Summer Theater NYC 2014 – Looking Back

Here’s what you missed if you went away all summer

About these ads

And I And Silence Review: An Interracial Friendship in the 1950s, Poetically


Dee (Samantha Soule) and Jamie (Rachel Nicks) in And I And Silence

In “And I And Silence,” a challenging play by Naomi Wallace, two women, Dee and Jamie, one white, the other black, meet in prison when they are teenagers, and after they are released years later, struggle to survive together in a Southern town in 1959 – a struggle that ends in tragedy.

That is a more or less accurate summary of the plot in this first of Naomi Wallace’s plays to be presented this season at the Signature. But it doesn’t really get at the play, which isn’t so straightforward. Wallace has two actresses portray each character. Scenes of the Young Dee (Emily Skeggs) and Young Jamie (Trae Harris) in prison alternate with scenes of the older Dee (Samantha Soule) and Jamie (Rachel Nicks) in the room that the two wind up sharing. Both scenes take place on the same spare set, on a kind of narrow catwalk that runs down the center of the Linney Theater, splitting the audience in two.

The abstract quality of the set reflects the language of the play. A respected theater artist who won a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, Wallace began as a poet, and her love of poetry strongly influences her approach to storytelling on the stage. The title of this play comes from a line from Emily Dickinson’s poem I felt a Funeral, in my Brain; some of the dialogue is in rhyming couplets. The playwright’s feel for language can be rewarding:

“Soup for weeks now,” Dee complains to Jamie. “I hate soup.”

“Well, I don’t think it likes you either, Dee, ’cause you always disrespect it. But after the rent it’s all we can afford.”

But Wallace’s lyrical approach (the less tolerant would call it arty or vague)  sometimes seems to work against the play’s apparent purpose. Originally commissioned by the London company Clean Break to perform in women’s prisons, “And I And Silence” seems meant to depict a “turbulent era” in American history, and expose what Wallace calls “one of the most oppressive economic systems in the world.” The quotations are from an interview with Wallace in a Signature publication; in that same publication, director Caitlin McLeod is more explicit:

“The play re-examines and challenges the 1950s, a period often looked back on with nostalgia for its slick, ‘Mad Men,’ consumer-boom brightness. Yet Naomi writes about those who were present but invisible…in a society that was still very oppressive, segregated, and rife with inequality.”

Jamie and Dee are two women who never had a chance. Jamie was in jail because she helped her brother commit a robbery, with a piece of wood made to look like a gun; the storeowner used a real gun to kill her brother, the last of her living relatives. Dee stabbed her father after he pushed her mother (yet again) down a staircase.

We see the young women in prison playfully but seriously practicing to be maids, the only job they believe they have a chance of getting after their release. Once on the outside, we glean from their conversation that even maids jobs are difficult both to get and to keep; that they are subjected to physical and sexual abuse at these jobs; and, because of their interracial friendship, they can’t walk together in public without getting things thrown at them. They role-play bad experiences they have had on the outside, and talk about their dreams, which are mostly nightmares.

The entire production takes on a dream-like quality, the dialogue rarely sounding like the way two people would actually speak to one another, the scenes not always clearly offering a linear progression. The actors, unmistakably pros,  subtly project a range of feelings, from unspoken love to suppressed frustration. But they are seldom convincing as flesh-and-blood human beings.

European critics have been big on this play, one comparing it to Genet’s The Maids except “a truly American tragedy….  completely grounded in the harshness of the real world.” But perhaps they know as much about what’s truly American as British director Caitlin McLeod knows about “Mad Men,” a TV series that is set in the 1960’s, not the 1950’s – an admittedly petty and unfair snipe. But to me her misstatement is a clue to the lack of interest in the concrete, accurate details that make up a credible reality on stage.

For those theatergoers in the right mind-set – the patience to treat this piece the way they would a poem, uncertain of its meaning at times, content with its rhythms – “And I And Silence” is dark but beautiful. The rest of us might find it intriguing for about 15 minutes, and shocking for the final five, but spend the bulk of its 90 minutes working hard to pretend it’s not a bore.

And I and Silence

Pershing Square Signature Theater

By Naomi Wallace; directed by Caitlin McLeod; sets by Rachel Hauck; costumes by Clint Ramos; lighting by Bradley King; music and sound by Elisheba Ittoop; dialect coach, Charlotte Fleck; fight director, Unkledave’s Fight-House;

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets: $25

Cast: Trae Harris (Young Jamie), Rachel Nicks (Jamie), Emily Skeggs (Young Dee) and Samantha Soule (Dee).

And I and Silence is scheduled to run through September 14th.

2014 Fringe Excellence Award Winners

Absolutely Filthy, winner of Overall Excellence at 2014 New York Fringe

Absolutely Filthy, winner of Overall Excellence at 2014 New York Fringe

Winners of the Fringe Excellence Awards, 2014:
Overall Play:
Absolutely Filthy
The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen
This is Where We Live

Overall Musical:
Jump Man: A Mario Musical
King of Kong
Urban Momfare


Jump Man, This is Where We Live, and Urban Momfare will all be presented at the Fringe Encores series in September


Bedroom Secrets

Bedroom Secrets

Janet Prince – Murder Margaret & Me
Stephen Wallem – Bedroom Secrets
Gwendolyn Kelso – Interior: Panic
Brendan Hunt  – Absolutely Filthy

Briandaniel Oglesby – Halfway, Nebraska
Catherine Yu – The Sun Experiment
Sara Cooper – Things I Left on Long Island
Daniel McCabe – The Flood
Jacob Marx Rice – Chemistry

Solo Performance:
Gary Busey’s Hamlet
Magical Negro Speaks
No Static at All
The Mushroom Cure


Gary Busey’s Hamlet, Hoaxocast, Magical Negro Speaks, and Murder, Margaret & Me will all be presented again at the Fringe Encores series.

