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Free Broadway in Bryant Park Summer 2017 Schedule

 

For the 17th year in a row, Bryant Park is the site of free lunchtime concerts by cast members of current Broadway (and some Off-Broadway) shows  on Thursdays in July and August between 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Here is the schedule for this summer:

July 6:  Stomp (pictured above), Groundhog Day, Wicked,  The Phantom of the Opera.
July 13: Kinky Boots, Beautiful, School of Rock, Soulpepper
July 20: Waitress, Chicago, Cats, Spamilton
July 27: A Bronx Tale, Anastasia, Avenue Q, The Imbible
August 3: Miss Saigon; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Broadway Dreams
August 10: Come From Away, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bandstand, Curvy Widow

The schedule is subject to change.

Scenes and songs from previous Broadway in Bryant Park concerts:

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Hello, Dolly with Bette Midler opens

In her first performance in a Broadway musical in 50 years, Bette Midler opens tonight as the 15th Dolly Gallagher Levi on Broadway,  in the fifth Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly.”

The new revival also stars David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder , Gavin Creel as Cornelius Hackl , and Kate Baldwin as Irene Molloy. Also in the 33-member cast: Taylor Trensch , most recently star of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and Jennifer Simard, Tony nominee for Disaster.

curtain call

Based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, the 1964 musical features music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, both of whom won Tony Awards for the work on the original production, which won eight additional Tonys, including one for Best Musical and one for star Carol Channing

Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly, opened January 16, 1964.

 

ACT 1 Sung By
I Put My Hand In Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi and Company
It Takes A Woman Horace Vandergelder and The Instant Glee Club
Put On Your Sunday Clothes Cornelius Hackl, Barnaby Tucker, Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Ambrose Kemper and Ermengarde
Put On Your Sunday Clothes The People of Yonkers
Ribbons Down My Back Irene Molloy
Motherhood Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Horace Vandergelder, Irene Molloy, Minnie Fay, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker
Dancing Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Cornelius Hackl, Barnaby Tucker, Minnie Fay, Irene Molloy and Dancers
Before the Parade Passes By Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi and Company
ACT 2 Sung By
Penny in My Pocket Horace Vandergelder
Elegance Irene Molloy, Cornelius Hackl, Minnie Fay and Barnaby Tucker
The Waiters’ Galop Rudolph and Waiters
Hello, Dolly! Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Rudolph, Waiters and Cooks
The Contest Ambrose Kemper, Ermengarde, Irene Molloy, Cornelius Hackl, Minnie Fay, Barnaby Tucker and the Contestants
It Only Takes a Moment Cornelius Hackl, Irene Molloy, Prisoners and Policeman
So Long Dearie Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi
Hello, Dolly! Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi and Horace Vandergelder
Finale Company

Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly: First Pic

The first production photograph of Bette Midler as the 15th Dolly Gallagher Levi on Broadway,  in the fifth Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly,” which is scheduled to begin preview performances  Wednesday, March 15, and officially open on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

 

 

Valentines Day Talk with Significant Other Cast

significant-other-cast-pic

significant-other-poster-croppedBelow are brief videotaped interviews with Barbara Barrie, Gideon Glick, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Lindsay Mendez — four of the cast members of “Significant Other,” a play by Joshua Harmon about dating, which begins previews today (St. Valentine’s Day) at Broadway’s Booth Theater, and opens on March 2, 2017.

 

 

Under The Radar Festival to feature Swenson, Osnes in Loesser’s lost World War II musicals

osnesandswensonblueprintwaterwellpublic1Laura Osnes and Will Swenson will star in Frank Loesser’s “lost” World War II musicals on board the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, as part of the Public Theater’s 13th annual Under the Radar Festival. This is a decided departure for a festival known for showcasing experimental theater pieces from around the world. These will still be in abundance at the 2017 festival, running January 4 to 15, with work by artists from Belarus, France, Germany, Indonesia, Lebanon, and the U.K.

Osnes (Cinderella, Bonnie and Clyde) and Swenson (Hair) will perform in Waterway Theater Company’s “Blueprint Specials,” which are revivals of the musicals that the US Army commissioned in 1944 to boost American soldiers’ morale. They were created by such Broadway talent as composer Frank Loesser and choreographer Jose Limon, and have not been seen since then.  The performances will take place on the hangar deck of the Intrepid, a decommissioned battleship now docked permanently in the Hudson River.

