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Kyle Jean-Baptiste Memorial Service. Forest Whitaker Debuting, Daniel Craig Quitting Broadway. Week in New York Theater

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An informal memorial service will be held in Central Park Monday afternoon for Kyle Jean-Baptiste, 21, the youngest actor and first African-American to portray Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway

Jean-Baptiste died on Aug. 29 after falling from a fourth-story fire escape in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The gathering will be held August 31, 2015 at the Bethesda Fountain at 2 p.m.

Jean-Baptiste was an ensemble performer and an understudy for the role of Valjean. He first appeared on stage in the role on July 23rd.

The actor, who was active on social media, Tweeted before and after his performance:

Three days ago, on Instagram he made his farewell to Les Miserables, showing himself with and without the Les Miz makeup.  He was going to join the cast of The Color Purple on September 6th.

Baptistekyle1onInstagram

Some videos of his remarkable singing:

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Love and Money Maureen Anderman Gabriel Brown Joe Paulik

Love and Money
Maureen Anderman
Gabriel Brown
Joe Paulik

My review of Love and Money

“Love and Money,” A.R. Gurney’s latest comedy about WASPs, is as deep as dust, and no more solid, but as dust goes, it’s a fine light powder, ground by a craftsman who’s been at it for some four decades, and it’s more likely to tickle than to irritate…In a brownstone on the Upper East Side, Cornelia Cunningham (Maureen Anderman) is packing up for a move to a fancy retirement community that she insists on calling a nursing home. At the same time, she is writing checks with a lot of zeroes; she has decided to give away all her considerable wealth to charity…A young African-American man suddenly appears at the brownstone, claiming to be her grandson.

Full review of Love and Money

Daniel J. Watts, Derrick Baskin and Ryan Quinn

Daniel J. Watts, Derrick Baskin and Ryan Quinn

My review of Whorl Inside a Loop

Sherie Rene Scott’s new play at Second Stage Theater, about an actress teaching a class of murderers at a men’s prison, has much that is admirable and even heart-warming. Yet, the creative team more or less manages to turn the inmates into supporting players in what should be their story…What’s good about ‘Whorl Inside a Loop,’ especially the acting, would make its self-indulgent aspects matter less, if the show weren’t entering a theatrical landscape already dotted with well-done prison dramas, most notable among them plays created and performed by ex-inmates.”

Full review of Whorl Inside a Loop

ADelicateShipDellapina,Silverman,Westrate

My review of A Delicate Ship

‘A Delicate Ship’ is a lyrical play with some of the rich intricacy and circumlocution of a poem. To appreciate Ziegler’s play, theatergoers should be open to spending time with the kind of characters who philosophize about suffering over glasses of wine on Christmas Eve…Director Margot Bordelon treats us to a lively pace for such a contemplative piece, and the actors are so good I never once had the urge to yell out ‘Oh, get over yourselves and go bowling.’ (Well, maybe once.)”

Full review of A Delicate Ship

Week in New York Theater News

Theater openings in September

BroadwaySpringseason

Broadway Poll: Which Fall 2015 Show Most Excites You?

15th-Line-Twitter_opt

Starting Monday: a Twitter play – which is a revival because nobody does Twitter plays anymore.
My piece in American Theatre about The 15th Line.

The first tweet is alarming: “Breaking News – Subway accident at 15th St. Station. 21 believed dead, 17 injured. Cause is not yet known.”  It comes from Patrick Hearson (@patcitypress), a journalist at City Press.

Actually, Hearson is not a real journalist—he’s a character in The 15th Line, a play by Philadelphia-based playwright Jeremy Gable written specifically for Twitter. Beginning on Aug. 31, 2015,  and for every day following for eight weeks, the drama will take shape as a total of some 300 tweets by Patrick and three other characters.

“The idea came during a time in which I was working from home and spent a lot of time on Twitter,” Gable explains. “I was struck by how certain events were being covered first or more comprehensively on Twitter than on other news sources. I came to realize that this simple platform was combining the personal with the global, taking huge events and showing us an up-close view.”

That’s exactly what The 15th Line does: A reporter character gives the overview, and the other characters tweet about how they are affected. But in an irony of our digital age: The show is actually a revival. Gable first wrote and tweeted The 15th Line in 2010, when it unfolded every day over some two months. Now director and teacher Erin Mee will be doing the tweeting.

Full article 

Update: To follow the Twitter play online without having to follow each character on Twitter, go to this page.

Forest-Whitaker

Forest Whitaker will make his Broadway debut in Eugene O’Neill’s two-character play Hughie in Spring 2016.

Downstairs_lamama

The Downstairs,La MaMa ETC’s fourth theater, will open in Nov at 66 E 4th St basement.150 seats, classroom,exhibition space,new media focus.

