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RIP Pete Seeger, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rude Mechs at Lincoln Center. Porno Back on 42nd Street. Week in New York Theater.

PeteSeegerandPhilipSeymourHoffmanPete Seeger and Philip Seymour Hoffman both died this week, one’s life more than twice as long as the other; one the quintessential optimist, the other an unwavering pessimist; both talented and brave artists whose gifts went way beyond the technical. They touched people.

Their deaths, bookending the week, put a pall on it.

While there are only two shows opening on Broadway in all of February, there are more than a dozen Off-Broadway, some hotly anticipated. Both Broadway Week and Off Broadway Week/20at20 discounts are still in force, although only for a few days more.

This week I reviewed the Rude Mechs at Lincoln Center and the New Group’s latest Thomas Bradshaw provocation, “Intimacy.” I also interview avant-garde theatrical royalty about her latest play, which takes place in a pool.

Week in New York Theater Jan 27 to Feb 2

Monday, January 27, 2014

Many non-profit theaters “have become huge beyond repair” and should close, argues Annah Feinberg.

Now through February 9: @20at20 discounts.

Memorial for Ruth Maleczech, co-founder of Mabou Mines, to be held at LaMamaETC’s Ellen Stewart Theater, Monday March 24, 7 pm

Dalton School first killed production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, then rewrote it, cutting Asian stereotypes

StopHittingYourselfset

My review of Stop Hitting Yourself

Stop Hitting Yourself,” playful chaos brought to you by the acclaimed Austin theater collective Rude Mechs, is the first stage show I could call cheesy and not mean it as an insult: Before the play begins, a half-naked man is lying unconscious on his side with cheese dripping towards his navel. Near the end of the play, the seven performers smear cheese all over each other, most of it taken from a working fountain on stage that spouts queso. In-between, every now and then, somebody on stage eats some nachos.

Lincoln Center describes this show, which it commissioned for its experimental LCT3 and which runs through February 24th at its Clare Tow Theater, as “part Pygmalion, part Busby Berkeley, part self-help lexicon.” I wouldn’t describe the play this way, actually – although, yes, the half-naked man is eventually dressed on stage in a tuxedo; there’s some tap-dancing and a few songs; the audience is asked to repeat the words “improvement,” “charity,” and “queso.”  But there is so much else stuffed into this 90-minute show  – audience participation, meta fiddling around, digression upon digression — that “Stop Hitting Yourself” is hard to sum up.

Full review of Stop Hitting Yourself

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PeteSeeger
Pete Seeger (1919-2014), with guitar, on his way to court to be sentenced for refusing to “name names” HUAC, 1961. The sentence was eventually overturned.

10-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race & Privilege” Feb 5-10, National Black Theatre (2031 5th Ave.)

PoolPlay3

Pool Play Q and A with Erin Mee

In 2001, Erin Mee directed "First Love" by her father Charles Mee, starring Ruth Maleczech and Frederick Neumann, artistic directors of Mabou Mines.

In 2001, Erin Mee directed “First Love” by her father Charles Mee, starring Ruth Maleczech and Frederick Neumann, artistic directors of Mabou Mines.

“Pool Play” is immersive theater taken to a literal extreme – everybody, actors and audience, is immersed in water. Conceived and directed by Erin B. Mee, the fully-scripted play will take place in the Waterside Pool at 25 Waterside Plaza from February 7 to March 8, 2014.

I talked to Erin Mee, daughter of pioneering avant-garde playwright Charles Mee (who contributed monologues to “Pool Play”) about her father’s influence,  about whether her career as an academic enhances or detracts from her life as a theater artist,  about the trend in immersive theater, and how she thinks theatergoers will react to this underwater experiment: “People we have talked to love the idea of putting their feet in the subject of the play.”

Complete Q and A with Erin Mee

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KingKong

The producers of King Kong, an Australian musical, have announced plans to move into Broadway’s Foxwood (former home of Spider-Man:Turn Off The Dark) in December.
Nederlander pays feds $45K fine & agrees to make its theaters more accessible to the disabled. (Gershwin, Brooks Atkinson, etc.)

RichardIIIcampinggoods

Richard III Camping Goods: “Now is the Winter of our Discount Tents.” (Shouldn’t this be illegal?)

Austin Cauldwell and Dea Julien in Thomas Bradshaw's Intimacy

Austin Cauldwell and Dea Julien in Thomas Bradshaw’s Intimacy

My review of Intimacy

“Intimacy,” the latest provocation by Thomas Bradshaw, begins with promise and ends in pornography….Any attempt to find the kernel of meaning in this play feels crushed by its explicitness.

Full review of Intimacy

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Chita Rivera will star this summer in Kander  and Ebb’s The Visit at the Williamstown Festival. Soprano Renée Fleming will star in the new comedy Living on Love.

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CarolChanninginHelloDollyThinking green helps save green ($). 10 tips for more sustainable stage productions.

English speakers stink at identifying smells, because we don’t have the right language to do so.

Playwright David Adjimi’s eloquent lawsuit vs Three’s Company producers to allow 3C to be published and produced

They’re going back to the past to create a stage musical version of 1985 film Back to the Future on the West End. Dates unclear

Happy Birthday to Carol Channing, 93 today!

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January, 2014 Quiz, clockwise from top left: Paul Soileau in Stop Hitting Yourself, Daniel Radcliffe, Debra Messing in Outside Mullingar, Bradley Cooper, Jessie Mueller in Beautiful, Rebecca Hall in Machinal

January, 2014 Quiz, clockwise from top left: Paul Soileau in Stop Hitting Yourself, Daniel Radcliffe, Debra Messing in Outside Mullingar, Bradley Cooper, Jessie Mueller in Beautiful, Rebecca Hall in Machinal

New York Theater January Quiz

Q and A with Daryl Roth, wife and mother until 40, then producer of 80+ productions, 7 Pulitzers in last 3 decades

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Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman, 2013

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman, 2013

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967 – 2014

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About 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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