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RIP Playwright Neil Simon et al. The Week in NY Theater

Playwright Neil Simon, who dominated Broadway with his many comedies for more than two decades, died on Sunday at the age of 91.  Broadway will dim its lights in his honor on Thursday, August 30 at exactly 6:45pm for one minute.

His is the latest death of a theater artist in a week full of them: Actress Barbara Harris, director Vivian Matalon, actor Brian Murray, producer Craig Zadan.
See details below.

The Week in NY Theater Reviews

The boss’s wife and the labor organizer

Days to Come

Lillian Hellman herself described “Days to Come,” her 1936 play about labor strife and family conflict, as “an absolute horror of a failure.” She wrote it two years after her first Broadway play “The Children’s Hour” made her rich and famous, but this second one ran for just seven performances.

The Mint Theater revival of “Days to Come,” with the company’s usual fine acting and first-rate production values, doesn’t make a convincing case that the initial audience was shortsighted, nor that the play was somehow before its time. But if it is not an overlooked masterpiece, the ensuing decades have turned “Days to Come” into an intriguing glimpse into the era in which it was written, and something of a preview of the Hellman plays to come…

Henry VI

The National Asian American Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy is unlike any you’ve seen in New York before. This is true largely because you are unlikely ever to have seen these plays in New York before…These first three plays written by William Shakespeare, when he was still in his twenties, “have prompted much more scholarship than admiration”…

End of the World Bar and Bathtub

Philip Santos Schaffer pulls back the curtain and introduces himself as “your server and savior” to me and the only other spectator. After chatting idly for a while, he asks if we’re thirsty. “Tonight, we’re serving only the finest NYC tap,” he declares as he turns on the faucet…..The End of the World Bar and Bathtub is performed in a real New York City bathroom.

The Week in NY Theater News


This is big: Ten-time Broadway veteran and Tony winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, She Loves Me) will take on the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady Oct 23-Feb 17.

Aint Too Proud, a musical with a book by Dominique Morisseau and music by The Temptations, will open on Broadway in the spring (no opening date or cast announced.)

Most people picture Frozen at left. Charlie Copeland (center) thinks of the piping that cools the stage at the St. James Theater (right)

A Broadway Fixer, Keeping Theatergoers Safe and Comfortable

Charlie Copeland is a Broadway fixer, who’s worked on everything from “The Phantom of the Opera” to “Frozen,” tangibly changing the experience for a generation of theatergoers. Copeland is not a director or a writer. He hasn’t even attended some of the shows that he’s fixed.

Copeland is an engineer, the president of Goldman Copeland, a New York City engineering firm celebrating its 50th anniversary. The work he and his firm have done for New York theaters won’t win any Tony Awards. Audiences don’t notice it. But they feel it.

“A lot of Broadway theaters have challenges because they’re old,” Copeland says. “It’s a comfort issue.” It can also be a safety issue.

Wigstock is back, but not at Tompkins Square Park — and, whoa, not for free. Neil Patrick Harris as #Hedwig and Lady Bunny will star Sept. 1 at Pier 17 in The South Street Seaport, along with Peppermint (from Head Over Heels),Alex Newell (from Once on this Island), Justin Vivian Bond, and dozens more.

Viva Broadway will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a free outdoor event September 25 in Times Square. The hour-long event, which will take place from 5–6 PM in Duffy Square,

REST IN PEACE

Barbara Harris, 83, Tony-winning and Oscar-nominated actress and director, creator of memorable performances: The Apple Tree, On A Clear Day, A Thousand Clowns

“Harris was part of a revolution in improvisation in Chicago — first with the Compass Players, whose members also included Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Ed Asner, and then with the Second City, which Paul Sills, her husband at the time, helped start in 1959.”

Brian Murray, 80, stage actor and director, who arrived in New York in 1964 with the Royal Shakespeare Company touring production of King Lear and would go on to earn three Tony Award nominations, for his roles inTom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1968), Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (1997) and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (2002).

 

Neil Simon, the playwright whose name was synonymous with Broadway comedy and commercial success in the theater for decades, and who helped redefine popular American humor with an emphasis on the frictions of urban living and the agonizing conflicts of family intimacy, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 91.

“His death, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, was announced by his publicist, Bill Evans. The cause was complications of pneumonia, he said. Mr. Simon was also reported to have had Alzheimer’s disease.

“Early in his career, Mr. Simon wrote for television greats, including Phil Silvers and Sid Caesar. Later he wrote for the movies, too. But it was as a playwright that he earned his lasting fame…’

In 1967, he had four productions running at the same time on Broadway: Barefoot in the Park; The Odd Couple; Sweet Charity; and The Star-Spangled Girl.

Neil Simon’s 29 Plays and Four Musicals, ranked by New York Magazine

The following video was put together in 2009 when Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound were going to play in repertoire on Broadway

Brighton Beach Memoirs closed after a week; Broadway Bound was canceled. The Neil Simon era on Broadway had ended. His last revival on Broadway was Promises, Promises the following year.

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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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