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On Broadway at Last. The Week in New York Theater

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Two hit Off-Broadway plays on my Top 10 list for 2016 are transferring to Broadway in the Spring, written by two of the most respected women playwrights in America — Pulitzer Prize winners Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel — both of whom, incredibly, are making their Broadway debuts. (Scroll to “Week in New York Theater News” for details.)

My top 10 favorites in 2016

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There’s still time: Holiday Gifts for Theater Lovers 2016

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How about getting your theater loving loved ones (or yourself) one of the 50 best plays of the past 100 years?

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Rancho Viejo

Rancho Viejo

“Rancho Viejo” is largely a tease of a play that is three long hours full of deliberate banality. The play, with a stellar cast portraying nine characters plus a dog, is subtitled “a suburban sprawl.” It mocks, or perhaps just reproduces, the desultory rhythms, affluent ennui and existential anxiety and loneliness of middle class, middle aged California suburban life.

Tiny Beautiful Things for calendar

Tiny Beautiful Things

“Tiny Beautiful Things,” a stage version of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling collection of advice columns, inspires such strong emotional reactions that the awkward set-up winds up not mattering much.

“A Bronx Tale”…tells a story that its author, Chazz Palminteri, says is true: He really did witness a mob killing as a kid in the Bronx and kept quiet about it, winning over the local mobster….But the musical seems based less on a true story than on other Broadway musicals… Alan Menken’s score, a pleasing if generic mix of doo-wop and Motown and Broadway ballads, manages to make “A Bronx Tale” feel like an old jukebox musical, even though all of the songs are original and none of them likely to become hits.

(l-r) Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk

(l-r) Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk

The Band’s Visit

The members of the creative team behind “The Band’s Visit,” a delightfully low-key musical starring a memorably paired Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, have taken a 2007 Israeli film that is off-beat, and supplied their own beat…David Yazbek has come up with a terrifically tuneful Middle Eastern-inflected score….(They) keep the deadpan drollery of the film, but also produce through the individual Israelis and Egyptians alike a collective portrait of yearning.

In Transit1

In Transit

“In Transit” is the first a cappella musical on Broadway, and the rich harmonies and rhythmic beatboxing of a cappella evangelist Deke Sharon’s arrangements reveal the human voice as the most flexible of musical instruments. Unfortunately, the freshness of the voice-only orchestra doesn’t completely compensate for the flat familiarity of much else in the musical…”In Transit” features 11 appealing and accomplished performers portraying some 40 subway-riding New Yorkers….Luckily, “In Transit” has several assets that help us try to put aside its bland stories.

Week in New York Theater News

Sweat 2

Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, currently at the Public Theater, is moving to Broadway! It opens March 26 at Studio 54. (My review of Sweat, which I listed as one of my top 10 for the year.)  It will be the first play on Broadway for Nottage, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ruined,” “Intimate Apparel,” “By The Way Meet Vera Stark,” and a dozen more.

Indecent 11 Adina Verson and Katrina Lenk

Paula Vogel’s Indecent will open on Broadway April 18 at the Cort. A hit when it was presented at Off-Broadway’s Vineyard Theater (my review), it will mark the first play on Broadway by Vogel, the author of the Pulitzer-winning “How I Learned to Drive,” “The Baltimore Waltz” and more than a dozen more. A renowned teacher of playwriting, her students have included Sarah Ruhl,  Quiara Alegría Hudes, Nilo Cruz– and Lynn Nottage.

Harold Prince in Bloomberg

Much-delayed “Prince of Broadway,” celebrating Hal Prince’s work, will play at MTC’s Broadway theater, the  Samuel J. Friedman, in the summer 2017.

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Best Musical Theater Album Grammy nominations

Bright Star

The Color Purple

Fiddler on the Roof

Kinky Boots, London

Waitress

David Malloy, creator of and Pierre in

David Malloy, creator of and Pierre in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”

Dave Malloy, the talented composer and creator of  Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, has composed a new musical.  Beardo will run at St. John’s Lutheran Church from February 3-February 26.

Great Comet

Great Comet

Malloy will also appear occasionally in the role of Pierre, which he originated, and which is now performed by Josh Groban. Groban announced this week he has extended his stay in the show until July 2,.

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Broadway says goodbye to Edward Albee

Anastasia producers sued, accused of plagiarism

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Profile of TodayTix founders Merritt Baer and Brian Fenty, two theater geeks who took notice of a fact about Broadway: Up to 19 percent of tickets remain unsold annually “roughly $300 million of unsold inventory.”

Click here for discount tickets to the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

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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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