How do you get stars like Nathan Lane and Debra Messing to do a reading of your plays? Be Wesley Taylor. Oct 26 at New World Stages

Pictured: Denzel Washington (Troy Maxson) & Viola Davis (Rose)

Pictured: Denzel Washington (Troy Maxson) & Viola Davis (Rose)

A film version of August Wilson’s Fences to star Viola Davis, directed by Denzel Washington. (It’s unclear whether Washington will play Troy, the part he played on Broadway with Davis.)

Daniel Craig in Betrayal on Broadway. This is the last time he'll be on Broadway, because the audience is his age.

Daniel Craig in Betrayal on Broadway. This is the last time he’ll be on Broadway, because the audience is closet to his age, which is 47.

Daniel Craig, interviewed by Martin McDonagh
“I’d like to do some theater in New York. I’ve done Broadway and I was happy with that, but I don’t want to do Broadway anymore.”
Why?
“The audience is all over 50, on the whole, and I think new faces and cheaper tickets are the only way forward. And it’s never going to happen.”

David Lawson: Daniel Craig should put his money where his mouth is and do a show with $18 tickets.
J Adrian Verkouteren:  He could try holding a lottery for less expensive seats the way Hamilton does.

Why are so many creative people neurotic? Study: on neurotic and creative Both marked by high levels of “self-generated thought.”

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Fantasia! Julie Taymor! Daniel Craig! Dr. Ruth! The Week in New York Theater

WeekinNewYorkTheaterOct28toNov3

Fantasia in After Midnight; Kathryn Hunter as Puck in Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Debra Jo Rupp as the dimunitive sex therapist in Becoming Dr. Ruth

“After Midnight” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened during the week in New York theater: We are clearly in the middle of the theater season. I reviewed these shows as well as “Becoming Dr. Ruth” and “Betrayal” with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Also below, news about Ewan McGregor and Carol Lawrence, Stephen Sondheim and Tony Kushner, August Wilson, another way to celebrate Wicked’s 10th anniversary on Broadway…and Tracy Lett’s 10 Rules For Being Creative.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, October 28, 2013

Top ten stage shows that did NOT win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Top10showswithnoPulitzerFun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori has been extended at ‪The Public Theater until December 1st.

The Irish Rep is reviving It’s A Wonderful Life (the 1946 radio play adapted from the Frank Capra movie). When? In December of course.

Tale of two  (really three) Shakespeares: Romeo and Juliet sold only 42 percent of its seats last week; Twelfth Night and Richard III sold 97 percent!

To celebrate its tenth anniversary on Broadway, Wicked becomes a category on Jeopardy

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American Songbook 2014 at Lincoln Center:  Patina Miller, Jonathan Groff, Ann Harada, Taylor Mac, Norm Lewis, etc. 

 36.7 million saw shows at non-profit theaters, which contributed about $2 billion to U.S. economy, reports Theater Communications Group.

DebraJoRuppasDrRuth

My review of Becoming Dr. Ruth

funny, touching, lovely solo show about the celebrity sex therapist’s remarkable life story ….Debra Jo Rupp is able to communicate Dr. Ruth’s humor and warmth and inspiring resilience in a way that only seems possible on a stage. And, though Rupp is a full seven inches taller than Ruth Westheimer, she even manages to convince us that she’s as physically short as the larger-than-life woman she is portraying.

Full review of Becoming Dr. Ruth

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CarolLawrenceWestSideStoryandnow

Carol Lawrence, original Maria in West Side Story, plays Israeli grandmother in new play Handle with Care, which opens December 15th at Westside Theater

The 46-year-old Puerto Rican Traveling Theater Co. is merging with 34-year-old Pregones Theater

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"The Impossible" - Los Angeles Premiere - ArrivalsEwan McGregor will make his Broadway debut in The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, Oct.2014

Stephen Sondheim attended the musical “Fun Home” at the Public Theater, which prompted Michael Schulman to observe: “The score, by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), is rich and troubled and psychologically nuanced, in a way that seems inescapably Sondheimian. Starting in the nineteen-seventies, Sondheim ushered in a new way of writing show tunes, one that favored liminal states—ambivalence, regret—over toe-tapping joy.”

Tony Kushner is writing “a screenplay and an opera libretto about Eugene O’Neill.”

Trey Graham ‏@treygraham A Tony Kushner opera about Eugene O’Neill. That’ll be brisk.

