Broadway Black. The Week in NY Theater

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Theater artist Anna Deavere Smith received the George Polk Career Award, one of the top awards in journalism.

“This was not a traditional choice for us, because she doesn’t fit neatly in the category of journalist. ” John Darnton, curator of the Polk Awards, told Deadline, but the awards committee “realized she’s first of all a reporter in the way she goes about researching her topic.”

Smith, a familiar face as a performer, has created seminal theater pieces as “Fires In The Mirror,” about the Crown Heights riots. Recent works include “Notes from the Field,” about the school-to-prison pipeline and “Let Me Down Easy,” about healthcare in America.

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Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan is the new Pierre in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” taking over from Josh Groban on July 3, 2017. He portrayed the original Hercules Mulligan and President James Madison in the musical Hamilton.

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Speaking of presidents, Toby Blackwell portrayed Barack Obama in an obscure 2012 Off-Off Broadway play entitled “Obama in Naples.” Virtually all the U.S. presidents have been portrayed on a New York stage, as my photo essay on Presidents Day attests.

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The 115th Street branch of the New York Public Library is being renamed for Harry Belafonte, as the singer, actor, activist and Tony Award winner nears 90th birthday on March 1.

Week in NY Theater Reviews

Reed Birney and Nana Mensah

Man from Nebraska

There are three great reasons to see the New York stage debut of Man From Nebraska, without even knowing what it’s about: Its author Tracy Letts (August: Osage County), its director David Cromer (Our Town), a cast that features Reed Birney (The Humans.) These remain even when you learn it’s about a man’s mid-life crisis….We never get details explaining Ken’s spiritual crisis; there are no stimulating intellectual or theological debates. Nor do we get a resolution so much as just an ending…..If little is explained, this winds up not mattering as much as it might in the hands of lesser theater artists. These artists feel in full control.

(See below for news about Tracy Letts)

Matthew Broderick and Wallace Shawn in Shawn's Evening at the Talk House

Evening at the Talk House

“The theatre is gone, but there are new things now,” says Matthew Broderick in Wallace Shawn’s chilling comedy, which imagines a dystopian but familiar society where former theatre people have gone on to television, or to a day job, such as murderer. “My paycheck arrives with complete regularity,” says an ex wardrobe supervisor turned assassin.

…The wit and the horror of Shawn’s play is how, amid the kind of gossip, backbiting and nostalgic reminiscences standard from old troupers everywhere, the characters casually segue into conversations about “targeting” – killing people deemed undesirable.

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Sunset Boulevard

There was thunderous applause the night I saw “Sunset Boulevard” for Hillary Clinton as she took her seat right before the musical began. It would be snarky to observe it was the greatest ovation of the night, but I was struck by how much was packed into that greeting – admiration, defiance, a shared history, shared emotion, a shared loss.

There was certainly admiration for the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, especially for the dazzling encore performance of Glenn Close as Norma Desmond, 22 years after she won a Tony Award for the same role. But this show about a once-famous film star trying for a comeback, and the screenwriter who becomes her boy toy and her victim, carried relatively little emotional weight or complexity.

Week in NY Theater News

Arts Groups Draft Battle Plans as Trump Funding Cuts Loom

 

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“The MInutes,” a new play by Tracy Letts (August:Osage County) is planned for Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago before a Broadway set to open March 2018. Here is a description of it:

“A town’s proud history, the legend of a local hero,
the coveted privilege of reserved parking:
nothing is sacred during the town council meeting
at the heart of Tracy Lett’s new play.
This razor-sharp comedy turns from hilarious to chilling
as petty policy matters give way to the truth roiling
just beneath the surface of the town’s historical mythology.”

In Chicago Tribune: The play “was penned by Letts during the heat of the fall presidential campaign and election. Following its Chicago run (Nov. 9 to Dec. 31), the production then will move directly to Broadway with its Chicago cast intact.”

