Theatre Teams Up With Local Businesses for Upcoming Production

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Broadway is preparing for its biggest night on Sunday with the 2015 Tony Awards, U.S. theater's highest honors, following a record-breaking season with a commercial hit vying with an edgy musical for the top prize.

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish artist on Saturday unveiled a two-story-high mural featuring those killed in protests two years ago over an Istanbul park that spiraled into nationwide demonstrations against the leadership of Tayyip Erdogan.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The international auction house Sotheby's withdrew from auction on Tuesday a painting by a famous Russian artist that Russia's Interior Ministry said last week had been stolen in 1997 from a private collection in Moscow.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The international auction house Sotheby's said on Sunday it would proceed with the auction in London next week of a painting by a famous Russian artist that the Russian authorities have said was stolen.

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Dubrovnik Summer Festival will go ahead and stage a play by French author Michel Houellebecq, reversing a decision to cancel it after police voiced concerns for security because he has stirred controversy over his critical views of Islam.

Sports News

NEW YORK/ZURICH (Reuters) - The FBI's investigation of bribery and corruption at FIFA includes scrutiny of how soccer's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar, a U.S. law enforcement official said.

PARIS (Reuters) - It was sharp, quick and brutal as Novak Djokovic finally dropped the French Open guillotine on Rafa Nadal -- ending the most remarkable of Roland Garros reigns in ruthless fashion on Wednesday.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American Pharoah drew the favorable post number five for the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday when the colt looks to become the first Triple Crown winner in nearly four decades.

DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - Tiger Woods has described the venue for this month's U.S. Open as "very challenging" after seeing for himself why a top U.S. Golf Association (USGA) official said extensive homework was required at Chambers Bay.

LONDON (Reuters) - The film "United Passions" in which British actor Tim Roth portrays FIFA president Sepp Blatter does not hit American cinema screens until Friday, but whether it sinks - as it did in Europe - or swims it has at least one immortal line:

Science News

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Pluto’s outer moons are continuously toppled and turned as they battle the joint gravitational forces of their parent planet and its primary moon Charon, a study published on Wednesday showed.

BOSTON (Reuters) - Scientists were baffled last year after meltwater lakes atop Greenland's ice sheet suddenly drained out at rates rivaling Niagara Falls.

(Reuters) - American Nobel laureate Irwin Rose, a biochemist whose groundbreaking work helped in the development of treatments for cervical cancer and cystic fibrosis, died on Tuesday, the University of California, Irvine said. He was 88.

(Reuters) - A new study to determine the age of iconic old-growth redwoods in California's Muir Woods has revealed that one of the tallest and most famous trees in the forest is much younger than many assumed given its massive size, scientists said on Tuesday.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - They're not likely to start barbecuing in the rainforest, but chimpanzees can understand the concept of cooking and are willing to postpone eating raw food, even carrying food some distance to cook it rather than eat immediately, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Movie Reviews

As districts are devastated above ground, other struggles rage underground. We’re not just talking Woody Harrelson’s straggly Games vet Haymitch Abernathy’s problems with “prohibition”, either. With her role beefed up from Suzanne Collins’ third and final Hunger Games novel, how can Elizabeth Banks’s future fashion grotesque Effie Trinket hope to look ab fab in a rebel hold-out with serious wardrobe issues?

Given Effie’s egregious situation, it’s a wonder she looks as presentable as she does. For Effie, read Mockingjay - Part 1. Even with the odds against him, returning director Francis Lawrence joins sturdy-handed writers Peter Craig (The Town) and Danny Strong (The Butler) to mount a rich, punchy, well-paced treatment of a tricky novel: an unlikely victory comparable to felling hoverplanes with arrows.

After all, the outcome was never certain. If Gary Ross’s first Hunger Games flick benefitted from lunging fast into the arena, Catching Fire repeated the trick and proved it stood repeating. Now that Katniss Everdeen’s revolt at Fire’s climax has pushed the future districts into a climate of unrest, countered by state oppression, there are no games to play but political ones. This time, it’s war? Yes, but for unwary viewers expecting the fun stuff of bonkers baboons terrorising teenagers it could just be a bore.

