Anti-Inauguration Plans. Hamilton Star Casting? The Week in NY Theater

 

The story of Inauguration Day, which arrives this Friday, has become almost as much about culture as politics. The list of performers who declined an invitation to perform at official Inauguration ceremonies certainly exceeds the list of those who accepted – and several, including Tony winner Jennifer Holliday and Springsteen tribute musicians the B Street Band, first accepted and then, after getting flack for their decision, reversed themselves and withdrew.

Meanwhile, artists are behind many Anti-Inauguration activities, such as the Writers Resist demonstration sponsored by Pen America in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library. Theater artists are most prominently involved in the Ghostlight Project on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. outside theaters in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

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Today is the start of Broadway Week, two tickets for the price of one.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Laura Osnes and Will Swenson

Laura Osnes and Will Swenson

Blueprint Specials

In the first public performance of the four surviving musicals commissioned by the U.S. Army during World War II to boost morale among the troops, “Blueprint Specials” could not be more deftly staged, from the creation of a pop-up theater on the hangar of an actual World War II aircraft carrier (the Intrepid, now a museum) to the casting of both bona fide Broadway stars (Will Swenson, Laura Osnes) and active duty military officers and Armed Forces veterans.

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Mata Hari

We first see Mata Hari in a French prison condemned to death for espionage. The most surprising aspect of her situation in this work is not that her jailer is a nun, Sister Leonide, who swears and smokes. It is that the title character, portrayed by Tina Mitchell, doesn’t sing. That seems unusual for an opera,

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Secondary Dominance

“Secondary Dominance” is a compelling example of my long-held belief that nearly any endeavor, no matter how awful it sounds in theory, can wind up wonderful if it’s done well enough by passionate, creative and talented people.

Sarah Small calls her piece a “multimedia concert in 13 micro movements.” It is an hour long, without a discernible plot or point, without even discernible words in English, and filled with enough familiar avant-garde tropes to keep your newly arrived hipster happy for months…

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Latin Standards

“Latin Standards,” which is Marga Gomez’s 12th solo show — and, she tells us, her “final farewell concert” — is a hilarious memoir, part of this year’s Under The Radar festival. “I’ve been under the radar for 30 years,” she says, after introducing herself as Cuban, Puerto Rican and lesbian: “I don’t want to surprise any out-of-towners….Mike Pence could be here.”

But more than a stand-up routine of topical humor, the show is a coming-of-age tale that pays touching tribute to her father, who went by the stage name Willy Chevalier. A singer, songwriter, impresario, and comedian, Chevalier (born Willy Gomez) was a fixture in the Latin nightclub circuit in New York of the 1950s and 60’s.

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Time of Women

“Time of Women,” a play in the Under the Radar festival based on the true story of three women journalists and activists imprisoned by the Belarusian dictatorship for protesting the fraudulent presidential elections of 2010, differs from most of the previous works by the Belarus Free Theatre that I’ve seen in New York. There is no extensive dance-like movement or elaborate use of theatrical metaphor… But in its own way, “Time of Women” is just as powerful, or even, given the timing, even more so.

Week in New York Theater News

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The Tony Awards, held at the Beacon Theatre last year, returns to Radio City Music Hall for the June 11, 2017 broadcast. Nominations will be announced on May 2.

James Monroe Iglehart

James Monroe Iglehart

Genie comes to Hamilton! James Iglehart, Tony winner for (and the best thing about) Aladdin,  will play Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson starting in April.

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Meanwhile, in the Chicago production of Hamilton, Wayne Brady has been cast as Aaron Burr, prompting Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss to write:

“It’s not as if the show — like many productions playing on Broadway in recent years — needs a celebrity to generate interest or boost ticket sales. …Why did the show’s producers and creative team shift the balance in this show by introducing a high-profile actor into an airtight ensemble of performers who are superbly talented yet far from household names? And why, given all the talk about how much they admire the Chicago theater scene, have these same people not drawn on Chicago’s fine stable of actors for any major role?”

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RIP Broadway and ballet photographer Martha Swope, February 22, 1928 – January 12, 2017

(L-R) Director Hal Prince & composer Stephen Sondheim in a rehearsal shot fr. the Broadway musical "Merrily We Roll Along".

(L-R) Director Hal Prince & composer Stephen Sondheim in a rehearsal shot fr. the Broadway musical “Merrily We Roll Along”.

15 pictures by Martha Swope from 1957 to 1994.

Jennifer Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in a scene from the Broadway production of the musical "Dreamgirls".

Jennifer Holliday singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” in a scene from the Broadway production of the musical “Dreamgirls”.

Lisa Kron and Daniel Zaitchik have been awarded the 2017 Kleban Prizes for writing in musical theater. … Kron, 55, the book writer for the Tony winning Fun Home, won for most promising musical theater librettist. Zaitchik, 36, won for most promising musical theater lyricist.

NYC is giving $2 million to increase diversity to 11 theaters and theater organizations. Recipients: BAM, BRIC, Epic Theatre Ensemble, Harlem Stage, MTC, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout, Teatro, TBTB (Theatre Breaking Through Barriers), TDF

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

The Sweat Broadway cast will be largely intact from Off-Broadway (Only one of the nine may not b come along in the transfer.) The play opens March 26

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Tyne Daly to star in Jerry Herman’s 1969 musical Dear World (based on Madwoman of Chaillot) Feb 25-March 5, York Theatre.

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The Greatest Show on Earth will be no more. Ringling Bros Barnun and Bailey Circus is shutting down in May after 146 years.

 

The Big Apple Circus, the 38-year-old non-profit that has provided family-friendly entertainment on tour around the U.S. has announced it will be selling off its assets.

 

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “is part of an ambitious theater slate at WB, which includes a brewing musical version of “Beetlejuice” — recently seen in New York in a reading directed by Alex Timbers and starring Chris Fitzgerald (“Waitress”) — as well as a “Night Shift” musical and a play adaptation of “Dog Day Afternoon” penned by Pulitzer-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis” – Variety

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The Humans ends its run in NY . Thanks Stephen Karam and cast for proving a straight play that matters can make it on Broadway

Reading List

Inside The Front Page state-of-the art look (words, photographs, videos) of what it takes to put on The Front Page each night. – The Washington Post

Breaking records ... The Lion King, Wicked and Hamilton.

