Scarlett Johansson Faces Broadway, Tom Hanks Face on Broadway: The Week in New York Theater

New York Theater Week January 14 to 20: Norbert Leo Butz, Anna Deavere Smith, Scarlett Johansson, Audra McDonald, Smash, Tom Hanks
New York Theater Week January 14 to 20: Norbert Leo Butz, Anna Deavere Smith, Scarlett Johansson, Audra McDonald, Smash, Tom Hanks

Scarlett Johansson made her sophomore debut on Broadway, a Broadway marquee is replaced with Tom Hanks’ face, and indie theater artist Taylor Mac lays out all that “I believe” about the theater for the visitors from The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) at the Under the Radar Festival. Also: Theatre Row settles a lawsuit from the State Attorney General, Norbert Leo Butz comes back from the “Dead” in two different ways, Audra McDonald gets a new gig, and fans of Janis Joplin and Constantin Stanislavsky (or Konstantin Stanislavski) both have something to celebrate.

This week in New York theater:

January 14, 2013

Big Fish, a new musical based on the 2003 film,  is opening on Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater on October 6 directed by Susan Stroman a with cast of 27, including. Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin, Bobby Steggert

Broadway star Sean McDermott (Grease etc) has come up in the world. He’ll be Dr. Hannibal Lecter when Silence the Musical returns starting Jan 19

My apologies for doing this to you: first hour of 2-hour season 2 premiere episode of  Smash  


Settlement in Attorney General suit v. Theatre Row for discriminating against disabled in ticket purchasing 

Nella Vera ‏(@spinstripes): There have been lawsuits in other states as well. Theaters know they need to solve the ticketing issues and many are trying.

Jonathan Mandell: I don’t get why it’s such a struggle for theaters to comply with the law and be fully accessible.

Nella Vera: It is the expense most of the time. Retrofitting old theaters is hard…. I think most theaters are very aware and want to comply and spend a lot of time trying to find solutions.


Jason Alexander, Tovah Feldshuh in Richard Rodgers 1970 musical about Noah (of Ark fame), “Two By Two,” February 15-17 at York Theatre

Mel Brooks still working on Blazing Saddles as Broadway musical,thinks timing is right “now that Django Unchained has used the N word”

“Live from Lincoln Center” this season on PBS, with new host Audra McDonald:

AudraMcDonaldLivefromLincolnCenterThe songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb, with Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley,Joel Grey and Chita Rivera, February 15

Kristin Chenoweth: The Dames of Broadway March 24

Josh Groban April 12

“Stephanie Blythe: We’ll Meet Again – The Songs of Kate Smith” April 19

Carousel April 26

Audra McDonald May 24.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway as Jean Valjean and Fantine in Les Miserables the movieThe commercial success of the Les Miz movie has sparked a debate over the worth of musical theater in general (unfairly, I think)…

David Sexton: How can anyone who loves music enjoy musicals? 

“The idea of people acting & then singing at the same time, & quite possibly dancing too, repels us.” 

Irene Patino ‏@Me_n_Mr_Guzman Ha! Who pissed in his Cheerios?

Haleh Roshan (@halehroshan)  Yikes. Don’t think that Sexton piece is a legitimate debate, it’s just a rant.

Jonathan Mandell Perhaps, but he’s not alone. I know people who feel the same way.

Lyn Gardner: Is it too easy to kick musical theatre?

 “West Side Story is as great as Romeo and Juliet, and My Fair Lady as good as Shaw’s Pygmalion…. Bad musical is harder to endure than a bad play, but that’s only because there’s so much more to get right, and can go wrong.”


Anne Hathaway will reportedly star in film Taming of the Shrew rewritten by Abi Morgan (Iron Lady) set in mid-20th century Italy

  GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award nominees Broadway/Off-Broadway: Bring It On; Cock; The Columnist; The Whale Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Nobody Loves Me, Itamar Moses’s musical comedy about a philosophy student on reality dating show, to open summer at Second Stage Theater.

 Ninety-seven percent of arts groups use social media,but many see a Dark Side: public criticizing more,demanding free art 

“Always give them the old fire, even when you feel like a squashed cake of ice” ~ Ethel Merman, born today in either 1908 or 1909

IBelieveByTaylorMac1Complete text of Taylor Mac’s I Believe

I believe, as a theater artist, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  Because I believe, as a theater artist, I’m not a teacher; I’m a reminder.  I’m just trying to remind you of things you’ve dismissed, forgotten, or buried.

I believe if NYC had no art and only Wall Street, nobody would want to live here.  And so I believe 10% of all Wall Street salaries should go to artists.