Music & Lyrics Composition:
Elliah Helfetz – Dust Can’t Kill Me

The List
No One Asked Me
Freaks: A Legend About Growing Up
Vestments of the Gods
The 8th Fold

Ashley Soliman – Fatty Fatty No Friends
Bronwen Carson – April’s Fool
Gregory Kowalski – Crave

TheaterMania Audience Favorite:
Absolutely Filthy

Broadway Under Ice. Fall Picks. Lear Alot. Week in New York Theater

These are supposed to be the dog days of August, but too much is going on — maybe because so many theater people are pouring ice water on their heads, or because we’re looking at the Broadway Fall 2014 season


and then picking our favorite in the Broadway Fall 2014 Poll — which show are you most looking forward to.

We’re also excited that we’ll be able to see the shows we missed at the Fringe, thanks to the Fringe Encores Series.


News about Gloria Estefan, Emma Stone, Andrew Rannells,Adam Chanler-Berat, Peter Dinklage, Taylor Schilling, Motown

Lin-Manuel Miranda on what Broadway musicals say about justice,
a chat among theater critics about King Lear,
theater artists discuss the purpose of theater and why so many theater artists are unpaid.
We also consider: What should the 41st theater on Broadway be called.

The Week in New York Theater, Aug 18-24



On Your Feet, a new musical based on the life of Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio Estefan Jr, set to open on Broadway Nov 5, 2015. (Notice: 2015, not 2014.)  First they have to find the performer to portray Gloria Estefan. (Submit audition video here)


André de Shields, Kyle Beltran, sand Adam Chanler-Berat are among the 18-member cast of the musical adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude,  written by composer/lyricist Michael Friedman (Love’s Labour’s Lost, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and bookwriter Itamar Moses (The Four of Us.) It begins at the Public Theater on September 30th.

Here is a talk de Shields gave years ago about how he has always stayed employed:



“Depression is an illness shared by about nine percent of adults,including me. It is frequently fatal,” says actor Patrick Page

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Twitter riff on Broadway lyrics about justice



Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Taylor Schilling (Orange in the New Black) will star in the Classic Stage Company’s production of A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev in January.

Lear Alot

Why so many Lears lately? George Hunka rejects L.A. Times critic Charles McNulty and Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout’s theory that baby boomers identify; saying it’s because stars want to play Lear and people want to see the stars.

A long conversation about Lear ensued on Twitter. Here’s an edited version:

Charles McNulty: Most capacious tragedy in the canon would be another cogent reason obviously

Terry Teachout: One problem with George’s interesting theory is that I’m also seeing lots of non-star “Lears.”  I’ve reviewed/will review eight “Lears” since 2010, four of them starless regional productions.

George Hunka: On the other hand there’s the regional “pileon” effect — if NY is doing it, so must we.

Terry Teachout:  That’s not quite true, either–some do, but as many go their own way.

Ron Rosenbaum: This will be heretical but I think more important to read it again than see it again.

Terry Teachout: I don’t, Ron. Reading it only takes you so far–seeing it deepens penetration.

George Hunka: That surely depends on the production.

Terry Teachout: Up to a point, I learn almost as much from bad stagings.

George Hunka: That said, the best productions I’ve seen were films: Kozintsev, BrookOlivier and Kurosawa.

Ron Rosenbaum: Agree on Brook/Scofield. I’d add the Gielgud audio. and maybe Michael Horden’s BBC

Terry Teachout: I just heard a fascinating audio–Donald Wolfit!


Iain has been a theater critic since March. He recently turned 6. He’s reviewed some 20 shows on Broadway and in D.C. Here he reviews Les Miserables

(He is the son of actor Euan Morton and producer Lee Armitage)


Molly Stoller, Alison Scaramella, Taryn Wisky (also the producer and co-adaptor), and Yvonne Roen in "Abortion: A Race Redux"

Molly Stoller, Alison Scaramella, Taryn Wisky (also the producer and co-adaptor), and Yvonne Roen in “Abortion: A Race Redux”

My review of Abortion by Eugene O’Neill

Eugene O’Neill wrote “Abortion” exactly a century ago, shortly after he had decided to become a playwright. Director Heather Lanza and producer Taryn A Wisky have chosen to “adapt” O’Neill’s text to create what they call “an original theater piece that aims to put race in the forefront and start a society-wide conversation.” “Abortion: Race Redux” runs through Sunday, August 24, as part of the2014 Dream Up Festival at the Theater for the New City.

If it’s not a production I can recommend, it is nevertheless a thought-provoking experiment .

 Full review



Emma Stone will succeed Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, November 11 – February 1.

The purpose of theater is NOT to change the world/give back to community, argues playwright Richard Nelson



Andrew Rannells begins in Hedwig


The Winter’s Tale, directed by Lear deBessonet, with great pros (eg Lindsay Mendez) + 200 New Yorkers. September 5-7, Delacorte FREE

Lear deBessonet

Profile of theater director Lear deBessonet, who fuses art with activism, the attentive with  the playful

Interested in teaching theater, but not ready to get a degree? Here are courses you can take at the City College of New York Educational Theatre Program.

