Broadway Summer Avalanche: Britney, David Byrne, Jason Alexander! The End of Jujamcyn and New Ohio (and “Actors Equity”?!) #Stageworthy News of the Week

Bad Behavior by Audiences… and by a Publisher? 
Are theater audiences behaving badly both on Broadway and in the UK? That’s what the BBC, The Stage, The Guardian and Playbill reported.  Staff at the Edinburgh Playhouse are “nervous and scared” due to a rise in verbal and physical abuse from patrons, according to the BBC, part of what it sees as a trend: “Theatres are slipping down the same slope as cinemas…” Poor audience behavior, according to The Stage and The Guardian, has prompted UK’s largest theater owners, Ambassador Theatre Group (now major Broadway owners as well), to ask marketers to omit phrases like “best party in town” and “dancing in the aisle.” Playbill recounted anonymous anecdotes of a rise in in abusive behavior towards the front-of-the-house staff by Broadway theatergoers, which some attribute to two causes: the aftermath of COVID isolation, and the increased availability in the theaters of alcohol. Before, “you could have a drink in the lobby before the show, but you couldn’t take it to your seat.”
But Playbill CEO Philip Birsh ordered the Playbill article taken down, telling the Daily Beast “We want people to go to the theater. This piece exaggerated the issue in my opinion.”—action (both the deletion and then talking about it to the press) that outraged Chris Peterson of OnStage Blog

Jordan Roth, soon to be no longer president of the no longer Jujamcyn Theaters, in an Iris van Herpen cape, depicting the interior of an opera house

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

The Wanderers 

That Katie Holmes portrays a movie star in Anna Ziegler’s play about two troubled Jewish marriages somewhat undercuts…what she intends as the play’s underlying meaning.“The Wanderers” is far more playful than profound, an exercise in clever storytelling that involves not one, but two big plot twists – one gradually revealed; the other, seismic…

Book Review: Jack in the Box: Or, How to Goddamn Direct by Jack O’Brien

Could Avatar work on Broadway? The Fabelmans? 10 Best Picture Oscar Nominees as viewed by a theater critic

(Poll: Which Best Picture Oscar Nominee Do YOU Think Would Be Best and Worst On Broadway?)

The Week in New York Theater News

Jujamcyn, owners of five Broadway theaters, is “combining its operations” (whatever that means) with the large London-based corporation Ambassador Theater Group, owners of two theaters on Broadway but a total of  58 throughout Great Britain, Germany, and the United States. Current Jujamcyn president and colorful fashion plate Jordan Roth will become creative director and largest individual shareholder of the as-yet unnamed  combined company, but Mark Cornell, current chief executive of ATG, will be in charge. 

The Jujamcyn theaters are the Eugene O’Neill, which is the long-term home of “The Book of Mormon,” as well as the Al Hirschfeld (“Moulin Rouge!”), the Walter Kerr (“Hadestown”), the August Wilson (“Funny Girl”) and the St. James (awaiting a new musical called “New York, New York”) ATG’s two are the Lyric ( “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”) and the Hudson (a revival of “A Doll’s House” starring Jessica Chastain. (NYTimes)

New Ohio Theater is shutting down at the end of this season, on August 31, after 12 years or 30 (depending on how you count), which means no more Ice Factory Festival, no more NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival, no more of its over-the-top experimental plays like My Onliness.

“We had a hell of a run,” founding artistic director Robert Lyons explained in an email to theatergoers, but it was time to go: “theatre organizations have their own natural life spans” and his retirement plus financial pressures helped convince him and the board of directors it was time “step aside and make space for the next generation.”

Lyons founded Ohio Theater on Wooster Street in Soho in 1994 and then, after losing its lease, moved it to the Archives Building on Christopher Street in the West Village in 2011, where it became New Ohio Theater. The 74-seat theatre space will remain a home for not-for-profit theatre. The building’s landlord, Rockrose Development, is accepting proposals for the space.

The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse, opening April 20 at Hayes Theater, will star  D’Arcy Carden,  Katie Finneran Scott Foley and Chris Sullivan . (My review of it Off-Broadway.)

