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Google Celebrates West Side Story

“West Side Story” opened on Broadway on September 26, 1957. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture is presenting a virtual exhibition that explains its history, profiles its makers, assesses its impact, and showers us with imagery  (some of it digitized for the first time).The online collection was created in partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Below is a glimpse (Click on any photograph to read the captions supplied by Google.). Check out Google Arts and Culture’s whole West Side Story exhibition.

 

A 360-video of “Cool”, one of the most popular songs of the musical, performed at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY as part of Carnegie Hall’s, The Somewhere Project.

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2018 Artios Award Nominations for Theater Casting Directors

Casting Society of America logoThe 33rd Annual Artios Award ceremony will be held in Los Angeles and New York on January 18, 2018, celebrating outstanding achievement among members of the Casting Society of America.

Here are the nominees in theater:

NEW YORK BROADWAY THEATRE – COMEDY OR DRAMA

“A Doll’s House Part 2” -David Caparelliotis, Lauren Port

“Heisenberg” – Nancy Piccione

“Indecent” – Tara Rubin, Felicia Rudolph (Associate)

“Oslo” – Daniel Swee

“Sweat” – Heidi Griffiths, Jordan Thaler

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Neighbors Review: America vs. Mexico, via 2 Clownish Stereotypes

With its big clue of a title and its two characters named Joe and Jose, one expects “Neighbors: A Fair Trade Agreement” to be an allegory about the political relationship between Mexico and the United States. But Bernardo Cubria’s new play, running through October 7 at INTAR Theater, is also a broad comedy about the ways Americans and Mexicans perceive one another – or, more precisely, how we misperceive each other.

The play achieves this by a clever trafficking in what may seem at first like uncomfortable stereotyping. Jose (Gerardo Rodriguez) is a poor, earthy Mexican who drinks too much, and curses even more, and sings Spanish songs loudly while he lazily fiddles with a half-broken lawnmower in front of his shack on one side of a creek. On the other side of the creek, Joe (Andrew Blair) is a rich, reserved American who reads the newspaper while lounging in his pajamas on the lawn outside his mansion, occasionally listening to the Beach Boys and reciting Deepak Chopra’s Affirmations.

The stereotypes are deliberately clownish (driven home by Raul Abrego’s cartoonish set), and the playwright has fun with them. At one point, Joe objects to Jose stereotyping him. “If I get annoyed by one of your stupid jokes, you say all gringos are sensitive,” Joe says indignantly to Jose. “But maybe it’s not about ‘gringos,’ maybe it’s just me. Maybe sometimes people have their own personal opinions that have nothing to do with race or culture.”

Jose laughs. “That’s such a pinche Gringo thing to say.”

Despite the deliberate stereotyping, the depiction of Joe and Jose does not cause offense, in part because specific biographical details in the script and the two actors’ anchored performances turn them into credible characters, and in part because “Neighbors” gives us solid if amusing insight into what feels like some genuine cultural differences between the two nationalities. At one point, reacting with well-meaning generosity to Jose’s distress over his broken lawnmower and general state of impoverishment, Joe gives him a gift of $1,000. Jose goes out and spends $200 of it on a stereo. Joe is aghast, though he politely describes himself simply as “confused…It’s just not a very good long-term solution.”
“Yesterday I was crying in front of you and today I’m singing,” Jose replies. “That seems like a solution.”

While arguing over the stereo and their respective attitudes toward money (Jose: “You love money…”/Joe: “I just don’t like waste….”/Jose: “You need to go to Monies Anonymous.”), Joe discovers “energy” (presumably oil) on Jose’s property. Joe makes a deal with Jose to provide the elaborate machinery to extract.

Jose: “You and I, we’re going be good for each other.”

Joe: “Yup.”

Jose:́ “I get you drunk, you show me how to make a lot of money.”

Their comity soon evaporates. “Neighbors” becomes the political allegory we’ve expected all along, with a pointed critique of American exploitation and indifference, unsubtle references to fences and Donald Trump, and the two literally wrestling with one another, comically obvious symbols of two nations who are supposed to be allies.

It’s important to point out that playwright Cubria, who is identifying himself as Mexican (the birthplace of his parents) but grew up in Houston, also establishes some similarities between the two cultures in an astute way: Whenever Joe recites an American aphorism, Jose offers its Mexican equivalent.

“Neighbors: A Fair Trade Agreement” is on stage at INTAR Theater through October 7, 2017.

