Bombshells: Bette Midler Back on Broadway, Mary Poppins Popped, Fiona Shaw Meets Aladdin

Bette Midler, Sebastian Stan in Picnic, Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place, Ashley Brown of Mary Poppins
Broadway Week, clockwise from top left: Bette Midler, Sebastian Stan in Picnic, Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place, Ashley Brown of Mary Poppins

Bette Midler’s return to Broadway after three decades is one of three new Broadway shows announced this week, a week in which only one show announced its closing, even though it’s January, and two actually opened. The normal post-holiday doldrums seem to have finished. We are looking ahead:

How come you’re leaving Newsies for Motown the Musical?Ephraim Sykes: ‏‪Just time to move on.
How come you’re leaving Newsies for Motown the Musical?
Ephraim Sykes: ‏‪Just time to move on to new thingshave vanished.

Broadway Theater Guide Spring  2013

Off-Broadway Guide Spring 2013

Guide to New York’s Winter Theater Festivals 2013

Tickets on sale now for:

 Broadway Week, 2 tickets for the price of one, Jan 22-Feb 7

Off-Broadway Week, 2 tickets for the price of one to 30+ shows, Jan 28-Feb 10.

This week in theater:

January 7, 2013

Bette Midler returns to Broadway for first time in 30 years in John Logan’s I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers. (Sue Mengers was Hollywood talent agent who died in 2011) Opens April 24

Smash: Katherine McPhee playing  Broadway performer Karen Cartwright in the fake musical about Marilyn Monroe "Bombshell," which now has a real cast album.

Bombshell, the Marilyn Monroe Broadway musical in Smash, now has an actual cast album. (Broadway next?)

SuttonFosterinBunheadsSutton Foster, whom the world knows for her starring role on the TV series Bunheads, but we know for Anything Goes, Thoroughly Modern Millie,  Drowsy Chaperone, etc etc,  is taking questions on Twitter. Among her answers: Her dream role would be the Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods; the male role she would want to play would be the lead of “Sweeney Todd.” Her favorite

Show:Sweeney Todd

Diva: Patti LuPone.

Co-star:Gavin Creel/Joel Grey.

Songs: In Your Eyes, Making Pies


It’s official: Mary Poppins is closing on Broadway March 3, after 2619 performances, more than 6 years and 4 million viewers.

AladdinDisneyIt makes way for Aladdin

A revamped Aladdin is not the only Disney property heading for a Broadway stage, according to Michael Riedel. “In the pipeline” Hunchback of Notre Dame

FionaShawFiona Shaw in “The Testament of Mary” (Jesus’ mother) by Colm Toibin, on Broadway’s Walter Kerr Mar 26-June 16. Opens April 22

Rachel Hadley ‏‪@RachHadley: My wish list grows!

Theater Twitter Jeopardy from ‪Peter Marks (@petermarksdrama): Bette Midler, Fiona Shaw, Barry Manilow,Mike Tyson and Holland Taylor. Question?

David Sheward ‏‪@DavidSheward2  What stars are doing solo shows on Broadway this season?

The Laramie Project Cycle (original 2000 production plus Laramie 10 years later) by Tectonic Theater company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music  Feb 12-24

Archeologists have found remains of 2,000-year-old Roman theater in rural UK, seating 12,000! (How come THEY didn’t need mikes?)


What theater can learn from baseball: RESPECT for audience, says Samuel French in Howlround.

Hear, hear! He may be just an undergraduate directing major, but with a name like Samuel French, you should listen

samuel-frenchSamuel French, Inc.@MrSamuelFrench I second that statement! And did you know he’s also published by me?

Jonathan Mandell: The biggest breach of etiquette in theater these days is all these theater snobs putting down other people for breach of etiquette

To paraphrase Charles Schultz, theater snobs say: I love the theater.It’s theatergoers I can’t stand.

Ellen Burns (@StageElf) Assuming you’re not referring to people who want folks to not talk, eat & use cell phones during a show as “snobs,” right?

Jonathan Mandell: I am. Not because of their preference for order, but because of their unrestrained hostility & lack of understanding.

Ellen Burns: Hmmm~we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one~being quiet & allowing others to enjoy a show is just basic politeness

Jonathan Mandell: It’s also basic politeness not to start loud, angry fights with people because they’re talking.

I attended an autism-friendly performance, where some members could not keep quiet. Should they be banned from theater?

Ellen Burns: Absolutely not.

Jonathan Mandell: We need more creative solutions like that, not righteousness and hostility. The theater community should be inclusive.

Elliot returns home to Philadelphia to reconnect with his Puerto Rican family after his time spent serving in Iraq. Upon arriving, he finds his family in flux and his career prospects limited. When an online support group begins to overshadow his aspirati

My review of Water By The Spoonful

When Quiara Alegría Hudes’ “Water By The Spoonful” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last year, the standard response I heard was: What? Who?

“Water By The Spoonful” turns out to be a thoughtful, inventive, occasionally funny, at times moving story about addiction — about forgetting the unforgettable and forgiving the unforgivable in order to move on. It also explores the new ways we relate to one another – meaning, online – and the search for connection.  There are enough vivid characters, fine writing, and startling moments – including the story that explains the title — to make the production at Second Stage worthwhile theatergoing, even if not entirely satisfying.

