Monday, January 31, 2011

Theater Companies in Spider-Man's Shadow?

I just read this article on the New York Times Website that I thought you'd all enjoy.  I also like the idea of plugging some of the smaller theater companies in New York, which need our support now more than ever.

Jumping Out of Spider-Man’s Shadow
Published: January 26, 2011

IN a year when the star of the most talked-about Broadway show is a superhero in Spandex, it’s hard to fault other theater companies, on or off Broadway, for feeling a bit overshadowed.

“No, no, no, no,” said Barry Grove, the executive producer of the Manhattan Theater Club, one of the city’s major nonprofit theaters, when asked about the Spider-Man musical. “I hope people are talking about more than that.”
That, at least in part, was the purpose of the theater’s benefit on Monday at the Plaza Hotel, where board members and moneyed donors gathered for an evening of cabaret. The featured performers were Bebe Neuwirth of “The Addams Family,” Cheyenne Jackson of “30 Rock” and Steven Pasquale and Laura Benanti, the husband-and-wife actors who are veterans of the New York stage.
While guests sat down to dinner in the Grand Ballroom, the performers were stretching their vocal cords in a makeshift green room, a carpeted hotel room one floor above with a spread of fresh fruit.
Ms. Benanti and Mr. Pasquale, who said they have friends in the “Spider-Man” production, seemed conflicted about the show. “I think it’s a dangerous precedent to spend $65 million on a production because there are a lot of things that can be written and enjoyed for a whole lot less money and injury,” Mr. Pasquale said.
Ms. Benanti, dressed in a sequined, leggy black dress, added: “We live in the Twitter world, so you know when someone eats a muffin, but you don’t know what’s happening in Afghanistan. I think this is the trickle-down effect of that into the arts, which is really sad.”
A more diplomatic stance was offered by Mr. Jackson, who was corralled to the benefit by Robert Carlock, an executive producer of “30 Rock.”
“Anytime Broadway is being talked about on ‘Letterman’ and late-night shows on a daily basis, it’s good,” he said. He said that he plans to see the show whenever it opens.
Ms. Neuwirth, wearing a low-cut black baby-doll dress that showed off her lean, angled figure, was walking around with a miniature bottle of Champagne, sipping it through a straw, when a man with a headset came out and gave the performers a 15-minute warning. After each made a quick trip to the restroom, they took the elevator downstairs together.
“Did you all not get your bottle of Champagne?” Ms. Neuwirth, who was up first, asked the audience. She opened with cheeky show tunes, singing Liza Minnelli’s “Ring Them Bells.”
Mr. Pasquale sang an earnest rendition of “On the Street Where You Live” and introduced Ms. Benanti (“She is also my wife. Yay!”), who performed a song from her role as Claudia in David Leveaux’s revival of “Nine.”
Last up was Mr. Jackson, who said he would be performing a song from “Finian’s Rainbow,” which he was in last year. Two people in the audience clapped. “Ah, yes,” Mr. Jackson said. “That’s why we closed it in nine weeks.”

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