Review: John Lithgow’s ‘Stories by Heart’ on Broadway

John Lithgow’s latest play has its moments of hilarity, but ultimately leaves you feeling disappointed.

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hands holding a close book

John Lithgow (Daddy’s Home 2, Terms of Endearment) returned to Broadway with his play ‘Stories by Heart’ late last year. The run at the American Airlines Theatre concluded this past weekend. This one-man show focuses on Lithgow’s love of story-telling, which he instilled in him at a young age by his late father. Each act is comprised of a story each: the first with Ring Lardner’s “Haircut”, while the second delves into P.G. Wodehouse’s “Uncle Fred Flits By.” Continue reading “Review: John Lithgow’s ‘Stories by Heart’ on Broadway”

Theater Review (Vienna, VA): ‘Creed Bratton (from ‘The Office’): An Evening of Music and Comedy’

Creed Bratton is a delight to watch live on stage as a comic and musician.

Creed Bratton
Photo courtesy of Jammin Java

Creed Bratton concluded his east coast tour last week at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia. The actor and musician recently turned seventy-three and he is probably best known to younger audiences for his role as a fictional version of himself in The Office. He repeated a few quotes from the NBC hit series, most notably lines from the “Gay Witch Hunt” episode and even Steve Carell’s famous “That’s what she said.”

“Those first two years, I really thought I was working at a paper company,” he told the crowd. However, Bratton’s show was not a mere rehash of his best material from the television program.

Continue reading “Theater Review (Vienna, VA): ‘Creed Bratton (from ‘The Office’): An Evening of Music and Comedy’”

Theater Review (Bethesda): ‘Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett’

“[Carol] Burnett turns 83 this week and she’s still got it in a live show: wit, charm, and even the Tarzan yell.”

Carol Burnett
Photo of Carol Burnett, courtesy of the Strathmore

I first discovered The Carol Burnett Show around the year 2000, when I was 12 years old. I loved watching those half-hour reruns every weekday after school, admiring those greats of comedy from the 1970s: Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, and of course, Carol Burnett. Mention the show to anyone who has seen it and there’s a good chance you’ll be reminiscing together the Gone with the Wind parody, the Tarzan calls, Mama’s Family, and other scenes. Continue reading “Theater Review (Bethesda): ‘Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett’”

Interview with Kaleena Kiff and Holly Brydson: ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson’ (Part I)

“I gotta say Glasgow was full of characters. It’s a very edgy town and just shooting there was amazing.”

Kaleena Kiff and Holly Brydson sat down with Blogcritics for an interview at the Whistler Film Festival. They are both producers for Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut, The Legend of Barney Thomson, which had its North American premiere in Whistler earlier this month. Robert Carlyle was also at the festival to receive the Maverick Award, walk the red carpet, and hold a Q&A with the audience after the premiere screening. Barney Thomson was the runner-up for the 2015 Whistler Film Festival Audience Award.

Paul Gratton, Emily Alden, John Lenic, Robert Carlyle, Richard Cowan, and Shauna Hardy Mishaw
Paul Gratton, Emily Alden, John Lenic, Robert Carlyle, Richard Cowan, and Shauna Hardy Mishaw at the North American premiere of ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson.’ Photo: Pat Cuadros

How many years have you been coming to the Whistler Film Festival?

Kaleena: This is probably – I missed one year – my fourth time here. But this is a first time –

Holly: I’m a Whistler Festival newbie!

Recently, The Legend of Barney Thomson just got several BAFTA Awards in Scotland: Best Feature Film, and Best Actress as well as a Best Actor nomination –

Kaleena/Holly: And Best Director! Continue reading “Interview with Kaleena Kiff and Holly Brydson: ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson’ (Part I)”

‘Moving On’ Interview Part II: Marcia Fields and Mike Spear

Marcia and Mike talked about casting, gender inequality, and next steps for ‘Moving On.’

Directors and writers Marcia Fields and Mike Spear recently discussed the creative processes behind their first short film, Moving On, which screened last week at the Whistler Film Festival. In this comedy, Ross (Mike Ivers) is awakened one morning by professional movers (Robin Lord Taylor and Ryan Farrell), who deliver the news of his breakup and are ready to move him out of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. In part two of my interview with them, Marcia and Mike talked about casting, gender inequality, and next steps for Moving On.

Moving On
Movers Mason (Ryan Farrell) and Nick (Robin Lord Taylor) arrive for the transition. Photo courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival.

The dialogue genuinely captures all the stages of Ross’s breakup.  How was the process for you on solidifying your script ideas?

Marcia: The idea came together when I was trying to ask Mike politely to do the dishes.

Mike: It got a little heated. We got to the point where [it was] ridiculous. If we break up because we don’t want to do dishes, we can’t tell our friends and our family that’s what happened.

Marcia: We’re writers. People will think this is the most uncreative way for a couple to break up. We need to come up with something better, so we started joking about hiring professionals to do it. That’s when— Continue reading “‘Moving On’ Interview Part II: Marcia Fields and Mike Spear”

Interview with Marcia Fields and Mike Spear of ‘Moving On’ (Part I)

Directors and writers Marcia Fields and Mike Spear recently discussed the creative processes behind their first short film, Moving On, which screened last week at the Whistler Film Festival. In this comedy, Ross (Mike Ivers) is awakened one morning by professional movers (Robin Lord Taylor and Ryan Farrell), who deliver the news of his breakup and are ready to move him out of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.

Moving On
Movers Mason (Ryan Farrell) and Nick (Robin Lord Taylor) arrive in ‘Moving On.’ Photo courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival.

Thank you for doing this interview with Blogcritics. How was your experience directing your first short film, given that you’ve already worked as writers and producers?

Marcia: I think we look at it differently now in terms of a “director’s eye.” As a writer, which we’ve spent a majority of our careers doing, it’s all about the words. It’s very precious about you’ve written. We went into production with a seventeen page script and only two days to shoot it, which is not a smart thing to do. If we had looked at it as a director, we could have cut things that we knew we probably wouldn’t use even though we thought they were cute. Or looking at production moves, we probably would have changed the script a little bit, but that’s the hindsight of it. That’s the thing where you realize, “Oh, we probably could have cut a piece there and saved ourselves two hours and a crew move.” But that’s how you learn. Continue reading “Interview with Marcia Fields and Mike Spear of ‘Moving On’ (Part I)”

Review: Russell Howard Opens Second U.S. Comedy Tour in Washington, D.C.

Russell Howard returns to the U.S. and is utterly delightful (and arguably objectionable).

Russell Howard kicked off his comedy tour in the U.S. earlier this summer, opening in Washington, DC. The British comedian from Bristol is the host of Russell Howard’s Good News, a BBC Two program in which he addresses recent news with standup routines and sketches. Expect venues like the historic synagogue Sixth & I to be packed; event organizers had to add chairs to rows in an effort to accommodate the enthusiastic attendees.

In DC, local comedian Max Rosenblum opened the show. He immediately tackled the misfortune of having the same name as the Max Rosenblum who was arrested in connection with the Philip Seymour Hoffman drug raid. “Max, tell me it isn’t true!” he recounts from a phone conversation with his mother. As Rosenblum points out, it’s quite an obstacle if he ever wants to market his own brand of cologne. Speaking about dating websites, he suggested that it’d be easier to bring up the topic if sites were called “In Real Life” and “Through a Friend.” Such titles are better suited to the inevitable and oftentimes awkward question, “So how did you meet?” Continue reading “Review: Russell Howard Opens Second U.S. Comedy Tour in Washington, D.C.”