TV Invades Theater. Sondheim’s Gay Company? James Franco? Romeo and Juliet 3. Week in New York Theater


“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”~ Oscar Wilde, born October 16, 1854.

Several exciting openings on Broadway — two different courtroom dramas on Broadway, one surprisingly good; a third Romeo and Juliet in as many weeks — are accompanied by even more exciting  news of what’s coming up —  e.g. both Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Tracy Letts are returning to Broadway…in the same play — and what might be happening —  e.g. James Franco and Chris O’Dowd may be making their Broadway debuts…in the same play.  Stephen Sondheim has decided to turn one of his major characters gay.  The fake show from the canceled TV series Smash is now a real stage show — and it’s not the only television that’s invading the stage.

And Julie Taymor, directing her first New York theater since Spider-Man, is asked: Has she mellowed?

Scroll down for details.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, October 14, 2013

The opening of ‪BRIC House in Brooklyn is the latest proof that New York City is the best place for art-lovers while increasingly inhospitable for artists.

Actress Catherine Russell is planning The Theater Center, housing the new theaters, at 601 8th Avenue (near 39th St.) Russell helped develop Snapple Theater Center, but is best known for having performed in Perfect Crime continuously since 1987.

Steven ‏‪Carl McCasland @somedayboy: I hope they cast her in another play there. Let’s see if she can do two shows at once, and STILL never miss a performance!

Jonathan Mandell: Or maybe this will convince her to leave Perfect Crime. One can only hope

Do you need to be a scholar to understand Shakespeare,  No, says Shakespeare’s Globe.  “Shakespeare’s for everybody. If we’ve ever been in love, or fallen out with a friend or been jealous, we can understand him.”

Frank Episale ‏‪@toofrank: Shakespeare  was always populist, as much for the groundlings as the nobles. Fellowes has made himself ridiculous.

Producer Ben Sprecher says he’s raising $5 million more (already has $11 million) to bring Rebecca to Broadway in Fall 2014.

Miraculous “hearing loops” for disabled being installed in Broadway theaters. Europe’s had it for decades.

On My Way To A Show – on a Monday?

Does it feel unnatural to you to see a show on a Monday?
Karin Gehm Barrett ‏‪@montauksunset Nope not at all!
‪@parkslopegrrl  it does a little but i like it – the entire area is less crowded, easier to get dinner/drinks/cab.
Rick Ross ‏‪@TheatreBuff2 any night Is a good night for a show
Aleisha Force ‏‪@aleishaforce Sacrilegious. Our church is closed one day a week. I appreciate a boundary, especially in my worklife.


NeilPatrickHarrisas Hedwig


Hit List from ‪Smash is becoming a musical for real December  9 at ‪54 Below with Jeremy Jordan, ‪Krysta Rodriguez, and Andy Mientus (now undead)

Sondheim is working with John Tiffany (Once, The Glass Menagerie) to turn Bobby of “Company” into a gay man with commitment issues. ‪Roundabout wants to produce it

Have I got a boy for you! Wait till you meet him!
Have I got a boy for you, boy!
Hoo, boy! ~ Rewritten Company?

Douglas Otero @dstylemakeup This sounds amazing, just read about this! I’m so there….

Rufus NorrisDirector Rufus Norris will be the sixth artistic director in the 50-year history of ‪The National Theatre, succeeding Nicholas Hytner.
Rufus Norris,48,spent his childhood in Africa &Malaysia. He’s directed The Amen Corner by James Baldwi
Why Americans should care:
1. They brought us War Horse & One Man, Two Guvnors
2. 2. National Theatre of Great Britain, aka Royal National Theatre, began on Oct 22 1963 (yes, 50 years ago!) with Hamlet. ‪#
3. 3. ‪The National Theatre is funded by the UK government. Does U.S. have anything like this? The Kennedy Center? ‪Lincoln Center? Not really

What quality does one need above all others to run a theater like ‪@NationalTheatre? “Appetite,” says Hytner. Rufus Norris has it.

Thanks to ‪TDF, tickets to many Off-Off Broadsway shows cost just $10, less than a movie! TDF’s online sales for Off-Off Broadway shows are now open to general public

Stop complaining that young people don’t like Shakespeare, writes ‪Melissa Hillman.  They will if you do it right ‪


World champion figure skater ‪Elvis Stojko, 41, will make his Broadway debut playing Billy Flynn in ‪Chicago starting March 2014 ‪

After sloshing thru many gallons of water and peeking down 1000s of theatergoer crotches,cast of ‪Fuerza Bruta will say goodbye January 5. The show opened on October 24, 2007, and will have played more than 2,000 performances.


REalisticJoneseslogo copyTracy Letts, Marisa Tomei, Toni Collette and Michael C. Hall will star in Will Eno’s “The Realistic Joneses” on Broadway in March. The Realistic Joneses,” a hit at ‪Yale Rep, will be directed by Sam Gold on Broadway. It’s a dark comedy about two suburban couples named Jones. “The Realistic Joneses” will mark the Broadway debut for playwright Will Eno, Pulitzer nominee for “Thom Pain (based on nothing)”

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

The 8 Ways Television Is Influencing Theater — my piece for ‪HowlRound ‪

Anne Washburn started watching The Simpsons and writing plays at about the same time, and didn’t think they had anything to do with one another until she wrote Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play, running at Playwrights Horizons until October 20.

