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2017 Obie Awards: Oslo, Band’s Visit, Underground Railroad

Obies logo

Oslo and The Band’s Visit got lots of love at the 62nd Annual Obie Awards, as these two shows have gotten throughout the theater award season. But they had lots of company, with Underground Railroad Game at Are Nova sharing with Oslo the Best New American Theatre Work, a prize usually given just to one theater piece.

The complete list of 2017 Obie Awards below:

Best New American Theatre Work ($500 prize each) 

Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard, Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova)
J.T. Rogers, Oslo (Lincoln Center Theater)

Playwriting

Christopher Chen, Caught (The Play Company at La MaMa)
Lynn Nottage, Sweat (The Public Theater)

Musical Theater

Itamar Moses (book) and David Yazbek (music & lyrics), The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company)

Directing

Arin Arbus, The Skin of Our Teeth (Theatre for a New Audience)
Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World
(Signature Theatre Company)
David Cromer, The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company)
Jack Cummings III, Picnic (Transport Group)
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent (Vineyard Theatre)

Ensemble

Bartlett Sher (director) and the cast of Oslo (Lincoln Center Theater) Michael Aronov, Anthony Azizi, Adam Dannheisser, Jennifer Ehle, Daniel Jenkins, Dariush Kashani, Jeb Kreager, Jefferson Mays, Christopher McHale, Daniel Oreskes, Angela Pierce, Henny Russell, Joseph Siravo, T. Ryder Smith

Lila Neugebauer (director) and the cast of The Wolves (The Playwrights Realm) Kate Arrington, Mia Barron, Brenna Coates, Jenna Dioguardi, Samia Finnerty, Midori Francis, Lizzy Jutila, Sarah Mezzanotte, Tedra Millan, Lauren Patten, Susannah Perkins

Performance

Matthew Broderick, Evening at the Talk House (The New Group) and Shining City
(Irish Repertory Theatre)
Bobby Cannavale, The Hairy Ape (Park Avenue Armory)
Kevin Geer, Sustained Excellence [in memoriam]
Kecia Lewis, Marie and Rosetta (Atlantic Theater Company) and The Skin of Our
Teeth (Theatre for a New Audience)
Heather MacRae, Come Back, Little Sheba (Transport Group)
Amy Ryan, Love, Love, Love (Roundabout Theatre Company)
Pete Simpson, Sustained Excellence
Michael Urie, Homos, or Everyone in America (Labyrinth Theater)

Design

Riccardo Hernandez, Sustained Excellence of Set Design
Dane Laffrey, Sustained Excellence of Set and Costume Design
Jared Mezzocchi, Projection Design, Vietgone (Manhattan Theatre Club)
Ryan Rumery, Sustained Excellence of Sound Design
Scott Zielinski, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design

Special Citations

Anna Deavere Smith, Notes from the Field (Second Stage Theater)
Taylor Mac, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse)

Obie Grants ($4,000 prize each)

Irish Repertory Theatre
Pearl Theatre Company
The Playwrights Realm
The Ross Wetzsteon Award ($3,000 prize)
Theatre for a New Audience

Lifetime Achievement Award

Paula Vogel

The Obie Award judges panel for this season include Village Voice columnist and
longtime Chair of the Obie Judges Michael Feingold, Obie and Pulitzer Prize-winning
playwright Ayad Akhtar, Entertainment Weekly theater critic Melissa Rose Bernardo,
Obie-winning actor-singer Darius de Haas, Village Voice theater critic Miriam Felton Dansky, Obie-winning actress Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Obie-winning actress J.
Smith Cameron,

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Glenda Jackson in Albee! Idina Menzel! King Kong! Summer Theater Begins. Week in NY Theater

Countdown to the Tonys is 20 days, but there is plenty  happening in New York theater right now — other theater awards, news of forthcoming Broadway attractions — and the summer theater season has already begun, with both Shakespeare in the Park and Club Thumb’s Summerworks underway.