Broadway Blockbusters: Why Theater’s at an All-time High – The Guardian

Five Predictions for the Theater in 2017 – . (e.g. 3. Introspective Theater Is Out, Political Theater Is In) – Theater Mania

Originality versus the Arts

“In the last century, originality has killed one once-flourishing art form after another, by replacing variation within shared artistic conventions to rebellion against convention itself.” – The Smart Set

Northern Kunqu Opera TheatreÕs Victory on Luding Bridge, part of the 2016 Shanghai China International Arts Festival.

Northern Kunqu Opera TheatreÕs Victory on Luding Bridge, part of the 2016 Shanghai China International Arts Festival.

Bridging Cultures at China’s Shanghai International Arts Festival – American Theatre Magazine

 

Spring Guides. Golden Globes as Theater Awards. Meryl Streep’s Speech. Week in NY Theater

goldenglobe-collage“Theater Nerds Everywhere”: Among the winners of Golden Globes Sunday night were a movie based on a play; a musical; and a stage full of theater people.

Viola Davis won a Golden Globe for portraying the same character in the film of “Fences,” for which she won a Tony when Fences was on Broadway.
meryl_streep_071116_florence_foster_jenkins_4c_0“Moonlight,” based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” and featuring Andre Holland, who is on Broadway current in August Wilson’s ‘Jitney,’ received the award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, songwriters of the current Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen, shared a Golden Globe as the lyricists for the song “City of Stars” in LaLa Land, dedicating their award to “musical theater nerds everywhere.”

Meryl Streep made a pointed speech criticizing the President-Elect, and ending with an homage to her friend Carrie Fisher. (Scroll to the bottom for the complete transcript of Streep’s speech, and Viola Davis’s introduction of Streep.)

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Guide to 2017 Winter Theater Festivals

Off-Broadway Spring 2017 Guide

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Broadway Spring 2017 Guide

January Openings

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Tickets on sale for Broadway Week

 

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett

Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett

The Present

About halfway through The Present, an adaptation of Chekhov’s first play, Cate Blanchett, as a Russian general’s widow celebrating her 40th birthday, shoots off a shotgun, dances atop a table, and pours vodka on her head. It is an attention-grabbing moment in Blanchett’s Broadway debut performance – and one of the show’s few unmitigated pleasures…

There are those who are fans of the two-time Oscar winner who will find her performance entertaining enough to obliterate any other concerns, or who have the patience and curiosity to appreciate the production’s complex texture and thought-provoking themes of loss, regret, paralysis, desire, loneliness, fear of change — who will feel good for having experienced Quality Theater.  And then there are the rest of us, who wish it were shorter.

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Lula Del Ray

In this opening show at this year’s Under the Radar festival, a Chicago-based theater company with the completely apt name of Manual Cinema allows the audience at the Public Theater to watch a silent film about a lonely, star-gazing girl in the American Southwest of the 1950’s, and simultaneously to watch the making of that film….The essential charm of the show rests in the marvel of ingenuity on display, the rushing around of the actors and puppeteers and… overhead projector operators, to reproduce manually, on a simple screen placed on stage, the catalogue of modern film techniques – long shots of beautiful sunsets, extreme close-ups of Lula’s expressive face, panning, fade-outs, Dutch angles, tracking shots….Somebody at Manual Cinema clearly went to film school.

Hu Yang as Confucius

Hu Yang as Confucius

Confucius

The strength of Confucius, a 90-minute dance piece featuring 60 performers from the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater, is not found in its efforts to present Confucian philosophy and biography, nor even Chinese history and culture, none of which is especially illuminating. The show’s strength lies in its visual splendor and gymnastic choreography.

The Week in New York Theater News

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Mark Ruffalo has been cast in the Roundabout’s revival of Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” replacing John Turturro, who is said to be leaving due to a conflict in his filming schedule. Ruffalo joins Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht in the play, opening March 16.

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“Escape to Margaritaville,” with the songs of JimmyBuffett songs, starts its pre-Broadway tour in May at the La Jolla Playhouse, and aims for Broadway in 2018

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Jenny Schlenzka, current curator of performance MoMAPS1, has been appointed the artistic director of PS 122, the third person in the post, the first woman.

TaymorAs part of the second annual BroadwayCon, Julie Taymor will discuss The Lion King, on its 20th anniversary year on Broadway, with Whoopi Goldberg, who voiced the character of Shenzi in the film. The conversation happens January 27th.

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Nathan Lane

Nathan Lane

The Front Page, after just 15 weeks, recouped its entire $4.875 million capitalization during the week ending, Sunday, January 1, the first Broadway production of the 2016-2017 theater season to do so

Apple’s next iPhone (iOS 10.3) reportedly to have “theater mode” — button to dim screen/mute audio SO YOU CAN USE IT IN A THEATER

Javier Munoz as Eliza Hamilton and the cast

Javier Munoz as Hamilton

Hamilton’ Hits $105 Million in 2016 as Broadway Rings in $1.37 Billion

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Closing January 15th, The Humans was the best-selling straight play on Broadway in 2016, with $22.2 million worth of tickets sold.

 

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Broadway dimmed its lights, Friday, January 6th at 7:45pm in memory of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

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“Thank you very much. Thank you. Please sit down. Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read.
Thank you, Hollywood foreign press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners and the press. But who are we, and what is Hollywood, anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida and raised by a single mom in Brooklyn.
Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy, and Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem — where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in — no, in Ireland, I do believe, and she’s here, nominated for playing a small-town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

They gave me three seconds to say this, so. An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, compassionate work. There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.
And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, ’cause it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. Okay. Go on with that thing.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood foreign press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.
One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight. As my friend the dear departed Princess Leia said to me once, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

As my friend the dear departed Princess Leia said to me once, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

(Viola Davis’s introduction to Meryl Streep:

“She stares. That’s the first thing you notice about her. She tilts her head back with that sly suspicious smile, and she stares for a long time. And you think: Do I have something in my teeth? Or does she wanna kick my [expletive] — which is not gonna happen?

And then she’ll ask questions. “What’d you do last night, Viola?”

“Oh I cooked an apple pie.”

“Did you use Pippin apples?”

“Pippin apples, what the hell are Pippin apples? I used Granny Smith apples.”

“Oh. Did you make your own crust?”

“No, I used store-bought crust. That’s what I did.”

“Then you didn’t make an apple pie, Viola.”