I believe my work and all “experimental work”, is commercial theater.  I believe the non-profit sector is and has been incredible but that it’s taught audiences that theater is something most people won’t want to see.

Monica Bauer ‏(@Monicadrama): Thanks, every playwright should start each day by reading Taylor’s manifesto out loud, like pledge of allegiance

All three of Quiara Alegria Hudes’ plays in Elliot Trilogy, including Pulitzer winner Water By The Spoonful, to be performed at Second Stages on January 27th only

bloodspurtTips on making your own stage blood (Hershey’s chocolate syrup + Kool Aid dark cherry works nicely) 

Django used hundreds of gallons of blood in ‘blood bags’ strapped to actors, set off by little explosives 


Stanislavskyat150Stanislavsky, who revolutionized modern acting, was born 150 years ago today. Without him, Brando would never have muttered

Robert Falls (@RobertFalls201): Hangin’ with my homie Stanislavsky at his 150th birthday party. I’m in Moscow with  a vodka in one hand and my iPhone in the other!

Tonight: John Lithgow stars in live broadcast of National Theatre’s “The Magistrate” in movie theaters throughout the U.S.

Five steps to get your (college-age) pals to stop hating theater. eg show videos from Joe’s Pub, or with cursing 

Flu has hit Broadway hard. At Newsies, “we can cough in character.” Others try home remedies/superstitions

Opening April 1,  Lucky Guy with Tom Hanks was supposed to run only through May 19. It’s been extended to June 16

ButzMemoryandMayhemNorbert Leo Butz has come back from the Dead(Accounts) to record his gig at 54 Below.Memory Mayhem is his first album: “I intended to be a recording artist & a classical actor”when Butz moved to NYC in 1996. But then “Rent” and Broadway and life intervened

South Park/Book of Mormon’s Parker & Stone setting up their own studio. Reportedly, their 1st project is ‘likely’ to be The Book of Mormon film

I don’t see how Book of Mormon film could work as well as the stage musical — unless the whole thing was a spoof of Les Miz film

Reach out to theatrical colleagues abroad and get grants of $5,000 or $10,000 from TCG.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Richard Rodgers TheatreMy review of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof

“Cat On A Hat Tin Roof” with Scarlett Johansson and Benjamin Walker could not possibly be so dull, I said during the first intermission; I just must be tired….

Those people who know “Cat” only from the 1958 movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman are at something of a disadvantage. The performances are so indelible – and so easily available from Netflix or the local library or the occasional showing on TV – that it is difficult to tolerate a production where the actors offer a different interpretation… much less when they seem less alive.
On the other hand, the screenplay by Richard Brooks and James Poe scrubbed Williams’ play clean of all references to homosexuality, wiping out a context that gives the story more clarity and greater force. Though not explicit by today’s standards, there is more in the text than I had remembered

Full review


Rich Little, once ubiquitous impressionist, now 74, hoping to bring his solo Vegas show, Jimmy Stewart & Friends, to Broadway.

Anna Deavere Smith, a theater artist I revere, has won the $300,000 Gish Prize. (Past winners: Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller,Robert Redford.)


Cole Porter’s Can-Can, 1953 Broadway musical that made Gwen Verdon a star, is reportedly aiming for Bway w/new book in 2014

Tony Kushner is “slowly starting” on a new play but his “film stuff” comes first (working w/Spielberg on another history film) For the Lincoln screenplay, Kushner wrote more than 1,000 pages, whittled to 150. ” I could work on Lincoln the rest of my life.”

Janis Joplin 70Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town

I’m counting on you Lord, please don’t let me down

Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?

Janis Joplin would have turned 70 years old today.

Bring back “Love, Janis”, the downtown musical about the life and music of Janis Joplin!

Pasadena Playhouse ‏@PasPlayhouse  “One Night With Janis Joplin” will be at Pasadena Playhouse, 3/15 – 4/11.

They’ve listened to the criticism: Tom Hanks’ face is now on Lucky Guy marquee. Gone is the red lipstick



Playwright Jason Greene gets inspired by visiting websites of theaters: Shelter, The Amoralists, Ugly Rhino, The Flea. I get hope by reading that other playwrights are getting produced

Jonathan Mandell: That might further irk a lesser human than you.

Jason Greene (@TheJasonGreene): I have my jealous moments.But when I see a show & get caught up in it, it kick starts my creative process.

Closing today: Glengarry Glen Ross, Lincoln Center Theater’s Golden Boy, Tribes.  Peter and the Starcatcher is closing on Broadway, but moving Off-Broadway to the New World Stage.

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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