Awards

 

2017 Drama League Awards
At 23, Ben Platt of Dear Evan Hansen is the youngest Drama League distinguished performer winner in the organization’s 83 years

 

The 8th Annual Lilly Awards Ceremony, which celebrates women of distinction in the American theater, will honor director Julie Taymor, Denée Benton (of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Micki Grant, Toni-Leslie James, Mandy Greenfield, Madison Ferris (of “The Glass Menagerie”), and Beanie Feldstein (of “Hello, Dolly!). Stephen Schwartz will be this year’s Miss Lilly.  Cynthia Nixon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, andDavid Henry Hwang are set to be presenters at the ceremony tonight at Playwrights Horizons

 

Also tonight: the 62nd Annual Obie Awards, which promises to be live streamed starting at 7 p.m..

 

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Chinas Ogbuagu

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

When a young playwright is audacious enough to commit publicly to a nine-play cycle, the most appropriate response is encouragement. Mfoniso Udofia plans to follow four generations over 40 years of a single, Nigerian-American family, the Ufots. Two of the plays in the cycle, “Sojourners” and “Her Portmanteau,” are now playing in repertory at New York Theatre Workshop, with separate admissions and only one shared cast member. If these two plays are uneven, they offer the promise of an eventually enlightening and binge-worthy family saga that updates the story of Immigrant America.

John Ellison Coulee and Zainab Jah

Venus

Zainab Jah, who made an impressive Broadway debut as a sex slave turned soldier in Eclipsed, is back on a New York stage with another vivid portrayal of an exploited but strong African woman in Venus. Her performance is the best thing about director Lear deBessonet’s highly stylized, colorfully designed revival of this 1996 play by Suzan-Lori Parks — part of Signature Theater’s year-long look back at the work of the Pulitzer-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog that began in November with The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World.

The Whirligig

Julie is young, pretty, literate and dying. At its best, “The Whirligig,” a new play by Hamish Linklater, explores with humor and bite how her terminal illness affects the seven people around her….Linklater…manages to  salvage the play’s odd mix of the forlorn, funny and fanciful, by creating appealing and playable characters, who are portrayed, under Scott Elliott’s careful direction, by a fine eight-member cast.

Week in New York Theater News

After 30 years, Glenda Jackson  will return to Broadway in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, costarring Laurie Metcalf.
Three Tall Women, one of Albee’s three Pulitzer winning plays, is scheduled to open on March 29, 2018.

Jackson’s illustrious, Oscar winning career as an actress — blunt broads,  sexy sirens, and grande dames —  paused for 20 years as she became a successful British politician. She retired as a Member of Parliament in 2015.

Speaking of Albee:

Direct from Australia to Broadway Theater, Fall, 2018: the musical King Kong

Idina Menzel to star in Skintight by Joshua Harmon (Significant Other), in Roundabout’s Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theater, May 31-Aug 26.

Plot: Reeling from her ex-husband’s engagement to a much younger woman, Jodi Isaac (Menzel) turns to her famous fashion-designer dad for support. Instead, she finds him wrapped up in his West Village townhouse with Trey,who’s 20. And not necessarily gay, but probably an adult film star.

Broadway casting directors fight to unionize. They say they are the least protected workers in theater.  

Live Musicals on TV

ABC to broadcast live/animated mashup of The Little Mermaid on October 3, thus joining two other television networks in broadcasting live versions of musical theater. Recently announced:

Fox: A Christmas Story, Rent

NBC: Jesus Christ Superstar)

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, a sequel to the hit film adaptation of the Broadway musical, with the film’s original cast (Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth), aims for July, 2018 release.

25th anniversary Encores City Center season:

Hey, Look Me Over (scenes/song from various musicals that Encores! has not yet revived. “Look for the likes of Mack & Mabel, Greenwillow, Wildcat, and others of their ilk.” Feb 7—11, 2018

Grand Hotel, Mar 21—25, 2018, May 9—13, 2018

Me and My Girl

 

 

RIP William Brohn, one of musical theater’s top orchestrators, who worked on more than a dozen Broadway shows and won a Tony in 1998 for “Ragtime,” 84.

One dead, 22 injured after 26-year-old driver Richard Rojas  (with history of drunken driving) plows into Times Square.

