Glamour On Broadway: Sting, Tatiana Maslany, Keira Knightley. Week in New York Theater

Both Tatiana Maslany and Keira Knightley announced they would be making their Broadway debuts, the rock star Sting made his debut this week as a Broadway composer, and an Off-Broadway play opened about the filming of Double Indemnity. If all that’s not glamorous enough, the New Yorker released videos of Sondheim talking about Sweeney Todd, Gypsy and West Side Story.

Below are excerpts and links to my reviews of “Billy and Ray,” “The Fortress of Solitude,” and “The Last Ship.”

The Week in New York Theater Oct 20-26



Andy Karl (Rocky) as Bruce Granit, Mark Linn-Baker (You Can’t Take It With You) as Oliver Webb, Tony winner Michael McGrath (Nice Work If You Can Get It) as Owen O’Malley, and Tony winner Mary Louise Wilson join Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher in Roundabout’s On The Twentieth Century revival

Harvard is planning to offer a major in “theater, dance and media,”leaving Princeton as only Ivy League not offering theater degree

Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt

Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal) are making a Broadway-aiming musical out of 2007 indie film The Visitor, in which a college professor discovers that somebody has rented his apartment to a young unmarried immigrant couple. He lets them stay, bonds over music, and then has his friendship tested when one is faced with deportation.


Billy Joel, who hasn’t put out new music since 2001, is working on songs about L.I. history. (A musical?)


My review of Billy and Ray

“No killing, no dead body, no sex, no nothing. Just talk.”
That line is uttered near the end of “Billy & Ray,” a play about the collaboration of director Billy Wilder and writer Raymond Chandler on the film “Double Indemnity.” The film’s producer is on the phone with the head of the Hollywood censorship office, using these words to describe the film in order to reassure him.
It is a sly description of the 1944 movie starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck that embodied a genre later labeled film noir, where, to get around the censors, all the dark doings an audience could want happen off-screen (sometimes inches off screen.)
Yet the line could also describe Mike Vencivenga’s play itself: Nothing much happens, just talk, in this disappointing production at the Vineyard Theater, directed by Garry Marshall. Its main appeal, to be honest, is in being able to witness the New York stage debuts of two of the performers in the four-member cast – Vincent Kartheiser, Pete Campbell from Mad Men, portraying Billy Wilder, and, as his secretary Helen, Sophie von Haselberg, who looks and acts uncannily like a young Bette Midler — and is in fact her daughter.

Full review of Billy and Ray


Hand to God MCC at the LucilleLortel Theater
Robert Askins’s Hand to God, featuring Tyrone the shock puppet, will open on Broadway’s Booth Theater April 7, 2015!


Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany to make her New York stage debut in Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By, opposite Thomas Sadoski at Second Stage, about two people who wake up after spending the night together faced with a number of challenges.

Study: Trips to live theater enhance literary knowledge,tolerance, and empathy among students. Science Daily

Ticketmaster vs. Stubhub: Who’s Winning the Resale Battle?


Bradley Cooper on The Elephant Man: “It was the reason why I wanted to become an actor, because of David Lynch’s movie. And then I discovered it was a play, and I did it for my thesis in grad school.”


Romala Garai
Romola Garai, so luminous in Indian Ink interviewed by The Interval 

Remember abruptly canceled “Hearts & Lights” at Radio City? Diane Paulus et al creating “NY Spring Spectacular,” opening March 26.

Only 10 percent of art school grads wind up as working artists, according to a new analysis

The Magic Jukebox,  musical sketch comedy, will inaugurate a new (temporary, aka pop-up) theater at South Street, Nov 6-22

Free play reading series at The Labyrinth Theater begins with  Empanada Loco,a Latin Sweeney Todd starring Daphne Rubin Vega

11 playwrights you need to know about (all but 3 of them women) by Karen D’Souza


Annie Baker

Will Eno

Gina Gionfriddo

Amy Herzog

Tracy Letts

Linda McClean

Lynn Nottage

Sarah Ruhl

Enda Walsh

Naomi Wallace


My review of Fortress of Solitude

“The Fortress of Solitude” begins with a sensory overload of song…the sounds of a Brooklyn block, circa 1975. That sets the tone for this energetic, inspired, heartbreaking and sometimes rushed and overwhelming stage adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s sprawling coming-of-age novel, centered on a friendship between a white boy named Dylan and a black boy named Mingus.

Full review


Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley to make her Broadway debut in Roundabout Theater’s Therese Raquin (based on Emile Zola novel), directed by Evan Cabnet, about a woman who embarks on an affair with her husband’s friend. It will open in October 2015

Alex Timbers will direct Permission by playwright Robert Askins in his follow-up to Hand to God MCC theater April 29 to June 7, 2015

Our research indicates that the ways Americans are participating in the arts is expanding, along with the demographics of those who participate. We are seeing more diversity in the groups (African American, Asian American and Hispanic) who are most likely to approach art in new ways, such as electronic media, to create and share music and visual art. As a matter of fact, in this the digital age, 74% of American adults are using their mobile devices, computers and tablets to view and listen to arts~NEA chair Jane Chu

Feelings of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than feeling of contentment~Francis Bacon

Annie Danger on “queer art” and how it’s like farming: you’ve got to love shoveling sh*t and hope it’s fruitful


Grand Prize Winner Chelsea Ravich
Grand Prize Winner Chelsea Ravich

Phantom of the Opera Pop Up Shop opens, displaying prize-winning masks



A Critic’s Lexicon

Raves vs. rants

pans vs. pouts

puffs vs. doubts

All eight articles from this week’s #transgender theater series on Howlround

Theaters With Your Favorite Audiences?



Advice to a musical theater writer, by Timothy Huang:

Go see everything.

Ask for things.

Say yes.


Apply for all things, all the time.


Also Sondheim on:

“Sweeney Todd” and Sondheim’s process for writing a musical


video of his announcing details of his new musical with David Ives

The Last Ship by Sting
The Last Ship by Sting

My review of The Last Ship

Sting’s songs are haunting and lyrical, the creative team is made up of Broadway royalty, the acting helps lend a sense of authenticity to this heartfelt tale based on the struggles of the shipbuilding community where the rock star grew up in Northern England. So why did “The Last Ship” ultimately feel to me so much like an overlong commercial for beer or aftershave lotion — all manly fellowship and honest, muscular effort, without much purpose except to work up a sweat?

The opening scenes promise much more than that.

Full review of The Last Ship


Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

Leave a Reply