The issue of division is equally sticky. Tackling an already divisive novel with the divisive decision (see The Hobbit, Deathly Hallows) to divide it into two movies, the third and fourth Games films raise a question: how many divisions can a story take without collapsing?

But Part 1 holds up, mostly, with Jennifer Lawrence doing some proper heavy lifting. On the page Katniss initially lacks her old spark, a point flagged on screen by District 13 President turned rebel Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) when she tells rebel-leader Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), “This is not the girl that you describe.” As Plutarch and Coin slowly coerce Katniss into becoming a symbol for revolt against the venomous President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) decadent Capitol, the plot rests less on scraps than strategy; less on action than debates about how to start the action; and less on Katniss than the absence of the girl on fire. With heavy doses of recap and semi-meta stuff about making propaganda movies stacked on top, the focus shift threatens to distance viewers.

But J-Law tugs us in to Katniss’ fraught humanity, invoking memories of Aliens’ harrowed Ripley as she wakes from troubled sleep in District 13’s rebel base. (And yes, the ginger cat is here.) These layers of trepidation firm up Katniss’ position as a reluctant hero we can engage with, not a superhero: qualities rare enough in some A fiction, let alone YA fiction.

Francis Lawrence pushes YA boundaries further as Katniss visits districts decimated by Snow’s army, where streets spill with skulls. When Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a rag-tag propaganda film crew explore the devastated District 8, a makeshift hospital oozes with what censors like to call “injury detail”. If the reverence for Katniss among the wounded verges on cheesy, the rubble-strewn war-zone images and ear-bashing hoverplane attacks imbue Katniss’ subsequent big speech with a sense of high-stakes potency. As she “becomes” Katniss again here, Lawrence steers her fear and rage into air-punching “Get away from her, you bitch!” terrain.

If one particular District 8 atrocity seems torn from today’s headlines, the rebel debates about how to use the media as a weapon are equally, achingly of the now. But Mockingjay isn’t a course in Advanced Media Know-how: the two-part split provides the elbow room needed to flesh out a boosted character count. In his last bow, Hoffman invests Plutarch with weathered heft. Judiciously expanding the novel beyond Katniss’ perspective, added Coin-age benefits from Julianne Moore’s authoritative delivery. Good, no-nonsense ground-level support comes from Natalie Dormer’s Cressida, sort of Kate Adie with face tats.

Less successful is the decision to boost Effie’s role: like Derek Zoolander gate-crashing Fury to pimp a tank, she lightens the tone but draws sniggers. The vote’s still out (and probably out for good) on the narrative value of Gale’s charisma vacuum, though less is more for Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta. Seen largely through ambiguous TV broadcasts, his arc ranges smartly from turn-coat interviews with Stanley Tucci’s Capitol creep Caesar to well-administered shocks.

Even with the pace-dampening burden of time spent on Katniss visiting old haunts, Francis Lawrence makes up for the arena’s absence with punch-packing action jolts. The rebel assault on a dam is Lord Of The Rings-sized. Later, a tense night-time raid on the Capitol successfully splices sprawling effects work with grounding war-movie grit.

These beefed-up action beats are well integrated with Katniss’ viewpoint, especially when the Capitol incursion runs parallel to a tense vid-screen stand-off between two key verbal combatants. That poised weighting holds until the climactic cliffhanger, a better-paced send-off than the sudden drop that closed The Desolation Of Smaug.

Francis Lawrence faces more trials tackling Collins’ rushed finale in Part 2, but the two-film split could give him vital air, assuming he doesn’t go all Return Of The King on us. “I’m optimistic,” shrugs Plutarch at one point, facing a new dread. On the strength of this gutsy, considered rewrite of the Games’ rules, there’s reason to be.

