Watch 2 minutes of Robert DeNiro-directed A Bronx Tale The Musical

ABronxTale

Below is a two minute video from Papermill Playhouse’s world premiere production of A Bronx Tale: The Musical, with music by Alan Menken (Newsies, Aladdin, Little Shop of Horrors,) which marks movie actor Robert DeNiro’s debut as a musical director. He’s co-directing with Jerry Zaks

Based on Chazz Palminteri’s one-man show and 1993 film (which co-starred DeNiro), “A Bronx Tale” is set against the backdrop of racial strife and organized crime in the 1960s as an Italian-American teenager must choose between the father who raised him and the mob-boss father figure who fascinates him. Which will he choose? The bigger question is: Is this coming to Broadway, and when?

The stars include Nick Cordero (Tony nominee for Bullets Over Broadway) as the gangster Sonny, Jason Gotay (Spider-Man, Bring It On) as the teenager Calogero, as well as Joshua Colley, Richard H. Blake, Coco Jones, and Lucia Gianetta.

 

Cabin in the Sky Review, Pics, Video

Five years after the Gershwin brothers debuted Porgy and Bess, a Gershwin protégée born Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dukelsky (aka Vernon Duke) composed the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky, which lasted longer on Broadway. Its restoration by the Encores concert series shows why it was a hit — and why it has since virtually disappeared.

Full review in DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged

 

 

Frozen Coming to Broadway. Hamilton to the Grammys. Immersive Theater! Week in New York Theater

A stage adaptation of Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film of all time, will arrive on Broadway in 2018, Disney Theatrical announced.

The stage musical, featuring the songs of the husband-and-wife team Bobby Lopez and Kristin Anderson Lopez (as did the movie), is being put together by some exciting Broadway pros: director Alex Timbers — whose credits include “Peter and the Starcatcher,” ”Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” ”The Pee-Wee Herman Show” and “Rocky” – choreographer Peter Darlilng – Billy Elliott and Matilda – set designer Bob Crowley – five-time Tony winner, most recently for An American in Paris

The plan is first to try out the show during the summer of 2017, in a theater and a town to be announced.

The Week in New York Reviews

Immersive Theater – Five elements that define it (my article in Howlround)

Sleep No More 1 photo by Yaniv Schulman

Sleep No More

Phoebe Dunn as Helene Alving.

Phoebe Dunn as Helene Alving.

The Alving Estate

Then She Fell: Rachel I. Berman (as Alice)

Then She Fell: Rachel I. Berman (as Alice)

Then She Fell

Will Gallacher, James Ortiz, Eliza Martin Simpson in THE WOODSMAN

Will Gallacher, James Ortiz, Eliza Martin Simpson in THE WOODSMAN

The Woodsman

The Woodsman, a nearly wordless play with puppets that tells the story of how the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz lost both his human body and his heart, arrives at New World Stages after several previous runs that were praised as charming and magical. So why did I fantasize dousing the cast with a bucket of water?

 

The Week in New York Theater News

Hamilton

The cast of Hamilton will perform its opening number live on The Grammys February 15, via satellite from the Richard Rodgers Theater, the first Broadway    show in five years to perform on the Grammys

DenisArndtandMaryLouiseParker

 

Heisenberg by Simon Stephens with Mary-Louise Parker and  Denis Arndt, to open at the Samuel J. Friedman, the Manhattan Theater Club’s Broadway theater, on October 13, 2016

Colorblind and nontraditional are aggressive & inappropriate terms, writes stage manager Ross Jackson in “Blackness in Nonprofit Theater: Where Representation Becomes Marginalization, ” the first of 24 essays on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion in Non-Profit Quarterly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superbowlhalftimeshow
The fuss over Beyonce’s “Politically charged”/”unapologetically black” Super Bowl half-time show

The Woodsman Review: How The Tin Man of Oz Lost His Heart

The Woodsman, a nearly wordless play with puppets that tells the story of how the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz lost both his human body and his heart, arrives at New World Stages after several previous runs that were praised as charming and magical. So why did I fantasize dousing the cast with a bucket of water?