 

ARaisinintheSunRevisited

Miss “The Raisin Cycle” documentary on PBS, about Raisin in the Sun & its sequels? Full show here for a limited time

November 1, 2013

SpeakeasyDollhouse

Q and A with performance artist Cynth Von Buhler, creator of Speakeasy Dollhouse, combination immersive theater and gin joint

NewPLayExchange

New Play Exchange

Like many playwrights, Gwydion Suilebhan has long been frustrated by what happens after he has written a play.

“The task of figuring out, among the thousands of theatres across the United States, which ones might be both right for a given play of mine and interested in considering new work at any given moment in time,” he says, “falls somewhere between onerous and impossible.

That’s why Suilebhan is delighted by the idea of a national database of new plays—an idea, in fact, that promises to be coming soon to a theatre near you. Indeed, Suilebhan was hired this past summer as the director of the New Play Exchange, an online tool being developed at the National New Play Network, aiming to be fully operational by 2015.

Full article on New Play Exchange

Betrayal1

My review of Betrayal

Director Mike Nichols takes liberties.  The alcohol pours freely, designer Ian MacNeil’s sets glide aerodynamically into place, the actors shed British reserve to shout and grab and, instead of staring, kiss…and couple.  This is a more external, more explicit, production of what is already Pinter’s most accessible play. For me, what’s lost in subtlety is gained in clarity…

While many have been drawn to this third Broadway production of Betrayal for reasons other than, say, a love of Pinter, the three main actors (there is a fourth who plays a waiter in one scene) deliver arresting performances on the stage. These are not slumming screen stars. We see the characters transform (backwards) before our eyes: Daniel Craig’s indifferent attitude unravels into anger, resentment, hurt; Rachel Weisz’s reserve collapses into a naivete that makes her an easy target; Rafe Spall guilt turns to puppy-doggish enthusiasm  and then to a drunken sort of mercenary aggression.

Full review of Betrayal

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A dozen videos from the Howlround conference on Latino theater

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My review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There is something terrifically apt in director Julie Taymor, so loved after creating The Lion King, and so hated after Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, inaugurating a beautiful new theater in Brooklyn with Shakespeare’s play about the fickleness of affection.

There are echoes of her previous work in Taymor’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center – the lovely delicate animal costumes that the ensemble occasionally wear recall The Lion King, the breathtaking use of parachute-size sheets and aerial acrobatics seem taken from the Spider-Man playbook. But Taymor’s inventive staging has the feel of something new, ironically because she is in a way revisiting her past  — she first worked with Theatre for a New Audience in 1984, when she was an experimental theater artist known only to the cognoscenti. Her Dream returns her to a relatively intimate scale (and lower budget) and is better because of it. It is time to love Julie Taymor again.

This is not to say that hers is a perfect Dream…

Full review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Bruce Hallett, former president of Time and Sports Illustrated, has joined Playbill Inc. as its publisher, focusing on the print magazine.

Glen Berger’s book Song of Spiderman is an insider’s coroner report, says review Mark Harris. One line:  “Just watching it all disappear down the dream hole, huh?” Julie Taymor said to Glen Berger after tough Spider-man rehearsal.

Ruben Santiago Hudson

Ruben Santiago-Hudson has been taken with August Wilson since he saw Wilson’s very first play on Broadway, as he told me during the recent taping of all 10 plays of Wilson’s American Century Cycle — each one set in a different decade of the twentieth century.

“I was smitten, captured, put in a spell,” he says. “Nobody had represented me with such integrity; nobody seemed to have the love for me and the people I knew like August did.”

Santiago-Hudson is committed to putting the last of Wilson’s plays, Jitney, on Broadway. In the meantime, he is playing August Wilson in a solo show BY Wilson, How I Learned What I Learned

Fantasia

Fantasia

My review of After Midnight

Syncopated or synchronized; scatting, swinging or serenading; in white satin or black silk, the more than three dozen supremely talented entertainers of “After Midnight” – singers, dancers and musicians – thrill with an astonishing 27 musical numbers over 90 intermission-less minutes…

The first guest artist is Fantasia Barrino, the American Idol winner who floored Broadway audiences with her performance as Celie in The Color Purple. (Future guest artists already lined up after Barrino leaves the show in February: kd lang, then Toni Braxton and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.) It is a different Fantasia – luscious, sparkling, dressed in celebrated fashion designer/first-time Broadway costume designer Isabel Toledo’s flattering ensembles – who floors us in a completely new way with her polished singing of the enduring jazz standards “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,”  “Stormy Weather,” and “On The Sunny Side of the Street,” as well as her fabulous scatting in Cab Calloway’s snazzy “Zaz Zuh Zaz.” But this is a show too rich in talent to have to depend on any one star. Even the orchestra is called the All-Stars …

There are two ways, however, in which Dule Hill’s use of Langston Hughes’ poetry as the sole spoken text of “After Midnight” strikes me as a missed opportunity..

