Almost two years after Stephen Sondheim death at the age of 91, October will see the opening at The Shed of what’s billed as the composer’s “final musical” – “Here We Are” – and the starry revival of “Merrily We Roll Along” reopening in Broadway’s Hudson Theater after a brief but acclaimed Off-Broadway run. They join “Sweeney Todd,” which opened earlier this year at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne.
That the excitement is centered on The Shed, the $475 million arts center that opened four years ago, points to the changing physical landscape for theater in New York. (It might not be a complete stretch to argue that the Hudson is also a sign of the changing times: Although built in 1903 as a Broadway theater, it spent decades as other things – a porno house, a rock club, a conference center – before it reopened as a refurbished Broadway house six years ago.)
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
It’s hard to picture a better cast for this first Broadway revival of Ossie Davis’s 1961 broad, biting comedy about racism in the Old South. As the title character, Leslie Odom Jr., assuming the role originated by Davis himself…must toggle between sounding like a comic mountebank (“I ain’t never in all my life told a lie I didn’t mean to make come true, some day!”) and like an impassioned civil rights advocate (“We want our cut of the Constitution…”) As deft as the acting is, the audience also winds up toggling – between the (sometimes outdated) comedy of the plot and the (often still timely) underlying outrage. Full Review
For all the effort at integrating the stories with the songs, ultimately, “Melissa Etheridge: My Window” is best appreciated as a relatively intimate concert by a rock star who still has it thirty-five years after she first made it big. The music, in other words, likely works better than the memoir for most theatergoers who aren’t already the singer’s loyal fans. Full Review
The Week in New York Theater News
How Complete Was Stephen Sondheim’s Final Musical? (New York Times)
Theater leaders from the Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition, featuring Lin-Manual Miranda and Phylicia Rashad, visited Congress to argue for the STAGE Act (Supporting Theater and Generating Economy Activity), which would provide a total of $2.5 billion over the next five years to aid America’s non-profit theaters. (Washington Post)
Broadway Production Assistants Seek to Unionize (Deadline)
What production assistants do, according to the union: “These hourly employees work as part of the stage management team from pre-production through opening night, doing everything from preparing rehearsal materials to ensuring decisions made during rehearsals are recorded to being extra sets of hands and eyes during complicated technical rehearsals to efficiently running errands that keep the rehearsal productive. Many are early-career stage managers…PAs are among the only Broadway workers without current union representation.”
Juilliard MFA to be tuition free (Hollywood Reporter)
The school received key funding from scholarships and theater producers Stephanie P. McClelland and John Gore totaling $15 million.The program, which was founded by Jim Houghton in 2012, currently totals 35 students, and accepts about 8 to 10 students per year.
Degrees at Yale School of Drama were previously made tuition free in exchange for changing its name to honor its benefactor, David Geffen. The Juilliard will not be changing its name.
More changing of the guard: Thomas Schumacher, longtime president of Disney Theatrical Group, has announced that he will step down from leading the organization. Moving forward, the responsibilities previously covered by Schumacher will be shared by two executive vice presidents: Andrew Flatt and Anne Quart. Schumacher will remain with the company, assuming the new role of chief creative officer. (Playbill)
Variety’s annual Broadway Stars to Watch For 2023 (Only a few of them are performers. One is a directory.)
top row: Julie Benko, Sammi Cannold, Rebecca Frecknall, Nichelle Lewis, Ingrid Michaelson
Clint Ramos, Rise Theater Directory, Rachel Susan, Whitney White, Kara Young