“I think our new president will love it,” said Steppenwolf artistic director, Anna D. Shapiro, in an interview Thursday. “I am excited for the tweets.”

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When Jessie Mueller leaves Waitress, she’ll be succeded the show’s creator, Sara Bareilles, starting March 31 for 10 weeks.

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Big Apple Circus saved

Full cast announced for The Little Foxes,opening at MTC’s  Samuel J. Friedman  April 19.

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Broome St Academy, a NYC public charter high schoo,l has won a American Theatre Wing Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative grant of $12,000.  It is one of seven schools nationwide to be given grants this year.

Congratulations Laura Benanti and her husband, new parents of Ella Rose Benanti-Brown, born on Valentine’s Day

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Stage Kisses in the last 100 years

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Watch the cast of “Significant Other”

When the President of the United States Tweeted that the press was the “enemy of the American people,” he (surely unintentionally) evoked Ibsen’s 1882 play “An Enemy of the People.”

Ibsen used “Enemy of the People” ironically. Main character actually a hero, targeted by ignorant mob.
The press=heroes; Trump=mob https://t.co/1c5swZIKn4

— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) February 17, 2017

 

max-ferra

RIP Max Ferra, 79, founder INTAR THEATRE, Off Broadway company producing Latino playwrights in English

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Theater Survives. Color Purple Grabs a Grammy. Christian Borle Joins The Staged Resistance. Week in NY Theater

Theater goes back thousands of years — driven home by newly available theater-related images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art — and overpriced Broadway ticket prices won’t finally kill it. That’s because, for every Broadway musical announcing $750 tickets, there is an entire Off-Off Broadway festival for just $9/ (See details below, under “Not Discount,” and “Performeteria.”)

More below: Christian Borle joins the staged resistance; Isherwood is out; The Color Purple’s Grammy is just one of the theater awards announced this week. Will La La Land become a stage musical? Its director replies.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Annie Dow and Eddie Martinez

Annie Dow and Eddie Martinez

Fade

Fade” is a play about the bond that develops between a Mexican-born TV writer and a Mexican-American janitor at the studio. Its author, Tanya Saracho, is a Mexican-born TV writer/producer …”Fade” is well acted, and Saracho’s script touches on several worthwhile issues…But..it’s frankly hard to muster much outrage about the behind-the-scenes machinations of television.

The Object Lesson dinner 4

The Object Lesson

Geoff Sobelle, self-declared “maker of absurdist performance art,” is credited as the creator and performer of “The Object Lesson,” but it at least co-stars thousands of boxes. These are boxes that fill up the floor of the New York Theatre Workshop, and are stacked up to the ceiling….If Proust were a packrat, if Felix the Cat were a dramatist, they might have created something like “The Object Lesson.”

Kyle Scatliffe and Nicholas Barasch

Kyle Scatliffe and Nicholas Barasch

Big River

The Encores! production of “Big River” is a pleasant enough confection but with a bitter aftertaste.To understand why, it helps to know that, when he was 11 years old, Samuel Clemens discovered the mutilated corpse of a man named Noriam Todd – an escaped slave who had been hunted down and killed…This “Big River” [based on The Adventures of Huckleberr Finn] did not strike me as a weighty enough proaction, although there are plenty of lines…that use irony to point to the pervasive racial bigotry of the times.

Rolls Andre, Ben Langhorst, Damon Daunno

Rolls Andre, Ben Langhorst, Damon Daunno

Beardo

In “Beardo,” we are back in Russia with Dave Malloy, the composer of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” Instead of a Broadway theater, the Pipeline Theater Company’s new production of Malloy’s musical has opened at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And instead of dramatizing a novel by Tolstoy, “Beardo” tells a fictional version of an actual figure in Russian history, the enigmatic Grigori Rasputin.

