Ruthie Ann Miles. Rise is Not Glee. Bard Bombshell. Week in New York and Cincinnati Theater

In the week since the horrendous car crash in Park Slope that killed two young children, including the four-year-old daughter of Broadway actress Ruthie Ann Miles, and put her in the hospital, almost 8,000 people raised more than $400,000 to help her family.

The driver who ran the red light has chronic illnesses, and was “cited on four previous occasions for running red lights and another four for speeding through a school zone.”

Here she is in 2015 singing Something Wonderful from The King and I, a role for which she won a Tony Award.

This week in New York theater: The Prom gets a date; Hamilton breaks another record, playwrights Lucas Hnath and Suzan Lori Parks get rich. A preview of “Rise”, the new TV series about a high school drama class. And two startling revelations from Shakespeare scholars in Cincinnati.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Chukwudi Iwuji and Chris Perfetti,

The Low Road

Bruce Norris’s “The Low Road”  presents the improbable adventures of a scoundrel, one Jim Trewitt, to whom an adversary rightfully attributes “a rather comprehensive wickedness.” It is a wild ride through the first two decades of Jim’s life in Colonial America, which lead up to the American Revolution, peopled by some 50 vivid characters – whores and highwaymen and Hessians; celibates and slaves and British soldiers; Mohegan scouts , rich liberal benefactors and giant alien bees — portrayed by a superb cast of 17, including Chris Perfetti as the delightfully sniveling anti-hero, and the priceless Harriet Harris as the naïve Madame who raises him. Norris intends “The Low Road” as a lesson in economics – or, more precisely, as a cautionary tale about the evils of Republican-style capitalism.


“Hangmen” is Martin McDonagh’s first new play in New York since the misbegotten “A Behanding in Spokane” in 2010 (He’s been busy elsewhere, most recently writing and directing the Oscar-nominated film “Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri.”) “Hangmen” is undeniably entertaining….There are however several caveats…As with many McDonagh plays, the mordant humor, as funny as much of it is, involves a gleeful reliance on violence bordering on the sadistic.

Mark Blum, Jamie Brewer and Vanessa Aspillaga,

Amy and the Orphans

“Amy and the Orphans” is inspired by the playwright’s own Aunt Amy (who “was born with Down syndrome during a time in this country when medical professionals told my grandparents they’d just given birth to a ‘Mongolian idiot’” who should be institutionalized), and by her introduction to Jamie Brewer, the actress with Down Syndrome who is portraying Amy. “Spending only an hour with Jamie completely changed what I believed people with Down syndrome were capable of, despite having known my aunt my whole life.” It’s plainly the playwright’s main aim to have the audience spend 90 minutes with Amy/Jamie and change our beliefs as well.


In “queens,” the latest resonant, heartfelt play by Martyna Majok, a Polish immigrant woman named Renia reigns over a crumby basement in the New York City borough of Queens, but she sees it as her home, her world, and her salvation…

“queens” is not just a portrait of one woman, but of a community of women, mostly newly arrived in America, who pass through this cluttered basement, with nowhere else to live, from 2001 (shortly after September 11th) to 2017.

Week in New York Theater News

The Prom, with Beth Leavel, @therealsieber, and  Brooks Ashmanskas, is opening at the Cort Theater November 15. Plot: 4 “fading Broadway stars” descend on small-town Indiana prom to bask in publicity by supporting a student who wants to bring her girlfriend.

A sneak preview from BroadwayCon:

History repeating itself, across the pond: Hamilton gets 13 nominations for 2018 Olivier Awards, the most in the British award’s history. Not surprising, given what the British critics said

Other New York-affiliated shows nominated for Olivier Awards include Angels in America (which originated in England and is now on Broadway), Audra McDonald for Lady Day (which originated on Broadway), The Ferryman (which will be on Broadway in October), as well as a slew of shows by American playwrights.

Full list

The 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has been awarded to U.K. playwright Alice Birch for her play “Anatomy of a Suicide”. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Prize is awarded annually to recognize women from around the world who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. “Anatomy of a Suicide” premiered to glowing reviews at the Royal Court in the spring of 2017, directed by Katie Mitchell. The play portrays three generations of women struggling with a legacy of depression in a family haunted by its past.

