Denzel’s August Wilson Coup. Most Produced Plays and Playwrights. Show Score Debuts. Week in New York Theater

Denzel Washington says he will direct and produce all 10 of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays (also known as the Pittsburgh Cycle) for HBO, one per year, over the next decade. He will also star in one of them, Fences, with Viola Davis, reprising the role both played on Broadway in a 2010 production directed by Kenny Leon.

Video of interview in which Washington made the announcement.


More on Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays

August Wilson's plays. The left column is organized by when he wrote them. The right column goes chronologically by the year in which the play is set.
August Wilson’s plays.
The left column is organized by when he wrote them. The right column goes chronologically by the year in which the play is set.

“Fences” will once again be one of the most-produced plays in America, according to the latest annual calculation by American Theatre Magazine. August Wilson remains one of the top five most produced playwrights.

American Theatre’s Top 10 Most-Produced Plays of 2015-2016

Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar: 18 promised productions
Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice: 16
Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Stanley: 11
To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted by Christopher Sergel from Harper Lee
Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins: 9
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang: 8
Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn: 7
Fences by August Wilson: 7
Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason: 7
Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner, inspired by Chekhov: 7




The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Empire Travel Agency 1
My review of Empire Travel Agency

At times during “Empire Travel Agency,” a theatrical adventure that takes place in some dozen different downtown locales, it feels as if you’re in a Bourne thriller, sharing escapades with Matt Damon, before his car plunges off the bridge or bursts into flames. This is the first play for which I’ve ever had to sign a waiver acknowledging that it “subjects me to the possibility of injury, illness and/or death.” (“And/or”? Can you be both ill AND dead?)

There is no real danger in the show, other than getting winded from climbing up and down various staircases, or the occasional confusion at the labyrinthine story. “Empire Travel Agency” is fun, and clever, and something more than that — an impressive if imperfect example of the kind of theater that is revitalizing the art form.

Full review


My review of The Christians

…the story of a pastor who shocks his congregation with a single sermon….“We are no longer a congregation that believes in Hell.” What follows is the fall-out from this announcement….What’s most unexpected about The Christians is that there’s not a scintilla of satire. Lucas Hnath, whose mother is an ordained minister and who at one time considered becoming a member of the clergy himself, treats each character with respect. His aim seems not to score points but to explore the nature of faith and the politics of a church like this.

Full review of The Christians


My review of Hamlet in Bed

An actor named Michael (Michael Laurence), who was given up for adoption as an infant by his actress mother, tracks down a drunken middle-aged woman, Anna (Annette O’Toole) he suspects of being his mother. He hires her to play Gertrude to his Hamlet in a production that he’s directing…The premise of the play allows for liberal recitations from “Hamlet,” which show off the acting chops of both performers…But too much of “Hamlet in Bed” feels implausible and tiresomely hip.

Full review of Hamlet in Bed

The Week in New York Theater News


“Amazing Grace” will close October 25. (It opened July 16)


Cast for Tuck Everlasting will include Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Terrence Mann. It’s set to open at the Broadhurst April 26


Deaf West production of Spring Awakening will now play on Broadway through January 24, 2016, an extension of two weeks. It opens on September 27th.


Eclipsed, by Danai Gurira & starring  Lupita Nyong’o, has been extended until November 29. It begins previews September 29 at the Public Theater.


Campaign begun by Leah Nanako Winkler against  New York Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Mikado “in yellowface” at the Skirball Center resulted in the society cancelling the production, and replacing it with the Pirates of Penzance.

20SHINN1-master675 Playwright Christopher Shinn, faced with a terminal illness, wrote his final play, “An Opening in Time.” Then the treatment worked.

Scoring Critics

ShowScoreticketcontest Running a contest to bring in customers — Win Two Free tickets to Hamilton — Show Score, a new New York review aggregation site, has launched to the public.


Get started

Mypageofreviews My review page

The Top Five Best-Reviewed Broadway shows, according to Show Score
(as of this writing, by New York critics – not Show Score members. The score changes.)
The Book of Mormon (97 score from critics)
Chicago (96)
Hamilton  (93)
Fun Home (92)
The Lion King (89)

The New York critics with the highest percentage of negative reviews, according to Show Score:

Matt Windman and Terry Teachout, 35 percent each.

The New York critics with the highest percentage of positive reviews, according to Show Score:

David Cote (73 percent) Ben Brantley (70 percent)

NYC critics with the highest percentage of mixed reviews, according to Show Score:

Anita Gates (50 percent) and me (45 percent). (Are we nuanced or indecisive?)

Using Mamet’s famous essay on drama, “Three uses of the Knife,” Ryan Lizza explains  Trump’s rise and possible fall in theatrical terms.


The Signature Theatre (of Arlington) retaliates, promoting their production in December of West Side Story: “Don’t let the Jets get in the way of the Jets!”


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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