The Week in New York Theater News

Awards

Color Purple album

The 2017 Grammy for best musical theater album was given to The Color Purple

Other albums nominated: Bright Star, Fiddler on the Roof, Kinky Boots London, Waitress

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The Dramatists Guild’s second annual Horton Foote Playwriting Award and $25,000 has been awarded to Rajiv Joseph.

The American Wing’s Jonathan Larsen $10,000 grants go to
Ben Bonnema
Maggie-Kate Coleman & Erato A. Kremmyda
Ty Defoe & Tidtaya Sinutoke
and Michael R. Jackson

Finalists for Susan Smith Blackburn Award for women playwrights:

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Lin-Manuel Miranda will perform “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana at this year’s Oscars.

 

Production of Junk in L.A.

Production of Junk in L.A.

Playwright Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) returns in September to Broadway with “Junk” (as in junk bonds) about greedy Wall Street traders

charles-isherwood

Yes, Charles Isherwood has left the New York Times as drama critic, and no, they are not eliminating the position.

Discounts

sally_field_joe_mantello_Glass Menagerie“The Glass Menagerie” starring Sally Field and Joe Mantello will have $30 front-row rush tickets until it opens March 9

Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal

Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal

“Sunday in the Park with George” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford will have $41 front row rush tickets until it opens February 22.

Not Discount

Bette Midler

Bette Midler

“Front Row Premium” seats for Hello, Dolly starring Bette Midler now on sale..,for $550 – $750.

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Off-Off Broadway Festival – Performeteria

For two nights only (Monday, March 20 and Friday, March 24), TDF will present Performeteria – 10-minute snippers of site-specific works from 15 Off-Off Broadway theater companies. Tickets are just nine dollars.

 

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Mare Winningham has joined the cast of “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire” by David Byrne, running Feb 14- Ap 16, at the Public Theater.

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There will be no Radio City New York Spectacular in 2017, say producers, while they work to make it better

 

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The Williamstown Theater Festival this summer will include four world premieres

6-3545_Ana Villafañe as Gloria Estefan in ON YOUR FEET! (c) Matthew Murphy

On Your Feet begins a 31-city tour in October in (where else) Miami,

lalaland

Will La-La Land be a stage musical?
‘I know people have mentioned it. I’m not closed to the idea,” [Damien] Chazelle said. “I will say though that part of the intention of this movie was to try to make something that had to be on the screen, to make a true screen musical in the fullest sense of that term, not an adaptation, not something that was kind of cross-media, but something that was made and written and intended and composed and sung and danced for the screen. So it’s not to say it couldn’t work on the stage, but it would have to be completely re-conceived and I don’t know if I’m even the person for that job.’”
(quoted by Deadline’s Pete Hammond)

Staged Resistance

2017 Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar (“never felt more contemporary”) 5/23-6/18 Midsummer Nights Dream (escape?) 7/11-8/13

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Christian Borle to play lead in Woodshed Collective’s rstagedeading of Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at Judson Church February 20 (Presidents Day) The Brecht play is the first in the company’s 20/20 Reading Series of “anti-fascist & political plays speaking to current political climate”

 

What do we do in the time of Trump? The theater community is trying to figure out the answer.

 

 

 

The N-Word on Stage

The wrangling over a production of Ragtime in a New Jersey high school demonstrates that the use of the word on stage remains, “complicated”—and confusing, and dizzying in the array of questions it provokes, among them: How far can a work go in order to be historically accurate, or (if a contemporary piece) authentic? How alienating are stage characters allowed to be? How much must playwrights and directors and producers keep audience sensitivities in mind (does it depend on the particular audience?) or is their only mandate to present the truth? Whose truth? Does it matter who the “truth teller” is?

RIP

lichtenstein
Harvey Lichtenstein, 87, who led the Brooklyn Academy of Music for 32 years, turning into a center of cutting edge arts. During his tenure, he presented such once-in-a-lifetime theatrical events as
Peter Brook’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Philip Glass’s “Satyagraha,” an opera about Mahatma Gandhi’s youth in South Africa
“The Gospel at Colonus,” a freewheeling adaptation by Lee Breuer and Bob Telson of a work by the Greek tragedian Sophocles
Philip Glass opera, “Einstein on the Beach”
Brook’s “The Mahabharata,” a nine-hour dramatic voyage through Hindu theology and mythology.