Alyssa Elsman, 18, a recent high school graduate, was visiting New York  from Portage, Michigan

The Whirligig Review: Hamish Linklater’s Forlorn, Funny Play About A Dying Girl

Julie is young, pretty, literate and dying. At its best, “The Whirligig,” a new play by Hamish Linklater, explores with humor and bite how her terminal illness affects the seven people around her – friends, family, and long-ago acquaintances who are all year-round residents of the Berkshires. Linklater is also interested in how each of his characters may be complicit directly or indirectly in her condition, which is exacerbated by her drug addiction.

But the playwright, who grew up in the Berkshires himself, is intent on leavening this realistic trauma drama with elements of romantic and classic comedy, including an almost happy ending. A late scene is so dizzy with revelations of previously undisclosed connections between the characters (many of which the characters themselves were unaware of, or forgot) that it could pass as a parody of a soap opera. (“That’s a lot to digest,” one of the characters remarks.)

Such unlikely coincidences and contrivances might have sunk completely a different production and a different new play. But Linklater, who is best known as a performer (a familiar actor in Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte), manages to  salvage the play’s odd mix of the forlorn, funny and fanciful, by creating appealing and playable characters, who are portrayed, under Scott Elliott’s careful direction, by a fine eight-member cast.

Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can) is Michael Tyler, Julie’s Dad, a theater director and drama teacher who was a recovering alcoholic…until a relapse, apparently caused by Julie’s illness. “That poor gentleman is in a whirligig of grief,” observes Mr. Cormeny (Jon DeVries), a fellow drunk and fellow teacher, though not in the same school, and there doesn’t seem to be much fellowship between them. But Butz — who, like the best New York stage actors, elevates every show I’ve ever seen him in — doesn’t play Michael as just a loser; he’s a humorous and energetic man who has earned his caustic wit.

Dolly Wells is Michael’s ex-wife Kristina, who now has her depression under control, but was more mothered than a mother when Julie was growing up.

Zosia Mamet (Girls on HBO) is Trish, Julie’s former best friend, now estranged, who also is apparently enemies with Kristina. Trish is a young mother now, and married to Greg (Alex Hurt.)

Noah Bean is Julie’s doctor Patrick, and Jonny Orsini is Patrick’s brother Derrick, who is on parole, and has a baffling interest in Julie’s case (baffling until those raft of revelations at the end.) Before that ending, Derrick and Trish – who think they’ve never met before — wind up sitting on a tree branch in Julie’s back yard.

“The Whirligig” shifts back and forth in time between the present and 15 years earlier, so that we learn how they each became estranged from one another. The design team is adept at keeping the places and periods clear, and helping to infuse what on paper would seem an unrelieved dark tale with a sense of wonder.

The Whirligig

The New Group at Signature

Written by Hamish Linklater
Directed by Scott Elliott
Scenic Design Derek McLane  Costume Design Clint Ramos  Lighting Design Jeff Croiter
Sound Design M.L. Dogg  Original Music Duncan Sheik  Special Effects Design Jeremy Chernick

Cast: Noah Bean, Norbert Leo Butz, Jon DeVries, Alex Hurt, Zosia Mamet, Jonny Orsini, Grace Van Patten, Dolly Wells

The Whirligig will be on stage at the Signature Center through June 18, 2017

Venus: Review, Pics

Zainab Jah, who made an impressive Broadway debut as a sex slave turned soldier in Eclipsed, is back on a New York stage with another vivid portrayal of an exploited but strong African woman in Venus. Her performance is the best thing about director Lear deBessonet’s highly stylized, colorfully designed revival of this 1996 play by Suzan-Lori Parks — part of Signature Theater’s year-long look back at the work of the Pulitzer-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog that began in November with The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World.

 

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged

Buy Venus

Topdog/Underdog

Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

2017 Drama League Awards: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Ben Platt beat out dozens of other nominees to snag the 2017 Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance,  at 23 the youngest winner in the League’s 83-year history. “Dear Evan Hansen,” the musical in which Platt stars, received the award for outstanding production of a musical.  Dear Evan Hansen’s director, Michael Greif, received the League’s non-competitive award in directing.