Full review of After Midnight

Tracy Letts’ 10 Rules for Being Creative

Tracy Letts 10 ideas for being creative

Betrayal Review: Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz taking liberties

Betrayal2

There is a moment in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, which stars Daniel Craig (007) and his wife Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) as a couple who cheat on one another, that may well determine whether you find Mike Nichol’s Broadway production “stunning,” as many have, or “crude and clunky,“ as at least one did.  It is the very end of the play, which is actually the beginning of Emma’s adulterous affair with Jerry (Rafe Spall), Robert’s best friend, since the play moves backwards chronologically.

It is 1968, and Jerry and Emma are drunk and high and in a back bedroom at a party, Robert has just left the room, and Jerry more or less attacks Emma. She resists for a second, then they kiss passionately.

In the script, however, Pinter’s stage direction for this moment says: “They stand still, looking at each other.”

Director Mike Nichols takes liberties.  The alcohol pours freely, designer Ian MacNeil’s sets glide aerodynamically into place, the actors shed British reserve to shout and grab and, instead of staring, kiss…and couple.  This is a more external, more explicit, production of what is already Pinter’s most accessible play. For me, what’s lost in subtlety is gained in clarity. Even Ann Roth’s costumes help to explain the characters’ behavior, especially the flowing red hippie-inspired dress that Emma wears in 1968: The seven-year affair between Jerry and Emma began in an era that encouraged free love/sexual licentiousness.

There were several such revelations to me in this revival of a 1978 play about three civilized characters – Robert is a publisher, Emma a gallery owner, Jerry a literary agent – ruled more than they admit by their libido. The adulterous affair between Jerry and Emma is front and center in the nine scenes that  move from 1977 to 1968; Jerry and Emma even get an apartment together, and fully furnish it, in order to spend each afternoon together.  But their affair is only one in the multiple layers of lying and cheating in which the characters engage.

Granted, there is satisfaction in piecing together the puzzle of the characters’ interaction on one’s own — this is a play that doesn’t need to be performed to be appreciated – rather than having the director be quite so graphic and instructive.

While many have been drawn to this third Broadway production of Betrayal for reasons other than, say, a love of Pinter, the three main actors (there is a fourth who plays a waiter in one scene) deliver arresting performances on the stage. These are not slumming screen stars. We see the characters transform (backwards) before our eyes: Craig’s indifferent attitude unravels into anger, resentment, hurt; Weisz’s reserve collapses into a naivete that makes her an easy target; Spall guilt turns to puppy-doggish enthusiasm  and then to a drunken sort of mercenary aggression. Spall’s is the most surprising of these performances, if for no other reason that that he is least-known of the actors; his credits include the writer in Life of Pi, but it says something that he might be best known as the son of Timothy Spall, who played the rodent Wormtail in Harry Potter.

In a world where Julius Caesar can be set in a modern women’s prison and Romeo wear a pumpkin head, surely there is room for an intelligent, relatively minimal reworking of a play only 35 years old, by a playwright just five years dead.

Betrayal

Ethel Barrymore Theater

By Harold Pinter; directed by Mike Nichols; sets by Ian MacNeil; costumes by Ann Roth; lighting by Brian MacDevitt; sound by Scott Lehrer; music by James Murphy; video by Finn Ross; hair, wigs and makeup design by Campbell Young and Luc Verschueren

Cast: Daniel Craig (Robert), Rachel Weisz (Emma), Rafe Spall (Jerry) and Stephen DeRosa (Waiter).

Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission

Betrayal is scheduled to run through January 5.

Wicked at 10. Rachel Weisz Betrays Daniel Craig. Baseball on Broadway. The Week in New York Theater

RachelWeiszDanielCraigRafeSpall“The world is a better place when people are doing things rather than having things.“~Damian Bazadona, founder of Situation Interactive

“Art is dangerous….” ~ Duke Ellington

From Wicked’s tenth anniversary celebrations to the opening of a show about adultery where Broadway newbie Rachel Weisz betrays husband Daniel Craig, to the news that The Mutilated by Tennessee Williams will star Warhol and John Waters cult actresses; from one-minute plays and 24-hour plays (plays conceived, written all in one day) —  New York theater has it all.

And it’s always changing — not always a good thing. (See “What’s so great about innovation” below) Baseball’s moving to Broadway, Mamma Mia’s making room for Rocky, King Kong is scouting theaters in New York, a brand new theater opens in Brooklyn.  Les Miz has found its man — men and women leads. Mary-Louise has return to Broadway (see review of The Snow Geese below), Nina Arianda announces her return to a New York stage, Isabella Rossellini is going to BAM for a show about sex.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lou Gehrig, played by John Wernke, in Bronx Bombers, a play about the Yankees

Lou Gehrig, played by John Wernke, in Bronx Bombers, a play about the Yankees

The Bronx Bombers, about the New York Yankees, is transferring to Broadway in January.

