Saturday, February 2, 2008

Theater talk

Now, I feel like I can be an even more in-the-know Broadway theatergoer.

My local PBS station, WSBE, has started showing Theater Talk, produced by WNET in New York and cohosted by New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel. He describes the show as "a sort of Meet the Press of Broadway. We want viewers to feel that they are sitting around with theater insiders at a Broadway hangout, talking, gossiping and joking about the theater.''

The guests on last night's program were Ian McShane and Raul Esparza, currently starring in The Homecoming. It was a great conversation about playwright Harold Pinter, about both actors' careers and about the future of straight plays on Broadway. I just wish their costar, the very talented Eve Best, has been a guest, too.

Upcoming programs will feature Chazz Palminteri from the one-man show A Bronx Tale, Irish actors Ciaran Hinds and Conleth Hill from The Seafarer, and Rock 'n' Roll playwright Tom Stoppard. Even though I won't get to see A Bronx Tale, The Seafarer or The Homecoming, and I didn't like Rock 'n' Roll very much, I know I'll enjoy the interviews.

Plus, I know this is totally superficial, but when I was watching Raul Esparza, the first thing I thought was, "Wow, he has really big, beautiful eyes." And the picture above doesn't do them justice.

If the show doesn't air on your PBS station, you can watch the latest episode at the Theater Talk Web site. Plus, you can download the audio from previous shows as podcasts. But you really should watch it, especially the current show, just for Raul's eyes.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esparza is one of those rare actors I've been following since before they ever landed on Broadway. When I first saw him, it was as part of the 1999 touring company of Evita in which he offered a stunning performance as Che.

He deserves all the acclaim he is finally receiving. And as much as I loved David Hyde Pierce's performance in Curtains, Esparza deserved the Tony.

I had the great pleasure of talking to Esparza last spring after seeing Company - he's a very down-to-earth performer. I'm glad he's getting the respect he's earned.

Esther said...

Wow, that must have been pretty neat to have seen an actor on tour, before he became known on Broadway. I haven't seen Raul Esparza yet. And I didn't realize he'd been in a touring company of "Evita." It would have been great to see him as Che. (I've only seen the movie version, but someday I'll see it on stage).

I'm sorry I missed him in "Company," but I'm looking forward to seeing it as part of the PBS series Great Performances on Feb. 20. And as much as I love David Hyde Pierce, I know that many people agree with you about Raul Esparza's performance.

Someday, hopefully, I'll get to see him on stage. Do you think he's one of the best at moving between musical and nonmusical roles? Audra McDonald is another person who comes to mind.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Well, as he has clearly demonstrated from his turn in The Homecoming, he has the chops for straight plays. But with such a wonderful singing voice, it would be a shame for him to put his musical days behind him.

Alicia said...

Esparza is WONDERFUL! He has such an unassuming and natural quality about him, which is what made his performance in COMPANY so amazing...

I'm looking forward to the PBS Great Performances airing. When we saw it, we sat in the 2nd row. Afterward, we learned from a friend that if you sat in the mezz or balcony, you could see that all of the blocking was done in chess moves! Brilliant!

Let's hope that John Doyle pulls a similar hat trick with MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, as I don't have high aspirations for A CATERED AFFAIR. :/

Esther said...


Thanks for the comment. I'm really looking forward to watching "Company" on PBS, although I have to say, I don't think Sondheim always translates well to the small screen. I know this is like blasphemy, but I saw "Sunday in the Park with George" and "Into the Woods" on DVD, and I didn't care that much for either of them. OTOH, I loved "Sweeney Todd" on DVD. So we'll see, hopefully the brilliance of Raul Esparza's performance will still come through.

And I'm really intrigued by "Merrily We Roll Along," especially since its a story that's told backward in time.