“Well that’s because I spent all my time making my collard greens. I make the best collard greens. I use smoked-turkey chicken broth and my own special sauce.”

Silence. I shut her down.

“Well, they don’t taste right unless you use ham hocks. If you don’t use ham hocks it doesn’t taste the same. So how’s the family?”

And as she continues to stare you realize that she sees you. And like a high-powered scanning machine she’s recording you. She is an observer and a thief. She waits to share what she has stolen on that sacred place, which is the screen. She makes the most heroic characters vulnerable, the most known familiar, the most despised relatable. Dame Streep. Her artistry reminds us of the impact of what it means to be an artist, which is to make us feel less alone. I can only imagine where you go, Meryl, when you disappear into a character. I imagine that you’re in them, patiently waiting, using yourself as a conduit, encouraging them, coaxing them to release all their mess, expose, to live. You are a muse. Your impact encouraged me to stay in the line.

Dame Streep, I see you. I see you. And you know all those rainy days we spent on the set of “Doubt”? Every day my husband would call me at night and say, “Did you tell her how much she means to you?”

And I said, “No, I can’t say anything, Julius, I’m just nervous. All I do is stare at her all the time.”

He said, “Well, you need to say something. You’ve been waiting all your life to work with this woman. Say something.”

I said, “Julius, I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“O.K. you better do it tomorrow because when I get there I’m going to say something!”

I haven’t said anything. But I’m gonna say it now. You make me proud to be an artist. You make me feel that what I have in me, my body, my face, my age, is enough. You encapsulate that great Émile Zola quote that if you ask me as an artist what I came into this world to do, I, an artist, would say, I came to live out loud.”)

2016, Good Riddance. 2017, Good Luck. Week in New York Theater

“There may be trouble ahead
But while there’s music and moonlight and love and romance
Let’s face the music and dance.”
– Irving Berlin, 1936

After Mariah Carey blamed technical glitches for her disastrous New Year’s Eve performance in Times Square seen around the world, she wrote a Tweet that can serve as a succinct summary both of 2016 and 2017.

Many Americans are nervously anticipating those 2017 headlines. Theater activists, girding for what many see as a year requiring resistance, have announced  The Ghostlight Project, which will be begin with a gathering outside theaters of all sorts across the nation on the eve of the Presidential inauguration. Locally, a new winter theater festival called The Resister Project, with 10 new plays created in response to “a divisive political campaign,” promises to be one of many such efforts.

LOOKING AHEAD

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Broadway Poll: Favorite Spring 2017 show?

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Theater Books to Read in 2017

Broadway Closings

Closed December 31:
Fiddler on the Roof

Closed January 1, 2017:
The Illusionists
Matilda
Something Rotten

 

Closing January 8, 2017:
The Color Purple
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
The Encounter
Falsettos

Closing January 15, 2017:
Jersey Boys
The Humans
Holiday Inn

Closing January 22
Oh Hello

Closing January 29
The Front Page

(If tickets are not available through the box office, try buying tickets here)

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The Drama Book Shop , a favorite theater hangout, begins its 100th year

LOOKING BEHIND

Year-end Theater Quiz

Top Theater Stories of 2016

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Memorable Moments on Stage in 2016

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Ring IN The Old: Broadway stars aged 90 to 104

 

IN MEMORIAM

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Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

The Wit of Carrie Fisher

 

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#ShowDay! The Week in New York Theater

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All but a handful of Broadway shows are performing today, the day after Christmas, even though they usually don’t on Mondays. Twenty-one of them are performing twice today – and one Broadway show is performing three times!

It’s all part of #ShowDay, which is not really a thing yet, but organizers would like the day after Christmas to be as well-known for going to live performances as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for shopping.

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Here’s 2016 Show Day “Grand Marshal” Kate Shindle, president of Actors Equity and in the cast of the touring company of “Fun Home”

The last week of 2016 is a good time to look behind and look ahead

Behind:

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Top (and Weirdest) New York Theater Stories of 2016

Ahead:

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Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide

Week in New York Theater Reviews

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Bright Colors and Bold Patterns

Nobody would ever confuse ‘Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” a gay comedy written and performed solo by Drew Droege, for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Yet oddly, there were moments in this funny show that brought O’Neill’s tragedy to mind.

David Mandelaum as Reb Eli and Shane Baker as Yekel in "God of Vengeance"

David Mandelaum as Reb Eli and Shane Baker as Yekel in “God of Vengeance”

God of Vengeance

Shayna Schmidt as Rifkele and Melissa Weisz as Manke in "God of Vengeance"

Shayna Schmidt as Rifkele and Melissa Weisz as Manke in “God of Vengeance”

What’s most interesting about the century-old play “God of Vengeance” – and, let’s face it, the reason why a new production of it is opening, at La MaMa – is that it inspired “Indecent,” an Off-Broadway hit by Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman that is transferring to Broadway in the Spring. “Indecent,” the backstage story of Sholem Asch’s controversial play, is a sweeping tale taking place on two continents over 50 years, packed full of characters, with deft stagecraft and smartly choreographed musical numbers.

The New Yiddish Rep’s production of “God of Vengeance” itself is not sweeping. There are no musical numbers. This is not the 1922 Broadway production, which was in English and resulted in criminal prosecutions for obscenity, the focus of Vogel’s play. The play at La MaMa is the Yiddish version that Asch wrote in 1906, “Got Fun Nekome.”

Week in New York Theater News

AP’s Entertainer of the Year – Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Miranda was virtually everywhere in popular culture this year — stage, film, TV, music and politics, while engaging on social media as he went. ”

Wells Fargo Wagon, using the Music Man (whose central character is a con man) http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/wells-fargo-wagon/3112633

 

Raul Esparza sings The Flag Song, cut from Assassins

 

 

Best and Worst of 2016. Hamilton High. Gyllenhaal and Sondheim launch new Broadway theater.

There IS still time left to do holiday shopping for theater lovers. There are also plenty of shows to see this holiday week: Today is the beginning of the Christmas week schedule for Broadway

With no more major New York theater openings until next year, it’s not too early to assess theater in 2016, both the best and the worst.

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Top Ten Lists of Top Ten Theater in 2016

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Favorite New York stage performances of 2016

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Poll: Worst show of 2016

Hamilton 2.0

Brandon Victor Dixon as Aaron Burr

Brandon Victor Dixon as Aaron Burr

Starting next week, not a single original lead will still be performing in Hamilton on Broadway.  My take on the new Broadway cast, with 14 new production shots and a look at the five announced replacement cast members to come.

