theatre before inauspiciously closing.

Three years later, The Anarchist is undergoing a small resurgence, in the hands of director Marja-Lewis Ryan at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood. Playing the two characters are actors of just as much note as the Broadway stars, longtime Mamet collaborators Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) as Cathy, the prisoner, and Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet’s wife) as Ann, the warden.

In anticipation of the new production, TheaterMania chatted with Pidgeon about what it’s like to restage The Anarchist, where the original production went wrong, and how helpful (or unhelpful) her husband can be when it comes to rehearsing.

How did this production come to be?
We saw Marja-Lewis Ryan’s play One in the Chamber, which she had written and directed, and we were thrilled by it. She’s a superb young talent. Dave was very excited by her. I think he just thought of [a new production] one morning, because it really didn’t have a run in New York. We were all free at the same time and we were all suddenly rehearsing the play the next day, without any preparation. It was a complete surprise. We blundered into it going, “What is this play about?”

Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon in David Mamet's Boston Marriage at American Repertory Theatre in 1999.

Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon in David Mamet’s Boston Marriage at American Repertory Theatre in 1999.
(© A.R.T.)

How privy to the rehearsal process of the Broadway production were you?
I saw it in rehearsals in Santa Monica, and that’s the performance that really sticks in my mind. I was watching these two actresses [LuPone and Winger] working very closely together and working their way through the meaning of it, and it was really magical.

What went wrong when the show made it to Broadway?
That’s a puzzler. I really don’t know. When I saw it on Broadway, it certainly wasn’t as magical as it was in the rehearsal room. It had lost something and I don’t know why or what. It’s a very, very difficult play. The play has different sections that become clear as you go over it. It has movements, as it were, like a piece of music. It’s [only] seventy minutes long, but it’s a harrowing ride.

Is Mr. Mamet involved with this production?
Not at all. If I ask him a question about the meaning of the line, he says to me, “Rebecca, did you read the play when you agreed to do it?” [laughs] He’s not being at all helpful.

You and Felicity have worked together several times, in addition to being friends. Does that make doing a two-character play like this easier?
We’ve known each other for many years and it’s super fun to be working with her. Walking into a working process and trusting the people you’re working with, especially when it’s just me and Felicity onstage together…It’s nice knowing that we’re rock solid for each other.

 

Article Source: Theatermania.com

“The Anarchist”

The Anarchist
by David Mamet

LOS ANGELES (February 2, 2015) – 35 years ago, Cathy (FELICITY HUFFMAN) killed two police officers after inciting an act of anarchy. Now, she comes face to face with her parole officer, Ann (REBECCA PIDGEON), for the last time. This 70 minute, thought-provoking play comes to a head as Ann seeks a sign of true rehabilitation or at the very least regret, while Cathy bargains to be set free. David Mamet’s The Anarchist previews April 16 at Theater Asylum in Hollywood.

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) and LA Drama Critics Circle Nominated Director/Producer Marja-Lewis Ryan (One In The Chamber) team up with Academy Award Nominee Felicity Huffman and Film Critics Award winner Rebecca Pidgeon for a truly special six-week run, which must close May 23.

The Anarchist starring Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon; Scenic Design by Michael Fitzgerald; Lighting Design by Karyn Lawrence; Costume Design by Courtney Hoffman; Produced by Emily Peck and Marja-Lewis Ryan; Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan; Written by David Mamet.

The Anarchist previews on April 16, opens on April 24 and continues on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 pm through May 23. General admission is $34. Theater Asylum is located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. LA, CA 90038. For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.plays411.com/anarchist or call 323-960-7784.

Details for Calendar Listings
The Anarchist

WHAT:
The Anarchist
David Mamet’s drama inspired by the life of Kathy Boudin.

WHO:
Written by David Mamet

Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan
Starring Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon
Produced by Emily Peck and Marja-Lewis Ryan

WHEN:
Previews: April 16, 17, 18, 19, 23 @8pm
Runs: April 24 – May 23

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays @8pm

WHERE:
Theatre Asylum

6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

HOW:
www.plays411.com/anarchist
or call 323-960-7784


TICKET PRICES:
General Admission: $34

Danny Aiello Coming to Stage 72, 7/11

Academy Award nominated actor & critically acclaimed singer Danny Aiello, who has appeared in more than 80 films including Moonstruck, 29th Street, Do the Right Thing & The Purple Rose of Cairo, will be appearing Friday, July 11th at 7pm at Stage 72 (158 West 72nd Street). His show, “Danny Aiello, Back in Town”, a night of “music, film, love and laughter,” will feature Danny with his jazz band “Joe Geary and the Guys”, performing a collection of traditional standards from his previously released four albums interspersed with some of his favorite New York stories.

