Broadway theaters will no longer be required to check vaccination status of theatergoers after April 30th, but they will require theatergoers to continue to wear masks past at least until May 31st, according to an announcement Friday by the Broadway League, the trade association for Broadway theater owners and producers. (“Audience protocols for June and beyond will be announced in May.”)
“Until now, the theaters had acted together on the protocols, saying they were concerned that varied policies could confuse theatergoers.” (NYTimes), but there’s now a split: The Shubert, Nederlander and Disney organizations will stop requiring proof of vaccinations in their Broadway theaters on May 1, while Lincoln Center and Roundabout will continue.
The news of the change didn’t seem to go over too well.
It’s true: As I reported last week, positive COVID-19 tests among company members shut down some half dozen productions. “Macbeth” resumed peformances on April 12, the same day “A Strange Loop,” presented its first preview, six days after it had intended to. “Plaza Suite” resumed performances on April 14 after more than a week of canceled performances, “Americano!”, which shut down on April 12, is scheduled to resume performances today, “Paradise Square” tomorrow, April 19.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
“Democracy’s messy,” the mayor, portrayed by Tracy Letts, says to the newest member of the Big Cherry City Council, Mr. Peel (Noah Reid.) But messy is too mild a word for the goings-on in “The Minutes,” opening tonight on Broadway. On the surface, Letts’ new play simply presents a weekly meeting of the city council of a small American town. But “The Minutes” manages to be both a hilarious satire, and a harsh history lesson that’s indistinguishable from a horror story….full review
In this third Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” which feels like at least one revival too many, Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss portray three low-life losers who view themselves as savvy businessmen but can’t even seem to finish their sentences, much less follow through on a burglary they all agree is a good idea….American Buffalo” remains all about the Mamet speak…the challenge of the roles in “American Buffalo” is for the actors to master the timing of the street poetry in such a way that their performances are thrilling while at the same time their characters are believable as human beings. And only one of the three came close to doing all that for me: Sam Rockwell. Admittedly, he has it the easiest. With a trigger temper, arias of overreaction and a violent streak, Teach is the flashiest part, one portrayed over the years by such actors’ actors as Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman (in the 1996 movie), William H. Macy, and John Leguizamo…. full review
The Comedian Harmonists, the singing group whose story is told in “Harmony,” Barry Manilow’s long-gestating musical, were as popular as the Beatles in their time and place. But their time and place was Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, so the group, made up of three Jews and three Gentiles, had some harrowing experiences…
Manilow and his long-time collaborator, the lyricist/librettist Bruce Sussman, with whom he’s written hundreds of songs, including “Copacabana (At The Copa),” were smart to see the makings of a musical in this riveting true story. They produced the first version of “Harmony” in 1997 at the La Jolla Playhouse, and a later version at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in 2014. I don’t know why it’s taken 25 years for “Harmony” to make it to New York. All I can say is I’m glad I’ve gotten to see it, and I’d happily see it again….full review
What’s most cringeworthy about “To My Girls” is not that, in an era of “they/them,” the group of gay men in their late 30s who meet for a weekend in Palm Springs are all “She needs a cocktail” and “We got you, girl” – nor that this retrograde gender pronoun reversal is just one of the several ways that “To My Girls” follows the old formula for gay plays established by “Boys in the Band”…What’s most cringeworthy is that playwright JC Lee grafts his insights onto a play whose nearly every scene – whether meant to make you laugh, or make you think, or move the plot along — feels imposed by the playwright, (the result of the playwright’s artificial insemination, to use the kind of sex-adjacent metaphor employed in the play), rather than emerging naturally from the characters….full review
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” a fox tells the little prince. “It’s only visible to the heart.”
The line is from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beloved 1943 novella, “The Little Prince.” It’s also on a t-shirt that’s selling in the lobby of the Broadway Theater during the four-month run in New York of this touring stage version by a French creative team, all of whom are making their Broadway debuts. The line is unintentionally ironic when the narrator utters it on stage, though, because this “The Little Prince,” — half dance-theater, half circus acrobatics — is a half-hearted theatrical adaptation that’s almost entirely visual. There are very few words, and they are upstaged by the vivid video projections that serve as backdrops. The only character who speaks is the narrator….full review
The Week in New York Theater News
Nominations for the Drama Desk Awards will be announced May 2, one day before the Tony awards announces its nominations. Nominations for the Chita Rivera Awards will be announced May 5; the awards ceremony will take place June 20 at NYU Skirball. Check out my updated 2022 NYC Theater Awards Guide and Calendar
Jill Rafson has been appointed producing artistic director of Classic Stage Company. She will succeed John Doyle, who is retiring. Rafson has worked at Roundabout Theatre Company since 2005, Roundabout Theatre Company in 2005 where as associate artistic director and artistic producer for the Underground program, she developed many new works, including The Humans by Stephen Karam, If I Forget by Steven Levenson, Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, and Usual Girls by Ming Peiffer.
Michael Douglas announced at the gala for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center that he was giving a million dollars to the Waterford, Conn non-profit, where his step father, the actor William Dared, sent him to do odd jobs when he was 21 to stop him from “chasing girls.” The 77-year-old actor and producer (who is of course the son of Kirk Douglas) worked there for three summers, where “I began to understand playwrights, their process and the collaborative effort to make the magic of the theater happen. These are things that I’ve carried with me through my entire career.”
Joel Grey celebrates his 90th birthday on the red steps of Times Square with Bebe Neuwrith, Donna Murphy, and Bernadette Peters. He was born on April 11, 1932. Check out his memoir, “Master of Ceremonies” (Life’s Not Just a Cabaret.)
As Mamet Returns to Broadway… the 74-year-old playwright “has been engaged in a blizzard of activities that are hardly standard fare for preshow publicity. But they are very much in keeping with his long history of pushing hot buttons — and with his late-career embrace of conservatism and support for former President Donald J. Trump.”