(See below for more on the matinee I attended with 1,300 high school students.)

Week in New York Theater Reviews

David Oyelowo as Othello and Daniel Craig as Iago

David Oyelowo as Othello and Daniel Craig as Iago

Othello

While the “Othello” at the New York Theatre Workshop can be uncomfortable and even annoying, it is impossible for me to dismiss Sam Gold’s often startlingly effective production, even when David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig’s ultimately thrilling performances are initially in danger of being upstaged by the lighting and the seats.

Click here to see nine photographs of the production

Week in New York Theater News

A scene from "Sunday in the Park with George" presented by New York City Center on October 24, 2016 with Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Book by James Lapine Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (George Seurat) and Annaleigh Ashford, Dot, his mistress Phylicia Rashad, an Old Lady Zachary Levi- Jules, another artist, tall thin Carmen Cusack, Wife of Jules, red dress Phillip Boykin, Boatman-in cap, grey uniform Brooks Ashmanskas, Mr.- American Gabriel Ebert, Claybourne Elder, Jordan Gelber, Lisa Howard, Liz McCartney, Ruthie Ann Miles, Solea Pfeiffer, Gabriella Pizzolo, and Lauren Worsham Credit: Stephanie Berger

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1984 “Sunday in the Park with George,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford, which was presented by New York City Center on an October weekend, will launch the newly renovated Broadway house, the Hudson Theater, which hasn’t been used as a Broadway theater for decades.

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“Sunday in the Park with George,” directed by Sarna Lapine (the niece of the show’s book writer James Lapine), begins previews Feb. 11 ahead of a Feb. 23 opening at the Hudson Theater. The show’s ten-week run is scheduled to end April 23. In the role originated by Mandy Patinkin, Gyllenhaal plays pointillist painter George Seurat in the show’s first act, and then a 1980s New York artist in the second act. Annaleigh Ashford portrays various characters in a part originated by Bernadette Peters.

 

The Hudson Theatre

It was announced almost exactly a year ago that the Hudson, built on 44th St. in 1903, and converted in 1994 for conferences, will reopen as the 41st Broadway theater.

The boxed of a set. In the playing area are Rachel Brosnahan as Desdemona, Daniel craig as Iago, Finn Wittrock as Cassio, David Oyelowo as Othello.

The boxed of a set. In the playing area are Rachel Brosnahan as Desdemona, Daniel craig as Iago, Finn Wittrock as Cassio, David Oyelowo as Othello.

There is talk of Othello transferring to a Broadway theater. Would they really turn one into a military barracks?

 

charliechocolatefactorycast

The full cast has been announced for “Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Christian Borle (Willy Wonka) will be joined by a cast of 35 that includes John Rubinstein as Grandpa Joe, Emily Padgett as Mrs. Bucket, Kathy Fitzgerald as Mrs. Gloop, F. Michael Haynie as Augustus Gloop, Ben Crawford as Mr. Salt, Emma Pfaeffle as Veruca Salt, Alan H. Green as Mr. Beauregard, Trista Dollison as Violet Beauregard, Jackie Hoffman as Mrs. Teavee, Michael Wartella as Mike Teavee and introducing Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust and Ryan Sell making their Broadway debuts as Charlie Bucket, with Yesenia Ayala, Darius Barnes, Colin Bradbury, Jared Bradshaw, Ryan Breslin, Kristy Cates, Madeleine Doherty, Paloma Garcia-Lee, Stephanie Gibson, Talya Groves, Cory Lingner, Elliott Mattox, Monette McKay, Kyle Taylor Parker, Paul Slade Smith, Stephen Carrasco, Kristin Piro, Amy Quanbeck, Michael Williams, and Mikey Winslow.

How Far I’ll Go, from Moana, by Lin-Manuel Miranda

There is talk of Othello transferring to a Broadway theater. Would they really turn one into a military barracks?

High school students at Hamilton

Some 1,300 New York City public high school students attended a Wednesday matinee performance of “Hamilton,” the sixth of 15 such performances planned for the school year, in a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation,  the NYC Department of Education and Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which developed a Hamilton history curriculum taught before the students attend the show.

Hamilton cast members (left to right) Nik Walker, Neil Haskell, Rory O'Malley, Roddy Kennedy, Quinton Johnson speak to 1,300 New York City public high school students before a matinee performance of "Hamilton"

Hamilton cast members (left to right) Nik Walker, Neil Haskell, Rory O’Malley, Roddy Kennedy, Quinton Johnson speak to 1,300 New York City public high school students before a matinee performance of “Hamilton”

Included in the day-long excursion were performances by students from 14 of the 17 schools. They also heard a panel discussion with five cast members: Nik Walker, Neil Haskell, Rory O’Malley, Roddy Kennedy, and Quinton Johnson.

On Broadway at Last. The Week in New York Theater

nottage-and-vogel

Two hit Off-Broadway plays on my Top 10 list for 2016 are transferring to Broadway in the Spring, written by two of the most respected women playwrights in America — Pulitzer Prize winners Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel — both of whom, incredibly, are making their Broadway debuts. (Scroll to “Week in New York Theater News” for details.)

My top 10 favorites in 2016

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There’s still time: Holiday Gifts for Theater Lovers 2016

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How about getting your theater loving loved ones (or yourself) one of the 50 best plays of the past 100 years?

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Rancho Viejo

Rancho Viejo

“Rancho Viejo” is largely a tease of a play that is three long hours full of deliberate banality. The play, with a stellar cast portraying nine characters plus a dog, is subtitled “a suburban sprawl.” It mocks, or perhaps just reproduces, the desultory rhythms, affluent ennui and existential anxiety and loneliness of middle class, middle aged California suburban life.

Tiny Beautiful Things for calendar

Tiny Beautiful Things

“Tiny Beautiful Things,” a stage version of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling collection of advice columns, inspires such strong emotional reactions that the awkward set-up winds up not mattering much.

“A Bronx Tale”…tells a story that its author, Chazz Palminteri, says is true: He really did witness a mob killing as a kid in the Bronx and kept quiet about it, winning over the local mobster….But the musical seems based less on a true story than on other Broadway musicals… Alan Menken’s score, a pleasing if generic mix of doo-wop and Motown and Broadway ballads, manages to make “A Bronx Tale” feel like an old jukebox musical, even though all of the songs are original and none of them likely to become hits.

