Three more shows opened last week, the latest in the revved-up Broadway season, all three with non-traditional casts, two of them familiar Broadway fare thus made unfamiliar (and, the producers hope, fresh.)
Will these help Broadway become the magnet it was before the pandemic?
“Six well-known musicals have announced their closing since June, with the bigger shocker The Phantom of the Opera,” Michael Goldstein wrote last week in Forbes.(“Why Are So Many Broadway Shows Closing?”) “Culprits include costs, COVID and crime. All have chased away free-spending tourists and Broadway customers, who are basically the same people.”
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke are two formidable talents do give largely invigorating performances, and the recasting of the Lomans as a Black family certainly offers a fresh take on a play that’s been steadily produced since its much-acclaimed Broadway debut in 1949. But for all the boldness of the reimagining, and the stellar track record of so much of the cast, “Death of a Salesman” is a disappointment in several ways. Full review.
A look at previous Broadway productions of “Death of A Salesman,” especially the 2012 revival starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.
the show retains all 13 of Sherman Edwards’ original, often bright and tuneful songs from the 1969 production, and also most of the sometimes goofy humor. At the same time, it makes some half dozen changes that sometimes provide a fresh perspective; most often offer a new emphasis on what’s always been the strongest aspects of the musical; and only occasionally go too far….we see from the get-go the most obvious and consequential change in the revival: The cast is racially diverse, and all of them identify as either female (18 of the 22 principals) or transgender or nonbinary. None, in other words, identify as cisgender white men – which is how we can identify all the signers of the Declaration of Independence Full review
Cost of Living
Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play that tells the parallel stories of two disabled people and their caretakers [is] an eye-opening take on what it really means to need people. Manhattan Theater Club, which produced the play at City Center in 2017, has moved it largely intact to its Broadway house, the Samuel J. Friedman, for a short run. Only the two performers who portray the caretakers have been changed — David Zayas and Kara Young, who each give the latest in a long line of beguiling performances. The production is otherwise the same, mostly for the good…above all, extraordinary performances by Gregg Mozgala and Katy Sullivan. If the lack of discernible alterations to the script feels like a missed opportunity, its strengths allow for a series of remarkable scenes that are surely unprecedented for Broadway. Full review
The Suppliants Project Ukraine
“We are not criminals…” Kristina was saying
“We are refugees,” Bohdana added, “seeking asylum.”
Kristina Obluchynska and Bohdana Yakobchuk were two of the seven women from Ukraine who were standing yesterday In the middle of the football stadium of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, speaking these lines from “The Suppliants,” written by Aeschylus 2,500 years ago. They were performing, alongside three well-known professional American actors, Anthony Edwards, Keith David and Tate Donovan, in the latest innovation from Theater of War Productions….its first-ever hybrid production – simultaneously live at the Notre Dame football stadium and around the world on Zoom. Full review.
The Week in New York Theater News
Second Stage will offer simulcasts of its forthcoming Broadway production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize winning play Between Riverside and Crazy, directed by Austin Pendleton, for the final two weeks of its run, January 31 – February 12, 2023. This is the second venture into hybrid theater (simultaneously on your home screen as well as on stage) on Broadway. The first was Lynn Nottage’s “Clyde’s” (my account of the experience.)
A revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s best-known play, “A Raisin in the Sun” is opening later this month at the Public Theater. In February, 2023, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will mount the first major New York City revival of Hansberry’s far less known second Broadway play, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan as a couple in 1960s Greenwich Village.
