COVID-19 Tests Broadway at its busiest. Birthday Candles, Take Me Out Reviews. #Stageworthy News of the Week

Positive COVID-19 tests caused the cancellation last week of four Broadway shows, two of them still in previews, presenting a test of the enthusiasm for the April line-up (celebrated by the “garden” of ten-foot-tall Playbills that were installed in Times Square last week.) Performances were also canceled at two Off-Broadway shows, “Suffs” at the Public Theater and “At The Wedding” at Lincoln Center.

The cancelations provoke a question during the busiest April for theater in more than a decade, a month of openings that was intended as final proof that Broadway is Back.   As a New York Times headline poses it: “Broadway Bets Big on a Spring Rebound. Will the Virus Cooperate?”

“Paradise Square,” which halted performances on April 7, announced this morning that it will resume performances on Saturday, April 16. Announcements from the three other shows, on Twitter:

More on the current surge:

A New Wave of Covid-19 Is Coming. Here’s How to Prepare. 7 steps to lower your risk

An uptick in U.S. virus cases is concerning but not surprising, Fauci says.

It’s worth noting that, according to the latest statistics on the Times NYC Coronavirus tracker, the number of cases has increased 39 percent over the last two weeks (for a daily average of 1,688), but the number of hospitalizations has decreased 17 percent during that same time (522). Or put another way, by the NYC Health Department, the Current COVID-19 Alert Level in NYC is Low.

The Week in Theater Reviews

Birthday Candles

Debra Messing portrays Ernestine, a woman who we see celebrating her birthdays from age 17 to age 107 by baking a cake.  She does this in a set designed  by Christine Jones of an ordinary kitchen beneath an extraordinary sky – pots and pans as if hanging on her wall, but above that a constellation of everyday possessions suspended in mid-air: an umbrella, a pillow, a vacuum cleaner, a guitar, a keyboard, a laptop, a basketball hoop, you name it. Eventually we see,  thanks to a shift in Jen Schriever’s lighting,  that among these ordinary objects are different phases of the moon, glowing.

The designers thus do gorgeously what first-time Broadway playwright Noah Haidle tries to do in his script, awkwardly – reveal the cosmic that exists in everyday life….read full review

Take Me Out

In this first and first-rate Broadway revival of Richard Greenberg’s 2003 Tony-winning comedy, which is a gay man’s love letter to baseball, Jesse Williams portrays Darren Lemming, a star player who is so good at the game – so universally worshipped his entire life for his grace and skill —  that he can’t imagine any repercussions to his coming out publicly as a homosexual.

So he does. And there are repercussions.

That’s basically the plot of “Take Me Out,” which is running at the Helen Hayes Theater through  May 29. The plot, especially its climax in tragedy, is not the best thing about the play.

And no, I’m not talking about the extensive nudity in the all-male cast, although that seems to be generating the most buzz.

“Take Me Out” demonstrates Richard Greenberg’s skills both as a dramatist and a humorist, and especially as a master of repartee and wordplay. He is such an adept wordsmith that the title “Take Me Out” has four or five different meanings, each of which describes a different layer of the play….read full review

Take Me Out’ extends Broadway run to June 11

Book Review: Fearlessly Different

People thought Mickey Rowe was a weird kid. By the time that weirdness was officially deemed a disability and given a diagnosis, he was a senior in college and had already begun working as a professional theater artist. “I am a great actor, and that is because of, not in spite of, my autism. My differences are my strengths,” Rowe writes in  “Fearlessly Different: An Autistic Actor’s Journey to Broadway’s Biggest Stage”…The book is both a stirring memoir of a tenacious talent, and, less successfully, a combination motivational lecture and political pamphlet on disability rights….read full review

The Week in New York Theater News

Lucille Lortel Award Nominations 2022. Off Broadway’s Best
“Kimberly Akimbo” and “Oratorio for Living Things” have the most nominations, at six apiece. 

New York Theater Awards 2022: Guide and Calendar

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

Will Broadway’s next hit musical be born on TikTok? (Fast Company)

New York Theater Artists for Ukraine, on Saturday April 16: Some 24 theaters will read online via HowlRound in 12 hour marathon. “We will share our outrage at the bombing of the Donetsk Drama Theater Mariupol, where 300 people died while seeking shelter.”

Rest in Peace

Nehemiah Persoff, 102, a familiar face on TV, and, before that, a 13-time Broadway veteran

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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