When did “theater” become an insult? With the impeachment trial scheduled to begin in earnest this week, the one thing that the right and the left, Democrats and Republicans, seem to agree on is that using the word “theater” is a good way to dismiss the other side, just as the term “theater criticism” is commonly used to knock journalists’ coverage of the 2020 election campaign.
Can we please stop using “theater criticism” — a craft practiced by professionals, requiring discipline, observational rigor, analysis, common sense and duty — as a byword for irresponsible writing? https://t.co/HEcwTexP1J
— Lily Janiak (@LilyJaniak) January 20, 2020
I GOT A BAD REVIEW FOR MAKING A PERFECT PLAY! (It happens) https://t.co/Bb6hIkqEQc
— Sean Daniels (@seandaniels) January 17, 2020
Broadway Week two-for-one tickets begins today
The Week in New York Theater Previews and Reviews
Laura Linney as Lucy Barton offers a sometimes poignant, often tedious 90-minute monologue.
“Leaving the Blues” dramatizes the life of the amazing jazz, blues and Broadway singer/songwriter Alberta Hunter. It is not a musical; it’s a play by Jewelle Gomez – a play that’s too long, with too many choices that need to be rethought.
But it also offers a new perspective, what it was like to be a star – and a lesbian.
“You will hear an unbelievable true story,” one of the three actors from the Republic of Slovenia on a stage designed to look like a makeshift bunker, tells us at the beginning of the play entitled “Ich kann nicht anders,” “Some of you might find it boring, which will mean that you have chosen the wrong event for this evening. But the rest of you — and there will hopefully be quite a few — will find this intriguing, maybe even inspiring.”
I was too uncertain about what was going on in the hour that followed to feel inspired, but I certainly wasn’t bored.
Those theatergoers drawn to “Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds” for the authentic music and culture of the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand might feel blindsided by what seems like a Las Vegas-like lounge act.
Under the Radar:
To The Moon
This 15 minutes of Virtual Reality offering the sensation of looking at, walking on and flying over the moon — created by performance artist Laurie Anderson and new media artist Hsin-Chien Huang — is more of a playful hallucinogenic experience than a linear lunar journey; more Timothy Leary than Neil Armstrong.
They meet on a line for a movie. The man and the woman — each disfigured by childhood accidents — are both used to being stared at, and they are used to being alone. At the Under the Radar festival, inspired by the late Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti’s tender short story, “La noche de los feos” (The night of the ugly people), the Chilean theater troupe Teatro y Su Doble is presenting “Feos,” which combines puppetry and animation to tell the story of the encounter between these two shunned people, and their awkward, hesitant attempts at connecting — on the line, then in a cafe, eventually in bed.
The Week in New York Theater News
The fifth annual BroadwayCon (like ComicCon, but about Broadway), this coming weekend January 24-26.
Alex Newell will be the host of First Look at BroadwayCon on Friday, which will feature performances by the casts of new shows: Caroline, or Change, Company, Sing Street. SIX, Jagged Little Pill, Mrs. Doubtfire, Girl from the North Country, Emojiland, Between The Lines, as well as Hadestown.
Completed casts announced:
Flying Over Sunset
Erika Henningsen, Jeremy Kushnier, Emily Pynenburg, Michele Ragusa, Robert Sella, Laura Shoop, and Atticus Ware will join Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Tony Yazbeck in the LSD musical Flying Over Sunset, which opens April 16 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont.
Joining Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in the cast of Plaza Suite: ,Danny Bolero, Molly Ranson and Eric Weigand. Michael McGrath and Erin Dilly will be Broderick and Parker’s standbys.
Linda Lavin and Stephanie J. Block will be in the cast of Sarah Silverman’s Off Broadway musical The Bedwetter, running April 25 to June 14 at the Atlantic theater. Sami Bray, who appeared on Broadway in the 2017 production of 1984, and Zoe Glick (of Broadway’s Frozen) will share the role of Sarah, the 10-year-old title character inspired by Silverman.
Ciara Renée will take over the role of Elsa in “Frozen,” starring opposite McKenzie Kurtz, who will make her Broadway debut in the role of Anna. Renée comes to the role after starring as the Witch in “Big Fish” on Broadway and taking over as Leading Player in the revival of “Pippin.” She and Kurtz replace original cast members Caissie Levy and Patti Murin, who will depart the production on Feb. 16.
Park Avenue Armory and National Black Theatre have announced the 100 Years | 100 Women Initiative, with a symposium on February 15 and then 100 (short) works by 100 women on May 16 responding to the centennial of women’s suffrage
The Public Theater abruptly shortened the run of a climate change activist’s provocative one-man show at Under The Radar, saying the creator, Josh Fox, had violated the theater’s code of conduct. Fox accused the Public’s staff of “verbal threats, coercion, angry tirades and physical intimidation” as well as “acts of aggression.”
Sick of seeing sidelined heroines, playwrights Kate Hamill and Lauren Gunderson are rewriting classics like ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Dracula’ to reinvent the female characters
Guggenheim Works & Process will present Lincoln Center Theater: Intimate Apparel by Ricky Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage with Bartlett Sher on Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 7:30pm.
Shows that closed Sunday that I’ll miss
Like all of Samuel Hunter’s plays that I’ve adored, this one chronicles Idaho, a state I’ve never visited, and American loss, a state we all seem to be in.
Who can forget the talented & inclusive cast, including Ali Stroker as the fun-loving, oversexed Ado Annie, teasing and kissing and flirting — and swinging gleefully from a wheelchair.
If I felt differently about this play than many critics, the best thing to come out of it is the spotlight on
, an artist of talent and smarts who is already helping to transform Broadway.
The photo is of artist Keith Haring in his studio at P.S. 122 during a residency in 1980. (He died of AIDS in 1990 at 31) @PerformSpaceNY is now naming its main space The Keith Haring Theater, & partnering w/ @KeithHaringFdn for an annual lecture series & fellowship in his name. pic.twitter.com/rSeMIquDB0
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) January 15, 2020
“Typically grossed between $300k and $500k, a tally at the lower end of Broadway’s ranks. But it wasn’t for a lack of attendees—just the opposite. “Slave Play” often played to weekly audiences of at least 90% capacity.”
PLAYS SHOULDN’T BE A LUXURY ITEM.https://t.co/08hAwtGXWP
— Former Broadway Playwright Jeremy O. Harris (@jeremyoharris) January 20, 2020
Marking the publication of “The Letters of Cole Porter,” @AdamGopnik in @newyorker writes an appreciation of the “almost inhumanly prolific songwriter” who measured a Broadway show’s success “simply by the number of hit songs it produced.”https://t.co/ogI5ReWRHM pic.twitter.com/Gl841pgCXM
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) January 17, 2020
“Cole Porter was to straight sex in his ‘affair’ songs as his best friend, Irving Berlin, was to Christianity in writing White Christmas—the outsider’s triumph was to own the insider’s material.”
Adam Gopnik on the open secret of Porter’s sexuality.
The ten most check-out books of all time from the New York Public Library
Most have been adapted for the stage.
Jesse Green looks at two Under the Radar productions performed by people with disabilities
Entertainment startup Quibi has already won over industry A-listers with its vision for short-form mobile streaming. But will it catch on with viewers?
Rest in Peace
Peter Larkin, 93, designed sets for 45 Broadway productions (for which he won four Tonys) and worked as production designer on more than two dozen movies