Must Actors Be 1. Narcissists and Opportunists 2. White 3. Human?

NewYorkTheaterWeekActorIdentitiesA debate over whether actors and other artists must be narcissists and opportunists, sparked by yet another story about Lena Dunham of “Girls”; a new report on the racial make-up of performers on New York stages; reports of champion dog starring in a Broadway show and auditions for cats for another – that’s what’s been going on this week, as chronicled below.

GettingMarriedTodayonGleeDid you catch Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Married Today” from Company on Glee? See it below. Also: Jane Lynch on Broadway?

KinkyBootsposterOne more day for my ticket giveaway contest to Kinky Boots, whose music is by Cyndi Lauper, making her Broadway songwriting debut. That is what prompted the question:  What singer/songwriter would you like to see writing a show for Broadway, and/or performing in one? 

You need not enter the contest to find some of the answers intriguing.

Ann Holt ‏@mordyth I was hoping to see more theatrical types of answers. Adam Guettal or Scissor Sisters. So many pop performers.

Jonathan Mandell ‏@NewYorkTheater Somebody did mention Scissor Sisters. But that’s what was exciting, that fans of cutting-edge musicians want to see them write for Broadway

The Week in New York Theater

February 11, 2013

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Richard Rodgers TheatreShe’s done plays by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams on Broadway. What’s next for Scarlett Johansson? “I just want to play Norma Desmond…my dream role”


Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson team Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman have  created a new musical based on Shakespeare’s “Love Labour’s Lost ” that will be presented as part of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park this summe in Central Park. Second play: Comedy of Errors with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater

Coming to Broadway?

LeslieUggamsLeslie Uggams says on her website she’s going to  star in “Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Story” on Broadway in the fall.

“I hope to be coming to New York to do a musical this summer.I have not inked the deal but I’m teasing it”~Fox’s Jane Lynch.

Peter Marks ‏@petermarksdrama But she can’t sing. Oh, well, what’s the difference any more?

KevinGrayBroadway veteran  Kevin Gray (Phantom, King & I, Jesus Christ Superstar) died last night of a heart attack at age 55.

Both attendance and grosses plummeted last week on Broadway, because of the snowstorm and normal February slump. Biggest drop: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Patti LuPone taking her cabaret act Faraway Places to faraway places,then Carnegie Hall 11/7

“Crowdfunding” using Kickstarter, RocketHub Indiegogo gets shows and cast albums made. Example: “Now Here This”  


New York Theater and Diversity

Minority representation on NY stage has increased two percent says a report by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, but they are still under-represented in proportion to the population of New York City

Cast makeup on Broadway + 16 non-profit NY theaters:

16 percent African-American (23 percent population in New York)

3 percent Latino (39 percent)

3 percent Asian (13 percent)

77 percent white (33 percent)

How Actors Equity pushed for racial equality in era when Paul Robeson starred on Bway but barred from Sardis 

Rent opened  17 years ago today at the New York Theatre Workshop, a good time for the American Theatre Wing to announce the winners of this year’s Jonathan Larson Award:  writing team Joshua Salzman & Ryan Cunningham; composer Kamala Sankaram

“X Factor” the musical is in the works in UK, says Michael Riedel in the New York Post, with Simon Cowell a producer. The Simon Cowell character sings a song “Falling in Love With Myself”

“The Man,” musical about rise and fall of a fictional musical superstar (produced by 4 who worked w/Michael Jackson) aiming first for Las Vegas, then on the road, and then, if all goes well, Broadway

Animals on Broadway

Banana Joe in Edwin Drood

1. Banana Joe, Westminster’s Best in Show dog, debuts on The Mystery of Edwin Drood

2. Anybody wind up auditioning their cat for role in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

Allie Cornblath ‏@AllisonSarah1  I’m taking my cat to the audition today!

Please tweet us a pic and tell us why it should star

Madeline the cat

Allie Cornblath: This is Madeline and I think she’d be great for the role bc she’s gorgeous and a good listener.

Jonathan Mandell: But can she sing?