Elinor Cook (U.K.) – Out of Love
Fiona Doyle (Ireland) -The Strange Death of John Doe
Aleshea Harris (U.S.) – Is God Is
Colleen Murphy (Canada)- The Breathing Hole
Antoinette Nwandu (U.S.) – Pass Over
Nina Raine (U.K.) – Consent
Anusree Roy (Canada) – Trident Moon
Tori Sampson (U.S.) – If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka
Lauren Yee (U.S.) – The Great Leap

Evan Yionoulis, professor at Yale Drama School, to lead the drama division at the Juilliard School, succeeding the late James Houghton.

2018-19 Paper Mill Playhouse season:
September: Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. November: Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn. January 2019: My Very Own British Invasion (music by Beatles, Herman’s Hermits et al).April: Benny & Joon, musical based on movie. May: Disney’s Beauty & the Beast 2018-19

2018-19 Primary Stages

Sept: Final Follies by A.R. Gurney

Nov: Downstairs by Theresa Rebeck, wit  Tyne Daley

Jan 2019: God Said This, by Leah Nanako Winkler

May: Little Women by Kate Hamill

Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties, written by Jen Silverman and directed by Mike Donahue.  replaces MCC’s recently canceled production of Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Pretty Happy.”

Darko Tresnjak, who’s just announced he’s leaving his job as artistic director of the Hartford Stage Company next year, is taking over as director of “This Ain’t No Disco,” at the Atlantic Theater Company this summer. Trip Cullman, who is currently directing “Lobby Hero” at the Helen Hayes, had scheduling conflicts.

Rise premieres March 13

Based on “Drama High,” Michael Sokolove’s 2013 nonfiction book about the visionary Levittown, Pa., teacher Lou Volpe, the first 10-episode season follows the permanently rumpled Lou from the moment he lands the drama job, beating out Rosie Perez’s better-qualified fellow teacher, to the opening night of his first musical: “Spring Awakening.” Hamilton  producer Jeffrey Seller is making his first foray into series TV The showrunner of Rise, is Jason Katims, who created Friday Night Lights, and sees the show as closer to that sensibility than Glee.

Nevertheless, there are so many musical numbers that Atlantic Records will each Friday release original cast recordings of the tracks featured in the following Tuesday’s episode of “Rise,” culminating in a full album in May.

Last Friday, they released five, including:

“Glorious (Rise Cast Version)” – Rise Cast, Auli’i Cravalho & Damon J. Gillespie

Broadway Standouts at the Oscars

Link to her performance of “This is Me” on the Oscars. (Ignore the first few seconds of darkness)

With his Oscar, Bobby Lopez becomes 1st ever Double #EGOT (DEGOT?), with two Emmys, two Grammys, two Oscars and two Tonys (for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon) .

Unexpected Broadway trend: Two of this season’s new musicals (SpongeBob and Escape to Margaritaville) feature scenes on volcanoes.

Shakespeare in Cincinnati

Shakespeare wrote his plays knowing they would be cut during performance, says Terri Bourus of the New Oxford Shakespeare Project, speaking at a panel on Shakespeare for the the first-ever Regional Conference of the American Theatre Critics Association in Cincinnati over the weekend. The city fathers of London REQUIRED running time be no more than around 2 hours, to avoid the spread illness and insurrection. Full Hamlet takes four hours.

As a result of the research conducted for the New Oxford Shakespeare Project, Bourus maintained, there will no longer be 38 plays in the Shakespeare canon. There will be 43, including The History of Cardenio and Arden of Fevershame

Gary Taylor and Terri Bourus, general editors of The New Oxford Shakespeare Project, in the lobby of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company after the Shakespeare panel

The panel was held at the brand new $17.5 million building of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which features state-of-the-art acoustics and lots of whimsical touches: a sculpture of a pig outside entitled “Hamlet,” rooms named after pubs in Shakespeare’s plays (like The Elephant.) CSC began in a church basement 25 years ago; the Otto M. Budig Theater is its fifth venue, the first specifically constructed for the theater, and one that it owns.

CSC’s building is only one of an extraordinary amount of theater/arts building and rebuilding happening in Cincinnati, including a $135 million renovation of Cincinnati’s Music Hall

and continuing expansion of Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
as well plans for a new theater from the Tony-winning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

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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