New York Theater in 2013. August: Osage County Brawls. Carly Rae Jepsen on Broadway. Week in New York Theater

TheaterSummaryDec29New York theater critics have completed their lists of top 10 theater of 2013.
The most picked: Twelfth Night, The Glass Menagerie, Here Lies Love, in that order.

Hundreds voted in the poll to pick the worst Broadway show of 2013, and there’s a clear winner (or loser.)

Then there are the top (and weirdest) theater stories of 2013: Remember “portly eunuch”? Flick You? Thanksgiving Kinky-ness?


It seems the right time to remind theatergoers of Broadway’s 15 longest-running shows and biggest hits

2013 is not quite over and, in the last couple of weeks, the biggest theater stories have been about a TV show and now a movie — sparking exhaustive and exhausting debates. See several rounds of them below….


along with news about Hugh Jackman, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessie Mueller and her family, an impromptu Q and A with Idina Menzel in the middle of the night, and what to do on New Year’s Eve, including a link to the complete Broadway schedule.

The Week in New York Theater, Dec 23 to 29, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway Broadhurst TheatreApollo Theatre owner cites years “benign neglect” in theater’s collapse. Ex-owner Andrew Lloyd Webber said long ago it should be torn down.

Tracy Letts on filming of August: Osage county: “There’s a point where you throw your hands up and say: It’s John’s movie.” He is one of 16 playwrights who commented on the turning of their plays into films. Alfred Uhry: I was lucky. John P Shanley: I was scared

Hugh Jackman says scheduling conflict forces him to drop out of Broadway-bound Houdini; he can’t commit to the time involved. Previously,  Aaron Sorkin dropped out as the writer.

This would have been Jackman’s fourth tour on Broadway, most recently in Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, a limited run of just 61 performances that ended New Year’s Day, 2012.

“Shakespearean accents” of U.S. AND British actors are not at all like the British of the Bard’s day. The “Shakespeare accent” has nothing to do with acting Shakespeare and EVERYTHING to do with acting “posh.”


BreakingtheCodePlaybillThe queen of England has granted a royal pardon to Alan Turing six decades after his death. This is the second posthumous pardon this year for somebody unjustly prosecuted AND the subject of a show on Broadway…
Computer pioneer Alan Turing committed suicide after being chemically castrated in 1952 by the United Kingdom after he was convicted of the crime of homosexuality. Alan Turing was portrayed by Derek Jacobi in Breaking The Code, by Hugh Whitemore; on Broadway in 1987. The title comes from Turing’s having developed during World War II a machine that broke the German code, thus crediting the mathematical genius, as CNN reports, with saving thousands of lives and changing the course of the war.
In November, Alabama pardoned  The Scottsboro Boys, who were the subject of a musical by Kander and Ebb on Broadway in 2010.

A good artist must be first a good person, playwright Ben Jonson believed — but he himself was a murderer. (Engaging with Morally Repugnant Artists)

“Some of the facts are not true, but it was a very enjoyable evening” ~ Barbra Streisand after finally seeing Bette Midler in I’ll Eat You Last in L.A., which focuses on agent Sue Mengers and Barbra Streisand’s love and hate relationship with her.

Season of Shakespeare


There were more productions of Shakespeare on Broadway in 2013 than at any time since 1958. And it wasn’t just on Broadway that the Bard was big this year.



Jessie Mueller, who will star as Carol King in Beautiful, is a member of an acting dynasty; her three siblings and both parents are actors. Her sister Abby is in Kinky Boots, her brother Andrew in Peter and the Starcatcher.

August-Osage-County 10

My review of the film August: Osage County

Why does the first film starring both Meryl Streep AND Julia Roberts, based on a play that won both five Tony Awards AND the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, wind up disappointing? There are a couple of reasons why the film of August: Osage County, which opens on December 27th in New York and Los Angeles, should have been at least as good as the play….But the film of August: Osage County doesn’t measure up to the play, in at least three ways…

Complete review of August: Osage County


David Simon, creator of the much-admired HBO TV series The Wire and Treme, is reportedly working on a stage musical with music by The Pogues, aiming for a production in Ireland.

In the age of Netflix, live theater uniquely offers the “immediate physical presence of flesh-and-blood actors,” Terry Teachout writes.  How Theaters Can Combat the Stay-at-Home Mindset:  market live theater’s “intimacy” with an “artisanal spin.”