Below is the entire schedule of Under the Radar shows, with links to the Public Theater’s descriptions of them.

600 HIGHWAYMEN (USA)
THE FEVERThe Public Theater
Nikki Appino & Saori Tsukada (USA)
CLUB DIAMONDThe Public Theater
Belarus Free Theatre (Belarus/UK) 
TIME OF WOMEN

NYU Tisch School of the Arts Shop Theatre

The Bengsons (USA)
HUNDRED DAYSThe Public Theater
Tania El Khoury (UK/Lebanon)
GARDENS SPEAKNYU Tisch School of the Arts Abe Burrows Theatre
Marga Gomez (USA)
LATIN STANDARDS
The Public Theater
Manual Cinema (USA)
LULA DEL RAYThe Public Theater
Eko Nugroho and Wayang Bocor (Indonesia)
IN THE NAME OF SEMELAHAsia Society
Philippe Quesne (France)
LA MÉLANCOLIE DES DRAGONS
The Kitchen
Rimini Protokoll (Germany)
TOP SECRET INTERNATIONAL (STATE 1)Brooklyn Museum
Keith A. Wallace & Deborah Stein (USA)
THE BITTER GAME
The Public Theater
Waterwell (USA)
BLUEPRINT SPECIALS
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Champagne Jerry feat. Neal Medlyn (USA)
IN THE CHAMPAGNE ROOMUTR + Joe’s Pub: In Concert
Jomama Jones (USA)
BLACK LIGHTUTR + Joe’s Pub: In Concert
Erin Markey (USA)
ERIN MARKEY: BONER KILLERUTR + Joe’s Pub: In Concert
PWR BTTM (USA)
PWR BTTM
UTR + Joe’s Pub: In Concert
Becca Blackwell (USA)
INCOMING! THEY, THEMSELF AND SCHMERMThe Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
Ryan J. Haddad (USA)
INCOMING! HI, ARE YOU SINGLE?The Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
Ayesha Jordan + Charlotte Brathwaite (USA)
INCOMING! SHASTA GEAUX POPThe Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
New Saloon (USA)
INCOMING! MINOR CHARACTERThe Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
James Allister Sprang as GAZR (USA)
INCOMING! LIFE DOES NOT LIVEThe Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown

Fences Movie Trailer, Play Review: Denzel Adapts August Wilson

Denzel Washington’s movie adaptation of “Fences,” August Wilson’s 1987 play, will be in movie theaters nationwide on December 25, 2016. Below is a first movie trailer from Paramount Picures — and below that my 2010 review of the Broadway production, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (the same stars as in the movie.)

Fences Review: Denzel Washington Bats It In

Troy Maxson, the character played by Denzel Washington in the must-see revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” is greeted by foot-stamping cheers from the audience in the Cort Theater, surely the most ecstatic whoops of delight ever for a Pittsburgh garbage collector.

There was a time, though, when Troy was himself a star. “Ain’t but two men who ever played baseball as good as you,” his best friend Bono tells him. “That’s Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson.” Bono might just be telling Troy what he wants to hear, but, however good he actually was, he lived at a time when people of Troy’s race were barred from major league baseball – and from much else in American life. But Troy did play in the Negro Leagues, and hit seven home runs off the great Satchel Paige. “You can’t get no better than that,” he tells the youngest of his two sons. He says this proudly, defiantly, but also angrily, and in resignation.

It is a phrase that, perhaps unconsciously, he means literally. It is 1957, he is 53 years old, and however hopeful others might be about the change that will be coming for African-Americans, Troy is convinced that things will in fact never get any better.

Denzel Washington is not as physically large as the actor who, to great acclaim, originated the role of Troy on Broadway in 1987, James Earl Jones. But through the magic of his performance, Washington sometimes seems as big as a bear, whether giving a tremendous hug to his wife (the incomparable Viola Davis) or growling warning at his son. Other times, he seems both small and small-minded. Troy is a compulsive storyteller (“you got more stories than the devil got sinners”), an expansive charmer, and also an embittered, limited and illiterate black man; orderly, hard-working, dutiful; stubborn, unreasonable, irresponsible — a complex and believable human being, and Washington embraces this character in all his mercurial contradictions.

It is a different interpretation than the original one of a giant fenced-in by circumstances, but it is one of the many things that work in a production that does justice to August Wilson’s deeply moving play.

