Harry Potter Kicks Out Paramour. The Trump Effect. Lin-Manuel Inc. Week in NY Theater

The world may feel as if it’s coming to an end (see The Trump Effect, below), but the future looks promising for the theater, even in the few weeks remaining of this year, with several intriguing shows still to open (December theater openings) – and that doesn’t even count Hairspray Live on Wednesday.

Or La La Land, which opens in movie theaters on Thursday

Or the 1966 rediscovered Glass Menagerie starring Shirley Booth on TCM on Thursday (See New York Theater News below.)

Did you take the November New York Theater Quiz yet?

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The Trump Effect

It’s been almost four weeks since Election Day, but those who didn’t support the winner – including much of the theater community – remain in shock. One manifestation of this, as I write in an essay for HowlRound, is in a changed perception of what’s happening on stage at nearly every show since then, from “Master Harold….and the boys” to “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” and even “Sweet Charity.” (Also included in the article are links to reactions by a variety of critics and theater artists.)

Theater artists have begun to mobilize, such as the newly formed Broadway Advocacy Coalition which on Sunday night held a combination concert and conference entitled “The Invitation: The American Hangover.”

Here is Brandon Victor Dixon’s appearance at the event, which was held in an auditorium at Columbia University:

Also presenting at the event were performers Ben Vereen and Condola Rashad, and Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori, who revealed that she’s taking courses at the law school.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

The song "You Will Be Found" from "Dear Evan Hansen"

The song “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen”

Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen” has changed now that it’s on Broadway, in ways that make it an even more affecting musical. Ben Platt’s performance, impressive from the get-go, is even better. But what’s changed the most is the world outside the theater, turning the story of a lie that gets out of hand into something more realistic and unfortunately more relevant…

The Illusionists

the-illusionists-6

For its third annual holiday appearance on Broadway, The Illusionists, a variety showcase for a rotating group of magicians and stunt performers, has a new subtitle, “Turn of the Century,” which may be an attempt to spin overly familiar acts as vintage classics…Luckily, The Illusionists also includes Justo Thaus, aka The Grand Carlini — who executes some equally antediluvian tricks involving a little red ball but at least does it using marionettes — and Jonathan Goodwin, who is dubbed The Daredevil.

Emily Rohm

Emily Rohm

Ride The Cyclone

“Ride the Cyclone” begins with six teenagers from the high school choir of a small Canadian town dying on a roller coaster called the Cyclone. Then, one by one, we hear their stories – or, more accurately, we get a show-stopping musical number out of each one of them. If the musical feels largely derivative, it features an appealing, talented cast, a dozen witty, energetic songs in a variety of popular styles, and a spectacular design for such a small-scale show. Although the characters are dead, that doesn’t stop them from being fun and funny, albeit in a familiar way. Viewers might immediately think of “Glee,” or any number of peppy musical comedies. But I thought of Thornton Wilder….

Week in New York Theater News

 

lyric-marquee-with-paramourAlthough there was some confusion due to a misleading press release put out by Cirque de Soleil, the real story is that the owners of the Lyric, Ambassador Theatre Group, aka ATG, plan to renovate the Lyric in hopes of its housing in 2018 “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” now playing to sold-out audiences at the Palace in London’s West End. ATG is therefore kicking out “Paramour” in April, 2017.

It’s unclear whether Paramour will be able to find another Broadway theater that’s open and suits its needs. Paramour was critically panned when it opened in May, and, while it often grosses close to a million dollars a week, that represents little more than half of its potential, and it has among the lowest percentage of seats filled; the Lyric, as presently configured, is the largest house on Broadway, with more than 1,900 seats. (The second largest is the Gershwin, where Wicked consistently ranks among the highest attended Broadway shows.) The aim of the renovation is in part to reduce the number of seats.

