“After Midnight” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened during the week in New York theater: We are clearly in the middle of the theater season. I reviewed these shows as well as “Becoming Dr. Ruth” and “Betrayal” with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Also below, news about Ewan McGregor and Carol Lawrence, Stephen Sondheim and Tony Kushner, August Wilson, another way to celebrate Wicked’s 10th anniversary on Broadway…and Tracy Lett’s 10 Rules For Being Creative.
The Week in New York Theater
Monday, October 28, 2013
Top ten stage shows that did NOT win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori has been extended at The Public Theater until December 1st.
The Irish Rep is reviving It’s A Wonderful Life (the 1946 radio play adapted from the Frank Capra movie). When? In December of course.
Tale of two (really three) Shakespeares: Romeo and Juliet sold only 42 percent of its seats last week; Twelfth Night and Richard III sold 97 percent!
To celebrate its tenth anniversary on Broadway, Wicked becomes a category on Jeopardy
American Songbook 2014 at Lincoln Center: Patina Miller, Jonathan Groff, Ann Harada, Taylor Mac, Norm Lewis, etc.
36.7 million saw shows at non-profit theaters, which contributed about $2 billion to U.S. economy, reports Theater Communications Group.
funny, touching, lovely solo show about the celebrity sex therapist’s remarkable life story ….Debra Jo Rupp is able to communicate Dr. Ruth’s humor and warmth and inspiring resilience in a way that only seems possible on a stage. And, though Rupp is a full seven inches taller than Ruth Westheimer, she even manages to convince us that she’s as physically short as the larger-than-life woman she is portraying.
Carol Lawrence, original Maria in West Side Story, plays Israeli grandmother in new play Handle with Care, which opens December 15th at Westside Theater
Ewan McGregor will make his Broadway debut in The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, Oct.2014
Stephen Sondheim attended the musical “Fun Home” at the Public Theater, which prompted Michael Schulman to observe: “The score, by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), is rich and troubled and psychologically nuanced, in a way that seems inescapably Sondheimian. Starting in the nineteen-seventies, Sondheim ushered in a new way of writing show tunes, one that favored liminal states—ambivalence, regret—over toe-tapping joy.”
Miss “The Raisin Cycle” documentary on PBS, about Raisin in the Sun & its sequels? Full show here for a limited time
November 1, 2013
Q and A with performance artist Cynth Von Buhler, creator of Speakeasy Dollhouse, combination immersive theater and gin joint
Like many playwrights, Gwydion Suilebhan has long been frustrated by what happens after he has written a play.
“The task of figuring out, among the thousands of theatres across the United States, which ones might be both right for a given play of mine and interested in considering new work at any given moment in time,” he says, “falls somewhere between onerous and impossible.
That’s why Suilebhan is delighted by the idea of a national database of new plays—an idea, in fact, that promises to be coming soon to a theatre near you. Indeed, Suilebhan was hired this past summer as the director of the New Play Exchange, an online tool being developed at the National New Play Network, aiming to be fully operational by 2015.
Director Mike Nichols takes liberties. The alcohol pours freely, designer Ian MacNeil’s sets glide aerodynamically into place, the actors shed British reserve to shout and grab and, instead of staring, kiss…and couple. This is a more external, more explicit, production of what is already Pinter’s most accessible play. For me, what’s lost in subtlety is gained in clarity…
While many have been drawn to this third Broadway production of Betrayal for reasons other than, say, a love of Pinter, the three main actors (there is a fourth who plays a waiter in one scene) deliver arresting performances on the stage. These are not slumming screen stars. We see the characters transform (backwards) before our eyes: Daniel Craig’s indifferent attitude unravels into anger, resentment, hurt; Rachel Weisz’s reserve collapses into a naivete that makes her an easy target; Rafe Spall guilt turns to puppy-doggish enthusiasm and then to a drunken sort of mercenary aggression.
A dozen videos from the Howlround conference on Latino theater
There is something terrifically apt in director Julie Taymor, so loved after creating The Lion King, and so hated after Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, inaugurating a beautiful new theater in Brooklyn with Shakespeare’s play about the fickleness of affection.
There are echoes of her previous work in Taymor’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center – the lovely delicate animal costumes that the ensemble occasionally wear recall The Lion King, the breathtaking use of parachute-size sheets and aerial acrobatics seem taken from the Spider-Man playbook. But Taymor’s inventive staging has the feel of something new, ironically because she is in a way revisiting her past — she first worked with Theatre for a New Audience in 1984, when she was an experimental theater artist known only to the cognoscenti. Her Dream returns her to a relatively intimate scale (and lower budget) and is better because of it. It is time to love Julie Taymor again.
This is not to say that hers is a perfect Dream…
Bruce Hallett, former president of Time and Sports Illustrated, has joined Playbill Inc. as its publisher, focusing on the print magazine.
Glen Berger’s book Song of Spiderman is an insider’s coroner report, says review Mark Harris. One line: “Just watching it all disappear down the dream hole, huh?” Julie Taymor said to Glen Berger after tough Spider-man rehearsal.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson has been taken with August Wilson since he saw Wilson’s very first play on Broadway, as he told me during the recent taping of all 10 plays of Wilson’s American Century Cycle — each one set in a different decade of the twentieth century.
“I was smitten, captured, put in a spell,” he says. “Nobody had represented me with such integrity; nobody seemed to have the love for me and the people I knew like August did.”
Santiago-Hudson is committed to putting the last of Wilson’s plays, Jitney, on Broadway. In the meantime, he is playing August Wilson in a solo show BY Wilson, How I Learned What I Learned
Syncopated or synchronized; scatting, swinging or serenading; in white satin or black silk, the more than three dozen supremely talented entertainers of “After Midnight” – singers, dancers and musicians – thrill with an astonishing 27 musical numbers over 90 intermission-less minutes…
The first guest artist is Fantasia Barrino, the American Idol winner who floored Broadway audiences with her performance as Celie in The Color Purple. (Future guest artists already lined up after Barrino leaves the show in February: kd lang, then Toni Braxton and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.) It is a different Fantasia – luscious, sparkling, dressed in celebrated fashion designer/first-time Broadway costume designer Isabel Toledo’s flattering ensembles – who floors us in a completely new way with her polished singing of the enduring jazz standards “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Stormy Weather,” and “On The Sunny Side of the Street,” as well as her fabulous scatting in Cab Calloway’s snazzy “Zaz Zuh Zaz.” But this is a show too rich in talent to have to depend on any one star. Even the orchestra is called the All-Stars …
There are two ways, however, in which Dule Hill’s use of Langston Hughes’ poetry as the sole spoken text of “After Midnight” strikes me as a missed opportunity..
Tracy Letts’ 10 Rules for Being Creative