The Simpsons and Shakespeare. New Spider-Man. Drunken Betty Buckley. Week in New York Theater

Elmo looks shocked to be in the company of such aristocrats of the theater as Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. It’s not the only odd pairing: Muhammad Ali’s friendship with Stepin Fetchit is the subject of a new play — reviewed below, along with reviews of a new musical based on “The Simpsons,” and a “new” Horton Foote play that marks the return of Betty Buckley to a New York stage.

The entire new Broadway season is full of pairings — Sir Patrick and Sir Ian are in a pair of plays by Beckett and Pinter performed in repertory; Mark Rylance is in two Shakespeare plays, also in repertory — part of a season heavy with the Bard (see Shakespeare Up The Wazoo below) The Romeo and Juliet that opens this week on Broadway is one of three opening at practically the same time.

News of new cast members for Pippin and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

And a new ticket giveaway contest — to A Time To Kill

The Week in New York Theater

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips reviews August: Osage County the film:  “The film’s not a disaster, or a total dullard, in the way of too many recent filmed plays (“Proof,” for one). But “August: Osage County” comes to life, to cinematic and dramatic life, only in fits and start.”

August: Osage County playwright Tracey Letts fighting to restore ending of August Osage County film to same as play. Producer:”tested bad”

Terry Teachout ‏@terryteachout Art? Who said anything about art? We don’t do art here.
Jesse Shade ‏@shadeybaby Changing an ending to make “Joe Schmo” feel good as he leaves the theater is some insulting bullshit. Fuck the Weinsteins.
Greg L ‏@tohu777  Letts’ “Bug” & “Killer Joe” films w/Friedkin were really good – this is ridiculous…
Ric Fouad ‏@ricfouad Does this mean Pulitzer committee gets do-over? I know Nobel Peace Prize committee already wants one. Trend?
Jenny Lyn Bader ‏@JennyLynBader No, the prize was well-deserved. But it raises important questions about adaptation, genre, mass tastes.

For the first week of previews for Little Miss Sunshine in October, tickets will be $19.79 (the year ‪Second Stage Theater was founded.)

Second Stage Theatre ‏‪@2STNYC Visit our box office (305 W 43rd St.) or call 212.246.4422 – ‪#LittleMissSunshine preview week is Oct 15-20
Sam Payne Garland ‏‪@SamPayneGarland Sweet!! Now I know how to celebrate my birthday!! ‪


“A lot of theatre is quite boring,” says Sean Holmes of UK’s The Lyric Hammersmith.  In order to make it more interesting, ‪The Lyric Hammersmith is refusing to tell audiences the titles of any of its shows this season ‪

Has any show become a hit, or missed becoming a hit, due at least in part to its title?

Robin Riegelhaupt ‏‪@reviewingdrama  I would imagine the “Bloody Bloody” part of BBAJ turned off some squeamish theatergoers. Their loss!
Scott A Hutchins ‏‪@scottandrewh Barefoot in the Park, Damn Yankees, As Bees in Honey Drown, Beautiful Thing (sounds XXX)
Natalie ‏‪@NatKatNYC Hands on a Hardbody. Name was a huge turnoff to tourists/non-theatre people.
Thomas Terence ‏‪@siblings_at_law  The title “Urinetown” immediately caught my attention.



She subbed for Andrea Martin during a vacation. Now Tovah Feldshuh will take over the role of Berthe in Pippin starting September 24


Holler If Ya Hear Me, musical using Tupac Shakur’s music, is ready for Broadway, says Kenny Leon; waiting for available theater

Jason Robert Brown writes a song for the Cookie Monster

When is a “world premiere” not a world premiere?

National Innovation Summit for Arts & Culture, 27 “talks” in Denver AND online FREE  Oct 20-23

One theater lost its lease. Another theater agreed to rent spare space to it for cheap:So much support from corporations, donors etc has been cut back that artists have to watch out for each other~ Damaso Rodriguez @damaso_rod


Click on photo to see enlarged 

Shakespeare up the wazoo

New York Times guide to all the Shakespeare this season

JeremyIronsandTomHiddlestonTheHollowCrownFour-part action-packed TV mini-series of Shakespeare’s history plays (Richard II, HenryIV1&2, Henry V) begins on PBS tomorrow night

I’m not the youngest actor to play Romeo, or the oldest, but I couldn’t have done justice to the role before now~Orlando Bloom

Elizabeth ‏@studio_gal  This gives me great confidence that he is taking this opportunity seriously – good on him! I’d’ve loved to see his Romeo.