SpotlightonBroadway

The mayor invited New Yorkers to “move up town and enjoy the pure, clean air.”  This was in 1836, and he meant 42nd Street. From Spotlight on Broadway, the new website from New York City.

What’s so great about innovation?

Todd London of the New Dramatists was one of the speakers in something called the National Innovation Summit for Arts + Culture

“I’ve come to bury innovation, not to praise it,” he said, decrying donors’ obsession with the word.

“We make home for fifty playwrights in a world of their words. Words discovered and discarded, considered, blown apart, and put back together. Maybe this explains the deep offense I take at the jargon of corporate America that floats the innovation boat….

“We’ve learned to talk about marketing as though it were community engagement. And now we are challenged to add innovation to the list of empty phrases to live by.…

“Why fetishize innovation? Why not excavation, elaboration, celebration? Not all artistic enterprises, not all historical moments, demand radical departure. More often than not, the new is actually something old, something other, that we’ve previously refused to hear …”

His full speech is in this video starting at 33 minutes. An edited transcript is here.

 Foundry Theatre partners with social justice organizations to effect change in New York, writes RJ Maccani, who explains how

King Kong in New York? Not on the Empire State Building this time. The Australian musical, aims for Broadway within 2 years

Michael Kimmel ‏‪(@mkimml): I was waiting for a joke about bringing him to NYC!!

‪Jonathan Mandell: And did I deliver? Or are you still waiting?

Michael Kimmel: It hit all the notes I was looking for!

Jonathan Mandell: Any Australian pals who’ve seen ‪@KingKongStage? As good as we’ve been told?

King Kong ‏‪@KingKongStage  We think so! 🙂 But don’t take our word for it – check out

and

DanielCurry

They raised $10,000 at benefit for Spider-Man performer Daniel Curry, who made his first appearance since accident

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The principal cast has been hired for the revival of Les Miserables on Broadway:

Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean

Will Swenson

Will Swenson as Javert

caissie-levy

Caissie Levy as Fantine

nikki james

Nikki James as Eponine

TheaterforaNewAudience

JeffreyHorowitzinfrontofTFANA

Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of Theater For A New Audience

Congratulations to  Theater for a New Audience for its building opening in Fort Greene,  Polonsky Shakespeare Center I’ll miss them in MY neighborhood though.

Theater For A New Audience (‏@TheatreforaNewA) Thanks!  We hope you’ll visit us in Brooklyn!

I love Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowtiz’s corny speech welcoming them: “To be or not to be in Brooklyn was never a question.”

Kimberly Olstad ‏‪@kolstada:  It looks stunning. Can’t wait to visit!

Cody ‏‪@candrus68:  Saw it under construction. It is awe-inspiring.

Will trend towards broadcasting live performances wipe out small/regional arts organizations, Michael Kaiser of the Kennedy Center asks.

Sing a song, sing out loud,sing out….Broadway!

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jason Robert Brown and Tom Kitt are among the Broadway composers writing music for Sesame Street

“When I got the recording of Elmo,I could not have been more excited if it had been Frank Sinatra” — Jason Robert Brown.

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JoelGrey

Broadway veteran  Joel Grey, 81, (best-known as MC in Cabaret) will publish a memoir entitled Master of Ceremonies

Clever casting of “trans-genre artist” Justin V Bond (Kiki & Herb On Broadway) in Brecht’s A Man’s A Man at Classic Stage Company starting January 10, 2014.

Angela Lansbury,Tyne Daly and many more to celebrate  thelife of theater publicist Shirley Herz (1925-2013) 1:30, November 4 Samuel J Friedman Theater

DevinMojicaNineteen-year-old Devin Mojica is becoming a Broadway playwright! Winner of a competition, he’ll write for 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, mentored by Craig “muMs” Grant.
The six plays,  put together in one day and starring such luminaries as Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Zachary Levi, will be presented  on November 18th at American Airlines Theater.

NBC’s Sound of Music Dec 5 “like going to a Bway show, but you’re in your living room,” says star ‪Carrie Underwood ‪#ButNoPlaybill

Andrea Diaz ‏‪@Drea7886 Certain things can’t be remade… The Sound of Music is one such thing !

Two days before ‪NBC broadcasts Sound of Music December 5,‪ Sony Masterworks will release cast album, with Underwood, Auda McDonald, etc.

