Laura Benanti: Broadway broke my neck. Audra McDonald to star in 90-year-old Adrienne Kennedy’s Broadway debut. #Stageworthy this week

Another injury has caused another delayed opening. Judith Ivey has had to drop out of the Off-Broadway revival of Paul Osborn’s Morning’s at Seven because of a torn tendon, and will be replaced by Nancy Ringham, pushing the opening to November 15. Coming on the heels of similar injury-backed delays in Lackawanna Blues and Letters of Suresh, people have speculated that these injuries are another example of the adjustments to in-person theater (which I talked about last week) after eighteen months of inactivity. 

But the truth is: Working in the theater has always been hazardous.

Over the weekend, Laura Benanti announced in an angry Instagram post that she has been in pain for 25 years as the result of the injuries she sustained on stage when she was 22 years old – in a production she doesn’t name, but must have been “Into the Woods.”

I last wrote about the history of stage injuries in 2017, after Andy Karl got injured during a performance of “Groundhog Day” — which is metaphorically apt, because 1. these stories endlessly repeat, and 2. one of the most common causes of injury theater workers, less spectacular than a fall, comes from so-called repetitive stress injuries.

“With the complexities of a theatrical production, there are numerous potential hazards.  In fact, one hazard, a falling backdrop, is portrayed in the musical The Phantom of the Opera,” according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, written in 2012, shortly after the headline-generating injuries sustained during “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark.” The article further points out: “Other potential hazards in the theater include rigging and flying hazards, repetitive strain injuries among dancers and carpenters, solvent and chemical exposures, noise-induced hearing loss, electrical hazards, falls from heights, as well as most hazards found on a construction site.”

New York Theater Quiz for October 2021: Special Halloween Edition

November 2021 New York Theater Openings and Reopenings

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Sharon D. Clarke as Caroline with Samantha Williams as her daughter Emma

Caroline or Change

As the title character of “Caroline, or Change,” Sharon D Clarke sings a breathtaking 11 o’clock number called “Lot’s Wife” that sparks thunderous applause; the audience at Studio 54 is clearly thrilled by the performer’s soulful delivery. Some surely also burst into tears, saddened by the character’s despair.   But my enthusiasm for this first Broadway revival of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s inventive, thoughtful and affecting collaboration comes not just from those aspects of the show that satisfy audience expectations about big Broadway musicals.  

What makes this work so powerful, and especially timely, is how this splendid cast tells a small story about change – literal pocket change – while offering a larger glimpse into the complex undercurrents in a tense moment of change in American history…

Mrs. Warren’s Profession

If you had just graduated from college and learned for the first time that your mother got her start as a prostitute and made her fortune as the owner of a string of brothels, how would you react? 

If you’re Vivie Warren in the Gingold Theatrical Group’s problematic production of Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,”  at Theater Row through November 20th, you’re matter-of-fact to the point of indifference…

Such an attitude makes the play, which George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1893, shockingly ahead of its time, and arguably in sync with our own, given the growing current movement to decriminalize prostitution and to treat sex workers with dignity.

Yet, in the hands of the current production’s six-member cast under the direction of Gingold artistic director David Staller, the play didn’t feel timely to me; It felt out of touch, a mannered exercise in dated social commentary…

Brecht on Brecht

TBTB  presents a fascinating collage – more like a barrage – of the poems, stories, songs, plays, parables and sayings by the prolific and consequential German theater artist Bertolt Brecht,  best known in the U.S. for Three Penny Opera (his collaboration with composer Kurt Weill)…The many, largely unidentified excerpts over the 90 minutes of “Brecht by Brecht” would be hard to source even by a Brecht scholar, and can feel overwhelming. But together they ultimately offer a sharp taste of Brecht’s blunt, bitter, sardonic brilliance. …

The Week in New York Theater News

Audra McDonald will return to Broadway starring in “Ohio State Murders” by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Kenny Leon. “I am so thrilled. It’s only taken me 65 years to make it to Broadway!” said Kennedy, who is 90.

Here is my review of Ohio State Murders in a recent festival of Kennedy’s work

“Dana H” and “Is This a Room,” which are performing in rotation at the Lyceum, are both closing November 14, two months earlier than scheduled.  I was surprised at how exhilarating I found “Dana H,” largely because of Deirdre O’Connell’s performance.
Howard Sherman comments in his column in The Stage: “It is exceptionally admirable that the producers wanted to showcase this work in the largest theatre forum New York has to offer. The project will, come spring, be eligible for all manner of awards, including the much-sought-after Tony. But it’s impossible not to wonder whether the plays would have found audiences and been more sustainable economically if they had been moved to an Off-Broadway rep situation.” The sharing of a stage by two different productions, he adds, could prove a model for the future.

The 2020 Lucille Lortel Awards, scheduled for May 1, 2022, will no longer give separate acting awards to male and female performers. There will now be four acting categories instead of eight: lead and supporting performers in a musical and a play. The awards, which celebrate Off-Broadway, have added a category for outstanding ensemble.

The Music Man, set to open February 10, 2022, starts rehearsals and announces its complete casting (only a portion of whom are shown above.)

The production, directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, with choreography by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, will also star, as previously announced, Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Marcellus Washburn, Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn, Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Shinn, and Tony Award winner Marie Mullen as Mrs. Paroo. Joining the principal cast are Remy Auberjonois as Charlie Cowell, Gino Cosculluela as Tommy Djilas, and Emma Crow as Zaneeta Shinn. Joining the cast are Benjamin Pajak as Winthrop, Kayla Teruel as Amaryllis, Garrett Long as Ethel Toffelmier, Linda Mugleston as Alma Hix, Jessica Sheridan as Maud Dunlop, Rema Webb as Mrs. Squires, Phillip Boykin as Olin Britt, Eddie Korbich as Jacey Squires, Daniel Torres as Ewart Dunlop, Nicholas Ward as Oliver Hix, and Nick AlvinoJordan BeallRonnie S. Bowman Jr.Maria BriggsAudrey CardwellJT ChurchMax ClaytonKammie CrumAydin EyikanCarlee FlanaganEthen Green-YoungerEmily HoderCurtis HollandEloise KroppEthan LafazanKayla LaVineAndrew MinardSean MontgomeryTanner QuirkLance Roberts, Daniel Patrick RussellAnn SandersSherisse SpringerMitchell TobinKathy VoytkoBranch Woodman, and Ryan Worsing rounding out the Ensemble.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music announces new dates for Jamie Lloyd‘s bold, Olivier-winning revival of Cyrano de Bergerac-written by Edmond Rostand and freely adapted by Martin Crimp-at the BAM Harvey Theater from Apr 5-May 22.

A Playwright Has a Message: Anti-Asian Hate Isn’t New: Lionelle Hamanaka wrote “Covid Crime” to bring the conversation surrounding such attacks to her neighbors in Manhattan.(NY Times)

Clyde’s” begins previews Wednesday, and opens on November 23 at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theater

“I’ve got a specious reputation of being some kind of intellectual playwright or difficult playwright. I don’t look at myself that way at all. I love writers with a popular touch.” — Tom Stoppard, 84, in a fascinating CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, which focuses on his latest play “Leopoldstadt.”

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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