Arthur and Barbara Gelb

Arthur and Barbara Gelb

Barbara Gelb, O’Neill biographer, playwright, 91

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“Professor” Irwin Corey, seven-time Broadway veteran and a comic who styled himself the World’s Foremost Authority, 102

1984 in 2017. Super Bowl LI for Broadway Lovers (Hamilton!) Week in NY Theater

hamiltonatsuperbowl

The original Schuyler sisters of “Hamilton” – Phillipa Soo (soon to be back on Broadway in Amelie),  Renee Elise Goldberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones —  sang “America the Beautiful” before Super Bowl LI, which kicked off at 6:30 p.m. on Fox. Lady Gaga is headlining the Super Bowl LI halftime show.

On its Twitter feed, The Tony Awards have been helpfully interpreting the Super Bowl for Broadway fans.

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tonyawardsnfllionking

(By the way, the New England Patriots play the Atlanta Falcons.)

With dystopian novels all suddenly best-sellers again — 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, Animal Farm, It Can’t Happen Here, Fahrenheit 451 – it seems fitting that a London stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 is coming to Broadway’s Hudson Theater starting June 22, 2017.

Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin are producing the adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, a UK hit that was presented last year in several theaters in the U.S. as well. Casting has yet to be announced.

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February 2017 theater openings

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January 2017 New York theater quiz

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Stefania Lavie Owen and Lucas Hedges

Stefania Lavie Owen and Lucas Hedges

Yen

Yen, a bleak British play that opens tonight Off-Broadway, stars Lucas Hedges, Oscar-nominated last week for his role in Manchester by the Sea, and Justice Smith, of the Netflix hip-hop drama The Get Down, as two teenage brothers living alone, with no school, no friends, little food and one t-shirt to share between them….….Playwright Anna Jordan leaves little doubt that her play is meant to explore the damage caused by a lack of love….Particularly absorbing is the interaction between Justice Smith and Lucas Hedges, with their contrasting characterizations. …

The TV series stars Judd Hirsch (right) as Arthur Przybyszewski and Jermaine Fowler (left) as Franco Wicks.

The TV series stars Judd Hirsch (right) as Arthur Przybyszewski and Jermaine Fowler (left) as Franco Wicks.

In the play, Jon Michael Hill portrayed Franco Wicks and Michael McKean was Arthur Przybyszewski

In the play, Jon Michael Hill portrayed Franco Wicks and Michael McKean was Arthur Przybyszewski

Superior Donuts

A new TV series, starring Judd Hirsch and Jermaine Fowler that is based on the Broadway play by Tracy Letts that I reviewed in 2009, calling it sitcom-like.  I reprint my Broadway review, which focuses on how different the play was from Letts’ previous work.

madeinchina_4

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China on Stage

Three recent productions in New York City—Made in ChinaConfucius, and Caught— explore US-China relations.

More New York Theater News

alison-wright

Alison Wright (the duped FBI secretary in the TV series “The Americans”) has been hired as the ninth and final cast member of “Sweat” by Lynn Nottage. She is the only member of the Broadway cast who didn’t also perform the show Off-Broadway.

Tina Landau (with microphone) speaking at the Ghostlight Project in Times Square

Tina Landau (with microphone) speaking at the Ghostlight Project in Times Square

Actors on Activism

Watch videos from the Actors and Activism panel of BroadwayCon, with Celia Keenan-Bolger, Hamilton’s Okieriete Onaodowan, Shuffle Along’s Amber Iman (who founded Broadway for Black Lives Matter), In Transit’s Margo Seiberg (who co-founded Racket) – and director Tina Landau, who helped found The Ghostlight Project.

