Hugh Jackman, Elaine Stritch, Titanic Return. kd lang, Sky debut. The Week in New York Theater

President Obama has nominated a new head of the National Endowment of the Arts, Sky the winner of the Westminster Dog Show was cast in Kinky Boots, and Elaine Stritch has started to Tweet. Yes, that all counts as theater news, and it all happened this past week. Also: new plans for a Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center site, a new Cosette in Les Miz, the return of Hugh Jackman, the return of Titanic with the original cast, dates for Sting’s The Last Ship, and my review of the Pulitzer-winning play Dinner With Friends.  Below is a video to mark the death of Shirley Temple, and a photo essay on the theater festival inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin.

Plus, answers to important questions: Is it OK to mock older theatergoers? Should a non-profit theater charge $162 for tickets? Has nudity ever salvaged a bad play? Can you buy talent for $80,000?

The Week in New York Theater, Feb 10 – 16

Monday, February 10, 2014

Shirley Temple, child star turned ambassador, has died at age 85. She will always be 7.

Facing Our Truth: 10-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege

A half-dozen brief, commissioned plays at the National Black Theater inspired by the shooting of Trayvon Martin, were intelligent, non-polemical takes on the issues raised by the case. In Dominique Morisseau’s “Night Vision,” for example, Ayana has called the police to report that a black man was beating a woman in the street. How did you know he was black, her husband Ezra asks; it was dark out and he was wearing a hood. Both Ezra and Ayana are themselves African-American.


Hugh Jackman at Tony's
For the fourth time, Hugh Jackman will serve as host of The Tony Awards. June 8.

Maggie GyllenhaalMaggie Gyllenhaal will make her Broadway debut co-starring with Ewan McGregor in Roundabout’s  revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing set to open Oct. 30.  Gyllenhaal’s role, originally played by Glenn Close, is Annie, who is having an extramarital affair with a playwright. Because of this part, Gyllenhaal has dropped out of MCC’s Off-Broadway production of “The Village Bike”

kd lang in After Midnight
kd lang in After Midnight

Dramatists Guild award for lifetime achievement: John Guare. Other DG awardees include Chris Durang, Lisa Kron, Viola Davis. Special award to Larissa Mark, the Trumbull H.S. student who led successful campaign to reverse ban on Rent.

Andrea Martin
Andrea Martin

The indefatigable (67-year-old) Andrea Martin will star in Roundabout’s revival of Noises Off, Jan 2015

Why do so many theater people think it’s ok to dismiss and ridicule the most loyal audience, theatergoers over 50? (asked after listening to a podcast scoffing at the reaction of “old people” to various recent productions.)

Beverly Baker ‏@TheatreAddict  That’s so true. Without us over 50 people, nonprofit theatres wouldn’t have their much needed support.

Miles Lott ‏@mlottjr  A reflection of a good portion of society.
Margarette Connor ‏@mrc0201  Cult of youth in this country perhaps. Of course, after 50, who is still viable? asks the 53 year-old with tongue firmly in cheek
Jonathan Mandell ‏Viable enough so that, without them, a lot of theaters would go under.
Margarette Connor ‏ There really is no respect for age and “age” is getting lower all the time. Sad


Sting’s The Last Ship is coming to Broadway in the Fall, after a run in Chicago: Performances start Sept 30, show opens Oct 26, at the Neil Simon Theater

Jane Chu, NEA nominee
Jane Chu, NEA nominee

Pres. Obama has nominated Jane Chu of The Kauffman Center in Kansas City, Mo to be the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a position that has been empty for a year, ever since Rocco Landesman left.  Chu is a pianist who led construction of the $400 million Kauffman Center,  which helped revitalize Kansas City, Mo

One idea for Performing Arts Center at Ground Zero
One idea for Performing Arts Center at Ground Zero

Remember plans for the Performing Arts Center at World Trade Center? Trying again, with all-British team.
Frank Gehry will design it. Young Vic Theatre’s David Lan will run it. When it’s completed, no earlier than 2018, it will feature theater, music, dance, opera. (The sketch above is simply one suggestion, not at all definitive.)

Kicked out as Cosette in Les Miserables

Samantha Hill, new Cosette
Samantha Hill, new Cosette

Heather Clough ‏@gypsysmiles Seriously???
Nicole 🙂 ‏@FightOnNicole  Seriously? What happened?!?

Jonathan Mandell: Les Miz won’t say why or what happened, only that Samantha Hill (Phantom) is now playing Cosette.

Zena ‏@scarletseas  At least it wasn’t the entire cast like years ago when CamMac fired them all! <3 LesMis

Sky, wire fox terrier crowned top dog at Westminster Dog Show, joined the cast of Kinky Boots (for 1 show) #woof

Sky on stage at 'Kinky Boots' with cast member Daniel Steward Sherman
Sky on stage at ‘Kinky Boots’ with cast member Daniel Steward Sherman


Shakespeare in the Park 2014:

1. Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater in “Much Ado About Nothing”

2 John Lithgow in “King Lear.”

CupofSoupjpgCup of Noodles mascot forced to shovel snow (in Japan). Seems like a good summing up of today.

