Musical Theater Grammy Nominees. Faye Dunaway Back on Broadway. Apollo Expanding. #Stageworthy News of the Week

 

Nominees for the Grammy for best musical theater album of the year:

The Band’s Visit (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel

My Fair Lady (2018 Broadway Cast Recording)

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event)

Once On This Island (New Broadway Cast Recording)

Details of Musical Theater Album nominees

Full list of Grammy nominees

Week in New York Theater Reviews and Previews

The Jungle

“When does a place become a home?”  It’s a question asked by Ammir Haj Ahmad as Safi, a refugee from Syria who is one of the residents of The Jungle. That was the name given to the extraordinary, self-governing community built on landfill in Calais, France that for 11 months became makeshift home to thousands of migrants, including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, fleeing more than a dozen countries. Safi serves as unofficial host and occasional narrator of “The Jungle,” a remarkable production that attempts to bring the community back to life.  From its inventive staging to its authentic casting and vivid setting, “The Jungle,” which arrives at St Ann’s Warehouse intact from its acclaimed run in London, shows what theater can do at its best to open us up to a world we otherwise ignore.

Slave Play

Slave Play,” which marks the Off-Broadway debut of playwright Jeremy O. Harris,  begins, as one would expect from the title, in a plantation in the Antebellum South. It involves three interracial couplings…In these first scenes, sexy and deliberately outrageous, Harris seems heavily influenced by the in-your-face pornographic theatrics of Thomas Bradshaw…But 45 minutes into the play there is an abrupt shift…What we learn (spoiler alert) is that the three interracial couples were role-playing as part of “Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy

Network

Nobody can do a nervous breakdown like Bryan Cranston. As Howard Beale, long-time network news anchor gone mad, he sits in front of the camera, unable to speak, his face a dramatic repertoire expressing varying shades of reddened desperation. And that’s just one of Cranston’s many memorable moments in the Broadway production of Network, a largely humorless, tech-heavy adaptation by avant-garde director Ivo van Hove of the Oscar-winning 1976 film…Cranston, who became a star thanks to his Emmy-winning performance as chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin on AMC’s Breaking Bad, and convinced Broadway of his theater chops in his Tony-winning turn as LBJ in All The Way, is the reason to see Network at the Belasco. There aren’t that many other reasons.

The Cher Show

“The Cher Show,” the new Broadway jukebox musical that offers a whirlwind tour of the music, life and six-decade career of the entertainer and self-proclaimed  “goddamn Goddess Warrior,” is banking on the popularity of the star, using three different actresses to portray her.  One could argue that Cher’s fans expect no less – and no more – than what The Cher Show gives them: glitz, hits and highlights.  But Cher’s very popularity – along with her longevity, range, and contradictions – might have made for a portrait not just fabulous but also fascinating…and maybe even (dare I say it) nuanced.

Instead, the show is putting its faith in the power of sequins.

Cher and Broadway: A Quiz

The Head and the Load

This unusual and startling hybrid piece uses a cacophony of words and images, music and dance to bring us World War I as it played out in Africa….What’s on the page suggests a structure and meaning that prove largely elusive on stage to those of us without a grounding in the history of Africa or of World War I. …it’s worth it anyway, because a story so full of horror should not be lost to history, and because (as with most of what I’ve seen at the Park Avenue Armory over the last couple of years) it’s being presented with such theatrical audacity.

Heather Raffo and Noura

Heather Raffo says she grew up as a “sheltered Michigan girl — a really nice, open, conservative” and blonde American who spoke English with a flat Midwestern accent. Then, at age 20, the Gulf War changed her identity. She became an Iraqi-American practically overnight.

Now, almost three decades later, Raffo, in long (dyed) black hair, is portraying the title character in her play Noura at Playwrights Horizon, about an Iraqi family celebrating their first Christmas after becoming American citizens. It doesn’t go as planned. They too are forced to adjust to a new identity.

 

Book Review: Dear Evan Hansen the Novel. The story minus the music.

 

 

The Week in New York Theater News

Mercedes Ruehl and Michael Urie

Torch Song will end its run Jan 6, 2019, more than a month earlier than planned, after 26 previews and 77 performances. Plans for a national tour next Fall.

For the first time since began in 1934, the famed Apollo Theater will expand, adding 2 new theaters (one w/ 99 seats, the other 199) — opening its new vision in 2020 as Apollo Performing Arts Center

After an absence of more than thirty-five years, Faye Dunaway will play Katharine Hepburn, in the Broadway premiere of Tea at Five by Matthew Lombardo, in a limited run in summer 2019

Irish Rep is presenting Season of Sean O’Casey, from January 31 to May 25, 2019. The celebration will feature The O’Casey Cycle – O’Casey’s three most renowned works in repertory: The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924), and The Plough and the Stars (1926); and free readings of all of O’Casey’s other plays. Other planned events include symposiums, lectures, film screenings, a musical evening, and two exhibitions.

Congratulations to newly formed National Disability Theater),led by educator/activist Talleri McRae and actor Mickey Isaac Rowe (Curious Incident), to present work “run entirely by people with disabilities” that will be 100 percent accessible.

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Interview with Heidi Schreck, The Interval’s Person of the Year

Peter Brook on The Meaning of Theater

When people ask me what I am trying to say, I get very angry. I’m not trying to say anything….. [P]ure theater: the sharing through the imagination of something down to earth and concrete and appealing for the imagination, so that there’s always that sense of “and then what?”—that sense of wonder, which one needs so badly, and one has so little of in everyday life.

Santino Fontana as Dorothy in Tootsie, opening April 23, 2019 at Broadway’s Marquis Theater.

Rest in Peace

Philip Bosco, 88,  Tony winning actor, veteran of a remarkable 51 shows on Broadway

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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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