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Broadway Gender Benders: Glenda Jackson as King Lear; Santino Fontana as Tootsie. The Week in NY Theater

 

Summer’s here, it’s time for theatergoers to take stock of the 2018-2019 Broadway season line-up taking shape; to attend NYC summer theater festivals or to plan theatrical weekend trips out of town; to pick some theater books to read, or to avoid reading (here are two new Broadway biographies); and to express our patriotism by protesting the latest Trump administration outrages, which is what many did this week at the End Family Separation rallies, including Lin-Manuel Miranda. “We’re here because there are parents who can’t sing lullabies to their kids,” Miranda said, before singing the lullaby “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton.

See the video of his singing below, along with Broadway United’s “We Are The World” video, and theater reviews and news of the week: Glenda Jackson and Santino Fontana switch genders; RIP two fabulous theater artists, Liliane Montevecchi and Gillian Lynne.

July 2018 New York Theater Openings

New York Theater Quiz June 2018

Week in NY Theater Reviews

Songs for A New World, and Lucky That Way

Jason Robert Brown was in his twenties when he composed his first musical, “Songs For A New World,” its first production in New York lasting just 12 performances and changing people’s lives. The show was revisited at City Center this weekend in two separate ways, both of them wonderful.
“Songs For a New World” was revived as part of the Off-Center Encores concert series with a cast of four singers, five dancers, and a nine-person orchestra
And, in the upstairs lobby before that show, it was also the subject of a new 20-minute musical, “Lucky In That Way,” with four singers and a pianist, created by The Civilians, with lyrics and dialogue entirely based on interviews with the company of the original 1995 production of Brown’s show.

Skintight

In a country whose president marries younger models and reportedly hires government officials based on their looks, we could certainly benefit from some insights into Americans’ obsession with youth and beauty. “Skintight,” Joshua Harmon’s new comedy that is obviously inspired by fashion designer Calvin Klein and his love life, doesn’t provide any deep insights. Indeed, one could easily interpret the play as ultimately endorsing our culture’s superficiality, both explicitly through several characters’ monologues and implicitly through some of the choices director Daniel Aukin makes for the production at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theater. Yet, if “Skintight” is a surface entertainment, it does offer several surface pleasures — good acting, spot-on design, and the revelation of Idina Menzel’s talent for comic timing in her first non-musical performance on a New York stage.

Carmen Jones

When Carmen Jones opened on Broadway in 1943, one critic hailed it as “something more than a major theatrical event.” Seventy-five years later, the Classic Stage Company is presenting what it bills as the show’s first major New York revival since its Broadway debut. If it may no longer be “more than” a theatrical event, it’s still pretty damn exciting, thanks to a cast led by Anika Noni Rose and the show’s fascinating history.

Cyprus Avenue

In “Cyprus Avenue,” Stephen Rea portrays Eric Miller, a proud, profane bigot from Belfast, Northern Ireland who considers himself “exclusively and non-negotiably British.” He is shocked to notice that his newborn granddaughter looks exactly like the Irish Republican leader, Gerry Adams, a man he detests. Eric gets a little pair of eyeglasses and paints a beard on her with a black marker just to make sure, flabbergasting his wife and daughter….But when Eric goes from spewing ugly language to committing horrifying acts of violence, the play sinks from the weight of its artifice.

Log Cabin

Near the beginning of Log Cabin, four old LGBT friends are so struck by their sudden societal acceptance that one of them jokes “It’s here, the gay takeover we’ve been plotting all this time.” But, as we soon realize in Jordan Harrison’s thought-provoking new play, there are some downsides to their entry into the mainstream.

Week in New York Theater News

Glenda Jackson in the 2016 UK production of “King Lear.”

Glenda Jackson will star on Broadway in the title role of ‘King Lear’, reprising a role she took on to great acclaim in the UK in 2016, but with a completely new staging. “This is a role you continue to work on and to make new discoveries.” Opening April 11, 2019 at a theater yet to be determined.

A Bronx Tale will close on August 5, having played 29 previews and 700 regular performances

Tenth annual Jimmy Awards for high school thespians – watch complete program and see list of winners

The City Council approved a $2.4 billion hotel renovation that involves raising the landmarked Palace theater 3 stories into the air

Lincoln Center: Infighting and Indecision

“Now on its fourth leader in five years, Lincoln Center — the country’s largest performing arts complex — finds itself suffering from shuffled priorities, financial difficulties and instability at its highest rank”

 

 

Liliane Montevecchi, Tony Award winner for the musical Nine, dancer, cabaret singer, a movie actress who appeared with Brando, Elvis, Astaire and Montgomery Clift, died June 29 in New York City. She was 85.

Choreographer Gillian Lynne, whose credits include Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, has died aged 92

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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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