Week in New York Theater: Lupita Nyongo on Broadway, Lion King Free. First Ladies on Stage

Two shows are opening on Broadway this coming week, and four Off-Broadway, to finish off this busy month of October

The Week in New York Theater Reviews


My review of Futurity

In “Futurity,” a genre-bending show created by César Alvarez and his indie band The Lisps, a soldier during the Civil War contacts the daughter of a famous 19th century British poet to help him build “a machine that creates peace.” ….The characters sing about and stew over technology and morality, time and terror, artificial intelligence and the power of imagination..

Alison Fraser as Nancy Reagan and Caissie Levy as her daughter Patti Davis in "Patti By The Pool" from First Daughter Suite

Alison Fraser as Nancy Reagan and Caissie Levy as her daughter Patti Davis in “Patti By The Pool” from First Daughter Suite

My review of First Daughter Suite

First Daughter Suite,  Michael LaChiusa’s musical focusing as much on the First Ladies Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, and Bush as on their daughters, can be considered a sequel of sorts to Michael LaChiusa’s 1993 breakthrough musical First Lady Suite. The four scenes in the new musical take liberties with the subjects, and each ends with a surprise twist, some of which are outrageous. Still, for all its lapses, First Daughter Suite offers great satisfactions, the most prominent being a wonderful all-female cast.


My review Empanada Loca

Daphne Rubin-Vega, the original Mimi in the original Rent, is so good portraying the initially endearing Dolores and eight other characters in “Empanada Loca, “which has now opened at Labyrinth Theater, that I didn’t realize the play written and directed by Aaron Mark was supposed to be “horror theater” until it was too late

Labyrinth offers a FREE 10 pm performance of Empanada Loca on Halloween

Dames at Sea 10 John Bolton, Cary Tedder, Eloise Kropp, Mara Davi, Danny Gardner in DAMES AT SEA photo by Jeremy Daniel, 2015

My review of Dames at Sea

Fun and funny, full of rousing melodies and exciting bouts of tap dancing performed by six true talents, the revival at the Helen Hayes is, according to the show’s website, “reimagined for the bright lights of Broadway and taken to glamorous and spectacular new heights.” To the extent that it delivers on its marketing hype, Dames at Sea largely loses what made it distinctive in the first place.,,the biggest change on Broadway is that the show somehow no longer feels like an ironic if loving send-up of a 30’s extravaganza, but something closer to an imitation of one

Reed Birney, Jane Houdyshell, Cassie Beck, Sarah Steele,Arian Moayed

Reed Birney, Jane Houdyshell, Cassie Beck, Sarah Steele,Arian Moayed

My review of The Humans

Playwright Stephen Karam  nails the dynamics of an ordinary family over the course of the few hours of the Thanksgiving get-together — teasing, taunting, cutting, spiteful, resentful, judgmental, nagging, effortlessly loving. But he goes further, offering a glimpse at nothing less than the strains and stresses of American middle  class life while never straying from credibly and affectionately presenting the lives of six individual humans.

The Week in New York Theater News

Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed

Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed

Eclipsed with Lupita Nyongo is transferring to Broadway in February


David Oyelowo as Othello, Daniel Craig as Iago, directed by Sam Gold,New York Theater Workshop Fall 2016

Ugly Lies the Bone, Chris Stack, Mamie Gummer

Ugly Lies the Bone, Chris Stack, Mamie Gummer

Ugly Lies The Bone extended to December 6

Edie Brickell and steve-martin-bright-star-broadway-20150616

Bright Star by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, starts 3/07/16, opens 3/31. (Broadway theater TBA)

New digital streaming service ‘BroadwayHD’ to bring Broadway shows to computer screens…

Andrew Lloyd Webber pledged $150,000 for musical instruments in 20 NYC public middle schools in a new “Rock the Schools” program.


Attend live video shoot of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King at Minskoff FREE October 30 at 12:30 pm RSVP



The Good Wife Gets A Theater Award. On Broadway: Jennifer Hudson Debuts; Chita Rivera Returns; Helen Hayes Disappears? Week in New York Theater


The Good Wife is getting a theater award, which seems to raise the question yet again: What does “theater” mean in an age of screens? (See link in January 9th below)

In this case,  though, The Drama League is awarding the TV series its first Arts Ally Award because, as Executive Director Gabriel Shanks points out, it is “abundantly filled with top-tier theater talent.”

