Inauguration Entertainment Schedule. Theater Under Biden Harris: Promises, Pleas and Possibilities. #Stageworthy News of the Week

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen and Christopher Jackson will be among the performers providing entertainment before and after the noon-time 59th Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Wednesday, January 20th, as part of the numerous scheduled celebrations, all but one of which is available on the Biden Inauguration website as well as many other platforms.


Watch last Sunday’s We The People, The Biden Harris Inauguration Concert

Among the events today and tomorrow (highlighting the entertainment that will be wreathed around the many speeches):

Asian American and Pacific Islander Inaugural Ball (Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. ET)
Actors Kal Penn, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani, and Chloe Bennet; performances by Japanese Breakfast, Ari Afsar, Raja Kumar

Black Community and African Diaspora celebration (Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. ET)
Performance by Tobe Nwigwe, DJ D-Nice, The O’Jays, Rapsody, Step Afrika, the String Queens, the Texas Southern University Debate Team, and a Battle of the Band

 Latino Inaugural 2021 (Jan. 19 ats 9:30 p.m. ET)
Host Eva Longoria Bastón will introduce appearances by such stars as Edward James Olmos, John Leguizamo, Miranda, Rita Moreno, and Becky G, and a raft of musical performances such as an Emilio Estefan-produced performance of “One World, One Prayer” and an All-Star Tejanos United performing “America The Beautiful: A Salute to the Latino Imprint”

Swearing-in Ceremony and Inaugural Address (Jan. 20 beginning 10:30 a.m. ET)
Wednesday morning’s inauguration ceremony will showcase Lady Gaga’s performance of “The Star Spangled Banner,” as well as a musical act from Jennifer Lopez.

The Presidential Escort and Parade Across America (Jan 20 at 3 p.m. ET)
The Presidential Escort to the White House will be followed by a “Parade Across America,” which will be televised for the American people and feature diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country, with host actor Tony Goldwyn, an appearance by Jon Stewart, drumlines from Biden’s and Harris’s alma maters and other performances by Andra Day as well as Earth, Wind & Fire.

“Celebrating America” Primetime Special (Jan. 20 at 8:30 p.m.) – This 90-minute TV special carried live on most networks and platforms, will feature host Tom Hanks, performances by Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi and Ant Clemons, and appearances by Bruce Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, John Legend, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington. The program will also honor American heroes who are serving their communities, including frontline, health care workers and teachers.

Creative Coalition’s Presidential Inaugural Ball (Jan. 20 at 9 p.m. ET) – This high-priced benefit gala will feature a special performance by “Hamilton” star Christopher Jackson, a bevy of hosts including Mandy Patinkin and Julie Taymor,  and more than two dozen Congress members, who will commemorate Biden’s inauguration and “shine a spotlight on the Arts as a national treasure.”

Week in Theater Reviews

Adrienne Kennedy festival: He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, Ohio State Murders, Sleep Deprivation Chamber, Etta and Ella

“Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side,” a world premiere play about the deadly rivalry of two sisters, written by the 89-year-old playwright Adrienne Kennedy, begins the same way as the three previous productions in the online festival of her work by Round House and McCarter theaters, all four plays available through February 28th.  They each begin with a different set of theater artists, critics or scholars praising Kennedy’s work…The admiration is clear, but it’s hard to imagine a festival of such Kennedy contemporaries as Edward Albee or Amiri Baraka needing testimonies to their genius or their plays’ impact. Even the official title of the festival – The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration and Influence – feels like an argument for her work.  The festival organizers’ underlying message seems to be: Her stuff is challenging, but worth it.   And the festival demonstrates this to be true…in half their productions.

Theater in 2021: Promises, Pleas, Plans, and Possibilities

In his State of the State Address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a New York Arts Revival program, consisting of pop-up concerts (including at the newly completed Little Island at Pier 55), grants for artists, and testing of venues to make sure they’re safe.
“We must accelerate the return of the arts. Cities are by definition centers of energy, entertainment, theater and cuisine. Without that activity and attraction, cities lose much of their appeal. What is a City without social, cultural and creative synergies? New York City is not New York without Broadway. And with Zoom many people have learned they can do business from anywhere. Compound the situation with growing crime and homelessness and we have a National Urban crisis. We must bring culture and arts back to life.”

