New York Theater Week August 13 to August 20, 2012

Sam Shepard, Corey Cott and Kara Lindsay in “Newsies”, Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in “Private Lives,” Street performer Tim Intravia in Fringe show

In the dog days of August, we glance at  the Broadway 2012-2013 season in formation; so far, there is a list of some two dozen shows with theaters and set opening dates.

We also learn there are more movie star/playwrights than you might have guessed, why Broadway theaters are so uncomfortable and what the three big theater owners are doing about it.

We ogle the new lead in Newsies, preview “A Christmas Story” by the “Dogfight” team, gaze nostalgically at one of the most versatile theater people of the twentieth century, go on a Fringe binge, and watch the best 40 seconds in “Bring It On.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Steve Kazee of Once the MusicalThe cast recording of MCC Theater’s recent revival of Carrie! will be released Sept 25 from Sh-K-Boom

Grossing a million dollars a week since the Tonys, Once has now recouped, faster than any new Broadway musical in more than a decade

Is there a lesson about Mike Tyson on Broadway? The show “Undisputed Truth” grossed only about 60% of its potential; 40% of the seats were empty.


Heartless by Sam Shepard opens at Signature Theatre starring Gary Cole and Julianne Nicholson
Heartless by Sam Shepard with Gary Cole and Julianne Nicholson

1. What is your favorite Sam Shepard play or role?

Playwright Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard, whose “Heartless” is playing at the Signature

Doug Williams (‏‪@Doug_Williams27): True West all the way

Linda Parker (‏‪@lparkernyc) Buried Child. Harrowing.

David Lawson (@DTLawson): Cowboy Mouth, Geography of a Horse Dreamer, Curse of the Starving Class.

NY/NJ Theater Critic (‏‪ @PatrickJMaley):  Favorite is Buried Child if only because Dodge is a such a great character.

Howard Sherman (@HESherman): Buried Child

Robert John Garcia (‏‪@GarciaRobert):  I love Fool for Love.

Seattle Dramaturg (‏‪@DramaturgSEA): Out of recent ones (since Simpatico in ’93) I really liked Kicking A Dead Horse

2. Anybody else besides Sam Shepard both a playwright and a movie star? (I’m not sure Woody Harrelson counts, yet)

Jeremy F. Richter (@Jeremyfrichter):  Can’t forget the incomparable Wallace Shawn!

Jason Robert Brown (@MrJasonRBrown): Steve Martin, surely. Jeff Daniels as well.

Mark Amstrong (@markarmstrong4): Woody Allen. Eric Bogosian.

Emily (@Stagemaven): Zach Braff

@StageElf: Also: Jesse Eisenberg

Isaac Butler (@parabasis):  Zoe Kazan. Noel Coward.

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater): But Sam Shepard is the only playwright/movie star who has lived with both Patti Smith and Jessica Lange.

Seattle Dramaturg:   Although Sam Shepard, Steve Martin and Wallace Shawn all have relationships with Diane Keaton on film

Danny Bowes (@moviesbybowes):  Robert Shaw. Michael V. Gazzo (kind of)

Jaime Green (@jaimealyse):  I’ve never heard of Shaw or Gazzo as playwright or movie star.

Danny Bowes:   Both quite a big deal in the 70s.

From left to right: Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Jeff  Daniels, Zach Braff,  Michael V. Gazzo, Jesse Eisenberg, Wallace Shawn, Zoe Kazan, Woody Harrelson, Eric Bogosian, Noel Coward, Robert Shaw
Movie stars who are also playwrights (or playwrights who are also movie stars), besides Sam Shepard

Tuesday, August 14, 2012     

Corey Cott, the new lead of Newsies
Corey Cott

Jeremy Jordan is leaving Newsies September 4 to focus on his part in Smash. Replacement: newcomer Corey Cott. (Hear Cott sing two of the songs from the show.)

Broadway veteran Al Freeman Jr., best-known for playing Elijah Muhammed in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, dead at 78

Broadway Discomfort

Ways Broadway theaters are uncomfortable (eg legroom, brusque ushers, human traffic jams), and what the three Broadway theater landlords are doing about it.

To address the problem of unfriendly staff, some are providing hospitality training so that “ rather than hollering ‘No cameras!’ …ushers agreed they could explain that the set design is copyrighted but that photos shot in the other direction are allowed.”

A major problem: Theaters are old (most nearly a century), and people have literally gotten bigger since then.

Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters has installed cushions in the seats of the August Wilson Theater (home of “Jersey Boys”) “that tilt the pelvis forward and allow a person to sit further back, giving the feeling of more legroom.”

Another problem:Theaters and/or producers too cheap & shortsighted to fully accommodate the disabled (eg captioning)

Luke Weidner (@LukeWeidner):  It depends on what you mean by ‘fully’. They meet the requirements set forth by the ADA.

