Sunday, November 30, 2014

Finding Neverland

The upcoming Broadway musical Finding Neverland tells the story of playwright J. M. Barrie who found a family to inspire the 1902 novel Peter Pan. It is an adaptation from the 2004 film, which starred Johnny Depp. Cast members offered a performance and a special behind-the-scenes look at the new production as part of the Nov. 27 Thanksgiving Day coverage on ABC's "Good Morning America." Songwriter Gary Barlow, who created the score for the Broadway production, performed alongside the musical's leading lady, actress Laura Michelle Kelly. The musical features music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy and a book by James Graham. It will begin previews on March 15, 2015 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Opening night is set for April 15.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Galileo On God

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Luther On Music

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.
Martin Luther

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bad Time For New Broadway Shows

Most new musical productions on Broadway struggle at the box office. Sting's “The Last Ship,” grossed only $497,208 last week, only 40 percent of the maximum amount. The new musical comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas” had also low ticket sales for its first set of preview performances. “Side Show,” which opened last week to positive reviews, grossed $419,203, or 41 percent of the maximum possible amount; another revival, “On the Town,” which opened in October and also received strong reviews, grossed $795,604, only 44 percent of the maximum amount. Is it a bad time for new Broadway productions, or have the producers chosen the wrong shows to stage?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Leonardo On Success

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


"Why don't you write books people can read?"
Nora Barnacle Joyce to her husband, James Joyce

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

State Of The Union

Gore Vidal's State of the Union: Nation Essays, 1958–2005 is now available in paperback and digital format for tablets, smartphones and computers. Gore Vidal was the pre-eminent essayist of his generation, and he wrote for The Nation over a span of forty-seven years, becoming a contributing editor in 1981. That same year, The Nation published his explosive first essay for editor Victor Navasky, "Some Jews and the Gays," which is included here. This collection also exemplifies the best of his critical vision with other great essays like "Requiem for the American Empire," "Monotheism and Its Discontents," "Notes on Our Patriarchal State" and "The Birds and the Bees"—and its Monica Lewinsky–era sequel, "The Birds and the Bees and Clinton." Editor Richard Lingeman's advice: "Prepare to have your preconceptions challenged. Prepare also to smile or laugh out loud."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another Kind Of Rock And Roll

The 90-minute documentary Valley Uprising examines Yosemite National Park’s 60-year legacy of revolutionary rock climbing and thriving counterculture.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jimmy Ruffin

The soul singer Jimmy Ruffin had a Top 10 hit in 1966 called “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”. Other hits were I've Passed This Way Before, Gonna Give Her All the Love I Got and Hold On To My Love. Jimmy Ruffin was not one of the biggest stars in the Motown stable of the 1960s and ’70s, which also included, among many others, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, the Jackson 5 and the Temptations — whose million-selling 1965 single “My Girl” featured his brother David as lead singer. This younger brother David, one of the early members of the Temptations, died in 1991 of a drug overdose, prompting his sibling to become an anti-drug campaigner. Aged 78, Jimmy Ruffin died on Monday in a Las Vegas hospital.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hannah Arendt On Fame

Fame, that much-coveted goddes, has many faces, and fame comes in many sorts and sizes - from the one-week notoriety of the cover story to the splendor of an everlasting name. Posthumus fame is one of fame's rarer and least desired articles, although it is less arbitrary and often more solid than the other sorts, since it is seldom bestowed upon mere merchandise. The one who stood most to profit is dead and hence it is not for sale.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Home is where you feel at home and are treated well.
Dalai Lama

Monday, November 17, 2014

Too Dangerous

Clif Bar, a maker of nutrition bar with a climber on its logo, used to be a major sponsor of extreme sports such as base jumping and free soloing. Now the company has canceled all contracts. “We concluded that these forms of the sport are pushing boundaries and taking the element of risk to a place where we as a company are no longer willing to go,” Clif Bar wrote in an open letter to the climbing community. “We understand that some climbers feel these forms of climbing are pushing the sport to new frontiers. But we no longer feel good about benefiting from the amount of risk certain athletes are taking in areas of the sport where there is no margin for error; where there is no safety net.” Among those whose contracts were withdrawn were Alex Honnold and Dean Potter, each widely credited with pushing the boundaries of the sport in recent years. How far they are pushing the boundaries can be seen in a new documentary about the evolution of rock climbing in Yosemite National Park that was just released ("Valley Uprising"). The film shows both of them climbing precarious routes barehanded and without ropes and Dean Potter walking across a rope suspended between towering rock formations.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nietzsche On German Historiography

There is an imperial German historiography, indeed, I fear, an anti-Semitic one, — there is a court historiography, and Mr von Treitschke knows no shame… recently an idiotic judgment in historical matters, a sentence by the Swabian esthete Vischer, now fortunately faded from the scene, made its rounds in the German newspapers as a “truth” which every German should recognize: “The Renaissance and the Reformation must be joined together to make a whole—the esthetic rebirth and the moral rebirth.” – I lose patience when I hear such sentences, and I feel a desire, indeed, a duty, to tell the Germans all the things they have on their conscience! All the great cultural crimes of four centuries are on their conscience!… And always for the same reason, because of their internalized cowardice in the face of reality, which is also a cowardice in the face of the truth, which they have made into their instinctive untruth, from “idealism.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saving The Last Ship

