Broadway in the Age of Anxiety. #Stageworthy News of the Week

They installed metal detectors in the Al Hirschfeld Theater, the new home of “Moulin Rouge,” during the same week that panicking pedestrians a block away mistook a motorcycle backfiring for a shooting and rushed into the Shubert Theater during a production of To Kill A Mockingbird, halting the play and panicking the theatergoers.


These are anxious times, and Broadway is not immune. Of course, theater people are practiced in the art of managing anxiety. “That’s the nature of the business — the uncertainty,” said Michael James Scott, one of seven actors recalling their reactions to performing in a flop.  Scott is now the genie in “Aladdin,” which means he has less to worry about at the moment. People may be drawn to shows like “Aladdin” and “Moulin Rouge”  — a fantasy in red that uses some 75 pop songs to take us back to Paris in 1899 —  because they want to escape the worries of the world outside the theater’s doors.  That seems less possible these days, even with metal detectors.


The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Bat Out of Hell

Bat Out of Hell” is a frequently enjoyable jukebox musical running at New York City Center through September 8, using the muscular rock opera anthems from singer Meat Loaf’s trilogy of best-selling albums of the same name to tell a tale of impossible young love in a dystopian future Manhattan. Yes, it feels like an MTV glam metal music video circa 1980 stretched out to nearly three hours….. Yes, it’s loud, long, messy, and, largely, ludicrously self-serious.But what makes “Bat Out of Hell” so watchable, at least for the first two hours, is the magnetism of the cast.

Sea Wall/ A Life

Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal are certainly the reason why “Sea Wall/A Life” has now moved uptown to the Hudson…(But) The strength of these monologues lies precisely in their modesty – in the modesty of the production, which is presented on a virtually bare stage (except for the very end); and in the performances,  which are quiet, casual and nuanced; and in the characters, who each are humbled by their personal confrontations with both life and death.

Moulin Rouge

“Moulin Rouge” was thrilling from the moment I entered the theater… until about ten minutes after it began. That’s because the brightest star in this stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie musical is designer Derek McLane’s set….Even if I’d never seen the movie,0 I would surely be disappointed by the stage version

The baby and the rat fighting

No Brainer

For the 43rd summer in a row, Theater for the New City is touring a free original outdoor musical in streets, playgrounds and parks throughout all five boroughs (See schedule below.)  As in previous years, TNC’s hour-long street theater features a tuneful eclectic score, an entertaining mix of dance, song, social consciousness, silliness and satire, and a huge energetic cast who actually look like New York in its full range of delicious flavors.


It was uncanny how much “Noirtown” made me feel as if I was living inside a film noir classic like “The Maltese Falcon” or “The Big Sleep” – stylish, seductive, tough-talking and unfathomable.  For much of the time, I didn’t know what the hell was going on.

“Noirtown” opened the inaugural Rave Theater Festival,  which is presenting 20 new works from August 9th through August 25th in a single building..

Book review: The 100 Most Important People in Musical Theatre


The Week in New York Theater News


Closed on August 11: Be More Chill, The Prom
Closing August 18: The Cher Show, King Kong, Pretty Woman

Why are so many shows closing in August? NPR looks for answers. One reason: schools are starting earlier

Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl will star Priscilla Lopez, Maulik Pancholy, Ashley Park, Thomas Sadoski, and Michael Urie. It opens January 23, 2020 at 2nd Stage’s Broadway theater, the Helen Hayes.

A Strange Loop will release an original cast album September 27 on the Yellow Sound label

To Protect, To Serve, and To Understand , a program of Brooklyn’s Irondale Ensemble Project, brings volunteer community members and police officers together for 10 weeks to break bread, converse, and play theater games


Rest in Peace

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison, 88, Nobel Prize winning novelist (Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, etc) Toni Morrison wasn’t just a literary giant–her work has also inspired memorable stage adaptations, including Lydia Diamond’s THE BLUEST EYE and Nambi Kelley’s Jazz


Bob Ullman, 97, veteran Broadway press agent

He promoted more than 150 Broadway and off-Broadway shows, including “Together on Broadway” with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin, “Cactus Flower” starring Lauren Bacall, as well as “A Chorus Line” from its time in workshop to its award-winning, record-breaking run on Broadway.

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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