Janis Joplin. The NY Yankees. All-Female Shakespeare. Elmo Jailed. The Week in New York Theater,

Week in NY Theater Oct 7 to 13They finally put Elmo in jail; Emma Thompson will debut on a New York stage as a murderer. The backstabbers in Brooklyn who do in Julius Caesar are all female. But the real crime is that there are not enough evenings to see all the plays and musicals on the New York stage – and there’s no TiVo or DVR or Hulu or Netflix for live theater.

Last week’s openings include A Night With Janis Joplin on Broadway;  Off-Broadway: Bronx Bombers, about the New York Yankees, and an all-female production of Julius Caesar at St. Ann’s Warehouse; and Two Point Oh, Off-Off Broadway, which imagines what it would be like to be able to live after dying…in cyberspace. All are reviewed below, along with news about the 2014 Tony Awards, Emma Thompson’s New York stage debut, and a debate: Which of Shakespeare’s plays is last intimidating?

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, October 7, 2013

Daniel Craig outside Betrayal
Daniel Craig signing autographs outside Betrayal

The revival of Betrayal, a play by Harold Pinter about marital discord, breaks Broadway box office records: $1.1 million for seven preview performances.
I had no idea there were so many avid fans of Harold Pinter in NYC.

Linda Emond and Danny Burstein join ‪Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams in the Roundabout’s revival of  Cabaret.

Brooklyn Academy of Music President Karen Brooks Hopkins says culture is NYC’s “bread and butter.” (What’s its jam?)

ESBMeron Langsner ‏‪@MeronLangsner: Commerce is its jam. We need to get the bread and butter and jam to Play Nice together.

Theater is not about provocation or “audience engagement,” writes Melissa Hillman. Theater is  about storytelling.

Why is the Empire State Building purple, blue and gold? That’s to celebrate Make Believe on Broadway‘s November 4th gala 

Romeo and Juliet continued its startling drop in attendance last week. It’s now at just 48% capacity, the lowest on Broadway.

Hollis ‏‪@hollisst I really thought Orlando Bloom would bring the teens to the theatre. Production was good, but nothing amazing.

Cody ‏‪@candrus68  It’s a tall order to get teens to theatre outside of group sales.

Jonathan Mandell: How to Succeed didn’t have problems drawing teens when Daniel Radcliffe starred in it.

Broadway Spotted: Orlando Bloom hasn’t been a “teen idol” in years. Also, he’s not very good or convincing as Romeo ‪#yawn

Hollis ‏ HA! But I still think, if they had marketed this thing right, they could have done better.



“Even the sound of clothes is important on stage. The rustle of taffeta. The hush of silk jersey. The whoosh of satin. The clothes strike their own musical notes.”~ fashion designer Isabel Toledo (She designed First Lady Michelle Obama’s dress on Inaugural Day 2009), who with her husband Ruben Toledo, a fashion illustrator, is now the costume designer for ‪After Midnight.


My review of Bronx Bombers

In “Bronx Bombers,” a new play about the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth stands over a plate piled high with hot dogs at a dinner party given by Yogi Berra, and declares baseball  “the best goddamn thing that ever happened to this country. It’s better than boxing or tennis or golf.”…“Bronx Bombers” is far from the best goddamn thing that ever happened Off-Broadway….This is the third in a series of sports plays that Eric Simonson has written…All of them have been well-acted; all smartly marketed – the producers partner with the sports themselves (in this case Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees )– and each of them close to dramatically inert.

Full review of Bronx Bombers


The 2014 Tony Awards will take place on June 8th, again at Radio City and on CBS.


AngelaLansbury as Mrs LovettEmma Thompson will make her NY stage debut as murderous Mrs. Lovett in the New York Philharmonic’s production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, March 5-8, 2014.

Angela Lansbury originated the role of Mrs. Lovett on Broadway in 1979.

The Trip to Bountiful Stephen Sondheim Theatre

The Trip To Bountiful Closes today

Donald Margulies’s Pulitzer-winning “Dinner With Friends” will be revived with a cast that includes Jeremy Shamos and Maria Dizzia. It is set to open Off-Broadway on February 4.

Charles Randolph-Wright, director of ‪Motow, has written a play about Afghanistan; he’s never been ‪there

ElmoPrimanti Bros, a deli in Pittsburgh, has named a sandwich after hometown hero ‪Billy Porter of ‪Kinky Boots. Its contents: kielbasa with cole slaw on white bread (white bread!)

Elmo was just sentenced to a year in jail. He not only harassed tourists, he tried to extort $2 million from the Girl Scouts! ‪#BadElmo Elmo also goes by the alias Adam Sandler. (I am NOT making this up) ‪

TVdronestheatergeniusesTheater Geniuses, TV Drones?

There is nothing wrong with the performances on television of Eric Bogosian, Cherry Jones and Anna Deavere Smith, but there is nothing extraordinary about them either – no hint of how wide-ranging and special their talent, how much they move and amaze theater audiences. It’s as if their TV roles are their day job, something they do to earn a living, and their stage work is their art.

