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Freestyle Love Supreme at TEDxBroadway 2014

This afternoon at TEDxBroadway 2014, Freestyle Love Supreme treated everyone to a taste of their popular hip-hop improv stage show, where five performers invite audience suggestions and then drum up instantaneous riffs and fully realized musical numbers. The New York Times called the group, “Masters in the art of freestyle rhyme.”Anthony Veneziale conceived of this extremely talented collective of improvisers, composers, lyricists, actors, musicians, a beatboxer, tech nerd and singer-songwriter -- and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail, the composer-lyricist and...

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Why Having Diverse Sources of Funding Equals Success

This is a fascinating story from the Globe and Mail about public theater funding in Canada right now. To summarize, the total amount to be given to theater organizations has been the same for several years, so the question is how to distribute it.One theory is give it to the big guys, who've proven they can use it.Another theory is give it to the new guys, who need it to get going and who can bring new vitality into...

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Not Feeling the Risk of Others

I saw Matilda in New York recently and loved it. Then again, I'm a fan of Roald Dahl's books and Tim Minchin's music and comedy, so I was probably an easy mark.But I'm not alone. Roald Dahl's work was the basis for generation-spanning hit books and blockbuster movies like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox and others. He wrote a Bond movie screenplay and the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...

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What Does Success Mean to You?

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that all of Silicon Valley is currently devoted to creating a hit app that gets huge overnight, develops a worldwide presence and becomes incredibly valuable. The truth is that it’s probably only 80%.That’s the subtext of what “success” means in that ecosystem right now for many people and in the zeitgeist of the place.And yet, Vietnamese game developer Dong Nguyen doesn’t define success this way. How do I know that? Because he...

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How to Keep the Live Entertainment Industry Healthy

I loved Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. I saw it when it was in the meatpacking district across the street from the Standard Hotel and still included dinner, but I think it’s been just as well received in Midtown Manhattan, where it is today.So I was excited to hear that the show is launching a Kickstarter campaign to develop a film version. I was skeptical at first, thinking of it as a movie version, because the...

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Free, But At What Price?

Should MoMA's Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden be open to the public free of charge? (It's now the price of museum admission: $25.) That's the question New York's Museum of Modern Art is mulling over, to the dismay of some and approval of others.Landscape architect Michael R. Van Valkenburgh says what makes the garden great is its "cloistered isolation." And yet another landscape architect, Ken Smith, says, “It probably would bring in people to the museum who might not...

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Appearing at TEDxBroadway 2014: Magician Todd Robbins

You take your seat. The lights go out. The doors are locked and a voice booms that you can’t get out. This is the beginning of Todd Robbins’ Play Dead, an interactive theatrical experience that just finished an extended run at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. While you listen to “true ghost stories about real people and unholy resurrection” and watch eerie stage illusions, a pair of unexpected hands might even startle you with their touch. It’s a...

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Idle Children Are a Bad Omen

If you care about the health of future generations of Americans, you probably share my concern when reading this Wall Street Journal article about a decrease in participation among kids in organized sports over the last several years.The drops are relatively small (a few percent) and participation is still very high (millions of kids), but as a trend starter, this isn’t at all encouraging. We’ve known for a while that baseball is trending down -- it’s seen as less...

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Who Would Want to Keep Peter Pan in the Dark?

More people saw The Sound of Music Live! on television at the holidays last year than went to a Broadway show in the entire year. The availability and, I suspect, the popularity of the show led some people in what I think of as the Theater Suicide Cult to find any way at all to criticize the production and snipe about the various qualities of the performers.Just imagine the fits they had when they heard that NBC is perpetrating...

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Uptick in Vinyl Sales Proves Value of Recorded Music Headed to Zero

In another universe, I'm one of the people cheering and holding a pennant that sales "Vinyl!" on it.But in this one, I'm just not that gullible. When we talked about music sales recently, I knew that people would take the bait on the deceptive infographic showing the "explosion" of sales of recordings on vinyl. Up 33%, while digital is down 8%! Of course, you don't need a degree in statistics to look just slightly deeper at those numbers and...

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