The annual armada of spring openings on Broadway almost always features a great old galleon of the American theater, one of those much-studied classics that are continually being revived and refreshed for new audiences and new eras.
But this spring there’s an unusually rich crop of entries from American Theater 101. Opening in a span of less than two months are three of the American theater’s best-known and best-loved classics: Tennessee Williams’s “Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
This is noteworthy in itself – producers tend to get out of each other’s way when it comes to name-brand, star-spangled revivals – but another phenomenon is even more intriguing: all three plays have been placed in the hands of British directors.
Conspiracy? Certainly not. Coincidence? Not exactly.
A strong British presence on Broadway is hardly new. The Great White Way has long suffered from a mild case of Anglophilia, and is, without a doubt, much healthier for it. But this striking confluence of British directors teamed with American classics suggests that American directors may not be equally esteemed by producers, at least when it comes to the classics – even the most American of classics. And that discomfort could have effects far beyond this season, jeopardizing the ability of American artists to develop the skills to interpret American masterworks in the American theater’s greatest showcase.
The scorecard is as follows: David Leveaux, who has worked frequently in New York over the last decade, directs Tennessee Williams’s “Glass Menagerie,” with Jessica Lange as Amanda Wingfield. Anthony Page, who brought us last season’s Williams entry on Broadway, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” is turning his hand to Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” starring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin. And Edward Hall, son of the celebrated director Peter Hall, makes his Broadway debut with the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Williams’s “Streetcar Named Desire,” starring Natasha Richardson and John C. Reilly….
Read on, Macduff.
As a child growing up in Toledo, Tony Comes would sit in the Showcase Cinemas, gaze up at the screen at the larger-than-life actors, and fantasize about someday being an actor.
“I wanted to see my name on the screen,” said the 34-year-old Toledo firefighter.
Tonight, that dream will come true. But it’s not the way he imagined.
Though Mr. Comes will don a tuxedo and walk onto a red carpet and down the aisle to sit among the movie elite, his role in an Oscar-nominated film is nothing glamorous.
He is the subject of one of the darkest documentaries ever considered for an Academy Award: sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
To Mr. Comes, Twist of Faith is more than a cinematic escape. It’s his life and the pain he held inside for years.
Millions of television viewers watching tonight’s 77th annual Academy Awards ceremony from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood will hear about the man who’s emerging as one of the most visible figures in the clerical-abuse scandal.
The documentary, which includes stark images of Toledo in the background, chronicles Mr. Comes’ struggles as he comes to terms with his years of alleged rapes and molestation by a Toledo priest in the early 1980s.
Accompanying Mr. Comes to the Oscars will be his wife, Wendy, mother, Sandra, and the two veteran filmmakers, Kirby Dick and Eddie Schmidt, who were invited into the firefighter’s life.
For two years, the cameras followed him to work at Station No. 15. Followed him around his home on Woodhurst Drive in South Toledo. Followed him to his church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Nothing was off limits, from a gentle conversation with his 10-year-old daughter about his abuse to an outburst toward his mother over her donations to the church – money, he said, that will go to fight his lawsuit against the diocese and his alleged abuser: Dennis Gray….
Religious groups can get licenses with little trouble. And the head of at least one group that says it practices the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria acknowledged that his congregation has exploded in size since the new travel restrictions kicked in.
Jose Montoya, head of the Sacerdocio Lucumi Shango Eyeife in Miami, said that between 1996 and July 2004, he took about 60 people to Cuba under his religious travel license. Since the restrictions took effect in July, he has taken about 2,500, he said.
“Before, people didn’t have a necessity, and Afro Cubans who practice our religions could travel to Cuba without a license, but now they need a license,” Montoya said. “This is a ticking time bomb. They will give a religious license to anyone.”
Exiles who support the restrictions — which cut exile trips to Cuba from once a year to once every three years — say the Santeria groups are abusing their religious privilege.
The U.S. Treasury Department allows unimpeded travel to Cuba for legitimate religious reasons. The department has issued more than 200 licenses to religious groups for travel to Cuba, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, R-Miami.
Díaz-Balart, a supporter of the new limits, has called for an investigation, which he said is being conducted by the Treasury Department.
“There is abuse and it needs to stop,” he said. “It is wrong for someone to say that they are seeking a license for religious travel and then to use that license commercially to promote tourism, and I think it’s happening.”
Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise and other department officials could not be reached for comment.
Tom Cooper, CEO and chairman of Gulf Stream International Airlines, one of the biggest companies still operating flights to Cuba, said he has also noticed a recent increase in the number of people coming to his airline with religious licenses.
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It’s beginning to look like spring here in Florida – we got some real rain for the first time since November last night. That’s fine…except it rained a little on our car show at the Shops at Sunset Place. But that didn’t dampen the crowds, and it was more than the usual collection of teenaged mall rats. It coincided with the South Miami Art Show, which continues today. If you’re in the area, stop by; it’s on the corner of Red and Sunset. The car show is over, but there’s some nice art to be seen.