Disgraced, The Real Thing, Lift, Angels in America. Week in New York Theater


The newly announced Broadway transfer of “Hand of God” came accompanied with a sly advertising campaign to turn their “weaknesses” into strengths. But some of the best shows now playing are also without movie stars, a London origin, or a film provenance  — I’m thinking especially of “Disgraced,” reviewed below.

But yes, celebrities sell, so also below: Daniel Radcliffe answers your questions, Benedict Cumberbatch portrays a real-life character 27 years after Broadway, Justin Kirk will get kidnapped on stage,  Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal make their Broadway debuts, Neil Patrick Harris’s husband David Burtka returns to Broadway, Cory Michael Smith transforms from Off-Broadway wunderkind to TV star, Bradley Cooper deforms and explains why, and Glenn Close and Hugh Jackman are among those highlighted in a rundown on the New York theater openings this month.

Week in New York Theater,Oct 27-Nov 2


Set and light design by Jan Versweyveld Costume design by Wojciech Dziedzic Video design by Tal Yarden Music by Wim Selles

My review of Angels in America at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Belgian director Ivo van Hove’s Dutch-language production of the play cast two members of his theater company, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, to portray (Jewish word processor) Louis and (black ex-drag queen nurse) Belize — Fedja Van Huet and Roeland Fernhout….a couple of Dutch guys, with little discernible trace of anything Jewish or black or New York.

This is one of the slightest changes, truly, in a production that radically revises this epic play – a production that, despite such disappointments, ultimately worked for me.

Full review of Angels in America


Justin Kirk (Weeds, Angel in America) will play kidnapped businessman in The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) New York Theater Workshop Nov 19-Jan 4


A look at Israeli author and critic (and critic of Israel) Amos Keenan, and his “Salt of the Earth,” which  is currently at BAM.


21 Random Questions with Daniel Radcliffe

What are your future plans in the entertainment industry?

Alongside acting I would definitely like to direct something in the future. I’ve written a script which is not terrible(I think!) and might like to do something with it in the future.

If you wouldn’t be actor, what other career would interest you?

If I had to change career now I would like to go back to school and be an archeologist. The idea of digging up bits of bone and handaxes in a muddy field is very exciting to me.


Performance artists are creating powerful pieces on forgotten issues.


My review of Lift

Lift, a play about a man and a woman stuck in an elevator after a terrorist attack, is written by Walter Mosley, who has had three decades of success as a novelist, especially with the Easy Rawlin mysteries, such as Devil in a Blue Dress, which was made into a movie starring Denzel Washington. Although he is new to playwriting, one expects from a Mosley play three things — suspense, surprise, and an African-American perspective. One doesn’t expect tedium.

Full review of Lift


Scheduled for Broadway in the Spring: It Shoulda Been You, a new musical comedy about a wedding, starring Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris, as two rival mothers-in-law, as well as Sierra Boggess, and David Burtka (Neil Patrick Harris’s husband) will be directed by David Hyde Pierce, in his Broadway directorial review. The music is by Barbara Anselmi  , and the book and lyrics are by Brian Hargrove, a television writer who is married to Pierce.

You Can’t Take It With YouLongacre Theatre

You Can’t Take It With You extends a month, to February 22.

Jim Simpson,artistic director of The Flea, announces he will be stepping down after 18 years. I profiled him recently for American Theater

BAM’s Spring theater season:

February:  Goodman Theatre’s Iceman Cometh

March: Tectonic Theater’s new play, The Tallest Tree in the Forest

April: Ibsen’s Ghosts

May: Fugard Theater’s A Human Being Died That Night


Hilton Als looks at Young Jean Lee and her new play at the Public Theater,Straight White Men, not her usual fare.


New film Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch as war hero/father of the computer/hounded homosexual Alan Turing comes a mere 27 years after Broadway play about the same man and based on the same book.  “Breaking The Code” by Hugh Whitmore starred Derek Jacobi; it marked the second appearance on Broadway of Robert Sean Leonard.

Words reach the brain, music the heart. When you combine them into a musical, tt becomes a singular force” – George Takei

DisgracedLyceum Theatre

My review of Disgraced

It is easy to argue that playwright Ayad Akhtar exerts an almost mathematical craftiness in his bluntly provocative play: His wily navigation through charged terrain includes putting the anti-Muslim arguments into the mouth of the Muslim character, and giving the non-Muslims the reasonable counter-arguments.

But it is hard to dispute that “Disgraced”… introduces a fresh and important new voice to the American stage; the play is in my view deserving of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that it won. What makes this all the more astonishing is that “Disgraced” was the first play Ayad Akhtar ever wrote…

Full review of Disgraced




Real Thing, TheAmerican Airlines Theatre
My review of The Real Thing

Both Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal are making their Broadway debuts in ‘The Real Thing,” Tom Stoppard’s trickster meditation on what is reality versus artifice in art, politics and above all in love, but Cynthia Nixon is the most interesting performer in this disappointing Broadway production, although not for what she does on the stage.

Nixon appeared in the original Broadway production of “The Real Thing” when she was 18 years old, as Debbie, a small enough role that she simultaneously appeared in David Rabe’s “Hurly Burly,” walking back and forth between the theaters each night – thus giving birth to the Nixon Rule; Actors Equity forbids any performer to appear in two Broadway shows at the same time…

…Ewan McGregor, an undeniably charismatic movie star still probably best known as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars movies, is an intelligent actor with extensive experience on stage, but he doesn’t seem precisely right as Henry…

Full review of The Real Thing



Cory Michael Smith, Breakfast At Tiffany's
Cory Michael Smith, Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Cory Michael Smith, great in Cock, The Whale Off-Broadway, the saving grace in Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway, is now on TV as Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler, in Gotham and in Olive Kitteridge on HBO

Cory Michael Smith as The Riddler in Gotham
Cory Michael Smith as The Riddler in Gotham

Art journalists and critics are getting work — at the arts organizations they used to cover.


New York Theater October 2014 Quiz

November 1


Preview guide of shows opening in New York in November



Every Brilliant Thing, hit UK play about boy who makes list of world’s best things to cheer up his mom, Barrow Street, Dec 6-Mar 29

Tom Stoppard, “the top living playwright” (says Toronto Star), offers some clues as to how he writes plays.

Set and light design by Yves ColletMusic by Jefferson LembeyeCostumes by Corinne Baudelot

My review of Six Characters in Search of an Author

What’s most shocking about Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” is that it was written and produced in 1921, decades before Beckett or Albee…

Broadway Revealed: Photographs by Stephen Joseph Behind the Theater Curtain, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, November 8-January 31

Video when the exhibition was at a gallery two years ago:



Bradley Cooper on CBS Sunday Morning:

The story of The Elephant Man “left such an impression on Cooper that he performed the role of Merrick for his master’s thesis in drama school in New York.

“His research led him to England. “Honestly, it was something that sort of overtook me,” he said. “It wasn’t a big planned thing. I thought I was going to do the thesis, I was doing research. And then I just thought, ‘Wait a second. I have money saved. Why don’t I get a round-trip ticket?'”

He made his way to the hospital where Merrick lived and was studied until he died in 1890 at the age of 27.


“And all of a sudden I’m at the London Hospital crossing Whitechapel Road to where he was, and walked in the gardens that he walked at midnight. I mean, it was incredible.”

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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