When receiving the award at a ceremony this afternoon, Platt called it “a big fire under my butt!”

 

Outstanding production of a musical: Dear Evan Hansen

Outstanding production of a play: Oslo

Outstanding revival of a musical: Hello, Dolly

Outstanding revival of a play: Jitney

Distinguished performance award: Ben Platt

Non-competitive Awards:

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre: Bette Midler

Unique Contribution to the Theatre: Bill Berloni

Founders Award for Excellence in Directing: Michael Greif

 

2017 Drama League nominations

Guide to 2017 Theater Awards

 

12 Summer Theater Festivals in New York City 2017

Summer in the city offers theater that is cheaper (often free), more cutting-edge and even more abundant than what you can see during the regular theater season — thanks largely to the perennial summer theater festivals. The shows are not necessarily better, of course, and finding the right ones for you can be intimidating, especially among the bigger festivals.

This is the sixth year I’m offering a run-down on New York’s most reliable summer theater festivals (2012,  20132014  2015 and 2016). Below is a list arranged more or less chronologically by the month in which the festival begins. (Several continue through the summer.)  Click on the festival titles below to be taken to their websites. It’s a good idea to check out their Twitter feeds as well.

MAY

Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks

Begun in 1996, this festival has consistently offered three new quality, cutting-edge plays each summer. This  is the 22nd annual Summerworks. @ClubbedThumb

The World My Mama Raised writtenby Ariel Stess, directed by Kip Fagan May 20 – May 30

Of Government, written by Alex Borinsky, directed by Jeremy Bloom June 5 – June 15

What The Constitution Means to Me, written by Heidi Schreck directed by Oliver Butler, June 21 – July 1

The New York Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park

Delacorte

Joseph Papp began Free Shakespeare in the Park in 1962 in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, which was built for that purpose. The two-play summer season usually only offers Shakespeare, but occasionally there will be a Sondheim or other modern classic.

Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

Julius Caesar,  directed by Oscar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater,  with a large cast that includes  Nikki M. James,, Elizabeth Marvel, Corey Stoll and John Douglas Thompson May 23 to June 18.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream directed by by Lear deBessone, with a large cast that includes Annaleigh Ashford, De’Adre Aziza, Kyle Beltran, Danny Burstein, July 11 to August 18

JUNE

Ant Fest

Started by Ars Nova (most celebrated recently for originating Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Ant Fest is, according to the organizers, “four non-stop, throw-down weeks of live entertainment mayhem, featuring fresh material from the next wave of dynamic, indie-theater makers. All New Talent, all the time.”  June 5 to 29. Twitter: @arsnova

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

New York’s premiere eco-friendly/socially conscious not-for-profit arts festival. Twitter: @PCTFNYC. This year’s festival runs from June 14 to July 9.

 

River to River Festival

Held in the downtown business district, this festival has only a handful of what can be called strictly theater pieces, but the hybrids are worth exploring, and all events are free.

Of particular interest this year: HARBORED, En Garde Arts’ new site-specific theatrical experience about immigration, featuring a cast of more than 50 performers. Immigration stories will also be gathered each day from passersby and incorporated into the script that night. June 22 to June 25, Winter Garden.

A MARVELOUS ORDER, a multimedia opera about the battle between city planning czar Robert Moses and civic reformer Jane Jacobs.

Twitter: used to be @R2RFestival, now their parent org, @LMCC  with hashtag !. This year’s festival runs from June 14 to June 25.

 

Ice Factory Festival

Twitter: @newohiotheatre This year the festival at New Ohio Theater runs from June 28 to August 12. Among the seven offerings are True Right, “A reimagining of Sam Shepard’s True West–featuring George and Jeb Bush, as played by two ethnic ladies”

JULY

Hot Festival 

The festival is billed as the longest-running LGBTQ festival in the world, now in its 26th year celebrating queer culture. At Dixon Place, July 5 to July 29.  @HotFestNYC. or @DixonPlace . This year, trans Sri-Lankan American comic D’Lo headlines the festival in “To T, or Not to T.”

Lincoln Center Festival 

This is not exclusively a theater festival, but always includes a couple of theater pieces, most often from overseas.