Her play imagines how survivors of an apocalypse would remember episodes of The Simpsons immediately after the end of civilization, then seven years later and seventy-five years after that. It illustrates what might be the most obvious of the eight ways, I am suggesting, that television is influencing theater.

The eight ways:

1. Shared cultural experience

2. Direct Source Material

3. Forms and Approaches

4. Moonlighting

5. Departures (Disruptions)

6. Celebrity Casting

7. Video Projections

8. Theater as Anti-Television

For details, see full article on Howlround.

Romeo and Juliet Classic Stage Company

My review of Romeo and Juliet Off-Broadway

The Romeo and Juliet from the Classic Stage Company, starring  Elizabeth Olsen and newcomer Julian Cihi who look terrific together, is the third production of Shakespeare’s tragedy in as many weeks. The first, on Broadway with Orlando Bloom, was a disappointment — derivative and dull. The second, Off-Off Broadway, was a delight, but deviant —  a fun frat party version of the play that strays so from the original that they give it a different title: R+J: Star’Crossed Death Match. Would this third one then, Off-Broadway, be just right — fresh but faithful to the Bard?

…The Broadway Romeo and Juliet is built around Orlando Bloom. The Off-Broadway production is built around Elizabeth Olsen. Both were marketing decisions –if we hire a movie star, the people will come.  Olsen, younger sister of the Olsen twins Mary-Kate and Ashley, is lovely to look at. Unlike the costumes of some of the other characters, hers — mostly simply diaphanous white frocks that could easily be undergarments — work with the character. (Why, though, was she wearing black combat boots?)  But her performance is nothing extraordinary, not memorable enough to make up for the deficit in her partner.

Full review of Romeo and Juliet at CSC


James Franco and Chris O’Dowd could both be making their Broadway debuts in a revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, aiming for Broadway in the Spring.

scene from the 1951  film An American in Paris with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.
scene from the 1951 film An American in Paris with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

A stage adaptation of the Gershwin movie, An American in Paris directed and choreographed by Christopher Weeldon with a book by Craig Lucas, is aiming for Broadway in 2015, after a first production scheduled for December, 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet iin Paris.

Mobile Shakespeare Unit: Much Ado About Nothing FREE in 16 NYC locations (not just prisons) ‪

Half of New Yorkers are dissatisfied with the opportunities to see live theater in their neighborhoods
54 percent in Manhattan satisfied with live theater/ concerts in their neighborhood,but just 21 percent in the Bronx, 25 percent in Queens, according to a survey by the Municipal Arts Society.

There are more than 250 outdoor events in Times Square each year from rodeos to rock shows.
What’s made ‪Times Square less overwhelming? Says Claire Fellman of ‪Snohetta: patterned paving and multiuse seating
But the theater district still suffers from “Pedlock” – too many pedestrians, not enough space.

Sunday theater talks at ‪the 92nd Street Y:

Cherry Jones with JordanRoth (10/27)

Julie Taymor 11/17)

Big Fish creative team (11/24)

The Winslow Boy American Airlines Theatre

My review of The Winslow Boy

How far would you go to right a wrong; what would you sacrifice? What if the wrong were trivial?

These are the questions addressed by “The Winslow Boy,”  a satisfying old-fashioned play by Terence Rattigan that Roundabout has revived on Broadway for the first time since its 1947 debut, with a first-rate cast led by Roger Rees…. Rattigan’s play is a look at family dynamics and changing political consciousness grafted onto a conventional drawing room comedy

During its six-month run on Broadway in 1947,  reviews, while positive, were unmistakably condescending: in the New Yorker Magazine, Wolcott Gibbs deemed it a “good, presentable entertainment, suitable for all the family and guaranteed not to antagonize important guests.”

It is perhaps in part a reflection of current Broadway fare – and perhaps in part of Lindsay Posner’s direction – that this first Broadway revival seems more substantial.

Full review of The Winslow Boy


Patti LuPone,Bernadette Peters,Betty Buckley,Marin Mazzie reportedly have all auditioned for the boozing leading lady in ‪Bullets Over Broadway.

Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along in Theaters October 23: Video excerpt: Franklin Shepard Inc

Stephen Schwarz has a new (sort of) musical about marriage, Scrapbook, at Goodspeed Musical October 24 to November 17


Julie Taymor directs Midsummer’s Night Dream for ‪Theater for a New Audience, her first since “that other show” ‪
Julie Taymor once SCREAMED at actor ‘Don’t upstage the puppet’

Has she mellowed?

“I don’t know. I can’t remember what I was like.”


This weekend, The Lion King breaks a Broadway record — grossing one BILLION dollars since it began in 1997 — more than the Lion King films. Soon the musical, which has played in 21 countries, will overtake Phantom of the Opera’s record of $5.6 billion gross earnings worldwide.

Laurette Taylor
Laurette Taylor

Laurette Taylor’s performance in Glass Menagerie was ‘the greatest ever by an American actor’ because she didn’t appear to act, Robert Gottlieb writes in the New Yorker.


Final performance of The Old Friends


My review of A Time To Kill

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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