Top 10 Lists! RIP Peter O’Toole, Joan Fontaine. The Week in New York Theater

JoanFontainPeterO'TooleEven as we mourn the deaths of Peter O’Toole, 81,  Eleanor Parker, 91, and Joan Fontaine, 96, we celebrate the still theatrically active Estelle Parsons, 86, and Carol Lawrence, 82. (see below.)

Top 10 lists are early and often this year — not just ten best theater lists of 2013, but 10 most baffling, 10 least likely musicals on NBC after the success of Sound of Music, best movies made from straight plays….ten more?

 The Week in New York Theater, Dec 9 to 15

Monday, December 9, 2013

FranAnnieLinda Fran Drescher (The Nanny) makes her Broadway debut in Cinderella as the evil stepmother Madam,e, February 4 to April 13

Annie Potts (Designing Women, God of Carnage) will play the trapeze-flying Berthe in ‪Pippin  starting January 21

Linda Lavin, so great in The Lyons, returns to ‪the Vineyard Theater for another Nicky Silver play, Too Much Sun, which opens May 20. Lavin plays an actress struggling with her role in “Medea,” who goes AWOL to spend time with her married daughter.

leightonmeesterBill Heck,so great in Orphans Home Cycle, and Gayle Rankin (Tribes) join ‪Alan Cumming et al in Roundabout’s production of Cabaret, which opens April 24

What’s next for Sound of Music’s TV producers? Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are  reportedly signed to do a new film version of Pippin.

Joining James Franco in Of Mice and Men on Broadway: Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl),playing Curley’s wife, temptress with beautiful hair

Why is bad theater, Lyn Gardner asks, more painful to sit through than other kinds of bad art?

LourdesLeonasRizzoinGreaseWhen do some of NY’s top theater critics review a high school production of Grease? When Madonna’s daughter is one of the performers


Soon to be a Broadway musical
Soon to be an Off-Broadway musical

Heathers, 1989 cult film that launched Christian Slater, Winona Ryder etc is now a musical heading for New World Stages, opening March 21. 
Heather NKCoverGrrl ‏‪@NKCoverGrrl As a fan of Heathers (and an actual Heather myself) I’ll have to see this 
Douglas Otero@dstylemakeup shut up!

Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Eleanor Parker in the 1965 movie The Sound of Music
Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Eleanor Parker in the 1965 movie The Sound of Music

One day after  Sound of Music airs, the actress who was the original film Elsa, Eleanor Parker, dies at 91. 

Julie Andrews’ reaction to the Carrie Underwood version of The Sound of Music : “Alas,I did not (see it)….But my kids did record it. I’ll get around to it.” ‪#Classy

As if to tweak their rival network, ABC will broadcast The Sound of Music, the 1965 film with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, Dec. 22 at 7 pm

April @ReignofApril: SHADE

Charley Beans‏‪ @freehawk Wait till Carrie Underwood reprises Julie Andrews’ role in the remake of “10.”

Although critics gave it thumbs down, the live broadcast drew 18.5 million viewers, the most for any three hours on NBC in almost a decade, and 50 percent more than attend all Broadway shows in a year. NBC says it is considering three other musicals for the same live treatment next year, but they won’t say which three.

Unlikely NBC musicals


Best movies made from straight plays

Oge Agulué ‏‪@iamoge  Amadeus, Streetcar Named Desire, Doubt…

Pippin Parker ‏‪@NSD_Director Casablanca.

Corey Ryan ‏‪@ChaoticCorey Rabbit Hole, Streetcar, Doubt. Hopefully August Osage County will be on that list too when it comes out.

marclamb@marclamb Streetcar Named Desire, Glengarry Glen Ross,Dead End,These 3,His Girl Friday,The Women, Odd Couple, You cant take it w/U.

Hollis ‏‪@hollisst Romeo & Juliet 1968 version

Liz ‏‪@landwarsinasia Love Branagh’s Henry V.

Patrick Harvey@dfwpadraig Branagh’s Much Ado and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

abe calimag ‏‪@panic13B  a few good men

Beverly Baker @TheatreAddict  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Streetcar Named Desire, A Soldier’s Story, A Few Good Men just to name a few.

Zelda Knapp‪ @parlorspider I just saw Judgement at Nuremberg this weekend, that’s a pretty remarkable film. His Girl Friday (adapted from the play The Front Page) & Philadelphia Story are also classics. The Mamet-penned Winslow Boy was good, Ideal Husband was good. Not everyone will agree, but I think Noises Off! is a great movie

10 Most Beloved Theater of 2013 That Baffled, Bored or Bugged Me

Belove Theater Baffled, Bored or Bugged Me


The Apple Family Plays by Richard Nelson will be filmed for PBS broadcast. My review of the last one, Regular Singing.  