Post-pandemic, will we see triage for the arts? by Kerry Reid
Chicago theater producer and administrator Bruce Loevner thinks arts organizations should consider new ways to survive — and close.

“Dear Mr. President and Madam Vice President,” is a nationwide letter writing campaign, organized by Be An #ArtsHero in partnership with The Dramatists Guild of America, imploring the incoming administration to prioritize commitment to the Arts.
Sample of letters

Karen Hartman: “Please create a Department of Arts & Culture in your cabinet, with a Secretary of Arts & Culture at the helm.”

Theresa Rebeck: “The trauma of America’s current moment needs to be recorded for posterity. The stories of what we are living through need to be told. We need our artists telling these stories, about America, who we are, who we have been, and who we hope to be.”

Dear Mr. President and Madam Vice President by Samantha Baird
…Our second President John Adams wrote, “I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.” 180 years later, President John F. Kennedy said, “There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art.” … I, along with many other arts workers, plead with you to consider expanding the presidential cabinet to establish a United States Department of Arts and Culture. President Elect Biden, Vice President Elect Harris, if you are truly fighting for the soul of our nation as your campaign proclaimed, we must remember that the soul of a nation rests on the humanity of its citizens. I believe that arts and culture are that humanity.”

Four artistic directors in the UK eye 2021 with resilience and realism:
Nikolai Foster, Curve, Leicester: “We have never wanted to be anything other than progressive and bold so we will continue with what we were doing with bells on. There is no way we went through the living hell of 2020 to do work that is comforting or safe.”
‘Keep telling stories, no matter what’ – Tamara Harvey, Theatr Clwyd, Mold
‘We won’t pull up any drawbridges’ – Bryony Shanahan, Royal Exchange, Manchester
‘It’s almost a relief that we are closed for a time’ – Paul Hart, Watermill theatre, Newbury

Week in Theater News

The 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honorees: Broadway veterans Debbie Allen and Dick Van Dyke, sing-songwriter and activist Joan Baez, country singer-songwriter Garth Brooks and violinist Midori.  Some changes this year:
1. The celebration was delayed; it will be held in a scaled-down ceremony in May and broadcast on June 6th. 2. The new President is much more likely to attend (and be welcomed.)

Manhattan Theatre Club has announced that it has scheduled “Skeleton Crew” for Broadway in the 2021-2022 season.  The gripping play written by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, which debuted Off-Broadway in 2016 focuses on the ambitious but struggling workers in  a small automotive factory in Detroit that is on the brink of foreclosure. As I wrote in my review, Morisseau (who grew up in Detroit and would later write the book for the Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud) was moved to write this play when she met a woman who was reduced to living in her automobile – especially infuriating and heartbreaking in Motor City, where people are supposed to manufacture cars, not live in them.

The Black Seed,  launched last October with a $5 million gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and housed in Brooklyn’s Billie Holliday Theater, has announced grants to nearly 100 Black theaters ranging from $10,000 to $150,000.

The Kurt Weill Foundation and Lotte Lenya Competition have established the ‘Rebecca Luker Award, in honor of the Broadway performer who died in December at the age of 59. The award is for an outstanding performance of a selection from the Golden Age of American musical theater by a finalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition.

For “The Catastrophist,” playwright Lauren Gunderson interviewed Nathan Wolfe, her husband of eight years,  an expert on plague. The transcripts are the basis for her new solo play that was filmed on a stage near San Francisco in December, and will premiere as “cinematic theater” available for streaming from January 26 through February 28.


Ben Brantley exit interview (in American Theater)

Every time I go to the theatre, I feel so nervous just before it starts. It’s like, I know what they’re going through. And is there going to be this moment, and it has to happen like in the first nanosecond, where that anxiety is dispelled, and the conversation between you and what’s going on onstage can take place? Even if it doesn’t quite get dispelled early on, I have learned that things can get better. So I tried to stay open for—what was the conventional wisdom of theatre, that you can hold the audience for the first 10 minutes no matter what you have, and then after that, you better be able to have made your case so it can be followed?


The Week in Theater Videos

Original cast members from Hamilton reunited on Zoom for an hour-long Screen Actors Guild Q and A


Watch Dule Hill perform ‘Fabulous Feet’ from The Tap Dance Kid in this 11-minute video that is part of the second installment of New York City Center #Encores! Inside the Revival\

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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