How we stopped clobbering and started collaborating,by candid theater artists artists Ashley Laverty and Rivka Rocchio

“Getting Paid for Your Work in a Culture of Unpaid Labor.” – Howlround chat. Excerpt:


"Kunstler' - by Jeffrey Sweet

My review of Kunstler

In “Kunstler,” a fascinating play at the New York Fringe Festival about radical lawyer William Kunstler’s most significant cases, playwright Jeffrey Sweet strives to present a balanced portrait, albeit not mightily. Set in a university lecture hall in 1995, just a few months before Kunstler’s death at age 76, the play pairs the lawyer (portrayed by Nick Wyman) with a skeptical black student (Gillian Glasco), who has been tasked with introducing him, although she voted against his being invited. We also hear protestors outside the auditorium shouting “Kunstler is a traitor!” The character even quotes a few negative remarks that were made about him in the press (far from the worst ever said), done in a way to show that he relished his notoriety.
But let’s face it, this is an unmistakably admiring portrait of William Kunstler as he tells the stories, chronologically, of most of his best-known – and most dramatic – cases

 Full review



Michael Jackson (Raymond Luke Jr.) and the Jackson 5

Michael Jackson (Raymond Luke Jr.) and the Jackson 5

Motown will close on Broadway January 18. BUT it plans to return to Broadway in July 2016.

The Shubert Organization,which owns 17 of the 40 Broadway theaters, reportedly plans to build a 41st, between 45th & 46th Streets

What should the Shuberts call their new, 1500-seat theater, the 41st Broadway house? #Broadwayname

Allison Taylor@Typical__Taylor: The (Hal) Prince.
Beverly Baker@TheatreAddict: The Edward Albee

Scott McQ@Satyr69: Based on the ticket prices, call it The One Percent

Jonathan Mandell: I see you have your cynical hat on today. What would YOU name it if you were in charge?

Scott McQ: The Elaine Stritch.



Fringe Encore series – for New York International Fringe shows you missed


Alton White as Mufasa_photo_by_Joan_Marcus

Today, Alton White plays Mustafa in The Lion King for the 4,000th time!


How would you answer this poster from Playwrights Horizons: I go to the theater because..



Ending today:

"Don't Speak!" Marin Mazzie shuts up Zach Braff in Woody Allen's Broadway musical Bullets Over Broadway

“Don’t Speak!” Marin Mazzie shuts up Zach Braff in Woody Allen’s Broadway musical Bullets Over Broadway

Bullets Over Broadway



Newsies Ends on Broadway

It wasn’t supposed to be on Broadway at all. Then it was only going to run for five months. But “Newsies” lasted more than 1,000 performances over two and a half years. And after every performance, a huge crowd gathered at the stage door.

Cast members changed over the years, but the adoration remained.

Curtain speech at the closing performance by Disney theater head Thomas Schumacher

Here is my review of Newsies after it opened on March 29, 2012:

Wider than the gap between the one percent and the 99 percent, or between labor and management, is the one between those who grew up adoring the film “Newsies” and those who found it unwatchable.

The 1992 Disney musical, based on the true story of a strike in 1899 by New York’s newspaper boys, starred an 18-year-old Christian Bale as strike leader Jack. (Bale apparently now lines up with the unwatchable group; he has never appeared in another musical: “I just don’t like musicals, that’s all.”)

“Newsies” was a clear-cut flop: Made for $15 million, it grossed under $3 million. Movie critics were fairly unanimous in their assessment:
“Joyless, pointless”- Janet Maslin, New York Times
“All left feet, noise and clutter”- Desson Howe, Washington Post
“Warmed-over Horatio Alger”-Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
“I’ve loved the movie since I was five years old,” a woman in my row at the Nederlander Theater told me.
That adoration was apparently widespread. “Newsies” not only got a second life on video; schools and amateur theaters across the country were reportedly staging their own live productions based on the film. Its cult-like popularity convinced Disney to mount its own stage version. “Newsies The Musical” was put on last year at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J.
It is that production that now has arrived on Broadway. So loyal are the fans of the film that Jeremy Jordan, who plays Jack, recently apologized to them in an interview for the changes made in the adaptation.
Newsies, the musicalYes, there are some changes: Five of the film’s songs by composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Sister Act, Leap of Faith) with lyricist Jack Feldman have been cut, replaced by five new ones from the same songwriting team. Harvey Fierstein (“Torch Song Trilogy,” “La Cage Aux Folles”), who was brought on to write the book, has moved around some scenes, spruced up the dialogue, and turned the seasoned male reporter who covers the strike (played in the movie by Bill Pullman) into a rookie female journalist (Kara Lindsay) – a love interest for Jack.
The good news about “Newsies” is that the musical works far better on a stage. Even Tobin Ost’s set, with its three massive three-tiered skeletal metal towers moving around compulsively, is far more effective than the Hollywood backlot used as pretend-New York in the film. Menken’s dozen songs, spiced with some undeniably catchy tunes, get the treatment they deserve, backed by a live 12-piece band and put forth by a splendid cast (of young-looking adults playing children) that is not only as attractive as those in the movie; these performers can actually sing.