July 10 to July 30. Twitter: @LincolnCenter 

There are five offerings explicitly labeled theater this summer:

Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century by Improbable Theatre

While I Was Waiting by Mohammad Al Attar, portrait of Syria through one family. July 19–22

Yitzhak Rabin: Chronicle of an Assassination,Text by Amos Gitai and Marie-José Sanselme. July 19

Il N’est Pas Encore Minuit, by Compagnie XY July 19-22

To the End of the Land. The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv / Ha’Bima National Theatre. July 24–27

New York Musical Festival

Some 300 new musicals have premiered at this festival (originally named the New York Musical Theater Festival) since 2004, including “Next to Normal,” “Altar Boyz” and “title of show”

Twitter: @nymf

This year’s festival runs July 10 to August 6, and features 22 full productions, as well as almost as many concerts and readings.

 Fresh Fruit Festival

Celebrates LGBT culture. Twitter: @FreshFruitFest July 10-23

Midtown International Theater Festival

Twitter: @NYMITF July 15 to August 6.

August

Dream Up Festival

Twitter: @TNCinNYCAugust 27 – September 17 at Theater for a New Audience.

New York International Fringe Festival

The New York International Fringe Festival is celebrating its 21st year — by taking a hiatus. That’s right — there’s no New York Fringe this summer. @FringeNYC  Those of us who stay in New York every August in part to attend the Fringe may be looking for summer theater festivals outside NYC, (15 specific to the US in 2017)

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau Reviews: Nigerian American Immigrant Family Saga

When a young playwright is audacious enough to commit publicly to a nine-play cycle, the most appropriate response is encouragement. Mfoniso Udofia plans to follow four generations over 40 years of a single, Nigerian-American family, the Ufots. Two of the plays in the cycle, “Sojourners” and “Her Portmanteau,” are now playing in repertory at New York Theatre Workshop, with separate admissions and only one shared cast member. If these two plays are uneven, they offer the promise of an eventually enlightening and binge-worthy family saga that updates the story of Immigrant America.

Sojourners

 

In “Sojourners,” which takes place in Houston, Texas in 1978, Abasiama (Chinasa Ogbuagu) is a hard-working biology student and gas station attendant recently arrived from Nigeria. She is pregnant, but her charming, unreliable husband Ukpong (Hubert Point-Du Jour) disappears for days at a time, and neither works nor studies. He buys his wife gifts (with her money) that are really for him – most notably a stack of Motown records. He loves to dance, and he loves everything in his newly adopted country. By contrast, Abasiama just wants to finish school and go back to Nigeria. Over the course of the 150 minutes of the play, we see Abasiama meet two characters: Moxie (Lakisha Michelle May), a young, semi-literate African-American prostitute whom Abasiama helps get a legit job; and Disciple, a fellow Nigerian immigrant (Chinaza Uche.) The two comically start competing for Abasiama’s attention and affection. By the end, Abasiama makes a decision that will change the course of her life — and set the course for playwright Mfoniso Udofia’s cycle

As I observed when I saw this play produced by Playwrights Realm at Playwrights Horizons early last year, “Sojourners” is strongest when it offers a glimpse, sometimes humorously, into the immigrant characters’ two cultures: In one scene, Disciple visits Abasiama in the maternity ward, bringing flowers and a teddy bear. “…Stuffed animals,” he exclaims in his lilting accent. “They are American symbols of comfort. I should have brought good food or fine cloth. Doll? What for?”

The new production at New York Theatre Workshop, co-produced with Playwrights Realm, has the same fine cast and the same director, Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, whose past theatrical marathons These Seven Sicknesses and The Mysteries make him seem the ideal choice to helm this kind of project. If “Sojourners” also has the same overlong and unwieldy construction, there is noticeable improvement. It’s not any shorter, but its staging is smoother. Some of the more awkward moments seem to have been modified. The cumbersome set has been replaced by something cleaner and more dramatic. There is a turntable on stage, a black backdrop and a contraption overhanging the stage that looks like a cross between a two-pane window and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It even emits light and features dancing abstract projections. As absurd as it may sound, the NYTW production of “Sojourners” could be a textbook example of the difference an improved design can make.

