Bryan Cranston debuts. Daniel Radcliffe returns. King Kong retreats. Week in New York Theater

Week in Theater March 9Bryan Cranston made his Broadway debut in All The Way, about LBJ, one of five shows I reviewed this week in a season that’s heating up.  Fiddler on the Roof will play once more on Broadway, as will On The Town.

Not only has King Kong disappeared; so has the Foxwoods where it was scheduled to be presented.

There is still time to enter the contest for a pair of free tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe in his third Broadway show, The Cripple of Inishmaan. Details here

Week in New York Theater

Monday, March 3, 2014

Top 10 Idina Menzel

Top 10 ways to mispronounce Idina Menzel

Co-creator ‪Kate Wetherhead talks about Submissions Only web series about theater.

Stage Kiss 1

My review of Stage Kiss

By the end of Stage Kiss, the man and the woman have kissed 288 times. This is according to the woman’s husband, who is a banker and loves numbers, and has not been in on the kissing, in Sarah Ruhl’s amusing, convoluted play – which is anything but by the numbers, managing to combine broad slapstick,  melodrama, mock-kitchen sink realism, a loving backstage farce, and a romantic comedy with actual insights into love.

Full review of Stage Kiss


Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee
Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee

Kung Fu at ‪Signature has been extended to April 6.

Emerging women playwrights: It’s submission time for ATCA’s $10K Francesca Primus Prize

Ok this is strange: ‪Randi Zuckerberg (Mark’s sis) makes her Broadway debut as Regina March 14-28 in ‪Rock Of Ages

His annual income is $30K. The theater’s is $3 million. Yet it refused to pay ‪Mike Lew for his play 

1786387_ET_Oscars_RCG_36Cate Blanchett is only the latest Oscar winner to thank a THEATER (or be at a theater and unable to accept) ‪


My review of Satchmo at the Waldorf Review

“Hello, Dolly is a piece of shit.”

This is the voice of Louis Armstrong, after the final concert of his life, as depicted in Terry Teachout’s first play, “Satchmo at the Waldorf,” a dramatic imagining of the private Pops, starring the extraordinary actor John Douglas Thompson. It is four months before his death in 1971, and Armstrong — who overcame poverty, outcast status and racism to become one of the most popular entertainers in the world — reaches first for the oxygen canister on the couch of his dressing room, taking a deep breath. Then he reaches for his tape recorder.

Full review of Satchmo at the Waldorf


Here Lies Love 5

Here Lies Love returns to ‪The Public Theater April 14; opens May 1

AudraMcDonaldLadyDayHave you ever wanted to perform with Audra McDonald? Well, you can’t, but your dog can. ‪Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill is looking to cast small dog
Email a pic of your dog and describe it to by 10 am on Monday, March 10. “Final callbacks” Tuesday

Playwrights are in demand…on TV. And they want diversity.

Rapper ‪Common wants to star in The Great White Hope, the boxing play which made James Earl Jones a star. Unlikely for Broadway, says Michael Riedel of the New York Post.

A negative review feels like being the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Few of us remember how the tale ends: The child cries out that the emperor is naked, which the emperor knows, but the procession continues anyway– Francine Prose

Will Steven Spielberg remake West Side Story?


My review of Antony and Cleopatra

“Antony and Cleopatra,”which is being given a colorful and ambitiously reworked production at the Public Theater, has a tragic/romantic ending reminiscent of “Romeo and Juliet,” and it features the same charismatic figure as the “lend me your ears” orator from “Julius Caesar.” So why has there been no production of this particular play by Shakespeare on Broadway since 1952?

The answer seems clear: Despite two intriguing central characters and some choice poetry, this is not one of the Bard’s crowd pleasers. …Director and “editor” Tarell McCraney transposes the action from Ancient Egypt and Rome, to Haiti in the 18th century (then called  Saint-Domingue)  on the eve of its revolution from Napoleonic France. One knows of this change from the scenery, the costumes, the songs, the dancing, the allusions to Voodoo, and the Creole accents…. but not the text:  The characters still talk of “Rome” and “Egypt.”

