The Band’s Visit Closing. #HairLive Dead. Super Bowl Snooze. #Stageworthy News of the Week

Theater is not the only activity vulnerable to bad reviews. A sportswriter called last Sunday’s football game “the worst Super Bowl ever…” (“boring, lame, non-suspenseful, never-ending…”) But Will Swenson might have said it best:

Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical got much better reviews.

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Week in New York Theater Reviews and Previews

The Artivist

“My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black,” says Keyonn Sheppard as Bayard Rustin, close adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr.,  main organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, a brilliant strategist who played a significant role in nearly every civil rights victory between the 1940s and the 1970s. “Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.”

In “The Artivist,” an hour-long one-man show in the 35-seat East Village Playhouse, we’re introduced to Bayard Rustin dressed in a black and white striped prison uniform, serving 30 days on a North Carolina chain gang for taking a seat in the front of a bus – years before Rosa Parks did.

True West

In the first Broadway revival of Sam Shepard’s 1980 play, Ethan Hawke portrays Lee, a drifter, a drinker, and a thief who disrupts the life of his younger brother, Paul Dano’s Austin, an Ivy League educated writer and family man, in the kitchen of their mother’s home, where Austin is house-sitting and working on a screenplay.  Halfway through the play, the brothers in effect switch identities – and descend into chaos, trashing their mother’s home and locking into unwinnable combat.

Hawke and Dano are both wonderful actors….Yet it’s hard to feel a visceral connection between the two, or take the show of menace seriously…

Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and Gbenga Akinnagbe as Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird photo Julieta Cervantes

To Kill a Mockingbird’s Gbenga Akinnagbe

Most wouldn’t see a link between stone-cold killer Chris Partlow from HBO’s The Wire, flashy pimp-turned-porn-star Larry Brown on HBO’s The Deuce and Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird. But Gbenga Akinnagbe, the actor who has brought all three to life, notices a strong connection.

“All of these characters are just trying to get through each day the best way they know how,” says Gbenga Akinnagbe (pronounced BENG-ga a-KEEN-na-begh), who’s making his Broadway debut in Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Week in New York Theater News

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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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