First, the good news:
- The starry cast for the world premiere of Sondheim’s posthumous musical “Here We Are” announced for the Shed,September 28 to January 7, opening October 22: Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale,Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, Jeremy Shamos
The musical features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with a book by David Ives (whose best-known work of theater is probably the Tony-nominated play Venus in Fur, but has also written or adapted the book for half a dozen Broadway musicals. “Here We Are” is inspired by two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.
(An unusual revival of another Sondheim musical is being presented for one night next month at Lincoln Center; see News below.)
2. Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) announced more events in its opening season, including a new series Downtown Sessions, that will present intimate concerts with Tony Award winning artists LaChanze (Oct 1), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Oct. 5) and Ben Platt (Oct 7)
3. “How to Dance in Ohio” will open at Broadway’s Belasco Theater on December 10. In this musical based on an HBO documentary, seven autistic young adults at a group counseling center in Columbus, Ohio, prepare for a spring formal dance. Details in my Broadway 2023-24 preview. See video below of a musical number from the show, along with a number from “Back to the Future,” presented at BroadwayCon’s First Look this weekend,
Last Looks: Camelot, Pi and Peter Pan all ended their runs yesterday. Both “New York, New York” and Grey House announced they will close next Sunday July 30.
New York, New York opened April 26th and will have played 33 preview and 110 regular performances.
Grey House opened June 6; it is closing a little more than a month earlier than scheduled.)
The Week in Reviews
Just too peculiar…some lovely lyrical passages, and some vivid, compassionate portraits…But, despite its allusion to Greek tragedy, the play is largely a dated Southern Gothic nightmare, descending into over-the-top ugliness, rife with stock characters…The passion and vulnerability of the two central characters might be enough to carry us through the weirdness,..But director Erica Schmidt has cast two good actors as Val and Lady who don’t feel right for their roles Full Review
They all look pregnant, their bellies as big as the basketball they’re dribbling …It’s a pointed scene, and a quietly funny one. It’s also close to thrilling, because the basketball playing by the ensemble feels somewhere between authentic court moves..and lively choreography.…Compared to those ensemble moments, the play’s individual stories offer fewer thrills, and sometimes feel less authentic. Full Review
the first-ever collection of its kind..That some of these plays were performed for Deaf audiences in ASL — a visual, three-dimensional language that does not have a written form – makes this collection especially valuable, a glimpse into a world hidden in plain sight that feels like a potentially rich source of new theatrical ideas.
The Week in NY Theater News
As striking union workers for SAG-AFTRA and the Writer’s Guild picket in front of the studio headquarters throughout New York – I spotted one picket line in front of Paramount, and another Warner Brothers – the threat of a strike by some theatrical unions seems less likely now, after a tentative agreement was reached between the Broadway League and IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees…) on “the pink contract, [which] covers about 1,500 IATSE members who work across 45 theatrical shows, with 28 productions on Broadway and 17 on tour.”
Deaf Broadway will present Sondheim’s “Company,” performed entirely by Deaf actors in American Sign Language, on August 2 at 8 PM at Damrosch Park as part of Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City…
Sabbath’s Theater, adapted by John Turturro and Ariel Levy from the novel by Philip Roth about a once scandalously inventive puppeteer who takes a turbulent journey into his past, launches The New Group’s 2023-2024 Season, starring Jason Kravits, Elizabeth Marvel and John Turturro, opening November 2.
After 31 seasons, The Metropolitan Playhouse will leave its longtime home in the East Village and suspend production for the foreseeable future. — just the latest casualty.
“American Theater Is Collapsing. The Federal Government Must Save It.” by Isaac Butler
“If nonprofit theaters are to survive and fulfill their national purpose, it will take far more than cost cutting, layoffs and emergency fund-raising campaigns. Government aid is both necessary and essential, as is our nation’s renewed recognition that the arts are vital…”
Tony Bennett, 96.
After Tony Bennett returned from serving in World War II: “On the G.I. Bill, he took classes at the American Theater Wing, which he later said helped teach him how to tell a story in song.”
This Week’s Theater Video
First Look at BroadwayCon
How to Dance in Ohio
Casey Likes and Jelani Remy perform a number from the new Broadway musical “Back to the Future”