Delta Denial? NY Pops Up Tainted Triumph. #Stageworthy News of the Week

Emily Pezzella depicting the Delta Variant in Theater for the New City’s street musical “Critical Care.”

Live, in-person theater this summer in New York has been vigorous, innovative and outdoors, as I recount first-hand in an article for HowlRound. But theatergoers seem to be focusing their enthusiasm on the promised reopening of Broadway in the Fall, so much so that the theater community is arguably in denial about the dangers of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which has caused a resurgent of cases, “more like the rate of cases we had seen before the vaccine was widely available,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: “Delta Variant: What We Know About the Science”) (NYTimes: “The Good and Bad News about the Delta Variant.”)

Yes, Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted a requirement that New Yorkers must show proof of vaccination to attend indoor activities, including at theaters, restaurants and gyms, which follows up on the requirement the previous week announced by the Broadway League that all 41 Broadway houses will require vaccination and masking. 

At the same time, though, the boosterish mantra is: Broadway is Back.

After 17 dark months, it’s understandable that the coverage of the first preview of “Pass Over” this week treated it as if it were opening night – even the New York Times mislabeled it as such (corrected in later editions.)

What the resurgence of cases might mean is given only passing, and seemingly grudging, acknowledgement:

New York Magazine (in the article “Scott Rudin in the Wings,” about whether or not HE’ll be back): “Fears of the Delta variant aside, there’s a tang of possibility in the midtown air…” 

Bloomberg News (in “Broadway Is Coming Back in September. But Can It Stay Open?”): “…uncertainty about the delta variant could keep people out of crowded theaters, masks or no, and that’s assuming the city and state don’t shut down large gatherings altogether.”

Now that Delta has dawned, we can no longer “assume” that it will be safe to reopen in-person live indoor theater in the Fall. The hoopla is starting to feel misplaced.

This coming week:

“Merry Wives” opens in Central Park tonight.

“The Show Must Go On,” a documentary by Sammi Cannold and Dori Berinstein that focuses on two productions in South Korea, of “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats, that occurred during the pandemic, will premiere at Broadway’s Majestic Theater tonight, one night only. It will also be available for 48 hours on Broadway on Demand. Watch the trailer, in The Week in Theater Videos below.

The first ever NYC Puppet Week, including the International Puppet Fringe Festival.

Month-long NYC Free Festival begins on Little Island.

Check out on August Theater Opening Highlights.

The Week in Theater Reviews

Critical Care:  TNC’s Summer Theater Coronavirus Clowning and Social Consciousness

Marie Antoinette: Marin Ireland as Doomed Queen on Zoom

Detroit ‘67: Dominique Morisseau’s early play about the Motown riots

Together Apart: Brown alumni sing about the pandemic

Theater on TV review: Broadway Beyond the Golden Age, on PBS

The Week in Theater News

Shereen Pimentel, Isaac Powell and the cast

The fifth revival of “West Side Story” is not returning to Broadway, its producers announced. The projection-heavy musical revised by director Ivo van Hove opened on February 20, 2020 to mixed reviews (including my own), and was shut down along with every other Broadway show, on March 12, 2020.

When it was launched in February, NY Pops Up promised a thousand starry performances offer for free on outdoor stages and streets throughout New York State. This weekend, the last show was presented on Pier 76. Those who witnessed one of the performances, either in person or on Instagram, might deem the project a triumph, albeit a tainted one: It was commissioned by now-disgraced Governor Andrew Cuomo; the lead co-producer was the now disgraced Scott Rudin.

 Honorary Tony awards for excellence have been announced for Fred Gallo, set-builder turned co-founder of PRG, an event tech solution company; press agent Irene Gandy; stage manager Beverly Jenkins and Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre

Shanta Thake, long-time Public Theater administrator, has been appointed new “chief artistic director” of  Lincoln Center.

Digital theater Is here to stay, and other key conclusions from Sundance Institute’s report from 76 arts workers on the future needs of live performance

The pandemic has given theater artists an opportunity to innovate like never before, their innovations (like digital theater) are here to stay — and these are good things, because the entire field of theater is in need of rethinking.

These are among the conclusions of “Emerging from the Cave: Reimagining Our Future in Theater and Live Performance,” a 42-page report for the Sundance Institute by Jesse Cameron Alick,  the current associate producer of Vineyard Theater. Alick interviewed 76 “arts workers” and noted a consensus of four key changes needed for a more vigorous future: 1. More collective leadership, 2.   More “holistic support” for artists (“even before the pandemic, it was almost impossible to build a career in the field without the safety net of a second job or inherited wealth. “) 3. More digital theater and hybrid futures, and 4. more collective engagement in big conversations, which Alick labels “field ideation.”

Eva Noblezada as Eurydice, Andre De Shields as Hermes, Reeve Carney as Orpheus

At Hadestown’s scheduled reopening on Broadway September 2, almost all the original Broadway leads will return: Reeve Carney as Orpheus, André De Shields as Hermes, Amber Gray as Persephone, and Eva Noblezada as Eurydice. Joining the Broadway cast for a limited engagement will be Tom Hewitt. whowill play the role of Hades until original Broadway cast member Patrick Page, who is in production for a new film project, returns on November 2

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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