I Was Most Alive For You — Accessible For The Deaf…And Complicated

As the family gathers for a Thanksgiving right before everything starts to fall apart, Knox (Russell Harvard) gives thanks for “three things I used to think weren’t gifts at all: Deafness… Being gay…. Addiction. They are gifts… Each brought me to great clarity.”
Clarity is the great aim of Playwrights Horizons’ production of “I Was Most Alive With You,” Craig Lucas’s play about a family that suddenly must cope with a series of calamities. But it’s an unusual kind of clarity for the theater – clarity for deaf people.
As I point out in my article for TDF Stages, 14 actors are performing the play divided into two casts playing the same seven roles: Russell Harvard, Lois Smith and five other actors portray the characters on stage, while simultaneously seven other actors use ASL to portray the same characters from a balcony above. “We’re not just interpreting, we’re part of the story,” signs Anthony Natale, one of the seven “shadow cast” members in the balcony.
If that’s not complicated enough, two of the five characters are deaf. One of them is portrayed by Harvard, who is himself deaf. best known for his performances in Tribes and in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening on Broadway.
He delivers that Thanksgiving speech in ASL (with supertitles projected onto a screen on the stage.)  But sometimes Knox speaks in English; then Harold Foxx, who is the “Shadow Knox,” performs the same dialogue in ASL on the balcony.
“It’s been enormously challenging and complicated,” says director Tyne Rafaeli. “It is also very deep and important. The play is about how we tell the story of our lives — what language we use, how we struggle to communicate. Having people on different levels in different languages is a lot for the human brain to take in. The audience has to work hard — and I don’t think that is a bad thing.”
More on TDF Stages



Top 10 Most Produced Plays and 20 Most Produced Playwrights of the 2018-2019 Season

“Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2” tops the list of what will be the most produced plays nationwide among the 531 non-profit theaters that are part of the Theatre Communications Group, according to American Theatre Magazine.  Hnath will also be the most produced playwright.

Twenty-seven theaters are scheduled to produce A Doll’s House, Part 2. Nine each have “Once” or “Pride and Prejudice” on their season calendar. (The magazine has excluded Shakespeare and A Christmas Carol in order to give other plays a fighting chance)


  1.  A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath
  2. Sweat by Lynn Nottage
  3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon
  4. The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe
  5. Fun Home, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel:
  6. Indecent by Paula Vogel
  7. Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
  8. Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías
  9. Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau
  10. Once, book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, based on the film by John Carney:
  11. (tied with Once): Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill, based on the novel by Jane Austen:

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The True with Edie Falco: Photographs and Review

As Polly Noonan, Edie Falco, late of The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie, can make almost any show more engaging than it would otherwise be, even a relatively sedate one like “The True,”…
Except….Polly is only partly the fruit of the playwright’s imagination. “The True” is more or less true. There was an Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd who in 1977 was facing his first primary challenge in 35 years; he did have a long-time aide named Dorothea “Polly” Noonan who was rumored to be in a romantic relationship with him. And what’s more, Polly Noonan gave birth to a daughter, also named Polly Noonan, and that daughter gave birth to Kirsten E. Gillibrand, now a U.S. Senator from New York, who is said to be a likely candidate for president in 2020. Gillibrand has called her grandmother “my greatest political hero.”

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d Review: A Black Kid Missing, and Who Cares?

Karma, a “dirty little hood rat” of 17, is looking for her missing former foster brother Terrell, though she didn’t know him long and he didn’t like her much. He was, however, all she had. The first place she looks is the funeral parlor of Madam Rose Profit, 65, who insists her last name is pronounced Pro-fee, but she indeed profits from the tragedies in her community.
The two women, both portrayed by extraordinary actresses — Kara Young as Karma, Lynda Gravátt as Madam Profit — more or less compete to dominate the play by Jonathan Payne, who is making an arresting New York debut as a professional playwright.

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2018 Theater Hall of Famers. RIP Marin Mazzie. Lear and Mockingbird Casts Complete. The Week in NY Theater

2018 Theatre Hall of Fame inductees:
Actors Rene Auberjonois, Christine Baranski, Cicely Tyson

Playwrights Maria Irene Fornes, David Henry Hwang, Adrienne Kennedy

Director Joe Mantello

Producer James Houghton, posthumously.