 

 

Her Portmanteau

 

A portmanteau is a large trunk or suitcase, which is what Iniabasi – the baby born in “Sojourners” – is carrying when she arrives at JFK International Airport from Nigeria almost four decades later, at the beginning of “Her Portmanteau.”

But another definition of portmanteau is a word that combines two other words, such as brunch (combining breakfast and lunch) – and it is an inspired metaphor for the experience of an immigrant, who combines two worlds.

Iniabasi (Adepero Oduye), though born in the United States, grew up in Nigeria with her father Ukpong. She is expecting her mother Abasiama to show up and bring her to her big house in Massachusetts. But instead her younger half-sister, Adiagha, arrives (Chinasa Ogbuagu, a remarkable chameleon actor who is the only one to perform in both plays.) Adiagha takes Iniabasi to her one-bedroom apartment in Inwood. There has been a change of plans. Iniabasi is displeased. In Inwood, the two sisters, who met only once long ago, and their mother, Abiasama (now portrayed by Jenny Jules) confront their past and their ambivalent feelings towards one another. We piece together Abasiama’s life since “Sojourners” – she raised a second family, of whom Adiagha is her eldest — and what has happened to the characters from the first play. There are a few pleasing echoes that are easy to miss; we learn that Ukpong’s love of American dance music, which was largely an amusing irritant in “Sojourners,” has sparked in his (unseen) six-year-old grandchild a love and talent for dance. The title “Her Portmanteua” also holds yet more significance. Iniabasi’s single piece of luggage is the exact same one that Abasiama herself took to America. But what’s inside it is new, a modest surprise, and a touching one.

“Her Portmanteau,” taking place in a single day, is more streamlined and structurally coherent than “Sojourners,” while sharing some of that earlier play’s strengths. Again, there are knowing glimpses of the culture clash that is inherent in immigrant life. Iniabasi is aghast that Adiagha makes the Nigeria dish fufu using Jiffy pancake mix instead of yams. Some 15 to 20 minutes of the dialogue, spread throughout the 105 minutes of “Her Portmanteau,” is in the Nigerian language of Ibibio – the worst of it in telephone conversations. Other shows I’ve attended that are similarly performed in two or more languages have provided captions. That this production chooses to leave its English-speaking audience so long in the dark will prove a challenge for many, as will the African accents. (What does it say about a play when the playwright is in effect suggesting that such a sizeable chunk of the dialogue is not important?) But the challenge at least can be justified aesthetically and psychologically: It reproduces in the English-speaking audience something of the feeling of disorientation that new immigrants feel.

 

 

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

Written by Mfoniso Udofia

Directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar

Scenic design by Jason Sherwood, costume design by Loren Shaw, lighting design by Jiyoung Chang, sound design by Jeremy S. Bloom

Cast for “Sojourners”: Chinasa Ogbuagu as Abasiama, Hubert Point Du Jour as Ukpong, Lakisha Michelle May as Moxie and Chinaza Uche as Disciple

Running time for “Sojourners”: Two and a half hours, including one intermission

 

Cast for “Her Portmanteau”: Jenny Jules as Abasiama Ufot, Adepero Oduye as Iniabasi Ekpeyoung, Chinasa Ogbuaga as Adiagha Ufot

Running time for “Her Portmanteau”: One hour and 45 minutes, no intermission.

Tickets: $73 per play.

“Sojourners” and “Her Portmanteau” are scheduled to run through June 4, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Award Fever! Rylance! Rent! Aaron Tveit in Summer Sondheim! Week in NY Theater

 

Four major New York theater awards announced their winners this past week — and Oslo is doing very well, as is The Band’s Visit, even though it closed Off-Broadway in January.

