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SpongeBob Closing. Broadway Bullying Investigation. Summer Escapes From Netflix in NYC! Week in NY Theater

There’s more to life than online binging, and plenty to do in New York now that summer is here in full force:

Free outdoor movies every day of the week
Free Broadway concerts
New theater books summer reading
Summer theater festivals, four of which begin today.

The Week in NY Theater Reviews

Laura Bush Killed A Guy

The title alone would lead you to expect a stiletto-sharp political satire; why else would a theater in Tribeca present a solo play about the wife of George W. Bush, routinely ranked  as among the worst presidents in U.S. history? But “Laura Bush Killed A Guy” turns out to be something of a stealth enterprise, generating sympathy for a woman who is presented as more complex than the public perception of her. At its best, Ian Allen’s play challenged me to think about my own political perceptions…. Full review

Borders

“Borders,” we’re told in the program, was the most “decorated play” at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and will have been performed on five continents by the end of 2018. The play was “inspired…by meetings with refugees,” playwright Henry Naylor writes, and attempts both to “put a human face” on the refugee crisis, and to “satirize the lackluster Western response.”
All of this builds up expectations that were for me misleading. “Borders,” which is on stage at NYTW Next Door through July 22, is a small, spare, sometimes poignant but not especially enlightening play that alternates monologues by two characters, a British photographer and a young Syrian woman. Full review

The Week in NY Theater News

Hard to absorb: SpongeBob SquarePants The Musical will close September 16, 2018, after 327 regular performances and 29 previews. “due to previously planned renovations” of The Palace Theater beginning mid-September.

‘Chicago’ cast member’s suicide probed after backstage bullying allegations

“Broadway musical “Chicago” has launched an investigation after friends of a cast member claimed he killed himself because he was “bullied” by the show’s directors.

“Pals of Jeff Loeffelholz — who had been a member of the cast for 22 years — started a campaign called Justice for Jeff after Loeffelholz committed suicide, claiming that the production’s director Walter Bobbie and musical director Leslie Stifelman wanted Loeffelholz out of the long-running production but that his contract wouldn’t allow them to fire him.”

Straight White Men is on its third Ed — or fourth if you count the earlier production.  Austin Pendleton portrayed Ed, the father of three grown sons, in the Off-Broadway production of Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men at the Public Theater in 2014. When the play was announced in December for Second Stage’s new Broadway theater, the Helen Hayes, Tom Skerritt was cast as Ed. On June 25, Tom Skerritt left the cast “for personal reason,” replaced by Denis Arndt, who had made his Broadway debut in 2016 at age 77 in Heisenberg. On July 6, Denis Arndt left cast over “creative differences,” replaced by  understudy Stephen Payne, who has previously served as a Broadway understudy on Of Mice and Men, Superior Donuts, and August: Osage County.

The 12-Hour Reading Festival at Broadway’s Circle In The Square Theatre will celebrate the work of Beth Henley, 11 am to 11 p.m., July 19, with performances by Carol Kane, Grace Gummer, Christine Lahti and Bill Pullman reading Henley’s plays: Crimes of the Heart – The Wake of Jamey Foster Ridiculous Fraud – The Debutante Ball – The Jacksonian Control Freaks – Impossible Marriage

Carol Kane in Broadway Barks 14

Carol Kane,then on Broadway in Harvey, pitches that you adopt the cute little dog on her shoulder, as part of Broadway Barks 14.

The 20th anniversary Broadway Barks will take over Shubert Alley on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

Shaina Taub has joined Elton John and Paul Rudnick writing “The Devil Wears Prada” musical. But no news as to when we can see it or where! Lauren Weisberger’s novel about an impossible boss became a 2006 Meryl Streep/Ann Hathaway movie that I watch incessantly.

While we’re talking about Shaina Taub, here she is with Public Works community members performing a number from “Twelfth Night.”  Performances begin in Central Park on July 17.

RIP Alan Johnson, who made his Broadway debut as a performer in the original production of West Side Story, and became a Tony-nominated choreographer, as well a choreographer favored by Mel Brooks,most notoriously for the Springtime for Hitler number in The Producers.

RIP Tab Hunter, 86, Hollywood Heartthrob, star of Damn Yankees movie musical, Broadway veteran (The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore in 1964), eventual gay icon.

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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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