Broadway Gives Thanks

How shows and performers and theater people gave thanks on Thanksgiving.









Watch Broadway at the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade


The 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has 41 big balloons (17 of them really big), 27 floats, 1,100 cheerleaders & dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; 12 marching bands — and performances by such Broadway (and Broadway-like) shows as On Your Feet, The King and I, Finding Neverland, Something Rotten, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wiz Live, and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. Snippets of those performances are in the video below

Circle of Life from The Lion King in 360°


In its 18th year, The Lion King is now the third longest-running musical on Broadway. To celebrate, Disney has filmed the breathtaking opening number “Circle of Life” in 360 degrees. Be sure to use the Chrome browser, and use the arrows to move up or sideways, to see the number “from backstage to the top of Pride Rock.”

Misery on Broadway with Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf: Review, pics, video

Misery on Broadway is the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s story about a writer who’s imprisoned by a berserk fan. It’s not as good as either King’s novel nor the movie, but it’s likely to appeal to those who don’t know either, and to the number one fans of Bruce Willis.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

King Charles III on Broadway — pics, review, video

Is there some reason why an American audience should care about the future of the British monarchy? That’s the question that hangs over King Charles III, playwright Mike Bartlett’s cleverly conceived play, simultaneously stately and subversive, that imagines what will happen after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, when the Prince of Wales ascends the throne.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.


Thérèse Raquin – Pics and Review of Keira Knightley’s Broadway Debut

Nobody applauds Keira Knightley when she first appears on stage for her Broadway debut in Thérèse Raquin. The audience doesn’t recognize her; she’s in the background under faded light, the third character in what is mostly a two-character scene in the breathtaking adaptation of Emile Zola’s breakthrough novel of adultery and murder.

That staging is a deliberate choice by director Evan Cabnet to avoid the standard Broadway reaction to the stage entrance of a movie star; it is one of the production’s many smart choices.

Full review in DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged

Spring Awakening Ticket Giveaway

SpringAwakeningnewlogoTicket Givewaway: Win two tickets to see Spring Awakening for free. I love this show; it’s joyful and beautiful, with an exciting and appealing cast, 17 of whom are making their Broadway debuts.

I’m not alone: the New York Times calls it “thrillingly inventive….a first-rate production of a transporting musical,” the AP says it’s “exhilarating.”

This rock musical about teenagers discovering the tumult of sexuality is presented by Deaf West, performed in both American Sign Language and spoken English.

“Signing has been integrated here so deftly that you feel the language’s fluidity has a natural place in musical theater.” – The Washington Post.

Update: The winner of the drawing is Migdalia Pizarro

Austin P McKenzie with company

Austin P McKenzie with company

To enter the contest for a free pair of tickets to Spring Awakening, answer this question:

What is the most exciting live stage show you’ve ever seen, and what made it so?

(Update: Emphasis on “exciting“)

1. Please put your answer in the comments at the bottom of this blog post, because the winner will be chosen through 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, November 3, 2015 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.

The winner will receive a voucher to see Spring Awakening on any performance from Monday to Thursday through 11/20/15. Obviously, you have to be in New York sometime during this period in order to see the show.

Dames at Sea – Review, Pics

Fun and funny, full of rousing melodies and exciting bouts of tap dancing performed by six true talents, the revival at the Helen Hayes is, according to the show’s website, “reimagined for the bright lights of Broadway and taken to glamorous and spectacular new heights.” To the extent that it delivers on its marketing hype, Dames at Sea largely loses what made it distinctive in the first place.

Full review at DC Theater Scene 

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

Fool For Love on Broadway Review

Thirty years after Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” closed Off-Broadway, the short  play is making its Broadway debut, starring Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell as two Westerners caught in a violent push-pull relationship.

Some continue to see the play as both explosive and deep; a contemporary Greek tragedy and cutting-edge experimental theater; gripping as performance while mythic in meaning, a metaphor for the desiccated American West and the dysfunctional American family — a meditation on love as a gunfight at the not-OK corral.

But what I saw at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater was a Punch and Judy show for the old-school avant-garde. “Fool for Love” struck me as little more than an impressive acting exercise and the theatrical equivalent of a low-budget action flick. It’s an eye-catching trailer trash tango.