Jersey Boys Drew Seeley Nick Dromard Matt Bogart Mark Ballas

“Jersey Boys” creators found guilty of copyright infringement in lawsuit brought by widow of ghost writer.

thehumansthanksgiving

The Humans will close on Broadway on January 15, 2017. Come From Away had already announced that it will begin performances at Schoenfeld (where The Humans is playing) on February 18. The Humans will launch a national tour next November.

tickets-pics

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a “ticket bot bill” making it a crime for scalpers to use computer software to purchase tickets

glass-menagerie-1966-2

Fifty years to the day after it was first broadcast, the famously “lost” 1966 TV production of  The Glass Menagerie starring Shirley Booth as Amanda, Hal Holbrook as Tom, Barbara Loden as Laura and Pat Hingle as the gentleman caller has been found and restored, and is scheduled to air Thursday, December 8 on TCM. Of note, it was directed by British director Michael Elliott, who is the father of Marianne Elliott, the director of “War Horse” and “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The first TV version of Tennessee Williams play was in 1950, starring Jane Wyman as Laura, Kirk Douglas as the Gentleman caller, Gertrude Lawrence as Amanda, and Arthur Kennedy as Tom.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Busy

Good news/bad news. Good news: Hamilton grossed a record-breaking $3.3 million (Take that, #BoycottHamilton!) Bad news: The top ticket price was $998

hamiltonmixtape

The Hamilton Mixtape was released this past week.

The day before, there was a Hamilton Mixtape concert livestreamed  from the Richard Rodgers Theater, featuring QuestLove of The Roots

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and his bandmate Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter; Joell Ortiz (who sang “My Shot” with Black Thought), Regina Spektor (“Dear Theodosia”)

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Andra Day (“Burn”)

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Ashanti with Ja Rule (“Helpless”)

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Three observations about the  concert

1. longest #Ham4Ham ever

2. shortest #rapconcert ever

3. More women proportionally than in the musical

(To learn more about the books, and/or buy them, check out 3 Book Set of The Kingkiller Chronicle Series (The Name of the Wind, Wise Man’s Fear and The Slow Regard of Silent Things))

 

Click here for discount tickets to the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

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The Illusionists-Turn of the Century: Review, pics, video

For its third annual holiday appearance on Broadway, The Illusionists, a variety showcase for a rotating group of magicians and stunt performers, has a new subtitle, “Turn of the Century,” which may be an attempt to spin overly familiar acts as vintage classics.

 

Full review on The Stage 

 

Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway: Review, pics, video

“Dear Evan Hansen” has changed now that it’s on Broadway, in ways that make it an even more affecting musical. Ben Platt’s performance, impressive from the get-go, is even better. But what’s changed the most is the world outside the theater, turning the story of a lie that gets out of hand into something more realistic and unfortunately more relevant.

Click on any photograph by Matthew Murphy to see it enlarged.

The plot’s trajectory seemed fanciful to me half a year ago, before the subject of “viral fake news” itself went viral. It is also bracing to realize that I omitted an important and relevant matter with which the musical deals…how much Evan and his mother Heidi (Rachel Bay Jones) are struggling financially, and how resentful Heidi is..

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

December 2016 New York Theater Openings

Four shows are opening on Broadway this month, three of them new musicals: “A Bronx Tale” marks the Broadway debut of Robert De Niro as a “co-director,” although Jerry Zaks is reportedly doing the heavy lifting.  “Dear Evan Hansen,”  a cult hit Off Broadway by the team of Pasek and Paul, is transferring to the Music Box.  And “In Transit,” another Off-Broadway hit, is co-written by Kristin Anderson-Lopez, who went on to compose the music with her husband Bobby Lopez for “Frozen.”

But some of the most thrilling theater in December is happening Off-Broadway — including “Othello” directed by Sam Gold, starring David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig; Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) in an adaptation of the bestseller “Tiny Beautiful Things” directed by Hamilton’s Tommy Kail; and “The Dead, 1904,” starring Boyd Gaines and Kate Burton, a re-creation of the dinner party at the center of James Joyce’s “The Dead,” in which theatergoers are among the dinner guests.

And then, this being December, there are Christmas plays up the wazoo — too numerous to include here.

Below is a selection of the plays, musicals and less easily categorized theater pieces opening in December, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website. Also included are links to buy tickets (if you can’t get them at the box office.)

