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Lucky Guy. Kinky Boots. Broadway Beasts

Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, Billy Porter in Kinky Boots, Porridge the dog in Pippin.

Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, Billy Porter in Kinky Boots, Porridge the dog in Pippin.

BroadwayOpeningsApril2013Lucky Guy and Kinky Boots opened on Broadway last week, Matilda is opening this week — one of a dozen Broadway shows still to open this month, to finish the Broadway Spring 2013 season, a season marked by an unusual number of non-human cast members. Below: a poll to choose your favorite Broadway beast.

Orlando Bloom and Rachel Weisz will both be making their Broadway debuts — Weisz in a cast that includes her husband Daniel Craig.

New York theater is not just Broadway — not even in April.  Nominees for Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway were announced. The League of Independent Theater (aka Off-Off Broadway) held its first-ever political candidate forums to address the issues facing some 50,000 independent theater artists in New York.

All that was good news. This was also a week of bad news, if you care about arts criticism.

The Week in New York Theater

April 1, 2013

orlando-bloom-romeoOrlando Bloom and Condola Rashad will star on Broadway in “Romeo and Juliet.” The production, which will also feature Jayne Houdyshell and Joe Morton, opens September 19 at Richard Rodgers. Bloom (“Lord of the Rings,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) will be making his Broadway debut. Rashad, the daughter of Phylicia Rashad, made a splash in “Stick Fly” and is about to performer in “The Trip to Bountiful”

Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson will announce the nominees for the Tony Awards on April 30th at 8 am from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. 

Lucky Guy 1 Broadhurst Theater

My review of Lucky Guy

“Journalists aren’t nearly as interesting as they think they are,” David Eisenhower once said, a quote that Nora Ephron cited favorably in her final media column for Esquire in 1977. This was before Ephron became a movie director and screenwriter, and long before she wrote “Lucky Guy,” her play about the late tabloid columnist Mike McAlary. “Lucky Guy” is now opening at the Broadhurst starring Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut.

Ephron, whose play is being produced posthumously,  obviously changed her mind about journalists, for “Lucky Guy” depicts New York City newspaper columnists and editors who find each other fascinating.  Theatergoers are likely to find them less so.

That is why “Lucky Guy” is luckiest in having snagged Tom Hanks to return to the stage after an absence of decades.  He is certainly the reason why this script made it to Broadway. The production is also lucky to have George C. Wolfe directing, for he almost redeems what is otherwise a largely thin, plodding endeavor full of boozy sentimentality. He does this by injecting some clever stage business and a few well-orchestrated moments — and by having hired a first-rate cast.

Full review of Lucky Guy, including photo gallery

2

March 2013 Theater Quiz

March 2013 theater quiz — test how well you were paying attention.

Sample question: Who are Smith and Clarke?

  •  A new song-writing team
  •  The law firm representing Julie Taymor in her continuing lawsuit against the producers and composers of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
  •  The producing team trying to get new investors for Rebecca
  •  18th century New World explorers who are the subject of a forthcoming musical
  •  The stars of Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Richard Rodgers TheatreStars are no guarantee:  “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” starring Scarlett Johansson did not recoup its $3.6 million capitalization during its 15-week run.

Astoria is a growing center for the arts

Duet between Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty in Smash

3

Milo O’Shea, classic Irish-born character actor, veteran of 10 Broadway shows, has died at age 86. (Loved him in The Verdict)

RichardGreenbergplaywrightBreakfast At Tiffany’s, Assembled Parties, Far From Heaven…all by Richard Greenberg

— and all opening within a few weeks of one another in New York.

4

Roger-red-seats

Roger Ebert, 6/8/1942 – 4/4/2013

Film critic Roger Ebert has died at age 70. ‪@ebertchicago is no more. His last film review was five days ago. His last Tweet was yesterday. He died on the day after his 46th anniversary as a film critic! Here’s what he wrote yesterday.  The optimism makes you cry.

LucilleLortelplaynominees

Nominees for 2013 Lucille Lortel Awards for Off-Broadway

Giant, just nominated for a Lucille Lortel award, is getting a cast album in May

Kinky Boots 8

My review of Kinky Boots

Is it a shock to say that “Kinky Boots” just isn’t kinky enough?

It could have been. Harvey Fierstein wrote the book, he who began his career as a 300-pound teenage drag queen on the Lower East Side. Cyndi Lauper is making her Broadway songwriting debut, she who began as the girl with the tie-dye colored hair who just wants to have fun…..

The stage version delivers a couple of stand-out performances; a few touching moments; several catchy melodies presented with verve and panache in a diverse score of genuine pop tunes — one of which, “Sex Is In The Heel” is already a certified hit in the clubs — flavored by funk, disco and even a tango.

“Kinky Boots” is professionally put together, it’s entertaining…and it’s both safe and familiar.

Full review of Kinky Boots

5

Rachel Weisz and Daniel CraigIt’s official: Daniel Craig will star with wife Rachel Weisz in Broadway revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, at the Ethel Barrymore Barrymore opening November 3. Weisz (The Bourne Legacy, The Constant Gardener) will be making her Broadway debut.  Craig (best-known as James Bond) appeared on Broadway in 2009 in “A Steady Rain.”

Remember Rob McClure from Chaplin? He joins Tony Danza in Jason R Brown’s “Honeymoon in Vegas” at the Papermill Playhouse, aiming for Broadway

On American Songbook with Michael Feinstein on PBS, ‏Stephen Sondheim said his favorite composers are George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

A brief history of applause — Nobody is sure how applause began, or when — babies applaud; applause is mentioned in the Bible — but we all know where it wound up: In the theater.

Speaking Theater to Power

 

John Clancy, executive director of the League of Independent Theater, which conducted its first ever political candidate forums.

John Clancy

The League of Independent Theater held its first political candidate forums last month, and is planning to make endorsements in New York City political races. With some 50,000 independent theater artists in New York City, roughly 86 percent of them regular voters, the league’s executive director John Clancy says he is convinced that an organized voice can make a difference

Backstage is laying off its theater critic and eliminating all theater reviewing in the publication by the end of the month.

Howlround dedicated the week to essays on theater criticism.

Last words of Matilda author Roald Dahl. He was not afraid of dying: “It’s just that I will miss you all so much…Ow, fuck!”

6

New, wonderful-sounding series from New York City Center: “Encores! Off-Center.”  Great musicals for $25

The Beasts of Broadway

Best Broadway Beast Poll

How to keep old shows feeling like new:

“Hands down, when you’re in a long-run show, the best thing that happens is there’s turnover in cast,” says Wicked stage manager Meredith Abel. “….those influxes of difference make everybody, like, step up.”

7

All The Way by Robert Schenkkan , about LBJ,wins 2013 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award for Best New Play produced outside of NY

The New York Shakespeare Exchange’s Sonnet Project, Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets filmed in NYC locations, kick-off party April 26 at  The Drama Bookshop. 

Closing today: Annie Baker’s The Flick, at Playwrights Horizons, which sparked complaint and controversy

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About 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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