#SaveCafeEdison. Hugh Jackman Bleeds. Playwrights vs. Critics. Week in New York Theater

Pippin pops, Hugh Jackman bleeds, ageism is rampant, playwright Doug Wright doesn’t trust critics, and Cafe Edison is closing. But it wasn’t all bad news in the week in New York theater.  A petition to save the theater district eatery has more than 5,000 signatures as of now.  Playwrights Horizons has a novel idea — pay its playwrights well. And the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago.
Below: Tony Danza on boxing, how acting is so much easier than teaching, and Arthur Miller.

Week in New York Theater Nov 3-9, 2014



The Broadway revival of Pippin will close on Broadway January 4, 2015, after 709 performances and 37 previews.

The 16 Greatest American Musicals of Golden Age, according to the Library of America


ONe Word Broadway titles

Best One-Word Theater Show Titles. The first of six such lists (so far) on Culturalist.


Hugh Jackman understands he’s not the real star of the play. The fish is, says the playwright

On the Town 4

Cast of On The Town recording 2-disc album for PS Classics right now!

How can theaters strengthen the communities in which they are located? That was the subject of a day-long conference sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, which uses the phrase #creativeplacemaking to describe this.
Videos (really just audio)

Examples described during the conference
Artists from rural areas in Montana and Kentucky performed for one another through Roadside Theater

“Amazing microfests” in Kentucky, Michigan, Louisiana, and Hawaia
Alternate theater spaces in small Northern. Ireland towns

Too often, said Teresa Eyring of TCG, arts administrators (who are paid) ask artists to participate as volunteers


Individual aging is not a problem; “Ageism is a cultural problem,” says Frances McDormand in this interview with NPR, timed to her role in HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge”

The Oldest Boy 6a

My review of The Oldest Boy

What would you do if a Buddhist monk appeared at your door, claiming your three-year-old son was the reincarnation of a revered Tibetan Lama, and wanting to take him from you and raise him in a monastery in India?

If you’re the lapsed Catholic mother from Cincinnati married to an immigrant Tibetan chef in “The Oldest Boy,” Sarah Ruhl’s new play at Lincoln Center, the answer is: Give him up.

Since, for a New York audience, this constitutes an altogether unlikely scenario, “The Oldest Child” is probably best appreciated as a parable….What “The Oldest Boy” offers, besides a meditation on the anxieties of motherhood and an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, is a visually splendid production overseen by director Rebecca Taichman, with performances that range from luminous to beatific.

Full review of The Oldest Boy


Your vote today may have an impact on the arts:  Arts, policy and the election by Michael Rushton.

Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night on Broadway
Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night on Broadway

Shakespeare’s Globe will offer more than 50 filmed productions to rent or buy on its (eg “Twelfth Night” with Mark Rylance)



Playwrights Horizons wants to be “a model for compensation” for playwrights – They are paying those who have shows scheduled money to attend meetings, and half their health care premiums

Tickets now on sale for Kids Night on Broadway, Jan. 9-15: Broadway shows free for kids 6-18 when accompanied by full-paying adult.

Storytelling’s psychological benefits (finding meaning from chaos,creating empathy,even helping us survive)

New York Post critic Elizabeth Vincentelli looks at the new TV commercials for Broadway shows, and finds this one the best:



My review of Wiesenthal

For 58 years, Simon Wiesenthal hunted Nazis. By the time he retired in 2003, he had brought 1,100 of them to justice. “I’m not a lawyer, a detective or a government agency,” he says in the solo show “Wiesenthal,” written by and starring Tom Dugan, which has just opened at the Acorn Theater on Theater Row. The play takes place on the day the “Jewish James Bond,” as he jocularly refers to himself, is retiring from his Vienna-based Jewish Documentation Center; we, his audience, are supposedly young visiting Americans.

Full review of Wiesenthal


The plan is to create a “white tablecloth restaurant” with a “name chef.”

To install a “name chef” at a beloved greasy spoon like the Cafe Edison is like requiring reservations for a seat on the subway.

It’s Only a Play Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

Martin Short will replace Nathan Lane in It’s Only A Play, which has been extended almost three whole months, to March 29th.

The Fall 2015 revival of Fiddler on the Roof has found its Tevye – Danny Burstein (not dressed like this)

Heidi Chronicles revival has opening date, Twitter feed: @HeidionBroadway, Music Box Theater, March 19. Stars Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs, Bryce Pinkham,  and TraceeChimo. Director: Pam MacKinnon

Hugh Jackman has twice cut his finger while gutting a trout during The River (latest last night!) and visibly bled for an hour
(Yeah, but the trout had it much worse!


My review of Sticks and Bones

Ozzie and Harriet’s son David comes home from the Vietnam War blind and traumatized in David Rabe’s “Sticks and Bones,” a play written during the Vietnam War that is getting a starry revival by the New Group at the Signature Theater…We get what the playwright is saying about Americans’ cluelessness, hypocrisy and ugly indifference within the first 20 minutes of “Sticks and Bones” — and then have to sit through another two hours of surreal black comedy riffs until the still-effective climax jerks us back to attention.

Full review of Sticks and Bones


Only 32 percent of UK children 5 to 10 yrs old have participated in any theater in past year, down from 47 percent, says British government report.

Carol Channing’s favorite show ever? “Lend an Ear. It was a revue – the last of the great revues – & I played 8 characters in it.”


At the American Theatre Critics Association Conference, left to right: the playwrights Arthur Kopit, David Henry Hwang, Tina Howe, Doug Wright.

“Word of mouth is still major reason people see a show”-Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League.
But what does “word of mouth” mean now? Does it include chat rooms, Twitter, Facebook?

Playwrights Meet Theater Critics:

Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Hands on a Hardbody, etc.):

“In the act of writing, we all have to preserve & protect our own capacity for surprise.”

“Writing a play is less like writing novels/poems than a cookbook” (Should one review the book or the meal?)

The only time that Wright listens to criticism is from those he trusts — people who are “invested in my wellbeing.” This does NOT include professional critics.

“Whether or not you like the play,your primary obligation is to advocate for the form,” he says to the gathering of critics.

Tina Howe (Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances) said something similar: “I want critics to love the form, and to be excited to go to the theater”

David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Chinglish, etc.)
“I don’t think the author is the ultimate authority about what a play means”
About critics: “When you like us, we like you”

Arthur Kopit (Indians, Nine) asked Walter Kerr – What if you change your mind about a play after reviewing it? Kerr:”I’m not allowed to”


In a Rolling Stone article about pop music in Broadway musicals, William Hermes (whose grasp of theater history does not seem to match his enthusiasm for popular music) writes that non-sucking music only began appearing in earnest on Broadway in 2006.  He wants theater composers to have “a more DJ-like freedom to use pop music”

Tony Danza on boxing, teaching (“acting is so much easier than teaching!”) and talking. (Speaking at a lunch at Sardi’s with the members of the American Theatre Critics Association)



Velvet Oratoria pic

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago today. A roundtable discussion about the event after  a performance of Untitled Theater Company # 61’s “The Velvet Oratorio,” recounting the vents of the Velvet Revolution that gave birth to what is now the Czech Republic.  The theater piece alternates songs by Henry Akona with scenes (the book is by Untitled’s artistic director Edward Einhorn) that include direct address to the audience (dispatches about the situation from then American ambassador Shirley Temple Black) and nteractions between students, between an activist and a police officer and so forth. The singing is better than the acting, and the piece is not the best I’ve seen of this normally terrific company. But it’s in the beautiful and too-little-known Bohemian National Hall, which the new Czech Government bought in 2001 and includes both a cultural center and the consulate





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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