September Issue: Q&A with Tom Kitt

Broadway Box Office

When we last left Byram Hills High School grad Tom Kitt, he was arranging music for Green Day’s American Idiot after having won a Pulitzer for Next to Normal. He’s returned to Broadway with the high-flying cheerleaders of Bring It On.

This seems like the opposite of Next to Normal. What made you want to get involved? I love musical comedy, and Bring It On is a natural fit for a musical. But I also felt there was something emotional in the story, especially being set in the world of high school—high school is a loaded time for everybody. So even though the emotions are different than Next to Normal, there was still something moving about Bring It On, and it brought out a lot of feeling.

You worked on the music with Lin-Manuel Miranda of In the Heights. How are your styles different, and how were you able to combine them? It was wonderful to feed off each other. We started by doing the first number together, and we tried to capture that cheer energy in that electronic/pop world. Then we wrote the songs for the Jackson school, and he has that hip-hop vernacular that comes into play—he’s a virtuoso at it. But we wanted to make sure that every song had character development, and by the end it morphed so that it felt like Lin-Manuel, [co-lyricist] Amanda Green, and I all wrote the score together as one piece.

The musical is partially about finding what you love to do in high school. What was your big extracurricular at Byram Hills? I was into music, so I performed in the musicals. But I was also into sports, and I did soccer and baseball. I guess I was like the character of Randall in that I didn’t really do just one thing; I tried to run in all the different crowds.

Next month, the movie Pitch Perfect comes out, and you also worked on that. Were you already familiar with that a cappella world? I was in an a capella group at Columbia, and I’ve been wanting to do something about a cappella groups for a long time. My friend [and director] Jason Moore told me about the movie, and I told him I had to work on it. I arranged songs with people who live on the West Coast and work on The Sing-Off. One set piece that I worked on and am particularly proud of is the ‘riff-off,’ where you have to ‘steal’ songs by singing another song with the same lyric in a certain category. From the trailer, it looks like it really came off.

Bring It On is currently playing at the St. James Theatre.

DVD Review: The Hunger Games

'The Hunger Games' Looks More Like the Past than the Future -- and Too Much Like the Present

"The book covers a lot of ground, from wealth inequality to the media’s desensitization to violence. It’s a good thing, then, that the adaptation landed in the hands of a director as confident as Gary Ross. He understands that the movie should stand for itself, as opposed to functioning as a staged reading of the novel.

The most important shift, and ultimately the most successful one, is the decision to liberate the movie from Katniss’s point of view. The movie is thankfully voiceover-free—which would’ve been a cheap, easy way to sneak in both Katniss’s reactions and Suzanne Collins’s words—and actors’ facial expressions are allowed to stand-in for pages of inner monologue. The universe of the movie unfolds without being over-explained. Ross trusts his actors’ performances to get across the information we need to know without necessarily saying it, and he trusts the audience to absorb all of the movie’s nuances without underlining every revelation and reaction."

Click through to read the rest of the review at PopMatters.

Film Review: Red Lights

Red Lights doesn't exactly work, but at least it fails in an interesting way.

'Red Lights': Paranormal Beliefs and Doubts

"This situation also indicates that the movie takes place in a heightened reality, if not a downright alternate one, where paranormal activities and parapsychology are of such importance that a university funds not one, but three faculty positions dedicated to researching the subject. In this world, cable news breathlessly reports on every step of a retired psychic’s comeback—which draws sellout crowds in seconds—and someone else’s doubts about him wind up on page one of the newspaper."

Click through to read the rest of the review at PopMatters.

The Daily Traveler: Olympic Venues

Kudos to the brains behind London’s 2012 Olympic venues: Because the city won't need all the structures once the games end, many are temporary (and recyclable!). Of course, London has a long history, and some of the sporting grounds have been around for centuries. For the website of the Condé Nast Traveler, I took a look at the oldest and the newest Olympic venues in the city.

15 Things You Didn't Know About London's Olympic Venues

One from the newest:
Basketball Arena

Basketball, Handball
Though the Basketball Arena can seat 12,000 spectators, making it one of the largest and most-used in the games, the venue itself is entirely temporary. The steel frame is covered with a PVC fabric, and the whole thing will be entirely dismantled when the Olympics are over. New houses will be built in the space.

One from the oldest:
Hyde Park

Swimming, Triathlon
Open to the public since: 1637
Hyde Park was originally used as a private hunting ground for Henry VIII in 1536, and it wasn’t until more than a century later that Charles I opened it up to the public. The Serpentine Lake, where the Olympic swimming events will take place, was built under the orders of Queen Caroline in the 1730s. Casual bathers still swim in the lake every summer, and the Serpentine Swimming Club hosts an infamous race there every Christmas.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photos courtesy of London 2012

Time Out New York: Summer Scenes

For the "Get Outdoors in New York City" issue of Time Out New York, I checked out the scene at the McCarren Park Pool. Click on the images below the splash, and you'll also see the quotes I got from people visiting the pool.

McCarren Park Pool

The last time lines snaked from the imposing brick entryway down Lorimer Street, Sonic Youth was set to perform at the last of JellyNYC’s Pool Parties. After the facility’s $50 million renovation, the queues have returned, formed by families eager to try the new 1,500-person-capacity swimming hole. But even with more than a thousand swimmers, everyone has enough room.

Kids have their run of the deck at the top of the massive 37,571-square-foot U-shaped pool, splashing their way through spray fountains and shallow paddling areas. Make for the other side, where the families thin out and the water, accentuated by the painted bottom, looks Mediterranean blue. Patrons are more relaxed here, either cooling off with a dip, sunbathing, swimming in the designated lap lanes or playing volleyball in a sand court off to the side.

Be warned: Rules are strictly enforced, especially after the local press reported fights, arrests and theft (just try a backflip into the water now). You must leave everything except your towel, water bottle, sunblock, bound reading material, and flip-flops or sandals (no sneakers)—yes, even your cell phone—in a locker, for which you must provide your own lock. For more regulations, visit

Lorimer St between Bayard St and Driggs Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Daily 11am–3pm, 4–7pm; free. Through Monday, September 3, 2012.


Click through to see the article and quotes at Time Out New York.


Photograph: Marielle Solan