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Fringe Review Opening Night: Twin Divas Margo and Joan Feud On Stage

“Opening Night” begins with hilariously feuding twin sister Hollywood stars, who are brilliantly named Margo Nightingale and Joan de Tuileries, each presenting what they thought was a one-woman show. They hadn’t noticed the posters promoting the show as a “dual career retrospective.”

Kristina Grosspietsch and Devin O’Neill, the creators and cast of this funny hour-long Fringe show, aren’t content to present the sisters trading insults and trying to upstage one another at the two simultaneous one-woman shows — although I would certainly have been. They create six more characters who are also in the theater that night, in scenes that rapidly alternate with one another.
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Emma and Max Review: Filmmaker Todd Solondz’s Jarring Theatrical Debut About Racism

Emma and Max are the toddlers in the care of a Barbadian nanny, Britney, who is fired by their parents in the awkward first scene of “Emma and Max,” a jarring play about racism written and directed by filmmaker Todd Solondz, making his theatrical debut.
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Fringe Review The Resistible Rise of JR Brinkley. A 1920’s Quack Tycoon Politician Not Unlike the 45th President

Edward Einhorn’s latest play is based on the jaw-dropping true story of a quack doctor who became rich and famous in the 1920s by implanting goat testicles as a cure for male impotence, and then in the 1930s ran for Governor of Kansas.  It seems apt that “The Resistible Rise of JR Brinkley” was the first play in the first full day of the 21stannual New York International Fringe Festival, because it fully reflects both the promise and pitfalls of a Fringe show.
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Lady Gaga Should Write A Broadway Musical; Crazy Rich Asians Should Be One.

Lady Gaga, Madonna, Kesha, U2 and Panic! At the Disco were among the answers to the question: What recording artist or band would you most like to see providing the score for a musical on Broadway?
The question was asked in a contest to win tickets to Head Over Heels, a musical that uses the music of The Go-Go’s. The winner of the tickets, David Ashtiani, happened to pick Lady Gaga: “Her music is fun, relatable, and easy to get into the “beat”. Lady Gaga’s music is so flexible and can be adapted into many different, fun scenes throughout an original script.” (David won not because of his choice, but because his order in answering was selected at a drawing on Random.org.) Scroll to the bottom for more songwriter selections.

There was an alternative question:
What work of literature would you like to see turned into a musical?

The answers to this question were more varied and sometimes obscure. Below are a selection of responses to the literature question, organized alphabetically by title, with links to the recommended books to learn more about them. Producers, are you listening?
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Midnight at the Never Get Review: Tuneful Cabaret Musical, Throwback Gay Love Story

In Mark Sonnenblick’s cabaret-like gay musical, Arthur, a pianist and songwriter, decides in 1965 that he will write songs to his lover, singer Trevor, without changing the pronouns in the lyrics from male to female. This act of defiance gets them a gig at a run-down backroom cabaret in a gay bar called the Never Get, where they put together a midnight act they call Midnight at the Never Get.
That’s the story at the center of the musical opening at the York Theater, at least on the surface. But the tone of the show, for better and for worse, is summarized in a remark that a record company scout says to them after they send out their songs in hopes of getting a recording contract. As Trevor recounts it: “He said Cole Porter had written these songs thirty years ago and better. What was the use in holding to something that was already dead?”
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Nazis and Me Review: A Humorous Jew Riffs on Hate Group Encounters

David Lawson was sent an elaborate cartoon of Pepe the Frog, a symbol of the alt right, and told “anti fascists like you are oven ready.” This was via Twitter shortly after Election Day, 2016. Not much later, his hometown Jewish Community Center in suburban Virginia was spray painted with Nazi slogans. Lawson looked at the Facebook page of the person who had been arrested for the vandalism: The 20-year-old had gone to the same high school as he had. On Election Night 2016, the man had posted: “The White Man saves Western Civilization once more.”

There is little doubt in “Nazis and Me”  that Trump’s election gave organized haters a boost. But those acquainted with Lawson’s shows know to expect something different than just a Michael Moore-like screed connecting the current president to hate.

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Week in New York Theater: A Mortgage for a Broadway Ticket?! Brava Suzan-Lori Parks, Dominique Morisseau. Coming soon: Tina Turner and The Temptations, Hillary and Clinton

A Hamilton ticket on the installment plan — $138 a month for a year.

You can now pay for Broadway tickets under a new Ticketmaster installment plan — monthly payments over a year, at 10 percent interest.

Much of the reaction to this news was not gratitude, but outrage: A mortgage for a ticket? This is what we’ve come to? The people reacting seemed primarily from Great Britain

As Broadway boosters are at pains to point out, there are deals to be had — lotteries, rush, and the occasional ticket giveaway contest…such as the ticket giveaway contest for “Head Over Heels” that I’m holding through Wednesday.
Below: News about Broadway openings for Tina Turner, The Temptations, “Hillary and Clinton,” awards for Dominique Morisseau and Suzan-Lori Parks. Beto O’Rourke, drama critic. Quiara Alegria Hudes: Wounded even by positive reviews.
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For Columbus Day: Christopher Columbus on Stage, from Lope de Vega to Eugene O’Neill to David Henry Hwang

There are statues of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle — although city officials have hinted they want to get rid of it — and Columbus, Ohio and Columbus, Georgia and Columbus, Wisconsin, and in many cities not named Columbus. But Christopher Columbus seems to have virtually disappeared from the American stage.

That’s not the way it always was. The first play about Columbus goes back to the 1500’s: “El Nuevo de Mundo” by Felix Lope de Vega. The first to be staged in America itself was in 1794: “Columbus, or The Discovery of America. A Historical Play” by Thomas Morton. Yet even as far back as 1858, the theatrical treatment was far less than worshipful of the Italian explorer of the New World.

That’s the year that John Brougham is said to have toured a show (starting at the Boston Theatre) whose satirical intent is evident in its lengthy title: “Columbus el Filibustero!! A New and Audaciously Original Historica-Plagiaristic, Ante-National, Pre-Patriotic, and Omni-Local Confusion of Circumstances, Running Through Two Acts and Four Centuries”

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Oklahoma Review: Hip and Homey not Hokey, with Mixed Results

At the scaled-down, reimagined production of “Oklahoma!” at St. Ann’s Warehouse, they didn’t give us the program until after the musical was over – one of the signs that director Daniel Fish sees his version as cutting-edge, and wants us to see it that way too. In a traditional show, they give you the program before the show begins.
“Oklahoma!” has been a traditional show for decades. Yes, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s first musical was considered groundbreaking when it debuted on Broadway, but that was 75 years ago.
Fish clearly felt it time to break new ground. What’s sprung from that broken ground is decidedly mixed.

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The Mile Long Opera Review: 1,000 New Yorkers Singing and Griping on the High Line

 

“Funny how hope changes everything. Funny how hope changes nothing,” a singer chants standing on the High Line overlooking 18th street, as a light in her black baseball cap eerily illuminates her face.
A few feet away, competing with the noise of a construction site, another singer chants: “Funny how construction next store changes everything. Funny how construction next store changes nothing,” while putting his hands in front of his face in a comical expression of annoyance.
Other individual performers nearby, all members of one of four different choral groups, sing how money or sex or tears or “a glass of really good red wine” change everything and nothing. Read more of this post