“Last Days of Judas Iscariot” by Stephen Adly Guirgis, will be performed at La MaMa March 9-26, directed by Estelle Parsons, artistic director of the Actors Studio, where the production originated.  “We plan to do most of the plays of Stephen Adly Giurgis,” Parsons said, “because they are brilliant & don’t get done much”

 

 

 

The Actor’s Fund’s Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts opens in theater district in March

 

 

 

Trailer for the film adaptation of Stephen Karam’s first hit play, “Speech & Debate”

Cast portrait from Roundabout’s revival of Arthur Miller’s ThePrice , starring Jessica Hecht, Tony Shalhoub, Danny DeVito making his Broadway debut, and Mark Ruffalo. The play begins Feb 16, opens March 16.

the-price-cast

Watch BroadwayCon 2017. Visa Ban vs. Artists. Hamilton at Super Bowl, Week in NY Theater

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Scenes from BroadwayCon 2017

Previews of Anastasia, Amelia, Come From Away, Significant Other etc.; A surprise Q and A with Lin-Manuel Miranda via live video from London, followed by the introduction of the new Hamilton cast; a panel on actors and activism. These were among some 200 activities at BroadwayCon 2017, the second annual theater fan convention, held over the long weekend at the Javits Center. There’s no summing up,(except maybe the comment from an organizer who said: “It’s been a tough week. This is a safe space.”) Here are some snippets, including videos of Josh Groban (Great Comet), Jordan Fisher (Hamilton), Broadway for Black Lives Matter founder Amber Iman, and Broadwaycon fans beating up fighting directors.

I learned everything I could (about Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the roof) then threw it all out — Danny Burstein

I grew up naive in the South. Theater has helped me grow up in so many ways. My favorite role has been South Pacific; I became this blonde white girl vessel for what racism can look like  — Kelli O’Hara

“The best thing about theater is that it teaches empathy” – Laura Dreyfuss, Dear Evan Hansen panel,

“It’s your heart. You will find your way to activism, however big or small”~ Tina Landau, co-founder of The Ghostlight Project

Director Diane Paulus’s advice to other directors: Follow your passion. Ask big questions. Break the rules. Change the form.

As a performer, I'm more comfortable when a cast is diverse. But I have no power to make it happen - Bebe Neuwirth, Broadwaycon panel on diversity

As a performer, I’m more comfortable when a cast is diverse. But I have no power to make it happen – Bebe Neuwirth, Broadwaycon panel on diversity

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Kelly Hutchinson and Carson Elrod

Kelly Hutchinson and Carson Elrod

The Liar

In The Liar, the title character wonders whether, given his disposition, he should become a politician. But, if David Ives’ version of Pierre Corneille’s 1644 verse play may benefit from new relevance (what I call the Trump Effect), its main strength lies not in its timeliness or plot but the subversive whimsy of its language….

In his 21st century take on iambic pentameter, Ives rhymes “exit” with “sexted,” “idea” with “diarrhea,” and “muck” with “schmuck.” And he deliberately mangles Shakespeare: “But soft! What light on yonder sidewalk cracks!”

I can’t remember a play in which the playwright so obviously enjoyed his own cleverness, while at the same mocking his efforts

Alexander Flores as Tono and Lisa Ramirez as Mami

Alexander Flores as Tono and Lisa Ramirez as Mami

Tell Hector I Miss Him

Love puzzles, and messes up, the dozen characters in Tell Hector I Miss Him, a play wonderfully acted by a cast that includes veterans of Orange is the New Black. If the play itself sometimes puzzles, and shocks, it also marks a remarkable playwriting debut by 28-year-old Paola Lazaro.
Lazaro’s work is reminiscent of that by Stephen Adly Guirgis and August Wilson in its ability to turn street language into stage poetry, and to shine a warm center spotlight on people who are usually pushed to the edge.

