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Hamilton Makes History…and Ham. RIP Bikel, Doctorow. The Week in New York Theater.

Ham4Hamcrowd

Although it doesn’t open until August 6, Hamilton couldn’t be doing better at the box office, with more than 100 percent attendance, and 110 percent of “gross potential.” Securing an affordable ticket to the show is a challenge, despite the daily lottery, which they’re calling #Ham4Ham.

Ham4Ham

That’s hip speak for ten dollar tickets to the show, but it has a second meaning too –  the cast has been hamming it up each day for the lottery hopefuls.

Examples:

This swells the number of people drawn to the lottery, which was already 704 for the very first lottery (that’s for maybe 20 seats.) The result is of course to reduce everybody’s chances of actually winning a ticket. But everybody who shows up does wind up getting entertained, no matter how briefly.

Hamilton’s promotion involves showing how ignorant American actors are about American history –

Even the President of the United States is in on the act

My own promotion of the show is a quiz: Which Hamilton Character Are You?

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Day jobs? Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller

Day jobs?
Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller

All this will surely mean big bucks for the creators of the musical. But what of theater artists who don’t make a living at their art? Can you still call them professional? That’s what we explored in:

Who’s an amateur?

The evolution in the meaning of “professional.” A dozen theater artists weigh in, e.g.:
‘Professional’, to me, connotes a level of commitment, training, focus, & possibly but not always compensation.”

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

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My review of Amazing Grace

To see President Obama break into “Amazing Grace” at the June funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney was to witness the continuing force of a hymn written more than two and a half centuries ago. This would lead us to expect a show entitled Amazing Grace about its songwriter John Newton to move us emotionally and spiritually.

Amazing Grace, which has opened  at Broadway’s Nederlander Theater, tells the story of John Newton, an 18th century English slave trader who underwent a religious conversion and became a popular preacher, writer, and (eventually) an influential abolitionist. It is an amazing story, but it is told on stage mostly in less than an amazing way. The new musical combines a coming-of-age tale, love story, slave narrative, costume drama, and Saturday morning adventure serial. It tries to do many things at once, in other words, in what winds up being the theatrical equivalent of an unstable alloy.

Manuel vs. ROUND 1

My review of Manuel vs. the Statue of Liberty

Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty, we are told, is inspired by the true story of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, an undocumented and once-homeless immigrant from the Dominican Republic who got a full scholarship to study the Classics at Princeton University,  and was named salutatorian of his class, delivering his address in Latin, then earning a PhD in classics from Stanford University. His is an engaging story, and an enraging one, because of the obstacles that the U.S. immigration service put in his way. His memoir, Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, is being published this week.

Is a musical comedy a good way to tell his story?

….as it turns out, this is in some ways a wonderful musical. It dramatizes an important issue using humor and passion and rhythm. The score is a tuneful mix of hip-hop, Latin, glitter-rock, Broadway ballads, sweet lullabies, even some patriotic anthems. The eight-member cast, under the energetic direction of Jose Zayas, has more than its share of standouts.

The Week in New York Theater News

Theodore Bikel  (May 2, 1924 – July 21, 2105)

“I prefer to make common cause with those whose weapons are guitars and words~

Bikel, 91, was the original Capt von Trapp in Bway’s The Sound of Music, a frequent Tevye in Fiddler

Roger Rees Memorial Set for September 21 at The New Amsterdam Theatre

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Taye Diggs begins in Hedwig

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin is joining the cast of the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening on Broadway.

Changing My Major to Joan from Fun Home will be performed Late Night with Seth Meyers on 7/29. The song celebrates Alison Bechdel’s first love

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,

Star Alexander Sharp is leaving the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on September 13 (He’s going to a movie.) The play plans to play on.

Long-running shows on Broadway tend to be musicals. The last straight play to last more than 1,000 performances was Torch Song Trilogy – in 1982
Recent Tony-winning best plays and number of performances
2014 All the Way 131
2013 Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike 189
2012 Clybourne Park 157
2011 War Horse 718

Long-delayed Performing Arts Center for World Trade Center site dealt another blow – budget cut in half

benjamin-walker-will-get-bloody-in-american-psycho-on-broadway-musical

Benjamin Walker will star in American Psycho, based on Brett Easton Ellis’ controversial novel, opening on Broadway March 21, 2016

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Cast joining Andrea Martin for Noises Off includes Megan Hilty, Rob McClure, Tracee Chimo and Jeremy Shamos. Opens January 14

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Jose Llana returns to the musical where he made his Broadway debut 19 years ago, The King jose-llana-in King and I 19 years agoand I, this time as king
He is of those “overnight success stories,” a smash as Marcos in Here Lies Love, but actually a SEVEN-time Broadway veteran.)

The Flea’s 2015-2016 Season: From Hollywood Royalty to New-Generation Avant-Garde

“It’s time to educate, rather than scold, a growing audience that’s used to interactivity & not steeped in theater etiquette”

http://bit.ly/1Ly5lXs

Tuck Everlasting, based on Natalie Babbitt’s novel, to open April 17 at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatr

Mamie Gummer to star in Broadway’s Ugly Lies the Bone about a pained veteran treated w/ virtual reality video game therapy Sept 10-Nov 22

Marlo Thomas to star in Clever Little Lies, a comedy about marriage, set to open October 14 at West Side Theatre

Jane Krakowski and Gavin Creel join Laura Benanti and Josh Radnor in Roundabout’s She Loves Me – a show that changed my life.

ActofGod7Selfie

Act Of God makes its mammon back (i.e. recoups)

Cameron Mackintosh has announced that Miss Saigon revival will also play Broadway within “the next two years,”

The Week in New York Videos

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About 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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