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the season as a whole, check out Broadway Preview Guide 2016-17 and Off-Broadway Fall 2016

Ad: Click here to sign up for discount ticket offers

December 1

A Bronx Tale (Longacre)

A Bronx Tale The Musical Pre-opening information; subject to change A Bronx Tale The Musical View More Images Longacre Theatre, (12/01/2016 - ) First Preview: Nov 03, 2016 Total Previews: Opening Date: Dec 01, 2016 Closing Date: Total Performances: Category: Musical, Drama, Original, Broadway A Bronx Tale The Musical tickets Official Website Opening Night Credits Production Staff Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President) Produced by Tommy Mottola, The Dodgers and Tribeca Productions Book by Chazz Palminteri; Music by Alan Menken; Lyrics by Glenn Slater; Musical Director: Jonathan Smith; Music arranged by Ron Melrose; Music orchestrated by Doug Besterman Directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks; Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt; Costume Design by William Ivey Long; Lighting Design by Howell Binkley; Sound Design by Gareth Owen; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Make-Up Design by Anne Ford-Coates Musical Supervisor: Ron Melrose Casting: Tara Rubin Casting; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Fight Coordinator: Robert Westley Cast Richard H. Blake Lorenzo Nick Cordero Sonny Ariana DeBose Jane Lucia Giannetta Rosina Bradley Gibson Tyrone Bobby Conte Thornton Broadway debut Calogero Hudson Loverro Broadway debut Young Calogero Athan Sporek Young Calogero Alternate Gilbert L. Bailey II Joe Barbara Michael Barra Broadway debut Jonathan Brody Ted Brunetti Brittany Conigatti Kaleigh Cronin Trista Dollison David Michael Garry Rory Max Kaplan Dominic Nolfi Christiani Pitts Broadway debut Paul Salvatoriello Broadway debut Joseph J. Simeone Joey Sorge Cary Tedder Kirstin Tucker Swings: Michelle Aravena, Gerald Caesar, Charlie Marcus, Wonu Ogunfowora and Keith WhiteThe Bronx Tale, about a youth in the Bronx who against the wishes of his father gets involved in organized crime,  began life as a one-man show written and performed by Chazz Palminteri. It was then made into 1993 directed by and co-starring Robert De Niro. De Niro is co-directing the musical with Jerry Zaks, marking De Niro’s Broadway directorial debut.

Tickets

Iluminate (New World Stages) 

ILUMINATE 2

Acrobatic dancing by performers wearing glow-in-the-dark costumes

My review of Iluminate  at a previous venue

Tickets

December 3

Sgt. Stubby (St. Lukes Theater)

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Subtitled “The Great American War Dog Musical,” the family-friendly show is inspired by the true story of a stray from New Haven, Connecticut who became a hero in World War I.

Tickets

December 4

Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)

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A high school student pretends to have been best friends with a classmate who committed suicide in this musical by the songwriters of A Christmas Story: The Musical. This was a cult favorite Off-Broadway.  My review when it was Off-Broadway.

Tickets

The Illusionists (The Palace)

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On Broadway for the third holiday season in a row, The Illusionists will present magic from the early 20th century,

My review the first time around.

Tickets

Sing (Theatre at St. Clements)

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A South African and American Holiday Musical celebration starring and directed by Thula Dumakude.

December 5

The Babylon Line (Lincoln Center)

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A play by Richard Greenberg about a writer from bohemian Greenwich Village who commutes to Levittown to teach a creative writing class that includes one student that reawakens his own artistic impulses. The cast includes Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Reaser.

Tickets 

December 6

Rancho Viejo (Playwrights Horizons) 

Rancho Viejo

In Dan LeFranc’s comedy of anxiety and awkward neighbors, the residents of the (fictional) affluent suburb of Rancho Viejo drift from one gathering to the next, wrestling life’s grandest themes while fending off existential despair — set against the lustful, yearning strains of a distant bolero. The cast includes Mark Blum and Mare Winningham.

December 7

Tiny Beautiful Things (The Public) 

Tiny Beautiful Things for calendar

Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist in a Vardalos’ stage adaptation of the book of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton.)

Tickets 

December 8

The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater)

the-bands-visit

This musical with a book by Itamar Moses (Fortress of Solitude) and music by David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and directed by David Cromer (Our Town), with a cast including Tony Shalhoub and John Cariani, is an adaptation the 2007 film about an Egyptian Police Band that arrives in Israel to play a concert but is sent by mistake to a remote village in the middle of the desert.

Tickets

Anna Christie (The Wild Project) 

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Eugene O’Neill’s drama of a woman torn between the expectations of men and the secrets of her past, gets a timely retelling under the direction of Peter Roberts.