Sting's first musical The Last Ship, opened a week ago on Broadway. The reviews were mixed. Newsday's Linda Winer, wrote: “If sincerity and noble intentions were enough to make a good musical, The Last Ship would be a smash. If haunting folk-tinged melodies and choruses of rousing determination could float this boat, Sting’s heartfelt debut musical would justify the years he devoted to the $14 million epic about a depressed English shipbuilding town very much like the one where he grew up…Alas, The Last Ship is a ravishing concert with passionate singers buried in a monotonous, improbable story and surrounded by dark rusted metal with grim industrial scaffolds (by David Zinn)…Unlike many other pop stars who try Broadway but only sound like themselves, Sting creates different voices for different characters. We hope he tries again.” Other reviews were quite positive, but the ticket sales are low. The musical has been running at a loss since its first previews six weeks ago. Weekly operating costs are around $600,000, and the musical is losing just under $100,000 a week. So Sting is considering joining the cast to save The Last Ship from troubled waters. If he steps in, he likely would replace the star, Jimmy Nail, in January—a month when Broadway ticket sales tend to flag. It's an admirable decision, worthy of this outstanding artist. "I've never wanted to fall off the lowest rung of any ladder I ever started to climb," Sting said in a tv interview a few days ago. "I'm here to take risks. Nothing of value is without risk. And I'm only risking my reputation." Hats off!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Time Well Used

There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden Chapter 4)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Steve's Mantra

"Don't be afraid. You can do it!"
Steve Jobs

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dawn in New York

The Dawn! The Dawn! The crimson-tinted, comes
Out of the low still skies, over the hills,
Manhattan's roofs and spires and cheerless domes!
The Dawn! My spirit to its spirit thrills.

Almost the mighty city is asleep,
No pushing crowd, no tramping, tramping feet.

But here and there a few cars groaning creep
Along, above, and underneath the street,
Bearing their strangely-ghostly burdens by,
The women and the men of garish nights,
Their eyes wine-weakened and their clothes awry,
Grotesques beneath the strong electric lights.

The shadows wane.
The Dawn comes to New York.

And I go darkly-rebel to my work.

Claude McKay

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

King Kong

According to Patrick Healy of The New York Times the Australian musical “King Kong” will soon come to Broadway. I will be directed by John Rando, who earned critical acclaim last month for staging the Broadway revival of “On the Town”.  Mr. Rando is in Australia right now for several days of discussions with the producer about overhauling the show for New York.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hunger Games To Become Stage Musical

The film studio Lionsgate has announced plans for a stage version of The Hunger Games, the bestselling books that have become an equally successful franchise of films. The studio is teaming up with entertainment companies in the US and the Netherlands to create a live version of the series about a dystopian world in which teenagers are forced to fight to the death. Lionsgate, Dutch media company Imagine Nation and US-based Triangular Entertainment said on Friday that the stage version featuring “innovative and immersive staging techniques” will open in 2016 at a new venue beside Wembley Stadium in London. Producers include Robin de Levita, who created a rotating auditorium for the Dutch musical Soldier of Orange and a rotating set for the Anne Frank play Anne. Mockingjay – Part I, the third film based on the novels by Suzanne Collins, opens this month. Jennifer Lawrence returns to the lead role as the character Katniss Everdeen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Birthday Cake

If you look over the years, the styles have changed - the clothes, the hair, the production, the approach to the songs. The icing to the cake has changed flavors. But if you really look at the cake itself, it's really the same.
John Oates

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Self-Control Can Be Learned

The Marshmallow Test, created by Mischel in the 1960s, was at the heart of an investigation of the ability of young children to delay gratification. A marshmallow was placed in front of them as they sat alone in a plain room. The child could choose to eat the one treat — or wait about 15 minutes to receive two treats. More monumental findings followed: The psychologist observed that the children who waited for the second treat did better at school, and formal research confirmed this. Those who waited enjoyed better health too. These discoveries prompted further investigation into where the ability to control oneself comes from. This book, a compendium of his life's research, is Mischel's attempt to demonstrate that self-control can be learned. It is published by Little Brown & Co. The book is somewhat light on practical, usable advice. Author Charles Duhigg's 2012 book, "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business," is perhaps more useful in this regard.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Adapting An Underlying Work

The worst mistake that a fledgling musical book writer can make is to remain absolutely faithful to the movie or whatever he or she is attempting to turn into a musical, for the Broadway musical is a unique genre of its own, and the original work, like Shaw's Pygmalion, has to be completely taken apart, rethought and utterly transformed in order to be turned into a singularly shimmering and brilliant musical like My Fair Lady.
Thomas Meehan

