Oprah vs. Bruce Willis on Broadway. Larry David in the Dark. The Week in New York Theater

In their Broadway acting debuts, Oprah wants to be happy; Bruce Willis is going for Misery. And much that happened this week in New York theater is somewhere in-between.

Several days left to enter the contest for a free pair of tickets to see The Visit starring Chita Rivera.

The Week in Theater News

Bruce Willis and Elizabeth Marvel
Bruce Willis and Elizabeth Marvel

Bruce Willis will make his Broadway debut this fall as the bedridden novelist in a stage adaption of Stephen King’s “Misery.” The story is best-known for the 1990 movie starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, who won an Academy Award for her role as the novelist’s caretaker and kidnapper, which gave birth to an edgy catchphrase: “I’m your biggest fan.” The character will be played by Elizabeth Marvel, who can currently be seen as the upright presidential character in House of Cards.


Clive Owen to make his Broadway debut in Roundabout’s production of Harold Pinter’s Old Times, to open October 15

Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman to star in A Confederacy of Dunces, adaptation of John Kennedy Toole’s novel, at the Huntington November 11-December 13

Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher in On The Twentieth Century
Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher in On The Twentieth Century

The opening of On The Twentieth Century has been pushed 5h3 days to March 15, because Peter Gallagher has been ill.


Rebecca Naomi Jones, now in Signature Center’s Big Love, will be the new Yizhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, starting April 14

Mary-Louise Parker will star in MTC’s Heinsenberg by Simon Stephens  (playwright adapter of The Curious Incident), about a woman who kisses an old man. It will open May 19th.

Amy Morton will direct Guards at the Taj, a play by Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) set as the Taj Mahal opens in the 17th century, starring Arian Moayed. Atlantic Theater May 20-June 28

Chilina Kennedy as Carole King
Chilina Kennedy as Carole King

Beautiful gets a new Carole King: Canadian actress Chilina Kennedy

Starting Tuesday, Jessica Keenan Wynn is Cynthia Weill in Beautiful while Anika Larsen is on maternity leave

It takes an entire Tweet for the full title of Halley Feiffer’s next play at MCC Theater next May, 2016:

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City.”

The Week in Theater Reviews


The five ways that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton breaks new ground: A different kind of history, rap, casting, connection with the audience…and a different kind of traditional musical…

Excerpt from HowlRound analysis:

What further distinguishes Hamilton is that it uses rap to tell a story that has no direct connection to any usual rap subjects or characters. This reaches its most remarkable expression when the show presents the debates Hamilton had with his ideological foes as rap battles presided over by George Washington as MC. Hamilton argues with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison over major issues facing the new republic. The debate over whether the federal government should assume the states’ debts and the need for a national bank includes Thomas Jefferson rapping:

When Britain taxed our tea we got frisky
Imagine what gon’ happen when you try and tax our whiskey…

Hamilton responds:

If we assume the debts, the union gets 
A new line of credit—a financial diuretic 
How do you not get it? 
If we’re aggressive and competitive 
The union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?

Miranda manages to engage us in a debate over eighteenth century monetary policy.  By some theatrical alchemy, the use of twenty-first century rhythm and idiom never feels startlingly out-of-place. Rather, the hip-hop approach feels like a modern translation, an effort to clarify rather than trivialize the historical moments.

Full analysis in HowlRound



My review of Fish in the Dark

Fish in the DarkCort TheatreFish in the Dark,” which marks Larry David’s Broadway debut as a writer and performer – indeed his first stage performance since the eighth grade — feels like a couple of episodes of his TV series, Curb Your Enthusiasm…

That Larry David’s Broadway comedy recycles some of Larry David’s TV comedy is hardly a sin; indeed, the audience laughed the loudest when he uttered a trademark line from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

At its best, both the episodes and the Broadway play, currently at the Cort Theater, are not just armored vehicles shooting one-liners. They involve a knowing exploration of the inappropriate (but secretly common) reactions to a death in the family. “The only time I feel truly alive is at funerals,” one relative (Lewis J. Stadlen) remarks.  “It’s like life’s an elimination tournament and I’ve moved on to the next round.”

But this might imply more substance than actually exists. “Fish in the Dark” is the lightest of entertainments, so much so that it’s almost shocking how much deep talent, on stage and behind the scenes, is associated with this show…

Full review of Fish in the Dark.

Liquid Plain, The The Pershing Square Signature Center/Irene Diamond Stage

My review of The Liquid Plain

The captain of the slave ship, afraid that the sick woman would infect the rest of his cargo, lashed her to a chair and lowered the chair into the sea, drowning her.

“After the captain threw her overboard, he said he was sorry he had lost so good a chair. “

So says a character named Cranston in “The Liquid Plain,” the second of Naomi Wallace’s plays to be presented this season at the Signature….”The Liquid Plain” is well-acted, well-staged, and most rewarding for those with the patience to treat it the way they would a poem — uncertain of its meaning at times, content with its layered language and its rich rhythms…and, in this play’s case, its brutal imagery….

Full review of The Liquid Plain

The Week in Theater-Related Developments


Oprah Winfrey changed her mind about doing Night Mother on Broadway,  played a mother struggling to prevent her daughter from killing herself, with Audra McDonald as the suicidal daughter.“I just didn’t want to be in the space of suicide every night for six months,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “I’d like something with a happier ending.”


Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, home of the New York Philharmonic, will become David Geffen Hall in September, due to his gift of $100 million.

Judith Dobrzynski calls this  bungled philanthropy. The development raises arts-naming issues in L.A.

TEDxBroadway 2015: Ten Lessons Theater Can Learn from Golf, Knishes, Teens, Tevye, and Twitter, But Not Termites 


Tena Stivicic wins the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for “3 Winters,” about post WWII Croatian family

Congratulations to Michael Feingold for winning the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for his Theatermania columns.

You’ve seen journalism in print and online; but have you seen it on stage? That’s what Pop Up Magazine does


Useful info from Seth Lepore’s piece in HowlRound on Crowdfunding: There are two crowdfunding sites specifically for artists: Hatch fund and Patreon

The Week in Theater Previews and Promotions


Radio City’s Spring Spectacular is a combination Busby Berkeley revue + arena-scale special effects. It includes both the live Laura Benanti and a 26-foot-tall puppet of the Statue of Liberty voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.

The first Broadway revival of the Heidi Chronicles, which features “Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss in the titular role of the art historian, will also include the return of some dialogue to the script that was eliminated prior to its Broadway bow in 1989, director Pam MacKinnon tells Playbill.


The Week in Theater Wisdom

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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