The Dead, 1904 (Irish Rep)

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Based on the novella by James Joyce, “The Dead,1904 is a new adaptation in which an audience of 40 guests will themselves attend the Misses Morkan’s holiday party, move from room to room with the actors, listen to the music, watch the dances, dine on a meal inspired by the menu in the novella, and observe the characters in their interactions.  The production will take place in an authentic Victorian mansion.” It stars Kate Burton and Boyd Gaines.

December 11

In Transit (Circle in the Square)

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I

Broadway’s first a capella musical — no orchestra — chronicles the intertwining lives of 11 subway riders. It was a  hit Off-Broadway in 2010. Co-written by Kristin Lopez-Anderson, now known for Frozen. Its 16-member cast includes Justin Guarini, Telly Leung and Erin Mackey.

Tickets

December 12

Othello (NY Theatre Workshop)

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Sam Gold directs David Oyelowo (Selma) in the title role and Daniel Craig (Betrayal, Spectre) as Iago in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Tickets

December 14

Nina Conti In Your Face (Barrow Street Theater) 

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With handcrafted masks that transform audience members into “live puppets,” along with her sidekick, the “foul-mouthed” Monkey, Conti creates a hilarious new show nightly. This is ventriloquism for a new generation

Martin Luther On Trial (The Pearl)

martin-luther-on-trial-for-calendar

With Satan as the prosecutor and Luther’s wife for the defense, witnesses including Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Josel, St. Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pope Francis take the stand. Even as 2017 marks 500 years since Luther ignited the Protestant Revolt against Rome, he continues to spark intense debate

December 19

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns (Barrow Street Theatre) 

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A one-man show written by and starring Drew Droege. “Josh and Brennan are about to get married in Palm Springs on a lovely Saturday afternoon. However, the night before becomes a drunken, drug-fueled scream riot, because their friend Gerry has arrived, furious that their invitation says “please refrain from wearing bright colors or bold patterns.”

Watch Hamilton Mixtape Concert Live, Then Buy It.

hamiltonmixtape

Live from the Hamilton stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City, some of the recording artists in the Hamilton Mixtape — songs directly from, or related to, the Hamilton musical — perform at 1 p.m. December 1st. It was live-streamed here. (Click to the middle to see the concert)

Buy The Hamilton Mixtape , released December 2, 2016.

Songs and Artists in Hamilton Mixtape
1
No John Trumbull (Intro)
by The Roots

2
My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix]
by The Roots

3
Wrote My Way Out [Clean]
by Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc

4
Wait For It
by Usher

5
An Open Letter (feat. Shockwave) [Interlude] [Clean]
by Watsky

6
Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah)
by Sia

7
Dear Theodosia (feat. Ben Folds)
by Regina Spektor

8
Valley Forge (Demo) [Clean]
by Lin-Manuel Miranda

9
It’s Quiet Uptown
by Kelly Clarkson

10
That Would Be Enough
by Alicia Keys

11
Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) [Clean]
by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente

12
You’ll Be Back
by Jimmy Fallon & The Roots

13
Helpless (feat. Ja Rule)
by Ashanti

14
Take A Break (Interlude)
by !llmind

15
Say Yes To This
by Jill Scott

16
Congratulations
by Dessa

17
Burn
by Andra Day

18
Stay Alive (Interlude)
by J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot

19
Cabinet Battle 3 (Demo)
by Lin-Manuel Miranda

20
Washingtons By Your Side
by Wiz Khalifa

21
History Has Its Eyes On You
by John Legend

22
Who Tells Your Story (feat. Common & Ingrid Michaelson)
by The Roots

23
Dear Theodosia (Reprise)
by Chance The Rapper & Francis and The Lights

Ride the Cyclone Review: Glee in Purgatory

“Ride the Cyclone” begins with six teenagers from the high school choir of a small Canadian town dying on a roller coaster called the Cyclone. Then, one by one, we hear their stories – or, more accurately, we get a show-stopping musical number out of each one of them.

If the musical feels largely derivative, it features an appealing, talented cast, a dozen witty, energetic songs in a variety of popular styles, and a spectacular design for such a small-scale show. Although the characters are dead, that doesn’t stop them from being fun and funny, albeit in a familiar way. Viewers might immediately think of “Glee,” or any number of peppy musical comedies.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

But I thought of Thornton Wilder.

