Sondheim’s New Musical. Once Over. Stage Managers Get Their Day. The Week in New York Theater

While we wait for Stephen Sondheim’s new musical — which the Public Theater has already committed to producing, although there is not even a title yet (see “11” below)  —  there is plenty going on in the meantime.

Terrence McNally’s 21st Broadway production opened this past week, and Billy Porter’s first play in New York. Can critics become playwrights; can actors? See below.


The Week in New York Theater, October 6-12


Holder obituary 

Seldes obituary



Once will play its final Broadway performance on January 4, 2015, after 1,167 performances and 22 previews.

Gay Liberation sculpture
Gay Liberation sculpture

Walking as Performance Art: Elastic City Walks Festival

In their walk around Greenwich Village – the last artist walk of the Elastic City Walks Festival – theater director Niegel Smith, playwright and novelist Sarah Schulman, and poet and walk artist Todd Shalom asked us to do things that, it is safe to say, no participants in a walking tour of Greenwich Village have ever been asked to do before — which was ok, because this was not a walking tour.

“We don’t call them walking tours,” said Shalom. “They’re artist walks.” And they come with assignments for the participants. We were asked to write quotations on blank bookmarks and then slip them surreptitiously into the books for sale at BookMarc, the bookstore by fashion designer Marc Jacobs that replaced Biography Bookstore on Bleecker Street.

1 Stop sanitizing art by Philip Kennicott


2 Stop protecting racism by Melissa Hillman
“Manhattan Parisienne,” a new play by Alain Boublil (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon), about two struggling artists,  will be presented at 59E59 December 18-January 4


Can critics become playwrights? George B. Shaw, Tom Stoppard, Eric Bentley did. Can you learn to write plays by watching them?



“I will try anything….I embrace the danger”says F. Murray Abraham, actor in Homeland and Its Only A Play (where he portrays a critic!)


RIP Iva Withers,97,who played lead in Carousel and Oklahoma…on the same day: She was understudy to the stars.

Broadway lights dim in tribute


The new culture wars, argues Alyssa Rosenberg, are not over decency as in the past, but identity politics

The Sound and the Fury, another verbatim text theater piece by The Elevator Repair Service, a section of the novel by Faulkner, will be presented again at The Public Theater May 14-June 13

 Intimacy and the Theater – Howlround #newplay Chat

It’s Only A Play reviews and photographs



An Octoroon, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s clever adaptation of 1859 race melodrama,returns,this time Theatre for a New Audience Feb 14-March 8

“Rehearse” is derived from Old French, “rehercier,” which means to constantly repeat. Began use in connection w/theater in 1500s

Dan Kois on the joy of reading plays (you get to act in them snf direct them in your head) Eg: The Flick

Roberta Maxwell as Lillian Hellman and Dick Cavett as Dick Cavett
Roberta Maxwell as Lillian Hellman and Dick Cavett as Dick Cavett

Hellman v McCarthy on TV

The feud between the writers Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy began on public television, so it’s fitting that the play about their quarrel, “Hellman v McCarthy,” with the great Roberta Maxwell as a rude, cantankerous Hellman and Marcia Rodd as the caustically witty McCarthy, has just been broadcast on public television, as part of the new Theater Close-Up series….

To have Dick Cavett, the former talk show host, now 77, play his 44-year-old TV-host self on stage as if on television in the Abingdon Square Theater production was intriguing enough. But to have that performance broadcast on television reached a level of Marshall McLuhan provocation. Here was Dick Cavett delivering a monologue of 30-year-old jokes in a fake TV studio but to a real TV audience.


The Rebecca Saga: A judge has sentenced con man Mark C. Hotton to 34 months in prison for fabricating investors for the musical.


Stephen Sondheim says he’s working with David Ives (Venus in Fur) on a new one-act musical based on two Luis Buñuel films – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel. There’s no title, no date for completion, but both the Public Theater and producer Scott Rudin have committed to presenting it.

Poll: Your Favorite Theater About Theater


My review of While I Yet Live

Tonya, the cheeky daughter in “While I Yet Live,” has a problem with God (He’s “a wee bit passive aggressive, and vindictive”) and the Bible (“It’s the most violent book I’ve ever read.”) and with the way “old-timers” showed love (They weren’t ready for us “little black babies with brains and dreams and questions.”)
Tonya’s monologues, as performed with great comic verve by Sheria Irving, are among the highlights of “While I Yet Live,” a largely earnest, autobiographical play by “Kinky Boots” star Billy Porter, being given a first-rate production with a stellar cast at Primary Stages.
Porter has been upfront that the dysfunctional Pittsburgh family in his play is based on his own: “Reflecting on my own life experience as a gay, black, Christian man, and survivor of abuse,” he’s written, “I wanted to write a play that was about family, faith and the healing power of forgiveness.”
The play he has produced is a kitchen-sink drama that does not build steadily in dramatic tension but rather relies on a shaky, sometimes confusing narrative foundation of declamations, sudden revelations, abrupt confessions and confrontations.

Full review of While I Yet Live

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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