And dance. The choreography by Christopher Gattelli is dazzling. The vigorous tap routines and acrobatic moves – leaps and kicks, back flips and mid-air somersaults – put “Newsies” up there with “Memphis” and “Anything Goes” for the most thrilling dancing currently on Broadway.

Why they’re dancing is not always clear. At several moments in “Newsies,” I found myself asking: What exactly does this chorus line have to do with the plot? But perhaps this is just as well. “Newsies” may be based on a true story, but the story here feels largely synthetic.

Newsies was the nickname for street urchins – mostly homeless children– who made a living in the late nineteenth century by purchasing copies of newspapers from the publishers, and then hawking them on the streets. In the musical, newspaper mogul Joseph Pulitzer (yes, that’s who the Pulitzer Prizes are named after) decides, in order to increase his profits, to start charging the newsboys more for their batch of newspapers each morning.
Jack organizes a strike, which has its ups and downs, its turns and twists.
“Newsies” touches on some of the deplorable conditions of the day. Thugs beat up the strikers, for example, with the collusion of the police. Jack, played persuasively by Jeremy Jordan (who played Clyde in Frank Wildhorn’s short-lived “Bonnie & Clyde” on Broadway) is given speeches like: “For the sake of all the kids in every sweatshop, factory, and slaughter house in this town, I beg you… throw down your papers and join the strike.”
But nobody would mistake “Newsies” for Clifford Odets or even Mike Daisey. This is Disney, after all. And by that, I don’t mean it is a big corporation that itself has been accused of engaging in questionable labor practices – even, as recently as last year, benefiting from child labor.
Twitter Badge (.gif)The Newsies team seems to be attempting a synthesis of “Oliver!” and “The Bowery Boys.” The characters speak with toy New Yawk accents – Orphans have no muddahs, but they still have bruddahs — and say cute things that no children really say. (“Fame is one intoxicatin’ potion,” says the character Les, supposedly nine years old.) The twists in the story (which I won’t give away, and which are not of course what actually happened) are so pat as to be nearly incoherent.
“Newsies The Musical” retains from the movie the burlesque star who is friends with Jack and the other Newsies – in the movie played by Ann-Margret, here by Capathia Jenkins, just as incongruously, if not more so. She sings a new song full of sexual double-entendres. She also greets the newsboys with: “Welcome to my theater and your revolution!”
The newsies feel as revolutionary as the munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz.”
A legitimate response here would be: Oh, lighten up; it’s an entertainment. But it also may be a missed opportunity.
When little Les is astounded that he can see a showgirl’s legs, the burlesque star says to Les’s brother:
“Step out of his way so’s he can get a better look. Theater’s not only entertaining, it’s educational.”
But how educational is “Newsies”?


It is obvious that the team did some research, and that that research included Jacob Riis’ “How The Other Half Lives,” which includes a photograph Riis took – captioned “Getting ready for supper in the Newsboys’ Lodging House” – that surely inspired the morning waking-up scene at the beginning of the musical.

As Riis explains, the Newsboy’s Lodging House was set up by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – “the good it has done cannot easily be overestimated.” The lodging houses were an alternative to the boys’ normal abode, which included a boiler room in the sub-basement of the Post Office and, when that was raided by police, “the shore-end of one of the East River banana docks, where they had fitted up a regular club-room that was shared by thirty to forty homeless boys and about a million rats…

“Whence this army of homeless boys?” Riis asked. “Some are orphans, actually or in effect, thrown upon the world when their parents were ‘sent up’…A drunken father explains the matter in other cases, as in that of John and Willie, aged ten and eight, picked up by the police. They ‘didn’t live nowhere,’ never went to school, could neither read nor write….Grinding poverty and hard work beyond the years of the lad; blows and curses for breakfast, dinner and supper; all these are recruiting agents for the homeless army. Sickness in the house; too many mouths to feed.”
Riis’s work helped shock the nation into enacting a raft of reforms, including the outlawing of child labor.
“Newsies The Musical” is under no obligation to do anything but entertain. But one wonders what a musical theater composer like Adam Guettel (“Floyd Collins”) or Stephen Sondheim might have done with this story.


Newsies The Musical
At the Nederlander Theater
Music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Jack Feldman; book by Harvey Fierstein, based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White
Directed by Jeff Calhoun; choreography by Christopher Gattelli; music supervisor/incidental arrangements by Michael Kosarin; orchestrations by Danny Troob; sets by Tobin Ost; costumes by Jess Goldstein; lighting by Jeff Croiter; projections by Sven Ortel; sound by Randy Hansen; hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe; fight director, J. Allen Suddeth; production stage manager, Thomas J. Gates; dance music arrangements by Mark Hummel
Cast: Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), John Dossett (Joseph Pulitzer), Kara Lindsay (Katherine), Capathia Jenkins (Nun/Medda Larkin), Ben Fankhauser (Davey), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie), Lewis Grosso and Matthew J. Schechter (alternating as Les) and Kevin Carolan (Governor Roosevelt).
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.

2014 Fringe NYC Encore Series, for New York Fringe Shows You Missed

Some two dozen of the most popular shows from the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival will be presented at the 10th annual Fringe Encore series,September 4 to October 5, which (like last year) is split in two. Solo in the City at the Baruch Performing Arts Center will present eight solo performances that were hits at the festival. The other eight Fringe shows will be at the Soho Playhouse. Tickets are $18 to $20.

The descriptions come from the productions. This is a work in progress. The schedule is not complete for every show, and more shows will be added to the series before it begins.

