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‘King Kong’ Musical Will Close in August on Broadway



“King Kong,” the big-budget musical driven by its massive namesake puppet, will close Aug. 18 after less than a year on Broadway, the show’s producers announced on Tuesday.

The production marked the first traditional stage production from Global Creatures, the Australian company whose realistic animatronics brought life to arena shows like “Walking With Dinosaurs” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

It arrived in New York later than expected. After a run in Melbourne, “King Kong” initially aimed for a 2013 opening, then 2014, before eventually announcing its 2018 arrival in spring 2017. Various creative teams were attached along the way.

“King Kong” was capitalized for up to $36.5 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That sum — enormous by Broadway standards — has not been recouped.

The show eventually opened to stinging reviews, with most of the praise going to the towering title character himself, a colossal marionette clocking in at 20 feet tall and 2,000 pounds. For the week ending June 23, it grossed just shy of $783,00 at the box office, only 53 percent of its potential take.

Fourteen performers operate the lifelike ape, whose innovative expressions and movements extend beyond what most audiences have typically seen from puppetry on Broadway, and were recognized with a special Tony Award this month.

The creative team for “King Kong” included the writer Jack Thorne, who also scripted “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and the director and choreographer Drew McOnie. The score was written by Marius de Vries, with songs by Eddie Perfect.

At the time of its closing, the show will have played 324 performances and 29 previews at the Broadway Theater.

“King Kong” will live to rampage through another city, however: The show is slated to open in Shanghai in 2021, and a news release on Tuesday promised a North American tour and productions in Japan and Spain.

Meanwhile, the next Global Creatures show to arrive in New York — “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” — begins preview performances Friday at the Al Hirschfeld Theater.

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Kyoto Studio Devastated by Fire Is Revered by Anime Fans



The Japanese animation studio that police say was targeted by an arsonist in Kyoto on Thursday has long been a fixture in the anime world, known for its “slice of life” stories and detailed scenery that entices fans to visit the actual locations depicted onscreen.

Kyoto Animation, known by fans as “KyoAni,” was founded by Yoko Hatta and her husband, Hideaki Hatta, in 1981. Most of the studio’s production has taken place in the building that was the site of Thursday’s fire, which killed 33 people and injured dozens more. The Kyoto police said a 41-year-old man was believed to have set the fire by igniting a flammable liquid around the studio.

Stevie Suan, a professor at Hosei University in Tokyo who has a doctorate in Manga Studies, said in a phone interview that Kyoto Animation is known for high quality, meticulously detailed works — some of which have become hits among anime fans. From their artful scenery to the precise design of characters’ eyes and hair, Kyoto Animation is considered a standout studio with international appeal.

In an industry that often relies on contractors and freelancers to execute projects, Kyoto Animation has been lauded for hiring much of its staff full-time, Dr. Suan said. It is often cited as an example of a company that offers its employees a dependable work environment to develop their artistry.

“It’s a horrendous shame how much talent is being lost,” he said, “These are the top of the top in their industry.”

Some of the series created by Kyoto Animation can be streamed on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Funimation, a major distributor of anime. Here are four of the studio’s most popular works:

One of Kyoto Animation’s early hits was a series called “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,” a high school drama that turns into an elaborate science fiction story. The series is based off a Japanese light novel, a genre similar to young adult fiction in the United States.

As it rose in prominence, Kyoto Animation became known for its intimate storytelling and character interactions, said Patrick Macias, the editor in chief of Otaku USA Magazine, a bimonthly title about anime.

“They’re really stories about people and the relationships between people,” Mr. Macias said in a phone interview. “It’s everyday life through the filter of anime.”

The “Lucky Star” series follows a group of girls attending high school outside Tokyo, including an intelligent female protagonist who is distracted from her studies by anime and video games. It’s a classic example of the “slice of life” genre, Dr. Suan said, which centers on everyday scenarios, lighthearted humor and lovable characters, in contrast to heavier and darker anime dramas.

“Lucky Star” became an early example of an anime series that inspired “sacred pilgrimages,” a trend in which fans travel to landmarks depicted in the series, Dr. Suan said. One popular site is the Washinomiya Shrine, a Shinto landmark that was reproduced in “Lucky Star.” A more recent series by Kyoto Animation, called “Tamako Market,” galvanized fan pilgrimages to a shopping street in Kyoto, where they could imagine walking the same paths as their favorite fictional characters.

Certain scenes in Kyoto Animation shows are so treasured by fans that the studio publishes books with detailed drawings of the frames, according to its website.

A more recent Kyoto Animation phenomenon is “Free!,” a series that has also spawned films, one of which was released this month. The initial anime series, released in 2013, centers on a group of boys who swam together in elementary school and reunite in their high school years to form a swimming club. The plot follows the ups and downs of the boys’ friendships and sports careers.