Kathryn Lurie ‏‪@kathrynlurie‬ 

I am not ok with this. ‪#purist
David Hyde Pierce stars in The Landing by his nephew Greg Pierce (music by John Kander of Cabaret and Chicago fame), opening tonight at the ‪Vineyard theatre. ‪
‘Never touched the diapers,” David Hyde Pierce. But he has been touching the plays, as mentor,show doctor, star

15Elphabas

Dish from 15 who’ve played  the witch Elphaba in 10 years of ‪Wicked (eg Aaron Tveit best kisser)

Warhol’s ‪Penny Arcade and John Waters’ ‪Mink Stole star in Tennessee Williams’ The Mutilated, ‪at New Ohio Theatre November 1-24

Nina Arianda (Venus In Fur/BornYesterday) will play World War I widow in David Grimm’s Tales From Red Vienna. Opens March

Spike Lee on TV today: We might do Broadway musical of ‘Do the Right Thing.’ I’ll write and direct it but I’m too old to play Mookie

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Christopher Fitzgerald (great as leprechaun in Finian’s Rainbow) assumes role of Mr. Cellophane in ‪Chicago as of October 28

Yes, ‪WICKED is turning 10, and has made billions of dollars. But now it’s hit the big time: On Monday, it’ll be an entire category on ‪Jeopardy

Ed Harris, Glenne Headly in The Jacksonians

Ed Harris, Glenne Headly in The Jacksonians

It doesn’t even begin performances until tomorrow, but ‪The New Group’s The Jacksonian, by Beth Henley, directed ‪by Robert Falls, starring Ed Harris Glenne Headly, Amy Madigan, Bill Pullman, extends to December 22

Isabella Rossellini’s 1-woman show “Green Porno” about mating rituals of insects (adapted from TV series) ‪Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jan 16-25

What is Audience Engagement?

‪ What is “audience engagement” and how does it differ from engaging audiences with, um, a good theater piece? ‪

Aaron Carter ‏‪@TechneMorph I define it specifically as interaction with audience outside of performance. You?

Erin Hopkins ‏‪@Hoppicans I think of lobby displays, audience activities; being aware of zeitgeist in communities

L. Nicol Cabe ‏‪@nicolthegreat‬ Yeah, “audience engagement” seems like extension of idea that we have to train audiences to view art. I find that a little insulting to audiences. If they “don’t get it” then maybe WE’RE doing it wrong. ‪

Aaron Carter ‏‪ Is it less insulting to think about offering multiple access points to art?

Jonathan Mandell: The best kind of audience engagement outside of performance is arguably online, e.g. ‪New York NeoFuturists and New Paradise Labs Nobody would mistake the weekly “Twitter plays” from ‪@nyneofuturists as nothing more than marketing.

The Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards  @ddpaa: Having audiences feel ownership/invested is key. Social media creates opportunities for direct participation with an organization.

NY Neo-Futurists ‏‪@nyneofuturists Theater functions best when it is a communal experience. Online forums broaden the community. That said, there is no substitute for being in the room where things happen.

New Paradise Labs ‏‪@NewParadiseLabs: Online engagement also invites in digital natives who may not be experienced with darkened room. We love the darkened room. We love the translucent room as well. Where things are not so medieval.

Jonathan Mandell: Whose idea was the Twitter feed of Next to Normal, which got about a million followers
Alli Houseworth ‏‪@AlliHouseworth It was ‪Situation Interactive, an interactive agency in NYC

Holly L. Derr @hld6oddblend Theater isn’t an app, It can’t always be configured to users’ tastes.

Eric Pfeffinger ‏ ‪@epfeffin Idea of spring boarding from theater’s mission & plays’ content into relevant community action is actually exciting.

(This conversation was an edited excerpt from a weekly Howlround chat on Twitter.)

The Snow GeeseSamuel J. Friedman Theatre

My review of The Snow Geese

Mary-Louise Parker, whose performance in White’s play marks her sixth time on Broadway, has said that “The Snow Geese”  feels like “a lost Chekhov” – and that’s about right, although not in the way she surely meant. It loses in the Chekhov competition to last season’s far more lively Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Yes, that play was ridiculous in some ways, a spoof as much as an homage. White’s play is more elegant, the allusions to the masterful Russian dramatist (slightly) more subtle. The snow geese of the title are a more useful recurring metaphor (for waste, for example; the family kills more than they can retrieve or eat) than Sonia’s “I am a wild turkey” refrain. But, despite Daniel Sullivan’s polished direction, an extraordinary cast, especially Danny Burstein and Victoria Clark; a beautiful and inventive set design by the reliable John Lee Beatty; Jane Greenwood’s as-usual spot-on costumes; and Japhy Weideman’s strikingly atmospheric lighting, “The Snow Geese” leaves you feeling at a loss as to what to make of the play.

