Incredibly, the 2019 blackout that shut down the West Side Saturday night and shuttered 26 of 30 Broadway shows — all but the four that begin with B (Be More Chill, Beetlejuice, Beautiful, and Burn This) — occurred on the 42nd anniversary of the 1977 blackout, and during filming of the musical “In The Heights,” in which a blackout triggers much of the action. (The blackout in the show is based on the actual blackout of July 6, 1999 that left 200,000 people north of 155th Street without power for 18 hours.) “Blackout Blackout….We are powerless. We are powerless,” the cast sings in “The Blackout” song. Nina and Benny sing “When the Sun Goes Down.”
Memories of “In The Heights” prompted this exchange on Twitter between the original Nina and Benny:
Has anyone seen Benny?!! Benny!!!!🎼
— Mandy Gonzalez (@_mandygonzalez) July 14, 2019
I’m. Right. Here. https://t.co/UjoE2SsY9O
— Christopher Jackson (@ChrisisSingin) July 14, 2019
The Broadway Blackout prompted casts to take their show into the streets, at least for a while, as I chronicled in a previous post.
I missed all that. On Saturday night, I was seeing a show Off-Broadway, which was not affected.
Downtown theater, full of electricity.
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) July 14, 2019
It’s good to keep in mind that the blackout was not just inconvenient; it caused damage: The Minskoff Theatre suffered a flood backstage, wrecking costumes from The Lion King, which required the cast to improvise at Sunday’s performance.
New Theater Books for Summer Reading 2019
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
It took nine months after the death of Maria Irene Fornes for us to see just how gloriously entertaining Fornes work could be, when her 1965 musical “Promenade” with composer the Rev. Al Carmines was presented at City Center this past week for just two nights, as part of the Encores Off-Center summer concert series.
New York Musical Festival first week
Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space, Buried, and Ladyship
Broadway at Bryant Park, Week 1: Watch Bat Out of Hell, Be More Chill, and King Kong’s castmates
The Week in New York Theater News
Jeremy O Harris’s Slave Play is coming to Broadway! It opens at the Golden on October 6 for a 17-week run.
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is closing July 28th, a month earlier than scheduled, which is too bad, because it’s pretty good…and, as usual,
Audra McDonald is to die for. Other Broadway closings this summer
August 11: Be More Chill, The Prom
August 18: The Cher Show, King Kong, Pretty Woman
August 24: What the Constitution Means to Me
The sixth Broadway production of West Side Story is set to open on February 6, 2020 at the Broadway Theatre, starring Shereen Pimentel, who made her Broadway debut at age 9 in The Lion King, as Maria and Isaac Powell, who made a splash as the callow love interest in Once On This Island, as Tony. It begins previews Dec. 10
Directed by the avant-garde Ivo van Hove, and produced by a new power trio, Scott Rudin, Barry Diller and David Geffen.
Steven Spielberg’s movie version of West Side Story is set to be released on December 18, 2020
The full cast of 23 on Broadway:
Shereen Pimentel as Maria, Isaac Powell as Tony, Yesenia Ayala as Anita, Amar Ramasar as Bernardo, Ben Cook as Riff, Ahmad Simmons as Diesel, Danny Wolohan as Officer Krupke, Jacob Guzman as Chino, Kevin Csolak as A-Rab, Matthew Johnson (debut) as Baby John, Dharon E. Jones (debut) as Action, Zuri Noelle Ford (debut) as Anybodys, Daniel Oreskes as Doc, Pippa Pearthree as Glad Hand, Thomas Jay Ryan as Lt. Schrank, and an ensemble including Alexa De Barr (debut), Daniel Ching (debut), Gabi Campo, Gino Cosculluela (debut), Marc Crousillat (debut), Stephanie Crousillat(debut), Roman Cruz (debut), Tyler Eisenreich (debut), Armando Eleazar (debut), Marlon Feliz (debut), Satori Folkes-Stone (debut), Constance François (debut), Carlos Gonzalez, Jennifer Gruener (debut), Jarred Manista (debut), Michaela Marfori (debut), Michelle Mercedes (debut),Michael Seltzer (debut), Corey John Snide, Sheldon True (debut), Ricky Ubeda, Madison Vomastek (debut), Tony Ward, Bridget Whitman(debut), and Kevin Zambrano (debut).
Abrons Arts Center 2019-2020 season will include jazz singer, Joshua William Gelb and Nehemiah Luckett’s stage adaptation of, and commentary on, The Jazz Singer, the 1927 movie that broke the movie sound barrier, but is also remembered for its blackface.
In April, Antonio Ramos will perform “El Pueblo de los Olvidados (The Village of the Forgotten),” a science-fictional take on Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Playwrights Marcus Gardley and Lauren Yee have been designated 2019 Doris Duke Artists, which comes with a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation of $275,000 each! Gardley is known for The House That Will Not Stand, and X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation Lee for The Great Leap, and Cambodian Rock Band
The streets are alive with the sound of music
Two inspiring theater artists making movies out of beloved musicals, separately, on the Upper West Side.
Star-crossed playwrights#WSSMovie #InTheHeightsMovie #UpperUpperUpperWestSideStory pic.twitter.com/c8HObQlrp0
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 8, 2019
Rest in Peace
Rip Torn, 88, ten-time Broadway veteran starting with Sweet Bird of Youth, familiar face on TV and the movies His secret as a performer? “Play drama as comedy and comedy as drama”