Brawls Over August: Osage County, Round One


The new movie August Osage County has revealed to me how many theatergoers disliked the play, sometimes passionately.
Peter Marks ‏‪@petermarksdrama  I’m not one of passionately anti. Thought it was lively but overwritten. Passionately disliked the hype about it.
Jonathan Mandell ‏‪ I think many miss that Letts is a satirist and game-player. If you judge him by O’Neill, then he’s overrated.
Peter Marks ‏‪As a lover of KILLER JOE (onstage), I say: if A:OC were a colossal prank, I’d be all for it.
Pippin Parker ‏‪@PippinParker Some writers, particularly with significant acting experience, write great fun juicy stuff for actors.



Most-read posts in in 2013. From 50 best plays of last 100 years to producer Scott Rudin’s attack on the New York Times in the pages of the New York Times

Top 10 dead people on stage in 2013, according to Theatermania: Ann Richards, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Sue Mengers, Billie Holiday, Mike McAlary, The Virgin Mary, Marie Antoinette


August: Osage County, Round 2

Many film critics didn’t like the film as much theater critics liked the original play. (Metacritic rating: 59 “mixed or average reviews”) What startled some theater people is how few of the film critics actually saw — or even read — the play. 

Charles McNulty @CharlesMcNulty

J. Kelly Nestruck @nestruck (drama critic for the Globe and Mail in Canada) But, when I have to review a play based on a movie, I can usually download it or stream it or rent it. Harder with plays.
Charles McNulty (drama critic for the Los Angeles Times): True but if everyone is talking about a cultural offering -an art exhibit, a film, an opera, a dance, I try to see it, if possible
Terry Teachout @terryteachout (drama critic for the Wall Street Journal): What all this speaks to, I’m afraid, is the severely diminished place of theater in the cultural conversation.
The Mad Fashionista ‏@madfashionista It’s almost as if the subject matter is beneath them!  
David Lawson @dtlawson How many theater critics read Fun Home comic or listened to American Idiot album?
Jonathan Mandell: Those who did wrote better reviews.

Is  the “future of arts journalism” having arts organizations creating publications promoting themselves? It looks that way to Chicago Tribune drama critic Chris Jones, and it doesn’t look pretty


Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love, a documentary on American Masters series on PBS.

“If Marvin Hamlisch walked into a room, and there was a piano in it — just wait, something wonderful was going to happen.”

After winning three Oscars on the same night at age 29, Hamlisch wanted to do something new. That turned out to be A Chorus Line. On opening night, it received 21 curtain calls.

My favorite moment of the documentary was when he was playing Happy Birthday on the piano to Joe Torre of the New York Yankees, as if the familiar ditty were written by Bach, then by Beethoven, then by Mozart. They were spot-on — a glimpse into why Juilliard had accepted him as a student when he was six years old.


Class War, theater style

1. New York Times:  Top-paid stage hands from Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees at nine arts organizations, including Roundabout, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera, make at least $200,000 a year.

I’m of mixed mind about this piece. Those salaries are too high, but the article is misleading.
The local has 2,600 members. Only a handful work full-time, much less make so much money. The tone of the article is anti-labor.
Meanwhile,where are the snarky articles about outrageous arts executive director salaries,or state-subsidized incomes of arts board members?

KinkyBoosies2. Annoying Actor Friend, the name of an anonymous actor and now author, chastises the Actors Equity union once again for having a different-tier contract for national tours, singling out the lower pay earned by actors on national tour of Kinky Boots and Newsies, two financial hits on Broadway.

Adam G@adam807  It just seems there has to be a middle ground somewhere because theater is hard. Neither side is evil.


August: Osage County, Round 3: What should a critic know?

