2014 NYIT Awards (Off-Off Broadway) Nominees

 

An Appeal To The Woman of the House, one of the nominees for the 2014 NYIT Awards

An Appeal To The Woman of the House, one of the nominees for a 2014 NYIT Award

The nominees listed below for the 10th annual New York Innovative Theater Awards, honoring theaters and theater artists working Off-Off Broadway, include 130 individual artists, 58 different productions and 57 Off-Off-Broadway theater companies. The awards ceremony will be held September 22, 2014 at Baruch Performing Arts Center. 


Outstanding Ensemble

As You Like It, Happy Few Theatre Company
Ellen Adair, Nat Cassidy, Eric Gilde, Patrick Mulryan, Anna O’Donoghue,Christopher Seiler, Alexander Sovronsky

At First Sight (and Other Stories), Broken Box Mime Company
Rebecca Baumwoll, Dinah Berkeley, Seikai Ishizuka, David Jenkins, Meera Kumbhani, Tasha Milkman, Marissa Molnar, Dan Reckart, Joe Tuttle, Leah Wagner

The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Vol 2, New York Neo-Futurists
Cecil Baldwin, Christopher Borg, Roberta Colindrez, Cara Francis, Dylan Marron,Martina Potratz

Magic Bullets, Buran Theatre Company
Caitlin Bebb, Abigail Blueher, Donna Jewell, Jud Knudsen, Catrin Lloyd-Bollard, Erin Mallon, Michael McKim Karp, Kate Schroeder, Mari Yamamoto

Old Familiar Faces, Tin Drum Productions
Tandy Cronyn, Marianne Miller, James Patrick Nelson, Sam Tsoutsouvas

Pirira, Theatre 167
Adrian Baidoo, J.Stephen Brantley, Todd Flaherty, Flor De Liz Perez


Outstanding Solo Performance

Adam Boncz
Fatelessness, SceneHouse Productions and Gia Forakis & Company

J.Stephen Brantley
Chicken-Fried Ciccone: A Twangy True Tale Of Transformation, Hard Sparks

Aizzah Fatima
Dirty Paki Lingerie, Aizzah Fatima

Kim Katzberg
Darkling, Eat a Radish Productions in association with IRT Theater

Sandy Moore
The Simple Stories, WorkShop Theater Company

Nora Woolley
Hip, Nora Woolley


Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role

Noel Joseph Allain
Luft Gangster, Nylon Fusion Collective

Joshua Levine
Wild, Sanguine Theatre Company

Brendan McDonough
Beckett in Benghazi, Less Than Rent Theatre in association with Horse Trade Theater Group

Tony Naumovski
Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC

Lyonel Reneau
Wild, Sanguine Theatre Company

Dwayne Washington
Rent, The Gallery Players

Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role

Milee Bang
My Father’s Ashes, Original Binding Productions

Manna Nichols
Allegro, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Diana Oh
Frankenstein Upstairs, Gideon Productions

Jenny Seastone
The Gin Baby, Kid Brooklyn Productions and Mermaid Sands Productions

Alyssa Simon
Within Arm’s Reach, Going to Tahiti Productions

Jenne Vath
Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC

Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role

Goran Ivanovski
The Lonesome West, Mark Forlenza Productions

James Patrick Nelson
Old Familiar Faces, Tin Drum Productions

Jason O’Connell
Don Juan In Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble

Tom Pavey
The Lonesome West, Mark Forlenza Productions

Brian Silliman
Dark Water, Manhattan Theatre Works (MTWorks)

J.Stephen Brantley
Pirira, Theatre 167

Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role

Debra Ann Byrd
The Importance of Being Earnest, Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc.

Tandy Cronyn
Old Familiar Faces, Tin Drum Productions

Heather E. Cunningham
An Appeal to the Woman of the House, Retro Productions

Christina Pumariega
Sousepaw: ‘A Baseball Story’, Shelby Company

Lesley Shires
The Gin Baby, Kid Brooklyn Productions

Hannah Sloat
The Glory of Living, Revolve Productions

Outstanding Choreography/Movement

Jim Cooney & Greg Zane
Nothing But Trash, Theater For The New City

Thiago Felix
Infinite While it Lasts, Group .BR

Grasshopper Mitch
David’s RedHaired Death, One Old Crow Productions

Carlos Neto
Gymnos: A Geek’s Tragedy, Ticket 2 Eternity Productions

David Norwood & Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj
Salome: Da Voodoo Princess of Nawlins, Rebel Theater

Christine O’Grady
Allegro, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Outstanding Director

Kevin Augustine & Edward Einhorn
The God Projekt, La MaMa in association with Lone Wolf Tribe

Karen Case Cook
Don Juan In Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble

Tyrus Holden
The Pregnancy of Angela Freak, AqUa MeRcUrY Creations

Kelly O’Donnell
Jane the Plain, Flux Theatre Ensemble

DeLisa M. White
Lights Narrow, Teatro Oscuro

Tazewell Thompson
Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC

Outstanding Lighting Design

Joshua Benghiat
Pirira, Theatre 167

Joan Racho-Jansen
The Lonesome West, Mark Forlenza Productions

Evan Roby
The Cottage, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Kia Rogers
Jane the Plain, Flux Theatre Ensemble

Kia Rogers
The Gin Baby, Kid Brooklyn Productions and Mermaid Sands Productions

Alexandra Mannix
Within Arm’s Reach, Going to Tahiti Productions

Outstanding Costume Design

Gail Cooper-Hecht
The Importance of Being Earnest, Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc.

Sidney Fortner
A Man’s World, Metropolitan Playhouse

Amanda Jenks
Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, Ground Up Productions

Thomas Kleinert
The Pregnancy of Angela Freak, AqUa MeRcUrY Creations

Ryan Moller
The Cottage, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Carrie Robbins
Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC

Outstanding Set Design

Stephen Karoly Dobay
The Cottage, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Donald Eastman
The Chairs, La MaMa in association with Skysaver Productions

Travis McHale
Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, Ground Up Productions

Brandon McNeel
Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC

Jacques Roy
And to the Republic, The Guerrilla Shakespeare Project

Tsubasa Kamaei & Jennifer Stimple Kamei
Don Juan In Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble

Outstanding Sound Design

Janie Bullard
The Gin Baby, Kid Brooklyn Productions and Mermaid Sands Productions

Janie Bullard
Jane the Plain, Flux Theatre Ensemble

Janie Bullard
Pirira, Theatre 167

Christopher Loar
Mute, New York Neo-Futurists

Tim Schellenbaum & Alice Tolan-Mee
The Chairs, La MaMa in association with Skysaver Productions

Christian Frederickson
The Awake, kef theatrical productions

Outstanding Innovative Design

Gyda Arber, Brian Fountain, David Gochfeld, and Allen Hahn
For Phone & Text Design
FutureMate, Brick Theater

Laia Cabrera, Isabelle Duverger, and Ildiko Nemeth
For Video Design
Cosmicomics, The New Stage Theatre Comapny

Nicole Hill
For Puppet Design
Mute, New York Neo-Futurists

Kaitlyn Pietras
For Projection Design
The Gin Baby, Kid Brooklyn Productions and Mermaid Sands Productions

Matt Reeves
For Projection Design
And to the Republic, The Guerrilla Shakespeare Project

Jane Catherine Shaw & Theodora Skipitares
For Puppet Design
The Chairs, La MaMa in association with Skysaver Productions

Outstanding Original Music

Scott Allen Klopfenstein
Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, Ground Up Productions

Jennifer Makholm & Ian Wehrle
Relent, an Indie Musical, WorkShop Theater Company

Ellen Mandel
Don Juan In Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble

Scott Munson
Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC

Alexander Sovronsky
As You Like It, Happy Few Theatre Company

Alla Zagaykevych
Fire Water Night, La MaMa in association with Yara Arts Group

Outstanding Original Short Script

J.Stephen Brantley
Chicken-Fried Ciccone: A Twangy True Tale Of Transformation, Hard Sparks

Kate Gersten
First Love from The Spring Fling, F*It Club

Kate Kertez
Dumbo from Brooklyn Labyrinth, Oracle Theatre Inc

Mark Loewenstern
One is the Road fromSuper Shorts 2013, WorkShop Theater Company

Lenore Wolf
April March, Fragments from an Unintegrated Life from East Side Stories: Movers, Metropolitan Playhouse

Nora Woolley
Hip, Nora Woolley

Outstanding Original Full-length Script

Nat Cassidy
Old Familiar Faces, Tin Drum Productions

Vincent Marano
Lights Narrow, Teatro Oscuro

Christie Perfetti Williams
An Appeal to the Woman of the House, Retro Productions

Sarah Shaefer
The Gin Baby, Kid Brooklyn Productions and Mermaid Sands Productions

David Stallings
Dark Water, Manhattan Theatre Works (MTWorks)

J.Stephen Brantley
Pirira, Theatre 167

Outstanding Performance Art Production

At First Sight (and Other Stories), Broken Box Mime Company

FutureMate, Brick Theater

Magic Bullets, Buran Theatre Company

The Chairs, La MaMa in association with Skysaver Productions

The God Projekt, La MaMa in association with Lone Wolf Tribe

The Maiden, The Nerve Tank

Outstanding Production of a Musical

A Little Night Music, The Gallery Players

Allegro, Astoria Performing Arts Center

Candide – The Musical, Theater 2020

Fire Water Night, La MaMa in association with Yara Arts Group

Life on the Mississippi: A New Musical Play, WorkShop Theater Company

The Pregnancy of Angela Freak, AqUa MeRcUrY Creations

Outstanding Premiere Production of A Play

An Appeal to the Woman of the House, Retro Productions

Dark Water, Manhattan Theatre Works (MTWorks)