I felt tremendous guilt about this mischievous urge to add a little slapstick to the noble artistry, which seems tantamount to kicking a litter of puppies, or, more precisely, tripping a mime. There is no question that Strangemen & Co.’s 70-minute staging of one of L. Frank Baum’s fairy tales is heartfelt, and beautiful to look at; that James Ortiz – who wrote the adaptation, designed the set and puppets, portrays the title character, and co-directs the production – is deeply talented; that the nine other performers, including violinist Naomi Florin, are a dedicated ensemble, who even breathe as if one: We see their unified breath at both the beginning and the end of the show.

After they breathe, in a brief prologue Ortiz poetically sums up L. Frank Baum’s tale, before they all act it out silently, accompanied by Florin’s persistently plaintive violin and an occasional dirge-like song (the original music is written by Edward W. Hardy). Nick Chopper (Ortiz) is a regular human being who is engaged to be married to a pretty Munchkin girl named Nimmee. But Nimmee  (Eliza Simpson) is slave to the Witch (a striking puppet manipulated by Amanda Lederer and Sophia Zukoski.) The Witch disapproves of the couple’s love, and invests Nick’s axe with the magical ability to chop him to pieces. Friendly neighborhood Tinkers replace each body part as it is severed with a tin prosthetic, until the woods man has become the tin man (the second puppet). At the end, the tin man is stuck alone in one of the bare branches, but suddenly a house comes clattering onto the stage, and out of it pops a bright-eyed young girl.

It should be noted that Dorothy is wearing the original silver slippers rather than the ruby slippers introduced by Judy Garland. “The Woodsman” has too much integrity to allow any Hollywood touches into this dark tale. So everything is tasteful and inventive, languid and lovely, artistic and, to me, a tad tedious.  It’s not their fault that I left feeling like W.C. Fields, wondering if Toto’s origin story is next.

The Woodsman
New World Stages
By James Ortiz, adapted from L. Frank Baum
Music composed by Edward W. Hardy, lyrics by Jen Loring
Directed by James Ortiz and Claire Karpen
Set and puppet design by James Ortiz, costume design by Molly Seidel, lighting design by Catherine Clark and Jamie Roderick
Cast: Benjamin Bass, Devin Dunne Cannon, Will Gallacher, Alex J. Gould, Amanda A. Lederer, Aaron McDaniel, Lauren Nordvig, James Oritz, Eliza Simpson, Meghan St. Thomas, Sophia Zukoski
Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission
Tickets: $45 to $85

Helen Mirren’s Super Bowl Anti-Drunk Driving Commercial

If you were to donate your brain to science, science would return it. So stop it.” So says Dame Helen Mirren, before taking a sip from a bottle of Budweiser.

Then She Fell Review: Alice in An Immersive Wonderland

ThenSheFellredqueenwhiterabbitThose looking to unlock the secret to the success of “Then She Fell,” the Third Rail Projects’ immersive take on Lewis Carroll and his writings now entering its fourth year, might start with the old-fashioned set of keys each member of the audience is given at the start of our adventure through this theatrical Wonderland.

The keys literally open drawers and boxes and cupboards throughout the three-story former school building in Williamsburg meticulously made over to resemble a mental hospital (complete with stern-looking nurses in 19th century habits.) We are able to riffle through (facsimile) letters and postcards and photographs directly connected to Lewis Carroll’s work, his life, and his acquaintances, especially Alice Liddell, the young girl who was his muse for Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.