No stranger to the New York stage, some of Mr. Aiello’s award-winning Broadway theatre credits include Gemini, The Floating Light Bulb, Hurlyburly and The House of Blue Leaves, and he recently starred in and co-produced the theatrical production of Susan Charlotte’s The Shoemaker. Earlier this year he won an Emmy for his voice-over work in the Yankees’ film Blessed and was featured in the animated film Henry & Me. Aiello is also featured in the upcoming film Reach Me, in theatres this Fall 2014. His autobiography will be published this year through Simon & Schuster, in stores October 2014.

Danny Aiello made his recording debut in 2004 with the album I Just Wanted to Hear the Words, debuting at #4 on the Billboard Jazz Chart, and went on to release three additional critically acclaimed records. He has performed nationally from NY’s legendary Apollo Theatre to LA’s House of Blues as well as with the Boston Pops to name a few.

“Danny Aiello, Back in Town” will take place on Friday, July 11th at 7pm at Stage 72 (158 West 72nd Street). Tickets are $40 plus a two-drink minimum and can be purchased online at www.Stage72.com or by phone at 800-838-3006.

Article Source: broadwayworld.com

Review: Manchester Girl at Center Stage Theater Sue Turner-Cray’s One-Woman Show is a Major Success

by BLAKE HARPER

Coming-of-age stories have been told countless times throughout history, as the concept of following someone on their journey to adulthood is something that almost anyone can relate to. Manchester Girl, a one-woman play written by, codirected by, and starring Sue Turner-Cray, invites us to take this journey with Sara Taylor, an English teenager in the ‘80s who dreams of escaping her small-town existence and seeing the world.

Sara’s dream soon comes true, and she is whisked from England all the way to Japan as a fashion model. Her life is filled with glamorous photo shoots and endless adventure, but she soon learns that growing up comes with certain costs. While Manchester Girl might not be adding anything particularly revolutionary to the coming-of-age genre, the brutal honesty in Turner-Cray’s writing and acting make the play a rousing success.

Turner-Cray puts many talents on display here, but it is undoubtedly her acting that stands out. She portrays every character in the play, which seems like a gimmick that might grow old fast, but watching her seamlessly transform from Sara’s Japanese-Peruvian lover Fernando to the middle-aged, obese Doreen in only a few seconds turns out to be an absolute delight. Still, it’s her incredibly portrayal of Sara, a character full of depth, contradictions, and confusion, that steals the show.

Perhaps the only real weakness here are some of the directing choices, such as the terrible transitions that feature Sara awkwardly dancing to different songs and seem to have no real purpose except reminding the audience what decade the play is set in.

Ultimately, Manchester Girl avoids feeling cliché due to its willingness to be much more than a cautionary tale. Instead, the play serves as a powerful reminder of how much a person is shaped by the obstacles and choices they face every day. Sara’s transformation from innocent, childish girl to independent, bold woman does not happen overnight, and Turner-Cray masterfully grants us insight into that complex, fascinating story.

Article Source: independent.com

Sue Turner-Cray Brings Manchester Girl to Life

Written by: TOM JACOBS

Photo: MARILYN KINGWILL

Center Stage Theater Revives One-Woman Show June 12-14

If Sue Turner-Cray invites you to her Santa Ynez Valley home, be careful where you step. “I’m constantly folding origami cranes,” warned the award-winning actress and writer. “I’ve got buckets of cranes around the house. I’m getting more eccentric as I grow older.”

Perhaps so. But from her life story — which is the basis of her one-woman show Manchester Girl, which she performs this weekend at the Center Stage Theater — one gets the impression that she has always had a proclivity for the offbeat and unconventional.

After all, here’s a woman who escaped dreary northern England by becoming a model and moving to Japan. While that chapter of her life is the focus of her play, the rest is pretty interesting, as well: moving to America, becoming an actress, marrying blues musician Robert Cray, and balancing her artistic aspirations with the full-time job that is raising her son.

“My priorities have changed,” she said. “I feel like I’m freer onstage. I’m doing it more now for the joy of performance.”

During her early years in the U.S., while studying acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and then pursuing a career in Los Angeles, Turner-Cray talked little about the time she spent as a fashion model in Japan. “I found it kind of embarrassing,” she recalled. “I was mortified by some of the things I did. You go through a lot of things for a 17-year-old girl, including drugs, date rape, and what I call ‘fascist dieting.’”