Frankenstein Upstairs, Gideon Productions

Lights Narrow, Teatro Oscuro

Pirira, Theatre 167

The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Vol 2, New York Neo-Futurists

Outstanding Revival of A Play

A Man’s World, Metropolitan Playhouse

As You Like It, Happy Few Theatre Company

Don Juan In Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble

Julius Caesar, Smith Street Stage

R+J: Star-Cross’d Death Match, Three Day Hangover

Wild, Sanguine Theatre Company

Best Alan Menken Songs on His 65th Birthday

Alan Menken was born on July 22, 1949 – 65 years ago. He has been composing music for musicals on stage and screen steadily for 35 years, starting with his collaboration with Howard Ashman on God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, a 1979 adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. He continues to compose. Two of his eight Broadway shows are currently playing – Aladdin and Newsies. Here are some of his songs worth listening to:

The World Will Know from Newsies

Carrying the Banner from Newsies

A Whole New World from Aladdin

Feed Me Seymore from Little Shop of Horrors

Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid

Alan Menken sings “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast

Aln Menken sings Pink Fish from ?

Piece of My Heart, The Bert Berns Story Review. Will You Twist and Shout?

Almost half a century after his death, Bronx-born songwriter and record producer Bert Berns, the subject of the new Off-Broadway musical “Piece of My Heart,” is getting the kind of buzz he never got during his lifetime:

“Bert deserves to be elevated to his rightful place in the music industry,” Paul McCartney is shown saying in a trailer to a forthcoming documentary about Berns, who co-wrote the song “Twist and Shout,” which the Beatles recorded.

“His name may be lost, but his music is everywhere,” writes Joel Selvin in his new biography, “Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm & Blues,” the first-ever book about Berns.

“The best songwriter you’ve never heard of,” Time Magazine recently declared.

All of this advance publicity sets up two expectations about “Piece of My Heart,” the musical that has now opened at Signature Theater. First, we’re promised a kind of solo “Jersey Boys” – a previously obscure and fascinating real-life tale of a regular guy revealed as a musical genius. Second, we anticipate a jukebox’s worth of golden oldies to sing and (since it’s Sixties music) to swing along to.

But, as it turns out, “Piece of My Heart” falls short of both implicit promises. The story as dramatized is no “Jersey Boys,” much as it tries to copy the formula.  The catalogue of songs is pleasing enough, but  given the recent cavalcade of similar musicals from roughly the same era (“Beautiful,” “Motown”  “What’s It All About: Bacharach Reimagined” and  “A Night With Janis”) it feels like something of an odd rerun.

Click on any photograph to seen it enlarged

Growing up in the Bronx, Bert Berns contracted rheumatic fever and developed such a weak heart that doctors told him that he would probably die young (in the biography probably not past 21; in the musical, not past 30.) Berns’s music career didn’t take off until he was 31, but he wrote some 50 hits in just seven years. He also was a record producer and developed his own label, mentoring Neil Diamond, Van Morrison and Jimmy Page. He died of that weak heart at age 38 in December, 1967, leaving behind a 24-year-old widow and three young children.

Two of those children, Cassandra and Brett, are listed as producers of “Piece of My Heart.” (Son Brett is also the producer and director of the forthcoming documentary.)  The family commissioned the book of the musical from Daniel Goldfarb, who wrote the book for “Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me.”

Goldfarb kicks off the new musical with a character named Jessie (Leslie Kritzer), Berns’ (fictionally named) daughter, just an infant when he died.  Jessie gets a call from a mysterious stranger, a man named Wazzel (Joseph Siravo), Bert’s old friend and former manager – who, we discover quickly, is a mobster, albeit a friendly Fonzie-like one.  Wazzel wants Jessie to stop her mother, Bert’s widow Ilene, from selling Bert’s song catalogue – a whoa moment for any student of family dynamics. (Ilene Berns is still alive.) Jessie develops a three-fold mission — to fight her mother (although – not much of a spoiler alert – she eventually reconciles with her); to learn more about her father; and (much like the real-life daughter) to work to make her father famous.

Interspersed with the current-day scenes with Jessie and Wazzel and Ilene (Linda Hart) are those showing the evolution of Bert (Zak Resnick) as a songwriter and producer, and lover.