Solo in the City: The FringeNYC Encore Series

September 4 to 27 at Baruch Performing Arts Center. 

John Clifton, Joan Shepard in Confessions

John Clifton, Joan Shepard in Confessions

Confessions of Old Lady #2

Joan Shepard’s sparkling account of 74 years on Broadway and on TV. Laced with side splitting stories and witty songs, this musical memoir won four stars from the London Times.

Sept. 18 at 7 PM & Sept. 22 at 2 PM

Fearless at Fringe


The story of one man’s broken engagement (not his fault), failed suicide attempt (definitely his fault), the relationships that followed (probably his fault) and the misguided attempts to teach his students how to take risks and become fearless.

Sept. 20, 27 at 9 PM


Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl)

In this absurdist romp through Shakespeare, pop culture, and life in the theater, iconic actor Gary Busey (played by comedian David Carl) will perform all the parts in “Hamlet”, using homemade puppets, videos, live music, and poetry.

Sept. 19, 26 at 9 PM & Oct. 3 at 9 PM


Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey, with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran

Ever wish the Holocaust hadn’t happened? Some say it didn’t! Join Barry’s journey to find deniers from Illinois to Iran, meeting engineers and ex-presidents, dodging a brother in Hungary and a boyfriend back home to discover the truth.

Sept. 11, 18, 24 at 7:30 PM & Sept. 21 at 3 PM


 Magical Negro Speaks

Jamil Ellis gives voice to the Magical Negro — one of Hollywood’s favorite tropes — and examines what images in entertainment mean for future generations.

Sept. 19 at 8 PM & Sept. 20 at 7 PM


Murder Margaret and Me

Margaret Rutherford became a global legend playing Miss Marple. Originally she didn’t want the part, and Agatha Christie didn’t want Marple played by “the funniest woman alive.” This British sell-out sensation sees Christie playing detective, unearthing Rutherford’s terrible secrets.

Sept. 13 at 3 PM; Sept. 19 & 20 at 7 PM

ThePawnbrokerLiesLoversandBertoltBrecht The Pawnbroker: Lies, Lovers, and Bertolt Brecht

What price would you pay for love? Your dignity, your sanity, your place in history? Discover the lies behind Brecht’s legend – and what five women lost to create it. If you think you know the truth, you don’t know Brecht.


Sex Lies

• Sex, Lies & Earl Grey

How do you take your tea? Georgina likes it hot with good manners, bad behavior and a pianist. Her crash course in etiquette reveals more than she, or you might expect.

Sept. 13 at 2 PM ; Sept. 20 at 8:30 PM; Sept. 28 at 7:30 PM


The FringeNYC Encore Series

September 4 to October 5 at SoHo Playhouse.

Chemistry play

• Chemistry

Steph is a recovering depressive. Jamie overachieved himself off the deep end. When they meet in their psychiatrist’s office, they can’t deny their chemistry, but can they survive it? A pitch black and piercingly insightful comedy about being crazy in love

Sat 9/13 @ 5:30, Fri 9/19 @ 9:30, Sat 9/20 @ 7, Sun 9/21 @ 5, Sat 10/4 @ 7


Fatty Fatty No Friends

As the fattest kid in school, Tommy lives a lonely, living nightmare. When the skinny kids’ taunting goes too far, Tommy takes revenge without amends. A dark spoken-word Tim Burton-esque musical diving into the lunchtime of life, where bullies are delicious.

Sat 9/13 @ 5:30, Fri 9/19 @ 9:30, Sat 9/20 @ 7, Sun 9/21 @ 5, Sat 10/4 @ 7


The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking

Join world-renowned mixologist and raconteur Anthony Caporale (Art of the Drink TV) for a boozy romp through the history of alcohol. Cocktails and comedy combine for an utterly unique musical theatre experience! “An absolute must-see!” raves The Huffington Post. 21+ only

Fri 9/5 at 8, Fri 9/12 at 8, Fri 9/19 at 8, Fri 9/26 at 8

Erik DeCicco, Jeff Essex, Michael Armstrong-Barr in Jump Man

Erik DeCicco, Jeff Essex, Michael Armstrong-Barr in Jump Man

Jump Man

A musical parody of the Mario Brothers world. When a crime wave hits their Brooklyn neighborhood, Mario and Luigi have their heroism tested. Jump Man addresses age-old questions like “What defines a hero?” and “Do plumbers love to sing?”

Sat 9/6 @ 7, Fri 9/12 @ 7, Sat 9/13 @ 3 & 8, Sun 9/14 @ 7

No One Asked Me

No One Asked Me

Illegal. No papers. They are not supposed to be here, yet for thousands of undocumented children, the U.S. is the only home they know. They face an uncertain future, fearing deportation. Based upon stories of “illegal” NYC students.

Fri 9/26 @ 9, Sat 9/27 @ 4, Sun 9/28 @ 7:30, Mon 9/29 @ 7, Tue 9/30 @ 8

Opera in Tap performing at Freddy's Bar

Smashed: The Carrie Nation Story

A beer-soaked, absurdly comic opera loosely based on the hatchet-wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation. Raise your frothy brew high!



• This is Where We Live

Two teenagers collide like a modern day Orpheus and Eurydice in a dead-end Australian town. A dark, moving comedy infused with the rhythm of beat poetry. Australia’s Paperbark Theatre Company presents this US premiere, which won the 2012 Griffin Award.