“Fences” is part of what is sometimes called the Pittsburgh Cycle, 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20th century, that was August Wilson’s singular achievement, written over more than two decades and completed the year of his death in 2005. They all offer specific details of time and place and character and yet, individually and taken together, provide nothing less than a portrait of the African-American experience. “Fences” was only the second he wrote in the cycle, and is not the best of them – although good enough to have won every big theater award, from the Tony Award for Best Play to the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and for Frank Rich to have written: “’Fences’ leaves no doubt that Mr. Wilson is a major writer, combining a poet’s ear for vernacular with a robust sense of humor (political and sexual), a sure instinct for crackling dramatic incident and a passionate commitment to a great subject. “

Wilson’s later work more smoothly integrates the turns in the plot so that they seem to spring from the characters rather than feeling imposed by the author. In “Fences,” Troy makes a sensational revelation to his wife in the second act that seems to come out of nowhere. (A careful reading of the script shows that Wilson had actually planted clues in the first act, but it still feels abrupt). In a lesser production, the play might from then on have felt derailed, veering into domestic melodrama.

Viola Davis, best-known on stage for her Tony-winning performance in Wilson’s “King Hedley II” and on screen for her Oscar-nominated performance as the mother of the (possibly) abused student in “Doubt,” seemed to me almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the play on track, her feelings shaded, moving, and not melodramatic. She and Washington are well-matched. I am not sure I have ever witnessed two actors angrily yelling at each other with such clarity and control.

The real plot in “Fences” is in the artful revelation of character, not just Troy’s but the people who surround him — his wife Rose, his long-time friend Jim Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson, a veteran and exquisite interpreter of Wilson’s work); his brain-damaged brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson), the older son Lyons whom he all but abandoned (Russell Hornsby), the teenage son Cory (Chris Chalk) — ensemble acting at its finest. Their characters come through in the niggling little arguments (humorous to outsiders) that families repeat endlessly, and in the many stories told to one another of past events and future dreams. Much of what’s happening, as told through incidents on stage but also through recollection, is a tale of fathers and sons, battling one another, escaping one another and becoming one another. Cory wants to play football and has been recruited by a college football team; Troy wants him to work at the local supermarket:

“The white man ain’t gonna let you get nowhere with that football noway. You go on and get your book-learning so you can work yourself up in that A&P or learn how to fix cars or build houses or something, get you a trade. That way you have something can’t nobody take away from you.”

Times have changed, more than one family member tells Troy, his son is just trying to be like him. Times haven’t changed, Troy says; the last person I want him to be like is me.

In addition to Santo Loquasto’s solidly realistic set, Brian MacDevitt’s lighting, and spot-on costumes by Constanza Romero (the playwright’s widow), Branford Marsalis has composed bluesy music for the beginning of each act. It’s nice, but it’s not necessary. This production of “Fences” fills the Cort Theater with music.

Fences by August Wilson at the Cort Theater (138 West 48th Street) Directed by Kenny Leon Original music by Branford Marsalis Set design by Santo Loquasto, costume design by Constanza Romero, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt, sound design by Acme Sound Partners Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Chris Chalk, Eden Duncan-Smith, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, SaCha Stewart-Coleman, Mykelti Williamson Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission Ticket prices: $61.50 to $131.50. Premium seats as high as $326.50. There are apparently no rush or student tickets available. Recommended for age 13 and older. Under 4 not permitted. Through July 11th, 2010.

Watch: 2016 New York Fringe Previews

The 20th annual New York International Fringe Festival runs Friday, August 12h through Sunday, August 28th, 2016, with some 75,000 theatergoers expected for nearly 200 shows.

(Enter the contest to get a pass to see all the shows for FREE)

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

 

Below are videos of a handful of the shows presented at a press preview this week. Check out times and the location of venues in the Fringe guide

Peregrinus, a performance piece from The KTO theater company from Poland. It is part of the Fringe Al Fresco, meaning a free outdoor show.

Homo Sapiens Interruptus — read my article, From Rock Star to the Fringe,  on Carlos Dengler’s true story about becoming a rock star with the band Interpol….and leave it for the theater.

CarlosDandCarlosDengler

Mother Emanuel is a musical about the shooting at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015

In “Walken on Sunshine,” an anxiety-ridden filmmaker accidentally lies to investors about having Christopher Walken in his movie and embarks on a ridiculous quest to get Walken.