2017 Emmy Winners (NY Theater Vets Highlighted)

Below is the list of Emmy winners, with Broadway veterans in red. (Off-Broadway vets in green.)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – John Lithgow, The Crown
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series – Donald Glover, Atlanta
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series – Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series – Bruce Miller, The Handmaid’s Tale
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series or Movie – Jean-Marc Vallée, Big Little Lies
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series – Aziz Ansari & Lena Waithe, Master of None
Outstanding Reality Competition Program – The Voice
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series – Reed Morano, The Handmaid’s Tale
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or Movie – Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series – Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Variety Talk Series – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Donald Glover, Atlanta
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Outstanding Comedy Series – Veep
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Outstanding TV Movie – “San Junipero,” Black Mirror
Outstanding Limited Series – Big Little Lies
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Outstanding Drama Series – The Handmaid’s Tale

Complete list from the Academy

John Lithgow, the first winner of the night, is about to star in his 24th show on Broadway, “John Lithgow Stories of the Heart.”  He’s been nominated for the Tony Award six times, and won twice.

Laura Dern performed in “The Palace of Amateurs” at the Minetta Lane Theater in 1988.

Alec Baldwin has performed on Broadway five times, most recently in Orphans in 2013, and Off-Broadway four times, and was nominated for a Tony Award for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1992.

Ann Dowd is a veteran of three Broadway plays, and three Off-Broadway, most recently Night Is a Room in 2015.

Nicole Kidman starred in “The Blue Room” on Broadway in 1998-1999.

Sterling K. Brown has performed in five plays Off-Broadway, most recently Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Father Comes Home from the Wars” at the Public Theater in 2014.

Elisabeth Moss is a veteran of both Off-Broadway and Broadway most recently nominated for a Tony for The Heidi Chronicles in 2015.

 

(Jackie Hoffman is a veteran of five Broadway and four Off-Broadway shows; she’s currently in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

Watch Christopher Jackson sing Stevie Wonder’s “As” for the In Memoriam segment

Broadway on TV. Another Audra Award. Week in New York Theater

The nominees for the 69th annual Emmy Awards include, as usual, many whom theatergoers like to claim as our own. All the Emmy-nominated performers pictured above are Broadway veterans, although (let’s be honest), how many can we say are committed theater artists?

Still…

In any case, PBS will be broadcasting recordings of recent Broadway shows every Friday in the Fall. (See schedule below.)

This week in New York theater, Audra McDonald and Tommy Tune each got yet more theater awards; Hillary Clinton told of the healing power of Broadway; John Lithgow and Condola Rashad announced new starring roles on stage; Mandy Gonzalez dedicated a new Lin-Manuel Miranda song to Dreamers, and Barry Diller killed his dream of a floating theater in the Hudson.

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Viva Broadway Concert: Watch Latinx Stars Mandy Gonzalez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Leguizamo, Ana Villafane, et al

With Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and John Leguizamo (“Latin History for Morons”) serving as co-hosts, the Broadway League presented its annual Viva Broadway concert Friday evening, as a kickoff to Hispanic Heritage Month, showcasing Mandy Gonzalez, who portrays Angelica Schuyler on Hamilton, singing a new song by Miranda, “Fearless,” as well as performances by:
Rodney Ingram, who’s playing Raoul in the Phantom of The Opera, and was raised in the tiny fishing village of Sayulita, Mexico;

Emma Pfaeffle, who is in the cast of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and is a Cuban-American born and raised in Los Angeles;

Ana Villafañe, who is of Cuban and Salvadoran descent, and was the star of “On Your Feet,” portraying Gloria Estefan.

“This is for the Dreamers,” Gonzalez, whose father was born in Mexico, says in the videos below, before belting out the title song of her forthcoming album.

 

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Tickets to “Hamilton

Tickets to “Latin History for Morons”

Tickets to “Phantom Of The Opera” 

Tickets to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

 Tickets to “On Your Feet”

Broadway’s Longest-Running Shows and Biggest Hits

Here are some of the longest-running and most popular shows on Broadway, listed alphabetically, with brief descriptions that include my take, and links where available to my initial reviews.

To buy tickets to these shows, check out their websites, go to their box offices, or purchase on this page.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

The Eugene O’Neill Theater

Opened: March 24, 2011
Director: Jason Moore and Trey Parker
Twitter feed: @BookofMormonBWY
This musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (book), the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez, one of the composer-lyricists for “Avenue Q” (music and lyrics) and Frozen (both movie and musical), is about both the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and modern disciples. It is outrageous, irreverent in one way, but also deeply reverent to (even while parodying) the best traditions of the Broadway musical.