The Museum of Broadway is opening November 15th with a retrospective of theater caricaturist Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003). The museum promises to highlight over 500 individual productions from the 1700s to the present, including Rent (which Hirschfeld drew in 1996, above)
Second City is coming to Brooklyn. The improv and sketch company plans to open a theater and training center in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn next year. (NY Times)
Shortly after the announcement that Sean Hayes would star on Broadway in the Spring in “Good Night, Oscar,” a play by Doug Wright about pianist and wit Oscar Levant, another playwright, David Adjmi, took to social media to complain about the way he was treated; he had initially pitched to Sean Hayes the idea of play about Levant, and wrote a script that Hayes and his producer rejected. (NYTimes)
Casting announced for &Juliet, which opens on Broadway November 17: The principal cast will include Lorna Courtney as Juliet, Melanie La Barrie as Nurse, Ben Jackson Walker as Romeo, Paulo Szot as Lance, Betsy Wolfe as Anne Hathaway, Stark Sands as Shakespeare, Justin David Sullivan as May and Phillippe Arroyo as Francois. The cast of 25 will include 15 Broadway debuts, including ensemble members Brandon Antonio, Michael Iván Carrier, Bobby “Pocket” Horner, Megan Kane, Alaina Vi Maderal, Daniel J. Maldonado, Joe Moeller, Jasmine Rafael, Matt Raffy, Tiernan Tunnicliffe and Rachel Webb, along with principals Arroyo, La Barrie, Sullivan and Walker. Rounding out the cast will be Nico DeJesus, Nicholas Edwards, Virgil Gadson, Joomin Hwang, Brittany Nicholas and Veronica Otim.
Third annual Expand the Canon list of plays by female playwrights from Hedgepig Ensemble
Suzan-Lori Parks Is on Broadway, Off Broadway and Everywhere Else by Michael Paulsen
While an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke, she had the good fortune to take a creative-writing class at nearby Hampshire College with James Baldwin, who suggested she try playwriting, and, even though she feared he was just trying to politely steer her away from prose, she did. “That’s what I’m doing still,” she said. “Trying theater.”
… Parks said she was troubled by “the policing of Black people by Black people, and not just in the arts,” adding, “we have to wake up to the ways we are policing each other to our detriment.”
“No more trauma-based writing!” she said. “These are rules. And Suzan-Lori Parks does not like to be policed. Any policing cuts me off from hearing the spirit. Sometimes the spirit sings a song of trauma. I’m not supposed to extend my hand to that spirit that is hurting because it’s no longer marketable, or because I should be only extending my hand to the spirits who are singing a song of joy? That’s not how I want to conduct my artistic life.”
Martyna Majok, the playwright of ‘Sanctuary City’ and ‘Ironbound,’ is again writing at the margins by Deep Tran
How Hollywood Director Cameron Crowe Rebooted Almost Famous For Broadway by Michael Riedel
There are no close-ups in the theater, British theater director Jeremy Herrin told Cameron Crowe. “The close-ups are called songs.”
Signature unveiled Jim Houghton Way on 42nd Street, named after the founder of the innovative Off-Broadway theater who died in 2016 at the age of 57. (Playbill)
Charles Fuller, 83, Pulitzer winner for A Soldier’s Play, which he wrote in 1982 and finally made it to Broadway in an acclaimed production in 2020. I interviewed Fuller when he served as mentor for then-newcomer Christopher Shinn as part of the Cherry Lane Alternative Mentor Project. ”What a writer needs,” he said, ”is not, ‘Cross your T’s and dot your I’s’ but: ‘Hey, don’t let this get you down.” Or as Shinn put it: “Charles prepared me for the humiliation of being a playwright.”
Robert Kalfin, 89, “the driving force behind the Chelsea Theater Center, which for two decades beginning in 1965 presented adventurous plays that were sometimes too innovative for the theatergoing public and sometimes successful enough that they transferred to Broadway” – five times, including a successful revival of Leonard Bernstein’s (previously unsuccessful) “Candide,” and a pre-Streisand production of “Yentl”
As Davi Napoleon, who wrote a book about the Chelsea Theater Center, writes in an appreciationin American Theatre, Kalfin “took pride in doing “plays nobody else would do.” They reimagined little-known classics as well as new plays, all of them works that questioned assumptions. “
This Week’s Theater Videos
Two Broadway curtain calls