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March Madness. Week in New York Theater

March is a busy month for theater, as usual, but that’s not the only way madness seems to have taken hold.

Luckily, there is help for stressed out theater people.

Friedman Center logo

Opening today: The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts

The center is sponsored by The Actors Fund, which is also about to start  a support group for theater people to weather these stressful times. It begins March 10.

Bryan Doerries, the founder of Theater of War, has been named New York City’s Public Artist in Residence, (PAIR.) As I have written in the past, Theater of War uses the dramas of Ancient Greek and other classic tragedies to help with the healing process. Initially, this was with military veterans, but it has spread.

The first PAIR event will be at Greene Space on March 20. It will be a reading of Sophocles’s Ajax and Philoctetes, featuring Paul Giamatti, Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, and Reg E. Cathey.
The event will be livestreamed on the website for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which is funding PAIR through a $1,365 million grant.
Other scheduled community events:
Brooklyn Public Library’s Crown Heights branch (April 6)
the Main Auditorium at Susan Wagner High School, Staten Island (April 14)
Rockaway Theatre Company in Rockaway, Queens (April 17)
The Pregones + Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in the Bronx (May 6).

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

I reviewed the following plays last week. They are ranked in order of my preference, my favorite first, with links to the full review and production photographs.


Sweeney Todd

Tooting Arts Club’s exceptionally entertaining production of Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s glorious murderous musical, began in 2014 in Harrington’s, one of London’s oldest working pie shops. An impressively detailed replica of Harrington’s has now set up shop Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theater, including the pies…
(Sweeney Todd has been extended at Barrow Street Theatre through December 31.)


Significant Other

In “Significant Other,” Jordan is a gay man who has three best friends he met in college, all women, each of whom in the course of Joshua Harmon’s play finds a mate and holds a fancy wedding, which Jordan attends like a loyal soldier going into enemy territory. Unsuccessful himself at finding his significant other, Jordan feels more and more cut off, and fearful of a life of loneliness. “Your wedding is my funeral,” Jordan says to the last and best of his friends, Laura.

If the basic plot were the sum total of “Significant Other,” it would be easier to dismiss as thin, repetitive and self-pitying. But what “Significant Other” has going for it is significant, especially some very funny moments and a supremely winning cast, all but one of them holdovers from the play’s Off-Broadway run last summer.

If I Forget

In “If I Forget,” a well-acted, often funny and always engaging Jewish family drama by Steven Levenson (the book-writer for Dear Evan Hansen) we travel back to an era that no longer exists except in memory, although it is a mere 15 years ago…the concerns of Levenson’s play feel both up-to-the-minute and age-old, as Michael (Jeremy Shamos) and his two sisters Holly (Kate Walsh, from Private Practice) and Sharon (Maria Dizzia) argue politics and religion and identity….and what to do about Dad.


Wakey, Wakey

With gentle humor and a lack of fussiness, Michael Emerson manages to woo us through the deliberate vagueness, starts-and-stops, meta interruptions, of his monologue, even before we are completely certain why Guy is talking to us. There are hints from the get-go that he’s presiding over his own wake…It becomes irrefutably clear that Guy is dying only when Lisa (January LaVoy) arrives and her casual ministrations establish her as his caretaker


All The Fine Boys

If “All The Fine Boys,” written and directed by Erica Schmidt, had just been the scenes between Emily and Adam, the play would have been a sweet, funny, awkward, well-observed coming-of-age tale. But the scenes between Jenny and Joe wind up as a combination Lifetime movie cautionary tale, and campy Grand Guignol horror movie, which features Abigail Breslin (Oscar nominee at age 10 for Little Miss Sunshine) being deflowered on a couch before our eyes while eating a slice of pizza – and it gets worse from there…

Rebecca Pidgeon and Chris Bauer

The Penitent

he Penitent, David Mamet’s latest play, is about the ethical dilemmas facing a psychiatrist whose patient has gone on a killing spree. At least that’s what it seems to be about, but audiences might well identify with the psychiatrist’s wife when she says to him: “You must be holding something back. Or else I’m stupid.”…Mamet has structured ‘The Penitent’ so that information is parceled out in stingy pieces. Some of this is surely for dramatic effect, particularly a revelation at the end that is undoubtedly meant to knock us out. But this approach winds up undercutting his thematic explorations…And that ending (which I won’t reveal) is not only implausible to the point of self-parody; it negates or at least clouds all the intellectual debate that’s gone before it.”

The Week in New York Theater News

My Fair Lady is returning to Broadway.   Produced by Lincoln Center, and directed by Bartlett Sher,  it will begin previews March 22, 2018 and open on April 19, 2018 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. No cast has been announced. This will be the fifth Broadway production of the musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” The first, in 1956, starred Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle (pictured.)

$41 rush tickets will still be offered to Sunday in the Park with George (It was supposed to end when show opened)

Miriam Colón a well-known movie actress who took roles opposite Brando and Pacino (most famously as his mother in Scarface) and many others, has died at age 80. She was the founder of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in 1967,  to bring free bilingual theater to venues throughout New York City. In 1993 she received an Obie Award for lifetime achievement in Off Broadway theater. In 2015 President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts.

Roberta Maxwell and Maryann Plunkett in Women of a Certain Age, Play Three of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

Richard Nelson’s trilogy The Gabriels will be livestreamed on BroadwayHD from the Public Theater

Olivier Awards – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child receives record 11 nominations

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Sets Nominations Record for U.K. Olivier Awards (Full List)

Ann Harada, Kelvin Moon Loh join George Takei in Classic Stage Company’s Pacific Overtures

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” is no more. Now the @nyneofuturists weekend show will be called “The Infinite Wrench”

Playwrights Horizons 2017-18 season

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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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