The keys also work as a metaphor. Over the course of the two-hour running time of this elusive, dark and delightful show, each individual theatergoer feels put in charge of unlocking the mysteries not just of what’s in front of us, but also of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – pen name, Lewis Carroll.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged*

“Then She Fell,” which has been around since 2012 (originally taking place in the abandoned Greenpoint Hospital), plays to an audience of just 15 people per performance, and even then the mostly silent performers split us up early and often. Each individual theatergoer is ushered into one dark room after another, often alone or with just one or two other audience members. Unlike Sleep No More, there are no free range theatergoers. The often intricately detailed rooms into which each of us is shepherded – which are surely chosen at random, but brook no dissent – add up to an individual theatergoing experience. We encounter familiar characters in sometimes discombobulating environments, often but not always interacting with them. In one room – a chaotic haberdashery! — the Mad Hatter (Elizabeth Carena) made me try on some weird hats; in another, a character silently fed me a grape; in a third, another character played a card trick. There are some stunning set pieces. Two Alices (Marissa Neilson-Pincus and Tara O’Con on the night I saw the show) precisely reflect each other’s gestures facing one another through an elaborate mirror frame that has no mirror. A character I realized much later was the White Rabbit (Carlton Cyrus Ward) sat across from me painting white roses red, and silently gesturing for me to do the same. Near the end, a formally-suited young man (Andrew Broadus) – who I realized later was meant to be Lewis Carroll — dictated a message for me to write to Alice, then placed the message inside a bottle, and took me to a room where he put the bottle in the water that (I suddenly noticed) flooded much of the floor, where it bobbed along with other bottles placed there as if in the sea. (the “pool of tears” from Alice in Wonderland?)
For all the atmosphere of mystery, the show offers light bulb moments of great satisfaction. I had two in quick succession watching through a window as a performer in an adjoining room executed what seemed like a dance of the insane, but nevertheless one with great formality. When she put on a red ruffled collar I suddenly noticed her red dress: “Ah, the Red Queen!” (I confess I was slower to identify the characters than I should have been.) But that wasn’t all: On the wall near the window hung a letter reflecting the historical fact that Alice Liddell’s mother became uncomfortable with a grown man befriending her young daughter, and there was a break between the two families. The thought suddenly occurred to me: Maybe Carroll based the Red Queen not just on the game of chess, but on Alice’s mother.
There is no evidence this is what the creative team wanted me to conclude. There is plenty, however, to feed the historical speculation that Carroll had an unhealthy obsession with his young muse. This is not why “Then She Fell” is restricted to theatergoers 21 and over. All the tasty beverages served in medicinal vials are alcoholic – with the exception of the hot tea in delicate porcelain cups served at the tea party to which some of use are lucky enough to be invited.

*Some of the photographs without captions were taken of the production when it was at the Greenpoint Hospital site.

Then She Fell
“Kingsland Ward at St. Johns” 195 Maujer Street , Williamsburg, Brooklyn
by Third Rail Projects (Artistic Directors: Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, Jennine Willett)

Directed, designed, written and choreographed by
Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett

Created in collaboration with Elizabeth Carena, Alberto Denis, Stacie C. Fields, Rebekah Morin, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tara O’Con, Zoë Schieber

Original music and sound design by Sean Hagerty, costume design by Karen Young, lighting design by Kryssy Wright,

Cast (vary per performance):Rachel I. Berman, Carly Berrett-Plagianakos, Lia Bonfilio, Andrew Broaddus, Giulia Carotenuto, Lindsey Dietz-Marchant, Caitlin Dutton, Zhauna Franks, Kim Fischer, Kelly Garone, Brighid Greene, Carolyn Hall, Julia Kelly, Madison Krekel, Mary Madsen, Justin Mock, Christina Robson, Kim Savarino, Alex M. Schell, Samuel Swanton, Shelby Terrell, Simon Thomas-Train, Madeline Wilcox

“Ward staff”: NJ Agwuna, Stephanie Armitage, Anna Aschliman, TJ Burleson, Cameron Michael Burns, Brittany Crowell, Jack Cummins, Dana Gal, Taylor Hollister, Kaitlin Marsh, Samara Seligsohn, Elisabeth Svenningsen
Running time: two hours
Tickets: $95 to $150 (depending on the night)

The Alving Estate Review: Ibsen Immersed

The Alving Estate, an intriguing and instructive if ultimately unsatisfying experiment, promises an immersive staging of Ibsen’s Ghosts.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

The two companies that conceived the show, Journey Lab and Deaths Head Theatrical, made the inspiring choice of holding it at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights. Now a museum, the mansion is the oldest surviving house in Manhattan, at one point during the American Revolution the headquarters for George Washington and, weirdly enough, fifty years later the home of Aaron Burr.

