Reframing 9/11, with Theater. #Stageworthy News of the Week

The new performing arts center at the World Trade Center smartly decided to hold its official opening day ceremony on Wednesday,  not today. But if all goes well, the marble cube of the Perelman Performing Arts Center (nicknamed PAC NYC) promises to replace the current recurring images of the World Trade Center site: surely, it’s more eye-catching than the two beams of light meant as an annual memorial on September 11th; maybe it will even push from memory the images of the attack on September 11th, 2001 and of the stark, smoldering ruins afterward.  After all, the 4,896 slabs of marble that make up the PAC’s exterior wall will glow every night. The glow has already made for some striking magazine spreads in Architectural Digest, and New York Magazine, and, a bit oddly,  Vogue.

Inside that cube, the inaugural season, which they announced in June, will feature works of theater that range from a  “Pose”-like version of the musical “CATS to a one-man play by Laurence Fishburne, a new opera by David Henry Hwang to “a genre-defying exploration of justice and forgiveness” conceived by Bill T. Jones.

Its shows begin next week with “Refuge: A Concert Series to Welcome The World,” featuring five separate concerts, two of which are already sold out. In October, there will be separate solo concerts with three Tony winners LaChanzeBrian Stokes Mitchell, and Ben Platt.

Twenty-two years ago today, LaChanze’s husband,  Calvin Gooding, a securities trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, was in his office in Tower One of the World Trade Center when it was attacked. It’s part of a memorial now, a few hundred feet from a new building where performing artists like LaChanze will be creating new memories from now on.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews


Louis Josephson, who is still a student at Juilliard, has composed a competent rock score, full of propulsive arrangements, with soaring arias, duets and ensemble numbers delivered by a young appealing cast of powerhouse singers. On the other hand, the premise is familiar, the way it plays out offers little fresh insight or originality, and neither the lyrics nor the dialogue offer much in the way of subtext or subtlety. Full Review 

The Writing On The Stall 

Caitlin Cook has reportedly spent ten years researching graffiti in public bathrooms, and five years turning the graffiti into songs, which she now has put together for an hour-long show billed as “a one woman bathroom graffiti musical’…[which] doesn’t readily fit any one genre: It’s musical theater, sort of, stand-up comedy, gross-out comedy, anthropology, art history, a jokey kind of feminism. I above all found the show deeply weird  – and that was before it swerved unexpectedly into a personal memoir of trauma. “The Writing on the Stall” made me uncomfortable at numerous times and in numerous ways. Full Review

Two books about Charles Busch and Theater-in-Limbo

Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy

Beyond Ridiculous: Making Gay Theatre with Charles Busch in 1980s New York

In his terrifically readable new memoir, the celebrated actor and playwright often sounds much like his description of Claudette Colbert at an afternoon cocktail party he attended: “She dangled names in front of us like diamond drop earrings.” …But it would be misleading to sum up “Leading Lady” as simply a collection of entertaining celebrity anecdotes and old movie allusions, just as it would be insufficient to characterize Charles Busch as a drag entertainer, or even more broadly as an entertainer, although he is certainly that. Busch is also a theater artist – a careful and consummate craftsman..

For those who want more details about the theater Charles Busch did with the company Theater-in-Limbo, and its meaning for the culture at large, I avidly recommend another newly published book as a companion volume, Beyond Ridiculous: Making Gay Theatre with Charles Busch in 1980s New York, part of a series entitled Studies in Theatre History and Culture. It is written by Kenneth Elliott, a professor at Rutgers University, who was Busch’s college classmate, first New York roommate, and longtime collaborator – actor, director and early producer.

The Week in New York Theater News and Previews

“Mother Play,” a new play by Paula Vogel is coming to Broadway, at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theater beginning April 2, 2024, opening April 25, starring Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jessica Lange and Jim Parsons. For details, check out my Broadway 2023-2024 Season Preview Guide

Broadway Poll: The Fall 2023 Show You Most Want to See

The most popular choices ( before a social media campaign by the fans of one of the shows distorted the results) were, among the six musicals,  “Merry We Roll Along”; among the four plays, “Appropriate” But Broadway shows can be like a certain edible chip; several commenters said they can’t have just one.

Musicals, Plays and Festivals to Take In This Fall and Spring (NY Times)

Fall Preview 2023: 5 Movies for Theater Lovers

Tituss Burgess is joining the cast of Moulin Rouge as Harold Zidler, October 10 – December 17. Eric Anderson, who currently plays Zidler—the part created by Tony winner Danny Burstein—will return to the role December 19.

The Week’s Theater Video

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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