If/Then with Idina Menzel, A Raisin in the Sun with Denzel Washington and The Realistic Joneses with Michael C. Hall opened on Broadway; Adrian Lester gives a star turn portraying the first African-American actor to play Othello in Red Velvet. The actor, Ira Aldridge, performed the role in London in 1833, but he was a native New Yorker.
New York is the setting for nearly half the shows of Broadway’s Spring 2014 season (See April 1 below, but it’s no joke.)
Of course, Broadway is not the only place for shows in April. Here is a list of April New York theater openings — more than one per day.
Also, check out the update Broadway 2013-2014 Season Guide: What’s closed, what’s opening; reviews,
The Week in New York Theater
With a few exceptions (shows with “rock” in the title), Broadway shows have trouble attracting men. Men now comprise just 32 percent of Broadway audiences. Men and women go in equal numbers to sports events, rock concerts, even movies. Why not theater?
Neil Patrick Harris AS Hedwig, Complete With Blonde Wig, Custom Heels
When Ira Aldridge played Othello in London, they were still debating whether it was a good thing to end slavery in the British colonies. Aldridge is the real-life African-American actor portrayed by Adrian Lester in “Red Velvet,” the fascinating play written by Lester’s wife Lolita Chakrabarti in a production by London’s exquisite Tricycle Theatre now opened at St. Ann’s Warehouse through April 20th. It manages not just to dramatize a little-known 19th century figure but provide insight into the art of acting and of theater.
Aldridge was a native New Yorker who left the United States as a teenager in order to pursue a career on stage, becoming a successful actor throughout Europe, specializing in Shakespearean roles.
In “If/Then,” Idina Menzel portrays two different versions of the same character Elizabeth, and at the beginning of the musical, I was feeling like two versions of myself as well. Elizabeth as Liz pursues love, and as Beth goes after a career as a city planner, in order to try to make a difference in the world. I, Jonathan, initially felt both like Joe and Nathan – as Joe, irritated at the premise, and as Nathan, excited by the promise of entertainment from so much proven stage talent, with various past successes in Next to Normal, Rent and Wicked.
By the end, we (I) could agree: The way the premise plays out is more intelligent than it at first seems. The entertainers themselves deliver on their promise. It is terrific to see (and hear) Idina Menzel back on Broadway after an absence of nine years. She is employed wisely — on stage nearly all the time, she’s given songs that emphasize character as much as vocal gymnastics; we must wait for the occasional full-steam pop arias like “Always Starting Over”; making them all the more flooring.
But this is a story that would have worked better as a novel, or perhaps a serial on Netflix.
Stars in the Alley, The Broadway League’s annual concert, returns to Shubert Alley 11 a.m. to 12:30 pm Wednesday, May 21
— Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater) March 31, 2014
Theater artists, don’t give up! Expand your skills, redefine success, bond with your network, says Jennifer Lane.
How do YOU keep from giving up as a theater artist? (Or shouldn’t I ask this on a Monday morning?)
I have given up on the dream if being on bway but now I find community theatre is my outlet.
@NewYorkTheater Work the long game– career in the theater is a marathon! Plus get involved with new works, they inspire & ignite passion!
— Caroline Selia (@carolineselia) March 31, 2014
Sinisha Evtimov @SinishaEvtimov Just move to Europa… give it a try somewhere where it is truly appreciated
Aleisha Force @aleishaforce remembering that this is my work, not my entire life.
April 1, 2014
“This is probably a sure way to get applause in New York, but I was born in Brooklyn,” Jessie Mueller as Carole King says from the stage of the Stephen Sondheim Theatre at the beginning of Beautiful.
These are the first spoken words in this Broadway musical, which is set in locations around New York City. The line about Brooklyn does get applause, without fail.
New Yorkers may be applauding a lot this season. Nearly half the shows opening on Broadway in spring 2014 are set wholly or mostly in New York City.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” says Brian Yorkey, who, with composer Tom Kitt, has written the book and lyrics for If/Then, which stars Idina Menzel as a city planner who moves to New York. “New York is our home, and it’s what we know, and what we love.” That’s true, he says, of many of the other writers of shows set in the city this season, from Woody Allen to James Lapine.
Rosie O’Donnell to receive 2014 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her commitment to arts education through her org Rosie’s Theater Kids
Nominations for 2014 Lucille Lortel Awards: Fun Home; Here Lies Love; Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 get the most nominations.
Cast recording for Here Lies Love coming April 22, a week before show opens again at the Public Theater.
Courtney Love wants to see a Broadway musical about Kurt Cobain
Artists are more educated and more unemployed than the general workforce. Sixty-five percent have BAs or higher (v. 32% overall). 7.1% are unemployed
“… a masterpiece on just about every level…Much of the reaction from the moment this new production was announced concerned Denzel Washington’s age. He is 59; the character he is portraying, Walter Lee Younger Jr., is supposed to be 35…His age doesn’t bother me. Consider it a new form of innovative casting — age-blind casting… Director Kenny Leon has rethought this play, in ways that work better, and perhaps a few ways that don’t work as well. Denzel Washington works better…”
The musical Aladdin on Broadway has gotten rid of Abu, Aladdin’s trusted if mischievous monkey companion, as well as the pet tiger Rajah, both of whom were in Disney’s 1992 animated film. In Rocky on Broadway, you cannot see the real streets of Philadelphia, nor in Les Miserables on Broadway can you see the performers’ nostrils; both loomed large in the film versions.
About a third of the forty two new shows in the 2013-2014 Broadway season were either adapted from a movie or so closely associated with one that the film serves both to lure an audience into the musical, and to raise audience expectations—the former a godsend for the producers, the latter a terror for the creative team. How do you offer something both comforting and exciting, familiar and surprising; what can Broadway offer as compensation for the loss of Abu, Philadelphia and Hugh Jackman’s shapely nose?
The answer is what we can call The Broadway Effect
over the past few decades have entered the standard Broadway playbook of stage effects:
Confetti shot out of (on-stage or off-stage) cannons
Banks of bright lights shining directly in the audience’s eyes
Shimmering stars against a deep black night (I mean the celestial bodies, but of course celebrities are also now standard.)
Weather (usually rain), accompanied by somber black umbrellas or loud crashing noises.
Magically moving scenery (via computer automation)
It’s not just such stage special effects that contribute to the Broadway Effect; one must include Broadway’s traditional elements that continue to thrive, such as massive synchronized ensemble tap-dancing.
Times Square Billboard
Paul Rudnick on straight men and theater: A straight guy’s ‘I want” song is “I want to leave at intermission”
“I was a 13-year-old boy for 30 years” — Mickey Rooney, who has died at age 93. The movie star was on Broadway twice. Sugar Babies is said to have made him a star once again.
Ninety minutes and a dozen scenes after it began, this often comic, sometimes cosmic and thoroughly cryptic play by Will Eno, a downtown playwright making his Broadway debut, was over….Fans of Michael C. Hall expecting “Dexter”-like intrigue and plenty of plot, or those of Marisa Tomei hoping for a light comedy like “My Cousin Vinny” are likely to be disappointed, and baffled by “The Realistic Joneses.” Actually, most people are likely to be baffled by “The Realistic Joneses.” But not everybody will be disappointed. Those who know Will Eno’s work will be in familiar unfamiliar territory.