The Stage Kiss is Back for Valentine’s Day! Beetlejuice, Macbeth complete casts. The Lark lives on! #Stageworthy News of the Week

On Valentine’s Day, when thoughts (at least) turn to kissing, it’s a good time to note the return of the stage kiss. There may not be as much kissing at all in new in-person shows, and kisses may be more cautious in old shows (if the photographs are any indication.) But theater long has revolved around the kiss, as illustrated by the dozen and a half photographs below, from 1887 to the present, and evident even in some titles: Kiss Me Kate, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Kiss and Tell, The Kiss Burglar (26 on Broadway alone.)

Stage kisses are different enough from off-stage kisses as to require guidance. There have been manuals for some time, such as  How To Stage Kiss (Set ground rules, pay attention to hygiene, make sure you know your lines) and Tell and Kiss: A Manual for Actors (Boundaries—to tongue or not to tongueFor me, this is an easy one: open mouth, no tongue…. Make sure your makeup won’t rub off on your partner. ..Use good sense. Be respectful. Speak up for yourself.”) Intimacy coaching is a growing vocation in the theater.  Click on any of the photographs below to see them enlarged and learn who is kissing whom and in what, e.g. Elizabeth Taylor kisses John Culllum in Private Lives in 1983, and Tallulah Bankhead kisses Donald Cook in Private Lives in 1948. Sydney Chaplin kisses Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, 1964. Faith Prince kisses Nathan Lane in Guys and Dolls in 1992. Caitlin Kinnunen kisses Isabelle McCalla in The Prom in 2018.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Tambo & Bones

The three different settings of the play – first, in a minstrel show in the past; then, at a rap concert in the present; and finally at an apocalyptic future with no white people — certainly suggests the play is meant to be a riff on race. Or it could be a goof — if any kind of “treatise,” perhaps a trickster playwright’s  meta-theatrical commentary on the gullibility of audiences towards any theater that hints at being a disquisition on race.

Or it could be both

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

slickly abridged and unwisely updated version… Director Robert O’Hara wants us to see a parallel between the pandemic lockdown in 2020, in which everybody felt trapped, and the emotional lockdown of the four members of the Tyrone family, who feel trapped by their past….O’Hara, though, is not content with just doing a visual makeover, and allowing the audience to pick up on the parallels on our own


the first production by the Off-Off Broadway theater company after almost two years of silence, caused not just by the pandemic but by the Flea’s implosion from internal dissent…feels  in part like a healing or cleansing ritual, an effort to get past trauma: There are chants, songs, poems, poetic movement, childhood anecdotes, exhortations, communal prayers. But most of this is threaded through a loud, bluesy rock concert, the effect of which is wonderfully entertaining

The Week in New York Theater News

Although New York Governor Kathy Hochul last week announced the lifting of the statewide mask-or-vaccine mandate, Broadway’s mask and vaccination requirements will remain at least through April 30.

For “Beetlejuice,” set to reopen on Broadway April 8, Alex Brightman will be joined by Kerry Butler, David Josefsberg, Adam Dannheisser, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Kelvin Moon Loh, Danny Rutigliano, and Dana Steingold as well as Elizabeth Teeter as Lydia Deetz, Michelle Aravena as Miss Argentina and Zonya Love as Maxine Dean/Juno, and Kate Bailey, Will Blum, Ryan Breslin, Natalie Charle Ellis, Brooke Engen, Eric Anthony Johnson, Andrew Kober, Elliott Mattox, Mateo Melendez, Ramone Owens, Commodore C. Primous III, Nevada Riley, and Graham Stevens.

For the production of “Macbeth”set to open on Broadway April 28 , Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga will be joined by Phillip James Brannon as Ross, Grantham Coleman (as MacDuff, Asia Kate Dillon as Malcolm, Maria Dizzia as Lady Macduff, Amber Gray as Banquo, Emeka Guindo as Fleance, Paul Lazar as Duncan, Bobbi MacKenzie as Macduff’s Child, Michael Patrick Thornton as Lennox, and Danny Wolohan as Seyton. The ensemble will be completed by Che Ayende, Eboni Flowers and Peter Smith. Stevie Ray Dallimore joins as the standby for Daniel Craig

The Lark lives on! Although the play development laboratory is indeed closing after 27 years, many of its programs will be housed in ongoing institutions. For example, The Venturous Playwright Fellowship, which advocates for the production of risk-taking, innovative plays, and provides concurrent residencies for their authors, will continue at the Playwrights’ Center. The Lark’s Van Lier New Voices Fellowship, which supports playwrights of color aged 30 and under, will continue at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. The full list of transferred programs available on The Lark website.

Off-Broadway Week begins today.

Unlike other theater groups, The Barrow Group has thrived financially during the pandemic, generating enough income from online training and artist development programs so that they are planning to open  a $4 million performing arts center in April at 520 Eighth Avenue, just around the corner from their upstairs space on West 36th that they had leased for 18 years. 

“The Kavinoky Theatre at D’Youville College in Buffalo was one of those that scrapped a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 2019 after receiving a cease and desist letter from the Broadway production. “

“Harper Lee Estate Told to Pay $2.5 Million in Dispute Over ‘Mockingbird’ Plays” (NYTimes.) –in effect, a victory of the little guy over Scott Rudin.

94th annual Oscar nominations: West Side Story, Andrew Garfield, Troy Kotsur, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lessons from the latest Movie Musicals (New York Magazine)

“If, at the end of the year of the movie musical, Encanto, West Side Story, and Tick, Tick … Boom! have risen above the din of everything else, I’d say this pack of survivors portends not a continuation of the spectacle status quo, but a weirder, more exciting future for the genre. No one title prevailed as the singular seismic, universally acclaimed, theater-saving hit, but they allowed for experimentation and new possibilities in a staid form. So let’s relieve their descendants of the pressure to become the next big movie musical. I have some hope that the Wicked movie (should it ever actually exist) and The Color Purple will be big and thrilling, but I’d be just as excited to see them embrace the quirks that helped movie musicals stand out in a calendar year accidentally full of them.”

Richard Christiansen, 90, influential Chicago theater critic

minutes after leaving the theater Thursday night, I had to pull my car over to the side of the street so that I could clear the tears from my eyes?”Afterward, the Chicago theater world was said to refer to a rave from Mr. Christiansen as “a pull over.”

This Week’s Theater Video

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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