Stills of Tom Hardy pursing his lips at a puppy might have made Twitter melt, but The Drop did well to change its title from Animal Rescue. This is no cutesy romcom or inspirational adventure but rather a downbeat, character-driven crime drama set in a squalid neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Facial stubble and handguns are de rigueur, for this, as the opening voiceover goes, “is where all the things happen that you’re not allowed to see.” Running bar for his Uncle Marv (James Gandolfini in his final big-screen role), Bob Saginowski’s (Hardy) life turns upside down when he’s robbed at gunpoint. The money belongs to the Chechen mob – they were using Marv’s bar as the drop point for their bookmaking business – and Bob and Marv need to get their hands on $5K fast. Enter Twitter’s favourite pup, found by Bob in a trashcan on his way home. The bin belongs to Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and the dog, it transpires, was stuffed there by her headcase ex Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts). Bob takes it home and begins a tentative friendship with Nadia, his actions inevitably met by sinister visits from Eric and an escalating tension that promises violence. The US debut of Belgian filmmaker Michaël R. Roskam (2011’s Bullhead), The Drop, based on Dennis Lehane’s short story, melds European sensibilities with the tropes of an American crime picture. The dilapidated setting and its hardscrabble inhabitants are observed with an outsider’s eye and an insider’s knowledge, while the narrative simmers rather than bubbles over like so many Hollywood thrillers. Gandolfini, in Nike tracksuit and leather jacket, is as tough and tender as ever, and a hesitant, slouching, mumbling Hardy evokes Stallone’s Rocky and Brando’s Terry Malloy – perhaps a little too consciously. Over-familiarity clings to The Drop, but it’s a crafted, admirable picture with a halo of hope around its melancholic heart – a melancholy deepened, of course, by Gandolfini’s passing.

With a title like The Imitation Game, you’d be forgiven for expecting a contemporary CIA thriller – rather than a carefully constructed character study of one of WW2’s largely unsung heroes. It’s centred on Alan Turing, the man responsible for cracking the Nazis’ Enigma cipher, thus helping end the war. Enemy dispatches, however, are not the only guarded secrets. Bletchley Park’s efforts to outthink the Germans’ most cunning device has been covered before in Michael Apted’s Enigma (2001), where Dougray Scott played a vague approximation of Turing. But this digs far deeper. Adapted by first-time screenwriter Graham Moore from the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, the story begins in 1952, several years after Turing’s moment of triumph, when the police (led by Rory Kinnear) investigate a suspicious break-in at his house. Benedict Cumberbatch swiftly and compellingly differentiates Turing from his other ‘genius’ roles – Stephen Hawking, Sherlock – though the latter flashes through when the narrative winds back to 1939, as Turing enters Bletchley for the first time. Arrogant and assured, he’s also uncompromising and unpopular, divorced from the Matthew Goode-led codebreaking team. When Turing demands to be put in charge, even petitioning PM Winston Churchill, it seems never in doubt that he’ll solve the riddle of the Enigma machine, a device that changes its settings every 24 hours to make detecting coding patterns nigh-on impossible. But this achievement, aided by Keira Knightley’s crossword-fanatic Joan Clarke and under the watchful eye of Mark Strong’s MI6 operative, is only part of The Imitation Game, which takes a darker turn with revelations that Turing is gay. The result is less a portrait of WW2 innovation than it is of a man drowning in secrets at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He even asks for Joan’s hand in marriage – but theirs was always more friendship than frisson. Given the frequent shots of Turing in training (he was also a marathon enthusiast), you’re left to wonder if he’s running from himself – or public censure. Director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), essays the same attention to detail that fellow Scandinavian Tomas Alfredson brought to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If The Imitation Game doesn’t emulate that film’s dazzling direction, it equally captures the texture of past British life and features a similarly exemplary Cumberbatch-inclusive ensemble. Only this time, he leads from the front, pouring body and soul into Turing. Cracking, you might say.

