CATS Crazy. The Best of 2019. Ticketing Innovations. #Stageworthy News of the Week

The NYC premiere of CATS the movie caps a week in which Broadway, with no more openings this year, seems to have migrated to the screen.

The first trailer for the “In the Heights” movie

Jason Alexander as a blacklisted playwright talking to Mrs. Maisel’s father in “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel”

What The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel gets wrong about Broadway

Why is Stephen Sondheim Karoake in All Our Movies Now?

YouTube clip of Jennifer Hudson singing Memory from the movie


The Improbable Insanity of Cats:

Andrew Lloyd Webber first had the idea for “Cats” in the l:ate seventies. He grew bored one day during the technical rehearsals for “Evita” and got to thinking about writing music for existing lyrics, something he’d never done. Maybe he could use a book of poems—say, that old T. S. Eliot book his mom used to read to him….

The idea proved anything but irresistible. No one wanted to finance the project: the show’s producer, Cameron Mackintosh, had to solicit small-fry investors through newspaper ads; Lloyd Webber took out a second mortgage to make up the ultimate shortfall. He had composed an epic, genre-spanning score, using a Moog synthesizer to imitate meowing, but, when he played it for Twyla Tharp, hoping that she would choreograph what would have to be a very dance-heavy musical…Tharp said no. A director candidate fell asleep while Lloyd Webber was pitching him. A Warner Brothers executive reminded him that half the world favored dogs.

“You make a living with movies and TV and it’s alright; it’s better than heavy lifting. But theater is fun.” – actor Orson Bean, 91, who’s playing a cardinal in a local California production of Bad Habits. “My secret to longevity is gratitude. The longer I live, the more grateful I become.”

The Best of  2019

Favorite New York Stage Performances of 2019

Top 10 Lists of Top 10 New York Theater


The Week in New York Theater Previews and Reviews

Radio City Musical Hall Christmas Spectacular

Holiday Shows

This holiday season in New York means at least ten Christmas Carols, including one this year on Broadway, and 15 Nutcracker Suites.  Holiday shows in the city range from family fare to offbeat satires and even off-color burlesque,  many of which return year after year.

Halfway Bitches Go Straight To Heaven

Wanda Wheels bristles when Mateo calls her “kind” in this sprawling, funny, foul-mouthed, messy, moving ensemble piece, Stephen Adly Guirgis’s first new play in New York since his Pulitzer Prize winning Between Riverside and Crazy five years ago. “Don’t pin a ‘kindness’ target on me,” Wanda says. “There’s a place for kindness. It’s not here.”

Here is Hope House, a government-funded temporary residence in New York City for women who have been cruelly treated in life and now are junkies, drunks, ex-cons, former hookers, or mentally ill, or just New Yorkers who have nowhere else to go. Over the course of the three hour play, we come to learn more about their complicated lives, and wind up sharing the affection the playwright feels for them, even as they curse each other, confront one another, furtively drink or take drugs, get physically violent. But there is kindness too; it’s just in disguise….

Greater Clements

There’s a joke Maggie and her son Joe like to tell on their tours of the local mine in Samuel D. Hunter’s latest play: “Guy falls down into the mine. His boss yells at him, ‘did you break anything?’ Guy shouts back, “only rocks down here, sir, not much to break.”

But as Greater Clements makes movingly clear, even when there’s nothing left, there’s always enough to break…It’s surely no accident that even Maggie and Joe’s family name enforces their sense of isolation, and of doom – Bunker. The play is rich with such symbolism

Randy Danson as Linda, a medium and Emily Cass McDonnell as her friend Hilda


The Thin Place

“The Thin Place” is a thin play by Lucas Hnath about a woman named Hilda whose grandmother had believed in being able to communicate with the dead, which sets Hilda on her own psychic journey.

The Week in New York Theater News


Ticketing innovations:

Broadway Plus One: What began as “Slave Play” playwright Jeremy O. Harris to corral his rich friends to subsidize tickets for his artist friends who couldn’t afford Broadway tickets has become a formal program: The Broadway Plus One works is that, at checkout, people can now add $25+ to their order for “Slave Play” to buy tickets for others who can’t afford them. The tickets are then distributed through a number of non profit partners including Broadway For All.

Amazon Alexa can now do more than just turn on your lights by voice command, or play a song from Cats. You can now order tickets to Phantom of the Opera on it as well.

For just $2 more, theatergoers to “Jagged Little Pill” can purchase a digital copy of the cast album when they buy tickets to weekday performances through July 2, 2020 before December 31, 2019

Eden Espinosa, Alex Newell, and Jessica Vosk will share the role of “Narrator” in the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center on February 17, 2020

Joining the already star-studded cast of Sondheim’s “Assassins” at Classic Stage Company in the Spring: Adam Chanler-Berat (Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher), Tavi Gevinson (This Is Our Youth, The Crucible) and Andy Grotelueschen (Tootsie, Twelfth Night at CSC)

The Wooster Group’s Endless Work in Progress

A novelist hangs out with the Wooster Group in its 44th year “to grasp the inner workings of genius” in Harpers Magazine

Here was the theater I’d been waiting for. The actors spoke directly into microphones, facing front, like singers. The technicians running the show were visible, with their equipment, though they were often in costume themselves, and even spoke lines. Video, music, lighting, dance, speech, and action went off with amazing precision, while still feeling as though it was all being freshly improvised. Seeing them was like seeing a favorite band, and over the years I went to every performance I could. I became convinced that Liz LeCompte was one of our greatest living artists.


Rest in Peace

Danny Aiello, 86, an Oscar-nominated actor for Do the Right Thing, was a veteran of seven Broadway productions in 11 years. His roles included the macho South Philadelphia father in the hit comedy “Gemini” (1977), for which he had already won an Obie Award for the play’s Off Broadway run; a violent tough guy in “Hurlyburly,” in which he replaced Harvey Keitel in 1985; and a Hollywood director clinging to his past in “The House of Blue Leaves” (1986). Describing his preparation as an actor, he said: “One minute before I go on, I look up at heaven and say, ‘Mama, don’t let me make a fool of myself.’

Richard Easton, 86, 24-time veteran of Broadway, Tony winning actor for Tom Stoppard’s ” Invention of Love”


Dancer and Actor Jack Burns, 14 



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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