(l-r) Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk

(l-r) Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk

The Band’s Visit

The members of the creative team behind “The Band’s Visit,” a delightfully low-key musical starring a memorably paired Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, have taken a 2007 Israeli film that is off-beat, and supplied their own beat…David Yazbek has come up with a terrifically tuneful Middle Eastern-inflected score….(They) keep the deadpan drollery of the film, but also produce through the individual Israelis and Egyptians alike a collective portrait of yearning.

In Transit1

In Transit

“In Transit” is the first a cappella musical on Broadway, and the rich harmonies and rhythmic beatboxing of a cappella evangelist Deke Sharon’s arrangements reveal the human voice as the most flexible of musical instruments. Unfortunately, the freshness of the voice-only orchestra doesn’t completely compensate for the flat familiarity of much else in the musical…”In Transit” features 11 appealing and accomplished performers portraying some 40 subway-riding New Yorkers….Luckily, “In Transit” has several assets that help us try to put aside its bland stories.

Week in New York Theater News

Sweat 2

Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, currently at the Public Theater, is moving to Broadway! It opens March 26 at Studio 54. (My review of Sweat, which I listed as one of my top 10 for the year.)  It will be the first play on Broadway for Nottage, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ruined,” “Intimate Apparel,” “By The Way Meet Vera Stark,” and a dozen more.

Indecent 11 Adina Verson and Katrina Lenk

Paula Vogel’s Indecent will open on Broadway April 18 at the Cort. A hit when it was presented at Off-Broadway’s Vineyard Theater (my review), it will mark the first play on Broadway by Vogel, the author of the Pulitzer-winning “How I Learned to Drive,” “The Baltimore Waltz” and more than a dozen more. A renowned teacher of playwriting, her students have included Sarah Ruhl,  Quiara Alegría Hudes, Nilo Cruz– and Lynn Nottage.

Harold Prince in Bloomberg

Much-delayed “Prince of Broadway,” celebrating Hal Prince’s work, will play at MTC’s Broadway theater, the  Samuel J. Friedman, in the summer 2017.

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Best Musical Theater Album Grammy nominations

Bright Star

The Color Purple

Fiddler on the Roof

Kinky Boots, London

Waitress

David Malloy, creator of and Pierre in

David Malloy, creator of and Pierre in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”

Dave Malloy, the talented composer and creator of  Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, has composed a new musical.  Beardo will run at St. John’s Lutheran Church from February 3-February 26.

Great Comet

Great Comet

Malloy will also appear occasionally in the role of Pierre, which he originated, and which is now performed by Josh Groban. Groban announced this week he has extended his stay in the show until July 2,.

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Broadway says goodbye to Edward Albee

Anastasia producers sued, accused of plagiarism

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Profile of TodayTix founders Merritt Baer and Brian Fenty, two theater geeks who took notice of a fact about Broadway: Up to 19 percent of tickets remain unsold annually “roughly $300 million of unsold inventory.”

Click here for discount tickets to the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

1473804899-christmas_spectacular_radio_city_rockettes_tickets

Harry Potter Kicks Out Paramour. The Trump Effect. Lin-Manuel Inc. Week in NY Theater

The world may feel as if it’s coming to an end (see The Trump Effect, below), but the future looks promising for the theater, even in the few weeks remaining of this year, with several intriguing shows still to open (December theater openings) – and that doesn’t even count Hairspray Live on Wednesday.

Or La La Land, which opens in movie theaters on Thursday

Or the 1966 rediscovered Glass Menagerie starring Shirley Booth on TCM on Thursday (See New York Theater News below.)

Did you take the November New York Theater Quiz yet?

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The Trump Effect

It’s been almost four weeks since Election Day, but those who didn’t support the winner – including much of the theater community – remain in shock. One manifestation of this, as I write in an essay for HowlRound, is in a changed perception of what’s happening on stage at nearly every show since then, from “Master Harold….and the boys” to “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” and even “Sweet Charity.” (Also included in the article are links to reactions by a variety of critics and theater artists.)

Theater artists have begun to mobilize, such as the newly formed Broadway Advocacy Coalition which on Sunday night held a combination concert and conference entitled “The Invitation: The American Hangover.”

Here is Brandon Victor Dixon’s appearance at the event, which was held in an auditorium at Columbia University:

Also presenting at the event were performers Ben Vereen and Condola Rashad, and Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori, who revealed that she’s taking courses at the law school.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

The song "You Will Be Found" from "Dear Evan Hansen"

The song “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen”

Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen” has changed now that it’s on Broadway, in ways that make it an even more affecting musical. Ben Platt’s performance, impressive from the get-go, is even better. But what’s changed the most is the world outside the theater, turning the story of a lie that gets out of hand into something more realistic and unfortunately more relevant…

The Illusionists

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For its third annual holiday appearance on Broadway, The Illusionists, a variety showcase for a rotating group of magicians and stunt performers, has a new subtitle, “Turn of the Century,” which may be an attempt to spin overly familiar acts as vintage classics…Luckily, The Illusionists also includes Justo Thaus, aka The Grand Carlini — who executes some equally antediluvian tricks involving a little red ball but at least does it using marionettes — and Jonathan Goodwin, who is dubbed The Daredevil.

Emily Rohm

Emily Rohm

Ride The Cyclone

“Ride the Cyclone” begins with six teenagers from the high school choir of a small Canadian town dying on a roller coaster called the Cyclone. Then, one by one, we hear their stories – or, more accurately, we get a show-stopping musical number out of each one of them. If the musical feels largely derivative, it features an appealing, talented cast, a dozen witty, energetic songs in a variety of popular styles, and a spectacular design for such a small-scale show. Although the characters are dead, that doesn’t stop them from being fun and funny, albeit in a familiar way. Viewers might immediately think of “Glee,” or any number of peppy musical comedies. But I thought of Thornton Wilder….

Week in New York Theater News

 

lyric-marquee-with-paramourAlthough there was some confusion due to a misleading press release put out by Cirque de Soleil, the real story is that the owners of the Lyric, Ambassador Theatre Group, aka ATG, plan to renovate the Lyric in hopes of its housing in 2018 “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” now playing to sold-out audiences at the Palace in London’s West End. ATG is therefore kicking out “Paramour” in April, 2017.