In “The Gorges Motel,” a new play written by established playwrights Gretchen Cryer, Lynne Halliday, James Hindman, Isaac Himmelman, Arlene Hutton, and Craig Pospisil, “lves intersect in comic and dramatic fashion in a motel that has seen better days in Watkins Glen, New York.  Breakups, make-ups, dinosaurs and a drone attack…”

In “Hysterical,” “it’s the Bandits’ Best Year EVER! Until…one by one, the girls succumb to a mysterious illness. As the traditional pecking order is upended, the girls’ relationships are tested…”

Just for fun, since it’s the 20th anniversary of the Fringe, here are my previews from 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 — and my article in the New York Times in 2001 about the first five years of the Fringe.

 

Here is my 47-second elevator ride/interview with Chris Lowell in 2012 when he was performing in a Fringe play entitled “I Heart Revolution” — which feels a bit like a Fringe play itself.

From Rock Star to…The Fringe

CarlosDandCarlosDengler

Carlos D., the bass player for the rock band Interpol, left the group at age 26.  He’s now re-emerged as a theater artist, with a new solo play about his (former) obsession with rock n roll. It’s entitled “Homo Sapiens Interruptus,” and it’s at the New York International Fringe Festival, for five performances from August 12 to August 25th.

He now calls himself “Actor.Musician.Writer.Hiker/Backpacker.Reformed Rock Star.Italian Greyhound and Star Wars Lover”

Below, watch a brief excerpt from his show, and then hear him explain why he went from rocker at arenas to actor at the Fringe.

 

 

There’s still time to enter the contest for a FREE pass to all 2016 Fringe shows. Enter here

Watch Corbin Bleu, Bryce Pinkham in Irving Berlin Musical Holiday Inn

 

Corbin Bleu sang “Cheek to Cheek” with Lora Lee Gayer. Bryce Pinkham sang “Blue Skies,” and Megan Lawrence sang “Shaking the Blues Away” in a preview of “Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical” at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert today.

“Holiday Inn,” which is set to open at Roundabout Theater’s Studio 54 on October 6, 2016 is “inspired” by the 1942 movie of the same name starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby that introduced Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” The Broadway musical will have several hit Berlin songs that were not in the movie.

Here is how Roundabout describes the story of Holiday Inn the musical: “Jim [Bryce Pinkham}leaves the lights of show business behind to settle down on his farmhouse in Connecticut… but life just isn’t the same without a bit of song and dance. Jim’s luck takes a spectacular turn when he meets Linda [Lora Lee Gayer], a spirited schoolteacher with talent to spare. Together they turn the farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. But when Jim’s best friend Ted [Corbin Bleu] tries to lure Linda away to be his new dance partner in Hollywood, will Jim be able to salvage his latest chance at love?”

The book is co-written by Gordon Greenberg, who is also making his Broadway directorial debut, and Chad Hodge. It is choreographed by Denis Jones.

HolidayInnposter

Watch Preview of Broadway’s Great Comet of 1812

Great Comet of 1812 preview photoThe Broadway cast of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” — minus Josh Groban — sang three songs at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunch-time concert on Thursday.  Dave Malloy’s musical, which is set to open in Broadway’s Imperial Theater on November 14, was exuberantly praised in its various incarnations Off-Broadway, including by me.

The story: Natasha (Denee Benton) is a beautiful ingénue visiting Moscow while she waits for her beloved fiancé Andrey to return from the war. In a moment of indiscretion, she is seduced by the dashing but already married Anatole (Lucas Steele) and her position in society is ruined. Her only hope lies with Pierre (Josh Groban),  the lonely outsider whose love and compassion for Natasha may be the key to her redemption… and to the renewal of his own soul.

The Prologue introduces the characters and the plot of the show, which is based on a sliver of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

 

Denee Benton, who will portray Natasha on Broadway, sings “No One Else”

Lulu Fall as Helen sang “Charming.” The role will be played on Broadway by Amber Gray.

It’s interesting to compare these videos with three made at a Broadway in Bryant Park concert three years ago. Many of the cast members in the 2013 production, such as Amber Gray and Brittain Ashford, will be on Broadway as well.

Brittain Ashford will be playing Sonya again on Broadway: