Politics in Play. Spring 2013 theater heats up.

"Ann" (about Governor Ann Richards)  and "Hit The Wall" (about Stonewall) both opened this week.
“Ann” (about Governor Ann Richards) and “Hit The Wall” (about Stonewall) both opened this week.

Two plays opened this past week that both could be considered political, in very different ways. “Ann” written by and starring Holland Taylor, offers a look at the improbable political career of Texas Governor Ann Richards. “Hit The Wall” by Nick Holter is based on the Stonewall Riots that launched the modern gay rights movement.  Reviews of both below.

This has been a rich week for plays, all but one Off-Broadway, many of which already have been extended, including MTC’s The Madrid, Signature Theatre’s Old Hats, Irish Rep’s Donnybrook, and New York Theater Workshop’s Belleville.  

But Broadway will soon hog the spotlight. Over the next seven weeks, 18 shows will open on The Great White Way, which is almost half of all the shows that will have opened on Broadway this  full season (September to April.)

Opening this week on Broadway: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” Here’s their latest TV commercial.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, March 4, 2013

Montreal comedy festival Just for Laughs has created a theatrical arm., Just for Laughs Theatrical that is producing, among other shows, Kinky Boots, on Broadway

It doesn’t begin previews until Thursday, but Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last 5 Years” with Adam J Kantor and Betsy Wolfe, has already been extended to April 28th at Second Stages.

Broadway shows Spring 2013, in order of opening dates
Broadway shows Spring 2013, in order of opening dates

Take the poll: What show are you must looking forward to?


Passion, Sondheim’s creepy love story at Classic Stage, has been extend through April 14th.


A week full of first previews

Actress who plays Mrs. Wormwood, Lesli Margherita:  (@QueenLesli): This audience for our first Matilda preview is amazeballs.

Viva Forever, UK musical by Jennifer Saunders (AbFab) with Spice Girls songs, reportedly aiming for Broadway after major revisions.

Alec Baldwin on theater vs film:“We don’t just cook the food & serve it. You go out in the garden, you plant seeds & you grow it” (This was his response to Shia LaBeouf’s Tweets in Orphans spat)

Largest staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats will feature 3,000 performers in the United Kingdom on March 24th. (My precise definition of Hell.)


ValerieHarperValerie Harper, best-known for her TV role as Rhoda Morgenstern, but a veteran of eight Broadway shows, announces she has incurable brain cancer.

I’ve had a great run. I’m going to be 74. Life does not owe me a shred. I don’t want to go, but it’s the reality, and I’d love people to have less fear about death and encourage them to be here now.

“Nora Ephron’s Final Act” by her son Jacob Bernstein

Playwright Adam Rapp, who was going to make his Broadway debut as an actor in  The Big Knife, won’t. He is being replaced by C.J. Wilson. (“scheduling conflict.”)

Meanwhile, actress Amanda Peet has become a playwright, writing “The Commons of Pensacola,” which will starSarah Jessica Parker, in her first role on a New York stage in many years,  and maybe Blythe Danner. Scheduled for the 2013-14 of the Manhattan Theater Club.


Opening on Broadway’s Longacre on August 4: First Date, a musical comedy by Gossip Girl writer Austin Winsberg about finding love

New and FREE: Labyrinth Theater presents New York New York Festival, readings of plays on NYC plus playwright panels Mar 18-24

Rachel Weisz says she’ll soon make her Broadway debut; she won’t say in what. (Others say Pinter’s Betrayal with spouse Daniel Craig)

AnnwithHollandTaylorNYTheaterMy review of Ann

Ann Richards, who has come remarkably back to life thanks to Holland Taylor’s impressive impersonation of her at Lincoln Center, became a national celebrity and the governor of Texas after she lampooned the gaffe-prone patrician Republican presidential candidate during the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention: “Poor George, he can’t help it; he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

That most famous of her wisecracks is nowhere to be found in “Ann,” but another one from that convention speech is, and it is a better fit for the improbable career of a divorced mother of four and AA-attending alcoholic who became a national symbol and inspiration: Slyly pushing for a greater role for women in politics, she said “…if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did; she just did it backwards and in high heels.”

Full review of Ann


The Drama Desk Awards have just created a new awards category for projection design. (The Tony Awards to follow?)

First  StageFest, three-day festival of one-act plays,concerts,performance art Loews in Jersey City Mar 22-24

Mickey Mantle’s two sons announced they’ve asked David Leaf to write a play about the Yankees baseball legend, aiming for Broadway

Cast album of Kinky Boots is being recorded next week, and set to be released in May. Show opens April 4th.

Larry Pine is Walt Disney in Lucas Hnath’s play at Soho Rep, April 30-May 26, entitled: “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney”


What can you do with a degree from the Yale School of Drama? If you’re Dick Zigun, you can reinvent Coney Island. Gala tonight to repair Sandy damage of Zigun’s Coney Island USA.

Stephen Sondheim returns tonight to Symphony Space in an evening of piano music in which other composers give new interpretations of his songs/


Janine DiVita @divitaj Today we close #Drood. It’s brought so much JOY to my life. I am so thankful for the experience, and sad to see it go.


My review of Hit The Wall

Is it possible for “Hit The Wall,” a new play, to say something fresh about the Stonewall riots that sparked the modern gay rights movement, now that the president of the United States hasmentioned Stonewall in his inaugural address…“Hit The Wall” was bound to be a disappointment, and in that it doesn’t disappoint. But there are strengths in the production that somewhat offset the flaws.

Full review of Hit The Wall

Trey Anastasio of Phish, composer of forthcoming “Hands on a Hardbody,”

On making his Broadway debut. “I’ve said to some friends of mine that it’s like trying to parallel-park a cruise ship…I did not know the amount of work it was going to take. I didn’t know it was going to take four years and, you know, six days a week from 10:00 to 6:00. It’s thrilling, though.”

“I love writing music, I just love it. It’s like food.”

Full CBS interview with Trey Anastasio

“I’m trying to remember now, you must’ve been discovered on stage?” asked Rocca.

“You’re trying to remember? I’m trying to remember! I’m 81 now. It’s a good thing I wrote it down!”
….And she’s still on stage. In 2011, at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, she brought back the memories in “Life Without Makeup.”

(When is “Life Without Makeup” coming to New York?)

Full interview with Rita Moreno


All these brochures were in my mailbox in a single day


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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