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Broadway Season Finishes. Award Season Flourishes. Week in New York Theater

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The Broadway season has officially ended, although the hoopla over it continues, with the Tony Award nominations to be announced on May 3. Other nominations have already been made public; more are to come.
In a Facebook post, George Takei gives “thanks to the Broadway community — for not being Hollywood….Broadway celebrated its most diverse year ever.”
(See full text below.)

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

On one level, Alice Birch’s weirdly named and audacious play, which has opened at Soho Rep, presents five vignettes of familiar every-day encounters…On another level, though, these scenes are fierce, feverish, full of rage, at times revolting — as in: off-putting; grotesque — at other times a revolt – as in: insight meant to incite, a feminist’s call to revolution…. In this first of her plays to come to America, the 29-year-old British playwright establishes her exquisite ear and her distinctive voice from the very first scene.

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American Psycho

American Psycho, a musical about a fashion-conscious serial killer, is not the most misbegotten show ever on Broadway.  It only feels that way for a couple of moments – such as the production number that features zombie-like movements by half-naked cast members smeared in blood. 

Overall, the musical has a stylish visual design and stylized violence; a catchy 80s techno-pop score presented like a series of live 80s MTV music videos; and a cast with impressive physiques, starting with Benjamin Walker, dressed only in underpants for much of the show’s nearly three hours….

what is it? What is the point?  Why make this story into a Broadway musical in 2016?

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Waitress

is being promoted as the first Broadway musical put together by an all-female creative team. In her Broadway debut, well-known singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles has written and orchestrated a score full of pleasing songs. Diane Paulus (HairPorgy and Bess) directs with her usual verve, but, in keeping with the material, more down-home and laid-back than usual, certainly compared to her most recent over-the-Big-Top Broadway forays (PippinFinding Neverland.) Jessie Nelson wrote the book, based on the 2007 film by Adrienne Shelly….a homespun feminist fable spiced with a pinch of cartoon and a dash of the surreal….What Waitress leaves us with is the affection evident among the characters

Jessie Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Fully Committed

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mitchell on “Modern Family”, is starring on Broadway in Fully Committed, portraying Sam, a struggling actor who works as a reservations clerk at a trendy Manhattan restaurant, as well as some 40 characters with whom Sam interacts.  It’s a soufflé of a show being sold as a full expensive meal….A gift for vocal impersonations is not, as it turns out, in Ferguson’s wheelhouse. He’s no Robin Williams or Rich Little. But, if too many of the characters are indistinct and too few are all that interesting, one stands out. Ferguson is a terrific Sam.

Dana Ivey, Frances Barber and Helen Cespedes in School for Scandal

Dana Ivey, Frances Barber and Helen Cespedes in School for Scandal

The School for Scandal

There is nothing idle about the gossip in  “The School for Scandal.”…When Richard Sheridan debuted “The School for Scandal” in 1777, it was an instant success. In the hands of Red Bull, it is easy to see why, thanks to direction by Marc Vietor that puts a premium on clarity and pace, the entire design team which adds whimsy to the proceedings (such as Charles G. LaPointe’s series of unusually colored wigs), and an impressive cast that includes such familiar faces as Frances Barber as Lady Sneerwell, Mark-Linn-Baker as a hapless husband, and Dana Ivey, who is priceless as Mrs. Candour, who in her every supposed effort to defend her friends’ reputations, maligns them.

Andrew Keenan Bolger and cast

Andrew Keenan Bolger and cast

Tuck Everlasting

The members of the Tuck family spend two hours trying to explain why it’s a curse to live forever, but it is only in the final 15 minutes of Tuck Everlasting that the musical drives home what a blessing it is to be mortal.  It does this with an extraordinary, wordless ballet.

Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s staggering finale is the only scene that completely fulfills Tuck Everlasting’s obvious aim to be one of those musicals that appeal to children of all ages.  Otherwise, the candy-colorful and energetic stage adaptation of Natalie Babbitt’s 1975 novel seems largely suited for 11-year-old girls.

