RIP David Bowie, Elizabeth Swados. Hamilton Crashes. The Art of WTF?! Week in New York Theater

David Bowie collage by Atif Toor


David Bowie, the most theatrical of rock stars, died two days after his 69th birthday, while his first musical, Lazarus, is still being performed at the New York Theatre Workshop. Of the 18 Bowie songs in the show, four are new. Bowie had just released a music video of the title song, whose lyrics begin:

Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen

He certainly had drama. Almost four decades ago, he portrayed the title role of The Elephant Man on Broadway and on tour. But Bowie’s theatricality was not limited to the legitimate stage. He didn’t just sing his songs, he liked to say; he acted them. His performances included not just theatrical costumes, but entire characters — Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke.

David Bowie obituary

David Bowie appreciation in American Theatre: Rock Was Theater for David Bowie, and He Elevated Both


Elizabeth Swados, who died this past week at age 64, had a show on Broadway, around the same time as Bowie’s appearance there. She conceived, directed, choreographed, scored, wrote the book and the lyrics, and played the guitar for Runaways — a ground-breaking musical that will be revived at Encores Off Center later this year.

But Swados remained an inventive presence in New York theater, creating socially conscious musicals right up to last year’s The Tempest.

“Musical theater should reflect what and how we are now” ~ Elizabeth Swados

The Tempest as conceived by Elizabeth Swados
The Tempest as conceived by Elizabeth Swados

Elizabeth Swados obituary.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

The Changeling

The Changeling

The Changeling,” a gory and convoluted play that takes place in a Spanish castle and in an insane asylum, should intrigue students of Shakespeare, if for no other reason than that it was written just a few years after Shakespeare’s death, by two of his younger contemporaries, Thomas Middleton (who is said to have served as script doctor for Macbeth and Measure for Measure) and Samuel Rowley.



visually spectacular show starring Silvia Caderoni…Whether or not the performer/character’s gender identity confuses them,  theatergoers are likely to leave MDLSX exhilarated. And, if many assume that it’s Calederoni’s life they just witnessed, in many ways it is.

The_Art_of_LUV_1-ROKE-photo by Maria Baranova-Tei Blow _ Sean McElroy_5513

The Art of Luv: Love, A Mass Murderer and Videotape

Front (L-R): Kristine Haruna Lee and Abby Rosebrock Back (L-R): Julia Sirna Frest, Starr Busby, Catherine Brookman, Lacy Rose, Alaina Ferris
Front (L-R): Kristine Haruna Lee and Abby Rosebrock Back (L-R): Julia Sirna Frest, Starr Busby, Catherine Brookman, Lacy Rose, Alaina Ferris

The Offending Gesture

he offending gesture in Mac Wellman’s dizzying new play “The Offending Gesture” was the Nazi “Heil Hitler” salute, but it was the Nazis who were offended. In the incredible true story, which historians only recently uncovered, a Finnish businessman named Tor Borg had taught his dog Jackie to raise his paw in imitation of the salute whenever he said “Heil Hitler.” Third Reich authorities were outraged at what they perceived to be an insult, and summoned a meeting with authorities in Finland, a nation that was a Nazi ally. ..Dramatizing and riffing on this weird incident, Wellman…has fashioned a weird, playful, tuneful and often funny play.

Germinal. Defoort-Goerger -¬ Alain Rico-4




Week in New York Theater News


The #Ham4Ham digital lottery was TOO successful – more than 50,000 entries for 21 seats — crashing the website. (But even before it crashed, it had gone haywire, e.g.

So nobody won the lottery for January 5th, which was supposed to be the first day of the lottery. And the show went back to an in-person lottery for the rest of the week, where mere hundreds line up for the $10 tickets to Hamilton. It’s unclear what will happen now.

Allegiance with George Takei and Lea Salonga will close Feb. 14.
At time of its closing, it  will have played 37 previews and 113 regular performances. A national tour is in the works

List of Golden Globe winners

Tony Yazbeck as Gabey the war hero
Tony Yazbeck as Gabey the war hero

Tony Yazbeck, formerly of On The Town, will be the New J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland, replacing Matthew Morrison.

Paige Evans, currently the artistic director of LCT3 at Lincoln Center, has been  named the new artistic director of Signature.


Warner Bros. has commissioned playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (whose Between Riverside and Crazy won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama) to writed a stage play based on the 1975 Al Pacino movie ‘Dog Day Afternoon’


Good guide to good eats in Theater District, from Serious Eats  (


Audra McDonald’s Tony-winning performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill will be shown on HBO


2-for-1 tickets on sale for Broadway Week,

The Guys, Anne Nelson’s 9/11 play, is being revived to celebrate the New York City Fire Departments 150th anniversary at the Davenport Theater (which is a converted firehouse) Jan 20-23


WTF!? How necessary is clarity in the theater?


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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