Stealing Reinvention? Are Others Stealing Jonathan Larson’s Ideas?

A writer goes through the boxes of papers left by “Rent” author Jonathan Larson. “The cynic in me knows that Larson’s tragic death on the day before his long-labored-over Rent was about to go into previews fueled the hype that made the show ‘the breakthrough musical for the ’90s,’ as Newsweek wrote. But having been an eyewitness to the paper trail left by Larson’s perspiration and inspiration, I also know he deserved the Pulitzer and the Tonys. And the long career he never got.” Did Larson “reinvent” musical theatre? And these new musicals on Broadway merely rip-offs of Larson’s ideas?

How Scotland Yard Recovered “The Scream”

The colorful story of the recovery of Edvard Munch’s painting “the Scream” back in 1994 is just now coming to light. “While it is known that the £50 million painting was eventually returned to the National Gallery in May 1994, following a trap set by Scotland Yard, it has emerged that the British strategy for finding ‘The Scream’ stretched the limits of international law and involved meticulous research, false identities and high risks for two unarmed officers. Twice, the operation was put in peril by the unlucky intervention of other police forces. Twice, the swift action of the undercover officers averted disaster.”

Top Of His Game – The High-Flying Career Of David Robertson

“Whenever an opening appears for the music directorship of a leading American symphony orchestra, 44-year-old David Robertson is invariably mentioned. It’s a good time to be an American conductor. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma observes that American classical music is at a moment when ‘really interesting leadership’ can make an enormous impact on the way classical is played here. Robertson is a passionate, articulate advocate of both old and new music who doesn’t, as Ma puts it, see ‘culture as a static block’.”

The Evolving Opera

Opera continues to stretch as an artform. How about a “not-so-underground music world that lives the boundary-less, non-hierarchical ethic of communal musicmaking, an ethic that some classical opera composers might hold up as an ideal but have rarely put into practice with any success. ‘Nitrate Hymnal’ is described by the Washington Performing Arts Society as multimedia, interactive, post-punk, hybrid and several other things as well, which adds up to: You have to see it to know what it’s about.”

Theatre Share

How can small theatres afford to mount shows that are beyond their financial resources? Joint productions. “The deal works like this: Great Lakes and St. Louis Rep split the upfront costs of the show, about $330,000. That covers the designers’ fees, the cost of sets and costumes, the director’s salary and wages for the cast and stage managers to rehearse four weeks. Then each theater pays for the run of the show at its own theater.”

Martha Graham Is Back

“Nearly three years after financial difficulties and litigation sidelined it, the ensemble re-emerges on Tuesday, when 24 company members and 4 students will resurrect 17 of Graham’s ballets — from the all-woman ‘Chronicle’ and ‘Heretic,’ created in the 1920’s and 30’s, to ‘Phaedra,’ Graham’s 1962 exercise in lust and lies, and the ubiquitous ‘Appalachian Spring’ — in a two-week run at the Joyce Theater.”

Broadway In Moscow?

Will big Broadway American musicals find an audience in Moscow? Results so far have been mixed. “These shows represent the risky yet enticing prospect of introducing blockbuster American musicals to the land of Stanislavski and Meyerhold. But the results have been so different that no one can really say whether it has been a good idea or not.”

Chicago Symphony – Looking For Mr. Right

The Chicago Symphony is looking for a new Chief Executive. “Desirable as it would be to land the top administrative post at one of the world’s great orchestras, the playing field of available candidates is surprisingly narrow. If you look at other major organizations like ours around the world, there just aren’t many people who really have the qualifications, experience and leadership abilities to do something like this.”

Picasso In Dispute Heir Claims Looted Painting

“Last month, Thomas C. Bennigson, heir of the Holocaust survivor who lost control of a Picasso painting during World War II, sued Marilynn Alsdorf for $10 million, after negotiations between the parties broke down. The case has sparked claims and counterclaims regarding the painting’s history, the nature of property law and the moral obligation of art collectors and dealers. And it has pitted Alsdorf against one of the most prominent art recovery organizations in the world, the London-based Art Loss Register, which first reported that the Picasso had been looted.”