Oscar Isaac is making his Broadway debut in a last-minute addition to the Broadway season: Lorraine Hansberry’s “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” also starring Rachel Brosnahan (who made her Broadway debut ten years ago), is transferring intact from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a rare revival that reveals a more freewheeling and humorous second play by Hansberry than her more tightly plotted and largely earnest debut, “A Raisin in the Sun.” (My review at BAM)
The play is now the tenth Broadway show to open in April — and the last of the 39 to open in the Broadway 2022-2023 season.
Alex Edelman will make his Broadway debut at the beginning of next season in “Just for Us,” the Jewish comic’s solo play about his effort to charm some antisemites, which ran Off-Broadway in 2021. (My review Off Broadway.) The play will run June 22 to August 19 at the Hudson Theater, with an official opening of June 26.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
Whether or not his fantastical tale of sharing a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger for 227 days on the open seas will “make you believe in God,” as the 17-year-old shipwreck survivor named Pi Patel promises, the stage adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel “Life of Pi” will give you faith in the power of puppetry and in the magic of stagecraft.. full review
About one-third of the jokes land — and most…come out of nowhere, having nothing to do with the story or its characters. But that’s a whole lot of jokes! Indeed, the barrage of jokes dominates “Shucked.” They hit the spot more often than the score by successful country music songwriters Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, which I found memorable precisely once, in the rousing showstopper “Independently Owned,” by Alex Newell, who portrays Lulu, the town’s maker of moonshine. The jokes as a whole are far more engaging than the plot, which is a thin concoction with hints of “The Music Man,” “Urinetown,” and “L’il Abner.” Full review
“This book is dedicated to anyone who has ever been told they were too fat,too short, too gay, too disabled, and otherwise too much or not enough to be in a musical,” writes Ryan Donovan, who was himself a dancer who tried to increase his chances of being cast by adding an inch to his height on his resume. Now Assistant Professor of Theater Studies at Duke University, he argues that Broadway and society at large have made insufficient progress at being inclusive, both in representation and in hiring practices, focusing most of his book on the challenges for fat people, LGBT people and people with disabilities.
Yes, Actors Equity Association has been able to give out an annual Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award since 2007, to such groundbreaking musicals as “Hamilton.” But “Hamilton’s casting does not extend to include fat actors or actors with visible disabilities, and its depiction of King George as fop relies on making male effeminacy a joke (no doubt heightened when played by an out gay actor like Jonathan Groff or Rory O’Malley). Even cultural zeitgeist-tapping musicals like Hamilton fail in one way or another to be wholly inclusive.” Full review
The Week in New York Theater News
Sarah Mantell (1st face in second row) wins Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for their play In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot. Awarded annually since 1978, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is the largest and oldest international award recognizing women+ who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. Women+ includes trans and nonbinary playwrights. Mantell describes In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot as “a play about queer aging, capitalism, campfires and falling in love as the world ends”.
The list of 2023 Finalists for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize included:
Anupama Chandrasekhar (India) The Father and the Assassin
Maryam Hamidi (UK) Moonset
Karen Hartman (US) New Golden Age
Katie Holly (Ireland) Her Hand on the Trellis
Kimber Lee (US) saturday
a.k. payne (US) Amani
Francisca Da Silveira (US) Pay No Worship
Zadie Smith (UK) The Wife of Willesden
Ruby Thomas (UK) Linck & Mülhahn
Actors’ Equity Issues Strike Threat for Broadway National Tours (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Prima Facie,” a Broadway-bound play about a lawyer who represents men accused of assault, then is herself sexually assaulted, was the big winner at the Olivier Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Tonys. (NY Times) Full list of winners (The Guardian)