What accounts for this disparity?

Full article



My review of Two Point Oh

Although he’s dead, Elliot Leeds is living a virtually perfect life – his marriage better than it has been in years, his cutting-edge company worth $200 billion with 111,000 employees. He owes it to technology. “Technology isn’t good or bad,” Leeds says. “Technology is us.”

In his case, this is literally true; he is technology.  In “Two Point Oh,” the smart and funny play by Jeffrey Jackson, Eliot Leeds died in a plane crash but lives on in cyberspace because of a computer program he had spent years writing that replicates his brain and his personality.

Complete review of Two Point Oh

Night with Janis Joplin, A Lyceum Theatre

My review of A Night With Janis Joplin

There are many choices in this show that one might question; some seem nearly bizarre.  But they pale besides the unquestionably smart choice of casting Mary Bridget Davies as Janis.

Full review of A Night With Janis Joplin


Why the affordable care act (Obamacare) matters to artists.  ‪http://bit.ly/1c8zKsB

According to a recent survey, US-based artists are less likely to have health insurance than the general public. Will this change?


Which of Shakespeare’s plays is the least intimidating?

Jason Smith ‏‪@jasonsaxonsmith R&J.
Starleisha Gingrich⭐ ‏‪@StarleishaG  Romeo + Juliet. For me at least…..maybe Much Ado….
Hope Dellon ‏‪@hopedellon
Terry Teachout ‏‪@terryteachout Of the tragedies, “Macbeth.” Of the comedies, “Twelfth Night.”
Sarah Underwood I’d have to say Midsummer Nights Dream. Fairies and lovers and fools! It’s too much fun to intimidate.
Tim Sailer @sailert comedy of errors
Cristina ‏‪@_cristina For audiences? Much Ado, perhaps. I think Hamlet too, really.
Janet Somerville ‏‪@janetsomerville A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
Linda Essig ‏‪@LindaInPhoenix From whose perspective? an actor’s? audience member’s? lighting designer’s?
Jonathan Mandell @NewYorkTheater: For you
Linda Essig Never intimidating, always challenging, regardless of context.
Frank Episale ‏‪@toofrank None is intimidating, really. They’re just plays, mostly good, all with problems to be solved.
Jonathan Mandell ‏‪Let’s accept your premise that none are intimidating. Which is the LEAST intimidating?
Linda Essig Hmmm….MIdsummer, or maybe Comedy of Errors.
Jonathan Mandell: I think Romeo and Juliet is probably the least intimidating of Shakespeare’s plays to the greatest # of people.
Steven ‏‪@somedayboy Which is kinda sad. Because Caeasar SHOULD be.
Frank Episale If “least intimidating” means “most familiar,” I suppose. But good productions (unlike most), are pretty challenging. c most productions try to sell tickets with prettiness. It’s not a pretty play.
Linda Essig Do you think that’s because it’s taught in so many highschools? or is it taught in high schools because it’s least intimidating?
Jonathan Mandell Chicken and egg question at this point. But probably the former — because it’s routinely on high school curriculums

The Bard’s later plays are comprehensible to us only when we read them.Elizabethans were better listeners.

There’s new Golden Age of Drama, but not on Broadway, “high-priced museum of its former self.” It’s on cable TV.


SoulDoctor11Soul Doctor closes

Fetch Clay, Make Man 1

Fetch Clay, Make Man ends run.
Sir Ian McKellen: “I think I’ve become more modest as the years have gone on. I’ve become less — “
Sir Patrick Stewart: Cough! Cough! “Excuse me . . . Oh God, I’m really sorry. I think I need a strong drink or something!
Sir Ian McKellen: “That was a dreadful bit of overacting.”
Exchange from profile of the two actors, X-men rivals and close pals. on CBS Sunday Morning.  on

My review of all-female Julius Caesar

Fans of the Netflix drama “Orange is the New Black” might feel in familiar territory with the Donmar Warehouse production of “Julius Caesar,” which director Phyllida Lloyd is presenting as if performed by the inmates of a women’s correctional facility. The effect is intense, with the remarkable all-female, multiracial cast of 14 thrusting us into Shakespeare’s tragedy as if there is no escape.

Theatergoers are led into the holding pen of the persuasively prison-like theater at 29 Jay Street — being used by St. Ann’s Warehouse until their new digs are ready in 2015 — and lectured by correctional officers that we must turn off our cell phones or they WILL be confiscated. (Might this be an effective strategy for all theaters?) We are also told the play runs two hours and 15 minutes without an intermission, and if we leave at any time, we will not be permitted back. Only then are we permitted to take our seats. …

For all the avant-garde theatrical trappings, these British actors give Shakespeare’s language its due, providing a clarity and consistency that is frankly too often missing in homegrown productions…

If there were no other argument for the all-female cast of “Julius Caesar” at St. Ann’s Warehouse, it would be enough that it allows us to see some terrific actors assay roles that are no longer closed off to them.

Full review of Julius Caesar


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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