Jonthan Mandell: 6/29/12: Lincoln Center has settled a federal lawsuit for failing to provide adequate access for the disabled

Luke Weidner: Great that they’re being held accountable for the existing law. Capition expansion would need to be added to the ADA though

Jonathan Mandell My point: These theaters are not even meeting their legal requirements to the disabled without threat of federal lawsuits

Jeremy Bobb, Alexander Cendese in scene from The One-Armed Man in "Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote"
Scene in The One-Armed Man in “Harrison, TX: Three plays by Horton Foote”

My review of Harrison, TX: Three plays by Horton Foote

Those of us smitten two years ago by “The Orphan’s Home Cycle,” the Signature Theater Company’s epic production of nine of Horton Foote’s plays taking place in a small Texas town he called Harrison, cannot help but be drawn to “Harrison, TX” at Primary Stages, an evening of three more plays by Foote.

If not the matchless event of the Signature series, “Harrison, TX” is unquestionably worthwhile – well-staged, beautifully acted, full of humor and feeling.

Full review of Harrison, TX

Horton Foote’s Harrison, TX is ond of many offerings in Primary Stages’ Foote-a-thon (my phrase) this season.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marvin Hamlisch’s favorite song from “A Chorus Line”? “At The Ballet.” Idina Menzel sang it to 600 people at his funeral. “Marvin was a friend & mentor,but often felt like a 2nd father”

The actual Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will celebrate their 50th anniversary w/concerts at Broadway Theatre Oct 19-27. This is getting complicated. There’s 1. Jersey Boys, the musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. 2. the actual Franki Valli and the 4 Seasons now coming to Bway. 3.  The Midtown Men,  a singing group of former cast members of Jersey Boys

Cyndi Lauper/Harvey Fierstein musical Kinky Boots set to open at the Al Hirschfeld April 4, 2013

 Talk of Into The Woods  transferring to Broadway is nonsense, writes Michael Riedel in the New York Post.

As of today, The Lion King becomes the fifth-longest running show in Broadway history. I remember it vividly, and fondly.

Jodie Foster, who worked with Kristen Stewart when she was a child in “Panic Room,” rips media coverage of Stewart affair: I have neurotically adapted to the gladiator sport of celebrity culture,the cruelty of life lived as a moving target…Acting is about communicating vulnerability..How can you do that if you know you’ll be skewered?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood w/ Chita Rivera, Stephanie J. Block, Will Chase et al, will open Nov 13 at Studio 54. (2 weeks earlier than originally scheduled)

 Broadway in Bryant Park

Final concert of the summer

A Christmas Story

Bring It On

My favorite 40 seconds from Bring It On

ad for Mary Poppins

Could somebody explain this slogan? What is more than Broadway?

Ryan Brinson ‏‪(@RyanCBrinson):  It’s a horrible ad campaign. So is the new Mamma Mia campaign.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nora Ephron dies and  producer says Lucky Guy still aims for Broadway. Now the same with Marvin Hamlisch and Nutty Professor. Does this ever actually happen before — a show whose creator has abruptly died ever made it to Broadway?

Aubrie Fennecken ‏‪(@AubrieF), Katherine Nicole ‏‪(@itwontbelongnow) Hope Dellon (@hopedellon)   Becca Brinkley ‏‪@babybrinks Ryan Marcone ‏‪@ryanmarcone Jason Robert Brown :  Rent!

OK, yes, Rent is classic case, but that show was finished and about to open in NYC when Jonathan Larson died.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in Coward’s play “Private Lives,” 1930.

The exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center on Noel Coward ends today

 Ghost closes today on Broadway, after 136 regular performances. I’m one of the few NY critics who liked it. is on Saturday. The 24 lottery winners today will get their tickets for free.

Tim Intravia makes his living as a Silver Statue in Times Square
From Busk Till Dawn at the New York Fringe Festival

My Fringe binge (reviews in Back Stage):

#MormonInChief  A Mormon running for president says something provocative in church that a congregant Tweets. The largest moral lesson of “#MormoninChief” may be: Don’t be misled into thinking something will be entertaining just because its title has a Twitter hashtag or the word “Mormon” in it.

An Interrogation Primer is a chilling, thought-provoking stage adaptation of an essay by an American military interrogator about his experiences in Iraq.

From Busk Till Dawn is Tim Intravia’s uneven one-man Fringe Festival show based on his seven years making a living as a street performer in Times Square.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ending today: End of the Rainbow. Dogfight

Newsies Envy

Addams Family national tour cast sings Newsies “Carry the Banner” with changed lyrics: We want to be on Newsies!

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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