The Week in NY Theater: Fringe 2018. Broadway Remembers Aretha. Critics Are Not The Enemy.

For 20 years, August was the month when New Yorkers who hated the beach and couldn’t afford to travel could have a “staycation” sampling some 200 shows at the New York International Fringe Festival. That ended last year, when Fringe went on hiatus.
Now details have been announced for the 21st annual Fringe, and it’s two festivals in one, FringeNYC, and FringeBYOV – which are taking place in all five boroughs…in October.
Explanation and examples below, along with news of Keri Russell from “The Americans” debuting on Broadway, Gina Gershon as Melania Trump; the cover of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new book; Broadway remembers Aretha;  and a plea: Critics are not the enemy of the (theater) people.

The Week in NY Theater Reviews

Pretty Woman

Vivian (Samantha Banks) is a hooker, Edward (Andy Karl) is a killer corporate raider who meets her on Hollywood Boulevard, and if the ensuing romance is no less a fable than it was in the hit 1990 movie, there are fewer charms and almost no surprises in Pretty Woman The Musical.

Gettin’ the Band Back Together

From its first moments, Gettin’ The Band Back Together feels like the tackiest show  on Broadway, an impression advanced by its lazy plot,  uninspired garage rock score, dopey jokes, and clichéd characters.  Yet, for all its obvious mediocrity, there is an odd and grudging realization by the show’s last moments: Gettin’ The Band Back Together is kind of fun.

What makes it so are the performers who portray the band members, each of whom gets at least one number that shows off a depth of talent that transcends the caricatures in which the show has trapped them.

The Week in NY Theater News


The New York International Fringe Festival will return after its year-long hiatus in a different form.  The festival’s 21st season will be held in the month of October, divided into two parts. FringeNYC will present over 80 staged productions in the West Village from Oct. 12-28.  Theatergoers will report to FringeHUB at 685 Washington Street (corner of Charles Street) in the West Village “and will be ushered to their venue.”

Among the shows:

“James Franco and Me,” the show that Franco’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter. “Kevin is sitting in a hospital waiting room as his father slowly dies. Very slowly. Sitting with Kevin is James Franco.”

“The Resistible Rise of J.R. Brinkley,”  Edward Einhorn’s musical based on a true story of a 1920’s con man who made a fortune selling his impotence cure: surgically implanted goat testicles, then became a radio star and a successful politician.

FringeBYOV (bring your own venue), still being developed, will run the entire month of October, spread out in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, where the theaters in those boroughs (such as Irondale Center in Brooklyn and Jamaica Performing Arts Center) will do their own programing, and indie venues and Fringe alumni will also get into the act.

Keri Russell (from the TV series The Americans) will make her Broadway debut co-tarring with Adam Driver in a revival of Langford Wilson’s Burn This on Broadway in March. Details in the future

Alex Brightman (School of Rock) and Sophia Anne Caruso (The Nether, Lazarus) will star in ‘Beetlejuice’ musical,  based on Tim Burton’s 1988 film, and directed by Alex Timbers, during the “pre-Broadway” engagement at the National Theatre in Washington D.C. beginning Oct. 14, 2018

Gina Gershon will play Melania Trump in “The 1st Annual Trump Family Special,” a musical comedy beginning September 13 at the Triad Theater.

Axis Company will remount “High Noon,” its adaptation of the screenplay for the 1952 Western film, devised by an ensemble led by artistic director Randy Sharp, October 3-27,


 Is Theatre Criticism Dead

Theatre Criticism Now (HowlRound Twitter chat)

In the current climate, newspapers are primarily focused on their own survival, not on supporting the arts. Yet 87% of respondents in a recent poll in the UK said they believed critics play a “crucial role” in the industry


Mark Baker, 71, best known for the title role in Harold Prince’s revival of Candide, for which he received an Tony nomination, and his portrayal of Otto Kringelein in the international tour of Grand Hotel

Miriam Nelson, 98, Golden Age dancer and dhoreographer

As Miriam Franklyn (sometimes Franklin), she appeared in six Broadway shows, including two Cole Porter musicals, “Panama Hattie” (1940), starring Ethel Merman, and “Let’s Face It!” (1941), with Danny Kaye…When William Holden and Kim Novak slow-danced to “Moonglow” in the 1956 film “Picnic,” that was Ms. Nelson’s choreography. Much of Ms. Nelson’s movie work was for nonmusicals.

Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, dies at 76.

Aretha sings Broadway songs


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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