Opening in NY: Manilow’s Harmony, Diana, How I Learned to Drive, The Lightning Thief, A Christmas Carol. Tawdry Broadway. #Stageworthy News Up The Wazoo.

The dog days of August turn out to be full of theater news – even about dogs; these comfort dogs were watching Billy Elliot at the Stratford Festival, reportedly to practice what it’s like to help their handlers navigate through a theater. (So where are the handlers?) If there is relatively little actual theater happening for the rest of the month,  there have been a huge number of announcements — about new shows, new seasons, complete casts. Plus: theater and politics, and the tawdry side of Broadway.

Week in New York Theater Reviews and Previews


Rave Theater Festival: Sweet Lorraine, Ni Mi Madre, Stormy Weather

What a sweet surprise to discover Valisia LeKae, so exquisite in her Tony nominate role as Diana Ross in Motown five years ago, portraying Lorraine Hansberry in Sweet Lorraine.


Make Believe: Bess Wohl’s Elliptical Look at Child Neglect

48 Hours in Harlem with Ntozake Shange

On The Exhale: Gun Violence as Adrenaline on WNET


The Week in New York Theater News

From the stage of the Lunt-Fontanne during his last performance, Barry Manilow announced that his long-aborning musical, Harmony, about German/Jewish singing group Comedian Harmonists, will be presented Feb 11 – March 29, 2020 via National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

I have a personal interest in “Harmony,” because I interviewed Roman Cycowski, the last surviving Comedian Harmonist, shortly before he died at age 97 — such a famous Jewish singer that he actually met Hitler once, and lived to tell the tale

Diana, a musical about Princess Diana, will open on Broadway, March 31, 2020 at the Longacre Theater. Jeanna de Waal will be portraying Diana, joined by Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles and Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth, all of whom will be reprising their roles from the world-premiere production at LaJolla Playhouse. Christopher Ashley (Come From Away) will direct the show, written by the Tony Award-winning team behind the musical Memphis, Joe DiPietro and David Bryan.

Playwright Paul Vogel returns to Broadway (after her long-delayed debut “Indecent”) with her Pulitzer-winning, 1997 play How I Learned to Drive, with its original Off-Broadway stars Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, directed by Mark Brokaw. The story of a child molester opens April 22, 2020 at MTC‘s Samuel J. Friedman Theater. This will be Parker’s second Broadway show in the season: She’ll star in Adam Rapp’s  “The Sound Inside” at Studio 54 in the fall.

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is coming to Broadway, opening October 16, 2019 at the Longacre and running for 16 weeks. I saw this five years ago Off-Broadway. (My review.)  Still just an hour long?

A Christmas Carol will play at Broadway’s Lyceum Theater November 7, 2019 – January 5, 2020, in a version written by Jack Thorne (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) and directed by Matthew Warchus, who directed Broadway’s “Groundhog Day.” Cambell Scott will star as Ebenezer Scrooge.


The cast of “The Inheritance,” a play by Matthew Lopez about a new generation of gay mean that opens November 17, will feature Lois Smith, John Benjamin Hickey and Jordan Barbour, Jonathan Burke, Andrew Burnap, Darryl Gene Daughtry Jr., Dylan Frederick, Kyle Harris, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Carson McCalley, Kyle Soller, and Arturo Luis Soria (whom I just saw in his solo show “Ni Mi Madre”)

Nineteen actors portray 50 characters in Robert Schenkkan’s  “The  Great  Society,” his  follow-up  play  about  President  Lyndon  Johnson, opening Oct 1. Here’s the full cast list:

The cast of Slave Play, which opens October 6 at Broadway’s John Golden Theater and runs through January 5, will feature the actors who appeared in it Off-Broadway — Ato Blankson-Wood, James Cusati-Moyer, Sullivan Jones, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara, and Paul Alexander Nolan — joined by Joaquina Kalukango who will create the role of Kaneisha for the Broadway production. The cast is being understudied by Eboni Flowers, Thomas Keegan, Jakeem Dante Powell, and Elizabeth Stahlmann.

Mary Beth Peil as Duncan  will join Corey Stoll and Nadia Bowers as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Classic Stage Company’s production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, October 10 to December 15. The cast will also feature  Erik Lochtefeld as Banquo, Barzin Akhavan as Macduff, Raffi Barsoumian as Malcolm, N’Jameh Camara as Lady Macduff, Antonio Michael Woodard as Fleance/Young Macduff and Jade Wu as Ros

Consummate director Anne Kauffman (Marjorie Prime, Marvin’s Room, Maple and Vine, Mary Jane, and dozens of plays that don’t begin with “M”)  will helm
Sarah Silverman’s musical memoir The Bedwetter, which will begin performances on April 25th, 2020 at the Atlantic Theater

Politics and Theater

Margaret Trudeau, mother to one Canadian prime minister and ex-wife to another, will perform her solo show, Certain Woman of an Age, for three nights (September 12-14) at Audible’s Minetta Lane Theatre. “She opens up about her wild child days, isolating marriage, motherhood and disastrous romances with famous men.” This is part of “Special Audible Performances” which will be recorded as audio books. (Later in September at the Minetta Lane: Diana Nyad’s “The Swimmer”)


More than a thousand protesters in Hong Kong sang Les Miserables’ ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ at HK international airport with their calls for free election and democracy


Can live theater help spur climate action?

The Tawdry Side of Theater

Ben Sprecher, “duped” producer of Rebecca.

Ben Sprecher, a Broadway producer best-known for the “Rebecca” debacle,  was arrested on child porn charges. Ben Sprecher, 65, of Manhattan, was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography

Faye Dunaway in Tea at Five

Michael Rocha, Faye Dunaway’s $1,500-a-week assistant on Mathew Lombardo’s play “Tea at Five” during its Boston tryout, filed a suit against the actress in  Manhattan Supreme Court accusing her of “regularly and relentlessly” subjecting him to “abusive demeaning tirades” that included calling him “little homosexual boy.” Rocha claims that after he complained about the behavior, he was fired, told  Dunaway “is not comfortable with you anymore.”

The producers of the solo play about Katherine Hepburn fired Dunaway, after accusations that she abused the crew, and scrapped plans for the show.


Rest In Peace

“Henry Fonda’s son: That’s how everybody identified me until Easy Rider came along.” Peter Fonda, 79, who was also a Broadway veteran, appearing in the 1961 “Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole”


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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