Week in New York Theater News

crying-statue-of-liberty

Trump visa ban complicates plans for Waterwell’s English/Farsi ‘Hamlet’ starring Arian Moayed

Via @PsychToday, the health benefits of the arts & the NEA’s role in wellness efforts. #NEA #artsheal #ArtsCEOLynch https://t.co/hAqKZsiWgp

— AmericansForTheArts (@Americans4Arts) January 30, 2017

hamiltonatsuperbowl

Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, the actresses who originated the roles of Eliza, Angelica and Peggy Schuyler in “Hamilton,” will reunite to perform “America the Beautiful” during the televised pre game show at the Super Bowl on February 5

hamiltonlotterypage

Beginning Tuesday, Hamilton will double the number of $10 daily digital lottery tickets to 46. Enter the lottery 

guirgismalloymorisseaunottage

Four terrific playwrights have become new Signature Theater playwrights-in-residence, two of them Pulitzer winners: Stephen Adly Guirgis (Between Riverside and Crazy), Dave Malloy, Dominique Morrisseau (Skeleton Crew) and Lynn Nottage (Sweat.). The presence of Dave Malloy (Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812) means that Signature is delving into musicals

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A musical of Meryl Streep/Ann Hathaway film “The Devil Wears Prada,” with music by Elton John and book by Paul Rudnick, is  planned for Broadway. Perfect! (no details yet.)

johnandrudnick

abby-mueller

Abby Mueller will play Carole King in Beautiful, starting March 7, a role her sister Jessie Mueller originated on Broadway.

muellers950

I interviewed her about the budding Mueller dynasty in 2015. Both her parents are actors. Abby and her three siblings all became actors. At one point recently, Abby was in the Broadway cast of Kinky Boots while her sister Jessie Mueller starred in Beautiful, and her brother Andrew was in the Off-Broadway cast of Peter and the Starcatcher. (Abby’s twin, Matt, was back in Chicago performing in a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.)

Our whole life, we’ve gotten, ‘Oh, it must be in your genes.’ But it’s probably a mixture of nature and nurture. There are families of doctors and of lawyers and of plumbers. We’re a family of actors.”

Speech & Debate

Speech & Debate, the film version of Stephen Karam’s first hit play will be in movie theaters (and available from iTunes) on April 7th. It features such Broadway luminaries as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Roger Bart and up-and-comers Sarah Steele (The Humans), Darren Criss (Hedwig), Austin P. McKenzie (Spring Awakening), Gideon Glick (forthcoming Significant Other) .

Blind theatergoer sues Hamilton for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the musical offers no performances at all with live audio narrative available on headphones. The lawsuit calls for one performance a week.

Ellen’s Stardust Cafe fired 15 more employees (total: 31), including activist in the newly formed union. The owner is being sued for wage theft

The International Human Rights Art Festival at Dixon Place March 3-5

john-hurt

RIP acclaimed British actor John Hurt (Elephant Man, A Man for All Season, Naked Civil Servant, Midnight Express, Harry Potter),77

Broadway Resists, With Light and Love. BroadwayCon Glitch. Week in NY Theater

The theater community in New York and across the country countered a depressing week coming out of Washington D.C. (#potentialgrizzlies, #alternativefacts) with events signaling resistance but full of hope.

The Ghostlight Project saw people gather outside theaters in all 50 states – including 50 in New York City, plus Times Square – to shine light, literally, against what many fear is the coming darkness.

The Broadway stars who performed at the Concert for America  at Town Hall expressed optimism from the very first song — Kelli O’Hara sang Cockeyed Optimist from South Pacific. Brian Stokes Mitchell sang America the Beautiful, Billy Porter a bluesy version of Edelweiss, with the lyric “Bless our Homeland forever.” Betty Buckley Peter Gabriels’ song “Don’t Give Up.” All the performers sang “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” and, as the finale, “Let the Sunshine In,” from “Hair.”

