Trey Graham

Trey Graham edits and produces arts and entertainment content for NPR's Digital Media division, where among other things he's helped launch the Monkey See pop-culture blog and NPR's expanded Web-only movies coverage. He also helps manage the Web presence for Fresh Air from WHYY.

Outside NPR, Graham has been a lead theater critic at the Washington City Paper, D.C.'s alternative weekly newspaper, since 1995, which means he's seen a good deal of superb theater and a great deal of schlock. He's still stage-struck enough to believe that the former makes up for the latter.

Graham began his career as a writer and editor at The Washington Blade; his subsequent tenure at USA Today included a stint as the newspaper's music and theater editor. A past fellow at both the O'Neill Critics Institute and the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater, Graham won the George Jean Nathan Award for distinguished drama criticism in December 2004.

Graham is also a regular panelist on Around Town, the venerable arts roundtable program on Washington PBS affiliate WETA-TV, and the author of the theater section of the newest Time Out Guide to the nation's capital. He's written about books, travel, movies and the arts for publications including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Born in New Orleans (during Mardi Gras, no less) and raised in South Carolina, Graham has lived in Washington, D.C., since 1990 ­ except for a couple of years in Zimbabwe, which turned out to be way more fun than a politically perilous, economically disastrous situation has any right being.

Five Dances might be the least talky movie I've seen in months — but it's plenty expressive. What it says, it says silently, or at least nonverbally, in the music-and-movement language of Jonah Bokaer's haunting choreography, which speaks of solitary strivings and the brief, passionate connections that punctuate them.

So this here "Total Eclipse of the Heart" video has blown the heck up, tallying a million-plus YouTube plays since Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes tweeted a link to it. It's made the rounds of LaughingSquid and Gawker and the like, and if you haven't watched it, do yourself a favor and get that done, because you'll thank me.

I'll wait.

With Linda still out at the TCA gathering, TV is much on our minds. And as she noted yesterday, there's a whole big conversation going on about the newer modes of consuming what we still, for lack of a better word, generally call television.

(Actually, we probably don't need a better word, as "television" just means "far-sight" and doesn't have anything to do with broadcast or spectrum or modes of transmission or the technology involved, BUT I DIGRESS.)

* Having seen Cate Blanchett's electric Blanche DuBois, and had a public pretend-squabble with our own Bob Mondello about it, I felt like I was all up in Charles McNulty's head when I read his take on Blue Jasmine. [The Los Angeles Times]

* If you're anywhere near Winston-Salem, please note that Tonya Pinkins, whose chops are so considerable that I don't entirely know where to start with her amazingness, so just Google her, is in cabaret thereabouts, as part of the biennial National Black Theatre Festival. This is a thing that makes me want to go to North Carolina. [Winston-Salem Journal]

No, it's not Morning Shots today. Some of us just really aren't morning people. (What, breakfast is the only time you caffeinate?)

Without further ado:

* Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita got married, and a lot of stars were there, which is nice and all, but waitwhatdidyousaytonykushnerofficiated? <dies> [The Wrap]

When I was passing out assignments for this week's movie reviews, I noticed that none of my critics had raised a hand to bid for Turbo -- you know, the DreamWorks animated comedy about a sheltered suburban garden snail who dreams of racing in the Indy 500, and the scrappy squad of Van Nuys strip-mall snails who, with the help of an ethnically diverse array of down-on-their-luck shopkeepers, help him make that dream come true.

Wait, I think I've just figured out why I ended up with this assignment my own self.

It is with some joy, and also a little trepidation, that the entire Monkey See family welcomes the news that Sharknado 2 is a thing that will happen. Because really, is that singular Sharknado lightning terribly likely to strike twice?

On the other hand: The sequel will be set in New York City, so consider the quantity of hipsters who'll face flying piscine peril. [The Wrap]

In London, they're breathlessly anticipating a royal bundle of joy. Here in the capital of the former colonies, we await the blooming of a gigantic flower that smells like rotting meat. Because that's how we do. [The Washington Post]

Once upon a time, it was MySpace. (Huh. Turns out you can still link to it.) Then Facebook happened. And Twitter. And beyond those two dominant social-media platforms, there are a host of other, newer options for staying in touch and letting the digital universe get a look at your life. And for certain kinds of sharing, some of those other options make more sense to tech-savvy teens than the Big Two do.

With three TIFF screenings under my belt as of midmorning Friday, I've begun to realize that I've been picking my films based on a few highly personal likes: narrative intensity, rich visuals, inventive compositions and maybe a few other variables. Here's what I mean:

Oh, the questions that circulated when this summer's Shakespeare in the Park revival of Into the Woods was announced.

Who'd play the Baker, that woebegone would-be father at the center of Stephen Sondheim's fractured musical fairy tale?

Who'd step into the star role of the vengeful Witch, played notably by Bernadette Peters in the premiere and by Vanessa Williams in the 2002 revival?

How would the show work in a giant outdoor amphitheater, amid the trees and lawns and urban clatter of Central Park?

With our fearless leader Linda Holmes away at the TCA summer press tour, the crew is forced to stumble haplessly into the studio, where I somehow flopped into the host's chair again, heaven help us.

The last few days of my post-Tonys theater week were so jam-packed that there was no time to write up what I was doing. Matinees, cabarets, stand-ups, burlesques, benefit readings; it was a mad dash of a weekend. So here goes, with the recap — and a few recommendations for things to try next time you get to New York:

There's plenty of high drama going on in Porgy and Bess, and high drama can often mean intense acting.

God knows Audra McDonald is tearing up the stage as the drug- and drink- and sex-addled Bess: I've never seen her loosen up her joints and contort her body the way she does in two or three of the show's more scorching moments. She's located something rough and ugly deep inside, and found a physical and a vocal language for it.

On Monday night, a theater-critic buddy and I were hoisting a round at a 9th Avenue saloon called Flaming Saddles. "God Bless Texas" was on the jukebox, which was an actual jukebox and not somebody's Spotify playlist, and the big-screen TVs were showing Shirley MacLaine getting smashed in Can-Can, because it's that kind of establishment.

The Tonys, like all awards shows, are about successful people dressing pretty to congratulate each other for being successful. Can't get past that.

But the Tonys, to me, always seem just a little less gross than the Oscars or the Grammys or the Xtreme Video Music Firewalking Awards or what have you.

Here's the thing about the Tony Awards: Sometimes you know what's going to clean up when the nominations are announced. (Think last year, and The Book of Mormon.)

And sometimes it's hard to get excited about the shows that get tapped — remember when Sunset Boulevard's only competition for Best Musical was the jukebox show Smokey Joe's Cafe?

Not this year: There's a real race. The bittersweet Irish romance Once — an absurdly appealing stage adaptation of the 2006 indie film — leads the pack with 11 nods.