The elegant interior, with its large portrait paintings and narrow staircases, feels full of history and mystery, as is Ibsen’s play, a tale of a family cursed by its history.

But the clever and ambitious conception of the Alving Estate, whose limited run of eight performances ends today, winds up in its execution being both too little and too much.

A prime illustration of this paradox – of what’s best and worst about The Alving Estate — occurs in the first moments, when the audience gathers in the basement of the house, and members of the cast hang up our coats, offer us drinks, hand us a list of rules, and entice us to play Blackjack. Instead of money, we make wages with our secrets, which they ask us to write down on little pieces of paper. One of the cast members who has been guiding us (Sandra Glinka), dressed as a maid, then offers the audience instructions for the evening, but her instructions include asides in which she puts down another cast member (Andrew Hamling) who had been officiating at the blackjack. For those of us who have brushed up on our Ibsen, this moment has the suddenness and brilliance of lightning: We realize that Glinka is portraying Regina Engstrand, a maid who has ambitious designs on Osvald Alving, the scion of the estate, and that (as in the play) she has contempt for her father, Jakob Engstrand, a scheming drunken carpenter (portrayed by Andrew Hamling, who was also the blackjack dealer.) This is theoretically a terrific incorporation of Ibsen’s play with immersive theater’s playfulness. In practice, however, American audiences don’t know Ibsen’s play well enough for this oblique reference to strike home. A scattering of more or less conventional scenes with dialogue follow over the next 90 minutes or so, but too little for the average theatergoer to get a handle on a drama that is heavily plotted with secrets and shocking revelation, involving everything from venereal disease to incest to euthanasia. Little of that comes through.

It might have been wonderful to attend a more-or-less straightforward production of Ghosts at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, each scene staged in sequence in an appropriate room of the house. But instead, the creative team seems intent on hitting as many immersive marks as possible, right down to the required wearing of masks, a la “Sleep No More,” this time surgical masks along with cotton gloves. We are told that we are applying for a job as household help; the distributed one-page set of rules, which forbid us from speaking or sitting on furniture, etc., also inform us that our duty is to observe “all staff members and their daily operations.” The five characters of Ibsen’s play are supplement by a baker’s dozen of household staff, who – accompanied by eerie music, of course — rush around and stand around, serve dinner to the main characters, bounce into each other rhythmically, and whisper to individual audience members: “Be careful whom you trust.” All this helps establish an appropriate atmosphere of haunting secrets and mysterious lies, but it’s not enough to keep us engaged, and no match for Ibsen.

 

The Alving Estate

Helene Alving – Phoebe Dunn
Osvald Alving – Michael DeBartolo
Pastor Manders – Timothy Larsen
Regina ‘Engstrand’ – Sandra Glinka
Jakob Engstrand – Andrew Hamling

Sleep No More Review, Photographs, Video

SleepNoMore8“Sleep No More” is Punchdrunk Theater’s staging of Macbeth, as if retold by Alfred Hitchcock and Isadora Duncan. It has been running since 2011 in a formerly abandoned club in Chelsea renamed the McKittrick Hotel. It is the show that started the latest trend of immersive theater in New York, and it is an engaging if dizzying mix of design, dance and drama – or at least a trigger to recall the drama in Shakespeare’s tragedy, since none of the performers recite the Bard’s lines. The production depends on theatergoers’ prior knowledge of the Scottish play, generally a good bet, although the more recently someone has read it (or seen a straightforward production of it), the more the disparate images and chaotic moments of “Sleep No More” will cohere.

