What it took to put on the Inaugural festivities in “ a twitchy, locked-down Washington, less than two weeks after a deadly insurrection, during a pandemic”
In a word: resilience
Resilience is also what’s underlying the stories told by 52 members of “Moulin Rouge,” in Michael Paulson’s oral history of the Broadway musical where stars Danny Burstein, Karen Olivo, and Aaron Tveit were among at least 25 members who wound up infected with Covid-19, “making this the hardest hit show on Broadway.” (Burstein: I was in the shower, and I started coughing up blood, and I thought, “This is bad.” …I’d made my peace with dying…”)
They were also hit by racial reckoning (lead producer Carmen Pavlovic: ” I do feel like we could have done better, and we should have done better, and we want to do better”) and unemployment, (guitarist Sean Driscoll: “It took me almost 20 years in NYC to build up a sustainable freelance musician career..and it was gone in one day.”) But one thing the oral history makes clear: theater workers are nothing if not resilient
Hairstylist Caitlin Molloy: “I’m currently writing a play….”
Dresser Darcy Chen: “…I made face masks.”
Associate director Ashley Rodbro: “I launched my production company, Heredia Vision, to make digital content and provide opportunities for women in entertainment.”
Cast member Paloma Garcia-Lee: “I’ve been doing eight shows a week on Broadway since I was 17. I’ve missed everything in my life. So the moment I got better, I was like, this moment is not going to be lost on me… I started riding again….bought my first real bow and arrow set. I bought a mandolin and started learning how to play. I picked up figure skating. I’m truly a child at camp.”
Last Week’s Inaugural Entertainment
We The People, The Biden Harris Inauguration Concert
Celebrating America, 90 minute concert, which includes dozens of Broadway stars singing “Season of Love” and “Let The Sunshine In”
Amanda Gorman reading her inaugural poem (accompanied by the text to The Hill We Climb)
Also: Broadway Bye-Byes: Watch Bette Midler, Randy Rainbow, James Corden, Patti LuPone in 3 new parody videos
This Week’s Theater Openings
It’s a thrilling last week of January for theater lovers: Bobby Cannivale and Marisa Tomei in a play by Jon Robin Baitz; Tomei again and Oscar Isaac in a play about an unnamed illness; a world premiere play by Lauren Gunderson about her husband, a virologist (notice a theme?); Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit) and Joe Biden (president of the United States) in a new Theater of War production as catalyst for discussion about the struggle to get through this difficult winter. Three festivals — Native American, Irish American and African Caribbean — begin or end this week, as does a Brooklyn theater festival. The Met offers a week of operatic anti-heroes. Day by day details.
The Week of Theater News
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sets tax credit for Covid-hit arts and entertainment in his proposed budget
The state’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022 proposes $130 million for what Cuomo calls a Pandemic Recovery and Restoration Program to support arts and entertainment, hotels and restaurants hit by Covid-19. Full budget.
Specifically for theater:
New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit
which would provide up to $25 million in tax credits for the jump start of the industry and the support of tourism activity in the city.
Extend and Enhance the Musical and Theatrical Production Credit for Four Years.
In order to support musical and theatrical productions that occur in the State but outside of New York City, the budget extends this credit for four years through 2025 and doubles it to $8 million.
New survey: Audiences want vaccines and masks before they return (American Theater)
Over 77 percent of the 3,000 theater lovers surveyed have watched online streaming content since the pandemic closures began …70.5 percent of those surveyed said that widespread vaccination is the most important element that will make them feel comfortable returning to the theater, followed by mandatory mask wearing. “.Mandatory mask policy isn’t enough by itself; patrons want these policies to be strictly enforced, including removing offenders from the venue.”
Full report from Audience View
Performing the Internet, a HowlRound series:
“As theatre artists, how can we consider the internet as a place, performer, and object in and of itself? The question is not just, “How are we performing on the internet?” but, as the internet is an ever-growing open-source tool and object, “How are we performing the internet?” In this conversation series, software engineers, musicians, culture-shaping collectives, writers, and ritual makers look at how the internet has been and is a critical unsung part of our new narrative.”
Critical Engagement in a World-Widening Web
Dawn of the Digital Apocalypse: Alchemy, Narrative, and Dismantling Borders in the Virtual World
Forty years of Internet Performance
This last one is an interview between “cyborg musician” Onyx Ashanti and Miller Puckette, the author of both Max and Pure Data (“Pd”), visual programming languages for artists which, over the past three decades, have helped usher in a new generation of artist-technologists. “The idea of an audience has shifted. This window is the whole world now”.
Did playwright Will Arbery predict the storming of the Capitol in ‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning’? (America Magazine)
“I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened on Jan. 6, grotesque as it was. This stuff has been brewing for a long time, and they told us outright that it was going to happen”
RIP Bob Avian, 83, 22x Bway veteran, 2x Tony winner (A Chorus Line, Ballroom), In his 2020 memoir “Dancing Man,” he comes across as kind, competent & low-key – which may explain why he 1. got along w/ Michael Bennett,
2. had such a long, fruitful career.https://t.co/HIGUpUBwLr pic.twitter.com/XB8QDm8yqf
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) January 22, 2021
Philip J.Smith, 89, had a six-decade career at the Shubert Organization.
“From a baronial suite in Shubert Alley in the heart of the theater district, Mr. Smith, a low-key businessman who started as a movie usher, presided for more than a decade over the nation’s oldest and largest theatrical company, an archipelago of 17 Broadway theaters, many of them historic landmarks; six Off Broadway stages; and other properties, including a theater in Philadelphia.”
Hank Aaron, 86, king of the home run
Larry King, 87, talk show host, said to have interviewed 50,000 people. Here are some from CNN including Lily Tomlin about her Broadway show.
Here he is interviewing Angela Lansbury in 2018 (seven years after he left CNN)
Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee to be Treasury Secretary, is Brooklyn-born. In her Fort Hamilton High School newspaper, The Pilot, the teenager wrote a list of her hobbies, which included: “attending Off Broadway theater.”
A cultured economist! pic.twitter.com/pGN4wWoemJ
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) January 19, 2021
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks out in support of the Costume Industry Coalition