De Niro, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Etc. Give Advice to Graduates. RIP Anne Meara. Week in New York Theater

MirandaDeNiro“When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense,” Robert De Niro said in a commencement address this past week to graduates of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Two days later,
Lin-Manuel Miranda addressed graduates at his alma mater Wesleyan, using his musical Hamilton to make points about the contrasting approaches of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in their ambitions.

(Click on links for videos.)

They were not the only ones with advice for people aiming for careers in the arts:

What skills do arts grads need to develop their career? By Lorraine Lim

University curricula for performance majors rely heavily on one way to prepare students for the industry: have them act in great plays. . That’s not enough, writes Matthew Gray, who teaches theater at Northeastern University in Boston

Still time to:

Make YOUR 2015 Tony Award Picks

Win pair of FREE tickets to On The Town

Week in New York Theater News

Anne Meara, five-time Broadway veteran actress, playwright, wife/comic partner of Jerry Stiller, mother of Ben Stiller, has died at age 85.

Obie Awards

2015 Off Broadway Alliance Awards
(Winners in Bold)
Best New Play
* Between Riverside & Crazy
Dry Land
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3)
The Nether
Punk Rock
Best New Musical
Clinton The Musical
* Hamilton
Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical
Best Play Revival
* Abundance
Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest
Fashions for Men
Tamburlaine the Great
A Walk in the Woods
Best Musical Revival
* Into the Woods
John & Jen
Best Unique Theatrical Experience
Drunk Shakespeare
Ghost Quartet
The Pigeoning
* Scenes From a Marriage
Tail! Spin!
Best Solo Performance
Every Brilliant Thing
* Just Jim Dale
The Other Mozart
Best Family Show
* A Band of Angels
Camp Kappawanna
The Lightning Thief
The Little Prince
Swamp Juice
Legend of Off Broadway Honorees
Robert Kalfin
Linda Lavin
Austin Pendleton
Hall of Fame Awards
Arthur Gelb
Judith Malina
Marian Seldes


Taye Diggs, who first made a splash on Broadway in Rent, returns there in Hedwig and the Angry Inch starting July 22.

Joining the long list of Tony-nominated Broadway shows going on national tour next year: Fun Home. Something Rotten

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Juliet Brett (Bonny), Noah Galvin (Charlie)
Juliet Brett (Bonny), Noah Galvin (Charlie)

My review of What I Did Last Summer

When 14-year-old Charlie (Noah Galvin) starts doing odd jobs for the town’s scandalous art teacher Anna Trumbull (Kristine Nielsen), in “What I Did Last Summer,” she agrees to pay him 25 cents an hour, plus something far more valuable: “I will root out your talent, where it lies.”

That proves to be more difficult than she expected in A.R. Gurney’s knowing and affectionate coming-of-age comedy set during World War II, which is being given a deliciously acted production at the Signature.

Charlie is an obvious stand-in for the playwright (who was himself 14 years old during the summer of 1945), and Gurney’s particular talent was indeed rooted out, eventually.  It’s nice to see some long-overdue attention being paid to a playwright whose reputation may overlook how broad the scope of his work and how deep its craft. “What I Did Last Summer” is deliberately simple and old-fashioned, but it is also deceptively so.

Full review of What I Did Last Summer


“Permission,” a play about “Christian Domestic Discipline” (i.e. spanking your wife) is written by Robert Askins, who is also the author of “Hand to God,” the Tony-nominated play about a Christian puppet ministry. On the surface, they have much in common – both take place among middle-class people in suburban Texas who are trying to use their Christian faith to supply what’s missing in their lives; both mix the playful and the serious; both get out of hand in theatrically crafty ways.  But the one that stars a puppet has been amusing, shocking, engaging, and moving audiences for a while now. The one that has just opened at the Lucille Lortel with well-known performers and a celebrated director (Alex Timbers) is more likely to befuddle them.

Full review of Permission

Theatre for One closer up
Theatre for One closer up

My review of Theatre for One: I’m Not the Strange You Think I am

The woman is speaking directly to me, an arm’s length away, as if we know each other: “I’m not blaming you for missing anything, I know it’s not your fault,” she says, looking right into my eyes, and she starts talking about her mother dying in the hospital, in intimate detail. “Aren’t you glad you asked?” she said, sardonically. (But I didn’t ask!) “Sorry I just ruined lunch.”

We are in downtown Manhattan, inside a small booth, whose walls are covered in a quilt-patterned red material, with a red seat, stage lights, a raised curtain; the performer (Marisol Miranda) is seated on one side of the curtain; I’m on the other. This is the interior of what is surely the smallest working theater in the world….
I’ve just seen “Lizzy,” written by Jose Rivera, one of seven short scripted plays by established playwrights in “I’m Not The Stranger You Think I Am,” all performed in a booth in the corner of the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, the latest production of Theatre for One. ..he most unsettling experience I’d ever had as a theatergoer. And I am not alone.

Full review of Theatre for One

Fiddler on the Roof, 1964
Fiddler on the Roof, 1964

The Art of Al Hirschfeld

Al Hirschfeld drew the stars of Hollywood and Broadway for more than eight decades. He drew Hollywood mogul David O Selznick in 1922, when Hirschfeld was 19 years old, and Broadway performer Tommy Tune in 2002, when Hirschfeld was 99.

Hirschfeld’s longevity and his talent are celebrated in The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society of more than 100 of his original drawings, which runs from May 22 to October 12, 2015.

Click on link for video.

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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