Tony Awards Hangover. Reasons To Be Prickly. The Week in New York Theater

Alan Cumming self-portrait. See "15" below for explanation.
Alan Cumming self-portrait. See “15” below for explanation.

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It’s hard to believe it was only a week ago that so many theatergoers felt euphoric after the Tony Awards – not so much for the winners (though there were surprises, some of them pleasant) but for how the show was received. The Tony broadcast has 20 percent more viewers than last year, and there were fewer complaints than most years (but still some — see “11” below.) Several of the big winners announced extensions or national tours.

It took a few days for a different tone to set in. Melissa Errico revealed what she clearly considered shoddy behavior by the Classic Stage Company after she took sick leave from her leading role in Passion. Neil LaBute personally insulted a critic who did not like his latest play “Reasons to be Happy.” Novelist Jonathan Franzen claimed New York theater as a bastion of sexism. We learned Lysistrata Jones is going to be made into a movie.

It wasn’t all ugly news. The Tony Awards announced a change next year that could mean the inclusion of Off-Broadway for the first time in 67 years. The first major play has been adapted for YouTube (see “16” below)

And Moss Hart’s “Act One” will be a musical on Broadway. That’s the memoir where Moss Hart wrote: “The theater is not so much a profession as a disease, and my first look at Broadway was the beginning of a lifelong infection.”

The Week in New York Theater

June 10, 2013

AChristmasStoryonTonysYou saw it on ‪The Tonys last night. Now ‪A Christmas Story will return to NYC,at The Theater at Madison Square Garden December 11 – 29

The ratings are in. The Tony broadcast had 7.24 million viewers, 20 percent more than last year.

Norman Buckley ‏‪@norbuck: It was such a great year for theatre. Maybe somehow that fact made its way out to the hinterlands.

Alia Jones-Harvey ‏‪@aleostar Phenomenal year of shows led to a great show last night! Glad that I DVRed it to watch over again tonight!


‪Tony best play winner ‪Vanya, Sonia Masha and Spike has extended its run to August 25th. Sigourney Weaver leaves July 28, replaced by Julie White.

It’s rotten that ‪”Vanya Sonia….”  has a limited run, but at least, unlike big ‪Tony winner ‪”Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”  you can still see it

Jonathan Mandell: Those of you planning a Tony drinking game connected to swipes at Smash, probably stayed sober last night.

Jonas-Olof Rosin ‏‪@JonasRosin:  Nah, I took the safer route and only stopped drinking when they mentioned Smash.


The Assembled Parties Samuel J. Friedman TheatreThe Assembled Parties with Tony winner ‪Judith Light has been extended through July 28.

Why do plays get short-shrift on the Tonys?

Maybe because it’s designed as a variety show. You don’t get drama on variety shows.

Jason Cochran ‏‪@bastable  In the ’80s, it did whole scenes. And it was great. Still remember ‘Lettice and Lovage’ and ‘Fences.’

Theresa M Collins ‏‪@TMCollinsPhD It’s a TV show & competing with NBA finals tips the mass appeal into overdrive

Miles Lott ‏‪@mlottjr‬  It was done long ago, with brief scenes, like James Earl Jones in Fences. Not impossible

George Pappas ‪@happygpappy  I wish they would do it again. I remember Spacey doing it poorly the year he hosted. That was the end of that!


Passion with Melissa Errico.‪

Classic Stage Company fired Melissa Errico,   inelegantly, because of her throat operation, and had only paid her $555 a week, she writes in her latest blog.

Terry Teachout ‏‪@terryteachout  For the record, I wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “I’ve never seen or heard a better Clara.”


TheMuppetsMusical?Alex Timbers,who directed ‪”Peter and the Starcatcher” for Disney, is pitching a stage musical using Muppets.

Other ‪Disney Theatrical adaptations in development: “Shakespeare in Love,” “Father of the Bride,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

2013 Tony winner ‪Kinky Boots sets sights on 2014: A national tour will begin next year in Las Vegas.

Harvey Fierstein  ‪@HarveyFierstein Stark Sands – Soul of a Man (‪@KinkyBootsBway):


June 26, ‪TKTS urns 40 years old with Times Square lunchtime celebration featuring ‪Forbidden Broadway,  Harvey Fierstein and Julie Halston

Christopher Dee ‏‪@Chrisx5x5 I went there the very first day and got tickets to That Championship Season

AnnwithHollandTaylorNYTheater‪Ann to play final performance on June 30 after 19 previews and 132 regular performances

My review of “Reasons to Be Happy”

Josh Hamilton and Jenna Fischer in Reasons To Be Happy
Josh Hamilton and Jenna Fischer in Reasons To Be Happy

Jenna Fischer’s last day as Pam Beesley in the TV series “The Office” was her first day on an Off-Broadway stage, in what could be called a play series. She portrays Steph in Neil LaBute’s “Reasons To Be Happy,” the same character whom we first saw on the same stage at the Lucille Lortel Theater screaming at her boyfriend Greg in LaBute’s 2008 (lower-case) play “reasons to be pretty.” That play moved to Broadway the following year. This play, directed by the playwright, shouldn’t.

