Spider-Man Deja Vu. Fringe Favorites. Soul Doctor. The Week in New York Theater

Week in New York Theater August 18
Scenes from Soul Doctor, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Great Timmy

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time ~ Thomas Merton

Spider-Man was back in the news this past week several times, and not, on balance, in a good way. “Soul Doctor” opened on Broadway, and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” the rock musical in Central Park, and a lesser-known musical, Timmy The Great, billed as intended for “revolutionaries of all ages,” opened at The Theater for the New City — check out my reviews of all three shows below.

Theater news as well involving Carole King, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Skerrit, Michael Urie, and Mae West.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, August 12, 2013

JJessieMuellerasCaroleKingessie Mueller will star as Carole King in Beautiful, opening in Broadway’s Sondheim Theater on Jan 12, 2014

CaroleKingMueller first wowed Broadway audience in On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever, co-starring with  Harry Connick Jr. She went on to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, then Nice Work If You Can Get It.

Carole King, now 71, wrote her first big hit at age 18. The Beatles covered her songs in their first album (in the UK)

So the musical Beautiful now has an opening date (Jan 12), a star (Jessie Mueller) AND a Twitter feed: @BeautifulOnBway

 Playwrights Horizons exciting 2013-2014 season  

Love's Labour's Lost Public Theater/Delacorte Theater

My review of Love’s Labour’s Lost

The team behind Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson has turned Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost into a rock musical, now opened at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and if you have to turn one of Shakespeare’s plays into a pop musical,  Love’s Labour’s Lost is not a bad choice, if for no other reason than for a long time it was one of the least-loved of Shakespeare’s comedies — so who cares if it’s toyed with?

Of course, you don’t have to turn any of Shakespeare’s plays into a pop musical – but even that’s covered in this production. In some ways, Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman have  fashioned their own entertainment — well-performed, enjoyable, busy and somewhat baffling.

Complete review of Love’s Labour’s Lost


Oprah in The Butler

“Broadway is definitely in my future. Nothing is set as of yet, but it’s there,” Oprah Winfrey, who is in a movie (“The Butler”) for the first time in 15 years, tells the Daily News http://nydn.us/1eHFDfE 

Oprah was a producer of “The Color Purple” on Broadway, which ran from 2005 to 2008, but she has never performed there.

Damon Intrabartolo

The search for a new Spider-Man is not just for Broadway. The settlement  with Julie Taymor means the show is launching in Las Vegas, on tour, and in Germany

Using the example of the call on the Metropolitan Opera to support LGBT rights, Douglas McLennan reflects on the difference between art and culture, between politics and values, and asks “Are Arts Leaders Cultural Leaders?”

Damon Intrabartolo, who co-wrote cult favorite musical  bare & was working on a new one, Ride, has died suddenly at age 39

Tom Skerritt
Tom Skerritt


Stings musical The Last Ship about unemployed shipbuilders trip around world aims to open on Broadway in the  Fall of 2014

The Nance with Nathan Lane, which just ended on Broadway, will be broadcast next year on PBS.

Tom Skerritt ( “Picket Fences” M*A*S*H etc.) will be making his Broadway debut in A Time To Kill

The playwright Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart) has won “master dramatist” award and $7,500 from  the Pen American Center




Ten years ago to the day, NYC and  entire Northeast had a blackout (which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create “In The Heights”)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel): Incorrect. I was inspired by the Washington Heights Blackout 2 years prior.

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater): You found the 2003 blackout uninspiring?

Lin-Manuel Miranda: I found the 2003 Blackout to be when producers finally stopped saying “This is unrealistic.”

Broadway lights dimmed at 8 p.m. for theater publicist Shirley Herz,who died Sun at 87.


Michael Urie as Barbra Streisand's employee Alex (and Streisand's hand running through Alex's hair) in "Buyer and Cellar"
Michael Urie

Matilda Sam S. Shubert TheatreBuyer and Cellar, starring Michael Urie, extends through January 5 at Barrow St Theater.

The original *Broadway* cast album of ‪Matilda will be on sale a thet Shubert Theater starting Sept 27 and in stores Oct 22

A Bed & A Chair: A NY Love Affair – Sondheim’s music performed by Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, New York City Center, Nov 13-17

Venus in Fur, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, and Tribes are among the most scheduled plays in regional theater for the next season, says Diep Tran of American Theatre Magazine.

Affirmations: The life-affirming aphorisms of ‪Billy Porter, Tony-winning star of Kinky Boots

e.g. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

Another Spider-Man injury

Daniel Curry, second from right, has reportedly been hospitalized after an injury. Christopher Tierney, second from left, was also injured during the show, back in December, 2010
Daniel Curry, second from right, has  been hospitalized after an injury. Christopher Tierney, second from left, was also injured during the show, back in December, 2010



My review of Soul Doctor 
What “Soul Doctor” gives to you, besides the music, are two compelling performances — Eric Anderson (a veteran of Kinky Boots and South Pacific) as Rabbi Carlebach, and Amber Iman, making her Broadway debut, as Nina Simone.  If this bio-drama can at times seem too pat to be credible or fully engaging, and too familiar — sparking unbidden flashbacks to everything from “The Jazz Singer” to “Hair” to (Heaven forbid) Kathie Lee Gifford’s “Scandalous” — Anderson and Iman reel us back to earth…or, rather, to someplace nearly spiritual….

Perhaps it is not desirable, or even possible, to fit the full measure of a complicated person such as the real Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach within the narrow form of musical theater. But it is possible, and desirable, to bring his beautiful, spirited music to Broadway.

Complete review of Soul Doctor



Once – again

The new leads of the musical Once, Arthur Darvill and Joanna Christie, sing three songs in the final lunchtime concert this summer of Broadway in Bryant Park.


Fringe favorites first week


MaeWestillustrationMae West was born 120 years ago today — and they’re doing her most famous play tonight, “Diamond Lil” 

Hello! My name is Elder Price And I would like to share with you the most amazing book~ The Book of Mormon’s 1,000th performance today!

Critics, says Michael Feingold (whom The Village Voice canned as a “luxury”) are being treated like Walmart workers


Theater’s unsung heroes: translators, says Terry Teachout. Otherwise, who would know Chekhov,Ibsen,Molière?

Joe Dziemianowicz, the theater critic of the Daily News, calls himself The Joe D Show on Twitter. But he actually hated being part of Murderfor Two; he was pulled up on stage to play a dead body — an example of what seems to be an accelerating trend of involving the audience.

Hard to believe only two more weeks left for Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

The Bridges of Madison County is just the latest pre-Broadway show nurtured at the Williamstown Festival. Others include Far From Heaven and Here Lies Love.


Timmy3kingsMy review of Timmy The Great

Timmy The Great, which is playing at Theater for the New City through September 1, bills itself as “a madcap musical for revolutionaries of all ages.” One could easily interpret this as meaning: It’s for children from the Upper West Side.

Actually, there’s much here that anyone could enjoy. The show, based on a 1999 children’s book about a kingdom where the adults and children switch roles, is stuffed full of lively dancing and inspired clowning, as well as tuneful songs by Gary Kupper, the same composer who turned Julianne Moore’s children’s book Freckle Face Strawberry into a hit stage show.

… Two hours — 25 musical numbers! — turned out to be more madcap entertainment than I wanted. Much like the child-like characters in the story, the creative team seems to have given in to every whim.

Full review of Timmy The Great

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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