It’s up to the theatergoers to follow the characters as they rush up and down the stairs, entering into various startling tableaux vivant – Lady Macbeth washing her hands naked in a bathtub, say — or rough-and-tumble dancing. One can wander on one’s own through the half dozen floors of close to 100 dimly-lit rooms, some of which don’t feel like rooms at all, such as a graveyard that seems to generate its own fog. There are also drawers full of relevant photographs and letters to riffle through. Audience members explore at their own pace for up to three hours. I tired of exploration well before the three hours were up — thanks largely to the clammy and creepy Scream/Eyes Wide Shut masks we were required to wear — but spent some 15 minutes trying to figure out how to exit the place; the mute masked ushers weren’t much help.

Since the show began, “Sleep No More” now plays seven days a week, and it is popular enough that the “McKittrick Hotel,” still not a real hotel, has become a hub for nightlife, with a restaurant, a rooftop bar, a small concert venue, and a place for special event parties, on Valentine’s Day and other occasions, that offer “Sleep No More” in a package deal.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

Sleep No More
Felix Barrett (Direction and Design), Maxine Doyle (Direction and
Choreography), Stephen Dobbie (Sound Design), Beatrice Minns (Design Associate), and Livi Vaughan (Design Associate).
Tickets: $75 – $95, depending on the day of the week.
Running time: up to three hours

The Grand Paradise Theater Review: Bushwick’s Titillating Tropical Resort

“The Grand Paradise” can be a fun, hip and sensuous two-hour holiday with a cast of 20, all attractive, some barely clad, in a cleverly designed beach resort from the hedonist 1970s. It can also be a confusing and uncomfortable trip to a Bushwick warehouse dressed up to be a tacky tropical island, except without any of the sun or recreation or relaxation. Or it could be both.
Much as in a vacation, the show depends on chance – what night you’re seeing it (the cast members vary), whether the fates and the performers favor you — and, let’s face it, your own disposition for this kind of immersive theater.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged


Will the cast be like geishas flirting silently or like counselors at an adult camp teaching you how to tie knots? Will you get drawn into a pillow fight; cuddle with a mermaid; happen to peek through the blinds at two apparently naked young men surreptitiously embracing? Or will you be placed in a coffin; stuck by yourself in a room (with all the doors closed) watching a cast member who seems to be sleeping; shut into a tiny room with nothing but a dressing room mirror, told via headphone to stare at yourself – “Look at your perfect skin. Look at your perfect brow.” Or both?
Will you be able to – or bother to – follow what comes closest to a plot, the arrival at this resort of a family of five and their various supposedly surreptitious erotic, violent and mind-bending adventures? Mom (on my night, Carly Berrett-Plagianakos) loosened up so much that she undressed and exchanged clothes with a sultry cabaret singer.
Or will you instead be distracted by – or prefer to focus on – the personal and often oddball encounters you have with the cast?
After the 60 theatergoers gave in our “boarding passes,” entered a narrow corridor and watched an “in-flight video” from “Finis Air” that informed us that we are not allowed to open doors that are shut, a door opened onto the first and largest room. A man in a Hawaiian shirt draped a lei around my neck. Minutes later, a woman in tropical attire removed the lei, and led me into a little room with four other theatergoers. She silently motioned for me to kiss a small wooden cup, then brought the cup to a bearded theatergoer and had him fill it from a bottle of liquid she had given him. Then she brought it back to me and motioned for me to drink it. I did so. Luckily, it was just water.
Then she repeated the routine – or should I say ritual – with wooden receptacles of increasing size until I was downing a large bowl of water, and wondering if there were any restrooms in this paradise.
Third Rail Projects, the company behind “The Grand Paradise,” also created “Then She Fell,” the hit immersive theater with an Alice in Wonderland theme which has been running for three years. There are some similarities. The set is full of meticulous attention to details. Many of the rooms have real beach sand; there is a Weeki Wachee kind of deep blue water tank in which some of the performers swim – particularly period details. The Time Magazines in the waiting room all date from the early 1970s, the jukebox in the bar has a list of 70’s songs. The actual music piped in continually is original, albeit infused with a familiar other-worldly zombie sound, like Grace Slick singing White Rabbit (which, yes, was the 1960’s not the 1970’s; I don’t think Third Rail was going for acoustical authenticity.)

