Social Justice Theater. Last Supper at Cafe Edison. Meryl Streep’s Annual Christmas Special? Week in New York Theater

New Broadway shows announced this week include: School of Rock, Something Rotten, Bombshell (about Marilyn Monroe) and Sherlock Holmes – the last two have a catch to them (scroll to 18)

Much of the activity this week focused on how theater artists can respond to the recent spate of tragedies and outrages that have spawned a movement — or at least a hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Below are excerpts or links to transcripts of some of the conversations and other theatrical responses, including six plays.

Raymond J. Lee has created another one of his Broadway music videos, this one with his fellow cast members from Honeymoon in Vegas:

(Here is my post about Lee and his previous videos)

Week in New York Theater December 15-21



Broadway Christmas Week Schedule (and holiday shows)



My review of Every Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing,” a funny, fun and moving show about a boy who begins writing a list of “everything worth living for” to cheer up his suicidal mother, comes from Great Britain, where “brilliant” is used the way Americans say cool or awesome. As it turns out, though, “Every Brilliant Thing” is brilliant in the American sense too.

This is largely thanks to Jonny Donahoe, who portrays the central character, the unnamed narrator, in Duncan MacMillan’s hour-long play, which has now opened at the Barrow Street Theater, where it is scheduled to run through March 29, 2015. I say the central character, even though he is the only paid actor in the show, because the cast includes just about every member of the audience.

Full review of Every Brilliant Thing


2015 season for Encores Off-Center series.
William Finn’s A New Brain starring Jonathan Groff – June 24-27
Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, starring Sutton Foster, July 15-18
Little Shop of Horrors with original cast member Ellen Greene, July 1


My review of Pocatello 10 Unhappy People In A Dying Diner In A Dead-End Town, starring T.J. Knight

“There are plenty of unhappy people in the world, why should we be the ones who get to be happy?” says one of the ten characters in “Pocatello,” the new play at Playwrights Horizons by the newly anointed MacArthur Foundation “genius” playwright Samuel D. Hunter. “Maybe we’re just unhappy people.”

That’s for sure. All ten characters we see in a tacky chain restaurant in the dead-end town of Pocatello, Idaho are unhappy, each in their own way.

Full review of Pocatello



Something Rotten to skip Seattle and open on Broadway, April 22

Top 10 Shows of 2014 that you can still see (but hurry)

Seven new judges for the Obie Awards:

1 Playwright Adam Bock

2 Orchestrator Bruce Coughlin

3 and 4. Directors Lear deBessonet and Liesl Tommy

5. Scenic designer Mimi Lien

6 and 7. Critics David Rooney and Tom Sellar

STUPID FU**ING BIRD “sort of adapted” by Aaron Posner from Chekhov’s The Seagull Jan 30-Feb 1 modern classics series at the Pearl Theatre Company.


Jeremy Jordan will play Leo Frank and Laura Benanti his wife, in the Manhattan Concert Production of Parade by Jason Robert Brown, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center February 16, 2015

Jordan will also be joining a cast that also includes Kate Baldwin  in the concert “Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration”at the 92nd Street Y, January 10-12.

Shakespeare was the NOT most popular playwright of his era. So how did “bardolatry” happen?


kelli12 Kelli O’Hara talks about The King and I, Peer Pan Live, The Merry Widow at the Met..and how she’d love to see The Music Man on NBC. — and why The Sound of Music makes her both happy and sad:  “A lot of families have Christmas traditions and one of mine growing up was always to watch THE SOUND OF MUSIC – even though it’s not a Christmas show. So, whenever I hear a song from that show, it reminds me a little of Christmas. Actually, “My Favorite Things” is one of the very first songs I ever sang in my life – when I was like 10!” The role of Maria role “is the reason I am here! Julie Andrews is such a big part of why I sing. Honestly – and, unfortunately – it’s the one Rodgers & Hammerstein role that has gotten away that I have never gotten to play.”


Artivism excerpts:
“If you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin,

quoted by sponsor of the #TheatreTalk, Lark

How does writing in a time of political strife & social conflict make you feel & impact your work?

August Schulenburg: We’ve always been in a time of strife & conflict. Difference now is social media makes them visible to all

Mona Mansour: 2014 was filled with horrific shit. The temperature of things,politically etc, just naturally seeps into my work

Keith Josef Atkins: A part of me feels artists should ONLY write about the specificity of now. I feel like the gun is at our heads

August Schulenburg: One challenge is getting past binaries of audience vs community, & aesthetic excellence vs social justice

Mona Mansour: Theater forces people to be in the SAME ROOM as the event, people, the feelings. No other art form does that

Dominique Morisseau: In seeing ourselves in others, we can see how systemic injustice becomes personal.That’s how to motivate masses. Plays that asks more questions than gives answers empowers audiences to solve.

August Schulenberg: I think there’s value in healing & community-building in so-called “preaching to the choir” that’s valuable. Also, there’s a lot more diversity of perspective within theatre community then people are aware of… When @FluxTheatre did “Understand Our Ground” there was wide range of persepective re: #Trayvon
if every lip-service artist became a fully-energized agent of social justice, we could make a huge impact and I’m holding myself accountable to reaching toward that goal. Not there yet, but trying.

Transcript of another online conversation, via New Victory Theater and the Queens Museum:  How do you teach young people community action through the arts? 




Script of all six ten-minute plays by black male playwrights commissioned by Keith Josef Adkins, entitled Hands Up

Poll: The Worst Broadway Show of 2014

Audra McDonald in Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill
Audra McDonald in Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald  will be filmed for HBO


Bryce Pinkham is leaving A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder for The Heidi Chronicles, but only temporarily. Jeff Kready to star in GG until Pinkham’s return.


Today (two and a half weeks before it closes) Side Show will be recorded for posterity by The Library for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Center.


Sting talks with kindergartner Iain Armitage “one of the hottest theater critics around.”  Sting says at the end: “That was one of the best interviews I’ve ever done.” (I told you kid would take our jobs.)



School of Rock, based on Jack Black movie, will be a Bway musical , w/new music by @OfficalALW. Opens Dec 6, 2015 Winter Garden

Cabaret is set for a 20-city tour across the USA beginning Jan 2016. (Cast and other specifics not yet announced.)

Sherlock Holmes, a new play by Rachel Wagstaff & Duncan Abel, is set for Broadway….in 2017. (if Manhattan hasn’t frozen over)

Bombshell, fictional Marilyn Monroe musical of Smash, is coming to Broadway – for one night (6/15/15) as a benefit for The Actors Fund.

After seven years, Second Stage aims finally to purchase Helen Hayes in February, but needs to raise more money. More women/people of color on Broadway?


The Dramatist’s g=Guild is part of a campaign to honor Arthur Miller with a United States postage stamp on 100th anniversary of his birth 10/15/15

Favorite Stage Performances of 2014


Missed Victory Gardens #WeMustBreathe gathering? Video on HowlroundTV (Starts at about 20 minutes in)

How can theater help w/ #BlackLivesMatter movement? Try these timely plays (some new) via American Theatre

Into-the-Woods Meryl Streep

August-Osage-County 10

You realize that Meryl Streep was in a play-to-film last Christmas too Will this become an annual event, like NBC’s live musicals?


Nella Tempesta 5

My review of Nella Tempesta at LaMaMa




Despite the petition with 10,000 signatures, and the letter-writing campaign to the owner of the Hotel Edison, the “Polish Tea Room” ends today



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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