Streisand! Julie Andrews! Angela Lansbury Returns! Cate Blanchett Debuts! Lin-Manuel Moves On? Week in NY Theater

There is some theater opening in June in New York, but for another week the focus is elsewhere: Awards!

Barbra Streisand will be a presenter at the Tony Awards next Sunday, which will be the first time she has appeared on the broadcast since 1970, when she was given a Special Tony Award. She last performed on Broadway itself nearly half a century ago. Indeed, Muhammad Ali, an exact contemporary of Ms. Streisand (both born in 1942), who died on Friday, actually starred on Broadway more recently than she did. Ali portrayed the title character of Buck White in 1969.

Angela Lansbury, 90, will be back on Broadway with the revival of Enid Bagnold’s 1955 play The Chalk Garden, sometime during the 2017-18 season

Julie Andrews, 80, has announced she will produce and star in Julie’s Greenroom, a pre-school series for Netflix about the performing arts. Andrews will play the leader of a performing arts company who works with a cast of puppet characters, called the Greenies, created by the Jim Henson Co. Among the guest stars already lined up: Alec Baldwin, Sara Bareilles, Joshua Bell, Tituss Burgess, Carol Burnett, Chris Colfer, Robert Fairchild, Josh Groban, David Hyde Pierce, Bill Irwin, Ellie Kemper and Idina Menzel.


Cate Blanchett will make her Broadway debut in “The Present,” based on Chekhov’s first play. It is set to open January 8 at the Ethel Barrymore.

Crazy For You poster

Crazy for You, the jukebox musical of Gershwin tunes, is the next Manhattan Concert Productions concert at Lincoln Center. Directed by Susan Stroman, it is set for February 19 2017. Previous MCP concerts have been star-studded renditions of Ragtime, Titanic, Parade, and The Secret Garden.


Lin-Manuel Miranda will leave Hamilton on July 9, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, unconfirmed by Miranda.
However, in the Rolling Stone interview with Miranda, he hinted that he would stop performing in the musical he wrote once his year-long Broadway contract was up in July:

“I don’t know that I want to break the news here. But I can tell you that with In the Heights, I did a year. I did a year and got out. And that show was as successful and joyous as anything I’ve ever done. But I still needed time to write, and so I did a year.” (Is he implying that Hamilton is not as “successful and joyous”?)

Miranda will have plenty to do besides write. He is set to star opposite Emily Blunt in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, due out in 2018. Harvey Weinstein has also taken over plans to turn In The Heights into a film. “Weinstein Co. is now working off of a script by Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the original stage show.”

Two interesting quotes from the Rolling Stone interview:

“Yes, this election cycle is bizarre. But it’s no more bizarre than the election in 1800, wherein Jefferson accused Adams of being a hermaphrodite and Adams responded by [spreading rumors] that Jefferson died, so Adams would be the only viable candidate. He was counting on news to travel slow! That, weirdly, gives me hope.”

When I was writing “My Shot,” I’d go, “Oh, man, if I could play Hamilton…” And then I would write “Wait for It” and go, “Fuck, if I could play Burr…” I spent a lot of time in both their heads. The reality is, I got to play all the parts. I got to be Angelica and be as smart as her. I got to be Eliza and be as unconditionally loving as her. That’s the fun of writing the piece.


Tony Actors Roundtable

Both video and transcript of conversation with Leslie Odom Jr., Jeff Daniels, Gabriel Byrne, Zachary Levi, Reed Birney, Danny Burstein and Alex Brightman. The comment that has gotten the most attention was Leslie Odom Jr.’s  answer to moderator Scott Feinberg’s question: What can Hollywood, which is obviously struggling with diversity at the moment, learn from Broadway?