News about three shows opening on Broadway this summer

Once Upon A One More Time, opening at the Marquis Theater June 22, featuring the music of Britney Spears, will star Justin Guarini as Prince Charming, Briga Heelan as Cinderella, and Aisha Jackson as Snow White

Here Lies Love, opening July 20 at Broadway Theater, by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, will star Jose Llana and Conrad Ricamora recreating the roles they originated off-Broadway in this musical about Imelda Marcos (My review of the show in 2013 at the Public, which transformed into a dance club, complete with silver disco ball and no seats; the audience moved with the action and to the beat.)

The Cottage, opening July 24 at the Hayes Theater.  Written by Sandy Rustin and marking Jason Alexander Broadway directorial debut, this romantic comedy is inspired by the works of Noel Coward, and set in the English countryside in 1923, where Sylvia decides to expose her affair to both her husband and to her lover’s wife. The cast features Eric McCormack, Laura Bell Bundy and Lilli Cooper

Members of Actors Equity march during 1919 strike

Actors’ Equity Association is considering a name change to reflect that fact that the union also represents stage managers. (THR)
The word “actor” seems to falling into disfavor. The Actors Fund was recently renamed the Entertainment Community Fund.

Teatro Fest NYC 2023 a citywide festival of live drama, dance, music and conversations with Latin artists, will take place from March 1 to April 30, 2023, featuring 20 productions and 210 performances In at least nine theater venues:IATI Theater | INTAR Theatre | Pregones/PRTT | Repertorio Español
 Teatro Círculo | Teatro LATEA | Teatro SEA | Thalia Spanish Theatre


“Between Riverside and Crazy star Stephen McKinley Henderson will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 Lucille Lortel Awards, set for May 7 at NYU Skirball Center. The ceremony, recognizing the best in Off-Broadway theatre, will begin at 7 PM. Nominations will be announced April 5, with the eligibility season closing March 31. .The late Ntozake Shange will be inducted into the Playwrights’ Sidewalk

Director Charlotte Brathwaite, and playwright/performer Kristina Wong have been chosen in the tenth anniversary class of Doris Duke Artists, each receiving $550,000.

A new commitment to accessible services: Playwrights Horizons Accessibility Super Nights

For The Trees, Playwrights will offer the following accessibility services:

  • Thursday, March 2, at 8pm: audio description and touch tour
    Sunday, March 5, at 2:30pm matinee: relaxed performance
  • Tuesday, March 7, at 7pm: ASL interpretation
  • Sunday, March 5, at 2:30pm – Sunday, March 19, at 2:30pm: GalaPro
  • Wednesday, March 15, at 7pm: Accessibility Super Night, including post-show reception with food and drinks
  • Throughout the Run: Assisted listening devices, support animal and wheelchair/mobility accommodations

For Regretfully, So the Birds Are, Playwrights will offer the following accessibility services:

  • Thursday, April 20, at 7:30pm: audio description and touch tour
  • Sunday, April 16, at 2pm: relaxed performance
  • Tuesday, April 25, at 7:30pm: ASL interpretation
  • Tuesday, April 11, at 7:30pm – Sunday, April 30, at 2pm: GalaPro
  • Friday, April 28, at 7:30pm: Accessibility Super Night, presented in partnership with Co/Lab, including post-show reception with food and drinks
  • Throughout the Run: Assisted listening devices, support animal and wheelchair/mobility accommodations

In Memoriam

Raquel Welch, 82, actress, international sex symbol after wearing a deerskin bikini in the film ‘One Million Years B.C.’ but also a Broadway veteran, starring in Woman of the Year and Victor/Victoria

Mikéah Ernest Jennings, 43. An appreciation by Helen Shaw, after attending his memorial service: “Jennings was a powerful actor, particularly in hybrid styles—dance theatre, for example, and the kind of live-camera stage performance pioneered by Big Art—and he also clearly had a gift for binding people close.”

The Week’s Theater Video/Audio

I Know I Have A Heart (Because You Broke It)” featuring Linedy Genao, from Bad Cinderella, opening  March 23, 2023 at the Imperial Theater.

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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