The world’s most influential film critic, the late Roger Ebert knew the importance of good direction. That Ebert chose Steve James to direct this exceptional documentary, based on his own memoir, says much about its subject’s character. Ebert always believed in cinema as a machine for generating empathy, citing James’ Hoop Dreams as a classic example. With full access to Ebert during the final months of his life, James brings the same insight here. Critical peers debate his legacy here: did Ebert’s famously populist, “thumbs up” approach to cinema dumb things down, or help to pioneer the internet’s renaissance in grassroots criticism? Meanwhile, directors like Martin Scorsese recount the double-edged sword of Ebert’s patronage: every good review a boost, every bad notice a blow. A truly rounded, complex character emerges, especially in the central relationship with TV show co-host Gene Siskel, Ebert’s equal and opposite. Yet, as the title suggests, there was more to Ebert than watching movies. James reveals parallel lives: the student editor who spoke out for civil rights; the rambunctious reporter nearly destroyed by alcoholism; the mischievous screenwriter behind Russ Meyer’s manic Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. James follows each facet thematically as much as chronologically; the mosaic resembles not only Ebert’s beloved Citizen Kane but also the treasured jigsaw puzzle that provides a stand-out moment. Latterly, of course, there was Ebert the cancer sufferer, robbed of his voice but reaching new readers via his blog. Ordered by Ebert to show “the full reality”, James achieves an unvarnished, desperately sad portrayal of this once towering figure reduced to frailty and discomfort. Ebert eventually becomes too ill even to reply to emails – yet the film’s power lies in its use of archive footage, voiceover and even Ebert’s computerised speech translator to keep the writer’s voice alive.

The feature debut of Irish director brothers Rob and Ronan Burke, Standby is a gentle, funny rom-com for which the term ‘heart-warming’ might have been coined. Alan (Brian Gleeson, son of Brendan) lives a dead-end life, manning the tourist-info desk at Dublin airport, when back into his life swims Alice (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré), with whom he shared a brief romance eight years ago in New York. Her NYC flight’s not till the next day, so he offers her a night on the town – strictly on a platonic basis, of course. Ok, you can guess how it’ll end – but getting there is a delight.

CD Reviews

- Andrew Clements

Cotillard/Gallais/Lieder Camera and Madrigal Choirs/Barcelona SO and Catalonia National O/Soustrot

(Alpha)

First performed in concert in 1938 and fully staged for the first time in Zurich in 1942, Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher is the only one of Arthur Honegger’s large-scale works to have maintained at least a toehold in the repertory. For Honegger, it seems, the dividing line between opera and oratorio was often a very thin one – his 1925 opera Judith later appeared in a version for the concert hall – and the designation of Jeanne d’Arc as a dramatic oratorio in which the two main characters, Jeanne herself and Frère Dominique, are played by actors, certainly suggests a work with affiliations to both. The French poet and dramatist Paul Claudel wrote the text; his partnership with Honegger had been brokered by the dancer Ida Rubinstein, who had planned a staging in Paris as part of a “tetralogy of evil”, alongside works by Milhaud and Stravinsky, though the idea was wrecked by the outbreak of the second world war.

Yet as Marc Soustrot’s performance shows, the music of Jeanne d’Arc is easily strong enough to stand alone, without the need for any visual reinforcements. The choral prologue, which was composed after the rest of the score, in 1944, is followed by 11 scenes, which are played without a break and are dramatically independent of each other, though the final set piece is inevitably Jeanne’s death at the stake.

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- Malcolm Jack

O2 Academy, Glasgow

Tracks are more invoked than performed as the rapper revisits his influential album Illmatic, two decades on

Nas’s 1994 debut album, Illmatic – a gritty document of Queens, New York, in the pits of a crack epidemic, characterised by complex rhymes over a haze of vintage funk, soul, and jazz samples – is hip-hop perfection. Huge sales, critical acclaim, academic books andan Oscar-tipped documentary have elevated it to near-mythical status.

The tone is slightly off from the start. Why, for instance, is Tim Westwood, the court jester of hip-hop, supporting at this plays-in-full show? (The audience boos, then cheers as his decks are removed from the stage.) But then there was never any foolproof approach for Nas to revisit a record so profoundly of its time. One-take wonder NY State of Mind marked a 20-year-old rapper’s arrival as a fearless, charismatic new force – well before his beef with Jay Z, divorce from Kelis and hit-and-miss later material – and is performed here with prosaic footage from cult 1970s exploitation movie The Warriors flickering in the background.

