Jordan Fisher is Evan Hansen. Broadway is Back in the Cultural Conversation. Rage is Necessary. #Stageworthy News of the Week

In its effort to sum up the decade culturally (33 Ways to Remember the 2010s), the New York Times gives a nod to the return of theater in the cultural conversation — not always directly.

Michael Paulson writes about “Hamilton” as a boon to a Broadway experiencing a cultural boom (“Even now, it sounds kind of implausible: a hip-hop musical about America’s first treasury secretary, peppered with rap battles over debt assumption and the Franco-American alliance. But when “Hamilton” opened at the decade’s midpoint, it was an instant sensation….”) Ben Brantley writes about the rise of immersive theater (“In a decade dominated by the illusions of virtual reality, theater put up a strong defense for the real thing. Around the globe, an ever-multiplying slew of immersive productions have been doing their damnedest to tempt audiences away from their screens and into the tactile here and now of three dimensions.”

Ironically Wesley Morris writes an essay entitled “Gay Culture Takes Center Stage” — center stage illustrated with a picture of Billy Porter (who first became famous as the drag queen star of the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots”)– and does not mention any of the many examples from theater.

Top 10 New York Theater of the Decade

December theater openings pic

December Theater Openings

November Quiz

Holiday Gifts for Theater Lovers

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Crystal Lucas-Perry as Zillah and Jonathan Hadary as Xillah (stand-in for playwright Tony Kushner)

Bright Room Called Day

Tony Kushner has taken the first play he wrote, which traced the rise of Nazism in Germany as a cri de coeur and a call to arms against what was happening to America during the Reagan era, and reworked it 34 years later for the Trump era – or, anyway, in the Trump era.

“A Bright Room Called Day” never really worked – as the playwright now acknowledges in the play itself. He has turned himself into a character. That meta-theatrical addition is one of the significant changes in a starry production at the Public Theater of this passionate and provocative play, but it in no way feels fixed. It is sprawling, awkwardly talky, and obvious — and now, also self-indulgent….Still, “A Bright Room Called Day” also offers a glimpse into Kushner’s high-wire act of intellectual theatricality that makes his later plays so thrilling.

Kristine Nielsen

The Young Man From Atlanta

“The Young Man from Atlanta,” about an aging couple whose only son has died young,  is the wrong play by Horton Foote to revive –- it’s dated, and overrated…

The Week In New York Theater News

Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, which closed this week at  will reopen at Off-Broadway’s York Theatre

Evelyn Castillo sued Ambassador Theater Group in federal court over its policy blocking guests from bringing outside food into its theaters. She complained that the practice discriminates against individuals with diabetes, and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. She wanted to purchase a ticket to watch Head Over Heels at the Hudson Theater. The court sided with the theater, buying its argument that it has a record of accommodating people with disabilities, and implying they would have done so had she contacted them. I must say the coverage of this lawsuit has not been even-handed — e.g. this article in Forbes: “Broadway Theater Stands Up to Serial Suer And Wins” — missing the opportunity to assess the state of accessibility on Broadway…which has come a long way, and has a long way to go.

“MJ” is not the only Michael Jackson musical in the works (although so far the only one scheduled for Broadway.) Johnny Depp is producing a new Michael Jackson musical, entitled “For The Glove of A Glove: An Unauthorized musical fable about the life of Michael Jackson, as told by his glove.”

Fefu 12 melia Workman (Fefu) and Helen Cespedes (Emma (c) Henry Grossman

“Fefu and Her Friends”has been extended  through December 12 at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center.


An audience member during a talkback at Slave Play raged that the play was racist against white people. Playwright Jeremy O. Harris didn’t shut her down, but he did mock her, referring to her as Talkback Tammy.
“Rage,”  Harris told the Washington Post,  “is a necessary lubricant to discourse,”

Aleshea Harris’ fierce struggle with American racism

Playwright Aleshea Harris, who won the Obie Award in 2018 for Is God Is, “is part of a vanguard of young, African American playwrights boring into questions of race and history through humor, drama, absurdity and tragedy. Their works reveal how the legacy of slavery continues to twist through the American consciousness.”

Audible, theater producers

Audible is commissioning dramatists to write plays for its global listener base and at the same time curating them for a narrower market of theatergoers.

“My wife is seriously smart about theater, and we go a couple of times a week,” Audible’s founder and chief executive, Donald Katz, said in an interview. “When I saw what was happening, that the next generation of plays was being written to an intimate aesthetic, I realized there was the capacity to customize the experience to the power and intimacy of the human voice.”

Rest In Peace

Marion McClinton with August Wilson

Director Marion McClinton,  65, nterpreter of August Wilson

Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 9.31.06 AM

Jonathan Miller
, 85, director and humorist. He was introduced to American audiences when the British satirical revue Beyond the Fringe opened on Broadway, and went on to direct King Lear and Long Day’s Journey into Night on Broadway.

Valerie Taylor-Barnes with husband Clive Barnes the critic

Valerie Taylor-Barnes, 88, dancer and founder of the Clive Barnes Awards

Mel Brooks with The Producers producer Robert F.X. Sillerman

Robert F.X. Sillerman, 71
, investor, media executive, concert promoter owner of the Elvis Presley estate, and one of the producers of “The Producers,” the Broadway hit, written by his friend Mel Brooks

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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