A series of bright, clear photographs of what the author saw when he pulled aside the curtain in a Wisconsin Oz.

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MUCH ADO

A SUMMER WITH A REPERTORY THEATER COMPANY

A veteran former editor and current freelance journalist delivers a swift story about being imbedded with a summer outdoor theater company mounting a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Former Chicago Reader chief editorial executive Lenehan generally copes well with a dilemma facing a writer of such a text: how much should I assume readers already know about the Bard? The text? Producing a play? He seems to have decided that his readers already know a bit, so he offers a list of characters, keeps reminding of us of the plot of Shakespeare’s dark early comedy, and quotes passages and lines (sometimes more than once). He spent the summer of 2014 with the American Players Theatre in tiny Spring Green, Wisconsin, about 35 miles west of Madison. APT is a repertory company, so other productions were going on—Lenehan alludes to them periodically—but Much Ado is the cynosure. The author introduces us to the players, the director, and the technical personnel, sometimes giving us fairly detailed back stories, and he shows us with rare clarity how a professional company prepares a production. He chronicles his interviews with people responsible for costumes, wigs, lighting, sets, and so on, and he records the evolution of the show and marvels at the attention the director pays to the text—how he shapes the show to make sure all of its components contribute to the audience’s understanding and pleasure. Occasionally, Lenehan alludes to the films of the play by Kenneth Branagh (1993) and Joss Whedon (2012) and to some filmed stage productions, but for the most part, it’s the APT that commands his interest and, eventually, ours. Tension mounts as opening night advances—and as the rain clouds swoop in, drenching all, delaying the start. But not for long.

A series of bright, clear photographs of what the author saw when he pulled aside the curtain in a Wisconsin Oz.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-57284-205-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Agate Midway

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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