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- Michael Hann

Roundhouse, LondonThe reunited band do absolute justice to Paul Westerberg’s bruised, defiant anthems of youth – and also retain their ragged edges

The challenge facing most reunited bands is simple: play your greatest hits with enough sincerity to convince the audience you’re enjoying it, get out of the venue and collect the money. For the Replacements, making their first visit to Europe in almost a quarter of a century, it’s rather different. Their legend has been built on tales of drunken disaster, of shows that turned into car crashes, of being the band that threw it all away.

Which means fans turning up for their Back By Unpopular Demand tour don’t want a pristine run-through of the nearly-hits: yes, they want to hear their favourite songs done justice, but they want evidence the band could flame out at any minute, too.

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- Martin Kettle

Royal Festival Hall, LondonIn his final two Schubert recitals, there was a sense of spontaneous encounter in everything Barenboim played, with the details never subsumed into a predetermined whole

Related: Daniel Barenboim review – interesting rather than revelatory Schubert playing

The final two legs of Daniel Barenboim’s four concert, 11-sonata Schubert series culminated, as it must, in the last sonata of them all: the B flat, D960. But the journey towards this inevitable summation began far away with the E flat sonata, D568, grand and exploratory in Barenboim’s occasionally undisciplined hands, and the darker dramas of the A minor, D784, in whose clashes and contrasts Barenboim’s Beethovenian instincts clearly revelled. It was, though, the D major sonata, D850, that revealed the characteristic essence of Schubert’s piano writing, with Barenboim’s mastery of tone, weight and touch turning the spotlight on details of this expansive work, which is playful, wistful and soaring by turns, almost as if Schubert was extemporising as he wrote his score.

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- Caroline Sullivan

O2 Arena, LondonThe cloud-floating, chandelier-swinging Florida singer hits peak schmaltz, then blows the cat-earred crowd away

Five years into her pop career, Ariana Grande is no longer just the one who’s not Miley, Taylor or Katy. She now has a track record of hits – her four-octave contribution to Jessie J’s Bang Bang was one of the big waker-uppers last summer – and a visual style recognisable even beyond the ranks of her tweenage Arianators. Grande’s look, involving sparkling leotards and cat-ear headbands, wouldn’t just stand her in good stead at the top of a Christmas tree, it also marks her threat-level as negligible. The 21-year-old Floridian is about voice and manga-style cuteness; in an arenaful of bobbing cat ears (£12 a pair at the merch stand), she comes across more as perky babysitter than rider of wrecking balls.

Even so, her first tour has a faint under-the-radar quality. Despite the 100-strong queue for merchandise and One Direction’s Niall Horan being in the audience, this feels like a gathering of those in-the-know rather than a pop-culture riot. (That’s also despite an opening salvo of Bang Bang so fierce it could have been shot out of a cannon.) Accordingly, the show is underscored by an arch wit not typically found at pop gigs. A joyous undercurrent of theatricality and camp bubbles away: she floats on a cloud during Best Mistake and on a huge chandelier for Right There – Kylie, look to your laurels – and enjoyably hits peak schmaltz when she sings My Everything atop a white piano as it rises through the stage floor.

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Book Reviews

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE CONFESSION, by John Grisham2. WORTH DYING FOR, by Lee Child3. AMERICAN ASSASSIN, by Vince Flynn4. THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, by Stieg Larsson5. SIDE JOBS, by Jim Butcher

Top 5 at a Glance1. LIFE, by Keith Richards with James Fox2. BROKE, by Glenn Beck and Kevin Balfe3. EARTH (THE BOOK), by Jon Stewart and others4. THE LAST BOY, by Jane Leavy5. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOL. 1, by Mark Twain

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson2. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson3. THE FINKLER QUESTION, by Howard Jacobson4. LITTLE BEE, by Chris Cleave5. CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE LOST SYMBOL, by Dan Brown2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson3. THE RECKLESS BRIDE, by Stephanie Laurens4. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson5. 61 HOURS, by Lee Child

Top 5 at a Glance1. EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert2. INSIDE OF A DOG, by Alexandra Horowitz3. STONES INTO SCHOOLS, by Greg Mortenson4. THE GLASS CASTLE, by Jeannette Walls5. THREE CUPS OF TEA, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

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