Hugely profitable NFL gets big tax breaks. So why the bitching about the arts,asks critic Philip Kennicott

LincolnCenterTheater ‏@LCTheater
On 1st day of rehearsal for #ACTONE, the company shared the #FirstBroadwayShow they ever saw.
Jonathan Mandell: What were theirs?
Lincoln Center Theater: There was quite a mix! The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Death of a Salesman, Cats, Hair, Into the Woods…

Raising a Family While Making a Life in the Arts.

Susan Shay @susanmshay I end up paying more for daycare than I make in any acting gig..but if I stop now hard to get back in game.
@yinzerspielen There are Brooklyn Arts Exchange residencies designed specifically for parents.
So many young NYC theater artists support themselves by nannying. What if they did so for artist parents
Cody ‏@candrus68   never done it, but my actor friends’ best gigs were for artists- dancer moms, actor couples

Dinner With Friends 1

Dinner with Friends Review

Near the end of “Dinner With Friends,” an insightful comedy that restores the word “adult” to its rightful meaning, Gabe confesses to his wife Karen that he’s fallen out of love – not with her, but with his best friend.

In the Roundabout’s satisfying revival of Donald Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, Marin Hinkle and Jeremy Shamos portray Karen and Gabe, a happily married couple who learn that their best friends, the couple Tom and Beth, are decoupling.

…“Dinner With Friends” offers more than an exploration of marriage. It is a subtle exploration of the tensions between characters who think they know one another long and well, and learn that maybe they don’t.  The play asks us to look at the way that one’s perceptions can shift, even if only slightly – and how that can be enough to upend one’s basic assumptions.  This works for the characters…but also for the audience.

Full review of Dinner With Friends


Waltons_1972Ralph Waite, known to TV viewers as the father on The Waltons but a veteran NY stage actor as well, has died at age 85.


At the curtain call for the first preview of @RockyBroadway last night, a surprise
This photograph was taken by David Gordon

Love and Theater: A Valentine’s Day Appreciation

Is there love theater the way there are love songs? Yes, but it’s different. Actors, playwrights and informed theatergoers explain the plays that defined love for them, including Aida

Brian d'Arcy James singing from Titanic, as he did 17 years ago.
Brian d’Arcy James singing from Titanic, as he did 17 years ago.

Titanic returns, with the original cast.

At rehearsal for Titanic, Ryan Silverman and Jill Paice, who were to star in Rebecca on Broadway, talk about what it was like to watch their show sink so spectacularly in public.


For its new “Cabaret”, Roundabout is charging top price of $162. This is non-profit?!! And they’re not alone
‪The New Group’s The Jacksonian  charged $125
PublicTheaterNY’s Fun Home: $105‪
MTC ‘s The Commons of Pensacola: $105
Roundabout, Patrick Healy writes, had a $5.5 million deficit last year on a $60 million budget.

Jonathan Mandell So maybe, scale down,not price up!
Erica McLaughlin ‏‪@EricaTWNY‬ ugh.
Daniel Bourque ‏‪@Danfrmbourque‬ But there’s the problem. Non-profits CAN’T scale down, they have to keep expanding and getting bigger to attract funding. This of course led to what has become so classic: the building boom where theatres keep building new spaces and the like. more orgs should look towards endowment. Very few theatres do it on a large scale; much more common with museums, etc.
Dom DeGaetano ‏‪@DomDeGaetano‬ The next great movement in theater will be open rebellion against the non-profit business model.
Neighborhoodr EV ‏‪@NHEastVillage‬  Scale down, sure, plus sponsorships? And more premium tickets/packages?
Dom DeGaetano ‏‪It’s less a matter of getting smaller than of getting lighter.


So You Think You Can Dance as Broadway farm team


Julius iGlide Chisolm and Virgil Lil O Gadson
Julius iGlide Chisolm and Virgil Lil O Gadson

Cole Horibe in Kung Fu

Cole Horibe, Virgil Gadson and Jess LeProtto are among the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance who are now in shows on Broadway or Off-Broadway — Coribe in Kung Fu, Gadson in After Midnight, LeProtto in Newsies.

Is it a good or a bad development that TV shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance? have become farm teams for Broadway?
Steven Tartick ‏Fresh talent and a new audience sounds like a win.

In your experience, has nudity ever salvaged a bad stage show?

(asked after seeing The Correspondent at Rattlestick)
Adam Green ‏@Adam___Green Yes, for the duration of the nudity & 20 seconds after 
Philip Vonada ‏@PhilipVonada  No. Because it bad shows, nudity tends to be used as a device instead of honoring the story.
After Ever After ‏@AEA_Musical  No, but with Spider-Man I would have been willing to try.

Audiences dread idea of verse plays (plays w/poetry) which is why producers don’t advertise the verse part.


“I just don’t think you’re very talented.”

“What?! Are you kidding me?  I spent $80,000 on a theater BFA. Of course I am talented, Gerald.” ~ from Girls, on HBO.

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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