August begins with Broadway excitement and COVID uncertainty. Mask and vaccination mandates. #Stageworthy News of the Week.

August, usually a downtime in the theater, is this year a month of excitement, anticipation…and uncertainty.

Excitement: August theater events include not just play openings Off-Broadway, but a Broadway block party, a month-long festival on Little Island, a mass starry “homecoming” concert in Central Park.

Anticipation: There will be 13 shows scheduled to open or reopen on Broadway in September alone, the launch of a jam-packed and unprecedented Broadway 2021-2022 season.

Uncertainty:  “Things will get worse” Dr. Anthony Fauci said about the COVID-19 pandemic over the weekend.

While he doesn’t think there will be a need for any more lockdowns, because of the number of Americans who have been vaccinated, “we have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated. We are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated,” which, he pointed out, “ultimately impacts everybody.”

Indeed, as ABC News reports, “concerns over the coronavirus resurged this week, as research about the outbreak of the virus in Provincetown, Massachusetts, indicated that the now-dominant Delta variant may be able to spread among fully vaccinated people.”

Earlier in the week, the Centers for Disease Control, citing the highly contagious Delta variant, recommended that vaccinated Americans in virus hot spots — which includes New York City — resume wearing masks indoors

This is surely why the Broadway League on Friday announced a new safety protocol: “all 41 Broadway theatres in New York City will require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff, for all performances through October 2021. Masks will also be required for audiences inside the theatre, except while eating or drinking in designated locations.”

NY Times: “The policy, announced just days before the first Broadway play in more than 16 months is to start performances, allows children ineligible for vaccination to attend shows if tested for the virus. Some performing arts venues in New York say they will go even further: the Metropolitan Opera, which hopes to reopen in late September, and Carnegie Hall, which is planning to reopen in October, are not only planning to require vaccinations, but also to bar children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”

Theater Quiz for July, 2021

The Week in Theater Videos (below): The Show Must Go On documentary; West Side Story special look; Jeremy Jordan singing from new musical “In The Light”

The Week in Theater Reviews

Book Review: Working Backstage

At a time when playwrights and actors are demanding to be treated as “arts workers”crucial to the economy, along comes this new book by Christin Essin, a former professional stagehand turned theater professor, arguing that stagehands and hairstylists and dressers deserve respect for their artistry.  “Working Backstage: A Cultural History and Ethnography of Technical Theater Labor” (University of Michigan Press, 286 pages) attempts to unearth the little-known history of blue collar theater unions, but it mostly advocates for the current-day backstage workers of Broadway. 

Why I Resent “Come From Away”

I did not react well to the news that the musical “Come from Away” would commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by giving a free concert of the musical at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C….

The Week in Theater News

Actor Julie Halston will receive 2020 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for humanitarian efforts, and Graciela Daniele get a Tony lifetime achievement award. 

Halston, a nine-time Broadway veteran and a beloved fixture in the downtown theater scene, is being recognized for her work for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, for which she founded the charity event Broadway Belts, which has raised millions of dollars. Her husband, newscaster Ralph Howard, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2008, and died of the condition in 2018.

Daniele, born 81 years ago in Buenos Aires, is a 28-time Broadway veteran, as performer, choreographer, translator, librettist, lyricist and director.

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs announced on Friday that the city had awarded $3 million to Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, which, added to the $7 million the theater had already received, will enable them to build a new cultural and administrative headquarters in the South Bronx.(New York Times)

Broadway casts announced:

The original cast remains intact: Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Abby Mueller as Jane Seymour, Brittney Mack as Anna of Cleves, Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr

Miguel Cervantes as Alexander Hamilton Krystal Joy Brown as Eliza Hamilton; Mandy Gonzalez as Angelica Schuyler; Tamar Greene as George Washington; Jin Ha as Aaron Burr; James Monroe Iglehart as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson; Euan Morton as King George III; Fergie L. Philippe as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison; Aubin Wise as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds and Daniel Yearwood as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton

Take Me Out
Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Williams 

Rest in Peace

Alvin Ing, 89,  actor and singer, Broadway veteran of Pacific Overture, both the 1976 original and the 2004  revival, and Flower Drum Song, in which he performed the role of Wang Ta in more productions than any other actor. 


The Week in Theater Videos

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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