But at some point, she said, “I just needed to write something.” So she started creating the monologues that would ultimately turn into her one-woman, 11-character show.

“My hairdresser at the time was from Manchester, and I had been giving her little snippets [while getting my hair done],” Turner-Cray said. “She, by chance, had a friend who was the artistic director of a theater in Palos Verdes. They had a cancellation and asked me to come audition. Three weeks later, I was performing it.”

That was in 2002. Later that year, she brought the show to Los Angeles, and two years later, she took it to the Edinburgh Festival and then to London, earning enthusiastic reviews at each stop. After that, she took a break to have her son and deal with the death of a parent.

But recently she has been revisiting the material, adding a new ending, a geisha dance, a multimedia component created by Academy Award–winning film editor Richard Harris, and a few of the aforementioned cranes. She premiered this new version at a small Santa Ynez Valley theater last fall. After the brief Santa Barbara run, she will perform it as part of a solo theater festival in New York City.

“It’s 75 percent based on my life, but I gave myself artistic license to [use stories] from other girls’ lives, as well,” she explained. “There are many things that happened to me, along with others that I heard about and saw. It was a pretty decadent time. People did die of overdoses.”

For all the dark episodes she experienced and witnessed, however, “I don’t see myself as having been exploited,” she said. “I went in with my eyes open. I was grateful for the opportunity to get out of the industrial north [of England].”

And it’s that determination, Turner-Cray added, that audiences seem to latch onto.

“People tell me that it’s really empowering,” she said. “The audience meets her as an underdog, and they go through her obstacles with her. She’s striving to live outside of her comfort zone, and watching her do that makes people a little bit braver.

“One of the things [my character] says a lot is, ‘Why not?’ ‘Why can’t I?’ I think a lot of people leave the theater going, ‘Why not for me, too?’”

 

Article Source: independent.com

Sue Turner-Cray brings her one woman play MANCHESTER GIRL

To Center Stage in Santa Barbara on June 12, 13 & 14
Winner of prestigious EDINBURGH FESTIVAL Fringe First Award

After a Fringe First win in Edinburgh and a successful run off London’s West End, Sue Turner Cray’s Manchester Girl stops in Santa Barbara for only 3 shows at the Center Stage  on June 12, 13 and 14 at 8pm, before heading to New York City.
“THERE ARE NO FAT MODELS!”…Those words served as a mantra for British born Turner-Cray while she strutted her stuff on the runways working as a fashion model in 1980s Tokyo, Japan. Twenty years later, the favorite phrase of her portly booking agent continued to haunt her and helped turn her angst into the hit show, Manchester Girl, a dizzying odyssey through Tokyo’s highflying 1980s fashion world, a vivid journey of hilarious culture clash, discos, drugs, and heartbreak.

The one woman show features Turner-Cray’s 11 different characters including Manchester girl Sara, who is appalled by the limited life of girls around her – life in a sock factory, boyfriend, pregnancy, and marriage – and aspires to escape her English working class roots and seek a better life. This drives her to a foreign land to face the hazards and opportunities of life as a western model in Japan where she struggles to stay a size 2 or risk deportation and sends her on a heroic journey of self-discovery, transformation, and truth.

The Los Angeles Times says “Turner-Cray doesn’t let us regret a minute spent in her company” while The London Times gives the show 4 stars, “An intelligent, moving and relentlessly intense piece of work… feels as vital as if it were written in her own life blood.” Adds the Huffington Post, “Manchester Girl breathes stoic affirmation for women in search of self in an undertow of uncertainty. It dazzles the mind and spirit. Academy Award winning editor Richard Harris is in charge of major technicalities blending moving and photographic images as projectionist. Harris gives great backdrop and vision to Cray’s manifesto destiny and in this case the Titanic does not sink. It soars!”

The play features a vintage Geisha kimono designed by Charlotte Frizelle-Bird and various cinematic elements of city skylines and Japanese wood block art. Images were shot and edited by Turner-Cray and cinematographer Jonathon Millman, and overseen by Academy Award winning editor Richard Harris (Titanic). Carl Mahoney is lighting and sound operator.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased: BOX OFFICE (805) 963-0408 (V/TDD) or online http://centerstagetheater.tix.com
Press Contact: Tracey Miller, TMA, Inc. tracey@tmapublicity.com  609-383-2323, ext.11