Thu 9/4 @ 8, Fri 9/5 @ 8, Sat 9/6 @ 9:30, Sun 9/7 @ 5, Mon 9/8 @ 8


Urban Momfare

Why don’t we ever hear songs about moms not actually liking their kids? This romp through motherhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side spans 17 years: “Music For Gifted and Talented Babies” to bra straps and Bellinis. Sling on your stilettos!

Sun 9/21 @ 7, Wed 9/24 @ 2, Thu 9/25 @ 7, Sat 9/27 @ 7, Sun 9/28 @ 5


• <50%
Gianmarco and Laura star in a completely factual play about the end of their five-year relationship. Everything is exactly as it happened, is happening, and will happen.
Mon 9/15 @ 9, Fri 9/19 @ 7, Mon 9/22 @ 8, Mon 9/29 @ 9:30 , Sat 10/4 @ 5

Held Momentarily

Held Momentarily

• Held Momentarily
Trapped on a stalled New York subway, seven strangers realize it’s not just the train that’s stuck. A poignant musical comedy about making connections, living in the moment and moving on in life… and a woman just went into labor.
Thu 9/11 @ 7, Fri 9/12 @ 9:30, Sun 9/14 @ 5, Thu 9/18 @ 9, Sun 9/21 @ 3


• Moses, The Author
Meet Moses. He has family problems (gay son, rocky marriage), God problems (existential), and career problems (writer’s block, a hellish deadline). To make a better Bible he must become a better man. A love story, with scrolls. Don’t miss it.
Fri 9/26 @ 7, Sun 9/28 @ 3, Wed 10/1 @ 3, Sun 10/5 @ 3 & 7


Mothers Day

Mothers Day

• Mother’s Day
Acid-tongued New York drag queen Helen Back incites a nuclear family meltdown when she comes home to New Jersey for Mother’s Day. The debut of a pitch black comedy/drama that explores the rules of engagement for a family at war.
Thurs 9/4 @ 9:30, Fri 9/5 @ 9:30, Tues 9/9 @ 8, Thurs 9/11 9:30


• Warm Enough For Swimming
Mom drowned years ago. Grandma died yesterday. Eddie fled his wedding. And Bridget can’t make coffee. Can estranged siblings clean the living room when the bride arrives with a post-recession pyramid scheme and a Russian Mafioso stalks their childhood home?
Sat 9/20 @ 9:30, Tue 9/23 @ 8, Thurs 9/25 @ 9:30, Sat 9/27 @ 9:30, Thurs 10/2 @ 8


Broadway Fall 2014 Preview Guide

Listed below, chronologically by opening dates, are the shows officially scheduled so far on Broadway in the 2014-2015 season, with basic information and my two cents for the Fall shows. Both the schedule and my opinions are tentative and will be revised and updated as the season progresses.

You want stars, pick your favorite: Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close, Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, Carol Burnett even, etc.  You want revivals, you got them – nine of the 15 set to open from September through December.  But there is also here the promise of a quality season.

( Click for a rundown on long-running Broadway shows)


ouryouthlogoThis is Our Youth

Cort Theater

Playwright: Kenneth Lonergan

Director: Anna D. Shapiro

First preview: August 18, 2014

Opening: September 11

Closing: January 4, 2015

Principal cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Tavi Gevinson.

48 hours in the live of three teenagers in 1982, one of whom has stolen cash from his father.

This is a revival. There were productions Off-Broadway in 1996 and 1998

One Chicago critic liked this production when it was in try-outs there, but wondered if the Cort will be too big for it. Lonergan wrote one of my favorite movies, “You Can Count On Me,” but find the plays of his I’ve seen (The Starry Messenger) painfully meandering.

Twitter: @YouthBroadway

Love Letters

loveletterslogoBrooks Atkinson Theater

First preview: September 13

Opening: September 18

Closing: February 1, 2015

Playwright: A.R. Gurney

Director: Gregory Mosher

In a revival of A.R. Gurney’s play, two people write one another love letters over a period of 50 years.

The play features a star-studded rotating cast on the following schedule:

Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow (September 13-October 10)

Carol Burnett and Brian Dennehy (October 11-November 7)

Alan Alda and Candice Bergen (November 8-December 5)

Stacy Keach and Diana Rigg (December 6-January 9)

Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen (January 10-February 1).

This is a charming play, that I’ve seen in previous productions. (It was on Broadway in 1989.) If this production can be said to indulge in stunt-casting (and what else would you call it?) it’s stunt casting of the very highest order. My only regret is that they didn’t cast just one pair of younger performers, like, say, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson

Twitter: @LoveLettersBway

canttakeitwithyoulogoYou Can’t Take It With You

Longacre Theater

First preview: August 26

Opening: September 28

Closing: January 4, 2015

Playwrights: George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

Director:  Scott Ellis

Cast: James Earl Jones, Kristine Nielsen and Elizabeth Ashley lead a cast of nearly two dozen.

Two families (one deeply eccentric) collide when their children become engaged.

First produced on Broadway in 1936, this comedy (by the writing team that was the subject of the play Act One last season), is now on its fifth revival.

Twitter: @CantTakeItBway


CountryhouselogoThe Country House

Samuel J. Friedman Theater

First preview: September 9

Opening: October 2

Closing: December 9

Playwright: Donald Margulies

Director: Daniel Sullivan

Principal cast: Blythe Danner leads a six-member cast.