Beneath all its jokiness and spirited (teen-scented) score, “Ride the Cyclone” seems to be trying to capture the mix of the unabashedly cornball and the cosmic that Wilder achieves in “Our Town,” with its theme of the importance of appreciating everyday life. But even more than “Our Town,” I thought of an earlier Wilder work, for which he won his first Pulitzer, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” a novel that begins with the death of five people crossing a bridge in Peru, and then backtracks to focus on each of the characters. In the novel, a Franciscan monk spends years studying the lives of these dead to try to answer the question – why were they the ones who died?

In place of the Franciscan monk, the creative team of “Ride the Cyclone” conjures up the Amazing Karnak, a mechanical fortune-telling machine common to old carnivals and last seen in the movie “Big.” Karnak (a convincingly spooky and  robotic Karl Hamilton) knows when everybody will die, but he never tells those seeking their fortune at the carnival. (As he explains: “Being told the place and time of your death in front of your family, with a mouthful of corndog at a fairground, is the very opposite of fun.”) Feeling guilty that he didn’t warn the teenagers of their impending death, he has decided to hold a contest that will allow one of the teens to return to the living.

What are the rules of the contest? Karnak changes them arbitrarily from scene to scene (the fickleness of fate?)

The premise winds up being little more than the frame for a series of entertaining musical numbers. But the cast makes the most of them – demonstrating terrific skills not just in singing and dancing, but in forging strongly etched characters out of teenage archetypes.

(Their personalities are cleverly established from the get-go, in a song that reveals their reaction to the news that they are dead:

Mischa: Sex? Oh God, why did I wait?

Ocean: Now I’ll never graduate

Noel: I hope I wiped my browser clean.)

Kholby Wardell is memorable in his portrayal of Noel Gruber, “the only gay man in a small rural high school,” which, he says, “is kind of like having a laptop in the Stone Age. I mean sure you can have one, but there’s nowhere to plug it in.” A would-be French New Wave nihilist who aspired to be Marlene Dietrich in Blue Angel, he actually worked at Taco Bell. For his show-stopping number, he sings a sexy French song, as in a black lace negligee, imagining himself “a hooker with a heart of black charcoal.”

Gus Halper is hilarious and sexy as Mischa Bachinski, a Ukrainian immigrant who calls himself “best rapper in all of North Eastern Saskatchewan.”

Emily Rohm is haunting and ethereal (and a little creepy) as a teenager whose corpse was neither claimed nor identified: “Jane Doe is what the coroner said, They found my body, not my head.”

Alex Wyse, who was on Broadway in both Spring Awakening and Lysistrata Jones, is Ricky Potts, disabled in life by a degenerative disease, freed in death. He lets loose in a number imagining himself “a prophet from the Zolarian Starcluster, supreme leader of those that evolved from cats.”

Lillian Castillo is perfect as Constance, the nice girl everybody ignores, which makes her seethe – which anybody would notice if they noticed her at all. They definitely notice in her rousing number, which comes closest to driving home the Wilder-like themes.

And then there is Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg, an obnoxiously ambitious straight A, type A student. (Think Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry from Glee.) Even her supposedly supportive comments are irksome: “Some of us are left wing, some of us are right wing… but the last time I checked it takes two wings to fly!! We are community! We are Family! We are the World!” Yet she somehow manages to charm most of her classmates, grudgingly, as well as the audience.

Making her New York stage debut, Tiffany Tatreau is superb, all the more so for apparently taking over the part just a week ago, after Taylor Louderman, who had been cast as Ocean, announced on her Twitter feed that she was leaving “due to creative differences.”

Tatreau had played the part in the Chicago production, which was well received, as was its original productions in Canada. Now “Ride the Cyclone” has hit the big time – that’s the impression left from the spectacular stagecraft overseen by director Rachel Rockwell. Her design team has shoved into the Lucille Lortel, a small Off-Broadway house that customarily presents straight plays, the sort of imposing set, flashing lights, intricate and well-integrated projections and special effects that usually make up what I’ve previously catalogued as The Broadway Effect. One wonders: Is there more life in store for these lively dead characters?

