Four to See Today June 6: A White Otello, A Black Ghost, Inmate Music at the Met, a Political Diva

An Otello portrayed by a white performer who is not in blackface — a first for the Metropolitan Opera. A dance, set to music composed by inmates at San Quentin, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A cabaret act at Joe’s Pub that’s as much an act of healing and of warning. These are among the shows “opening” today that stand out….unusual work for an unusual time.

Check out my Calendar of June 2020 openings. for what else is available. Also check out my overview of ongoing series and platforms, Where To Get Your Theater Fix Online

Blithe Spirit
Plays in the House
Launched 2 p.m., available for four days
A re-reading of Noel Coward’s play starring much the same cast as did this last month, but technical difficulties marred that reading, so they’re trying again, live: Leslie Uggams as the medium, William Jackson Harper, Merle Dandridge and Montego Glover as the husband, wife and dead ex-wife.
Noel Coward wrote his comedy in 1941, when wartime Britain needed no reminders about death on stage. His solution: Make all of his characters comically unlikeable. “You can’t sympathize with any of them. If there was a heart it would be a sad story.”


Songs from the Spirit
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Launches at 7:30 pm.
A video of last year’s live ballet that took place in various rooms of the museum, choreographed by Silas Farley, to music of spirituals and new compositions by current and recently released incarcerated musicians at San Quentin State Prison.

Verdi’s Otello
Metropolitan Opera
Launches 7:30 pm, available for 23 Hours
Starring Sonya Yoncheva, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Željko Lučić, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From October 17, 2015. This production directed by Bartlett Sher made news because Antonenko, an opera singer from Latvia, did not wear blackface to play the role of the Moor.

Jamama Jones: Black Light
Joe’s Pub
Launches 8 p.m.
A recording of this show that I saw in 2018. (My review) Daniel Alexander Jones portrays Jomama Jones, less a character than an alter-ego, in this show that on the surface seems like a cabaret act, but is also an act of healing and an act of warning in these turbulent times, guided by the character’s (and creator’s) experience of being black.

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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