Speed-the-Plow: No, Raúl Esparza Did Not Sing During Another Performance

So, Jeremy Piven, who is in the revival of Speed-the-Plow with Raúl Esparza and Elizabeth Moss, has mercury poisoning. This is forcing him to leave the show for the rest of the run. (Here’s the article from Variety, which is worth reading for the quote from David Mamet)

Well, this means that a replacement was needed, and two have been found. Norbert Leo Butz is taking over the role from Dec. 23 until Jan. 11, and then William H. Macy will finish out the run. (Article from Playbill)

So, let’s hope that goes well.

In Which USA Today’s Elysa Gardner Upsets My Father

have read several of the reviews of Shrek since it opened Sunday on Broadway. The first two that I read were from Variety (David Rooney) and The New York Times. The most interesting one I’ve read is from The Washington Post (Peter Marks). The most recent one I’ve read is in the USA Today, which is interesting because I normally don’t read the theater reviews in the USA Today.

But, I read this because of my father.

At 12:18 PM CST, I was munching on Wheat Thins and reading The Night of the Gun by David Carr, when I received a text message from my father saying "Check your email. I may have to start a blog!!!!!"

I am rather intrigued as to what could be upsetting my dad so.

The email says "There is a review on ‘Shrek’. I thought I would gag. Elysa Gardner actually says there are references to ‘Gypsy’ and ‘A Chorus Line’."

Off the top of my head, I don’t know who Elysa Gardner is. I can tell you who a lot of critics are, but not who the critic in question is. I ask what publication it is in.

My father sends back, "The first paragraph of her review is stupid. Is she writing a professional theater review, or telling a story at a bar."

Now, I’m really curious. Especially after writing a piece on how the critic’s opinion no longer matters and they aren’t getting the respect they once did.

I get home and Google the critic in question’s name. She writes for the USA Today and I’m guessing that I might have read a review of hers, when I read the life section of that newspaper (there must have been an article that caught my attention) right after reading the review ofAmerican Buffalo in The New York Times.

The first paragraph reads like this:

If you don’t think flatulence is funny, chances are you won’t buy the theory that it also can be a means of seduction."

Well, to me, fart jokes aren’t as grating as poop jokes. They are, however, sophomoric and get old quickly. But, I keep reading.

Ms. Gardner gave the show three-and-a-half stars out of four. She says that there are nods to those shows, which I think is implied in another review I read (one that was much more negative). What I notice is that she says "It is the most ingeniously wacky, transcendently tasteless Broadway musical since The Producers, and more family-friendly than that gag-fest."

Alright, I may be the person that fell in love with that musical around the age of ten, but this seems like quite the hyperbole.

Clearly, Gardner enjoyed the show, and not in a "Hey, it’s better than Tarzan and Little Mermaid!" way that most of the critics have gone. I can at least tell that she enjoyed it, which I can’t say about some reviews I’ve read over the course of the year. But, I feel as though I’ve read better.

But, congratulations, Elysa Gardner, you upset someone not involved with a production you reviewed.

Snow, the Gray Lady, and a Car Named David Tennant

Do you know how hard it is to find a copy of The New York Times in the city in Iowa that I reside?


Last night, I decided that I needed to buy a copy of the Waterloo Courier, because of something that you’ll read about shortly, and a copy of the Sunday New York Times. Because I love The New York Times, or, as I joked to my mother, I needed to compensate for buying a Courier.

So, I hopped into my car, which has the nickname of David Tennant, and I headed towards the gas station nearest my house.

Well, this gas station happens to lie near a college, and there are several cars that not only park, but also drive on this street. This meant that the street was not well plowed (remember, I live in Iowa).

I walk into this gas station and looked around for the newspapers. I found them, but there was no Courier or New York Times in sight.

As I found out from the clerk, the gas station stopped selling my favourite paper two months ago (two months ago, I purchased a copy of The New York Times in Rockford, IL), and that they were out of Courier’s for the day.

I then get back into my car and drive to the gas station that is the closest to the one that I first went to.

At this point, I think that David, my family’s car, is starting to hate me. I took the major roads in my city because reason says that the major roads will be better plowed than the roads in neighborhoods. However, reason says that several things shouldn’t be happening, but they are.

I arrive at this gas station while listening to a program about food on NPR. I walk in and there is not only several copies of today’s New York Times, but also some copies of yesterday’s New York Times. And not only was The New York Times there, but there was also several copies of today’s Courier, some still in unopened bundles.

I then purchased the papers and drove home, where my sister and I discovered that the Courier can place announcements of seasons at theatres in a logical place.

A Ranking of Amateur Productions Seen in 2008

Before we start, here is a definition of what qualifies for this list.

Any dramatic production done by an amateur theatre group in the state of Iowa during the year 2008. School plays do not qualify for this because I judge school plays in a different manner.

And now we begin.

1). Gypsy, Theatre Cedar Rapids at McKinley Middle School

1). Into the Woods, Waterloo Community Playhouse

3). Jungalbook, Black Hawk Children’s Theatre

4). The Rocky Horror Show, Theatre Cedar Rapids at their Lindale location

5). Enchanted April, Cedar Falls Community Theatre

6). The Odd Couple (female version), Waterloo Community Playhouse

7). Nunsense, Act I of Benton County

8). Bedroom Farce, Waterloo Community Playhouse

9). Henry and Ramona, Black Hawk Children’s Theatre

I decided to do this without a video because I felt as though that would be stupid.

Why are Gypsy and Into the Woods tied?
I am completely aware that Into the Woods and Gypsy are tied, but they were both superb productions deserving of the number one position. In addition, both productions were affected by the flooding in June, which caused Gypsy to be performed on a smaller stage with no orchestra pit. If I didn’t factor in that the flooding did affect the productions with either rehearsals or the space performed on, they would have had that spot. But I didn’t, and they still got that spot.

What is a children’s theatre production doing in the top five?
Well, the acting in Jungalbook was intense and heartwrenching. The transportation of the setting from a jungle gym to a ghetto also aided in the feel of the show. I really, really loved how they tagged the set for that show.

Why is this years production of The Rocky Horror Show at Theatre Cedar Rapids higher than last years?
I personally felt as though it was better. There were two things that bothered me, but I thought it was a good production. Although, the actor that played Frank N Furter last year could REALLY work those heels.

What is a show at Cedar Falls Community Theatre doing in the top five? Come on
Enchanted April was actually pretty good and I was impressed. The script dragged in some spots and there was something else that bothered me, but it was pretty good. Can’t I enjoy it?

No, you can’t.
Well, you suck.

Are there any shows you wish you had seen this year? Any shows that you wish you could get your money back?

Shows I wish I had seen: Several at Theatre Cedar Rapids, but that was back when gas was over $3 a gallon. And I do live quite a bit away from Cedar Rapids. In particular, Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll and The Children’s Hour.

Betrayal done by a group in Cedar Rapids.

Unfinished Dreams at the Waterloo Community Playhouse. I keep hearing good things about it.

Coming Home done by Classics at Brucemore and several other amateur theatre groups in Cedar Rapids. It replaced their production of Lysistrata that I was looking very forward too. I was busy with Into the Woods at the time.

I didn’t see any shows that qualify for this list that I wish I got my money back after seeing.