It’s unclear whether Paramour will be able to find another Broadway theater that’s open and suits its needs. Paramour was critically panned when it opened in May, and, while it often grosses close to a million dollars a week, that represents little more than half of its potential, and it has among the lowest percentage of seats filled; the Lyric, as presently configured, is the largest house on Broadway, with more than 1,900 seats. (The second largest is the Gershwin, where Wicked consistently ranks among the highest attended Broadway shows.) The aim of the renovation is in part to reduce the number of seats.

Jersey Boys Drew Seeley Nick Dromard Matt Bogart Mark Ballas

“Jersey Boys” creators found guilty of copyright infringement in lawsuit brought by widow of ghost writer.

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The Humans will close on Broadway on January 15, 2017. Come From Away had already announced that it will begin performances at Schoenfeld (where The Humans is playing) on February 18. The Humans will launch a national tour next November.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a “ticket bot bill” making it a crime for scalpers to use computer software to purchase tickets

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Fifty years to the day after it was first broadcast, the famously “lost” 1966 TV production of  The Glass Menagerie starring Shirley Booth as Amanda, Hal Holbrook as Tom, Barbara Loden as Laura and Pat Hingle as the gentleman caller has been found and restored, and is scheduled to air Thursday, December 8 on TCM. Of note, it was directed by British director Michael Elliott, who is the father of Marianne Elliott, the director of “War Horse” and “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The first TV version of Tennessee Williams play was in 1950, starring Jane Wyman as Laura, Kirk Douglas as the Gentleman caller, Gertrude Lawrence as Amanda, and Arthur Kennedy as Tom.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Busy

Good news/bad news. Good news: Hamilton grossed a record-breaking $3.3 million (Take that, #BoycottHamilton!) Bad news: The top ticket price was $998

hamiltonmixtape

The Hamilton Mixtape was released this past week.

The day before, there was a Hamilton Mixtape concert livestreamed  from the Richard Rodgers Theater, featuring QuestLove of The Roots

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and his bandmate Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter; Joell Ortiz (who sang “My Shot” with Black Thought), Regina Spektor (“Dear Theodosia”)

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Andra Day (“Burn”)

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Ashanti with Ja Rule (“Helpless”)

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Three observations about the  concert

1. longest #Ham4Ham ever

2. shortest #rapconcert ever

3. More women proportionally than in the musical

(To learn more about the books, and/or buy them, check out 3 Book Set of The Kingkiller Chronicle Series (The Name of the Wind, Wise Man’s Fear and The Slow Regard of Silent Things))

 

Click here for discount tickets to the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

1473804899-christmas_spectacular_radio_city_rockettes_tickets

Broadway vs. The West End. Phantom at 12,000. Week in New York Theater

curtain-up-1-lion-king-detailYes, they say interval what we say intermission, they call stalls what we call orchestra seats, they eat ice cream in the theater and we certainly do not.  But audiences on Broadway and in the West End see many of the same shows. Indeed, 19 individuals have won both Tony and Olivier Awards for the same role in the same production, according to Curtain Up, an exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. That’s one of the several tidbits at the exhibition exploring the similarities and differences between the New York and London commercial theater districts. The excuse for the exhibition is that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Tony Awards and the 40th anniversary of the Oliviers, but, really, any excuse will do to see up close, for example, the costumes for The Lion King, which was Disney’s second theatrical adaptation both in New York and London. The free exhibition runs through June 30, 2017.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

 

Thanksgiving, the Broadway way

thehumansthanksgiving

Holiday gifts for theater lovers

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Week in New York Theater Reviews

Emily Padgett, Sutton Foster, Asmeret Ghebremichael

Emily Padgett, Sutton Foster, Asmeret Ghebremichael

Sweet Charity

This musical about a “dance hall hostess” who is always looking for love but never finding it has a book by Neil Simon is dated and improbable, with a series of comic set pieces that only occasionally land. But its score by Cy Coleman holds up. The choreographer Joshua Bergasse, the spot-on five-piece band, and the design team all work together to scale down this big Broadway musical appropriately. Best of all, the performances are terrific. Few regular theatergoers would be surprised by the charmingly daffy portrayal of Charity by Sutton Foster..

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This Day Forward

Nicky Silver’s new play… we’re back again in Silverland — a gay man who has trouble with relationships must deal with his selfish, acerbic mother, who regrets her unhappy marriage and resents her children…the playwright once more creates a play that deftly mixes funny and dark.

Michael Urie and Robin de Jesus

Michael Urie and Robin de Jesus

Homos, or Everyone in America

It might seem as if the creative team behind “Homos, or Everyone in America,” a fabulous and fragmented look at six years of a gay relationship, has put up barriers between the audience and the story…But as it turns out, the experiments in form, language and design do not get in the way of appreciating what’s strongest about the play: The central relationship is believable, and engrossing. This is in large measure because Michael Urie and Robin De Jesus are terrific actors, and also because the playwright is bluntly honest in exploring the range of emotions involved in any relationship.

Week in New York Theater News

Janet McTeer as La Marquise de Merteuil Liev Schreiber as Le Vicomte de Valmont

Les Liaisons Dangereuses with Liev Schreiber and Janet McTeer, is closing January 8, 2017, two weeks earlier than scheduled.

PhantomTristaMoldovanandPanaro1

Phantom of the Opera marks its 12,000th performance tonight, November 28 at 8:00 PM at The Majestic Theatre. It has been the longest-running Broadway show for more than a decade, drawing an audience of some 17 million people and grossing more than $1 billion.

Retailers are entering into partnerships with Broadway shows for mutual promotion.

Bloomingdale’s has outfitted the dressing room for Dear Evan Hansen

Brooks Brothers dressed the male actors of Falsettos on opening night.

Ann Taylor featured the creative team of Waitress in photos, video interviews and a panel discussion in its store

Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, by Kathie Lee Gifford

Betsy DeVos, appointed Secretary of Education, was lead producer with her husband of Kathie Lee Gifford’s 2012 musical Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson

 

From obituary

She grew up in poverty on a tobacco farm near Owensboro, Ky. By the time she was 4, “my mother would send me to the store to get groceries, and they’d give them to me if I would sing.” At 17, she moved to New York to study acting and singing, and was cast in her first Broadway show a year later.

fritz-weaver

Fritz Weaver, 21-time Broadway veteran, dies at age 90. A Tony-winning actor and a Shakespearean, he was also a familiar face in movies and on TV — not, apparently, happily. “When you play the great roles, you get spoiled and think you’ll have a whole career playing nothing but great roles, and of course you can’t…You play a lot of junk most of the time.”

moana-and-miranda

“..I remind myself Vincent van Gogh died without having sold a single painting. Art is not measured by the trappings”~ Lin-Manuel Miranda, in interview when asked about his score for the Disney film Moana, about his possible EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. He so far has all but the Oscar.)

