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The Hamilton Effect. The Wiz Casts Its Dorothy. The Week in New York Theater

Hamilton HamiltonandHamiltonopens on Thursday, the only Broadway opening among the new shows of August, Interest in the musical goes beyond the usual theater crowd — having already roped in leading politicians and high school history teachers — reportedly inspiring a spike in sales of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography, and in visits to Hamilton Grange (his country estate in Northern Manhattan), the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street (which was originally his Bank of New York) and Trinity Church, where Hamilton and his wife are buried. It even has hampered efforts by the Treasurer Secretary to replace Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

BroadwayQuizThingLogoHow widespread the romance between Broadway and history? Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the New-York Historical Society plays host on August 7 to something called The Big Broadway Quiz Thing, a trivia night. (See whether you can answer 10 questions about Broadway that quizmaster Noah Tarnow created.)

TheWizcast

Hamilton is not the only thing that has theatergoers experiencing an unusually stimulating August.  The Wiz, which is set to broadcast live on NBC on December 3rd, has been releasing casting news in tantalizing bursts. The latest: Dorothy will be played by 18-year-old newcomer Shanice Williams. David Alan Grier is the cowardly lion, Queen Latifah will be The Wiz, and Mary J. Blige the Wicked Witch of the West. Stephanie Mills, who was Dorothy starting at the age of 18 in the original production of The Wiz, will now, at age 58, play Auntie Em. Kenny Leon is directing, and Harvey Fierstein adapting the book

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

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My review of King Liz

Jerry Maguire, hang up your cell phone; Ari Gold, park your Ferrari. Make room for the super sports agent of “King Liz,” portrayed vibrantly by Karen Pittman in a new play by Fernanda Coppel at Second Stage Theater…if the ending isn’t satisfying and the resulting moral somewhat muddled, there are two aspects of “King Liz” that make it worthwhile theater. The play offers insight into the ways that race, gender, class and age complicate ambition, power and success in our culture…And those relationships are rendered credible, amusing, and moving by a uniformly terrific cast.

Full review of King Liz

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My review of The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

A 14-year-old boy is reported missing, and eventualy found dead…But “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” .. is not really a murder mystery, and that’s part of its appeal. It is, above all, a showcase for the impressive theatrical talents of James Lecesne, who portrays the detective and eight other characters, male and female, young and old. He does this without props or a change of costumes — just precise, spot-on gestures; a shift in accent and manner of speech.,,[The portrait of Leonard] is no more believable a portrait than that of the saintly Jimmy Stewart character in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Keep in mind, that’s a movie with a similar simple, sentimental message – everybody’s life has meaning and worth – that people watch every year.

Full review of Absolute Brightness

The Week in New York Theater News

Frank Langella

Frank Langella will return to Broadway portraying a man with dementia in Florian Zeller’s savage new play The Father opening Ap 12 2016

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Matthew Broderick will join Analeigh Ashford in Sylvia, AR Gurney revival opening Oct 15. (Broderick’s wife Sarah Jessica Parker played the dog in the original production.)

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Robert De Niro will direct a musical adaptation of ‘A Bronx Tale’  (which was a movie that he directed and starred in) at the Papermill Playhouse Feb. 4-March 6.

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Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) will make her New York stage debut in Eclipsed, a play from Danai Gurira (Walking Dead) at the  Public Theater, September 29 to November 8.

TylerLea

Tyler Lea will replace Alexander Sharp as Christopher in the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

New York Public Theater’s Public Forum Fall calendar 

Live from Lincoln Center Fall calendar

Oct 16 Showboat
Oct 23 Billy Elliot
Oct 30 Tim Burton scores
Nov 6 Chita Rivera
Nov 13 Act One the play
Nov 20 Kander & Ebb
Nov. 27 Andrea Bocelli sings songs from the movies

New director of NEA arts theater programs: Greg Reiner (currently the executive director of the Classic Stage Company)

Julie Andrews returns to My Fair Lady

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Sixty years after she starred on Broadway in My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews will return to it — directing a new production of the Lerner and Loewe musical for Opera Australia, to be premiered at the Sydney Opera House in August 2016.

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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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