Bye, Ben Platt. Hi, Evan Hansen Book. The Future of Theater? Thanksgiving Week in NY Theater

Ben Platt left “Dear Evan Hansen,” the Tony-winning musical that made him a star. That was yesterday. Tomorrow marks the publication of the  behind-the-scenes book and libretto of the musical, “Dear Evan Hansen: Through The Window.” My review

Platt told People, who named him Sexiest Broadway Performer of the Year (Sexiest Man Alive was already taken) about “TV things in the works” and a pop album and “I’d love to do some film, of course.”  But what about Broadway? Is theater in his future?

Is theater in anybody’s future? That’s the question I was wondering about when I attended the Future of Storytelling Festival, which I wrote about in HowlRound. One answer I got: “I believe the future is less about what ‘live theater’ is or isn’t, and more about the further blurring of lines of categorization.” People will be less clear about the difference between “theater” and “live performance” and “immersive” and “public art” and “interactive”….

Evidence that it’s already happening:


A Night at the Theater From Your Couch? No Apologies Needed.


Still, one can believe that live theater as we know it will stick around for a while, in the week after The Lion King celebrated its 20th anniversary on Broadway, and the week when the nation will get to see floats and performances from Broadway shows during the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and then will buy tickets to see them live (What to see on Broadway during Thanksgiving Week) — and when there’s so much theater news and reviews, below:



The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Pride and Prejudice

Readers who cherish Jane Austen’s 1813 novel “Pride and Prejudice” can certainly enjoy Kate Hamill’s stage adaptation, now at the Cherry Lane, as long as they accept that the tone has been rewired from witty comedy of manners to boisterous farce.

Nike Kadri, Nabiyah Be, Paige Gilbert, Mirirai Sithole

School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play

Paulina is the most popular, the most ambitious and by far the meanest girl in the Aburi Girls Boarding School at the outset of Jocelyn Bioh’s often unsubtle but ultimately stimulating new play. Paulina is confident that she will be crowned Miss Ghana of 1986, until Ericka enrolls in the school. Ericka effortlessly wins over the beauty pageant recruiter because of an advantage with which Paulina can never compete – lighter skin.
“School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play,” whose title is almost longer than its running time, was inspired by a true story.

Hot Mess

For some theatergoers wondering whether to see the hour-long romantic comedy bravely entitled “Hot Mess,” it might be enough to know that Max calls his girlfriend “Poopy Pants.” Or that his girlfriend Elanor calls Max “Jive Turkey.” Others may drop off after learning that an earlier version of this play, written a decade ago by married couple Dan Rothenberg and Colleen Crabtree and reportedly inspired by their courtship, was entitled “Regretrosexual.”

Those who ignore such warning signs will discover an innocuous play performed by an appealing three-member cast that has the slightest of plots….Max used to have sex with me, and is afraid to tell her.


Latin History for Morons

The ushers are wearing “Ghetto Scholar” sweatshirts in Studio 54, where for his sixth solo show John Leguizamo stands in front of a blackboard and lectures on the history, politics, culture and demographics of the 70 million Latinos in the United States. But Leguizamo is too much of an anarchic comic spirit, master mimic and candid memoirist to be merely erudite. “Latin History for Morons” exists on three planes – fascinating nuggets of actual history mixed with political commentary, eclectic comic shtick, and a funny, tender story of the performer’s efforts to connect with his family.

The Migration

Millions of African-Americans moved from the rural South to industrial cities in the North in the decades after World War I, one of the largest migrations in the history of humanity, ignored by most newspapers (except the black press), but famously captured by a 23-year-old painter named Jacob Lawrence. In 1941, he created The Migration Series, 60 paintings that depict the mass exodus of African-Americans from the South. The series caused a sensation. In 2011, a dance company called Step Afrika! created The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, turning visual art into dance theater. The 80-minute show — it, too, in its own way sensational —  is now on stage through November 26 at New Victory Theatre.

(Two shows reopening this week that I reviewed last year:_

The Wolves: The World of Teenage Girls Via Soccer  (now at Lincoln Center)

Bright Colors, Bold Patterns: Gay and Loud, Funny and Wounded. (Now at Soho Playhouse)



The Week in New York Theater News

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  will close on Jan. 14 after 305 performances,


Nicholas Edwards as Daveed Diggs/Thomas Jefferson in Spamilton

Spamilton will close Off Broadway on Jan 7, 2018 (Still in Chicago, LA)

Lincoln Center  is killing its Lincoln Center Festival, which for 21 summers has presented theater (and dance and music) from around the world.

Terrific director Anne Kauffman and inspired composer Jeanine Tesori named Co-Artistic Directors for 2018 Encores! Off-Center season at New York City Center


People who follow Todrick’s You tube channel know he’s obsessed w/ Chicago, parodying it often. Now he’s doing the lead on Broadway – his fourth Bway show.



Theater at Brooklyn Academy of Music Spring 2018:
King Lear………………………………..Royal Shakespeare Company April 7 – 29
Long Day’s Journey into Night…..Eugene O’Neill, Bristol Old Vic, Sir Richard Eye May 8 – 27
Love and Intrigue…………………….Friedrich Schiller, Lev Dodin, Maly Drama Theatre June 6 – 16

Full list and details of BAM’s Winter 2018 season

Inside the New Grateful Dead Musical
‘Red Roses, Green Gold’
currently playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre


House of Cards creator and The Parisian Woman playwright  Beau Willimon: Responding to the Moment

Old Vic statement about 20 allegations of harassment against Kevin Spacey



Author: 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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