A year after Eric Adams delivered his first official speech as mayor in Manhattan’s theater district urging New Yorkers to “enjoy a Broadway show,” he made his second State of the City address this past week inside Queens Theater, proclaiming: “Our theaters are thriving, our restaurants are booked and New Yorkers are back to work.”
“Thriving” might not be the precise word that everybody in the theater community would pick; the mayor himself added “while our tourism and hospitality industries have recovered substantially since our city shut down in 2020, we cannot take that progress for granted…We will continue to invest in our cultural and creative sectors …” But, for all the Broadway shows that closed in January (as they do every January), theater was in better shape this month than in the two previous Januarys. Seventeen out of the 23 shows on Broadway reported attendance of at least ninety percent in the latest week for which data is available. And January theater festivals, though reduced in number from their heyday, returned with a vengeance after a two year hiatus. Because of the abundance of offerings at these festivals, “trying to see every play in January is a fool’s errand,” as Helen Shaw writes in her introduction to a discussion of four of them with her fellow critic at the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham. “All you can really do is fling yourself into the maelstrom and hope that when the waves wash you to shore you’re still clinging to some shred of meaning.”
An apt way of putting it, since I was struck by how many of the pieces, which are always categorized as experimental, seemed to have taken particular pride this year in constructing an unnecessary barrier to audience comprehension.
The Month in New York Theater Festival Reviews
Exponential Festival: The Complaint Society
Under the Radar Festival:
Are we not drawn onward to new erA
Prototype Festival: Trade and Mary Motorhead
1st Irish Festival: Heaven and Hunger,
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
The show, based on Anthony Rapp’s best-selling memoir, recounts the exhilaration of his having co-starred in Larson’s hit musical while simultaneously dealing with the traumas of Larson’s abrupt death and the slow death of Rapp’s mother…He’s been performing versions of this stage adaptation for some 15 years
Book review: Blanche: The Life and Times of Tennessee Williams’s Greatest Creation
Vivien Leigh said it tipped her over into madness. It left Ann-Margret “twisted and shaking, confused, agitated, and staring ahead in a daze.” For Jessica Lange, “I don’t think there is anything more emotional and physically exhausting than this part for a woman,” Says Patricia Clarkson: ”I’ve never underestimated the power of Blanche.”
They all portrayed Blanche DuBois, a character in “A Streetcar Named Desire” who has “fascinated generations of audiences – and actresses – around the world,” Nancy Shoenberger writes in her new book
The Week in New York Theater News
Parade Cast: Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond will lead a 33-person cast that features Alex Joseph Grayson as ‘Jim Conley,’ Tony Award nominee Sean Allan Krill as ‘Governor Slaton,’ Tony Award nominee Howard McGillin as ‘Old Soldier/Judge Roan,’ and Paul Alexander Nolan as ‘Hugh Dorsey.’ They will be joined by Jay Armstrong Johnson as ‘Britt Craig,’ Kelli Barrett as ‘Mrs. Phagan,’ Courtnee Carter as ‘Angela,’ Eddie Cooper as ‘Newt Lee,’ Erin Rose Doyle as ‘Mary Phagan,’ Tony Award nominee Manoel Felciano as ‘Tom Watson,’ Danielle Lee Greaves as ‘Minnie McKnight,’ Douglas Lyons as ‘Riley,’ and Jake Pedersen as ‘Frankie Epps.’
Shucked Cast: Grey Henson, a Tony Award nominee for his performance as Damian Hubbard in Mean Girls, will join the previously announced Ashley D. Kelley as Shucked’s two Storytellers. They will be joined by (in alphabetical order) John Behlmann, Kevin Cahoon, Andrew Durand, Caroline Innerbichler, and Alex Newell.
The ensemble of Shucked will feature Jimmy Brewer, Audrey Cardwell, Dwayne Clark, Rheaume Crenshaw, Jaygee Macapugay, Scott Stangland, Yasmeen Sulieman, and Quinn VanAntwerp. The swings are Miki Abraham, Ken Clark, Traci Elaine Lee, and Alan Wiggins.
The 66th annual Obie Awards, celebrating Off- and Off-Off Broadway, will take place on Feb. 27, “but many of the award recipients will be informed in advance, and their acceptance remarks will be recorded and posted to the Wing’s YouTube channel a few days before the ceremony, allowing the evening to focus on performances and partying rather than speeches.” (NY Times)
Carol Burnett will turn 90 on April 26, which is when NBC will broadcast a two-hour special “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love.” Performers will include Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Jane Lynch, and Kristin Chenoweth
Between Riverside and Crazy extends one week, to February 19th. Premiering Tuesday: The simulcast of the play for two weeks.
The Flea Theater gets a $1.2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for “ a new shared leadership structure with resident theater makers and the launch of a new community building project.” The Flea, an Off-Off Broadway theater founded in 1996, collapsed in 2020, and then was “refounded” with a new mission to “enhance and uplift experimental art by Black, brown and queer artists.”
Two other digital theater pieces, premiering tonight:
Majkin Holmquist’s Tent Revival, as part of Paula Vogel’s digital series Bard at the Gate
9 Parts of Desire, written and performed by Heather Raffo, via People’s Light
Andrew Leynse, 53, artistic director Primary Stages. His 21-year tenure saw the production of works by such prominent playwrights as Terrence McNally, A.R. Gurney, Theresa Rebeck, Charles Busch and Donald Margulies,
Everett Quinton, 71, downtown ctor, director, designer, playwright, who kept the Ridiculous Theatrical Company alive after the death of his partner, founder Charles Ludlum, in 1987