My full review of Reasons to Be Happy

David Cote wrote a negative review of this play at Time Out New York, which said in part:

If Neil LaBute were to teach a course on playwriting, I bet his lesson plan would look something like this: “Week 1: Dumbing down characters to pad out dialogue and pump up conflict.” “Week 2: “Stringing together two-person scenes, no matter how monotonous it gets.” “Week 3: Embracing flat, shallow protagonists whose poor life choices are both predictable and banal.” …A wish for the future: Reasons to be Silent

LaBute wrote a comment beneath the review online:

david: actually i have taught writing courses at various universities and workshops and my lesson plan invariably begins by having students read the collected works of George Steiner, who was clever enough to remind us that “a critic casts a eunuch’s shadow.” some shadows, of course, are more portly than others but their effect on mankind is basically the same. brief and passing. keep enjoying the free tickets while they last. nl

(Why don’t playwrights ever call me names? I didn’t like LaBute’s play too, and I’m just as fat as David Cote)

Cote got his change for a retort:

I wasn’t surprised to see that Neil made a comment… but I was taken by the speed. Fifteen minutes! He might have written a new play in that time. If I were to review the comment, I’d say formulaic and lazily composed: one star. If he paid genuine attention to his critics, though, his work might improve.


James Lapine’s stage version of Moss Hart’s Act One begins March 20, 2014 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. Hart’s classic autobiography eloquently chronicles the playwright and director’s impoverished childhood and his determined struggle to escape poverty and forge a career in the theater . Act One will have sets by Beowolf Boritt, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Ken Billington, original music by Jeanine Tesori and sound by Daniel Moses Schrier.

Ethan Hawke stars in Macbeth (not solo) in October

OffBroadwayTonyThe Tony Awards May Finally Include Off-Broadway

An announcement on the Tony Awards website means that the Tonys, which has never honored Off-Broadway, may finally begin to do so, at least in a small way.

“The Awards Administration Committee has announced that starting with the 2013-2014 season, New York-based theatre companies can now be eligible to receive the Regional Theatre Award.

Nora ‏‪@nhousey02  That’s fantastic! There are so many amazing shows off-broadway

Tony Caselli ‏‪@TonyCaselli The risk, of course, is that an already NYC-centric industry just becomes more so.

NY/NJ Theater Critic ‏‪@PatrickJMaley  A better solution would have been to preserve regional as is and add a non-Broadway NYC category.

“The world most glaringly dominated by male sexism is…New York City theater”-Jonathan Franzen in letter to NY Times

So, is NYC theater a welcoming, progressive community? A catty, bigoted one? Both simultaneously? Not a community at all?

Addie Patterson ‏‪@survivorqueen I think it’s a mix of both

The Write Teacher(s) ‏‪@TheWriteTeach  Community. Hands down, a community. Anything else is just…misinformation.We’re thinking that we need different adjectives. Welcoming to artistry, the beauty of the transformative power of theatre..”Close minded?” Perhaps like any older tradition, change is sometimes met with hesitation and skepticism. 🙂

Val Sherman ‏‪@screenwriternyc I wish Franzen would have been verbose enough to back up his claim. He’s never at a loss for words.Number of female playwrights, directors, and producers much higher in theatre than in film or television.

Blake Delong ‏‪@blakedelong feels to me more like a contsellation of communities than one singular community, but for the most part they’re very welcoming.

Danny Carroll ‏‪@DannySt_Fortune  A “constellation of communities” always surprised to see each other it seems, like roving tribes in a desert.


Emma Watson (Hermione in Harry Potter), “I’d love to try theater. I’ve never done it before” except in her college, Brown.

Billboard Broadway cast albums chart for the week:

1 ‪@PippinMusical

2 ‪@MotownMusical

3 ‪@KinkyBootsBway

4 ‪@CinderellaBway

5 ‪@WICKED_Musical


Alan Cumming self-portrait. See "15" below for explanation.

Alan Cumming said of his picture: How i feel right now, at the prospect of two perfs of @MacbethBroadway today

Playwrights Annie Baker, Melissa James Gibson, Amy Herzog, talk at The Greene Space Wednesday at 7 p.m., $15

Howard Panter,head of Ambassador Theatre Group (UK company taking over Foxwoods Theater), will be knighted. Alas, in NYC, sir is a putdown…

 “I’m sorry, sir, I can’t help you.” “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” “May I help you sir?”(meaning: You don’t belong)
Happy 40th Birthday, Neil Patrick Harris, four-time Tony host, star of Cabaret, Proof,Assassins on Broadway. Good Samaritan of the American stage


Here’s to better Dads on Broadway. There’s a meanie in ‪Matilda; selfish in ‪Pippin; dead in ‪Annie.

“The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.” ― James Joyce, Ulysses ‪#Bloomsday

David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face, adapted for Youtube:

Part 1

Part 2

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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