Festivals Score. Sondheim Soars. Faye Dunaway Sours. Harry Connick Jr. Sings Cole Porter. #Stageworthy News of the Week.

Other New Yorkers may view midsummer, with its heat waves and general malaise, as time to get out of the city. Theatergoers know it as festival fever. These include some of the familiar annual summer theater festivals  finishing up within the next week or so — NYMF, Corkscrew, Hot, Ice Factory Festival — and  new festivals about to get underway — the optimistically named Broadway Bound Theater Festival (July 30 – August 25), Ladyfest (August 6 – 28) and the first ever Rave Festival (August 9 – 25)

Below: a midsummer banquet that’s not quite as advertised; a Road Show for the ages; news about Jonathan Groff, Rose Byrne, Daniel J. Watts, Harry Connick Jr.etc; an exchange with playwright Jeremy O. Harris.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Broadway Bounty Hunter

The actress Annie Golden (mute Norma in Orange Is the New Black)  stars as the actress Annie Golden, who exchanges the humiliations of auditions for the thrills of a career kick-boxing dangerous criminals in this Off-Broadway musical. Well-meaning, cleverly designed and terrifically sung, Broadway Bounty Hunter has a game and talented cast, a funky pastiche R&B score composed by Joe Iconis, the Tony-nominated songwriter of Be More Chill, and a plot that couldn’t be sillier….If the aim of putting an older woman center stage is certainly laudable,  I don’t think it follows that the best way to do so is by imitating a 40-year-old over-the-top violent B movie genre.

Road Show
Stephen Sondheim, now 89 years old, first began writing a musical about the real-life eccentric and significant Mizner Brothers when he was 23 years old; paused in his efforts when he learned that Irving Berlin was already writing one; then, when Berlin abandoned the project, took it up again 40 years later. The musical that Sondheim and librettist John Weidman eventually came up with, now called “Road Show,” is getting a thoroughly enjoyable production through Saturday night with a sublime cast as part of the Encores Off Center summer concert series…

Midsummer A Banquet

It would be easy to make some wrong assumptions about this dinner theater production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”…that followers of Third Rail Project are likely to find surprisingly ordinary…The “multi-course tasting menu”  is so paltry – one “course” was a glass jar containing just one mushroom, one apricot and a single olive – that some theatergoers might wonder whether the “Banquet” in the title is meant ironically;


NYMF: Leaving Eden. Till. Flying Lessons.

The three reviewed shows from this year’s New York Musical Festival are all, each in its own way, naïve…or one of the near synonyms for the word naïve, each of which offers a different spin — a different judgment — on the same quality: innocent, fresh, childlike, simple, unsophisticated, ignorant.

Moulin Rouge production photographs


The Week in New York Theater News

Eight-time Broadway veteran Daniel J. Watts
(late of Hamilton) will join Adrienne Warren as Ike Turner in
“Tina” , opening November 7 at Lunt-Fontanne. Also in the cast:
Dawnn Lewis, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Myra Lucretia Taylor (who I just saw in
Lincoln Center’s The Rolling Stone)

Harry Connick JR to present “A Celebration of Cole Porter” concert at Broadway’s Nederlander Theater for limited run in December, 2019

Faye Dunaway, 78, was fired from “Tea at Five,” Matthew Lombardo’s 1-woman play about Katharine Hepburn, after its pre-Broadway tryout in Boston, reportedly for being abusive to crew & otherwise difficult. Plans for Broadway scrapped. Here she is pictured in the play

Another modern rewrite of Medea at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, by Simon Stone (Yerma), begins January 2020 starring Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale. There’s one currently, renamed Mojada, at the Public Theater

Three Off-Broadway plays will be broadcast on WNET Channel 13 this summer as part of the series Theater Close-Up.

School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Biohazards  August 16 at 9 PM.
.On the Exhale by Martín Zimmerman  August 16 at 10:15 PM.
Richard Nelson’s reworking of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya August 23 at 9 PM.

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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