LeslieOdomJrrountableODOM: I love the theater and I love this moment that we’re having right now. But I am not so fast to praise. What I think we’re having is a rare moment. What we really need to pay attention to is the next two seasons. Oftentimes, from my career, I’ve watched my white counterparts and imagine, if you would, if a white actor was having a similar situation as I’m having right now in this show, the kind of success of this show, there might be three or four offers a week for the next shows you’re going to do. There are no shows for me to do. There’s just no roles. You know, especially when you look at an Aaron Burr — you look at the complexity, the humanity in this part. There’s no [comparable] parts for me to play, right? Unless we’re talking about somebody’s going to reimagine something, somebody’s going to let me do a She Loves Me or a Music Man. These are roles that were written for white actors. And so I don’t say that to— I’ll take care of myself. I’ll be fine. I’ll go do music. I’ll go do TV. I’ll go do what I have to do. But I hope what we’re going to see is five, six years from now, the shows that this show [Hamilton] has inspired. There’s young writers now that are being inspired by the show that are going to start writing today. But as far as diversity on Broadway? I’d be interested to see what the next two or three seasons look like, because I don’t hear a whole lot of stuff.

Do you think colorblind casting is going to be more common in the future?

ODOM Colorblind casting is great. But you know what’s better than colorblind casting? Roles that are actually written about you. Roles that are actually written about your experience.


Tony Actresses Roundtable

Lupita Nyong’o, Jessica Lange, Michelle Williams, Megan Hilty, Jessie Mueller, Cynthia Erivo and Laura Benanti

Here’s one exchange:

The most annoying thing audiences do…

MUELLER Crinkle bottles.

ERIVO Eating.

BENANTI Cell phones.


ERIVO Wrappers.

HILTY Emails. Anything lighting up in your lap.

WILLIAMS I’m so glad that happens in your guys’ shows, too.

MUELLER And it’s always the quietest moments!

ERIVO Always.

MUELLER I was watching someone unwrap a cellophane bag of candy last night, I think, and she’s looking at her husband like, “Is this bad?”

BENANTI Yeah, and you’re like, “Yes, it is.”

MUELLER And I so wanted to look at them and be like—

BENANTI I did that. I had to stop the show for a cell phone ring.

Stars in the Alley


Sung-Through Musicals

Ato Blankson-Wood (foreground), Curtis Wiley, and Jahi Kearse in The Total Bent,
Ato Blankson-Wood (foreground), Curtis Wiley, and Jahi Kearse in The Total Bent,

New York Times drama critic Charles Isherwood inadvertently sparked a controversy when, in a discussion of the 2016 Tony Awards, he commented about Hamilton: “I do find it slightly puzzling that it was nominated in the book of a musical category, since the show is almost sung-through….”

I sat through three sung-through musicals within a few days of one another. Hadestown, The Total Bent, and Evening 1910 all call themselves musicals; all offer terrific music. But they each struck me as in varying degrees much closer to concerts—or, at least, I found that I appreciated them more by considering them concerts with benefits…

The rise of YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, and Instagram have created a new language of perception for its user…

There is some irony in recognizing that rock concerts have borrowed from theatrical tradition—costumes, special effects, even personas, if not precisely characters—just as more and more theatrical works seem to be borrowing from traditions of rock concerts, which is to say, clamor over clarity, music over words, spectacle over story.

How Broadway Stars Wind Down

Actors train to get into character, but how do they get out of it?

Watch the videos of answers from Broadway newcomers Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), Ben Whishaw (The Crucible), Austin P. McKenzie and Daniel Durant (Spring Awakening), as well as Tony Award nominees Phillip Boykin (Porgy and Bess) Emily Skeggs (Fun Home), and Bobby Steggert (Ragtime)

10 Cool Theater Hang-outs in Times Square

  1. The Drama Book Shop
  2. Sardi’s
  3. Joe Allen
  4. Glass House Tavern etc.
  5. Schmackary’s
  6. Signature Theatre Lobby
  7. Rooftop Lounge
  8. Bryant Park
  9. Times Square Plaza
  10. TDF’s Red Steps

Upside and downside of Theater Awards

a Twitter chat I moderated


May 2016 Quiz


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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