(Actually, although it doesn’t take away from Miranda’s point, van Gogh did sell at least one painting during his lifetime — The Red Vineyard. van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27, and died when he was 37.)

theredvineyardbyvangogh

Trump vs. Hamilton. Great Comet and #FairWageOnstage Win and Win and Win. The Week in NY Theater

dixonasburr2

Brandon V. Dixon as Aaron Burr, the nation’s third vice-president. Dixon delivered the curtain speech to Pence.

When President-elect Donald Trump Tweeted this week “The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” it was part of his eruption against the cast of Hamilton for directly addressing Vice President-elect Mike Pence during the curtain call of the Friday night performance that Pence attended. (Full story here.)

Trump’s description of theater elicited invigorated response from theater people, such as Washington Post critic Peter Marks:

Maybe by “safe and special” he means the theater is supposed to be docile, an innocuous landscape filled exclusively with chorus girls and holiday pageants.
But let’s be clear: “Safe” theater is dead theater. Conflict is what drives drama, and sometimes, emotions in that public space become intense and things get messy.

See also director Leigh Silverman’s inspiring description of theater, at the bottom of this page. (My two cents: Anybody who can call theater a safe space hasn’t been to a Taylor Mac show.)

curtain-call

Curtain call speech

Some had questions about Trump’s attack:
Was he mocking those who talk about college campuses as safe spaces, as some commentators have suggested?
Was he executing a diversionary tactic, as others maintain, on a day when he agreed to settle the Trump University fraud case against him for $25 million, a case he said he would never settle?
Is this a preview to a presidency that will attempt to chill free speech?
Whatever the answers, Trump’s attacks have ratcheted up the attention to a musical that had already become a cultural fixture way beyond Broadway.

Having offered his definition of theater as a whole, Trump this morning became a theater critic with yet another Tweet:

Trump has riled up his supporters, causing the hashtag #BoycottHamilton to trend on Twitter – and be mocked by Hamilton fans who expressed hope this would mean ticket prices would go down.

The irony of Hamilton being thrust into the political debate is that the musical has been praised by liberals and conservatives alike – arguably one of the few things that people across the political spectrum could agree on was their admiration for the show about the Founding Father on the ten-dollar bill. Why else would a conservative like Mike Pence want to attend in the first place?

In a further irony, Mike Pence, silent about “Hamilton” on Twitter, talked about it in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News this morning:

“Well, first off, my daughter and I, and her cousins really enjoyed the show Hamilton,” Pence replied. “It’s just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there. When we arrived, we heard a few boos, and we heard some cheers, and I nudged my kids and reminded them: That’s what freedom sounds like. But at the end, I did hear what was said from the stage, and I can tell you, I wasn’t offended by what was said. I’ll leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it…”

Relevant articles from my archives:

Everything Hamilton

Hamilton 2.0: Meet Javier Munoz, Brandon Victor Dixon Et Al.

Theater Etiquette: Curtain Calls. Rude to Leave Early?

Thanksgiving Week Schedule (and Recommendations)

The turkey float in the Thanksgiving Day parade

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

greatcomet8

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

An opera with an unwieldy title based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace seemed an unlikely crowd-pleaser, but I was thrilled when I saw it Off-Broadway, first at Ars Nova in 2012, and again in a circus tent in 2013. When they announced a Broadway run, however, I wondered how they could possibly pull it off.

They’ve done it! Now installed in the wondrously transformed Imperial Theater on Broadway, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is extraordinary, the freshest, most inviting show on Broadway this season. Great Comet is especially awesome in its stagecraft, as well as in its music, and in its performances. The large, exciting cast includes nearly two dozen who are making their Broadway debuts, including Denee Benton and Josh Groban as the titular characters….Director Rachel Chavkin and set designer Mimi Lien in particular deserve kudos for staging on Broadway something very close to the kind of immersive theater that’s lately been intriguing theatergoers all over the world – everywhere but Broadway, until now.

PARTY PEOPLE 1

Party People

“Party People,” a look at the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, is powerful and intelligent documentary theater — although the documentary theater part struggles for attention amidst all the other elements of this lively, sprawling, overlong play/musical/multi-media hip-hop performance art piece….“Party People” is full of intriguing historical tidbits, exciting choreography, rhythmic singing and chanting, clever spoken word poetry, stirring speeches, galvanizing fist-pumping, suspenseful encounters and poignant moments – too full, actually.

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Othello the Remix

The question hanging over Othello The Remix, 80 minutes of often entertaining and inventive raps written, composed, directed by and co-starring the Q Brothers, is how much it has to do with Shakespeare’s tragedy…It certainly works as a fast-paced rap concert, with dramatic lighting and a fine dj spinning while four delightful performers spit out witty couplets and  execute synchronized choreography.

Roslyn Ruff and Daniel J. Watts

Roslyn Ruff and Daniel J. Watts

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Wide World

‘Last Black Man’ offers searing imagery mixed with repetitive auditory gibberish, words that exist far more for their effect as sounds than for their meaning — words as jazz…For most of us, the appeal of ‘Last Black Man’ rests largely with the production values. Director Blain-Cruz has assembled a first-rate design team…There is an impressive level of commitment from the cast…Some of these moments from a play written in 1990 feel alarming in their continuing relevance.

The Week in New York Theater News

equityfairwageonstage

#FairWageOnstage won, says Actors Equity; Off-Broadway actors got “hefty wage increases” says Equity president Kate Shindle  (details of the actual figures were not yet spelled out.) The campaign, led by such well-known New York actors as Robert Stanton and Nick Westrate was notable for its use of social media.

“This is really a fantastic day for professional actors,” Shindle said.