We see him in the Bronx with a guitar, paying the waitress in a diner to announce falsely that Irving Berlin is calling him, in order to impress a girl. (Would a call from Irving Berlin impress a girl from the Bronx in 1957?) We witness the rise and fall of a relationship with an African-American woman, Candace (De’Adre Aziza), whose existence seems to be entirely in order to insert the song “I Want Candy.” We see him travel to Cuba with his mobster pal Wazzel (played  as a young man by Bryan Fenkart) and a soul singer friend Hoagy (portrayed by Derrick Baskin, and presumably based on Berns’s actual singer friend Hoagy Land.) There Bert befriends Carlos (Sydney James Harcourt) a man who runs a bordello and is also a Cuban revolutionary on the side. (Would a Cuban revolutionary run a whorehouse?)  The dialogue reaches its nadir here (“You have a sadness that feels at one with my country’s sadness. Welcome brother.”)  Cuba serves as an eye-opener for Bert musically, helping him find his voice.  Having found it, he returns to New York with a stack of newly-written songs for Jerry Wexler (Mark Zeisler), co-owner of Atlantic Records, who decides to take a chance on him. The second act shows his successes in the record industry, and his falling for a go-go dancer (Young Ilene, portrayed by Teal Wicks) and marrying her. But we also witness his trials and frustrations, most of which seem to be that he’s not famous. Wexler, oddly and quite inexplicably, becomes the villain, at one point saying: “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure the name Bert Berns is nothing more than a footnote.”

The plot, in short, is nothing to twist and shout about; it feels closer to a vanity project than a serious attempt to dramatize a crossroads moment in American music. Of course, a laughably weak book is in keeping with the tradition of most jukebox musicals, which are generally designed to shoehorn in as many songs as possible.

“Piece of My Heart” presents some two dozen songs.  But most theatergoers will probably be familiar with only a handful of them, above all Twist and Shout,  Hang on Sloopy (which I always thought was Hang On, Snoopy!) and Piece of My Heart, which  Janis Joplin made one of her signature songs – and which we just heard Mary Bridget Davies sing to magnificent effect last year in the Janis Joplin biomusical. (A list of the songs in the show is below, complete with the songwriting credits; Wexler is the only of Berns’ songwriting partners who is a character in the musical.)

Is it possible to do a jukebox musical with mostly unfamiliar songs? Why not? But while these were all to some degree hits in the 1960’s, they don’t sound like hits now. There’s nothing wrong with them – many are soulful and rhythmic. But the times and musical tastes have changed. It’s harder to get that nostalgia enzyme working for a style of music rather than for specific songs you already know.

“Piece of My Heart” director and choreographer Denis Jones attempts to help us overlook these shortcomings in the conception of the musical, mostly by having hired some true pros with amazing voices whose previous performances I’ve admired.  I’ll see anything Leslie Kritzer is in, although she doesn’t get to show off her wit here; De’Adre Aziza was phenomenal in Passing Strange and as a “Joplinaire” in A Night With Janis Joplin; I found Teal Wicks memorable as Elphaba in Wicked. Like the rest of the cast, Zak Resnick is an attractive performer and a talented singer. His appeal, though, is in the healthy, non-threatening way of somebody who grew up in Middletown, New York, performed giddily in Mamma Mia, and hasn’t spent five hours in his life in the Bronx – far, in other words, from the sickly, semi-dangerous Bert Berns described by Berns’ biographer as an “amiable hustler” who had a “coiled body” and a “mad Russian heart.”

The script may force Linda Hart as the older Ilene to sing a song entitled “I’ll Be A Liar.” But she gets her revenge; it’s one of the highlights of the show.

 

Song list

ACT ONE

 

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (B. Berns, G Wexler, S. Burke)

 

I’ll Take Good Care Of You (B. Berns, J. Ragovoy)

 

If I Didn’t Have a Dime (B. Berns, P. Medley)

 

Show Me Your Monkey (B. Berns, M. Leander)

 

I Want Candy (B. Berns, R. Feldman, R. Goettehrer, J. Goldstein)

 

Are You Lonely For Me, Baby (B. Berns)

 

Look Away (B. Berns, J Ragovoy)

 

Cry To Me (B. Berns)

 

Up in the Streets of Havana (B. Berns)

 

The World Is Mine (B. Berns, J. Silverman)

 

I’m Gonna Run Away from You (B. Berns)

 

Here Comes The Night (B. Berns)

 

 

ACT TWO

 

Twist and Shout (B. Berns, P. Medley)

 

Twenty Five Miles (B. Berns, J. Bristonl, H. Fuqua, G. Wexler, C Hatcher)

 

Look Away (reprise)

 

I Got To Go Back and Watch That Little Girl Dance (B. Berns, J. Barry)

 

Baby Let Me Take You Home (B. Berns, W. Farrell)

 

My Block (B. Berns, J. Radcliffe, C. Spencer)

 

Hang on Sloopy (B. Berns, W Farrell)

 