RockyWould you trust a review of the forthcoming Rocky musical by a critic who hasn’t seen at least the first Rocky movie?
David Gordon ‏What’s wrong with that? The reviewer isn’t reviewing the film.
Princess Sydney @sydneyjanexo  Film critics don’t need to see every play/musical or read every book that gets turned into a movie in order for them to review the film version.
Jonathan Mandell ‏So it was ok that the film critics of August Osage County had not seen nor read the play?
Linda Buchwald: I agree with David. Have you seen the movie of every show you reviewed that was based on 1?
Jonathan Mandell Me personally? I try to, yes. (Of course, it’s easier to get ahold of an old movie than an old play.)
A work should stand on its own, yes. But I trust more reviews of a work by critics who show a cultural breadth
Douglas Otero @dstylemakeup: Isn’t the point to compare and weigh the pros and cons?
Adam G: Isn’t it better to review an adaptation as its own thing? Not all audiences will have seen both.
Jonathan Mandell: Rocky is such a part of the culture that I wouldn’t trust a professional review by someone who hasn’t seen the film.
Adam G: I get that but I’d much rather have the show reviewed on its own merits.
Jonathan Mandell: A good professional critic will do both — review it on its own merits, and provide some useful,interesting context.
Adam G: True, but I don’t think not having seen the movie breeds contempt unless they’re an idiot about it.
David Gordon: Not every critic had the luxury of seeing August: Osage County live. That doesn’t make opinion less valid.
Adam G: I do agree that the context can be helpful, but not that it’s necessary.
GlassMenagerie12Jonathan Mandell: How about a review of The Glass Menagerie by someone who’s never seen it before?
David Gordon: I don’t understand why that’s bad. My generation doesn’t necessarily have that luxury. #Ageism
Jonathan Mandell: This is not a matter of age. Those who knew Green Day’s music were more informed about American Idiot.
Broadway Spotted: I specifically try NOT to see movies before I see their theatrical counterparts…. Why taint it with comparisons to a different medium? Maybe shows are killed by those opinions.
Jonathan Mandell: All the great critics of the past, Shaw, James Agee, Harold Clurman, had an immense grasp of all kinds of culture
Broadway Spotted: Well, apparently current humans aren’t as wise or as cultured.
Jonathan Mandell: It’s too easy to play the snob card. I wasn’t aware it was controversial to seek out informed criticism.
Of course critics should view each show freshly. I felt that critics unfairly trashed A Little Night Music because of a production of it they saw decades earlier.
But it’s hard to understand an argument for deliberate ignorance.
Broadway Spotted: Who said anything about controversy? I prefer not to see the other form. It’s a preference and it doesn’t make me less informed.
Furthermore, people in the movie industry don’t seek out our version and no one calls them uninformed. They’re just “not into theatre.” Why can’t we just not be into movies? I’m not. They put me to sleep, truly.
Jonathan Mandell: Actually, I’ve spent several days calling film critics of August: Osage County uninformed. That’s how this thread got started
Broadway Spotted: Well, then I don’t know what to tell you. I, frankly, don’t care what movie critics think lol

TimesSquareonNewYearsEve New Year’s Eve – Help In Last Minute Plans


@Tiffany510: What’s your favorite thing about New York City?

Idina Menzel ‏‪ being able to walk off a bad mood .

‪@ielderkin339‬ what are you most looking forward to in 2014?

Idina Menzel ‏‪getting back to work on ‪#if/then. Taking my son ice skating .

Aliki Didden ‏‪@AlikiDidden‬ what’s your biggest wish right now?

Idina Menzel ‏‪ to be a great mom .

Beth Metcalf ‏‪@bmetcalf_98‬  how many lessons/rehearsals did it take to develop such an amazing voice?

Idina Menzel ‏‪ Always could sing but millions of lessons to become versatile and learn how to use voice. and just life aoc3 August: Osage County, Final Round Many theater Tweeters criticized (and some defended) A.O. Scott’s review of August Osage County in the New York Times because he did not see the play, and yet in a paragraph in his review seems to be making comments about it. One critic (not me) wrote: “Seems he didn’t make an effort to even read it, let alone watch at Lincoln Center Library. Lazy.” Today, he responded:

A.O. Scott: I hedged because I’m not a theater critic and know many theater folk admire the play. I don’t think it’s an especially good play, but can see how it could make good theater.

Lillian Bikset: To me, a lot of its appeal as a play is in its links to drama history, plus kitsch & soap. Theatrical humor.

Carly Rae Jepsen will play Cinderella opposite Fran Drescher starting February 4, for 12 weeks. The 28-year-old pop star is most known for the song  “Call Me Maybe,” which sold 10 million copies in 2010.  Hailing from Canada, Jepsen starred in her high school productions of Annie, The Wiz and Grease before attending the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

For those unfamiliar, here is her music video, which has been viewed more than 520 million times.

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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