Full review of Antony and Cleopatra


Three pieces of big news at once:

1. The Foxwoods has been renamed The Lyric.

2. On The Town revival will open there in Oct. 2014.

3. King Kong is no longer scheduled for The Lyric.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” one of the most frequently revived musicals on Broadway, will have its fifth revival in the fall of 2015 under the direction of the Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific), possibly starring Danny Burstein. (They’re talking.)

Hamilton, written and starring Lin Manuel Miranda, will premiere in January, 2015, directed by Thomas Kail (same team as In The Heights), at the Public Theater.

Women directors need to find the right language, neither apologetic nor male-like bullying,says Jess Smith ‪

Page to stage doesn’t have to mean better to worse. Recent adaptations”leave the original book far behind.” ‪

Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl at ‪Playwrights Horizons has been extended until April 6th.

DeathofBessieSmith How a Non-Political Play Can Create Political Theater My article for Howlround

Can Edward Albee save the Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant? Can theater change the world? Those are the questions I asked after I attended an early performance of Albee’s “The Death of Bessie Smith” in its first New York production in 46 years. Albee gave permission to a two-year-old theater company called New Brooklyn, which wanted to put on the play in a room off the hospital’s first floor reception area in order to help save the hospital from closing. (Includes list of American plays that have made a measurable difference.)

LBJ  (Cranston) with Hubert Humphrey (Robert Petkoff)
LBJ (Cranston) with Hubert Humphrey (Robert Petkoff)

My review of All The Way

“Everybody wants power; and if they say they don’t, they’re lying,” Bryan Cranston snarls in “All The Way,” Robert Schenkkan’s play about President Lyndon Baines Johnson now opened on Broadway. “But everybody thinks it ought to be given out free of charge, like Mardi Gras beads, especially to them, because, of course, they’re going to do Good with it. Nothing comes free. Nothing. Not even Good. Especially not Good.”

It’s something that Walter White from “Breaking Bad” might say. But of course, anything Bryan Cranston says for a while will sound like something that his character Walter White might say, to a public who just spent five years watching with fascination as he morphed from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher with cancer into a vicious drug kingpin. Thanks to his role in that television show, which ended in September, Cranston himself now has power — star power. And, one can argue persuasively, he is using his star power for Good, debuting on Broadway in what is essentially a staged lesson in history and politics.

And yes, Good doesn’t come free.  Without Cranston, it seems unlikely that Broadway theatergoers would be paying a top ticket price of $225 to sit through three hours of historical reenactments, with 20 actors portraying more than 50 characters in some of the crises and conflicts in the first 11 months of LBJ’s presidency.

Full review of All The Way


Body mikes,routine on Broadway for 40 years, may end. The FCC has been selling off the spectrum to tech firms. ‪Audences might have to get used to area mikes agin (This fact is buried in a profile of long-time Broadway sound designer Abe Jacob)

Cruise line theater a growing industry. One line alone hires 60 casts a year.They don’t WANT the stage to rock ‪


NYC artists, kicked out by high rents, used to be able to move to new un-gentrified neighborhoods. No longer: None left. ‪

Playwright ‪Meron Langsner gives a lesson to fellow playwrights and dramaturgs in fightaturgy – stage violence ‪


The Simpsons

Watch live streaming video from newplay at


Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale
Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale

My review of The Bridges of Madison County

“If you went away for a week and I spent the whole time in bed with a
photographer, would you be mad?” nosy neighbor Marge asks her husband Charlie in “The Bridges of Madison County,” the new lush and lovely Broadway musical.

“You’d have your reasons, I
guess,” Charlie eventually answers, not looking up from his paper. “I mean, look at me.”

Marge and Charlie are a terrific addition to the story of the affair between Francesca, an Italian-born Iowa farm wife, and world-traveling National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid — not least because of the performers Cass Morgan and Michael S. Martin, with their perfect comic timing and strong voices full of feeling. Marge’s question and Charlie’s answer seem the musical’s acknowledgement that its story, in bold outline, is a tad…silly….

it improbably strikes gold…If you’re going to do a big Broadway musical about a four-day adulterous affair that occurred 50 years ago, this is the way to do it.

Full review of The Bridges of Madison County

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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