It's not over yet
Boy that story about Profiles Theatre in last week's edition of News and Notes was a doozy, wasn't it? And, by "doozy" I mean "detestable hunk of feces." After reading that, I hope you were appropriately horrified and properly motivated to make your own theater spaces free of that kind of jerkitude. (Even if some people thought the whole thing was "overblown.") If you were worried this would all be a tiny tempest that would blow over and that Profiles would skate past the thoroughly researched allegations against the company and co-artistic director Darrell W. Cox, then you should know that soon after the Chicago Reader article that brought this all to light went to print, Profiles Theatre abruptly closed. (Maybe not coincidentally on the very day they were due to renew their business license with the city of Chicago; and boy, wouldn't that have been a fun meeting at the licensing office!)
Since then, more actors have come forward corroborating the pattern of abuse at Profiles; but in the furious cacophony surrounding the company's collapse, Cox and Profiles' other AD, Joe Jahrus, have been almost completely silent. Other than an ill-advised Facebook message from Cox that has since disappeared along with Profiles' entire Facebook page, it looks like the PR firm handling the company went straight into lockdown mode and tossed the two into the metaphorical panic room. From behind that steel-doored concrete vault in which the pair sit huddled (metaphorically speaking), reconstituting their supply of dehydrated food and wondering if they will be locked in there so long that they have to resort to urine-drinking and cannibalism (again, metaphorically speaking… I hope) or be spit out into the night to face the ravaging hordes thirsting for their blood (still metaphorically speaking, or maybe now writing a new zombie thriller; not sure), Cox did manage to send out written answers to questions sent to them by the Chicago Tribune, in which he neither apologized nor addressed any of the specific claims against him.
OK, so he did specifically address one claim: that he fabricated names to fill out credits in Profiles' programs, including fake female directors. He did admit to that one but said that he had always been open about that (those non-disclosure statements that actors were forced to sign were just a joke, right?), so, really, can you believe anything else in that Chicago Reader article? I won't tell you what to believe or not, but the Reader did locate the online database where Cox's credits are listed, and it appears that the pseudonyms that Cox used were hastily added to his credits after the original Reader article came out. I am sure their PR firm will be cutting off all avenues of communication from now on, and the only contact Cox and Jahrus will have with the outside world are the distant, blood-curdling screams echoing down their ventilation shaft. (Man, this movie is just writing itself!)
So, I guess that's game over. The final boss was defeated, and it's time for the stilted cut scene before the credits role… Except, this is not a video game. (If it were, there would certainly be zombies… or maybe we save that for DLC… OK, this movie project just moved in a whole new direction!) As Travis Bedard at 2am Theatre would like to remind you, this is not where our work ends. This is where it begins. So, ask yourself: "What can I do to make sure this doesn't happen again?"
Congratulations, you creative types in Minneapolis. According to the latest Minneapolis Creative Index, the "creative industry" generates eight times more revenue than Minneapolis' sports teams. Way to show up those jocks! And all it took was you making $3 less per hour on average than the median income. So, "yay"?
Sure, only 4% of that touted $4.5 billion is generated by the performing arts; but I like to think that we have an outsized influence on the arts scene as a whole, because if I didn't think that I would start crying. Fortunately, the Star Tribune is here to make me feel better with an article about how important the small stages in town are for our creative vitality, including the quote "One of us is always on the brink of closing," which is just great.
But that's the circle of life. Even as one or two small theater spaces circle the drain, one or two others rise to the surface. So, let's raise a glass to our newest small stages at Strike and North Garden: may it be a long time before you see the drain!
Feeling like you're really there
Sorry, Hamilton superfans. The revolution is almost over. After taking the theater world by storm and snatching up just about every award possible, the musical will now move on to its next phase, where it becomes so ubiquitous that it can no longer be cool. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is rushing off to Hollywood; the rest of the original cast is dashing out the door to get headliner status on other projects; the touring production hits the road next year; a second production with an open-ended run will begin in Chicago in September and a West End production will be hitting London soon enough. From there, it's on to a tour of Europe and Australia (though it may miss the eventual translation into Mandarin, since a show about revolutionaries who threw off a non-representational government's rule is probably not going to go over so well with Chinese authorities).
It used to be the hippest club in town. Give it a few years, and the cleaned-up high school version of the show will be invading every cafetorium in the Midwest ("Oh, honey, you did so good with that rapping. We didn't understand everything you said, but Dad and I are just so proud of you.").
So, to those of you who have been grousing about how it's been overhyped and sensationalized by the media: you'll be getting your grinchy little wish soon. The mediocrity of saturation will soon be upon us all.
There is still one way for you to capture a sliver of the magic of the original, though. Before the original cast scatters to the winds, they will be filming a performance. People have been excitedly chattering about how PBS will be airing the filmed production, and those chattering people are not quite correct: it's being filmed for a PBS documentary about the show; snippets will be in there, but Miranda's no fool. The Broadway production is raking in $2 million a week, and no one is going to gun down that cash cow by letting you see Hamilton for free. (This is also why it's highly unlikely that there will be movie any time soon.)
Even though you won't see Hamilton committed to film any time soon, other producers are looking into ways to make the need to actually be there pointless. Roundabout Theater will be live-streaming a performance of its revival of She Loves Me, which will be closing in July at Studio 54 (speaking of formerly being the hippest club in town). In the meantime, the UK is casually blowing us out of the water in the race to completely negate the idea of a live performance: the National Theatre has commissioned a virtual reality film. Someday, you may be able to put on a bulky headset and pretend that you're in the front row watching Lin-Manuel Miranda on opening night. Then you'll probably watch some porn, because if VR movies are perfected, you know that will happen immediately.
Doing what you can
Last week, we briefly touched on the events down in Orlando, because of the Tony Awards ceremony's reaction to it. I hadn't planned on saying anything more about it here, since this is a theater column, and what other connection to theater could it have at this time? Just the kind that shows they have a heart.
When they heard that the hateful jackanapes from Westboro Baptist Church were coming to town the protest the funerals of those killed in the nightclub shooting, The Orlando theater community rallied together to protect the mourners from that frothing batch of stupidity.
At the same time, the charitable organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has donated $150,000 to organizations supporting the friends and families of victims.