Below: Complete casting for Glenda Jackson’s King Lear and To Kill a Mockingbird; highlights reel from Marin Mazzie’s career.
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Stars in the Night Review: A Vague “Immersive” Show in Dazzling DUMBO

Although billed as “an intimate immersive production,” what “Stars in the Night” actually offers, at its best, is the exact opposite — a spectacular public setting. An audience of no more than a dozen at a time are led through several locations indoors and outdoors in DUMBO, a Brooklyn neighborhood that feels inherently theatrical: It has its own dramatic Chiaroscuro lighting, a backdrop of magnificent bridges and distinctive, gentrified 19th century buildings, and a colorful cast of passersby who, on a night with good weather, crowd the cobbled streets and newly green parkland on the river’s edge.
Unfortunately, most of the show’s characters, portrayed by eight members of the Los Angeles-based company Firelight Collective, are not much more developed during the show than those passersby. The story they act out is vague, arty, clichéd  and confusing – so much so that some 90 minutes after the show began and a cast member deposited us on Jay Street, the other theatergoers and I stood around waiting for the next performer to come along and lead us somewhere, not realizing “Stars in the Night” had come to an end.

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Lulu The Broadway Mouse: Backstage Book for Kids

When Jenna Gavigan made her Broadway debut at age 16 as a member of the ensemble in the 2003 revival of Gypsy, she shared the stage at the Shubert Theater not just with stars Bernadette Peters and Tammy Blanchard, but with Tim Federele, who was also making his Broadway debut – and also, presumably, with a family of mice. Federle has since become the author of the Nate series of young adult novels peering backstage at Broadway.
Now Gavigan has made her own contribution to the genre with “Lulu the Broadway Mouse” (Running Press Kids), a book geared to readers age 9 to 12, about a young mouse named Lucy Louise who wants to be a star on Broadway.

Author and actress Jenna Gavin

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Trump Fatigue? These 3 Shows Hope Not

“I think there has been a growth in Trump fatigue,” says Tony Stinkmetal, who admits that he himself shares it — which is why it’s surprising that he has created a show called “SlashR” that’s  been promoted as an “outrageous, sexy, and bloody political satire that massacres Trump and the current era of American politics.” It is one of at least three Trump-related satires currently on New York stages with brief or sporadic runs.

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Collective Rage A Play in Five Betties Review

The full title of “Collective Rage,” Jen Silverman’s playful, bawdy, and episodic genderqueer/feminist/lesbian comedy about five women named Betty, is 47 words long. Only once does it include the word “pussy.”  That’s not true of the play as a whole. In 19 scenes over 90 minutes, the characters say “pussy” far more than they say, or express, “rage.”

Silverman has a lot of fun with this word. Each of the scenes also has its own title, which is projected line by line on a built-in screen that is as wide as the stage, and looms above it. These projections are reminiscent of the comically prolix and pompous chapter titles in an 18th century picaresque novel, except the scene titles in “Collective Rage” often include the word “pussy.”
For example: “6. Bettys 3 and 4 Discover That Highbrow Things Are Just Things That Seem To Be About Other Things When They’re Actually About Pussy”

But “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties” etc. is not (just) out for some schoolyard impudence. The five good actresses playing the  Betties deliver some memorable moments of oddness and hilarity.

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Nathan Lane in Taylor Mac Broadway debut; Andrew Lloyd Webber makes EGOT. RIP Burt Reynolds, theater visionary. The Week in NY Theater

Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin will star on Broadway in “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” a new comedy marking the Broadway debut of acclaimed theater artist Taylor Mac (A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, Hir.)  Directed by  George C. Wolfe, “Gary” is set just after the blood-soaked conclusion of William Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus. Civil war has ended and the country is in the hands of madmen. Casualties are everywhere; two Lane and Martin portray servants charged with cleaning up the corpses. The play is set to open at the Booth Theater April 11, 2019

Andrew Lloyd Webber

With the 2018 Emmy® Award win in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category for “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” Andrew Lloyd Webber joins a distinguished list of artists who have won Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys — EGOT —  as do John Legend and Tim Rice

Below: News about Be More Chill, Beetlejuice; Al Roker and Tatiana Maslany make Broadway debuts. Lin-Manuel Miranda celebrates his friends and neighbors in a TV commercial Also: Remember public funding for the arts? And: how Burt Reynolds made a mark on live theater.

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