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Latest Christopher Blank Stories

2008-10-10 18:00:22

By Christopher Blank Lovers of Shakespeare's plays know that there is a big difference between productions put on by well-intentioned people and those put on by trained experts. Ambition is one thing, aptitude another. The promise of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company, a new group in Germantown founded by professional Shakespearean actor Dan McCleary, is the stuff that local theatergoers' dreams are made of. McCleary's long-term vision is an annual outdoor Shakespeare production - a...

2008-09-26 21:00:21

By Christopher Blank One might say that the musical "Avenue Q" has a cult following, except that with three Tony Awards, a theater in Las Vegas devoted to its production and a five-year Broadway run , the title isn't exactly under the radar. The "cult" might be those wayfaring, post-college, entry-level workers who have a peculiar affinity for puppets. The musical comedy by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez is, literally, a puppet show for grown-ups that takes place on a fictional street in...

2008-09-26 21:00:21

By Christopher Blank Endesha Ida Mae Holland's eventful life is no doubt an impressive, inspirational story. Not in the saccharine, Hallmark movie-of-the-week kind of way, but in the harrowing, honest style of Maya Angelou or Toni Morrison. She grew up in the Deep South, a child of Greenwood, Miss. Like many poor black women living in the Delta during the 1950s, her childhood was crippled by the lack of opportunity, third-world social conditions and omnipresent racism. If there's one...

2008-09-05 21:00:14

By Christopher Blank The last time comedienne and self-proclaimed "D-list" celebrity Kathy Griffin came to Memphis, she was thrown off by how friendly the locals were. "I thought it might be a big put-on," she said during a recent phone interview. "I went out shopping and people kept running up to me, saying how much they loved me. The people there were just soooooo nice." If Griffin is wary about smiling faces and flattery, she probably ought to be. A large part of her stand-up routine,...

2008-08-29 21:00:19

By Christopher Blank Rodgers and Hammerstein's prairie fantasy "Oklahoma!" is a show that divides even the most ardent musical theater fans into lovers and haters. The haters tend to come from the many lost thespians who were forced to don chaps and hoop skirts in high school. Or those who find the show hokey and pokey or who have vague memories of falling asleep to Agnes de Mille's dream ballet, which brings the already vacuous plot to a screeching halt. People have durned good reasons...

2008-08-26 00:00:26

By Christopher Blank It was Theatre Memphis' winning night at the 25th annual Ostrander Awards on Sunday. The community theater racked up 14 of the 24 Ossies given for excellence in local theater at the ceremony held at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Eight of those awards, including best musical production, went to "Thoroughly Modern Millie," the exuberant musical comedy that evoked flapper-era New York through its large-scale dance numbers and decadent costume design. Theatre Memphis'...

2008-08-22 18:00:30

By Christopher Blank Old-school rocker Buddy Holly was the subject of one of the first highly successful jukebox musicals, back in 1989. Perhaps surprisingly, it debuted on London's West End, where it played for years , went on tour, and was even revived last year. "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" didn't fare so well when it transferred to Broadway. But then, many popular British musicals don't quite translate into American culture, despite being about American culture. "Jerry Springer:...

2008-08-22 18:00:30

By Christopher Blank The annual Ostrander Awards, given out for excellence in Memphis theater much like the Broadway Tonys, always generate a spirited discussion over why awards were given to one person or show and not another. It follows that when the 25th Annual ceremony takes place Sunday evening at the Memphis Botanic Garden, some will be wondering why the best musical of last season wasn't even nominated for such. The judges - silent on the matter of how they select nominees from...

2008-08-08 21:00:18

By Christopher Blank In the 2007 reality television show "Grease: You're the One that I Want!", contestant Austin Miller was on the verge of getting knocked out of the competition when the spirit of Elvis intervened. Er, maybe.... "I'd been teetering on the balance that week, the closest I'd come to getting eliminated," he said. "They gave you a song to learn and told you there was no guarantee you'd get to perform. You still had to rehearse like you were going to do it. It got down to...

2008-08-01 18:00:22

By Christopher Blank Like many drama critics, my theatrical pretensions were born in high school, the day I asked to try out for a school play and the teacher bared her teeth at me. "Actors do not try out !" She held up her hand and waited for the pain to subside. Chunky, wooden bracelets rattled down her arm. "Actors audition ," she said. "Tryouts are for sports people, which clearly you are not." Thus was my introduction to the world of the theater, a place where pasty-faced...


Word of the Day
endocarp
  • The hard inner (usually woody) layer of the pericarp of some fruits (as peaches or plums or cherries or olives) that contains the seed.
This word comes from the Greek 'endon,' in, within, plus the Greek 'kardia,' heart.
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