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20 Most Produced Playwrights. What Theater Job Is Right For You? The Week in New York Theater

BroadwaymapDuffyScquare

Above is a rare look at the map of the Broadway theaters in the sidewalk of Father Duffy Square, rarely visible through all the feet covering it.

Below are links to the entire broadcast of Sweeney Todd, and my reviews of The Money Shot, Scenes From A Marriage, Love Letters and This Is Our Youth; and a flow chart to help you decide what theater career is the right one.

 

The Week in New York Theater, Sept 22-28

 

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CircleofLifefromLionKing

Disney has made a record $6.2 billion from its worldwide stage productions of The

Lion King, surpassing Phantom of The Opera, a decade older.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

Jill Paice, Veanne Cox (!), Max von Essen join Robert Fairchild  and Leanne Michelle Cope in the cast of An American In Paris, opening on Broadway April 12th.

Money Shot, The Lucille Lortel Theatre

My  review of The Money Shot

In “The Money Shot,” a comedy by Neil LaBute whose humor rests largely on the playwright’s contempt for the two Hollywood couples he has created, it takes more than an hour for the audience to learn the reason why the characters are meeting. Steve (Fred Weller) and Karen (Elizabeth Reaser) are both movie stars who have gotten together with their spouses in Karen’s home in the Hollywood Hills above L.A. to discuss the request their director has made – that they have sex together for real in their forthcoming film…

This thin premise has led to a marketing campaign by MCC Theater (showing the four performers in bed) that is at best misleading. This is not a play about sex; it’s about revenge — the revenge of yet another playwright who is sticking it to Hollywood. “The Money Shot” is an obvious and poisonous if intermittently entertaining play that is mostly taken up with verbal jousting, though it does climax in a lengthy wrestling match. A first-rate cast does what it can to create characters out of LaBute’s easy targets and unappealing caricatures.

Full review of The Money Shot

All three pairs of Johans and Mariannes

All three pairs of Johans and Mariannes

My review of Scenes From A Marriage

Thrilled at intermission by the new stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from A Marriage,” I poured out my enthusiasm about director Ivo van Hove’s unusual staging to my ex, whom I had brought along. To my surprise, my ex felt differently, dismissing the show with a terse epithet: “White people’s problems.”

Ah, relationships: Why are they so difficult?

That’s the question Bergman seems to have been exploring when he created the story of the marriage between a professor named Johan and a lawyer named Marianne as a Swedish TV mini-series in 1973…

von Hove does something that both confuses and (in my view) enhances the narrative.

Full review of Scenes From A Marriage

Blessed Unrest, performing at the 10th annual New York Independent Theatre Awards

Blessed Unrest, performing at the 10th annual New York Independent Theatre Awards

New York Innovative Theatre Awards 2014: Off-Off Broadway’s Best

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John Lahr’s three favorite playwrights “for show of emotion…psychological nuance” etc.: Anton Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, August Wilson. Lahr’s favorite theater books: Elia Kazan’s “A Life”; “Odets: American Playwright.”; Michael Blakemore’s “Stage Blood”

 Writing for Disability:

It’s worthwhile,says playwright Christopher Shinn, to cast performers who are portraying their own experience, whether race or disability

Making a disability non-exceptional on stage – rather than a subject of pity/wonder/fetish – is empowering, says Samuel Yates

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Integrating the arts into the regular curriculum causes students to be happier, score higher.

10 most produced plays of 2014-15,  according to American Theatre Magazine (surveying the nation-wide membership of their parent organization TCG):

• Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang:
• Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley
• Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon
• Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz
• Around the World in 80 Days adapted from the novel by Jules Verne
• Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
• The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez
• Tribes by Nina Raine
• 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog
• Into the Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
• Venus in Fur by David Ives

20 most produced playwrights after Shakespeare in the forthcoming season:
• Christopher Durang
• Sarah Ruhl (not including 1 adaptation)
• Neil Simon
• John Patrick Shaley
• Anton Chekhov
• Tarell Alvin McCraney
• Tom Stoppard
• Arthur Miller (not including 2 adaptations)
• August Wilson
• Amy Herzog
• Henrik Ibsen
• David Ives (not including 7 adaptations)
• James Lapine
• Sam Shepard
• Jon Robin Baitz
• Joshua Harmon
• Katori Hall
• Matthew Lopez
• Oscar Hammerstein
• Samuel D. Hunter
• Tennessee Williams

Not too surprisingly, Stephen Sondheim is the most-produced theater composer in the U.S., with 20 productions set for 2014-15.

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Dr. Zhivago, musical composed by Lucy Simon (Secret Garden) based on Pasternak novel, reportedly aiming for Broadway in April 2015.

It is currently in Sweden:

A lottery for free tickets to the first performance of every Public Theater show this season will be held via Today Tix app. You can also use Today Tix app to enter daily to win tickets to On The Town for only $20.

Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow photo2 by Carol Rosegg

My review of Love Letters 

If there’s a gimmick to “Love Letters,” the Broadway revival of A.R. Gurney’s two-character play about a man and woman writing to one another over half a century, it isn’t the presence of a rotating roster of rarely-seen stars – Mia Farrow with Brian Dennehy through October 10th – nor the absence of scenery or costumes, nor that the actors stay seated at a table the whole time and read from scripts without ever looking at each other. It is that the two characters write letters to one another. Who does that anymore?

That is part of why this play holds such an unexpected fascination, helped along by a reliable performance by the formidable Dennehy and an extraordinary one by Mia Farrow. Part of the pleasure, much akin to Michael Apted’s documentary “Up” series, is in watching while a relationship and two lifetimes unfold before us, in ways that are suggested subtly from the start, and in ways that are totally surprising.

Full review

 

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Playwright Brighde Mullins on her road from Las Vegas casino shill to lover of Aristotle, and what they share

Tom Stoppard uses two main instruments to write his plays – the library, and a pen; no longer a quill 1; his last goose died, he says.

“Whatever else is going on in the world outside the theater, love and infidelity are always going on.” ~ Tom Stoppard

 

 

Which_role_are_you_Flow_diagram

 

Ian W. Hill@geminicollision And somehow everyone gets stuff done without techies (other than designers) or a Stage Manager? Impressive.

Jonathan Mandell @NewYorkTheater If you flow in all directions at once, you’re a stage manager.

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If you missed Sweeney Todd on PBS:

SweeneyToddPBS

http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365329433

 

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This is Our Youth

This is Our Youth

My review of This Is Our Youth

The beauty and wonder of Lonergan’s play is that it depicts with unblinking specificity a group of foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, hyper-articulate but clueless rich kids on the Upper West Side in 1982. But the playwright somehow brings us inside those characters, with lots of humor and little judgment, so that the audience can freely identify with them – not “What have our youth come to?” but “Yeah, I’ve been there.”

Director Anne D. Shapiro, who won a Tony for “August: Osage County,” and did wonders with “The Motherfucker with the Hat,” here again teams up with scenic designer Todd Rosenthal to present a production of this three-character play suitable for an 1,100-seat Broadway house like the Cort, with largely positive results.

Full Review

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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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