Best and Worst Theater of The Decade, and of 2019. See a show, live longer. #Stageworthy News of the Week

 

Check out:

Favorite stage performances in 2019.

Top 10 Lists of Top 10 Theater in 2019.

Best Broadway Cast Recording of 2019.

Top 10 Theater of the Decade.

Worst Theater of the Decade.

 

People who frequently engaged with the arts had a 31 percent lower risk of dying, according to a new study from the British Medical Journal. This was independent of demographic, socioeconomic, health related, behavioral, and social factors. Even those who were infrequent consumers of culture had a 14 percent lower risk of dying than shoe who never engaged.

The Journal’s editors observe:”The data show that the very people who have the most to gain from participating in cultural activities are least likely to do so. More than 40% of patients with lung disease, depression, or loneliness reported never engaging with the arts despite robust evidence of the potential benefits. Over 40% of participants in the least wealthy group also reported that they never accessed cultural activities. Work must now be done to ensure that the health benefits of these activities are accessible to those who would benefit most.”

The Week in NY Theater Previews and Reviews

The Sorceress
The Sorceress (Di Kishefmakherin), the first work of Yiddish theatre ever presented in America, is back on stage in New York 136 years after its U.S. premiere. In my article for TDF Stages, Yiddish Culture Is Alive and Well and Playing in New York, I talk to Motl and Mikhl, the director of the play and the star, who portrays the wicked witch, Bobe Yakhne, in drag. Though Babe is the villain, she is the title character.

The Sorceress, by the same company that put together the acclaimed “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish, is just one of three events this month that demonstrate a resurgence in interest in Yiddish language and culture.

Luke Kirby as stationmaster Thomas Hudetz in “Judgment Day” at the Park Avenue Armory

Judgment Day with Luke Kirby
Luke Kirby, who portrayed a movie star hired to play “Hamlet” in the cult TV comedy “Slings & Arrows” 16 years ago, is now on stage for real, as Thomas Hudetz, a murderer in Ödön von Horváth’s 1937 drama “Judgement Day” at the Park Avenue Armory.

Kirby has lived in New York for some two decades now, but has only appeared in a handful of plays, spending most of his time in television — currently as the real-life comic Lenny Bruce in Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” for which he won an Emmy earlier this year, and as closeted civil servant Gene Goldman on HBO’s “The Deuce.”
Why so few stage roles…and why this one now?

Those are the questions I put to him in an interview for TDF Stages.

Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat in “Cats,” co-written and directed by Tom Hooper.

Cats the movie – pics and reviews
Cats” isn’t for everyone – much of it is a cheesy, B-grade affair seemingly crafted solely to take over midnight-movie slots from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ Those with an open mind, though, as well as little kids and the T-Swift posse, might find it somewhat pawesome.” Brian Truitt writes in USA Today, in the most positive review I could find. He’s enchanted by Taylor Swift, but turned off by the “nightmare fuel…when human faces are put on tiny mice and Rockette-esque cockroaches.”

More typical is Manohla Dargis in the New York Times: “It is tough to pinpoint when the kitschapalooza called “Cats” reaches its zenith or its nadir, which are one and the same. The choices are legion…

Sing Street

“Sing Street” is a stage musical based on the sweet, funny “happy-sad” 2016 Irish movie by writer/director John Carney about a teenager named Conor growing up in Dublin during the economically depressed but musically vibrant 1980s, who forms a band to impress a girl name Raphina.
The musical has its pleasures, especially for those nostalgic for the era of made-for-MTV, New Wave synthesized tunes. A talented group of young adult actor-musicians, ages 16 to 25, perform mostly original pastiche songs by Carney and Scottish singer-songwriter Gary Clark, who was part of the 80s scene and continues his hit-making now. But “Sing Street” the stage musical is likely to disappoint anybody who has seen “Sing Street” the movie (which is currently available for viewing online, through IMDB TV, for free.)

 

The Week in New York Theater News

The opening of West Side Story has been pushed from from February 6 to February 20 due to a knee injury that left the show’s star Isaac Powell unable to perform. The show began preview peformancs on December 10

View of the Shed from The Highline

The Shed’s Second Season

Meet at the Shed, January 11,2020

A free, daylong, building-wide takeover with exhibitions, performances, food

 

Help March 10 – April 5,2020

An inquiry into white male privilege by Claudia Rankine

Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s) May 6 – August 9, 2020;

A visual art installation that is intended to be neither seen nor heard, but felt.