Allie Cornblath: She can learn, I’m sure 🙂

Jonathan Mandell: Actually it’s a straight play, so your cat shouldn’t have to sing. I wonder if  Actors Equity has rules about this.

Actors Equity ‏(@ActorsEquity): We support teaching an old cat new tricks


Aaron Carter and Addi McDaniel in The Fantasticks
Aaron Carter and Addi McDaniel in The Fantasticks

Love Lessons from the Stage: Can theater teach us anything about love?

For Love, Laoisa Sexton’s play about 3 women’s search for love in Dublin “no matter what it costs.” Irish Rep, begins March 13 

“Lucy Loves Me, ” a new play by Migdalia Cruz, Intar Theatre, Feb 22-March 24

Questlove will be speaking with David Byrne about what shapes music (like love?) February 26 at Public Forum at the NYU Skirball Center.  

Illinois Senate just passed same-sex marriage by a vote of 34-21. Now on to the Illinois House. A Valentines Day Gift

Love and Theater, Love of Theater including two videos and the lyrics of the MOST romantic Broadway song ever, according to everyone from Streisand to Angela Lansbury to Corey Cott.

Anybody see Glee’s version of Stephen Sondheim’s (I’m Not) “Getting Married Today” from the musical “Company”? (I suppose to say so is to acknowledge that you still watch Glee.)


RitaMorenomemoirShould churches invest in Broadway?  Foursquare Church lost two million dollars in Scandalous, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rita Moreno  in Conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda to discuss her new memoir, at Barnes and Noble (86th and Lexington), March 15

Only $150,000 worth of tickets sold so far for  Bette Midler’s I’ll Eat You Last, 1/3 to 1/5 of hoped-for

Culture Craver ‏@craverco: Crazy since it’ll be her first time on Broadway in 33 yrs !

Retired Rep Barney Frank wasn’t appointed Senator but he DID play one in Encores! production of Fiorello!  

Too much testosterone in Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross? All-female cast reading w/ Robin Wright, Allison Janney et al at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 21.


Are artists narcissists and opportunists?

LenaDunhaminGirlsWriting about Lena Dunham and Girls in New York Magazine, Don’t Call Lena Dunham ‘Brave’ Brian McGreevy made two general observations about artists:

“Narcissism is as essential to the artist’s temperament as competition to the athlete’s”

“…all art is a product of shameless opportunism that deserves to be applauded”

Is this true? Must all artists be narcissists and opportunists?

Brandon David Wilson ‏@Geniusbastard It certainly seems that way. If they aren’t, they get bogged down in living life.

Terry Teachout (@TerryTeachout): No, it’s nonsense. Many are–some famously so–but they don’t have to be. What they MUST have is a streak of ruthlessness.

Isaac Butler ‏@parabasis There is I feel no excuse for artists acting like assholes but being an asshole doesn’t make you a bad artist

Terry Teachout: Of course. Fortunately, it’s not compulsory.

LilEsBella ‏@LilEsBella Their madness is more tolerable to me.

Josh Lamon ‏@JoshLamon: Not true at all. Some choose to be. They find themselves alone“


Ageism is rampant in theater, says director Jonathan Miller,78. “…you don’t get jobs after a certain age” 

“If politics is the art of the possible, theater is the art of the impossible”~ Herbert Blau.


The Laramie Project Cycle- Part 2

My review of The Laramie Project Cycle

Many people in Laramie, Wyoming don’t think that Matthew Shepard was murdered in their town in 1998 because he was gay — they think that he wasn’t the victim of a hate crime, according to the extraordinary two-part work of theater and journalism, “The Laramie Project Cycle,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through February 24th. They believe this even though a new federal hate crime law is named after Shepard, even though the police who investigated the crime say the proof is conclusive, even though his murderer admits it….

Part II (with separate admission) is “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later,” based on interviews when the company returned to find out what had changed, and what hadn’t.It is an inspired idea whose resonance goes beyond the story of this one murder or this one town, beyond even homophobia and hate.  The entire cycle, but especially Part II, comes close to offering some fresh insight about human nature.

Full review of The Laramie Project Cycle

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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