Full review of The Snow Geese

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Mamma Mia NY

Mamma Mia began after 9/11 and wasn’t expected to last. Five thousand performances and $622 million later, it’s moving ‪http://apne.ws/19E0dxp

industrialmusicalMusicals about tractors, utility companies, insurance firms? A new book explores the industrial musical . Kander and Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret) did one called “Go Fly A Kite” for electrical companies convention.

A drama degree is a waste of time and money for actors, says Paul Roseby, the artistic director of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. The head of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts ‪disagrees ‪

What effect do period costumes have on actors? The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation ‪has given JoAnn Yeoman a George C Wolfe Fellowship to find out.

Marcia Polas ‏‪@polaspilates It would be interesting to look at this in relation to movement patterns and how they impact natural patterns.

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Stephen Sondheim is getting ‪the Louis Auchincloss Prize from the Museum of the City of New York on November 19, given annually to an artist or writer whose work is inspired by and enhances New York City.

at the Gay Liberation statue by George Segal In Sheridan Square

at the Gay Liberation statue by George Segal In Sheridan Square

Been waiting for Godot? ‪Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Pinter’s No Man’s Land start performances in repertory today today. No more ‪more Sir Pat and Sir Ian on the town pics?

AfterMidnightArtisDangerous‪Dule Hill @DuleHill
“ART is Dangerous…It’s one of the attractions” – Duke Ellington, After Midnight

The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream
will reportedly return to Broadway’s Marquis Theater for 3 weeks starting December 16

Blythe Danner, Amanda Peet, Sarah Jessica Parker

Blythe Danner, Amanda Peet, Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner in Amanda Peet’s The Commons of Pensacola 16-second video

Rocky Marquee

This weird anybody out?

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L.A.-based casting directors want to boycott the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills because they hired a NYC casting director,  to cast its first play play

Lou Reed, 1942-2013

Betrayal1

Betrayal
Betrayal with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall opens tonight. Here are nine photographs

Betrayal Broadway marquee already up

Betrayal Broadway marquee already up

Although it doesn’t open until October 27, the marquee is already up at the Ethel Barrymore Theater for the revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, starring real-life husband and wife Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz (she’s making her Broadway debut), directed by Mike Nichols. The play is scheduled to run through January 5.

Lucky Guy. Kinky Boots. Broadway Beasts

Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, Billy Porter in Kinky Boots, Porridge the dog in Pippin.

Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, Billy Porter in Kinky Boots, Porridge the dog in Pippin.

BroadwayOpeningsApril2013Lucky Guy and Kinky Boots opened on Broadway last week, Matilda is opening this week — one of a dozen Broadway shows still to open this month, to finish the Broadway Spring 2013 season, a season marked by an unusual number of non-human cast members. Below: a poll to choose your favorite Broadway beast.

Orlando Bloom and Rachel Weisz will both be making their Broadway debuts — Weisz in a cast that includes her husband Daniel Craig.

New York theater is not just Broadway — not even in April.  Nominees for Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway were announced. The League of Independent Theater (aka Off-Off Broadway) held its first-ever political candidate forums to address the issues facing some 50,000 independent theater artists in New York.

All that was good news. This was also a week of bad news, if you care about arts criticism.

The Week in New York Theater

April 1, 2013

orlando-bloom-romeoOrlando Bloom and Condola Rashad will star on Broadway in “Romeo and Juliet.” The production, which will also feature Jayne Houdyshell and Joe Morton, opens September 19 at Richard Rodgers. Bloom (“Lord of the Rings,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) will be making his Broadway debut. Rashad, the daughter of Phylicia Rashad, made a splash in “Stick Fly” and is about to performer in “The Trip to Bountiful”

Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson will announce the nominees for the Tony Awards on April 30th at 8 am from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. 

Lucky Guy 1 Broadhurst Theater

My review of Lucky Guy

“Journalists aren’t nearly as interesting as they think they are,” David Eisenhower once said, a quote that Nora Ephron cited favorably in her final media column for Esquire in 1977. This was before Ephron became a movie director and screenwriter, and long before she wrote “Lucky Guy,” her play about the late tabloid columnist Mike McAlary. “Lucky Guy” is now opening at the Broadhurst starring Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut.

Ephron, whose play is being produced posthumously,  obviously changed her mind about journalists, for “Lucky Guy” depicts New York City newspaper columnists and editors who find each other fascinating.  Theatergoers are likely to find them less so.

That is why “Lucky Guy” is luckiest in having snagged Tom Hanks to return to the stage after an absence of decades.  He is certainly the reason why this script made it to Broadway. The production is also lucky to have George C. Wolfe directing, for he almost redeems what is otherwise a largely thin, plodding endeavor full of boozy sentimentality. He does this by injecting some clever stage business and a few well-orchestrated moments — and by having hired a first-rate cast.