More on the settlement.

amelie-poster

Amelie, a stage adaptation of the French movie starring Phillipa Soo and Adan Chanler-Berat begins March 9, 2017 at Walter Kerr and opens April 3.
pam-mackinnon

Pam MacKinnon, the director of Amelie (and of the last Broadway revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)is the new president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

The Play That Goes Wrong, a West End comedy about an inept theater company, opens at Broadway’s Lyceum April 2

theplaythatgoeswrong

Sondheim Corner

Trailer of new documentary about Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along

Debora Spar,  now president of Barnard College, has been chosen as the tenth  president of Lincoln Center

Awards Corner

Among the 21 recipients of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom are numerous performers

Congratulations to new Theater Hall of Fame inductees

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Nominees for the Clive Barnes Award in theater:

LoveTheaterTimotheeChalamet
Timothée Chalamet, Prodigal Son

Clarke Peters (Wynton) Khris Davis (Jay)

Clarke Peters (Wynton) Khris Davis (Jay)

Khris Davis, The Royale (currently in Sweat)

Nora Schell, Nicholas Edwards and Juwan Crawley in Spamilton

Nora Schell, Nicholas Edwards and Juwan Crawley in Spamilton

Juwan Crawley and Nora Schell, Spamilton

Ars Nova, the Off-Broadway theater that developed Great Comet, announces their new season, which includes three world premieres:

Sundown, Yellow Moon

Play with songs by Rachel Bonds
Music and Lyrics by The Bengsons, Directed by Anne Kauffman

KPOP
Immersive musical by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim
Directed by Teddy Bergman, Choreographed by Jennifer Weber

(To check out Woodshed Collective, read my review of one of their previous immersive theater pieces, Empire Travel Agency)

The Lucky Ones
Musical by The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher
Directed by Anne Kauffman, Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh

Evan Hansen 3

In February, two months after “Dear Evan Hansen” opens on Broadway, Atlantic Records will release its Original Broadway Cast Recording  (album)

Former Tracy Turnblads Ricki Lake and Marissa J Winokur will make cameos in Hairspray Live

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How Theater Can Help

“The only thought that has been helpful to me in the last week is knowing how badly they want women and queers and people of color to feel silenced and defeated and humiliated, and I find that excellent motivation to get out of bed and get very, very loud.

Right now we must recommit to doing our work. Not just because art helps us escape, which it does…But art has and will always be a tool for education. And revolution. And resistance. We must use our art to make our community impenetrable from what seems like inevitable attacks to come.

~Theater director Leigh Silverman talks misogyny and art

“In the face of extremism,entirely new art forms may emerge” (not necessarily political) 

New York At Its Core Museum Exhibiton

alexander-hamilton-portrait

Broadway to NY: Vote! Week in New York Theater

Click on any photo to see it enlarged

The following 18 Broadway shows will close on Election Day, November 8, to encourage people to vote for President (All but one – those with asterisks — are performing on Monday, November 7, instead)

* Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
* Cats
* Chicago
* The Color Purple
* The Encounter
* The Front Page
* The Humans
* Kinky Boots
* Les Liaisons Dangereuses
* Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
* Oh Hello on Broadway
* On Your Feet!
Paramour
* The Phantom of the Opera
* School of Rock
* Something Rotten!
* Waitress
* Wicked

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October New York Theater Quiz

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November theater openings

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Sweat 11

Sweat

Like Grapes of Wrath, Lynn Nottage’s Sweat offers a devastating look at social and economic breakdown, told not with rants or statistics, but through a riveting tale about good people in a bad situation. The characters in Sweat live in Reading, Pennsylvania, which 2010 U.S. Census data identified as the poorest city in America.

They are current, former and (they fully expect) future employees of a local factory, and they hang out together in a neighborhood bar, where most of the play takes place.

If, as Nottage has said in interviews, they were victims of the “de-industrial revolution,” Sweat isn’t as concerned with answering how did this happen as in bringing us into the world of her credible, engaging characters, embodied by a terrific cast.

Heisenberg 1

Heisenberg

“Heisenberg” is a play starring Mary-Louise Parker as a wacky 42-year-old American who kisses a 75-year-old stranger on the neck in a London train station, setting off an improbable affair. Rather than the romantic comedy that the two-character play apparently aspires to be, “Heisenberg” is beneath it all a mystery. The mystery is how a team with such track records and talents – playwright Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timePunk Rock) director Mark Brokaw (How I Learned to Drive, The Lyons), Parker (Proof, Weeds) — could produce such gibberish.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses Booth Theatre

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

n keeping with the casting of Liev Schreiber as a frilly 18th century French libertine in the ill-timed if stylish new Broadway revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, may I suggest some actors who could succeed him in the role?

Le Hulk (Lou Ferrigno)

La Roche (Dwayne Johnson)

Le Terminateur (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

….Actually, there will be no replacement cast in the Broadway revival of Les Liaison Dangereuses. The show runs only through January, a “strictly limited engagement” – which is a fairly accurate summary of my reaction to it.

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Finian’s Rainbow

Why would anybody want to revive “Finian’s Rainbow,” a 1947 musical that features dancing black sharecroppers and a leprechaun whose pot of gold was stolen by a crafty old Irishman named Finian with a fondness for drink? I asked that question when I saw the 2009 Broadway revival, and answered it: The score.

That’s true again in the modest Off-Broadway revival at the Irish Rep, where a four-piece orchestra and a 13-member cast led by the glorious Melissa Errico do delicious justice to the show’s terrific tuneful melodies

Week in New York Theater News

Lead producers of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 have agreed to give Ars Nova the billing they had promised to the non-profit theater that developed the musical in the first place, settling the pending lawsuit.

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Bandstand, with Corey Cott and Laura Osnes, will open April 26, 2017 at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs . Previews begin March 31.

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Grand Paradise, immersive tropical show in Bushwick by Third Rail Project, will end its year-long run on December 31

The Wall Street Journal announces cutback in arts and culture coverage. Its Greater NY section will be reduced from six pages to two. Layoffs “possible”

erivo-at-marathon

danielle-brooks-in-times-square-billboard

18-story tall Danielle Brooks declaring pride in her body in Times Square

RIP

Tammy Grimes, 13-time Broadway veteran, two-timeTony winner (Unsinkable Molly Brown; Private Lives), mother of Amanda Plummer. Age 82

Jonathan Regis Cray (O’Creagh), 67, actor, musician and poet

Producer Rick Steiner, a nose for hits — The Producers, Hairspray, Jersey Boys, August: Osage County, 69. “a higher batting average as a producer than anyone I’ve ever met in the theater business” – childhood friend and fellow producer Rocco Landesman.