Pandemic Mandates Continue on Broadway. Russian Artists Shunned. #Stageworthy News of the Week

Starting today, New York City Mayor Eric Adams will no longer require indoor venues, including “entertainment spaces” to check for proof of vaccination. But Broadway theaters will still require it until at least April 30, as well as the wearing of masks (New York State Governor Kathy Hochul lifted the state-wide indoor mask mandate last month.) 

“Broadway will make their determination and we’ll respect that, but we’re lifting our mandates,” Adams said in answer to a reporter’s question. (Is it ironic that Adams made the announcement of the lifting of the mandate in Times Square?)

The Broadway League will meet to discuss the possibility of revising its mandates for Broadway on April 1, but the theatergoing public supports this ongoing practice, if my Twitter polls are an accurate gauge.

Some New Yorkers have expressed concern that the mayor is rushing things (as the New York Times reports.) Some fear that the city government’s change in policy will clash with Broadway’s unchanged policy, leading to a different kind of March Madness.

NYC Theater Openings Scheduled for March 2022

The Week in Reviews

Out of Time

uneven evening of five long monologues, all of them written by Asian-American playwrights and all of them featuring characters who are over the age of 60….At its best, as in this first monologue, written by Anna Ouyang Moench and entitled “My Documentary,” it takes time to figure out where the character is going…By the end, we realize the playwright has seamlessly woven together what feels like an actual life

I Was Better Last Night, Harvey Fierstein’s Memoir

Among his many other talents, Harvey Fierstein is an experienced talk show guest. In his entertaining memoir..he devotes one of his 59 short chapters specifically to his talk show appearances, but the book is suffused with the kind of anecdotes ready-made for Carson or Colbert, Corden or Kimmel, although some would have to be bleeped….I found the weird and lively downtown theater scene that he describes, and his evolving place in it, fascinating enough to have filled the whole book. But Fierstein chooses to go wide rather than deep in “I Was Better Last Night,” chronicling more than sixty years, year by year chronologically beginning in 1959..

The Week in Theater News

Broadway Theater Named After James Earl Jones 64 Years After His Debut There

“POTUS” is scheduled to open at Broadway’s Shubert Theater on May 9 (with a first preview on April 14) in a limited run through August 14th. Subtitled “Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive,” it is written by 28-year-old Selinga Fillinger, directed by Susan Stroman, and features a  star-studded, all-female cast: Rachel Dratch, Lilli Cooper, Lea DeLaria, Julianne Hough, Suzy Nakamura, Julie White and Vanessa Williams

The full cast has been announced for “for colored girls
who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf, “
 opening at Broadway’s Booth Theater on April 20th: Amara Granderson as Lady in Orange, Tendayi Kuumba as Lady in Brown, Kenita R. Miller as Lady in Red, Okwui Okpokwasili as Lady in Green, Stacey Sargeant as Lady in Blue, Alexandria Wailes as Lady in Purple, and D. Woods as Lady in Yellow.

Bebe Neuwirth and Cassie Levy will lead the cast of “The Bedwetter” a musical by Joshua Harmon and Sarah Silverman, with music by the late Adam Schlesinger, April 30 – June 19th at the Atlantic Theater (“Meet Sarah. She’s funny. She’s dirty. She’s 10. And she’s got a secret that you’ll never guess (unless you read the title”).

“Intimate Apparel” the opera will be recorded for Great Performances on PBS

Rest in Peace

Tony Walton, 87, prolific and acclaimed set and costume designer for Broadway and Hollywood

The Russian artist dilemma

Arts institutions worldwide, and in New York, are canceling performances by and cutting ties with Russian artists, especially those who have expressed support for Putin in the past. The Metropolitan Opera parted ways with long-time superstar soprano Anna Netrebko. (Netrebko will be replaced at the Met by a Ukrainian soprano, Liudmyla Monastyrska, in performances of Puccini’s opera Turandot, beginning April 30.) Carnegie Hall canceled appearances by the Russian maestro Valery Gergiev, who has long been close to Putin as well as the Russian pianist Denis Matsuev. The Guggenheim Museum announced that Vladimir O. Potanin, one of Russia’s richest men, will no longer be one of the museum’s trustees.

The issue is more complicated than it might initially seem, which may explain why the attitude of arts lovers towards these actions seems mixed

Take the case of Alexander Malofeev, the 20-year-old Russian pianist whose concerts have been canceled. On his Facebook page, he wrote: “The truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict,” 

Vancouver Recital Society’s artistic director Leila Getz gave a myriad of reasons for “postponing” Malofeev’s appearance there, only one of which sounded like solidarity with the Ukrainian people. She expressed fear of disruptive protests and of putting his family at risk back home.

On her Instagram page, Netrebko wrote: 

“First of all: I am opposed to this war. I am Russian and I love my country but I have many friends in Ukraine and the pain and suffering right now breaks my heart. I want this war to end and for people to be able to live in peace. 

“This is what I hope and pray for. I want to add, however, that forcing artists, or any public figure to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right. This should be a free choice. I am not a political person. I am not an expert in politics. I am an artist and my purpose is to unite across political divides.”

But, as the NY Times pointed out, Netrebko has ties to Mr. Putin and was once pictured holding a flag used by some Russian-backed separatist groups in Ukraine. On the other hand, the same Times article also quotes Andreas Homoki the head of the Zurich opera house: “You can’t let it out on artists just because they’re Russian or they can’t really take a strong anti-Putin position because of their fear of consequences.” 

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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