West Village Theaters On The Rise. So many names, so much #Stageworthy News of the Week

Betty Smith, Oscar Isaac, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessica Hecht, Parker Posey, Eric Bogosian, Lea Michele, Caridad Svich, Michael Heitzman, Will Davis, Lea Salonga, Constantine Maroulis, Andre De Shields, Lear deBessonet, Lin-Manuel Mirandą, Chita Rivera — in order of items below.

March 2023 New York Theater Openings

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Becomes A Woman 

Before she authored the novel “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” Betty Smith wrote a play about the same character, Francie Nolan. Smith’s novel, which follows Francie from young girlhood to the cusp of 17, was published in 1943 to great acclaim and lasting success.  “Becomes A Woman,” which Smith wrote in 1931 and dramatizes Francie’s life starting at age 19, has never been produced…until now, 92 years later…I can’t know the reason why “Becomes A Woman” was never produced. At this point, the play is of greater historical than aesthetic interest, but there are almost enough good lines, and subtle wit, as well as an intriguing proto-feminist sensibility, to compensate for the parts that are stilted, predictable, and dated.

The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window

 “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” must have surprised Broadway theatergoers in 1964 who had seen “A Raisin in the Sun” five years earlier, not least because most of its cast of characters are white and Bohemian, but also because it is more freewheeling and humorous than Lorraine Hansberry’s tightly plotted and largely earnest story…In light of the work for which she is best known, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” — in turns witty, silly, awkward, erudite and explosive — remains surprising, although not entirely for the same reasons as it was six decades ago. One of the surprises is that it’s threaded with troubling contradictions, an uncertain mix of ahead-of-its-time and out-of-date

Letters From Max, A Ritual

There is so much love that Sarah Ruhl has put into this play, and into the book from which it’s adapted,…and into the relationship between her and Ritvo, that one cannot help but feel moved by the effort. [But] “Letters from Max, A Ritual” is as much a poetry reading as it is a dialogue, and it was frankly hard for me to listen for two hours 

The Seagull/Woodstock NY 

 What is most surprising is not the raunch but how little Thomas Bradshaw has actually changed Chekhov’s play. In The New Group production directed by Scott Elliott, which has some standout performances but is unevenly acted and only intermittently well-paced, “The Seagull/Woodstock NY” occasionally seems fresh and intriguing, but more often feels like an exercise in transposition

Eric Bogosian’s 1+1

a 1930s-like melodrama updated to the Internet Age about a woman’s descent after being betrayed by a scheming photographer,.. It doesn’t feel worth enumerating all the gaps in storytelling and in logic in “1+1,” especially in Act II, which takes place five years later, and presents a series of developments and revelations that largely feel imposed by the writer rather than springing believably from the characters.



an intimate theatrical experience at the cavernous Park Avenue Armory,  where we spend ninety minutes in the day-in/day-out lives of eight characters staying at a homeless shelter in the U.K.  The dramas are small but subtly devastating….There feels little space between the actors and the characters they are portraying, as if they are living this experience. 

Book: A Fine Romance: Adapting Broadway to Hollywood in the Studio System Era

The Week in New York Theater News

Village Theater News

The film studio A24 has bought The Cherry Lane Theater, also in the West Village, according to a deed filed Friday. The studio reportedly bought the 179-seat mainstage venue and the smaller 60-seat theater for $10,026,428. Angelina Fiordellis, who bought the theater for $1.7 million in 1996 and renovated it for $3 million, had agreed to sell the Cherry Lane to the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation for $11 million in 2021, but the deal fell through. Turned into a playhouse in 1924 by a group including no less than the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (who lived around the corner), the theater was an early showcase for the work of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Edward Albee, among many others.

Will Davis has been appointed the new artistic director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, only the third since its founding in 1994 in the West Village. Davis, 40, a transgender male freelance director and choreographer , previously served as artistic director of the American Theater Company in Chicago until its shuttering. (NY Times)

“Funny Girl,” now a huge hit, sets closing on Sept 3. It will have played 599 performances, but only a year of that will be with Lea Michele as the star. It’s obvious the producers think the show would struggle after she leaves (just as it struggled before she arrived.)

Lea Salonga  will appear in Here Lies Love for five weeks from Tuesday, July 11 through Sunday, August 13. She will perform “Just Ask The Flowers,” sung by the character of Aurora Aquino – mother of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, whose assassination ignited the People Power Revolution that ousted Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos from power. After her five-week run, guest stars from the Philippines will take over the role. The musical about Imelda Marcos is scheduled to open on July 20, 2023 at Broadway Theatre for an open run. (My review of Here Lies Love Off-Broadway)

Rock & Roll Man, a new musical starring Constantine Maroulis as the legendary disc jockey Alan Freed, will have its New York premiere at New World Stages, opening June 21st


The 89th annual Drama League Awards will be presented on May 19th at The Ziegfeld Ballroom. Competitive nominations will be announced April 25.
Andre De Shields will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award, 
The Drama Book Shop (Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeffrey Seller, and James L. Nederlander) will be honored with the Contribution to the Theater Award,
Encores! Artistic Director and Public Works founder Lear deBessonet (Into The Woods) will be honored with the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing

The fifth annual Chita Rivera Awards, celebrating achievement in dance and choreography, will take place on Monday, May 22 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place off of Washington Square Park), The nominations will be announced April 28

Several Black playwrights have canceled productions of their works, in some cases after performances started, because of concerns about conditions at the theaters presenting them: Charly Evon Simpson, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Dominique Morisseau, Jeremy O. Harris (NY Times)

Decoding the genius of Sondheim: Six theater pros explain his mystique: John Weidman, Thomas Kail, Montego Glover, Jon Kalbfleisch, Chani Werely, Ethan Heard (Washington Post)

This Week’s Theater Videos

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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