My review of The Book of Mormon: Ridiculing Religion, Worshiping The Great White Way

Tickets to The Book of Mormon

 

Chicago

Chicago

Ambassador Theater (219 West 49th Street)

Opened: November 14, 1996

Twitter: @ChicagoMusical

A chorus girl in 1920′s Chicago murders her lover and becomes a star. This cynical, tuneful 1975 musical adaptation by John Kander and Fred Ebb (“Cabaret” team) of a 1926 play was revived to great acclaim by director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking in homage to original choreographer Bob Fosse. But it has gone through many, many cast changes since then. Some say this is the production that invented the modern Broadway practice of “stunt casting.”

Beginning in November, 2014, it became the second-longest running musical on Broadway.

 

Buy Tickets to Chicago The Musical

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamilton

Richard Rodgers Theater

Opened: August 6, 2015

Twitter: @HamiltonMusical

The story of the first Secretary of the Treasury, told as a rap opera, is groundbreaking and breathtaking. It has become a phenomenon on Broadway — and elsewhere! I’ve seen it four times, and have written about it so many times that I’ve put together a post called Everything Hamilton

Hamilton tickets


Hamilton tickets

 

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots

Al Hirschfeld

Opened: April 4, 2013

Twitter: @KinkyBootsBway

Cyndi Lauper’s Broadway songwriting debut, and the winner of the 2013 Best Musical Tony, adapts a 2005 British film about a traditional shoemaker who partners with a drag queen to make footwear sturdy enough for a man but fabulous enough for a woman. The show is familiar and safe, with a stand-out performance by Billy Porter as Lola/Simon.

My review of Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots Tickets

 

The Lion King

The Lion King

Minskoff Theater (200 West 45th Street)

Opened: November 13, 1997

Twitter: @TheLionKing

Based on the 1994 Disney animated film about the coming-of-age of a young lion in the African jungle, this musical offers African-inflected music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and the visual magic of Julie Taymor. Taymor is the director, and composer and lyricist for some of the songs. But above all, she is the designer of the costumes, masks, and puppets — and it is these visuals that make this show a good first theatrical experience — and worthwhile for any theatergoer no matter how experienced.

Buy tickets to The Lion King

 

 

The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of The Opera

Majestic Theater (247 West 44th Street)

Opened: January 26, 1988

Twitter: @TheOperaGhosts

The Phantom of the Opera, based on a 1911 French novel by Gaston Leroux, is about a disfigured genius named Erik who lives in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House and falls in love with Christine, an aspiring singer whom he helps…until an old flame of Christine’s named Raoul steps back into the picture.

However, the story in the musical, written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber — with more than its share of 1980′s heavy power ballads — is starting to take second place to the story of the musical, which is the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, and probably the most profitable.

Webber has written a “sequel,” entitled “Love Never Dies,” which was set for Broadway in the 2010-2011 season, but, after scathing reviews in London, may never appear there. It is, however, on national tour.

Phantom Of The Opera Tickets

 

Wicked
Wicked

Gershwin Theater (222 West 51st Street)

Opened: October 30, 2003

Twitter: @WICKED_Musical

The musical tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” from the witches’ perspective, more specifically from the Wicked Witch of the West, who was not, as a child, wicked at all, but just green-tinted, taunted, and misunderstood. There is so much to like about this musical, the clever twists on the familiar tale, the spectacular set, and music that is a lot more appealing in context (such as the song “Defying Gravity”) that I will forgive the contortions necessary to tack on a happy ending.


Buy Wicked tickets!

Broadway Poll: Most Intriguing Shows in 2017-2018 Season

Broadway logos 2017 2018 updatedChoose the three shows that you are most looking forward to. The list below is for shows that have opening dates in the Broadway 2017-2018 season as of this writing, and they are listed chronologically by opening date.
For more information about any of the shows, read my Broadway 2017-2018 Preview Guide.

Get tickets to Broadway hits!

New York CityPASS

 

Get tickets to Broadway hits!

Broadway’s Best on PBS This Fall

“She Loves Me,” “Falsettos,” “Noël Coward’s Present Laughter” “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” and “Indecent” will all be broadcast on Friday nights this Fall on PBS, with the full episodes of each show streaming for free for two weeks after the broadcasts.

Here’s the schedule, with links to my original reviews:

 

10/20 She Loves Me

10/27 Falsettos

11/3 Present Laughter

11/10 In The Heights documentary “Chasing Broadway Dreams”

11/17 Indecent

11/24 Holiday Inn

Frozen Opens Tonight: First Pics

The first production photographs of Frozen the Musical, which opens tonight at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It will move to Broadway’s St. James Theater on February 22.

Click on any photograph by Deen van Meer to see it enlarged.

Buy tickets to Frozen in Denver and/or Broadway