Awards

Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays in Oslo

(l-r) Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in The Band’s Visit

Lucille Lortel: Oslo, The Band’s Visit

Outer Critics: Oslo, Come From Away, The Band’s Visit

New York Drama Critics Circle: Oslo, The Band’s Visit

2017 Theatre World Awards

2017 Tony Awards – Who YOU Want

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Arlington

With his new play “Arlington,” playwright and director Enda Walsh presents an unusual love story set against a future dystopian society, which might shock New York theatergoers who know Walsh only as the Tony-winning book writer for the charming Broadway musical “Once.” It will be less shocking to those who attended “Lazarus,” Walsh’s collaboration with David Bowie at the New York Theater Workshop in 2015, with which it shares a general theatrical approach. “Arlington” invests more attention on sensory stimulation than clarity or coherence.

Happy Days

Another happy day,” Dianne Wiest exclaims as Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s bleak, comic and compassionate play, written decades before Groundhog Day, but similarly focused on somebody who is trapped in an endlessly repeated day. But Winnie is also buried up to her waist in a mound of dirt. And then, in Act 2, it gets worse for her.

It’s a role, Wiest has said, that is “the ‘Hamlet’ for women….I had wanted to do ‘Happy Days’ for 30 years — I was terrified of it.”

Lindsay Mendez (Helen) and Barton Cowperthwaite (Paris)

The Golden Apple

The Golden Apple, a 1954 Broadway musical, got the Encores! treatment at its most glorious over the weekend – with a sonorous 31-piece orchestra directed by Rob Berman, and a splendid 40-member cast including such go-to musical theater talents as Lindsay Mendez and Ryan Silverman, as well as two thrilling newcomers. It’s hard to picture a more apt musical for the long running “concert series”

Week in New York Theater News

Mark Rylance returns to Broadway in “Farinelli and the King, ” a new ,play by Claire Van Kampen about famed castrato, from Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, running at the Belasco December 5 to March 25
Rylance is portraying King Philippe V of Spain, not the castrato singer who enchanted him.

“Rebecca” producers were awarded $90,000 from publicist Marc Thibedeau, far short of $10.6 million they sought.Both sides claim victory

The Glass Menagerie with will end May 21, some six weeks earlier than planned.

Elizabeth McGovern, best known now for her role in Downton Abbey, will be back on Broadway after 25 years in Roundabout’s “Time and the Conways” Sept 14-Nov 26, 2017. Written in 1938 by J. B. Priestley, the  time-traveling play begins in 1919 Britain, when “Mrs. Conway is full of optimism during her daughter’s lavish twenty-first birthday celebration. The Great War is over, wealth is in the air, and the family’s dreams bubble over like champagne. Jump nineteen years into the future, though, and the Conways’ lives have transformed unimaginably.” The production, the play’s first Broadway revival, will be directed by  Rebecca Taichman (Indecent.)

Rent, original cast

Fox announced it will broadcast two live musicals, A Christmas Story the musical in December, with composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul writing additional songs, and Jonathan Larsen’s Rent (date as yet undetermined)

 

FREE concert in Shubert Alley, (west of 7th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets) June 2, 1 pm of these Broadway shows (so far!)
Aladdin, Anastasia, Bandstand,
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, A Bronx Tale, Cats,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chicago, Come From Away,
Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day the Musical, Kinky Boots,
Miss Saigon, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,
On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan,
The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock the Musical,
Sunset Boulevard, Waitress, War Paint, Wicked
With additional appearances from*: Falsettos, Jitney, The Little Foxes, The Play That Goes Wrong, Six Degrees of Separation, Sweat

Past Stars in the Alley

 

 

 

Playwright Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman will be at talkbacks after Indecent May 16-18

Vogel will also offer a free playwriting workshop at the Vineyard Theater May 22

Summer season at Barrington Stage will feature Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Catch Me If You Can, Grease Live)  as Bobby in Sondheim’s Company (as well as Kunstler, Speech & Debate, Ragtime etc)

Ghostlight Records will release War Paint’s Original Broadway Cast Recording in digital formats on May 26.

The Golden Apple Review: Glorious American Music, Silly Homeric Satire

The Golden Apple, a 1954 Broadway musical, got the Encores! treatment at its most glorious over the weekend – with a sonorous 31-piece orchestra directed by Rob Berman, and a splendid 40-member cast including such go-to musical theater talents as Lindsay Mendez and Ryan Silverman, as well as two thrilling newcomers.