Full review


first photograph of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Cotton Club Parade, the musical revue of jazz standards created for City Center’s  Encores! series, plans a Bway run in the fall

Manilow on Broadway  will still begin on January 18, and open January 24, but it’s closing’s been extended two weeks, to February 23

Oh no: 50 Shades of Grey is now a musical!. Luckily it’s a parody by the the theater company Baby Wants Candy,  Gramercy Theater, Jan 11-12

Playwright Adam Rapp is making his Broadway debut as a performer in Clifford Odets’ The Big Knife

Good news: Actor unemployment rate declined in 2012. Bad news: still at 28.5 percent, among highest of any group.

Theater for the New City will ceremonially burn its mortgage in ceremony with performances celebrating becoming debt-free. Saturday, January 26 5-7 pm

Arts leadership longevity: Lynne Meadows has been the artistic director of MTC (the Manhattan Theatre Club) for 40 years; Todd Haimes of Roundabout for 22 years; Andre Bishop at Lincoln Center Theater for 21 years.   Good or bad? ‪ 

In contrast: Newly hired Mark Packer is the fourth executive director in South Orange Performing Arts Center’s six-year history


KUSHNEROscar nominations complete list – Lincoln leads with 12, including best adapted screenplay by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) and eight for Les Miserables

Mat Johnson (‪@mat_johnson) Shocked my daughter didn’t get Oscar nod for “I Can’t Wear A Coat Over My Halloween Costume, It’ll Ruin My Life.”

Rory O’Malley is leaving The Book of Mormon on January 27: “Time to pass the torch…or sparkly pink vest”

Water By The Spoonful extends two weeks through February 10.


I believe theater artists aren’t cool, and shouldn’t pretend they are” Taylor Mac speaking at the symposium launching this years Under the Radar Festival.

Jason Zinoman ‏‪@zinoman Yes, only theater critics should pretend

Jonathan Mandell: I think there are some cool theater artists. Benjamin Walker.

Joe Thomas ‏‪@JoeThomasNYC‬ 

 Lin-Manuel Miranda is.

Advice on investing in theater by theater lawyer Ben Feldman quoting producer client

Investors in the original 1956 Broadway musical My Fair Lady have seen returns of almost 8,000 percent (Problem is most are dead). On the other hand, eighty percent of Broadway shows lose money.

Redefining success: Theater artists’ paths to success are a deep unoriginal rut, says Polly Carl, that we should no longer travel down


My review of The Other Place; Laurie Metcalf’s Awesome Transformation

Unlike “Wit” or “A Beautiful Mind” or “Proof” or “Next to Normal” or “Rabbit Hole” or several other such works to which it can be compared, “The Other Place” does not seem as rooted in a carefully-observed and painstakingly wrought depiction of illness or breakdown or grief. The playwright seems more engaged in creating a cat and mouse game with the audience, something with a slight whiff of “Deathtrap.” There is pleasure in this, but it is thinner on second viewing. Indeed, this puzzle might have come off as cold and almost unseemly given the subject matter were it not for Laurie Metcalf’s performance, which locates an emotional truth that is difficult to discern in the script.

Full review of The Other Place


Songwriters of the Golden Age. You can spot George Gershwin in this illustration by Al Hirschfeld. Can you identify Harold Arlen?
Songwriters of the Golden Age. You can spot George Gershwin in this illustration by Al Hirschfeld. Can you identify Harold Arlen?

Answer in my review of The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Music of Harold Arlen 

Cameron Mackintosh reportedly in talks with “an American producer” to bring his big 1992 flop Moby Dick to Bway “in next 2 years”

Ugly Betty star America Ferrara now in ugly play “Bethany” about bankrupt woman, in Women’s Theater Project’s new home at City Center, running until February 17

BarrioABCbyHudes“Hit The Wall” ,new play about Stonewall Riots (birth of gay rights movement), at Barrow Street Theater opens Mar 10

Former New York Times drama critic Frank Rich (1980-1993) is producing a documentary for HBO on Stephen Sondheim.

Lucky Guy is unlucky, says Michael Riedel in the New York Post, despite Tom Hanks. Star fatigue + ugly poster= relatively low advance sales

Playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes is also the author of a children’s book “Welcome to My Neighborhood:A Barrio ABC

” A is for Abuela/And abandoned car

..B is for the bottles that are smashed like falling stars

Y is for yams and yuca planted by my cousin Cuca./Z Street’s loud with zooming cars (They speed right through the crosswalk bars)


RussellHarvardfromTribesRussell Harvard of Tribes. Only one week left to see this amazing show in NYC


Stan as Hal and Grace as Made dancing in Picnic
Stan as Hal and Grace as Made dancing in Picnic

My review of Picnic

Are all single women to be pitied? Would an undisciplined drifter in the 1950’s have a torso with a sculpted six-pack? Did William Inge’s “Picnic” really deserve the Pulitzer Prize for Drama over all other plays and musicals that debuted in 1953, including Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”?

These are fair questions to ask while sitting through the third Broadway production of Inge’s play, now opening at the American Airlines Theater.  There is no disguising how dated and relatively slight the playwright’s script, nor anachronistic some of director Sam Gold’s choices.  But there is also no denying the power of a good cast – and this is a good cast, full of reliably stellar veterans and exciting newcomers — to fashion out of “Picnic” an enjoyable outing.


Full picnic review


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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