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Anti-Inauguration Plans. Hamilton Star Casting? The Week in NY Theater

 

The story of Inauguration Day, which arrives this Friday, has become almost as much about culture as politics. The list of performers who declined an invitation to perform at official Inauguration ceremonies certainly exceeds the list of those who accepted – and several, including Tony winner Jennifer Holliday and Springsteen tribute musicians the B Street Band, first accepted and then, after getting flack for their decision, reversed themselves and withdrew.

Meanwhile, artists are behind many Anti-Inauguration activities, such as the Writers Resist demonstration sponsored by Pen America in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library. Theater artists are most prominently involved in the Ghostlight Project on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. outside theaters in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

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Today is the start of Broadway Week, two tickets for the price of one.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Laura Osnes and Will Swenson

Laura Osnes and Will Swenson

Blueprint Specials

In the first public performance of the four surviving musicals commissioned by the U.S. Army during World War II to boost morale among the troops, “Blueprint Specials” could not be more deftly staged, from the creation of a pop-up theater on the hangar of an actual World War II aircraft carrier (the Intrepid, now a museum) to the casting of both bona fide Broadway stars (Will Swenson, Laura Osnes) and active duty military officers and Armed Forces veterans.

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Mata Hari

We first see Mata Hari in a French prison condemned to death for espionage. The most surprising aspect of her situation in this work is not that her jailer is a nun, Sister Leonide, who swears and smokes. It is that the title character, portrayed by Tina Mitchell, doesn’t sing. That seems unusual for an opera,

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Secondary Dominance

“Secondary Dominance” is a compelling example of my long-held belief that nearly any endeavor, no matter how awful it sounds in theory, can wind up wonderful if it’s done well enough by passionate, creative and talented people.

Sarah Small calls her piece a “multimedia concert in 13 micro movements.” It is an hour long, without a discernible plot or point, without even discernible words in English, and filled with enough familiar avant-garde tropes to keep your newly arrived hipster happy for months…

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Latin Standards

“Latin Standards,” which is Marga Gomez’s 12th solo show — and, she tells us, her “final farewell concert” — is a hilarious memoir, part of this year’s Under The Radar festival. “I’ve been under the radar for 30 years,” she says, after introducing herself as Cuban, Puerto Rican and lesbian: “I don’t want to surprise any out-of-towners….Mike Pence could be here.”

But more than a stand-up routine of topical humor, the show is a coming-of-age tale that pays touching tribute to her father, who went by the stage name Willy Chevalier. A singer, songwriter, impresario, and comedian, Chevalier (born Willy Gomez) was a fixture in the Latin nightclub circuit in New York of the 1950s and 60’s.

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Time of Women

“Time of Women,” a play in the Under the Radar festival based on the true story of three women journalists and activists imprisoned by the Belarusian dictatorship for protesting the fraudulent presidential elections of 2010, differs from most of the previous works by the Belarus Free Theatre that I’ve seen in New York. There is no extensive dance-like movement or elaborate use of theatrical metaphor… But in its own way, “Time of Women” is just as powerful, or even, given the timing, even more so.

Week in New York Theater News

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The Tony Awards, held at the Beacon Theatre last year, returns to Radio City Music Hall for the June 11, 2017 broadcast. Nominations will be announced on May 2.

James Monroe Iglehart

James Monroe Iglehart

Genie comes to Hamilton! James Iglehart, Tony winner for (and the best thing about) Aladdin,  will play Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson starting in April.

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Meanwhile, in the Chicago production of Hamilton, Wayne Brady has been cast as Aaron Burr, prompting Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss to write:

“It’s not as if the show — like many productions playing on Broadway in recent years — needs a celebrity to generate interest or boost ticket sales. …Why did the show’s producers and creative team shift the balance in this show by introducing a high-profile actor into an airtight ensemble of performers who are superbly talented yet far from household names? And why, given all the talk about how much they admire the Chicago theater scene, have these same people not drawn on Chicago’s fine stable of actors for any major role?”

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RIP Broadway and ballet photographer Martha Swope, February 22, 1928 – January 12, 2017

(L-R) Director Hal Prince & composer Stephen Sondheim in a rehearsal shot fr. the Broadway musical "Merrily We Roll Along".

(L-R) Director Hal Prince & composer Stephen Sondheim in a rehearsal shot fr. the Broadway musical “Merrily We Roll Along”.

15 pictures by Martha Swope from 1957 to 1994.

Jennifer Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in a scene from the Broadway production of the musical "Dreamgirls".

Jennifer Holliday singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” in a scene from the Broadway production of the musical “Dreamgirls”.

Lisa Kron and Daniel Zaitchik have been awarded the 2017 Kleban Prizes for writing in musical theater. … Kron, 55, the book writer for the Tony winning Fun Home, won for most promising musical theater librettist. Zaitchik, 36, won for most promising musical theater lyricist.

NYC is giving $2 million to increase diversity to 11 theaters and theater organizations. Recipients: BAM, BRIC, Epic Theatre Ensemble, Harlem Stage, MTC, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout, Teatro, TBTB (Theatre Breaking Through Barriers), TDF

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

The Sweat Broadway cast will be largely intact from Off-Broadway (Only one of the nine may not b come along in the transfer.) The play opens March 26

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Tyne Daly to star in Jerry Herman’s 1969 musical Dear World (based on Madwoman of Chaillot) Feb 25-March 5, York Theatre.

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The Greatest Show on Earth will be no more. Ringling Bros Barnun and Bailey Circus is shutting down in May after 146 years.

 

The Big Apple Circus, the 38-year-old non-profit that has provided family-friendly entertainment on tour around the U.S. has announced it will be selling off its assets.

 

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “is part of an ambitious theater slate at WB, which includes a brewing musical version of “Beetlejuice” — recently seen in New York in a reading directed by Alex Timbers and starring Chris Fitzgerald (“Waitress”) — as well as a “Night Shift” musical and a play adaptation of “Dog Day Afternoon” penned by Pulitzer-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis” – Variety

Humans 2

The Humans ends its run in NY . Thanks Stephen Karam and cast for proving a straight play that matters can make it on Broadway

Reading List

Inside The Front Page state-of-the art look (words, photographs, videos) of what it takes to put on The Front Page each night. – The Washington Post

Breaking records ... The Lion King, Wicked and Hamilton.

Broadway Blockbusters: Why Theater’s at an All-time High – The Guardian

Five Predictions for the Theater in 2017 – . (e.g. 3. Introspective Theater Is Out, Political Theater Is In) – Theater Mania

Originality versus the Arts

“In the last century, originality has killed one once-flourishing art form after another, by replacing variation within shared artistic conventions to rebellion against convention itself.” – The Smart Set

Northern Kunqu Opera TheatreÕs Victory on Luding Bridge, part of the 2016 Shanghai China International Arts Festival.

Northern Kunqu Opera TheatreÕs Victory on Luding Bridge, part of the 2016 Shanghai China International Arts Festival.

Bridging Cultures at China’s Shanghai International Arts Festival – American Theatre Magazine

 

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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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