Screen stars Off Broadway. Tony Calendar. Comedy and Theater: Who’s laughing now? #Stageworthy News of the Week.

As the season heats up, Off-Broadway is showcasing plenty of screen stars — or maybe it’s the other way around. Click on the photographs to learn the show and the theater, then check out details in my guide to the Off-Broadway Spring 2019 Guide , 


The Week in New York Theater Reviews

The Neurology of the Soul

If Edward Einhorn has given his play a title that might prove a tad off-putting to anybody but neurologists who read Scientific American, the playwright has fashioned an accessible plot that is more or less a love triangle, which allows him to weave in neurological observations about his trio of central concerns  –  love, art and marketing.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

There was one thrilling moment in Manhattan Concert Productions’ one night only concert version of Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton’s “Scarlet Pimpernel” at Lincoln Center last night. Norm Lewis as the evil French revolutionary Chauvelin draws his sword on Tony Yazbeck, who portrays a man with a double identity, the masked hero of the title, and the English aristocrat Sir Percy Blakeney. Yazbeck, looking for a weapon, grabs the first violinist’s bow. He apologizes, and seeks help next from the conductor of the New York City Chamber Orchestra, who just happens to have a sword handy. Lewis and Yazbeck fight gallantly, Laura Osnes as Sir Percy’s wife Marguerite St. Just gets in on the act — and then suddenly, Yazbeck starts dancing. Yazbeck is one of the best dancers on Broadway, and it’s Heavenly. Then Lewis joins him in a soft-shoe routine.

Otherwise, despite a starry cast with great voices, there is unlikely to be much of a reassessment of this musical that critics called “middlebrow,” “wooden,” “pulpy” and boring when it opened on Broadway in 1997, but whose fans kept it running for more than two years. One thing has changed: It’s easier to see the exaggerated foppishness of Sir Percy and his men (in order to escape suspicion that they are the heroic he-men that do battle against the French) as crossing the line into homophobia.


Looking for Lorraine

Lorraine Hansberry was just 28 years old when “A Raisin in the Sun” opened on Broadway — 60 years ago next month – and lived only six more years, dying of cancer at the age of 34.  Yet her short life was extraordinarily full and varied. She was the privileged daughter of an affluent, politically active Chicago family whose father’s anti-segregation lawsuit was resolved in his favor by the United States Supreme Court. She was a radical activist and anti-colonialist who gave speeches on Harlem street corners… She was an intellectual who studied with the legendary scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois and debated with novelist Richard Wright; a bohemian who lived in Greenwich Village in an interracial marriage; a closeted but active lesbian who wrote short stories about lesbian life under a pseudonym; a celebrity who formed close friendships with both writer James Baldwin and singer Nina Simone…

Fraver by Design: 5 Decades of Theatre Poster Art

Some of the theater posters Frank Verlizzo designed hang on the famous flop wall of Joe Allan’s restaurant. Some hold a prominent place in the homes of grateful Broadway stars. But many are images embedded in various parts of our brain via images in newspaper ads, on the side of buses, t-shirts, album covers, and up and down the Great White Way.
Many of those posters appeared in an exhibition at the New York Library or the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, and are now in his coffee table book…

“Just a Homosexual at a Broadway Show”

A passage from Less (Little, Brown), the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Andrew Sean Greer about a middle-aged gay writer named Arthur Less living in San Francisco who takes a trip around the world to avoid attending the wedding of his ex-lover. His first stop is New York:
“New York is a city of eight million people, approximately seven million of whom will be furious when they hear you were in town and didn’t meet them for an expensive dinner…It is completely reasonable to call none of them.
You could instead sneak off to a terrible, treacly Broadway show that you will never admit you paid two hundred dollars to see. This is what Less does on his first night, eating a hot dog dinner to make up for the extravagance. You cannot call it a guilty pleasure when the lights go down and the curtain goes up, when the adolescent heart begins to beat along with the orchestra, not when you feel no guilt. And he feels none; he feels only the shiver of delight when there is nobody around to judge you. It is a bad musical, but, like a bad lay, a bad musical can still do its job perfectly well. By the end, Arthur Less is in tears, sobbing in his seat, and he thinks he has been sobbing quietly until the lights come up and the woman seated beside him turns and says, “Honey, I don’t know what happened in your life, but I am so so sorry,” and gives him a lilac-scented embrace. Nothing happened to me, he wants to say to her. Nothing happened to me. I’m just a homosexual at a Broadway show.“