Meg McSweeney ‏@megmcsweeney Hamlet is another one. What ACTUAL university student would have the inner life to do justice to THAT?

Elizabeth ‏I recall an anecdote about an actress in her 70s crying “NOW I know how to play Juliet & it’s too late!”

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

Few Off-Broadway shows ever show a profit. Buyer And Cellar with Michael Urie has done so at Barrow St. Theater after only 9 weeks.

Hilary Neidhart ‏@hilaryneidhart So very deserved. It was a delight – I recommend  it to everyone.

Opening tonight (through Sept 27): Solo In The City: The Fringe Encore Series of one-person shows

Tonight through Sept 21: BEAT Festival includes Ping Chong’s Brooklyn ‘63, true stories of Brooklyn activists.

The Old Friends The Pershing Square Signature Center/Irene Diamond Stage

My review of The Old Friends

Since his death at age 92, Horton Foote, who during his lifetime was known primarily for his Oscar-winning film adaptation of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and for his original screenplay for “Tender Mercies,” has steadily gained a reputation as one of America’s foremost dramatists…..Now director Michael Wilson has teamed up with the Signature once again to produce another Horton Foote play – a “new” one – with a cast that should make any knowledgeable New York theatergoer salivate. None disappoint… If it is more in-your-face and less nuanced than some of his later work, if most of the characters are over-the-top and unpleasant in a way that Foote’s people rarely are, that may be part of its fascination and its appeal. It is a play worth seeing, a chance to witness some extraordinary actors all together on one stage.

Full review of The Old Friends


Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Filmmaker Ethan Coen (Fargo, Miller’s Crossing, The Big Lebowski) on his first full-length play: “It’s recreational. It’s part-time. I’m a play hobbyist. I’m a gentleman playwright.”

Dangerous Acts, a new documentary about the heroic Belarus Free Theater, debuts at Toronto Film Festival.

Derek McLane's digs

Scenic designer Derek McLane new rental apartment designed like one of his sets

Broadway on the Hudson free outdoor concert with 10 Broadway shows Friday, Sept 27 12:30– 2 pm Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza, 220 Vesey St

Fetch Clay, Make Man 1

My review of Fetch Clay, Make Man

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay), world heavyweight boxing champion, remains decades after his prime the embodiment of black pride, strength, and accomplishment. Stepin Fetchit (born Lincoln Perry), the first black movie star, has become an embarrassment to many, his career based on a cruel comic stereotype. But at a time when he was nearing the peak of his fame, Ali befriended Fetchit, who by then had faded into obscurity.

Playwright and performer Will Power stumbled upon an old photograph of the two before an Ali heavyweight fight, with Ali calling Fetchit his “secret strategist.” Their friendship inspired Power to write “Fetch Clay, Make Man,” which is now running through October 13 at the New York Theatre Workshop, a production that is well-designed, wonderfully acted and at times as puzzling as its title.

Full review of Fetch Clay, Make Man


Justin_Matthew_Sargentreeve-carneyEnding his nearly three years as the lead of Spider-Man: turn Off The Dark today, Reeve Carney says: Maybe in 10 years I’ll come back as Green Goblin

Reeve Carney @reevecarney Dreamt that Adam West told me he was coming to my last show @SpideyOnBway with the Batmobile

Spider-Man producers have announced that Justin Matthew Sargent would be taking over the lead. Sargent, who was previously on Broadway in Rock of Ages and Bonnie and Clyde, has been performing as the alternate lead (at matinees).

“I was horrified by my life being turned into a musical” says Carole King, about Beautiful. Her daughter changed her mind.  (Article in San Francisco Chronicle by Ben Fong-Torres.)

Tony Awards telecast wins four 2013 Emmys.

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater

My review of Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play

“Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play”  could be called a musical based on “The Simpsons” animated TV series; that would be accurate, but it would miss the point.  It is so much more than that.

Playwright Anne Washburn imagines what life and entertainment would be like if civilization were suddenly destroyed. Her play is a clever, funny, weird and horrifying meditation on everything from popular culture to theater to nuclear energy to the limits of memory to humanity’s crucial urge for storytelling.

Full review of Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play

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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