Tell Him (B. Berns)

 

I’ll BE A Liar (B. Berns)

 

Just Like Mine (B. Berns)

 

I’ll Take Good Care of You (B. Berns, J. Ragovoy)

 

Heart Be Still  (B. Berns, J. Ragovoy)

 

Cry Baby (B. Berns, J. Ragovoy)

 

Piece of My Heart (B. Berns, J. Ragovoy)

 

Twist and Shout

 

Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story

at The Pershing Square Signature Center

42nd Street and 10th Avenue

Music by Bert Berns

Book by Daniel Goldfarb

Music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Garry Sherman, music direction and additional vocal arrangements by Lon Hoyt

Directed and choreographed by Denis Jones

Scenic design by Alexander Dodge, costume design by David C. Woolard, lighting design by Ben Stanton, sound design by Carl Casella

Cast: Zak Resnick
Leslie Kritzer
Linda Hart
Joseph Siravo
de’Adre Aziza
Derrick Baskin
Teal Wicks
Bryan Fenkart
Carleigh Bettiol
Teresa Gattison
Shonica Gooden
Sydney James Harcourt
Jessica McRoberts
Ralph Meitzler
Harris Milgrim
Michael Millan
Heather Parcells
Gabrielle Ruiz
Amos Wolff
Mark Zeisler

Running time: 2 1/2 hours, including one 15 minute intermission.

Tickets: $31.50 – $99.50

 

RIP Elaine Stritch. Les Miz vs Book of Mormon. Theater Artists: Know Your Rights. Week in New York Theater

Elegant Elaine Stritch“You cannot tell the audience a lie; they know it before you do….”

‘If you can’t give a reason for the banana peel being in the alley, then don’t have the comic slide over it.’

~Elaine Stritch, 1925-2014.

 

The middle of July is usually a slow time for New York theater, and this past week was a sad time for theater as well.

One bright spot: Samuel French and Howlround sponsored a week-long series of free panel discussions and articles about the legal rights of theater artists.

The schedule and videos of the four discussions are here

Two especially useful articles:

Identifying & Sharing Intellectual Property by Amy Rose Marsh.

Protecting, Distributing, and Monetizing Your Work Online by Sean Patrick Flahaven.

AudraMcDonaldLadyDay

Also going on this week: CD Giveaway Contest for Audra McDonald in Lady Day At Emerson Bar and Grill.

The Week in New York Theater

13

We don’t yet know who Peter Pan will be, but NBC has lined up its Captain Hook for its live December broadcast: Christopher Walken

Atomic 2 Jeremy Kushnier. photo by Carol Rosegg

Atomic Review: A Musical About The Bomb

Leo Szilard  convinced his teacher Einstein to send a letter to FDR about the real danger that the Nazis would develop an atomic weapon. This led to the creation of the Manhattan Project, in which Szilard played a prominent role.

But it was also Szilard who, once the bomb was developed, drafted a petition (now called the Szilard Petition) —  and got 70 of his fellow Manhattan Project scientists to sign it – urging Truman to demonstrate the power of the bomb rather than use it on a population.

Later, Szilard was diagnosed with cancer, and developed a treatment based on radiation that completely eliminated his cancer – a treatment that is still used today.

Leo Szilard, in short, was a remarkable person. One sees why the creative team of “Atomic” would want to dramatize both his life and the mindboggling dilemmas that he and the other scientists faced.

The very richness of the story of the Manhattan Project and its aftermath, however, explains both the strengths and the flaws of the musical.

Full review of Atomic

 

14

American Psycho, musical of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, with music by Duncan Sheik, starts at Second Stages  February 2015. (Not yet cast.)

Holler If Ya Hear Me Ensemble

Holler If Ya Hear Me, with  music and lyrics by Tupac Shakur, is closing Sunday.

15

Rocky 11 Terence Archie and Andy Karl
Rocky will close August 17, having run for 28 previews and 188 regular performances.

The Belle of Amherst, a play about Emily Dickinson that Julie Harris made her own, comes to Westside Theater October 7,  starring Joely Richardson.

LauraBenantionTV

 

Happy Birthday Laura Benanti, 9-time veteran of Broadway, and you cannot turn on the TV without seeing her guest-star on something

16

The Long Shrif Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
My review of The Long Shrift, a play that marks James Franco’s debut as a New York stage director

LBJ  (Cranston) with Hubert Humphrey (Robert Petkoff)

LBJ (Cranston) with Hubert Humphrey (Robert Petkoff)

Bryan Cranston is returning to cable, when HBO adapts All The Way play about LBJ for the screen

17

A stage adaptation of the Gershwin musical, An American in Paris, directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, will open at Broadway’s Palace Theater April 12.