The Week in New York Theater News

Tony Calendar
April 25: Official cut-off for 2018–2019 Tony Eligibility. …
April 30: 2019 Tony Award nominations revealed. …
May 1: Meet the Nominees Press Reception. …
May 21: Tony Nominees’ Luncheon. …
June 3: The Tony Honors Reception. …
June 9: The 73rd Annual Tony Awards, taking place at Radio City Music

@arsnova kicks off its @GreenwichHouse residency w/ #MrsMurraysMenagerie, created by @the_madones (Miles for Mary) March 26-April 27 A focus group probes the parents of the target audience for a 1970s children’s TV show.

Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey and Damon Daunno as Curley

Oklahoma! on Broadway will star original cast members from the St. Ann’s production including (in alphabetical order): Anthony Cason as Cord Elam, Damon Daunnoas Curly McLain, James Davis as Will Parker, Gabrielle Hamilton as Lead Dancer, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey Williams, Will Mannas Mike, Mallory Portnoy as Gertie Cummings, Ali Stroker as Ado Annie, Mitch Tebo as Andrew Carnes, two-time Tony Award-nominee Mary Testa as Aunt Eller and Patrick Vaill as Jud Fry.  Joining the cast for the Broadway run is Will Brill (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, You Can’t Take It With You) as Ali Hakim.

Cast replacements

Frozen: Ryann Redmond as Olaf, Joe Carroll as Hans, and Noah J. Ricketts as Kristoff j

Brian d’Arcy James and Holley Fain lead the new (American) cast of The Ferryman

Aladdin: Ainsley Melham becomes Aladdin and Mike Longo Kassim

Odd Calamities in The Theater

Panic at Hamilton in San Francisco

Manhole explosion on 50th Street
Manholes exploding on 50th Street forced the evacuation of New World Stages, and canceled performances of “Jersey Boys” and “Avenue Q.”  ”Puffs”  “A Spirited History of Drinking,” and most appropriately, The Play That Goes Wrong.

How Extra Arts Education at School Boosts Students’ Writing Scores — And Their Compassion

How art creates community by Teresa Eyring

Comedy and Theater

Laughing Matters by Matthew McMahan in HowlRound
One can look at almost any comedy, from the irreverence of The Book of Mormon, to the agitprop of the Latino collective Culture Clash, to the philosophic whimsy of playwright Sarah Ruhl, and find a whole host of information about the way a culture thinks and feels and acts….Laughter, then, tells us who we are even when we don’t want it to, and the American theatre would be remiss to ignore it.

Why Comedy Is Eating Theatre’s Lunch by Jason Zinoman in American Theatre
A message to the theatre: Comedy is, if not your enemy, then at least a very formidable rival.
TV was long seen as the enemy of theatre. A common criticism you would often hear of a play is that it was too much like a sitcom. But TV was always fundamentally different than theatre. Comedy, on the other hand, shares a lot. It is a live art form, and the same romantic defenses you often hear of theatre you can also hear from comics—the beauty of its ephemerality, the present-tense nature of the form in a time when everyone is on screens. People who once went into the theatre are now going into comedy.

“I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce” will begin an eight-week engagement at The Box (189 Chrystie Street) March 8th.

Yes, who ARE you? Answer: The art work is by Shantell Martin, part of the New York City Ballet art series.

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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