The holiday theater season hit some snags this week, with two Broadway shows set to close just weeks after opening, Stomp, an Off-Broadway staple closing after twenty-nine years, and comedy club Caroline’s on Broadway closing after thirty years at its Times Square location.
The specific reasons for these closings are varied, although all arguably are at least partly due to the continuing effects of the pandemic. The shockingly brief runs of “KPOP” and “Ain’t No Mo'” say less about their quality than about the inability of Broadway to attract a broader audience. As playwright Lynn Nottage noted after the announcement of Ain’t No Mo’s closing, “the Broadway Marketing machine hasn’t yet accepted that it is urgent and necessary to reach multicultural and young audiences beyond the same small homogenous circle they’ve been cultivating for years.”
LA Times: What went wrong with KPOP?
Joey Parnes (producer): Business in this postpandemic environment is not behaving remotely like it did before the pandemic. I think some people have decided they’re not going to go to the theater anymore, or as often as they used to, and they’re choosing things they’re certain of, not that they’re going to take a chance on. So yes, “The Music Man” is doing $3 million a week, “Hamilton” is doing over $2 million a week, but the shows doing business at the top of the grosses list all have one thing in common: They are familiar, they’ve been playing a long time, or they’re about somebody that everyone in the universe knows and loves.
Helen Park (composer): Whether we like it or not, telling a contemporary Asian story is still a risk….Even though this was a short-lived show on Broadway, I hope this is instead the beginning of more bold, honest storytelling by more diverse voices.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews and Previews
Some Like It Hot” is glitzy, excessive, frenetic and funny, with hyperactive choreography, a game, talented cast, and a jazzy score with multiple 11 o’clock numbers. Much of this reminded me of the current Broadway revival of “The Music Man,” in that it amps up the entertainment in hopes of blasting us into submission. Whether you leave feeling entertained or overwhelmed probably depends on how eager you are for a fun time…The creative team of “Some Like It Hot” has also updated its story to reflect the changed sensibilities of the current era…the obvious question is: Why? Why create a new musical, if you find the source material so problematic or overused or out of date that you feel compelled to change it? Full review
There is symbolic significance to Adrienne Kennedy, perhaps the oldest living playwright in America and among the most respected, finally making her Broadway debut at age 91– all the more so because “Ohio State Murders” is housed in the theater newly renamed after James Earl Jones, also 91, in a production directed by Kenny Leon, and starring Audra McDonald, the most honored living Broadway actress: Four Black artists who deserve our appreciation and our attention, connected to a play that explores subtle and blatant forms of racism.
There is some irony, then, that I actually liked this version of “Ohio State Murders” somewhat less than a production of the same eerie, riveting, challenging play that I saw early last year..Full review
The Week in New York Theater News
“Fat Ham,” the Pulitzer Prize winning play by James Ijames inspired by Hamlet that takes place during a Black family’s backyard barbecue, will open on Broadway April 12th, featuring Marcel Spears and the entire cast of last summer’s Public Theater an National Black Theater Off-Broadway production — bringing to thirteen the number of Broadway shows scheduled so far in Spring 2023. (My review of “Fat Ham” Off Broadway)
“White Girl in Danger,” the new musical by Michael R. Jackson (Tony winner for “A Strange Loop”) has announced its full cast. The show, a joint production of Vineyard and Second Stage, is set to open on April 10, 2023 at Second Stage’s Off-Broadway home, the Tony Kiser Theater. The cast features Latoya Edwards as Keesha, a citizens of the soap opera town Allwhite who is in the Blackground and determined to step out of it, plus Liz Lark Brown, Kayla Davion, Jennifer Fouché, Morgan Siobhan Green, Molly Hager, Vincent Jamal Hooper, James Jackson Jr., Tarra Conner Jones, Alyse Alan Louis, Lauren Marcus, and Eric William Morris. LaDonna Burns, Melessie Clark, Alexis Cofield, Shane Donovan, Jon-Michael Reese, and Natalie Walker round out the cast as understudies.
Opinion by John McWhorter: “It’s Too Darn Loud” (he means Broadway)
These days I am finding that too often at Broadway shows the sound is turned up way too loud. I don’t mean ordinary modern pop loud. I mean that in many numbers the volume is turned up so high you almost wonder whether something is wrong… Theaters pump the music up to pump the audience up.
This Week’s Theater Videos
“The Piano Lesson” cast members Samuel Jackson and Michael Potts discuss how they react to each other on stage from night to night