“I was definitely pushed out” of Womens Project Theater, Julie Crosby says. Board leadership says she wasn’t

Broadway In Bryant Park

Ciara Renee, the new Leading Lady of Pippin, twirls

Carol Woods, the Matron of Chicago, belts

Nikki James sings “On My Own,” and answers: Book of Mormon vs. Les Miz?

Nikki James at Bryant Park

Atomic: Randy Harrison, Jeremy Kushnier, Sara Gettelfinger Sing “Only Numbers”

Randy Harrison and Jeremy Kushnier sing from Atomic

 

Elaine Stritch, 1925 – 2014

 

18

AvenueQ3

To celebrate its 11th anniversary in NY on July 31, all tickets to Avenue Q will be $11. Use code AQTWEET40

 

19

BestTVStarsNeveronBroadway

BestMovieStarsNeveronBroadway

Six movie musical screenings this summer in NYC under the stars (not all of them free, but some)

Frozenscreening

Atomic: Randy Harrison, Jeremy Kushnier, Sara Gettelfinger Sing “Only Numbers”

In Atomic, a musical about the making of the atomic bomb and its aftermath, Jeremy Kushnier portrays Einstein pupil, nuclear physicist Leo Szilard, who helped create the bomb and then tried to stop its use. Sara Gettelfinger portrays his wife, and Randy Harrison plays Paul Tibbets, the pilot who drops the bomb on Japan.

Together they sang “Only Numbers” at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert. Below the video are the lyrics.

 

ONLY NUMBERS

 

PAUL
THOSE PEOPLE DOWN BELOW, JUST NUMBERS

NOBODY THAT I KNOW, JUST NUMBERS
IT WASN’T ME THAT MADE THE CALL
BUT IF IT ENDS THE WAR THEN I’M GIVING IT MY ALL.

TRUDE
COUNT THE DEAD IN THE ROAD TOLL, JUST NUMBERS

SAME AS LAST YEAR MAYBE MORE, JUST NUMBERS. IT’S ONE THING WHEN THE NUMBER’S IN THE NEWS ANOTHER WHEN HE’S EVERYTHING TO YOU.

LEO
THE SECONDS OF A LIFE, JUST NUMBERS

PEOPLE ALWAYS DIE, JUST NUMBERS
IF WE DON’T FIGHT, WHAT DO WE GAIN? A FEW MORE MONTHS OF HURT AND PAIN.

PAUL
Target confirmed. Drop when ready.

ALL
WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU HAVE TO DO

TAKE A BREATH, CLOSE YOUR EYES TRY AND SEE IT THROUGH

TALK ALL YOU WANT, HERE AT THE END WHEN IT’S LIFE OR DEATH, YOU OR THEM SOMEONE’S GOT TO LOSE
ONLY NUMBERS,

LEO IT’S TIME TO CHOOSE.

ALL THEY’RE ONLY NUMBERS,

PAUL PLAY OR LOSE.

ALL ONLY NUMBERS,

TRUDE WE’VE GOT TO TRY.

LEO
THE DAY WE DON’T FIGHT IS THE DAY THAT WE DIE.

TRUDE
WHEN THE NUMBER HAS A NAME

AND THE NUMBER HAS A FACE

 WHEN THE NUMBER IS YOUR LIFE

AND IT CANNOT BE REPLACED

LEO
NUMBERS, WHEN YOU’VE DONE ALL YOU CAN DO

TRUDE
ONLY NUMBERS, AND SAID ALL YOU CAN SAY

ALL TAKE A BREATH

CLOSE YOUR EYES
BLOW A MILLION DREAMS AWAY.

Nikki James on Book of Mormon vs. Les Miz, and Theater vs. Film

Nikki James, currently Eponine on Broadway in Les Miserables, made her debut on Broadway at the age of 19, and won a Tony for originating the role of Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon. “I’m a theater girl,” she says in one of the two videos below.

She was at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert, singing “On My Own” from Les Miserables – that’s the other video.

Elaine Stritch, 1925 – 2014

“Elaine Stritch, the brassy, tart-tongued Broadway actress and singer who became a living emblem of show business durability and perhaps the leading interpreter of Stephen Sondheim’s wryly acrid musings on aging, died on Thursday at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89.” – Times obit

At 89, Elaine Stritch started Tweeting. She wrote 17 Tweets, had 18.9k followers. To the very end, Miss Stritch followed nobody.

 from Culturalist

from Culturalist

The Long Shrift Review: James Franco Directs A Play

In The Long Shrift, a play that marks James Franco’s debut as a New York stage director, a high school student is sentenced to ten years in prison for raping his date. But five years into his imprisonment, she recants, and pushes to get him released. Five years after that, they finally meet, on the eve of their high school’s tenth reunion – and confront one another over the actual truth of what happened.
It is a potentially intriguing story, all the more promising since the playwright is Robert Boswell, the author of such acclaimed novel as The Geography of Desire.
But, as it turns out, too little in “The Long Shrift” feels credible or worthy of our attention, with odd, disorienting or outlandish scenes undermining what could have been a swift and thought-provoking (rather than endless and confusing) 100 minutes.