Full review of Lucky Guy, including photo gallery

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March 2013 Theater Quiz

March 2013 theater quiz — test how well you were paying attention.

Sample question: Who are Smith and Clarke?

  •  A new song-writing team
  •  The law firm representing Julie Taymor in her continuing lawsuit against the producers and composers of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
  •  The producing team trying to get new investors for Rebecca
  •  18th century New World explorers who are the subject of a forthcoming musical
  •  The stars of Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Richard Rodgers TheatreStars are no guarantee:  “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” starring Scarlett Johansson did not recoup its $3.6 million capitalization during its 15-week run.

Astoria is a growing center for the arts

Duet between Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty in Smash

3

Milo O’Shea, classic Irish-born character actor, veteran of 10 Broadway shows, has died at age 86. (Loved him in The Verdict)

RichardGreenbergplaywrightBreakfast At Tiffany’s, Assembled Parties, Far From Heaven…all by Richard Greenberg

— and all opening within a few weeks of one another in New York.

4

Roger-red-seats

Roger Ebert, 6/8/1942 – 4/4/2013

Film critic Roger Ebert has died at age 70. ‪@ebertchicago is no more. His last film review was five days ago. His last Tweet was yesterday. He died on the day after his 46th anniversary as a film critic! Here’s what he wrote yesterday.  The optimism makes you cry.

LucilleLortelplaynominees

Nominees for 2013 Lucille Lortel Awards for Off-Broadway

Giant, just nominated for a Lucille Lortel award, is getting a cast album in May

Kinky Boots 8

My review of Kinky Boots

Is it a shock to say that “Kinky Boots” just isn’t kinky enough?

It could have been. Harvey Fierstein wrote the book, he who began his career as a 300-pound teenage drag queen on the Lower East Side. Cyndi Lauper is making her Broadway songwriting debut, she who began as the girl with the tie-dye colored hair who just wants to have fun…..

The stage version delivers a couple of stand-out performances; a few touching moments; several catchy melodies presented with verve and panache in a diverse score of genuine pop tunes — one of which, “Sex Is In The Heel” is already a certified hit in the clubs — flavored by funk, disco and even a tango.

“Kinky Boots” is professionally put together, it’s entertaining…and it’s both safe and familiar.

Full review of Kinky Boots

5

Rachel Weisz and Daniel CraigIt’s official: Daniel Craig will star with wife Rachel Weisz in Broadway revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, at the Ethel Barrymore Barrymore opening November 3. Weisz (The Bourne Legacy, The Constant Gardener) will be making her Broadway debut.  Craig (best-known as James Bond) appeared on Broadway in 2009 in “A Steady Rain.”

Remember Rob McClure from Chaplin? He joins Tony Danza in Jason R Brown’s “Honeymoon in Vegas” at the Papermill Playhouse, aiming for Broadway

On American Songbook with Michael Feinstein on PBS, ‏Stephen Sondheim said his favorite composers are George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

A brief history of applause — Nobody is sure how applause began, or when — babies applaud; applause is mentioned in the Bible — but we all know where it wound up: In the theater.

Speaking Theater to Power

 

John Clancy, executive director of the League of Independent Theater, which conducted its first ever political candidate forums.

John Clancy

The League of Independent Theater held its first political candidate forums last month, and is planning to make endorsements in New York City political races. With some 50,000 independent theater artists in New York City, roughly 86 percent of them regular voters, the league’s executive director John Clancy says he is convinced that an organized voice can make a difference

Backstage is laying off its theater critic and eliminating all theater reviewing in the publication by the end of the month.

Howlround dedicated the week to essays on theater criticism.

Last words of Matilda author Roald Dahl. He was not afraid of dying: “It’s just that I will miss you all so much…Ow, fuck!”

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New, wonderful-sounding series from New York City Center: “Encores! Off-Center.”  Great musicals for $25

The Beasts of Broadway

Best Broadway Beast Poll

How to keep old shows feeling like new:

“Hands down, when you’re in a long-run show, the best thing that happens is there’s turnover in cast,” says Wicked stage manager Meredith Abel. “….those influxes of difference make everybody, like, step up.”

7

All The Way by Robert Schenkkan , about LBJ,wins 2013 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award for Best New Play produced outside of NY

The New York Shakespeare Exchange’s Sonnet Project, Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets filmed in NYC locations, kick-off party April 26 at  The Drama Bookshop. 

Closing today: Annie Baker’s The Flick, at Playwrights Horizons, which sparked complaint and controversy