Jessia Lange

Jessia Lange

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

“None of us can help the things life has done to us,” Jessica Lange says as Mary Tyrone. Mary is talking about one of her sons, a drunk, but she herself, a convent girl who married a matinee idol, has become a morphine addict. At the end of the night, she will descend into madness.

By then, nearly four hours after the play began, this sixth Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s epic drama about his own family has become essentially a play about his mother. This is not likely a deliberate choice by director Jonathan Kent. Rather, it is due to Lange’s superior performance.

Week in Theater Awards

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My guide to NYC Theater Awards

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Pulitzer Prize – Hamilton

In one week, Hamilton wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize and releases best-seller libretto

Few could have been surprised that the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama (and $10,000) was awarded to Lin-Manuel Miranda for the musical Hamilton, who after all has already won an astonishing pile-up of awards and prize money — the George Washington Book Prize ($50,000), the Kennedy Award for Drama Inspired by American History ($100,000), the MacArthur “Genius” Grant ($625,000), the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album (which so far has grossed some six million dollars.) While we’re talking money – which isn’t completely inappropriate, given that the musical is about the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury — Hamilton, which opened in August, has reportedly already grossed more than $60 million at the box office, and provides Miranda, 36, with upwards of $100,000 in royalties per week for writing the book, music, lyrics and arrangements; this doesn’t include his undisclosed weekly salary for starring in the show. …It has almost reached the point where the awards to Miranda for Hamilton do more to enhance the prestige of the award-giver than the recipient.

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Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations – She Loves Me, American Psycho

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Drama League Nominations

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Drama Desk Awards – She Loves Me, American Psycho, Bright Star

Danai Gurira, author of a play on Broadway and Off Broadway

Danai Gurira, author of a play on Broadway and Off Broadway

Seventh annual ‪Lilly Awards for women in theater to honor ‪Danai Gurira, actor ‪Martha Plimpton, director ‪Kate Whoriskey, actor ‪Mia Katigbak
May 23

The Week in New York Theater News

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Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber will star on Broadway in ‪Donmar Warehouse’s ‪Les Liaison Dangereuses
Oct 8-Jan 22, 2017

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Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle to star in ‪Lincoln Center’s  Oslo, by J.T. Rogers, about  theNorwegian couple who helped produce the 1993 Israel/PLO peace accord. Opens July 11

Samuel Hunter,

Samuel Hunter,

The Healing, a reunion of disabled friends, by MacArthur Foundation “genius” ‪Samuel D. Hunter, to be presented June 11-July 16 by ‪Theater Breaking Through Barriers

HarveyFiersteininHairspray

‪#HairsprayLive‪ will star Harvey Fierstein (reprising his Broadway role) and Jennifer Hudson, when it’s broadcast on NBC December 7.‬

Michael Friedman (composer, Bloody Andrew Jackson, ‪The Civilians) is new artistic director of Encores Off-Broadway at NY City Center

One Anthony Huger, 32, indicted for selling forged ‪Hamilton  tickets on Craigslist

Stephen Karam

Stephen Karam

Pulitzer Prize finalist Stephen Karam and cast members of The Humans will be at the Drama Book Shop May 12.

Shakespeare’s Death, and Death in Shakespeare, 400 Years Later

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Bright Star original cast recording ‪#FirstListen:

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Original cast recording of Tuck Everlasting will be available online June 10, in stores July 1.

2016 Directing Fellows of The Drama League Directors Project:
Noa Egozi, Drew Feldman, Sara Holdren, Candis Jones, Yavor Kostov,
Katie Lupica, James Palmer, Jesca Prudencio,Ilana Ransom Toeplitz,
Chloe Treat, Shaun Patrick Tubbs.

The success of Hamilton may have saved Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill.

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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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