 

The most persuasive scenes are the ones that begin and end the play. At the start, we see Ally Sheedy and Brian Lally, as Richard’s parents Sarah and Henry, moving into a drab wood-paneled hovel of a home. It’s been ten months since Richard’s imprisonment and they have had to give up their beautiful house to pay their son’s lawyer.  The move disturbs Sarah, who has a weak heart, and who has refused to visit her son – because she thinks him guilty. Henry, a Vietnam vet, is more optimistic, and more loyal.

In the last scene of the play, it is nine years later, and Richard (Scott Haze) and Beth (Ahna O’Reilly) talk about that night ten years earlier, and how it’s affected both their lives.

But in-between, we are introduced to Macy (Allie Gallerani), the cartoonish self-involved current president of the student body of the high school, who pushes Richard and Beth to appear as the star attraction at the 10th year reunion, as a way to boost her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. This makes just about no sense, and is followed by one of the most poorly staged reunion scenes I have ever seen – Richard rips off his shirt to show a huge Nazi swastika on his chest (was he forced to get this tattoo in prison?) and launches into what’s apparently meant to be a bitterly sarcastic tirade against his unsupportive former classmates. Meanwhile, the two women stand on the stage with them as if they’re not sure what to do; the awkwardness seems less that of the characters than of the playwright and director.

It is hard to begrudge James Franco’s foray into directing Off-Broadway. While working on “The Long Shrift,” he was performing eight times a week in “Of Mice and Men,” his Broadway acting debut. It is surely the case that Franco by his very presence has done more for New York theater this season than all us harping theater critics put together. One benefit of his work on Boswell’s play is that it brings attention to a question that few theatergoers probably bother to ask, much less attempt to answer: What exactly does a stage director do? In this case, the answer seems clear: Not enough.

CD Giveaway: Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

AudraMcDonaldLadyDayCD Giveaway: Win the Broadway cast recording — released today both digitally and in stores – of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar Grill,” starring Audra McDonald, who won her record-breaking sixth Tony Award for her portray of Billie Holiday.

Update July 24: Congratulations to the winner, James Kennedy.

The two-disc set was recorded live by PS Classics during performances of the show in May and include the stories that McDonald as Holiday tells during the show as well as some of the seminal jazz singer’s best-known songs, including “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Strange Fruit” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.”   (see track listing, and some samples directly from the album, below)

To enter the contest to win the CD, answer ONE of the following questions:

1. What is your favorite Audra McDonald performance AND WHY?

OR

2. Has a cast recording ever changed your mind – for good or for ill – about a show you had seen previously? EXPLAIN!
Rules of the contest:
1. Please put your answer in the comments at the bottom of this blog post, because the winner will be chosen through Random.org based on the order of your reply, not its content.
But you must answer the question, complete with explanation, or your entry will not be approved for submission.
2. Please include in your answer your Twitter name and follow my Twitter feed at @NewYorkTheater so that I can send you a direct message. (If you don’t have a Twitter name, create one. It’s free.)
3. This contest ends Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at midnight Eastern Time, and I will make the drawing no later than noon the next day. You must respond to my direct message on Twitter within 24 hours or I will choose another winner.
(4. All submissions have to be approved, so you won’t necessarily see your entry right away: Please be patient, and don’t submit more than once.)

 

Album track listing


Disc One:

  1. Introduction
  2. I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone
  3. When a Woman Loves a Man
  4. “I’m even glad to be back in Philly…”
  5. “I want to introduce my accompanist…”
  6. What a Little Moonlight Can Do
  7. “We got this contract…”
  8. Crazy He Calls Me
  9. “They used to be hangin’ from the rafters…”
  10. Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)
  11. “That was in the early thirties…”
  12. Baby Doll
  13. “I better watch myself here…”
  14. God Bless the Child
  15. “That was for my mama…”

Disc Two:

  1. “Nobody but me ever liked Sonny…”
  2. Foolin’ Myself/Somebody’s on My Mind
  3. Easy Living
  4. “I was singin’ with Artie’s band…”
  5. Strange Fruit
  6. “It’s bad again, Jimmy…”
  7. Blues Break
  8. “Now I’ll take a little break right here…”
  9. ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do
  10. “I want you all to meet Pepi…”
  11. “I was doin’ the bad drugs heavy…”
  12. Don’t Explain / What a Little Moonlight Can Do (Reprise)
  13. Deep Song

 

https://soundcloud.com/psclassics/arties-band-strange-fruit

Atomic Review: A Musical About The Bomb

Atomic1Near the end of Atomic, a musical about the making of the atom bomb, there is an arresting piece of stagecraft when the bomb at Hiroshima goes off: A Japanese couple were quietly speaking at home in front of Japanese sliding screen doors when suddenly there is a flash of blinding light and deafening noise, and a man bursts through the screens… and kills them.

