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In Defense of Kong and Offense at Prom. Moulin Rouge on Broadway. John Kander and Lin-Manuel Miranda team up. #Stageworthy news of the week.

This week in New York theater, I seem to have zigged while others zagged, even when it comes to zazz.
To explain:
1. I don’t completely understand the high level of snark about “King Kong.” ( “Ugh,” Jesse Green in the New York Times in a joint review with Ben Brantley, who wrote ““aaaaaaaaargh.”) Yes, as I think I make clear in my review below, I get that this is not a musical for the ages. But who would expect that from a show about a GIANT GORILLA? The original film was beloved because of its special effects.
2. I don’t completely share the outpouring of affection for “The Prom.” (Sara Holdren calls it “giddy, smart, big-hearted” in her review in New York.) Yes, “The Prom” has its pleasures, among them a fun number entitled “Zazz,” (pictured above), a word that one of the Broadway characters claims Bob Fosse used frequently. But the satire seems aimed not just at the self-regarding theater folk but at the “local yokels,” and the razzmatazz upstages, and thus risks trivializing, the homophobic incident, based on a true story, that is central to the plot. This is not the first time serious issues have been used in Broadway musicals to add some heft to a giddy entertainment, but I didn’t like it when they did that in “Kinky Boots,” “Hairspray,” “Mean Girls,” or “Summer” either.

Kander and Miranda?

The latest #Hamildrop: “Cheering For Me Now,” with lyrics and vocals by Lin-Manuel Miranda and music by John Kander, best known as the composer half of Kander and Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret.. Will this now be a new musical force, Kander and Miranda? It’s certainly mellifluous

 

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Blue Wave on Broadway. #Stageworthy News

In celebration of the Blue Wave – which has grown steadily in the week since Election Day — a silly observation: There have been 51 Broadway shows with “Blue” in the title.

I’m reluctant to point out there have been just about the same number with “Red” in the title. I prefer to think of the shows that had both in the title, though it’s been a while –  the 1898 drama “The Red, White and Blue” and the 1936 Cole Porter musical, Red, Hot and Blue,, starring Ethel Merman, Bob Hope and Jimmy Durante, which introduced the song “It’s De-Lovely” – It’s delightful, it’s delicious,
It’s delectable, it’s delirious….

Not silly: Sample Broadway’s Most Entertaining Shows About Serious Social Issues

Week in Theater below: News of the new Evan Hansen, the full cast of Ain’t Too Proud, Fiddler fiddles on, a video taste of Mary Poppins returns. And: Separated at Birth?

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Broadway Sings: Vote! #Stageworthy News.

Today is Election Day! If you live in NYC, find your polling site here.

If you live anywhere in America, you can go to Vote.org for some cool info — like, for example, what’s on your specific ballot.

Below, everybody from the cast of Hamilton to Daphne Rubin-Vega, Laura Benanti and Randy Rainbow to civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis weigh in with some funny, touching, inspiring and annoying messages urging you to take democracy seriously.

Also below,the week in New York theater: November openings, October’s quiz, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Off-Broadway plans after Puerto Rico; Wicked at 15 (Watch the NBC special);

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#Stageworthy News: A Wonderful Week On Broadway. A Hate-Filled Week Off Stage.

This has been a wonderful week for theater – with openings for terrific Broadway shows The Ferryman, The Waverly Gallery, The Lifespan of a Fact. And not just on Broadway: The 21st New York Fringe festival featured such juicy fare as “James Franco and Me” (see reviews below.)

The world outside the theater has been filled with hate – first the mailing of pipe bombs to critics of Donald Trump, then the murder of 11 Jews worshipping in their synagogue in Pittsburgh called the Tree of Life.

But if the theater provides an escape from the ugliness, it also offers an alternative to it. Check out “Nazis and Me,” David Lawson’s solo show at Under St. Marks Theatre about his encounter with hate groups, and  “India Pale Ale,” a play byJaclyn Backhaus presented by MTC at City Center, which is inspired by a previous mass killing in a house of worship, the murder of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.

“We are you and you are us,” the widow of the slain character says in the Off-Broadway play. “What has to change to allow you to love someone whose culture differs from yours? What has to change? What has to change? What has to change?”
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#Stageworthy News: Divas and Feminists. Race and Gender of Broadway Audiences And Theater Authors.

Currently on New York stages are several shows starring beloved actresses that offer decidedly different takes on the role of women in society (see reviews below):
Two reports released this past week also offered a glimpse into women’s role in the theater: as part of the Broadway audience (still the vast majority), and behind-the-scenes (still under-represented.)

Test run: I’m renaming this weekly summary of New York theater news #Stageworthy. Have news that belongs here? Tweet it using that hashtag.

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The Week in New York Theater: Danny Burstein, Corbin Bleu Back on Broadway. Fringe Unfolding.

Theater is often awesome, even when in need of repair, and this week is no different.

 

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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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Kavanaugh Hearings as Theater. Welcome to the New Fringe. Ansel Elgort is Tony. The Week in NY Theater

What stage show could compete with the drama of the Ford/Kavanaugh hearings?

Below: What theaters are doing for the midterm elections; Fringe NYC preview; October openings; September quiz; Kinky Boots announces closing; Birbiglia on Broadway. Spielberg has found his Tony for West Side Story.

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Week in NY Theater: Kavanaugh as Shakespearean Villain. Annette Bening in Arthur Miller revival. Broadway 2018-19 Shaping Up

Shakespeare knew Kavanaughs well: “Say what you can, my false o’erweighs your true”

The 2018-2019 Broadway season, launching in earnest this week with two plays, is shaping up after several exciting announcements. Check out the preview guide

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2018 Theater Hall of Famers. RIP Marin Mazzie. Lear and Mockingbird Casts Complete. The Week in NY Theater

2018 Theatre Hall of Fame inductees:
Actors Rene Auberjonois, Christine Baranski, Cicely Tyson

Playwrights Maria Irene Fornes, David Henry Hwang, Adrienne Kennedy

Director Joe Mantello

Producer James Houghton, posthumously.

Below: Complete casting for Glenda Jackson’s King Lear and To Kill a Mockingbird; highlights reel from Marin Mazzie’s career.
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