TV-watchers tend to get proprietary about the characters they invite into their homes each week, but let’s establish that some of the show’s most vivid guest stars, such as Nathan Lane – two-time Tony-winning star of 20 Broadway productions —  owe their first allegiance to theater.  Series regular Alan Cumming (Eli) is a Tony-winning veteran of five Broadway productions, including the current Cabaret.  Christine Baranski (Diane) is a two-time Tony-winning veteran of seven Broadway shows. Zach Grenier (the fulsome David Lee) has been a regular both on Broadway and Off-Broadway; I saw him in a magnificent production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros.


Even series star Julianna Margulies, while not a Broadway veteran, has performed in at least three productions Off-Broadway: Kate Robin’s Intrigue with Faye at MCC Theater opposite Benjamin Bratt,  in Jon Robin Baitz’s Ten Unknowns at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater, (that’s her behind Donald Sutherland), and in Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

If/Then announced this week it will close in March, adding to a growing list, and giving you more incentive to enter the contest — What show closed too early?for a signed copy of the script or Playbill of Disgraced.

The Week in New York Theater
January 6 to 11, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Complains about "The Flick" have led Playwrights Horizons artistic director Tim Sanford to send an e-mail to the theater's subscribers.


Annie Baker’s The Flick, a play about movie workers that won the Pulitzer Prize, moves in May to Barrow Street Theater with the same cast and director as it had at Playwrights Horizons

Jackie Hoffman reunites in the Fall with Lypsinka in Transport Group’s full production of Once Upon a Mattress at the Abrons Arts Center. The two starred in a previous concert version:


A Week of New York Theater Tweets, 01/04/10

Theater vs. Theatre, Revisited

More than 50 million people attend  some 37,500 high school stage shows in US. It matters, writes Howard Sherman, that some are censored.

Charles Isherwood assesses the upside of the Second Stage Theater’s plan to buy the Helen Hayes — “Second Stage has an impressive track record of presenting work by less established artists, and new plays by women.” — and the downside — it will remove the name Helen Hayes so that it can sell the naming rights to the highest bidder.


Who Helen Hayes was


Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Cartoonists respond to terrorist killings in Paris.


Lucy Thurber’s new play The Insurgents features historical characters from Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman to Timothy McVeigh. Labyrinth Theater, February 5-March 8


Artists can get funding to perform, train, etc in other countries. Check out U.S. Cultural Mobility International Funding Guide

The Audience video “teaser”:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Visit

The Visit

The Visit, Kander and Ebb’s last Broadway musical, with Chita Rivera and Roger Rees, will open April 23 at the Lyceum.


Chita Theater – 60 Years of Chita Rivera on Broadway

SOMETHING-ROTTEN James and Christian

Christian Borle and Brian d’Arcy james will be the stars of Something Rotten, which opens April 22 at the St. James. d’Arcy James will play Nick Bottom, one of the two brothers who attempt to write SiennaMillerthe first musical. Borle will play their competitor, Shakespeare.

Sienna Miller takes over from Emma Stone as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, February 17 to March 29 (closing day)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel

If/Then is closing March 22 after 401 performances

Jennifer Hudson will be making her Broadway debut in a revival of The Color Purple as Shug Avery (not Celie.) Date, theater and other cast members to be announced.

Here she is singing “I’m Here” from the show at the Kennedy Center Honors five years ago

The New Play Exchange goes live January 15. My old American Theatre article about such theater-playwright meetups Hope and Exchange

The biggest subsidizer of the arts? In UK, writes Lyn Gardner, it’s the artists themselves (through low pay)

Watch: Lea Michele Sings Let It Go in Glee Final Season

Live Theater in the Age of Screens

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Taylor NegronWicked producer sounds iffy on 2016 release date for film adaptation.


Taylor Negron,dead at 57, left a last funny essay on being “fame-ish” as an actor

Texting and tweeting at concerts, academic paper by Lucy Bennett, who has “a PhD in online fandom.”