List of nominations for Screen Actors Guild Awards. Any award that nominates Judi Dench,Helen Mirren,Maggie Smith and Meryl Streep is ok in my book.

Today, Rita Moreno, pioneering singer, dancer and actress, turns 82. Her birthday present: 50th Annual SAG Awards Life Achievement

Bull Durham, the Kevin Costner baseball movie, is being developed into a musical aiming for Atlanta’s Alliance Theater Sept 2014


There’ll be four new girls playing lead of Matilda: Paige Brady, Gabriella Pizzolo, Ripley Sobo, and Ava Ulloa. One of them, Ripley Sobo (bottom left), is a Broadway veteran, having appeared in Once. She’s 10

Watson, Sherlock Holmes' assistant
Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ assistant

My review of  The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence 

Watson was the name of both Sherlock Holmes’ fictional assistant and Alexander Graham Bell’s real one, as well as the IBM supercomputer (named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson) that beat the human champions of the Jeopardy! TV show. Playwright Madeleine George has built an entire play on this coincidence. …The play is an ambitious, intelligent effort to present a range of issues involving technology, politics, society and love…Would machines make better companions than human beings?..All this food for thought should lead to a rich meal, but there is both too much to digest in The Watson Intelligence, and not enough that’s fully cooked.

Full review of The Watson Intelligence


EstelleParsonsTheVelocityofAutumnThe Velocity of Autumn, starring Estelle Parsons & Stephen Spinella, will open on Broadway at Booth Theater April 21. The play by Eric Coble is set in the Brooklyn brownstone in which Parsons’s character has barricaded herself and rigged her living room with Molotov cocktails. Her youngest son tries to coax her out.

I haven’t seen the Velocity of Autumn, but I love the title. What are your favorite titles?

@usedyorkcity Spring Awakening! (Also loved the show!)

David Lawson @dtlawson Tennessee Williams wrote the book on titles IMO. 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, A Streetcar Named Desire, Night of the Iguana

Actors Equally At Home on Stage and Screen



Diane Paulus, set designer Scott Pask and lighting designer Natasha Katz discuss Broadway theater design and architecture Dec 16, 6:30 at the Museum of the City of New York.

Best Stage Shows That Did Not Win A Pulitzer Prize For Drama



Playwright Patrick Gabridge has learned about theater from becoming a  farmer. Both, for example, require endurance and luck far more than strength or talent.

How I Learned What I Learned Signature Theatre

How I Learned What I Learned Review

How does one become one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century? The answer is not directly forthcoming in “How I Learned What I Learned,” the memoir written and performed by August Wilson in 2003, two years before his death at age 60, which is now being revived by masterful Wilson interpreter and devotee Ruben Santiago-Hudson at the Signature Theater…

Wilson’s funny, pointed stories, his portraits of neighborhood characters and his mini-lectures about racism offer a random sampling of his power as a storyteller.

Full review of How I Learned What I Learned


Charlotte Cohn & Carol Lawrence IN HANDLE WITH CARE ©doug denoff_DSC_7059

My review of Handle With Care

During the intermission at “Handle With Care,” billed as a new romantic comedy starring Carol Lawrence, the original Maria of West Side Story, I pondered some nearly theological questions: Is there no law, or at least an Actors Equity rule, against misuse of a Broadway legend?Lawrence plays Edna, an Israeli grandmother visiting the state of Virginia who, we learn within the first few minutes, is dead.  But she’s not just dead. Terrence, the yokel DHK delivery man who was supposed to ship her body home, has lost it. …Handle With Care doesn’t handle Carol Lawrence with enough care, but it is a pleasure to see her, at 82 and still beautiful, back on a New York stage.

Full review of Handle With Care

Top 10 Lists of Top 10 Best Theater 2013

Lists from critics of the New York Times, Time, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine, etc.



“Life turned out much better than I thought. I knew after a little while that I could act” – Peter O’Toole, 1932 – 2013 — appeared on Broadway once, in Pygmalion.


“I hope I’ll die on stage at the age at 105, playing Peter Pan.” – Joan Fontaine, 1917 – 2013 (she almost got there!) — Joan Fontaine was on Broadway twice, in Tea & Sympathy, and Forty Carats (Her sister Olivia de Havilland’s been on Broadway three times.)

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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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