Tony Award Fever? Political Fervor! New Theater Editor. #Stageworthy News of the Week

 

With 15 days left to Election Day,  the theater community’s focus on voting – such as the Hamilton Town Hall for Biden/Harris this weekend featuring the original cast of the musical, and the long list of political theater on screens over the next few weeks– has nothing  to do with the still-unscheduled 74thannual Tony Awards,  the nominations for which were announced last week, more than seven months after Broadway was shut down. The nominees themselves largely talked about how much they miss theater.  (Mary-Louise Parker: “I just want to see a ghost light. I want to hear someone call, ‘Places!’…There’s just something about theater — even nights when I feel like I’ve only done a decent job, I feel like I’ve given something in a way I don’t on film or TV…” Lois Smith: This is a kind of a stimulating day and professional stimulation has been in short supply this last six or eight months. Last week, we showed the“Angels in America” scenes…I remember saying to my family and friends, “It makes me feel like I’m working, even though I know I’m not.” )

There was not even much indulging in the annual ritual of listing snubs.   COVID-19 was the cosmic snubber this year. Only 18 shows in the truncated season were deemed eligible, about half as many as in a normal season. There are no nominees for musical revival,  no musicals (only straight plays) nominated for original score, and just one nominee for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical — Aaron Tveit.

 

“In theater, timing is everything, and the timing of these nominations is just plain embarrassing,” L.A. Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote. “If the American Theatre Wing was a little more on the ball, it would be using this moment for an all-star digital telethon for theater workers anxious about their next meal.”

The Week in Previews and Reviews

David Byrne’s American Utopia on HBO

Spike Lee filmed David Byrne’s American Utopia on the stage of Broadway’s Hudson Theater earlier this year; it is arriving… in a completely different era. Taking evident advantage of the publicity surrounding the HBO film,  the producers have just announced  the rescheduling of a four-month return engagement of the show on Broadway starting on Sept. 17, 2021. Tickets are already on sale, which at this point feels…optimistic. In the meantime, what we have is a film of an energetic live concert during a period when its main theme — a celebration of the need and the pleasures of connecting – feels both resonant and wistful.

What the Constitution Means to Me on Amazon Prime

Viewers might be astonished that Heidi Schreck’s funny, poignant and pointed play feels like a direct response to the Senate hearings on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court — taking on Barrett’s mentor Anthony Scalia,  and praising Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as if to say: Whatever the Constitution means to you, Judge Barrett, here’s what it means to me.

The timing seems perfect for this film of the 2019 Broadway hit, which is an unusual mix of civic lesson and personal storytelling.  But, as those of us who saw it on stage realize, what may be most extraordinary about “What The Constitution Means to Me” is that its timeliness may well be timeless.

That Kindness: Nurses in Their Own Words

Even nurses dedicated to kindness have their breaking point. Connie Britton portrays a nurse forced to care for a COVID patient who had worked at a risky job never wearing a mask, and then partied on the Fourth of July with some two dozen of his friends, again without wearing a mask, possibly infecting some of them. When the equipment broke down in his hospital room, and she had to spend much more time in it, she asked herself: “’God is it really worth dying…Am I going to die for this person?’ I just built up this resentment.” Finally, she tells us, she asked for a different assignment. “I want to save the world…but I could not bring myself to step into his room.”
Britton’s monologue is one of the longest and most absorbing stories in “That Kindness: Nurses in Their Own Words,” put together by Eve Ensler (who now goes Prince-like by the name V) for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, based on her interviews with a range of nurses, and performed by a starry cast of 11.

Political theater you can watch in the countdown to Election Day

 

Week in Theater News

Nicole Herrington will be taking over as theater editor of the New York Times from Scott Heller when she returns from maternity leave in the Spring.  “A University of Rhode Island graduate, Nicole came to The Times in 2005 from The Miami Herald and joined Culture two years later. Since September 2017, Nicole has helmed our print Weekend section, which she has distinguished through an emphasis on New York City-based service as well as inventive annual pieces like our Labor Day feature on behind-the-scenes culture workers…”

Leaders of SAG-AFTRA have escalated the union’s bitter jurisdictional battle with Actors’ Equity Association, requesting intervention from the AFL-CIO
“The two unions are locked in a dispute over which should cover the streaming of live events. Each has blamed the other for the breakdown. Actors’ Equity, which represents 51,000 theater actors and stage managers, has accused SAG-AFTRA of raiding its turf and undercutting its contracts by negotiating lower-paying deals with theaters for streaming productions. SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 performers in film, TV and radio, is asserting that work made for broadcast is within its jurisdiction.”

2020 Theater Book Award Winners and Finalists from TLA

Discussion on the importance of sound design and original music in a stage director’s creative process, presented by Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association (TSDCA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), with Colman Domingo, Susan Stroman, Robert O’Hara, Patricia McGregor and John Collins, artistic director of Elevator Repair Service. October 26 at 7. Free

Universal basic income for artists? San Francisco will give local creatives struggling amid the shutdown $1,000 a month

Man charged in fatal shooting of actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Rest in Peace

Rhonda Fleming, 97
In addition to cinema, Fleming made her Broadway debut in Clare Boothe Luce’s ‘The Women’ and toured as Madame Dubonnet in ‘The Boyfriend.’ In 1957, Fleming made her stage musical debut in Las Vegas at the opening of the Tropicana Hotel’s showroom.”


Herbert Kretzmer
, 95
a theater critic, and lyricist for Les Miserables

Anthony Chisholm, 77, Tony nominated Broadway veteran of four plays by August Wilson.

 

Doreen Montalvo, 56, three-time Broadway veteran

Week in Videos

Beauty and the Beast say: Wear a mask!

Leslie Odom Jr and Cynthia Errivo sing “Where is the Love?” in honor of Roberta Flack

Telly Leung sings Climb Every Mountain

Sticks and Bones – a musical about teenage bullying based on the story of David and Goliath

Author: New York Theaterh

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

Leave a Reply