Much of “The Grand Paradise,” like much of “Then She Fell,” consists of wordless interpretive dancing. To pick one of many, many examples, two of the tourists, now drunk at the Shipwreck Lounge engage in a skilled and stylized fight. Both shows employ a cast well-trained in physical theater and both sensitive and flexible in its  spontaneous interaction with the audience.

One difference could be crucial to your enjoyment. We arrive at “Then We Fell” knowing the context – it’s about Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, and his relationship with Alice Liddell. There are all sorts of letters and postcards and photographs that illuminate this literary history, and even the oddest behavior of the cast is directly related to it: “Ah, that’s the Red Queen,” I suddenly realized long after I should have while watching a crazy dance by a lady in a red dress.
The context in “The Grand Paradise” is less specific (the 1970s), its cultural allusions less direct and less substantive (Fantasy Island comes to mind.)  In fairness, death and love are themes threaded throughout the show, mostly in 70s-style self-help monologues, where the characters talk about the choices one makes in life.  But overall the new show does less than “Then She Fell” to stimulate our curiosity and intellect, and it doesn’t seem designed to engage our emotions, at least not in the way good theater traditionally does. “The Grand Paradise” is not a parody; there was very little that’s funny, at least not intentionally, and when the cast isn’t being flirtatious they are as serious as acolytes engaging in sacred ritual, persuasively sincere in their 70’s New Age-speak. Actually, even the flirtation feels like ritual.
What’s on offer here may be a kind of faux-nostalgia, especially since the bulk of the audience for “The Grand Paradise” is unlikely to have been alive in the 70s, and a hip factor that may exert a kind of peer pressure.
The individual performance I may remember most vividly from “The Grand Paradise” occurred when a male cast member draped himself sensuously around a theatergoer, and then pulled her seductively through the main room to the bar, and began to dance with her, before abruptly scurrying away. I noticed that another theatergoer (besides myself) had followed all this, and that he had the world’s most uncomfortable-looking grin plastered on his face, as if trying to communicate to everybody and nobody that he was totally cool about somebody touching his wife.

The Grand Paradise
In a warehouse in Bushwick at 383 Troutman Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237
By Third Rail Projects
Artistic Directors
Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, Jennine Willett
Based on a Concept by Tom Pearson
Directed, Designed, Written and Choreographed by
Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett in collaboration with The Company
Cast (during the performance I attended)”

Mom – Carly Berrett-Plagianakos
Dad – Erik Abbott-Main
Older Daughter – Erika Boudreau-Barbee
Younger Daughter – Ashley Robicheaux
Boyfriend – Niko Tsocanos

Siren – Elizabeth Carena
Midas – Roxanne Kidd
Cabana Boy – Sebastiani Romagnolo

Venus – Jessy Smith
The Lady – Marissa Nielsen-Pincus
The Gentleman – Carlton Cyrus Ward

Jett – Rebekah Morin
Activities Director – Alberto Denis
Libertine – Bryan Strimple

Aqua Twin Girl – Elisa Davis
Aqua Twin Boy – Matthew Albert
Lifeguard – Zach Martens

William, a hustler – Edward Rice
Grace, a hustler – Katrina Reid
Farrah, a hustler – Julie Seal

Running time: 2 hours, no intermission.
Tickets: $95 to $150
The Grand Paradise is scheduled to play through March 31, 2016

James Corden, Tony Host. #GreaseLive Scores. #Ham4Ham Digital Returns. Week in New York Theater

 

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Late Late Show host and Tony winner James Corden will be the host of the 70th Tony Awards June 12th.
He won his Tony for One Man, Two Guvnors.

Aaron Tveit as Danny and Juianne Hough as Sandy

Aaron Tveit as Danny and Juianne Hough as Sandy

Grease Live, the fourth live television broadcast of a musical since NBC began this renewed trend in 2013 with The Sound of Music, was watched by more than 12 million people, more than both Peter Pan Live and The Wiz Live.

My review of Grease Live.