His action is metaphorical, for this is the character — an American immigrant Jewish scientist – that we’ve learned was most responsible for the development of the bomb. No, this is not Albert Einstein, nor Robert Oppenheimer. He is a man few have heard of – Leo Szilard

It was Szilard who convinced his teacher Einstein to send a letter to FDR about the real danger that the Nazis would develop an atomic weapon. This led to the creation of the Manhattan Project, in which Szilard played a prominent role.

But it was also Szilard who, once the bomb was developed, drafted a petition (now called the Szilard Petition) —  and got 70 of his fellow Manhattan Project scientists to sign it – urging Truman to demonstrate the power of the bomb rather than use it on a population.

Later, Szilard was diagnosed with cancer, and developed a treatment based on radiation that completely eliminated his cancer – a treatment that is still used today.

Leo Szilard, in short, was a remarkable person. One sees why the creative team of “Atomic” would want to dramatize both his life and the mindboggling dilemmas that he and the other scientists faced.

The very richness of the story of the Manhattan Project and its aftermath, however, explains both the strengths and the flaws of the musical.

“Atomic” is well-acted and exceptionally well-designed (kudos to a design team that includes Neil Patel, sets; Emma Kinsbury, costumes; David Finn, lighting; Jon Weston, sound; and Gregory Meem, special effects.) Director Damien Gray stages it competently. It is a largely intelligent effort with worthwhile and thought-provoking moments. But those moments are sprinkled among a bombardment of details that wind up being difficult to absorb.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

Jeremy Kushnier gives a strong portrayal of the passionate and conflicted Szilard. But he must make room for other strong characters. Euan Morton is excellent as J. Robert Oppenheimer, who serves for much of the musical as a narrator, providing much-needed exposition by answering questions posed by an interrogator we assume works for the House Un-American Activities Committee (though pivotal to the development of the bomb, Oppenheimer lost his security clearance during the Red Scare of the 1950s.) There is the intriguing figure of Leona Woods (persuasively portrayed by Alexis Fishman), who was frequently mistaken for a secretary, but was herself a nuclear physicist, the only female member of the Manhattan Project.

David Abeles as Arthur Compton, the scientist who was initially put in charge of the project as the liaison with the military, delivers some of the most pointed lyrics in Method to Madness,  one of the show’s 16 songs composed by Philip Foxman in a variety of styles (mostly rock ballads.)  Also delivering some hard-charging melodies is Randy Harrison, who plays both eager-beaver physicist Edward Teller, and the gung-ho pilot who drops the bomb on Japan, Paul Tibbets.  The three women in the cast, Fishman, Grace Stockdale and Sara Gettelfinger play Rosie the Riveter type Los Alamos workers who deliver a delightful Andrews Sisters-like ditty “The Holes in the Donuts,” explaining that they have no idea what they’re working on.

Gettelfinger also plays Szilard’s wife Trude, and does a fine job of it, although one suspects her overly large part exists mostly to force a greater focus on Szilard. This doesn’t quite work; his interaction with her too often just seems a distraction.

All this is well-intentioned, and overwhelming.  There is nothing inherently wrong with taking on so much: After all, “All The Way” was another history lesson with a parade of characters and incidents. But it was better dramatized and easier to follow. Some choices in “Atomic,” though, reveal a breakdown in judgment, such as the decision to turn the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi into an Italian-accented lecherous figure of comic relief.

One suspects this lapse was an effort to enliven what the creators might have feared was an overly intellectual endeavor. But one could argue that “Atomic” is not intellectual enough – while there are a few quick and incomprehensible speeches about atomic energy, we are almost as much in the dark about what the scientists were doing as those Rosie the Riveters.

Atomic the Musical

at Theater Row (410 West 42nd Street)

Book & Lyrics: Danny Ginges & Gregory Bonsignore
Music & Lyrics: Philip Foxman
Music Producer: Christopher Jahnke
Music Director: Andrew Peterson
Direction / Musical Staging: Damien Gray

Scenic design: Neil Patel, costume design: Emma Kinsbury, lighting design: David Finn, sound design: Jon Weston, special effects design: Gregory Meem
Cast: David Abeles, Alexis Fishman, Sara Gettelfinger, Jonathan Hammond, Randy Harrison, Jeremy Kushnier, James David Larson, Euan Morton, Grace Stockdale

Running time: 2 1/2 hours including one 15 minute intermission.

Ticket prices: $69.25

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