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Glenda Jackson in Albee! Idina Menzel! King Kong! Summer Theater Begins. Week in NY Theater

Countdown to the Tonys is 20 days, but there is plenty  happening in New York theater right now — other theater awards, news of forthcoming Broadway attractions — and the summer theater season has already begun, with both Shakespeare in the Park and Club Thumb’s Summerworks underway.

Awards

 

2017 Drama League Awards
At 23, Ben Platt of Dear Evan Hansen is the youngest Drama League distinguished performer winner in the organization’s 83 years

 

The 8th Annual Lilly Awards Ceremony, which celebrates women of distinction in the American theater, will honor director Julie Taymor, Denée Benton (of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Micki Grant, Toni-Leslie James, Mandy Greenfield, Madison Ferris (of “The Glass Menagerie”), and Beanie Feldstein (of “Hello, Dolly!). Stephen Schwartz will be this year’s Miss Lilly.  Cynthia Nixon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, andDavid Henry Hwang are set to be presenters at the ceremony tonight at Playwrights Horizons

 

Also tonight: the 62nd Annual Obie Awards, which promises to be live streamed starting at 7 p.m..

 

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Chinas Ogbuagu

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

When a young playwright is audacious enough to commit publicly to a nine-play cycle, the most appropriate response is encouragement. Mfoniso Udofia plans to follow four generations over 40 years of a single, Nigerian-American family, the Ufots. Two of the plays in the cycle, “Sojourners” and “Her Portmanteau,” are now playing in repertory at New York Theatre Workshop, with separate admissions and only one shared cast member. If these two plays are uneven, they offer the promise of an eventually enlightening and binge-worthy family saga that updates the story of Immigrant America.

John Ellison Coulee and Zainab Jah

Venus

Zainab Jah, who made an impressive Broadway debut as a sex slave turned soldier in Eclipsed, is back on a New York stage with another vivid portrayal of an exploited but strong African woman in Venus. Her performance is the best thing about director Lear deBessonet’s highly stylized, colorfully designed revival of this 1996 play by Suzan-Lori Parks — part of Signature Theater’s year-long look back at the work of the Pulitzer-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog that began in November with The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World.

The Whirligig

Julie is young, pretty, literate and dying. At its best, “The Whirligig,” a new play by Hamish Linklater, explores with humor and bite how her terminal illness affects the seven people around her….Linklater…manages to  salvage the play’s odd mix of the forlorn, funny and fanciful, by creating appealing and playable characters, who are portrayed, under Scott Elliott’s careful direction, by a fine eight-member cast.

Week in New York Theater News

After 30 years, Glenda Jackson  will return to Broadway in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, costarring Laurie Metcalf.
Three Tall Women, one of Albee’s three Pulitzer winning plays, is scheduled to open on March 29, 2018.

Jackson’s illustrious, Oscar winning career as an actress — blunt broads,  sexy sirens, and grande dames —  paused for 20 years as she became a successful British politician. She retired as a Member of Parliament in 2015.

Speaking of Albee:

Direct from Australia to Broadway Theater, Fall, 2018: the musical King Kong

Idina Menzel to star in Skintight by Joshua Harmon (Significant Other), in Roundabout’s Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theater, May 31-Aug 26.

Plot: Reeling from her ex-husband’s engagement to a much younger woman, Jodi Isaac (Menzel) turns to her famous fashion-designer dad for support. Instead, she finds him wrapped up in his West Village townhouse with Trey,who’s 20. And not necessarily gay, but probably an adult film star.

Broadway casting directors fight to unionize. They say they are the least protected workers in theater.  

Live Musicals on TV

ABC to broadcast live/animated mashup of The Little Mermaid on October 3, thus joining two other television networks in broadcasting live versions of musical theater. Recently announced:

Fox: A Christmas Story, Rent

NBC: Jesus Christ Superstar)

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, a sequel to the hit film adaptation of the Broadway musical, with the film’s original cast (Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth), aims for July, 2018 release.

25th anniversary Encores City Center season:

Hey, Look Me Over (scenes/song from various musicals that Encores! has not yet revived. “Look for the likes of Mack & Mabel, Greenwillow, Wildcat, and others of their ilk.” Feb 7—11, 2018

Grand Hotel, Mar 21—25, 2018, May 9—13, 2018

Me and My Girl

 

 

RIP William Brohn, one of musical theater’s top orchestrators, who worked on more than a dozen Broadway shows and won a Tony in 1998 for “Ragtime,” 84.

One dead, 22 injured after 26-year-old driver Richard Rojas  (with history of drunken driving) plows into Times Square.

Alyssa Elsman, 18, a recent high school graduate, was visiting New York  from Portage, Michigan

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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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