The theater community in New York and across the country countered a depressing week coming out of Washington D.C. (#potentialgrizzlies, #alternativefacts) with events signaling resistance but full of hope.
The Ghostlight Project saw people gather outside theaters in all 50 states – including 50 in New York City, plus Times Square – to shine light, literally, against what many fear is the coming darkness.
The Broadway stars who performed at the Concert for America at Town Hall expressed optimism from the very first song — Kelli O’Hara sang Cockeyed Optimist from South Pacific. Brian Stokes Mitchell sang America the Beautiful, Billy Porter a bluesy version of Edelweiss, with the lyric “Bless our Homeland forever.” Betty Buckley Peter Gabriels’ song “Don’t Give Up.” All the performers sang “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” and, as the finale, “Let the Sunshine In,” from “Hair.”
And Chita Rivera — celebrating her 84th birthday today — sang and danced “America” from West Side Story
“We, this day, with song and dance and performance, are consecrating this day with hope,” said Cornell Brooks, the president of the NAACP, one of five social justice organizations that will receive the proceeds from this concert and what organizers Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley promise to be subsequent similar monthly events. (The others are the National Immigration Law Center, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
Not all was sweet. At the (counter) Inaugural Ball, which inaugurated Sanctuary, a month-long series of new plays at Here Arts Center, Natalie Douglas sang a stirring “Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone’s angry Civil Rights Era anthem. But then Douglas followed that song with “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell:
We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
Staged Resistance – A look at how the political resistance of theatre artists is playing out on and off stage in New York, with a focus on the new plays presents in The Resisters Project. “We gathered together for catharsis and community,” says Ashley Jacobson, Artistic Director of The Dirty Blondes, the five year old “feminist theatre company with a taste for provocation” that put together The Resister Project.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
Eleven years after his death, playwright August Wilson answers Donald Trump’s bleak depiction of “inner cities,” with “Jitney,” the first play Wilson wrote in his ten-play American Century Cycle, but the last of the ten to be produced on Broadway, in a superbly acted and directed production that’s running at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theater through March 12…
Wakka Wakka, the theater company behind Made in China, says the show is “inspired by true events.” I suspect the true part doesn’t include Mary and her neighbor getting sucked down her toilet and winding up in the People’s Republic of China, where a dragon eats them.
This puppet musical – equal parts surreal fantasy, bawdy romantic comedy, barbed political satire, and hilariously inventive visual spectacle — does include at least one true event, sort of. In a verified story that occurred in 2012, a New York shopper discovered inside the packaging of the boots she bought from Saks Fifth Avenue a handwritten note from someone seeking help, because he said he was a captive in a Chinese prison factory…
The Week in New York Theater News
One week before one week before the second annual theater fan convention “organizers have hit a snag: a labor dispute with the Actors’ Equity Association, who has asked its members not to perform, or even rehearse, for the event until an agreement is reached.”
Schedule of events for BroadwayCon, Jan 27 – 29
A report in The Hill suggests that the Trump Administration is looking to privatize PBS, and eliminate entirely the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
Broadway’s Musical Deluge “Nineteen new musicals and revivals have opened or are scheduled to open through April 27, the cut-off for Tony Award eligibility. That’s the biggest tally since 1980-81”
“Morning in America, Nov 9, 9 a.m.” 1-minute monologues in response to election Feb 18,19 Primary Stages at Cherry Lane
Seasons of Love, a tribute to Rent at The Cutting Room.
The concert will include songs from the musical, as well as stories from former cast members.
Watch: Rebecca Naomi Jones: Taking a Break from Musicals
“As we left the restaurant, David’s assistant said, “I know I don’t have to tell you to keep this project a secret.” To which I replied, “Do you really think a musical about an alien, a dead Bob Dylan, and the work of Emma Lazarus is an idea someone is likely to steal?””
“Roe” by Lisa Loomer
Saturday Night Live spoofed Kellyanne Conway’s ambition with a parody of Chicago the musical. Some would call this especially apt, since Orwellyan Conway murders the truth.