Off-Broadway on WNET. Pacino on Stage Acting. Broadway Begins. Week in New York Theater

While the Fall season on Broadway officially has begun with the opening of the first show, “This Is Our Youth,” an exciting event this week in New York theater was the announcement that some of Off-Broadway’s most intriguing shows of last season will be broadcast on Channel 13 in October and November. (Schedule below.) The series  will also be repeated Sundays, streamed online and broadcast on sister station WLIW/Channel 21.

Will they work on screen as well as they did on stage?


Two days left to enter the contest to get a free membership to Play by Play, an organization that fills seats left unsold.

Reviews below of Juarez, I Like It Here, Bootycandy. News about the Obies, Kelli O’Hara, the return of Wendy Wasserstein, the place of women Off-Broadway, Vanessa Hudgens, Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods; Al Pacino (who’s returning to Broadway again) on the appeal of stage acting; and Stephen Schwartz blasts a bigot.

The Week in New York Theater, Sept 8-13


Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) and Kate Burton perform Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood October 26, at the 92nd Street Y FREE.


Broadway veteran James Corden will be the host of “Late, Late Show” on CBS. (Will he ramp up theater guests?)


June 7th is the date selected for the 69th Annual Tony Awards, to be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall.


American Theatre Wing Logo



After 59 years run by the Village Voice, the Obies theater awards for Off and Off-Broadway theater will be run by  The American Theatre Wing, the founder and co-producer of the Tonys, “in partnership” with the Voice.

Will the Tonys broadcast thus finally acknowledge Off-Broadway (maybe sneak in a little Obies on the Tonys)? Or will the Wing try to start broadcasting the Obies?

Jenn Lyon and Quincy Dunn-Baker
Jenn Lyon and Quincy Dunn-Baker

The Wayside Motor Inn at Signature extends through Octorber 5. (The last 2 weeks are a higher price)



Kelli O’Hara will play Mrs. Darling (the kind mother of Wendy, John and Michael, and wife of George Darling) on NBC’s Peter Pan.

Side Show cocktail party


Side Show, which lasted only a few months on Broadway in 1997, will do better now, says director Bill Condon, because “people are more tolerant of diversity.”

Stars of Side Show


Side Show stars Erin Davie and Emily Padgett get their flu shots at a cocktail party for the show at The Library at the Public Theater.

Anika Noni Rose at Side Show cocktail party

I asked Anika Noni Rose what role she would like to play on a live TV musical? “Carmen Jones”



Although the Broadway League initially announced it would not be dimming the lights of Broadway marquees for Joan Rivers, because she hadn’t written or performed on Broadway for 20 years, it reversed its decision after a social media uproar, and several theater owners rebelled and announce they would dim anyway.



Producers are “in talks” about bringing the London hit Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up The Bodies, about Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, to Broadway. The plays are based on novels by Hilary Mantel (and yes, A Man For All Seasons, a play by Robert Bolt made into a movie starring Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, is about the same characters.)


High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens will star in Gigi — first at the Kennedy Center (January and February), then on Broadway. (Dates to be announced.)

Off-Broadway on TV

Theater Close-up, a new television series on WNET Channel 13 with host Sigourney Weaver, will  present filmed plays that appeared Off-Broadway every Thursday in October and November. The schedule:

October 2, 2014  (9 pm)
London Wall (Mint Theater Company)
The play by John Van Druten (I Remember Mama) explores the tumultuous lives and love affairs of the women employed as shorthand typists in a busy solicitor’s office in 1930’s London.

October 9, 2014 (10 pm — the time of all subsequent broadcasts)
Hellman v. McCarthy (Abingdon Theatre Company)
The greatest literary feud in modern American history began on January 25, 1980 when author Mary McCarthy appeared as a guest on “The Dick Cavett Show” and declared that “every word [playwright Lillian Hellman] writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'” In Brian Richard Mori’s play, Dick Cavett recreates his role in the actual events.

The Apple Family Plays: Scenes from Life in the Country (The Public Theater)
Each year since 2010,  Richard Nelson premiered a new play about the fictional, liberal Apple family of Rhinebeck, New York, each one premiering on a date of national political significance.

October 16, 2014
That Hopey Changey Thing
Midterm election night 2010

October 23, 2014
Sweet and Sad
A family brunch stirs up discussions of loss, remembrance and a decade of change on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

October 30, 2014
The Apples sort through family anxieties and confusion on the day of the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012.

November 6, 2014
Regular Singing
The final play in the cycle takes place on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

November 13
The Vandal (The Flea Theater)
The playwriting debut of actor Hamish Linklater, the play is set on a freezing night in Kingston, New York, a woman meets a boy at a bus stop.

November 20
An Iliad (New York Theatre Workshop)
Co-adapted by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, based on Homer’s Iliad translated by Robert Fagles.

November 27
Looking at Christmas (The Flea Theater)
From Steven Banks (head writer of “SpongeBob Squarepants”), the play takes place on Christmas Eve in New York City. A failed writer and a struggling actress meet while looking at the famous holiday windows and the windows come to life and look back at them.