Yes, there is skill in Shepard’s writing, and solid talent in the four-member cast. But did it add up to depth and brilliance? Not for me.

It’s hard to figure out what to blame. Is it Daniel Aukin’s direction of this production; the lack of believably intense passion between Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda; the play’s staging in a too-vast Broadway theater; the marketing of this brief work as “a classic”? Was I affected by the recent protests against the Manhattan Theatre Club’s testosterone-heavy season of which “Fool For Love” is the opening production?

Or is it just that I’ve seen this play before, I’ve seen better plays by Sam Shepard, and I’ve seen later, better plays by those who seem influenced by Sam Shepard (such as Tracy Letts)?

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

Eddie and May are battling in a run-down motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert. This is not their first time at the rodeo. (Eddie apparently works as a cowboy in a rodeo.) Their relationship goes back 15 years, to high school. As the play begins, Eddie has driven 2,480 miles to be back with May, as he tells her repeatedly. They accuse each other of two-timing and abandonment. “Fifteen years I’ve been a yo-yo for you,” she says. She orders him to leave, and begs him to stay. He strokes her tenderly, with bandaged bloody hand. They kiss; she knees him in the groin; he lassoes her.

Two other actors have parts in the play. Tom Pelphrey portrays Martin, a comically dense but sweet maintenance man who arrives to take May on a date. He serves as a device so that Eddie and May can tell a stranger conflicting accounts of their relationship. Gordon Joseph Weiss is the Old Man, who sits surreally at the edge of the stage – not really in the motel room, although Eddie does once hand him a drink. His purpose is to hint how perverted Eddie and May’s relationship is (Eddie eventually explains in full to Martin) – and also to let us know that their mutual destructiveness (it seems too mild to call it foolishness) goes back at least a generation. This is apparently what prompts people to liken Shepard’s one-act to Sophocles (not just their doomed fate but the Old Man as Greek chorus.)

There is also another character, the Countess, who drives by the motel, but we only see the headlights of her car, and hear some scary noise. There’s no actual actress playing her.

Kudos go to the set designer Dane Laffrey, lighting designer Justin Townsend and sound designer Ryan Rumery for seamlessly combining the surrealism with the naturalism, and enhancing the tension.

Sam Rockwell is a reliable and appealing movie actor; maybe now that he’s mastered his lassoing skills we’ll see him in more Westerns. His only previous foray on Broadway was in Martin McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane, which suffered from a similar surfeit of violence. Nina Arianda was mesmerizing in David Ives’ Venus in Fur, and it seems clear there’s been a search for a role that would be as meaty. But Vanda/Wanda in Venus is a character capable of subtle shades and lightning quick transitions, from klutzy to sophisticated, vulnerable to domineering, sensuous to dangerous. May in ‘Fool for Love’ goes from violent to needy and back again. There are better, more layered roles out there for Nina Arianda. We’re not fools for wanting to see her in them.

It’s interesting that Shepard’s “Fool for Love” is appearing in the same season as Pinter’s “Old Times.” Both are pessimistic plays about love, both put a low priority on clarity, and both are little more than an hour long. I suspect Broadway producers were attracted to their length. Yes, it means that theatergoers are paying up to two dollars a minute, but it allows them to get their officially authorized classic cutting-edge culture in small doses and beat traffic.

Fool for Love
MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theater
Written by Sam Shepard
Directed by Daniel Aukein
Scenic design by Dane Laffrey
Costume design by Anita Yavich
Lighting design by Justin Twonsend
Sound design by Ryan Rumery
Movement and fights by David S. Leong
Cast: Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell. Tom Pelphry, Gordon Joseph Weiss
Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission.
Tickets: $75 to $150
Fool for Love is scheduled to run through December 13, 2015

The Gin Game with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson – Review, Pics


The two characters in The Gin Game do little more than play card games and, once, (spoiler alert) dance. But they’re portrayed by James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson – with some 130 years of acting experience between them – and that’s enough to turn this Broadway revival into a stellar outing at the theater.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

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