GreaseLivephotocollage

Grease Live photographs and lyrics

 

Noah Robbins as Eugene

Q and A with Noah Robbins, one of the standouts of Grease Live, who played the nerd Eugene.

 

The Week in Hamilton

The digital #Ham4Ham lottery  tries again, starting today. (You’ll recall that the website crashed when they first introduced the digital lottery in early January.)

But the #Ham4Ham digital performances have been going on without interruption.
e.g., with Audra McDonald

Hamilton is going national

Sept, 2016: PrivateBank, Chicago, for an open run.

Then a national tour in 2017. First stops:

March 2017: Shnsf Broadway,San Francisco

August 2017: Pantages, LA

 

Other shows that have launched digital lotteries this week

AnAmericaninParisalbum

An American in Paris

phantom_logo

Phantom of the Opera (on its 28th year, for $28)

Januaryquiz

January 2016 New York theater quiz

Februarykeycollage

February Theater Openings

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

 Chinasa Ogbuagu as Abasiama; Hubert Point-Du Jour as Ukpong in Sojourners

Chinasa Ogbuagu as Abasiama; Hubert Point-Du Jour as Ukpong in Sojourners

Sojourners

In “Sojourners,” a curious kind of love story among oddly carved characters, a man visits the hospital room of a woman he just recently met who’s given birth to the child of her absent husband. The visitor, named Disciple, offers the woman, Abasiama, flowers and a teddy bear. “…Stuffed animals. They are American symbols of comfort,” Disciple explains in heavily accented English to the new mother. “I should have brought good food or fine cloth. Doll? What for?”

The man and the woman are both Nigerian immigrants in Houston, Texas, in 1978, in a play by first generation Nigerian-American Mfoniso Udofia that is strongest when it offers us such glimpses into the characters’ two cultures, and their effort to juggle the two – adjusting here, resisting there.

Kayla Ferguson and Reggie D. White

Kayla Ferguson and Reggie D. White

I and You

I and You, Lauren Gunderson’s two-character play, has been produced in some 20 theaters around the country, receiving awards and much publicity, yet nobody has revealed the twist at the end. The twist is not just shocking; it makes the play.

The acting and directing in the New York production are competent, the design team does wonders in the relatively small stage of 59E59 Theatre A, and the playwright has something profound she wants us to take out of the theater. But just knowing there is a surprise ending, yet not knowing what it is, provides a narrative suspense that propels us through the seemingly aimless patches of an encounter that begins when high school student Anthony (Reggie D. White) enters the bedroom of Caroline (Kayla Ferguson), much to her surprise and annoyance.

The Week in New York Theater News

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Cate Blanchett to make her Broadway debut in The Present by Andrew Upton, based on Chekhov’s Platonov, December 2016

 

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Thirty-six years after starring as Peter Pan, Sandy Duncan returns to Broadway to play Madame du Maurier, the snobbish grandmother in Finding Neverland.

Cush Jumbo

An all-female Taming of the Shrew starring Cush Jumbo as Kate and Janet McTeer as Petruchio launches the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park season this summer.

Bad news/good news from Atlantic Theater: Hal Prince no longer directing The Band’s Visit in the Spring. David Cromer will in Fall

AbeVigoda

RIP Abe Vigoda, 5-time Broadway veteran but best known for ‘The Godfather’ film & ‘Barney Miller’ TV, 94.

Ten finalists for this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn Prize given annually to recognize women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.

Sarah Burgess (U.S.)- Dry Powder
Rachel Cusk (U.K.)- Medea
Sarah DeLappe (U.S.)- The Wolves
Sam Holcroft (U.K.)- Rules for Living
Anna Jordan (U.K.)- Yen
Dominique Morisseau (U.S.)- Skeleton Crew
Lynn Nottage (U.S.)- Sweat
Suzan-Lori Parks (U.S.)- Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1,2 & 3)
Bea Roberts (U.K)- And Then Come The Nightjars
Noni Stapleton (Ireland)- Charolais

Congratulations to the 10 emerging writers Class of 2016-17

 

 

 

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