Patrick Page is hugging Eva Noblezada on the stage of “Hadestown.” There are two ways to look at this photograph, just as there are two ways to look at the news of the challenges facing the theater. This was her final bow in “Hadestown.” But look at that warmth, that expression of community!
There have been more alarmed stories this past week about the American theater, such as this one in the Guardian: “US love affair with stage faces crisis: ‘Hardest time to be producing theater’” (See more below) But read them carefully, and there is cause for optimism, albeit not full-throated: One is headlined “Theater is (Not) Doomed.” The Guardian quotes an artistic director saying, “There are bright spots and reasons to be hopeful about the future” – including a “recentering” on community and “solidarity” between theaters in the form of co-productions.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews and Previews
I suppose if you knew nothing about Steven Spielberg or “Jaws” or the blockbuster’s three stars — Robert Shaw , Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss – you might still be able to appreciate “The Shark Is Broken” as a kind of Beckett-light pop play about three characters who spend most of their time waiting for something to happen.
But it’s the reflected cinematic glory in this modest stage comedy that surely explains why, four years after its month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, it has opened tonight on Broadway. The production is not an embarrassment. All three actors give uncanny impersonations that sometimes shade into nuanced portraits. The design team does an impressive job with a subtly animated, ever-changing backdrop for the fishing boat of rolling sea and cloud-streaked sky.
The main question, though, is why… Full Review
The Week in Theater News
Casting for Spamalot, opening November 16, 2023 at Broadway’s St. James Theater: Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady Of The Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/ Prince Herbert,Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad
Hamilton is now a video game (AP)
“In the Hamilton Simulator, players use their own avatars as they rub shoulders with the musical’s characters and negotiate through 10 levels set during the Revolutionary War. It starts at the New York docks and the goal is to free the city from British yoke. Appropriately, the music-filled game requires no real money from players.” (see video below)
Broadway newcomer Nichelle Lewis will star as Dorothy in “The Wiz” in the national tour this fall and on Broadway in the Spring of 2024. Lewis, from Virginia, was selected from more than 2,000 submissions.
How theater can be saved (Should it be?)
Provocative essay in the Washington Post by Monica Byrne, a novelist, playwright and screenwriter, that argues: Put artists in control: “Why theater (in its current form) does not deserve to be saved.”
Director and playwright Graham Isador writing in the Toronto Star: “Most people making theatre can’t pay their rent with the work. Actors who book multiple plays a year. Writers with rave reviews. Award-winning designers. These people are performing at a professional level while living like hobbyists, putting together a mishmash of odd jobs outside their art to provide for themselves while anxiously waiting for a next gig that may or may not come.”
In a Variety roundtable discussion of the challenges facing theaters around the U.S. and across the Atlantic, all three participants — Kelvin Dinkins Jr. of A.R.T. in Cambridge, Mass.; Lucy Davies, the executive director at the Young Vic in London; and Martin Miller, the incoming executive director at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. —” identified as many reasons for optimism as they did for concern over the state of industry….the news hasn’t been all bad for these three theater executives, with unexpected successes found particularly with shows that highlight theater as a social gathering and as an event.”
Michael Boyd, 68, former director of Royal Shakespeare Company
Walter Charles, 78, 13-time Broadway veteran (Grease, Sweeney Todd, Cats, La Cage Aux Folles.)
Tom Jones, 95, lyricist, librettist: The Fantasticks. 110 in the Shade. I Do! I Do!.
It took forty years to make a movie of “The Fantasticks” and then nobody saw it (Variety)
The Week’s Theater Video
The Fantasticks, 1964 Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast with Ricardo Montalban, John Davidson, Bert Lahr and the original Luisa, Susan Watson.
from The Shark is Broken