Broadway Springs Forward (Two Years Later) #Stageworthy News of the Week

The Tony Awards’ new dates! Daniel Radcliffe in a Stephen Sondheim musical! Will Swenson in a new Neil Diamond musical! Pamela Anderson in her Broadway debut!

The many exciting Broadway announcements this week overshadowed (outshined?) the second anniversary Saturday of the Broadway shutdown. (American Theatre Magazine offers a package of 7 articles marking the anniversary, including “What We Lost and Learned“) Theater has been  recovering in fits and starts over the past six months. Now “producers are becoming increasingly bullish about a busy spring season” (Variety: “Broadway Plots a Comeback”), looking ahead to the 16 Broadway openings crammed into the last month of the 2021-2022 Broadway season… and beyond.

I marked the anniversary of the shutdown by honoring the digital theater that it sparked, which has continued even after the reopening of in-person theater. Will the innovations of digital theater — will digital theater itself — last past the pandemic? That’s only one of the uncertainties of this emerging new era.

American Connected Theater Awards for Pandemic Year 2

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

The Chinese Lady 

a gently amusing, lyrical, yet sharply pointed play based on the true story of the first known Chinese woman in the United States …with the same terrific two-person cast, Shannon Tyo and Daniel K. Isaac [as the original production three years ago]…the production is now being performed in what amounts to a different era – a time when the play’s already rich metaphors have acquired some new and poignant layers…

This Space Between Us 

“I can’t watch MSNBC and do nothing anymore,” says Jamie in  “This Space Between Us.”  Many of us surely have been feeling that way lately, especially in the past two weeks. Jamie decides to act on it. He announces to his boyfriend, his best friend and his family that he is leaving his job as a corporate lawyer to work at an international aid agency….Amid the comedy, the playwright delivers some thought-provoking, unsentimental observations  about Americans’ divergent do-gooder impulses. Such lively, worthwhile exchanges, however,  are in danger of being drowned out by the disjointed story. ..

Coal Country

Like a classic folk ballad, full of understated outrage and exquisite down-home music,  “Coal Country,”  in an encore presentation at the Cherry Lane, tells the devastating true story of the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine of West Virginia, which killed 29 miners, and exposed the criminally negligent conduct of the mine’s owner…The play is reopening at what is arguably an especially opportune moment – when the world’s focus is on the deadly politics of energy

Tiananmen Requiem

A protesting art student who is on a hunger strike faces a soldier who is pointing a gun at him.  The student offers the soldier some food.  They are in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989…The student and the soldier are lovers….There is inherent drama and sudden timeliness in this story of a struggle against the odds for both love and democracy. 

The Week in New York Theater News

The 75th annual Tony Awards will return to Radio City Music Hall on June 12th, in a four-hour show that, like last year, will begin streaming behind Paramount+’s paywall from 7 to 8 p.m., then broadcast on CBS from 8 to 11 p.m. Nominations will be announced May 3, and will consider shows that opened between February 20, 2020 and April 28, 2022.

Pamela Anderson is set to make her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in “Chicago” April 12 to June 5, a “dream fulfilled” and a “sweet escape,” she said in a press release. The character murders a man with whom she’s having an affair, and becomes famous. Anderson, now 54, became famous from her numerous appearances in Playboy magazine, and her starring roles in the TV series, “Home Improvement,” “Baywatch,” and “V.I.P.”

Will Swenson will star as Neil Diamond in the six-week engagement this summer of “A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical”, at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre. The show, which is aiming for Broadway,  tells the life story of the singer-songwriter who is one of the best-selling musicians of all time and includes a score of his many hit songs. Swenson is an eight-time Broadway veteran Tony-nominated for “Hair,” and most recently in “Assassins” Off-Broadway.

Daniel Radcliffe has been cast as Charley in the New York Theatre Workshop production of Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical “Merrily We Roll Along” sometime in the 2022-2023 season Off-Broadway. Radcliffe, who starred in the Harry Potter movies, is an old New York theater hand at this point, having starred in four shows on Broadway. “Merrily We Roll Along,” with a book by George Furth, is about three old friends who start off cynical and estranged and go backwards in time to their idealistic, collaborative youth. It was a notorious Broadway flop, closing 12 days after it opened, but has been revisited numerous times since. (last one I saw, in 2019)

Critics Choice Awards 2022: More love to Ariana DeBose of West Side Story

Olivier Awards: Eddie Redmayne’s Cabaret leads nominations

Cities and States Are Easing Covid Rules. Should the Arts Follow? (NY Times)

“With cities and states across the country moving to scale back mask and vaccine requirements as coronavirus cases fall, leaders of cultural institutions find themselves confronted once again with difficult decisions: Is it safe to ease virus safety measures, and would doing so be more likely to lure audiences back or keep them away?”

Artist crime blotter:

  1. Barbara Maier Gustern, an 87 year old vocal coach for the recent Broadway revival of “Oklahoma!”), was shoved behind in Chelsea in an unprovoked attack, and suffers traumatic brain injury.

2. A man allegedly stabbed two employees at the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday. He once worked as a Broadway usher.

Radio Drama for a Podcast Age: How Amazon’s Audible Moved Into Theater

The Flea Theater, Experimenting Again, Walks a New Tightrope (NYT. Check out the comments). Also: My review of Arden.

Playwright Dominique Morisseau Wants To ‘Dismantle’ Broadway (Essence)
“I sort of want to dismantle what Broadway already is, how Broadway exists and functions. I’d like to change that. I hope that my work can be a conduit to changing the way we even look at Broadway. Because right now Broadway is very narrow,”’ Made Her a Child Star. Now She’s in the Broadway Tour.

William Hurt, 71, Oscar-winning actor for  “Kiss of the Spider Woman”, star of such films as “Body Heat,” and Children of a Lesser God, had one Broadway credit: Hurly Burly in 1984, written by David Rabe and directed by Mike Nichols.

Artists in the World

From stage to battlefield: Some ballet dancers have taken up arms

‘I was not ready to be killed’: The secret theatre forced into exile by the KGB

Belarus Free Theatre is making a delayed return to the UK, where several of its previous productions have been hailed. Dogs of Europe, due to run for three nights at the Barbican, was originally scheduled for May 2020 until the pandemic intervened. In the intervening period, everything has changed.

The Week’s Theater Video

how to feel superior to the rest of America

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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