#Stageworthy News: A Wonderful Week On Broadway. A Hate-Filled Week Off Stage.

This has been a wonderful week for theater – with openings for terrific Broadway shows The Ferryman, The Waverly Gallery, The Lifespan of a Fact. And not just on Broadway: The 21st New York Fringe festival featured such juicy fare as “James Franco and Me” (see reviews below.)

The world outside the theater has been filled with hate – first the mailing of pipe bombs to critics of Donald Trump, then the murder of 11 Jews worshipping in their synagogue in Pittsburgh called the Tree of Life.

But if the theater provides an escape from the ugliness, it also offers an alternative to it. Check out “Nazis and Me,” David Lawson’s solo show at Under St. Marks Theatre about his encounter with hate groups, and  “India Pale Ale,” a play byJaclyn Backhaus presented by MTC at City Center, which is inspired by a previous mass killing in a house of worship, the murder of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.

“We are you and you are us,” the widow of the slain character says in the Off-Broadway play. “What has to change to allow you to love someone whose culture differs from yours? What has to change? What has to change? What has to change?”


The Week in NY Theater

The Ferryman

By the time “The Ferryman” has ended, we have been treated to a breathtaking mix of revenge action thriller, romance, melodrama, family saga, and a feast of storytelling – ghost stories, fairy stories, stories of Irish history and politics, stories of longing and of loss.

Jez Butterworth’s play about farmer Quinn Carney and his sprawling, colorful family is rich, sweeping entertainment — epic, tragic….and cinematic.

The Waverly Gallery

Elaine May is back on a Broadway stage after more than 50 years, and making the most of it in The Waverly Gallery, Kenneth Lonergan’s meticulously observed, funny and sad play about a woman’s decline and its effect on her family. May is not alone. She is one of five stellar cast members, notably Lucas Hedges making a splendid Broadway debut. They turn this 18-year-old play into…if not required, certainly well-rewarded viewing.

The Lifespan of a Fact

take “The Lifespan of a Fact” personally.
On the one hand, Cherry Jones, Bobby Cannavale and Daniel Radcliffe, are three of my favorite actors in the universe, performing in a  comedy directed with a light, fast touch by Leigh Silverman…On the other hand, the play purports to examine several serious and timely issues…It simply doesn’t do justice to the issues underneath the comedy.

James Franco and Me

Last year, James Franco’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to a theater that was going to present Kevin Broccoli’s play “James Franco and Me,” insisting they stop marketing the movie star’s name. The theater canceled the production. Yet here it is a year later, being presented at FringeNYC through Sunday with a slightly altered name: “James Franco and Me: An Unauthorized Satire.”

India Pale Ale

“India Pale Ale,” a play by Jaclyn Backhaus running Off-Broadway, suddenly becomes shockingly timely with the killing of 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Halfway through the play, a character barges into a bar owned by his ex-girlfriend, distraught: “Like a bunch of people were shot at services….Your dad like…” The play is about a Punjabi Sikh family in Wisconsin named the Batras

The Week in New York Theater News

Noted theater artists, including Lynn Nottage and Eric Bogosian will attend a Save the Shop Event today ( October 29) at 3 PM

“Bat Out of Hell The Musical,” with music, lyrics and book by Jim  Steinman, will be on stage the New York City Center from July 30 to Sept. 22, 2019, as part of its North American tour.

Destiny’s Child singer Michelle T. Williams will return to Broadway as Erzulie in Once On This Island Nov 30 – June 2,2019.

The 75th Annual Theatre World Awards, presented annually to 12 actors (six women and six men) for their debut performances on or Off-Broadway, will take place June 3, 2019, at 7 PM at a venue to be announced.

The musical Hamilton dramatizes the first political scandal in the United States of America. Hamilton the musical is at the center of an accusation of another political scandal. CNN: Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum received a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton” from a group that included an undercover FBI agent, according to text and email records released on Tuesday under subpoena by the lawyer for a former Florida lobbyist.

Tonight at 8 on NBC: A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years on Broadway, with Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande and Pentatonix.


King Kong cancels its October 31st Halloween matinée performance to make changes in the show

Perspective by L.A. Times critic Charles McNulty: Why political pundits give drama critics a bad name
Historians and political scientists worried about the fate of American democracy have been sending out Cassandra bulletins about what’s at stake in the midterm elections. I share their concern about the rise of authoritarianism, but I’m also deeply troubled about the way the power of theater has been co-opted by those intent on making the electorate more reactive and less accessible to reason.

Megyn Kelly got kicked off the Today Show for making a clueless comment about blackface. In Longreads, Danielle Jackson writes about the complicated history of blackface on stage, and the example of Bert Williams.


Actor Robert Hooks on the state of black theater, then and now

Intimate Exchanges
Sex scenes require as much careful choreography as fights or dances, especially in the #MeToo era

Rest In Peace

Cicely Berry, 92, Royal Shakespeare Company’s voice director, teaching actors how to speak Shakespeare

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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