Ian Condry, a professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a phone interview that “Free!” stood out in the anime world because of its visual focus on the male body rather than the female body. Criticism is sometimes directed at anime studios for their focus on sultry poses by female characters that are shot with the “male gaze” in mind, Professor Condry said, but “Free!” sparked a discussion about male bodies being the focus of the lens.

The recent Kyoto Animation film “A Silent Voice,” showed that the studio was skilled not only at telling lighthearted “slice of life” stories, but ones that deal with heavy human emotions as well, Dr. Suan said. The film centers on a deaf girl and a boy who bullied her when they were younger. The boy, Shoya Ishida, now in high school, wishes to make amends with the girl, Shoko Nishimiya, who was once his victim.

“A Silent Voice,” showcased the storytelling range of a studio beloved for its skill in animation, Dr. Suan said.

“They’re generally known for animation that is quite intricate, and usually on female characters,” he said. “But they have a range.”

Alex Marshall contributed reporting from London.

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Patrice Rushen Found Success in Jazz and Dance Music. She Hasn’t Been Forgotten.



When she was 17, Ms. Rushen and her band won a competition that earned them a spot at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and she found herself swarmed by interested labels. She signed with Prestige, and she released three albums between 1974 and 1976, all while attending U.S.C. From the start, her music was of the fusion zeitgeist: Some of the five original tracks on her 1974 debut, “Prelusion,” were full of wound-up swing and acoustic instrumentation, but on others, Ms. Rushen doubled her Fender Rhodes keyboard with a woozy ARP synthesizer, while the drummer Ndugu Chancler tended to a slinky rock beat below.

By 1976, when she released her third and final Prestige album, “Shout It Out,” she was writing funky jazz-pop — in the mold of the Mizell Brothers or the Stanley Clarke-George Duke Band — and she was singing on top of it, in a wispy, beguiling, ingénue’s voice that betrayed her age in ways that her musicianship never did.

She had also become an in-demand side musician, playing with jazz-fusion titans like Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Turrentine and Donald Byrd. By the time she signed to Elektra she had a significant following among jazz audiences, and among black radio stations’ more open-minded listeners.

With Elektra, she found that her mixed identity confused even the executives who’d signed her. “Haven’t You Heard,” a coy disco burner from her 1979 album “Pizzazz,” reached No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100, but when she delivered the follow-up, the label told her there were no hits on it. The album was “Straight From the Heart,” and its first track was “Forget Me Nots.”

“Sometimes they wouldn’t be ahead of the curve,” Ms. Rushen said. She and her management paid to promote the record themselves, and “Forget Me Nots” became a radio mainstay, hitting No. 23 on the Hot 100.

When things caught on, the benefits didn’t escape her. Learning from jazz history, Ms. Rushen had been diligent about claiming her publishing rights. “That was a very big thing,” she said. “To know that the mechanism was in place, if things caught on, for that catalog to be of value.”

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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Taught Us What Netflix Was For



Some of the inmates are nonviolent offenders; others have killed. Some have suffered bad breaks, abuse or straight-up injustice; others are dangerous, vicious and unrepentant.

“Orange” extends understanding to all of them (as well as to bullying guards and cynical prison executives) while not simply excusing anyone. If it’s jarring in how it can shift from laughter to shock, slapstick to shivving, it may be because accepting the complexities of real, flawed humans in a flawed system is jarring, too.

This has honestly made the seven years of “Orange” a tough balancing act. It was strongest in its first four seasons, at the end of which the young, hopeful inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) was choked to death while being restrained by a guard. Her wrenching, violent end alienated some viewers to whom it prodded at the wounds of real-life police brutality cases, or recalled an ignominious history of series killing off lesbian characters.

The incident was polarizing, but it was not handled lightly or forgotten. In retrospect, it was the fulcrum of the series’s whole run, and its repercussions continue through the end of the final season. In Seasons 5 (set during the resulting riot) and 6 (dealing with the riot’s aftermath), the series tilted more toward the somber, and the comedy felt more discordant.

Season 7 — not to violate the perimeter of Netflix’s maximum-security spoiler list — is, if not the show’s best, a return to form. The centerpiece is the story of Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (the outstanding Danielle Brooks), facing life in prison for a murder she didn’t commit during the riot. The first person Piper met in Litchfield, Taystee, in retrospect, is the actual aching heart of “Orange.”

The season steers between nihilism and false hope. It recognizes that the weaknesses of the justice system and the forces behind the cycle of crime may be intractable. (In another blunt metaphor, a reform-minded new prison official asks how she can adjust a chair in her office; “You can’t,” she’s told. “It’s broken.”) Yet it holds out the possibility of redemption, small acts of decency and strokes of luck.

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