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The London Guardian writes today: "According to criminologist James Tully, the author of Jane Eyre was not the secluded, intellectual spinster we imagine, but a violently envious and lustful murderess. All was peaceful in the Brontë household, Tully says, until the 1845 appearance of a (debatably) handsome and wily curate named Reverend Arthur Bell Nicholls. Tully claims that Nicholls encouraged Charlotte’s already envious disposition, and together they poisoned each one of her siblings. Emily and Branwell (who another theory says wrote Emily’s Wuthering Heights) died in 1848 at ages 30 and 31 respectively. Anne died in 1849 at 29. The common conception is that they all contracted tuberculosis or cholera, but Tully, who is also an expert in 19th-century poison, is convinced that they were murdered. A few years later Charlotte’s father “angrily chased” Nicholls from their estate. Soon after that, Charlotte eloped with Nicholls, only to die a year later. Tully claims that it was Nicholls’s plan all along to inherit the Brontë estate, and thus Charlotte met the same bleak fate as her siblings. Tully originally wrote his theory as non-fiction, but was unable to find a publisher; so he retold the story as fiction from the point of view of real-life maid Martha Brown. His book, The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë, gained some recognition, but was generally rejected by Brontë enthusiasts."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
David Frost

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rebecca Is Still Haunting Seoul

Here's a blurb from the Korea Times:

The musical "Rebecca," on stage at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul, grabs audiences with a thrilling storyline, gloomy stage setting and magnificent music sung by top-notch Korean actors.

The Dutch musical penned by Michael Kunze and composed by Sylvester Levay had its Broadway production cancelled last year due to a lack of financing, but the Korean version is to the original creators' satisfaction.

Based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier and the movie by Alfred Hitchcock, the musical portrays the tragic tale revolving around Manderley, a stately mansion owned by Maxim DeWinter ― played by Ryu Jung-han ― who lost his wife in a boating accident.

The musical is narrated by "I" (Lim Hye-young), the young woman who starts the show by singing "I Dreamt of Manderley." Her life changes when she meets Maxim DeWinter at a hotel in Monte Carlo and he asks her to marry him.

However, instead of being a conventional Cinderella story, Rebecca takes audiences to what happens after the heroine marries the prince, or Maxim in this case, and how Cinderella is swept up by the dark secret of the DeWinters.

When the newly-weds arrive in Manderley, timid "I" is overwhelmed by Mrs. Danvers, the haughty housekeeper of Manderley, who is obsessed with keeping the memory of the former lady of the house, Rebecca DeWinter, alive.

Shin Young-sook, who plays Mrs. Danvers, steals the limelight whenever she appears on stage dressed in black, her hair cinched in a tight bun. Though Shin is not a household name compared to Oak Joo-hyun, a singer-turned-musical actress who alternates as Mrs. Danvers with Shin, she shines with her vibrant charisma and powerful voice.

Mrs. Danvers tries to keep the house how it was when Rebecca was there and Rebecca's favorite Cupid statue is her treasure. The housekeeper is stone cold to the new wife "I" and even tricks her into wearing the same dresses as Rebecca, putting her into the shadow of Rebecca. Shin portrays Mrs. Danvers' unconditional love and loyalty to her former mistress Rebecca to a powerful extent.

Kunze and Levay have a strong fan base here in Korea with their works "Mozart!" and "Elisabeth," and Rebecca once again proves their musical power.
When Mrs. Danvers sings "Rebecca," which is reprised three times throughout the show, she captivates the house with dark charisma. The highlight would be "Rebecca" and "Just One Step" in the second act, where Mrs. Danvers menaces "I" not to take over the position of Mrs. DeWinter. The voice of Mrs. Danvers and "I" intertwine charmingly as they sing of love and hatred toward the late mistress together. The revolving window set and mist effect maximize the gloomy atmosphere of Manderley.

The musical is not as absorbing as the book or movie storywise, since it fails to foreshadow enough or reveal the secret in a more engaging way, but the riveting music and elegant set complement the stage version. The use of video projections is successful in portraying the sea behind Manderley.

Rebecca was scheduled to run through March 31. Due to the huge success it is now running until November 9th, 2014. Tickets cost from 50,000 to 130,000 won. Yu Jun-sang and Oh Man-seok alternate the role of Maxim DeWinter; Oak Joo-hyun, Mrs. Danvers; Kim Bo-kyung, I.

By Kwon Mee-yoo / The Korea Times, Seoul

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Answer


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Marie Antoinette Reborn

Yesterday's opening of Marie Antoinette at the Charlotte Theatre in Seoul/Korea was a big success. Here are two stills from the show: The mob at Marie Antoinette's chamber at Versailles, and the meeting of the Jacobins who decide to let Margrid spy on Marie Antoinette to find proof for high treason.

I am very pleased that the show has found its definite form at last. Based on the historic events of the French revolution it tells a complex and dramatic story. The actresses and half of the audience were in tears when the curtain came down. Nevertheless they jumped up to gave the cast and creative team a long and loud standing ovation.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Brave Until The End

Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?
Marie Antoinette