And Chita Rivera — celebrating her 84th birthday today — sang and danced “America” from West Side Story

“We, this day, with song and dance and performance, are consecrating this day with hope,” said Cornell Brooks, the president of the NAACP, one of five social justice organizations that will receive the proceeds from this concert and what organizers Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley promise to be subsequent similar monthly events. (The others are the National Immigration Law Center, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

Natalie Douglas at

Natalie Douglas at “Inaugural Ball” at HERE

Not all was sweet. At the (counter) Inaugural Ball, which inaugurated Sanctuary, a month-long series of new plays at Here Arts Center, Natalie Douglas sang a stirring “Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone’s angry Civil Rights Era anthem. But then Douglas followed that song with “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell:

We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

from the March on Charlotte. Someone knows their Mary Poppins!

from the March on Charlotte. Someone knows their Mary Poppins!

Scenes of Resistance

trump-rally-pic

Staged Resistance – A look at how the political resistance of theatre artists is playing out on and off stage in New York, with a focus on the new plays presents in The Resisters Project. “We gathered together for catharsis and community,” says Ashley Jacobson, Artistic Director of The Dirty Blondes, the five year old “feminist theatre company with a taste for provocation” that put together The Resister Project.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Jitney 3

Jitney

Eleven years after his death, playwright August Wilson answers Donald Trump’s bleak depiction of “inner cities,” with “Jitney,” the first play Wilson wrote in his ten-play American Century Cycle, but the last of the ten to be produced on Broadway, in a superbly acted and directed production that’s running at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theater through March 12…

madeinchina_5

Made in China

Wakka Wakka, the theater company behind Made in China, says the show is “inspired by true events.” I suspect the true part doesn’t include Mary and her neighbor getting sucked down her toilet and winding up in the People’s Republic of China, where a dragon eats them.

This puppet musical – equal parts surreal fantasy, bawdy romantic comedy, barbed political satire, and hilariously inventive visual spectacle — does include at least one true event, sort of. In a verified story that occurred in 2012, a New York shopper discovered inside the packaging of the boots she bought from Saks Fifth Avenue a handwritten note from someone seeking help, because he said he was a captive in a Chinese prison factory…

The Week in New York Theater News

BroadwayCon confetti at opening musical in 2016

BroadwayCon confetti at opening musical in 2016

BroadwayCon faces dispute with Actors Equity Association

One week before one week before the second annual theater fan convention “organizers have hit a snag: a labor dispute with the Actors’ Equity Association, who has asked its members not to perform, or even rehearse, for the event until an agreement is reached.”

Schedule of events for BroadwayCon, Jan 27 – 29

nea-logo

A report in The Hill suggests that the Trump Administration is looking to privatize PBS, and eliminate entirely the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.

musicals-2016-to-17

Broadway’s Musical Deluge “Nineteen new musicals and revivals have opened or are scheduled to open through April 27, the cut-off for Tony Award eligibility. That’s the biggest tally since 1980-81”

“Morning in America, Nov 9, 9 a.m.” 1-minute monologues in response to election Feb 18,19 Primary Stages at Cherry Lane

seasons-of-love-poster

Seasons of Love, a tribute to Rent at The Cutting Room.
The concert will include songs from the musical, as well as stories from former cast members.

Watch: Rebecca Naomi Jones: Taking a Break from Musicals

DavidBowie3

David Bowie’s Unfinished musical

“As we left the restaurant, David’s assistant said, “I know I don’t have to tell you to keep this project a secret.” To which I replied, “Do you really think a musical about an alien, a dead Bob Dylan, and the work of Emma Lazarus is an idea someone is likely to steal?””

roe

“Roe” by Lisa Loomer

 Can a Play Influence the Abortion Debate?

Saturday Night Live spoofed Kellyanne Conway’s ambition with a parody of Chicago the musical. Some would call this especially apt, since Orwellyan Conway murders the truth.

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.

broadway-week-2017

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.