An adaptation by Margulies (Dinner With Friends) of Chekhov’s The Seagull focuses on a family of thespians who gather in a house in the Berkshires during the Williamstown theater festival.


dognighttimelogoThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

Ethel Barrymore Theater

First preview: September 10

Opening: October 5

Playwright: Simon Stephens adapting the novel by Mark Haddon

Director: Marianne Elliott

Fifteen-year-old Christopher, clinically awkward and brilliant, is suspected of killing the neighbor’s dog. He sets out on a life-changing journey to find the culprit.

This stage adaptation of a peculiarly-written novel I loved by Mark Haddon was well-received in London, winning 7 Olivier Awards (equalling the previous record-breaking Matilda.) It was especially praised for its design. The director and the designers are the same on Broadway, it is still a Royal National Theatre production, but the cast is different.


onlyaplaylogoIt’s Only A Play

First preview: August 28

Opening: October 9

Closing: January 4, 2015

Playwright: Terrence McNally

Director: Jack O’Brien

Cast: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick. F. Murray Abraham, Stockard Channing, Rupert Grint, Megan Mullally and Micah Stock.

Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes, including one intermission.

The cast of a show called “The Golden Egg” await the reviews in this revival of Terrence McNally’s 1982 comedy, which is likely to be most appreciated for its cast — especially the reunited duo Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, as well as the Broadway debut of Harry Potter veteran Rupert Grint.


onthetownlogoOn The Town

Lyric Theater (formerly Foxwoods)

First preview: September 20

Opening: October 16

Lyrics by: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Music by: Leonard Bernstein

Book by: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Director: John Rando

Principal cast: Clyde Alves, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Tony Yazbeck

Three sailors spend a day on leave in New York City, meeting some great dames.

I have high hopes for this production, which features great choreography by Joshua Bergasse (based on the glimpses we’ve been given, in videos, in reports from pre-Broadway tryouts, and at Broadway in Bryant Park), and such standards as “New York, New York (It’s a Wonderful Town)” “Come Up to My Place” and “Lonely Town,” as well as some jazzy surprises like “I Can Cook Too.”



First preview: September 27

Opening: October 23

Playwright: Ayad Akhtar

Director: Kimberly Senior

Cast: Hari Dhillon, Gretchen Mol, Karen Pittman and Josh Radnor.

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Pakistani-American lawyer Amir and his white, artist wife Emily gives a dinner party that starts off friendly and turns ugly.

The play, Akhtar’s first, was produced at Lincoln Center in 2012, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


lastshiplogoThe Last Ship

Neil Simon Theater

First preview: September 30

Opening: October 26

Lyrics and Music: Sting

Book: John Logan and Brian Yorkey

Director: Joe Mantello

Gideon leaves his hometown to travel the world, returning 14 years later to discover that the love he left behind is engaged to somebody else, and the town’s shipbuilding industry is endangered.

The show is said to be inspired by Sting’s own childhood experiences.


realthingpiclogoThe Real Thing

American Airlines Theater

First preview: October 2

Opening: October 30

Closing: January 4

Playwright: Tom Stoppard

Director: Sam Gold

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cynthia Nixon

Henry is a successful writer who is attempting to balance his professional and personal lives in this comedy about marriage and betrayal.

McGregor and Gyllenhaal are both making their Broadway debuts in this second Broadway revival of Stoppard’s play.



theriverlogoThe River

Circle in the Square Theater

First preview: October 31

Opening: November 16

Closing: January 25

Playwright: Jez Butterworth

Director: Ian Rickson

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Laura Donnelly, Cush Jumbo

Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

A trout fisherman in a remote cabin tries to hook a woman into some night-time fishing.

Two words: Hugh Jackman.


sideshowlogoSide Show

St. James Theater

First preview: October 28

Opening: November 17

Lyrics by: Bill Russell

Music by: Henry Kreiger

Book by: Bill Russell with additional material by Bill Condon

Director: Bill Condon

Principal cast: Erin Davie, Emily Padgett

The Hilton twins, Daisy and Violet, were in real life conjoined twins who were trained by their guardians to become performers, and became the highest paid performers on the vaudeville circuit. “Side Show” purports to tell their story.

This “reimagined” revival of the 1997 musical was well-received in D.C., and is one of the most anticipated shows of the season, hugely leading (as of this writing) my Broadway Fall 2014 preference poll


delicatebalancelogoA Delicate Balance

John Golden Theater

Playwright: Edward Albee

Director: Pam MacKinnon

First preview: October 20

Opening: November 20

Closes: February 22

Running time: 2 hours and 55 minutes, including 2 intermissions

Cast: Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban, Claire Higgins and Martha Plimpton.

A long-married couple must maintain their equilibrium as over the course of a weekend they welcome home their 36-year old daughter after the collapse of her fourth marriage, and give shelter to their best friends who seek refuge in their home, all the while tolerating Agnes’ alcoholic live-in sister.

The Edward Albee-Pam MacKinnon match-up, which brought us the priceless recent Broadway production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” promises to do justice with another one of the playwright’s caustic Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpieces (despite the ugly poster.)


illusionistslogoThe Illusionists

Marquis Theater

First preview: November 26

Opening: December 4, 2014

Closes: January 4, 2015


The Manipulator, Yu Ho-Jin

The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry

The Trickster, Jeff Hobson

The Escapologist, Andrew Basso

The Inventor, Kevin James

The Warrior, Aaron Crow

The Futurist, Adam Trent

Seven illusionists perform magic and illusion. Broadway is a stop on their world tour.


