Theater is evanescent; that’s part of its appeal. The one exception seemed to be “The Phantom of the Opera.” But this week the musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Harold Prince announced it will close on Broadway on February 18, 2023, shortly after its thirty-fifth anniversary on January 26th. The show has grossed a gobsmacking $1.3 billion on Broadway alone. But since its reopening last October after its 19-month pandemic shutdown, the recent weekly grosses have not covered the enormous cost of running the show (A look at its history and some of the Phantoms, Raouls and Christinas over the years.)
“The Music Man” will close January 1, 2023, after 358 regular and 46 preview performances. A moneymaking hit despite lukewarm reviews and no Tonys, but the producers have decided not to recast the show after stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster end their run.
“Dear Evan Hansen” closed yesterday, after almost six years and 1,664 performances.
But for every closing in theater there’s a new opening (see below: new shows, new casts announced this week), which is how theater has survived for thousands of years.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
David Straitharn is a remarkable actor…and he tells the story of a remarkable man, who had a photographic memory and spoke numerous languages, and whose real-life heroism during World War II often has the feel of an action movie. He escapes death several times — scenes made exciting, despite a stage containing just two chairs and a table….[The play] would probably be most effective before an audience of students.
Written by McLane with Eila Mell, the book considers the set designs of more than 90 productions.Not all of the productions were on Broadway. One was not even on stage: The last of the four sections of the book offers an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the 2021 online production of “Waiting for Godot,” starring John Leguizamo and Ethan Hawke, who were thousands of miles apart. (Hawke also writes the forward to the book.)
And, only about half of the productions in the book were designed by Derek McLane. He could easily have filled up all the pages with just his own work: Since 1994, he’s designed 45 shows on Broadway alone; and 120 Off Broadway since 1986. Yet dozens of McLane’s predecessors, peers and rivals get their sets — and their say — in “Designing Broadway.”
Helen Shaw’s first review for The New Yorker begins with an observation of what can call a current mini-trend on New York stages
“If you ask experimental theatre about its intentions, you’ll usually hear about either revolution or radicality—something explosive. Even the term “avant-garde” is salvaged from the battlefield: when you’re struggling against realism, pieces are supposed to resist or defy or transgress. But look. Everybody’s tired. Anything, including revolution, can be repurposed as comfort right now. Nostalgia isn’t just for conservatives—we are in the time of the derriere-garde, experimental hygge, the avant-cozy.
“At least, we were this week. The experimental scene in New York found itself looking backward for its inspiration, finding solace in old movements, including gestures from childhood. In one corner (HERE arts center), Julia Jarcho’s company was performing “Marie It’s Time,” her dreamy response to Georg Büchner’s nineteenth-century play “Woyzeck.” In another, a trio of small companies performed “My Onliness,” an impish adaptation of text by a Pole, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, who changed the theatre a hundred years ago. The other shows I saw looked back all the way to the playroom—in two days I saw both a dance piece (John Jasperse’s eerie “Visitation”) and a multimedia event (Phil Soltanoff and Steven Wendt’s “This and That”) involving shadow puppetry—the kind you do with a bedsheet and a flashlight.”
The Week in New York Theater News
Latest from Broadway 2022-2023 season:
“Goodnight, Oscar,” Doug Wright’s new play, starring Sean Hayes as the actor and concert pianist Oscar Levant, will begin previews on Apr. 7 and officially open on Apr. 24 at the Belasco Theatre. Lisa Peterson will direct. … Joining Hayes in the cast will be Ben Rappaport as Jack Paar, along with Emily Bergl, Peter Grosz, and John Zdrojeski .
Common joins the cast of ”Bewteen Riverside and Crazy” opening in December at Second Stage’s Broadway house, the Hayes Theater.
Bill Heck joins the cast of “Take Me Out,” playing the role originated in this production by Patrick J. Adams, who was unable to return this fall. The rest of the cast will return, including Michael Oberholtzer, Julian Cihi, Hiram Delgado, Brandon J. Dirden, Carl Lundstedt, Ken Marks, Eduardo Ramos and Tyler Lansing Weaks
The Broadway digital cast recording of “Into the Woods” will be released by Craft Recordings September 30, the CD, December 2. (Watch the video below of Sara Bareilles recording “Moments in the Woods”)
Pulitzer/Tony winner Michael R. Jackson’s second musical (after A Strange Loop): “White Girl in Danger, via Vineyard Theater and Second Stage, opening off-Broadway on April 20, 2023 directed by Liliana Blain-Cruz and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly. The plot spoofs/pays homages to soap operas: Keesha is determined to step out of the Blackground in the soap opera town Allwhite
(see video below)
Hamilton is doing a production in German, the first in a language other than English.Six Lyrics That Show Why ‘Hamilton’ Is Tough to Translate It includes audio of both the English and the German.
An example from Satisfied:
The original language is packed with American metaphors and idioms that just don’t translate. So the translators were given license to come up with their own turns of phrase.
Angelica: So this is what it feels like to match wits/With someone at your level! What the hell is the catch?/It’s the feeling of freedom, of seeing the light/It’s Ben Franklin with a key and a kite/You see it right?
Angelica: So kribbeln Schmetterlinge, wenn sie starten/Wir beide voll auf einem Level, offene Karten!/Das Herz in den Wolken, ich flieg’ aus der Bahn/Die Füße kommen an den Boden nich’ ran/Mein lieber Schwan!
(So that’s how butterflies tingle when they take off/We’re on the same level, all cards on the table!/My heart in the clouds, I’m thrown off track/My feet don’t touch the floor/My dear swan!)
Tom Stoppard’s new play “Leopoldstadt”which started performances last week and is opening in October, features 24 cast members making their Broadway debuts.
Irene Papas, 96, an actress known for such films as The Guns of Navarone (1961),Zorba the Greek (1964) and Z (1969), also starred as Medea on Broadway, as well as in the cast of The Bachae.
This Week’s Theater Video
James Earl Jones visits the James Earl Jones Theater