My review of Juarez

How did Juarez, a Mexican border town said to be the birthplace of the burrito and the margarita, become labeled the Murder Capital of the World, specializing in violence against young women?

That’s the main question that the New York based company Theater Mitu, led by Juarez-born artistic director Ruben Polendo, sets out to answer in “Juarez: A Documentary Mythology,” an ambitious work of theater that is playing at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater through October 5th as part of the 2014 Theatre: Village Festival.….The information we glean about Juarez and its residents is what makes this piece worthwhile….It is in their approach to the theatrical aspects of documentary theater that I see “Juarez” suffering in comparison to the work of such documentary theater companies as The Civilians.

Full review of Juarez

Scene 1 Bootycandy: Phillip James Brannon and Jessica Frances Dukes in Bootycandy by Robert O'Hara
Scene 1 Bootycandy: Phillip James Brannon and Jessica Frances Dukes in Bootycandy by Robert O’Hara

My review of Bootycandy

In the first of Robert O’Hara’s ten scenes about growing up black and gay, a young child named Sutter asks his mother some uncomfortable questions, including why she and his grandmother call his penis booty candy.

“I don’t know,” his mother answers. “I guess because it’s the candy to the booty!”

“So can I lick it?”

This is bawdy, this is funny, but it’s also a little poignant. Those are the three main ingredients of “Bootycandy” as a whole – though not always at the same time. The show that O’Hara has written and directed, which has opened at Playwrights Horizons, is a collection of short plays, comedy sketches, and meta fiddling around that may at first glance seem barely connected, but are worth a second glance.

 Full review of Bootycandy


Wendy Wasserstein’s Heidi Chronicles will be back on Broadway with Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) Jason Biggs (Orange Is The New Black), Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder). Opens in March

Women make up about a third of the playwrights,directors and set designers who are hired Off-Broadway; about 15 percent of the sound designers; and 70 percent of the stage managers, according to a new report from the League of Professional Theatre Woman.

Michael Cera and Tavi Gevinson
Michael Cera and Tavi Gevinson

This Is Our Youth review roundup and photos


Ofmicenandmen3O'Dowd, Franco-Photo by Richard Phibbs
Of Mice and Men with James Franco and Chris O’Dowd will be projected in 700+ movie theaters November 6.

Artistic directors have a bias against playwrights who are alive, Ira Gamerman argues in a lively essay.

(But isn’t one of the strengths of theater its 2,500-year back catalogue?)

Keke Palmer as Cinderella and Sherri Shepherd as Madame
Keke Palmer as Cinderella and Sherri Shepherd as Madame

New cast of Cinderella

Full video of “Creating Inclusivity in the American Theatre” panel discussion at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.

The 1991 live taping of the original Into the Woods on Broadway will be out on Bluray and DVD December 2 — three weeks before the new movie premieres.

Reversing previous announcement, Second Stage will NOT be presenting the musical version of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, about a stylish psychopathic killer. The commercial backers at a company called Act 4 Entertainment, pulled the rights from Second Stage for the show, which played in London to mixed reviews.

Eloquent letter by composer Stephen Schwartz, president of the Dramatists Guild,  blasting bigoted principal who nixed Spamalot. Excerpts:

“You have an obligation to educate, not merely to placate bigotry so as to avoid ‘controversy’”

“Would you cancel a production of The Diary of Anne Frank because of concern over the sensitivities of Holocaust deniers?”

“A culture evolves, in part, based on the provocation of its artists”

Lisann Valentin as Adele and Imran Sheikh as Devaj, lovers from afar
Lisann Valentin as Adele and Imran Sheikh as Devaj, lovers from afar

My review of I Like To Be Here

As the play “I Like To Be Here” begins, Devaj and Adela are in love, although they have never spoken to one another. He is South Asian; she is South American and barely speaks English. He works as a cabdriver at night; she works in a bakery during the day. But they pass each other every morning to or from work in Jackson Heights. Finally, near the end of the play, he nervously offers her a mango.

Why does it take more than half the play to get to that introductory mango? The story of Devaj and Adela is just one story in a play so overstuffed that it’s evident even in the full title: “I Like To Be Here: Jackson Heights Revisited, Or, This Is a Mango.”…seven authors, 17 actors portraying 21 characters.

Full review of I Like To Be Here



Al Pacino in The New Yorkers

Al Pacino plans to star in David Mamet play “China Doll” on Broadway next year. Info comes from New Yorker profile of Pacino by John Lahr.

Al Pacino on stage acting, 1: “You’re up in the sky with the theatre gods—love it, love it, love it.”

2. He doesn’t believe in the fourth wall. “The audience is another character in the play. They become part of the event. If they sneeze or talk back to the stage, you make it part of what you’re doing.”

3. “When he was working on his performance in “The Indian Wants the Bronx,” he would walk for hours with [playwright Israel] Horovitz. ‘What he was doing was finding a character in life,’ Horovitz told me. ‘He’d spot a guy on the street and go, ‘Wait, wait, wait!’ We’d follow the person for hours, just to observe the walk, the posture. And the costume was important, too. He had to find the costume, rehearse in the costume, live in the costume.'”

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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