I was a little surprised when I read last week that HAIR was going to be the next NBC “Live” musical. Surprised for critical reasons: HAIR is a problematic musical in terms of plot and a bit antiquated when it comes to women. It’s also going to be challenging to stage for TV, e.g., there’s going to have to be some very careful lighting if they are going to stay true to the nudity involved. But more surprised in terms of the timing: the adjective “anti-war” is virtually inseparable from this show and the announcement was made during the week leading up to Memorial Day. Maybe the culture at large pays little attention to theater but I was expecting there might be folks a little irked by that j

Hyphenation on Steroids

I did a class on the “nuts and bolts” of theater a couple of months ago. I invited specialists like fight choreographers, costume designers, stage makeup artists, etc., to talk about what they do and, in many cases, demonstrate their skills. What was continually surprising was that each “specialist” was invariably skilled at several things. The costume designer started her theater career as an musical theater actress. The choreographer had just finished directing a show. And the makeup artist had more credits than any of them, having worked as an actor, musician, playwright, stage manager, and director. In last week’s blog post I talked about the under-appreciation of actors. Beyond the fact

Who Needs Actors Anyway?

I’ve been teaching classes at Firehouse since the beginning of the year and the best part of any class for me has been when a student wakes up to the depth of skill required to create professional theater. I’ve seen the awareness grow as fight choreographers describe physiology or costume designers explain color theory or dialect coaches parse the regional differences among German accents. Students are regularly impressed, except when it comes to actors. Because actors just have to remember those lines and spit them out. Pretty much anyone could do that, right? I’m kidding, of course. My students have been appropriately starstruck when interacting with actors. But I do think it’s harder for


The two biggest subjects in theater are love and death. Love is the obvious topic -- everything from Shakespeare to the latest frothy musical is obsessed with romantic dynamics -- but the focus on death is not nearly as obvious, even though it’s just as ubiquitous. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some recent RVA offerings: Cadence’s APPROPRIATE: family gets together because patriarch has died, RTP’s THE NORMAL HEART: all about the AIDS crisis, our production of AN OAK TREE: father deals with the death of his daughter, TheatreLAB’s MOTH: well, not to be a spoiler but…, Quill’s ROMEO & JULIET: love AND death rolled in together. You don’t see death spotlighted in marketing associated with shows

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Firehouse Theatre / 1609 W. Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220 / 804.355.2001 / info@firehousetheatre.org

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