The Elephant Man

theelephantmanlogoBooth Theater

First preview: November 7

Opening: December 7

Closes: February 15

Playwright: Bernard Pomerance

Director: Scott Ellis

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Alessandro Nivola, Anthony Heald, Scott Lowell, Kathryn Meisle, Henry Stram

Running time: one hour 55 minutes, including intermission.

Based on the true story of John Merrick, a horribly deformed man in the 19th century who was treated abominably.

This second Broadway revival of the 1979 play gives movie hearthrob Bradley Cooper a chance to show his inner beauty. (The deformity is not actually depicted. The audience is asked to imagine it.)


A peek at Spring 2015, which is even more tentative than the fall. I’ll flesh it out in the future. This is, as they say, a work in progress:



Samuel J. Friedman Theater

Playwright: Nick Payne

Director: Michael Longhurst

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal

First preview: December 16

Opening January 13, 2015

Closes: March 15

honeymooninvegaslogoHoneymoon in Vegas

Nederlander Theater

Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

Book: Andrew Bergman

Director: Gary Griffin

First preview: November 18

Opening: January 15

Cast: Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Byrnn O’Malley

Jack Singer, a regular guy with an extreme fear of marriage, finally gets up the nerve to ask his girlfriend Betsy to marry him. But when they head to Las Vegas to get hitched, smooth talking gambler Tommy Korman, looking for a second chance at love, falls head over heels for Betsy.



Fish in the Dark

Opening March 5

The Audience

Opening March 8

On The Twentieth Century

Opening March 12

Finding Neverland

Opening March 22


An American in Paris

Opening April 12

The King and I

Opening: April 16

Fun Home

Opening: April 22

Broadway Poll Fall 2014: What Show Most Excites You?

There are 15 shows scheduled to open on Broadway between September and December, 2014 (as of this writing). Take this poll: Which one are you most looking forward to?

The shows are organized in the order in which they are scheduled to open.

To learn more about the shows, check out my Broadway Fall 2014 Preview Guide

Broadway ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Videos: Newsies (Half Naked) Lion King, Book of Mormon, etc

Newsies (half-naked)

The Lion King

The Book of Mormon


The male ensemble of Wicked take the ice…um…water challenge (no bucket)

Individual Broadway actors:

Ramin Karimloo

Idina Menzel

Neil Patrick Harris


Audra McDonald and Will Swenson


Will the next step be to dump ice water on Broadway performers while they’re on the stage performing?

Kunstler Fringe Review: Reliving The Radical Lawyer’s Famous Cases

"Kunstler' - by Jeffrey SweetIn “Kunstler,” a fascinating play at the New York Fringe Festival about radical lawyer William Kunstler’s most significant cases, playwright Jeffrey Sweet strives to present a balanced portrait, albeit not mightily. Set in a university lecture hall in 1995, just a few months before Kunstler’s death at age 76, the play pairs the lawyer (portrayed by Nick Wyman) with a skeptical black student (Gillian Glasco), who has been tasked with introducing him, although she voted against his being invited. We also hear protestors outside the auditorium shouting “Kunstler is a traitor!” The character even quotes a few negative remarks that were made about him in the press (far from the worst ever said), done in a way to show that he relished his notoriety.
But let’s face it, this is an unmistakably admiring portrait of William Kunstler as he tells the stories, chronologically, of most of his best-known – and most dramatic – cases (cases that were explained in a recent documentary produced by his daughters, William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe): The Freedom Riders and his work with Martin Luther King Jr. (“This was the beginning of my understanding [of] a different idea of the law.”); the Chicago 7 Conspiracy Trial after the 1968 Democratic National Convention (“by the end, I find that the trial has changed me. It has been the shock of my life”); the Attica Prison Uprising; the Wounded Knee case. There is a too-pat use of Kunstler’s involvement in the Central Park Jogger case, and only an oblique allusion to Kunstler’s representation of El Sayyid Nosair, who was accused and acquitted of murdering the anti-Arab extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, but later convicted of a conspiracy connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. (That’s what the shouting outside the lecture hall is about.)
The text is sprinkled with lawyer jokes, with exchanges with the student, and with glimpses into Kunstler’s private life. He tells us he started out as a family man “parlor liberal” Westchester lawyer in private practice with his brother, doing mundane attorney chores like writing up wills (such as the one he did for Senator Joseph McCarthy, brought to him by Roy Cohn, who had been Kunstler’s Columbia law school classmate). His first marriage broke up, because of his neglect (“There are weeks when she saw more of me on TV”) and infidelities.
But the main strength of “Kunstler” is in Sweet’s ability (using very few of Kunstler’s actual words) to bring his cases to life on stage, and to provide their historical context. Director Meagen Fay’s smartest choice is in the casting of Nick Wyman to play Kunstler. Wyman nails with breathtaking accuracy Kunstler’s mannerisms – the glasses perched on his head, the gesturing, his off-the-cuff manner alternating with bursts of language. But, intentionally or not, the casting of Wyman also gives something of an official seal of approval to this play (one that the play deserves; I fully expect it to have a life beyond the Fringe.) Wyman is not only a veteran of more than a dozen Broadway shows, including Les Miz and Phantom; he is also the president of Actors Equity.

"Kunstler' - by Jeffrey Sweet


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 13,313 other followers