 

Excerpts from the show begin at 14:46, at 28, and 39:30

Ride the Cyclone

MCC Theater at Lucille Lortel

Written and composed by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell

Directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell

Set design by Scott Davis, costume design by Theresa Ham, lighting design by Greg Hofmann, sound design by Garth Helm, projection design by Mike Tutaj, wig design by Leah J. Loukas

Cast: Lillian Castillo, Gus Halper, Karl Hamilton, Emily Rohm, Tiffany Tatreau, Kholby Wardell, Alex Wyse

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets

Ride the Cyclone is scheduled to run through December 18. I’ll be surprised if it’s not extended.

 

 

 

Lin-Manuel Miranda on Drunk History: Watch Alexander Hamilton’s Steamy Affair

Here is a 2 1/2 minute excerpt from tonight’s episode of the Comedy Central series, Drunk History, in which Lin-Manuel Miranda recounts Alexander Hamilton’s adulterous affair with Maria Reynolds — the first political sex scandal in the new nation of the United States of America.
Miranda is just the narrator. The actor portraying Hamilton is Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat.

New York Theater Quiz November 2016

How well were you paying attention to theater news and reviews in November? Take this 13-question quiz and see.

Broadway vs. The West End. Phantom at 12,000. Week in New York Theater

curtain-up-1-lion-king-detailYes, they say interval what we say intermission, they call stalls what we call orchestra seats, they eat ice cream in the theater and we certainly do not.  But audiences on Broadway and in the West End see many of the same shows. Indeed, 19 individuals have won both Tony and Olivier Awards for the same role in the same production, according to Curtain Up, an exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. That’s one of the several tidbits at the exhibition exploring the similarities and differences between the New York and London commercial theater districts. The excuse for the exhibition is that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Tony Awards and the 40th anniversary of the Oliviers, but, really, any excuse will do to see up close, for example, the costumes for The Lion King, which was Disney’s second theatrical adaptation both in New York and London. The free exhibition runs through June 30, 2017.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

 

Thanksgiving, the Broadway way

thehumansthanksgiving

Holiday gifts for theater lovers

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Week in New York Theater Reviews

Emily Padgett, Sutton Foster, Asmeret Ghebremichael

Emily Padgett, Sutton Foster, Asmeret Ghebremichael

Sweet Charity

This musical about a “dance hall hostess” who is always looking for love but never finding it has a book by Neil Simon is dated and improbable, with a series of comic set pieces that only occasionally land. But its score by Cy Coleman holds up. The choreographer Joshua Bergasse, the spot-on five-piece band, and the design team all work together to scale down this big Broadway musical appropriately. Best of all, the performances are terrific. Few regular theatergoers would be surprised by the charmingly daffy portrayal of Charity by Sutton Foster..

thisdayforward1-joe-tippett-holley-fain-andrew-burnap-and-michael-crane

This Day Forward

Nicky Silver’s new play… we’re back again in Silverland — a gay man who has trouble with relationships must deal with his selfish, acerbic mother, who regrets her unhappy marriage and resents her children…the playwright once more creates a play that deftly mixes funny and dark.

Michael Urie and Robin de Jesus

Michael Urie and Robin de Jesus

Homos, or Everyone in America

It might seem as if the creative team behind “Homos, or Everyone in America,” a fabulous and fragmented look at six years of a gay relationship, has put up barriers between the audience and the story…But as it turns out, the experiments in form, language and design do not get in the way of appreciating what’s strongest about the play: The central relationship is believable, and engrossing. This is in large measure because Michael Urie and Robin De Jesus are terrific actors, and also because the playwright is bluntly honest in exploring the range of emotions involved in any relationship.

Week in New York Theater News

Janet McTeer as La Marquise de Merteuil Liev Schreiber as Le Vicomte de Valmont

Les Liaisons Dangereuses with Liev Schreiber and Janet McTeer, is closing January 8, 2017, two weeks earlier than scheduled.

PhantomTristaMoldovanandPanaro1

Phantom of the Opera marks its 12,000th performance tonight, November 28 at 8:00 PM at The Majestic Theatre. It has been the longest-running Broadway show for more than a decade, drawing an audience of some 17 million people and grossing more than $1 billion.

Retailers are entering into partnerships with Broadway shows for mutual promotion.

Bloomingdale’s has outfitted the dressing room for Dear Evan Hansen

Brooks Brothers dressed the male actors of Falsettos on opening night.