It’s hard to picture a more apt musical for the long running “concert series” at New York City Center, since the score is delightful, a veritable catalogue of mid-twentieth century American music — Copland-like orchestral, operetta, jazz, ragtime, vaudeville, country and get-down blues (including the hit song Lazy Afternoon, which has been interpreted by Tony Bennett, Marlene Dietrich, Eartha Kitt and Barbra Streisand, among others) – all composed by a man, Jerome Moross, who never wrote another Broadway musical. At the same time, the book by John Latouche is a busy, overly ambitious effort to transpose Homer’s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey to the State of Washington in 1900, attempting satire, more often achieving…cutesiness and clutter. Although many have praised Latouche’s lyrics (sample: “Miss Helen is a blue-eyed daisy/If I don’t get her, I’ll go crazy.”) I am surely not alone in finding them inadequate for a full-length, sung-through musical. Possible proof: The original Broadway production lasted about four months. A full-on revival seems unlikely.

And so, it’s left to Encores! to allow us to revel in the seduction of the slutty farmer’s daughter Helen (the funny and mellifluous Lindsay Mendez) by Paris, a traveling salesman who arrives in the rural Washington town of Angel’s Roost (near Mt. Olympus of course) via hot-air balloon. Paris is portrayed by the spectacular dancer Barton Cowperthwaite, who never opens his mouth, speaking eloquently with his torso, hands and feet – part of the eye-catching choreography by Joshua Bergasse. It is up to Ulysses, the always reliable and frequently swoon-worthy Ryan Silverman, to bring Helen back, thus separating once again from his wife Penelope, portrayed by golden-voiced newcomer Mikaela Bennett, who is still an undergraduate at Juilliard.

That’s all just in the first act, and I left out a lot. I don’t have the stamina to go into a detailed description of the second, which takes place largely in the slick city of Rhododendron and takes us through all seven deadly sins for some reason, including an extended soft-shoe routine and a song, “Goona Goona,” by a character named Lovely Mars (the incomparably lovely Carrie Compere), dressed in sultry red, with the lyrics:

 

By a goona goona goona
By a goona goona goona lagoon

We will croon-a croon-a croon-a
We will croon-a croon-a real jungle tune

 

Lovely Mars is playing The Siren – you know, like the Sirens in The Odyssey whose angelic voices lure strong men to their doom? The next song is, logically, “Doomed Doomed Doomed,” although it features, not Ulysses’ men, but a scientist….

 

So….still, I hope they issue a cast recording.

 

The Golden Apple

Music composed by Jerome Moross; Written by John La Touche; Musical direction by Rob Berman; Choreography by Joshua Bergasse; Directed by Michael Berresse

Cast Mikaela Bennett, Ashley Brown, Carrie Compere, Jason Kravits, Alli Mauzey, Lindsay Mendez, N’Kenge, Ryan Silverman, Rasta Thomas, Florrie Bagel, Daniel Berryman, Michael Buchanan, Brian Cali, Max Chernin, Andrew Cristi, Laura Darrell, Dionne Figgins, Hannah Florence, Tamar Greene, Jeff Heimbrock, Leah Horowitz, Monté J. Howell, Jones Jr., Andrea Jones-Sojola , Naomi Kakuk, Evan Kasprzak, Reed Kelly, Bruce Landry, Quentin Oliver Lee, Brandon Leffler, Michael X. Martin, Skye Mattox , Sarah Meahl, Justin Prescott, Lindsay Roberts, Sarrah Strimel, Joseph Torello, Kathy Voytko, and Nicholas Ward

The Golden Apple was on stage at New York City Center May 10-14, 2017.

Dianne Wiest in Happy Days: Review, pics

 

“Another happy day,” Dianne Wiest exclaims as Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s bleak, comic and compassionate play, written decades before Groundhog Day, but similarly focused on somebody who is trapped in an endlessly repeated day. But Winnie is also buried up to her waist in a mound of dirt. And then, in Act 2, it gets worse for her.

It’s a role, Wiest has said, that is “the ‘Hamlet’ for women….I had wanted to do ‘Happy Days’ for 30 years — I was terrified of it.”

Full review on DC Theatre Scene