Theater Blog Roundup. In praise of what the critics dismissed: M.J., Music Man, Plaza Suite. The Broadway 2022-23 season so far.

Theater critics and theatergoers don’t like the same shows, Jan Simpson says in a post in “Broadway & Me,” as explained (and linked) below. What about theater bloggers? Yes, there are some left —  we few, we happy few, we band of bloggers, persisting past our prime, into a period of pandemic and podcasting. And we’re thriving:  As George Hunka points out, his post about what he’s learned in his 60 years on earth “has resulted in a surprising success, pushing my readership to the mid-two-figures.”

 Scott Harrah actually quit his newspaper job as a critic and began his blog “because I wanted to write as much as I wanted and about whatever I wanted.” Twelve years later, he’s still at it. No word on whether there would be any job to go back to, even if he wanted to.

Also below: David Sheward’s peek at the Broadway 2022-2023 season in formation; the rise of TikTok and the spread of Show Score; how to review without words.

In Broadway & Me, Jan Simpson muses on the difference between critics who see up to 300 shows a year and theatergoers who see two or three, in Some Old-Fashioned Fun with “The Music Man,” “MJ The Musical” and “Plaza Suite” — all shows that received mixed reviews, but are popular favorites.

“This split between what the critics want (something that takes a risk) and what most real people want (a sure bet) has already set off a debate this season about whether every show needs to be serious or ground breaking or whether shows can just be fun (click here to read one of those back-and forths). My theatergoing tastes tend to lean toward the serious but right now, I’m going to be speak up for fun.”

As if to underscore her point, Broadway Journal’s Philip Boroff details the popular shows weekly grosses in “Music Man,” “Plaza Suite” Shine in Broadway Grosses Revival

On the other side of the divide, Adam Szymkowicz interviews Playwright number 1109: Talene Monahon

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love plays that are rousing and mysterious. I like feeling like the audience I’m a part of has become a cute little cult. I’m very happy watching theater that doesn’t have an easy explanation—like, how did she sing that high note? Or, what was that weird noise? Or, what was the playwright’s overall message? We have no idea! I love to see it.

In Call Me Adam, Adam Rothenberg interviews Felicia Curry, the star of Abingdon Theater’s solo show Queens Girl in the World by Caleen Sinnette Jennings

The show is about one woman’s journey of self-discovery. What did you discover about yourself during the global pandemic?
I’ve learned so much during the pandemic and what continues to resonate with me now is:

  • I am capable of way more than I give myself credit for
  • Even when I’m not creating art the way I used to, I am still an artist
  • I love this art form because it honors the human experience and moving forward, I want to use my art to advocate for those who feel like their experience isn’t valued.

JK Theater Scene offers a review of the CD of the 1957 original cast recording of “West Side Story,” ,the first of a promised 25 reviews of each of the CDs in “Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection“. (The review is written by somebody other than JK’s usual blogger Jeff Kyler, although he doesn’t say who)

Onstage Blog offers an essay by an anonymous director of inclusion, who writes: “I’m not being allowed to do my job because my hiring was a PR move rather than a real commitment for change.”

In what used to be called The Producer’s Perspective (but is now just Ken Davenport’s blog, part of his larger website), Davenport writes From TikTok to The Grammys, about the two young women who composed The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical which won this year’s Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. “These two women shared their entire writing process LIVE for their individual audiences – Emily Bear on Instagram and Abigail Barlow on TikTok. By doing something that’s never been done before, they’ve allowed their fans to not only get a peek at the behind-the-scenes, but also participate . . . providing line suggestions, laughing along, responding in REAL TIME to choices being made.”

RevStan asks Is an audience review site what theatre-land needs?. He’s talking about the appearance this year of Show Score (which began in New York in 2015) in London. “Some critics have been very prickly towards having bloggers step on ‘their’ turf; what they make of audiences having their say will be interesting to see. Bring it on, I say. Theatre is for the audience after all, and the more voices, the more views there are has to be a good thing.”

Samuel Leiter’s blog Theatre’s Leiter Side is mostly now a repository of links to his reviews on other websites, but he does now share his opinion with shorthand visual versions of his reviews:

Stagezine’s Scott Harrah celebrates its twelfth anniversary with photographs of 14 shows that have appeared on its pages, including one of Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue’s NY concert, which received more traffic than anything else on the site “Broadway or otherwise.”

In TheaterLife, David Sheward previews what has been announced so far of the 2022-2023 Broadway season. with a focus on the three newly announced.

July 21–The Kite Runner (Hayes)

Sept. 19–The Piano Lesson (St. James) (previews begin; opening TBA)

Nov. 10–Kimberly Akimbo (theater TBA)

Nov. 20–KPOP (Circle in the Square)

Dec. 8–Camelot (Lincoln Center/Vivian Beaumont)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

1 thought on “Theater Blog Roundup. In praise of what the critics dismissed: M.J., Music Man, Plaza Suite. The Broadway 2022-23 season so far.

  1. Thank you for the great write up about and our 12th anniversary. I appreciate your kind words!

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