Misty September 24 – October 24

Fusing live music, spoken word, and absurdist comedy, Misty is a journey through the dark alleyways of a city in flux and a genre-defying excavation of the pressures and expectations that come with being an artist in our time

Live Nation Entertainment Inc.reached an agreement with the Justice Department to resolve government concerns that the company violated a 2010 antitrust settlement that allowed it to merge with Ticketmaster, according to the Wall Street Journal. Under the original agreement, known as a consent decree, the companies were allowed to combine but had to agree to conditions designed to help preserve competition in the live-events industry.

The problem with teen musicals on Broadway by critic Christian Lewis in American Theatre Magazine.

When it comes to teenagers and Broadway, 2016’s Dear Evan Hansen changed the game. The Tony-winning Pasek and Paul musical was certainly not the first Broadway show about—or beloved by—teens. That credit might go to Spring Awakening (2006) or 13 (2008) or Runaways (1978), or much further back to Babes in Arms (1937), considered the first musical with an entire cast of teenage characters. In the wake of Dear Evan Hansen’s success, Broadway quickly saw a sweep of major productions with teenage protagonists: Mean Girls (2018), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2018), The Prom (2018), Choir Boy (2019), Be More Chill (2019), and the latest installation, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical (2019).

….The genre deserves a larger critique, but not the one critics are making. Yes, Young Adult Theatre can seem angsty, the pop score/lyrics can feel basic and the plots contrived. But the central problem with Dear Evan HansenHarry Potter and the Cursed ChildBe More Chill, and The Lightning Thief is that they’re all about straight, white, cisgender teenage boys. The supporting casts are often diverse, but the main characters don’t deviate from this norm. Not only are these protagonists about as privileged as they come; worse, each of these pieces is about its hero’s search for his identity. Compared to a person of color, a queer person, a transgender person (let alone any intersection of these), how much do Evan, Harry, Jeremy, or Percy have to figure out about themselves?….We need more shows like The Prom or Choir Boy:

The movie is a wreck, the musical is a joke. Why, then, will we always have ‘Cats’?

By Charles McNulty (who doesn’t really answer the question posed in the headline)

“Cats,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster spun from the light verse of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” is a paradox and a puzzle illustrating the disconnect between theatrical success and respect. The fourth-longest-running show in Broadway history, it is the consummate tourist musical. (“Broadway’s first show for the tired Japanese businessman,” according to Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik’s indispensable “Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time.”)

Theater people resent “Cats” not just because it made Broadway uncool until “Hamilton” finally rescued it from the pop cultural stocks. What really infuriates buffs is that “Cats” ushered in an era of grandiose spectacle, the vacuous parade of shows from the 1980s and early ’90s that made it seem as if a musical had to have a helicopter or a crashing chandelier to be worth the rapidly rising ticket price.

Ed Harris and Kyle Scatliffe, center, in “To Kill A Mockingbird”

Q and A about To Kill A Mockingbird with Aaron Sorkin and Ed Harris, its new Atticus

Aaron Sorkin: How did Harper Lee get away with having a protagonist who doesn’t change? Because Atticus isn’t the protagonist in the book or the movie; Scout is—her flaw is that she’s young, and the change is that she loses some of her innocence. While I wanted to explore Scout, I absolutely wanted Atticus to be a traditional protagonist, so he needed to change and have a flaw … It turned out that Harper Lee had [already] given him one; it’s just that when we all learned the book, it was taught as a virtue. It’s that Atticus believes that goodness can be found in everyone….

Ed Harris: I love the film. I think Peck’s portrayal in terms of that story and that script is just indelible. There are little things that happen on the stage even now, just a head move or something, that feels like Gregory Peck! But the inner life of this man I’m playing is so different [from Peck’s character]. He’s trying to hold on to a belief that’s being eroded slowly but surely. It’s really interesting to play.

The Trojan Women’s Project at La MaMa: The artists discuss

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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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