Ann Taylor featured the creative team of Waitress in photos, video interviews and a panel discussion in its store

Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, by Kathie Lee Gifford

Betsy DeVos, appointed Secretary of Education, was lead producer with her husband of Kathie Lee Gifford’s 2012 musical Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson

 

From obituary

She grew up in poverty on a tobacco farm near Owensboro, Ky. By the time she was 4, “my mother would send me to the store to get groceries, and they’d give them to me if I would sing.” At 17, she moved to New York to study acting and singing, and was cast in her first Broadway show a year later.

fritz-weaver

Fritz Weaver, 21-time Broadway veteran, dies at age 90. A Tony-winning actor and a Shakespearean, he was also a familiar face in movies and on TV — not, apparently, happily. “When you play the great roles, you get spoiled and think you’ll have a whole career playing nothing but great roles, and of course you can’t…You play a lot of junk most of the time.”

moana-and-miranda

“..I remind myself Vincent van Gogh died without having sold a single painting. Art is not measured by the trappings”~ Lin-Manuel Miranda, in interview when asked about his score for the Disney film Moana, about his possible EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. He so far has all but the Oscar.)

(Actually, although it doesn’t take away from Miranda’s point, van Gogh did sell at least one painting during his lifetime — The Red Vineyard. van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27, and died when he was 37.)

theredvineyardbyvangogh

Homos Review: Urie and de Jesus as Splintered Gay Couple

It might seem as if the creative team behind “Homos, or Everyone in America,” a fabulous and fragmented look at six years of a gay relationship, has put up barriers between the audience and the story in order to see Michael Urie (“Buyer & Cellar,” “Ugly Betty”) and Robin De Jesús (“In The Heights,” “Wicked.”) jump over them.
The two characters, aren’t even given names — the program refers to Urie’s role as The Writer and De Jesús’ as The Academic — and they speak in staccato bursts, rather than full sentences…or, more accurately, they are constantly interrupting one another’s full sentences so that they sound like staccato bursts. And then playwright Jordan Seavey puts scenes from their life together out of chronological order. As if that were not confusing enough, the individual scenes are often sliced into two or more parts, and those parts are spread throughout the show.
Director Mike Donahue enlists set designer Dane Laffrey to turn the Labyrinth Theater into something of a labyrinth, with playing areas no wider than a hallway, with some challenge to audience sightlines, especially if your seat happens to be directly behind one of the big, black columns.
But as it turns out, the experiments in form, language and design – and even that big column — do not get in the way of appreciating what’s strongest about the play: The central relationship is believable, and engrossing. This is in large measure because Michael Urie and Robin De Jesus are terrific actors, and also because the playwright is bluntly honest in exploring the range of emotions involved in any relationship. (which may or may not explain that “Or Everyone in America.”)

Why does the playwright put the scenes out of order?

Perhaps in part because, it’s the way people actually remember a relationship – not in a neat order, but in flashes. It also keeps us attentive, intrigued by the clues, and creates some juxtapositions that offer insights into both the characters’ personalities and into the larger culture and society — as well as some humor.  The play takes place between 2006 and 2011, allowing us to see how much things have changed in a short time, when the characters discuss such issues as marriage equality, or mention social media. They meet through Friendster, which occasions what may be the first of their many casual disagreements, when the Academic calls it a fad.

“Yeah right, everyone thought email was a fad. Friendster’s no fad
Friendster is here to stay…”

“I think friendster’s an early and popular example of what’s bound to be a sprawling lineage of Internet based social networking websites which…”

“No, no, no. Friendster forever. Mark my words.”

What’s most bracing about “Homos, or Everyone in America,” is something that Jordan Seavey could not have anticipated. A gay bashing is a central event in the play. In the annual fundraising announcement for BC/EFA and the Anti-Violence Project at the curtain call on the night I attended, Urie cited a statistic by the Southern Poverty Law Center — there were some 700 “hateful incidents of harassment” within the week after Election Day.

Homos, or Everyone in America

Labyrinth Theater

Written by Jordan Seavey; Directed by Mike Donahue

Set design by Dane Laffrey, lighting design by Scott Zielinski, costume design by Jessica Pabst, sound design by Daniel Kluger,

Cast Aaron Costa Ganis, Robin De Jesús, Stacey Sargeant and Michael Urie

Homos is scheduled to close December 11, 2017