Need a Theater Fix? Head Down to the Tribeca Film Festival

By Cox, Gordon | Variety, April 10, 2018 | Go to article overview

Need a Theater Fix? Head Down to the Tribeca Film Festival


Cox, Gordon, Variety


In late April, theater lovers devote most of their attention to the clutch of Broadway shows rushing to open before the eligibility cutoff for Tony nominations. But this year fans should be keeping an eye on things downtown too: New projects by or about Broadway talent aren't onstage. They're at a film festival - the Tribeca fest (running April 18-29), where Terrence McNally, Howard Ashman, Michael Mayer and Stephen Karam are all in the mix.

Every Act of Life (1)

Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross' documentary, making its world premiere at the festival, chronicles the life of McNally, the veteran, out-and-proud playwright and four-time Tony winner behind "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Ragtime," "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and more. The biopic - which counts Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep and Bryan Cranston among those involved - touches on everything from McNally's romance with Edward Albee to his alcoholism and the time Lauren Bacall chewed him out for spilling a drink on her.

Kaufman and Ross first met McNally through work on their 2015 documentary about marriage equality, "The State of Marriage," although the playwright wasn't much help in the filmmakers' hunt for archival material. "It's hard to save things in New York," McNally joked. "We live in very small apartments!"

Howard (2)

Ashman, the writer-lyricist ("The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin") who was one of the driving forces of Disney's resurgence in animation in the late 1980s - and later, the studio's Broadway dominance - never lived to see how influential he would become: He died of AIDS in 1991 at age 40. Don Hahn, a documentarían who met Ashman working on the animated version of "Beauty and the Beast," tells Ashman's life story in his new doc, with the participation of Ashman's writing partner Alan Menken, former Disney chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ashman's life partner, Bill Lauch. …

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