Broadway 25 in 2022-23. Why The Broadway Body is Bad. #Stageworthy News of the Week

With the announcement this week that Mike Birbiglia is returning to Broadway for his latest solo show about his life, “The Old Man and the Pool,” (opening at the Vivian Beaumont November 13) there are now 25 shows fully scheduled in the Broadway 2022-2023 season – 20 of them in the Fall. (Latest unreliable poll of fan Fall favorites.) (Schedule of ASL-interpreted performances.)

The theater news of the week extends beyond Broadway, and even beyond theater. Off Broadway Week (2-for-1 tickets) begins today. Below: Carol Burnett on renaming a Broadway theater for Harold Prince; The Top 10 Most Produced Plays and Most Produced Playwrights of 2022-2023; The all-women third season of Paula Vogel’s Bard at the Gate; Abigail Disney on Disney exploitation; Lin-Manuel on crisis in Puerto Rico.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Sesame Street the Musical

If “Sesame Street the Musical” is not the theatrical experience it could have been, it seems clear that Jonathan Rockefeller, who wrote, directed, and produced this show along with Sesame Workshop, understands that it will be for many attendees the first live theater of their lives.

Perhaps he’s preparing them for a future of theatergoing – or maybe just trying to lure in their already-theatergoing parents. That may be why there are so many references to theater in the show.

Four Saints in Three Acts

“…If you enjoy it, you understand it,” Gertrude Stein said… I did find some enjoyment in David Greenspan’s performance. Some of the reasons might sound backhanded. I was impressed by his memory, as well as his – and my – endurance… His gesturing is so varied and vigorous that it borders on the eccentric..Yet, he still somehow manages to illuminate Gertrude Stein’s text — not its meaning, but its poetry (its sounds, its emotion.) 

Cheek to Cheek

An intelligent, entertaining musical revue that showcases two dozen of the songs that Irving Berlin wrote for movie musicals… Hollywood is a smart focus for “Cheek to Cheek,” which York Theater is bringing back…with four of the six cast members new. All are in fine voice, with elegant and agile moves, and perhaps a bit too much cheer.

The Week in New York Theater News

Beetlejuice” makes its final Broadway bow on Sunday, January 8, 2023, having played 27 previews at the Winter Garden Theatre and 366 regular performances, and then 313 regular performances during its resurrection at Broadways’ Marquis Theater, for a total of 679 Broadway performances.

Bryce Pinkham and Lizan Mitchell join Audra McDonald the cast of  “Ohio State Murders,” which begins performances  November 11 at the (newly naed) James Earl Jones Theater, opening December 8.

Suzan-Lori Parks makes her performing debut in a work she wrote during the pandemic, “Plays for the Plague Years,” opening November 16 at the Public Theater.
Meanwhile, her Topdog/Underdog Broadway revival, which begins performances tomorrow, announces a digital lottery (tickets at $40) through Telecharge and an in-person rush ($35)

The cast of “Into the Woods” through November 20:  Patina Miller and Montego Glover sharing the role of The Witch, Stephanie J. Block as the Baker’s Wife, Sebastian Arcelus as the Baker through October 23, Brian d’Arcy James as the Baker beginning October 25, Gavin Creel as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince, Andy Karl as Rapunzel’s Prince beginning October 11 (having previously played the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince), Krysta Rodriguez as Cinderella, Katy Geraghty as Little Red Ridinghood, Jim Stanek as the Steward, Ann Harada as Jack’s Mother, Cole Thompson as Jack, and Alysia Velez as Rapunzel.
Cast for November 22 through January 8 will be announced at a later date

The third season of Paula Vogel’s digital theater series “Bard at the Gate” will feature four plays by women, including a solo play written and performed by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (pictured)
Season begins October 19 with “Shapeshifter” by Laura Schellhardt
Tent Revival by by Majkin Holmquist, premieres January 25
Cut by Nikki Massoud, February 25
Wings of Night/Wings of Morning Light by Joy Hard, April 19

Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey will portray Fiyero in the two-part movie adaptation of Wicked, the first part of which is aiming to be in movie theaters during the holiday season of 2024.  He joins a cast Ariana Grande as Glinda and Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba in the two-part film adaption of the hit Broadway musical. The films will be produced by Jon M. Chu, who also directed the film adaption of In the Heights.

The Top 10 Most Produced Plays and Most Produced Playwrights of 2022-2023 (American Theatre)

  1. Clyde’s, by Lynn Nottage (11 productions)
  2. Chicken & Biscuits, by Douglas Lyons (8 productions)
  3. Clue, adapted by Sandy Rustin from the film by Jonathan Lynn (7 productions)
  4. Once, by Enda Walsh, Glen Hansard, and Markéta Irglová (7 productions)
  5. Sweat, by Lynn Nottage (7 productions)
  1. Lynn Nottage (24)
  2. Lauren Gunderson (24, 9 of them co-writes)
  3. Matthew López (16)
  4. August Wilson (14)
  5. Dominique Morisseau (11)

“The first thing to note is that, while this year’s listings show a relatively robust return of traditional season programming, the numbers are down noticeably from previous levels: In the 2019-20 season, we clocked 2,229 entries that qualified as full runs of shows… This time around, even as we allowed for audio and streamed shows to count for the first time, the tally only came to 1,298.”

The Week in Theater and Issues

The Broadway Body and Why It’s Bad

Elizabeth Thompson previews Ryan Donovan’s forthcoming book “Broadway Bodies: A Critical History of Conformity,” (Oxford, 2023) which “grapples with casting politics in Broadway musicals. It grew out of Donovan’s dissertation at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2019. “I started thinking about who I wasn’t seeing on stage in certain roles and how the Broadway industry openly discriminates based on appearance,” he said. Donovan defines the “Broadway body” as “the hyper-fit, muscular, tall, conventionally attractive, exceptionally able triple-threat performer: one highly skilled in acting, dancing, and singing who can do their ensemble track and also cover the lead and go on at a moment’s notice.” This insistence on a single acceptable body type is concerning because, Donovan points out, casting is ultimately a labor issue. “If we’re seeing something in theater, chances are it’s mirroring something in U.S. society. Theater is often thought of as an inclusive space and yet it’s often just as discriminatory as employers.”

Abigail Disney’s new documentary “The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales,” investigates allegations of worker exploitation within the theme parks that bear her family name: “1 out of every 10 full-time workers was homeless at some point in the previous two years, and two-thirds didn’t have enough money to pay for food. At the same time, in 2018, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger collected $65 million—or 1,424 times the median salary of a Disney employee.

 Lin-Manuel and Luis Miranda on the crisis in Puerto Rico in light of the second devastating hurricane in five years

Jennifer Tepper on the times that Broadway has gone dark before COVID (which includes the summer months before the era of air conditioning”

In Memoriam

Hilary Mantel, 70, the author of “Wolf Hall,” which was turned into a two-part Broadway play in 2015.

Rita Gardner, 87,  nine-time Broadway veteran who was in the original cast of  The Fantasticks

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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