Mother of the Maid with Glenn Close: Review, pics

Genghis Khan had a mother; so did Amelia Earhart and Dwight Eisenhower. Perhaps Mother of the Maid, starring Glenn Close as the woman whom Joan of Arc called Ma, will start a trend of offering the maternal perspective on historical figures. It should: Jane Anderson’s play, in a wonderfully acted production at the Public Theater, is amusing, moving, incongruous, just plain odd and riveting. What may be most fascinating about it is that, as improbable as many of the scenes may appear, the play is rooted in the historical record.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.

Sunset Boulevard Review: Ready for Glenn Close Up

hillaryatsunsetThere 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.

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.

There was one moment in the show that actually moved me. That was when Norma is visiting her old movie studio, ignored by everybody bustling about except for one old member of the crew, who shines a spotlight on her. The actors dressed in Samson and Delilah outfits and the camera operators one by one stop what they’re doing to look at her. She basks in the light, glows in it, but her expression is tinged with something deeper, something close to fear and sorrow. She stands there like that, soaking it in, letting us soak it in, before she starts singing “As If We Never Said Goodbye” — the most effective lead-in to a song I think I’ve ever seen on a stage.

But then the song itself, as melodic and touching as it is, ends with: “We taught the world new ways to dream.”

That is one of the lyrics that drive home what I consider a fatal flaw in much of the remaining 150 minutes of “Sunset Boulevard,” a musical adaptation of the 1950 movie that was directed by Billy Wilder and starred Gloria Swanson. In the movie, Norma Desmond is delusional. But the Lloyd Webber musical shares much of her delusion. Rather than the film’s grim and ironic satire of Hollywood, the stage “Sunset Boulevard” is really an homage to (and embodiment of) big, empty commercial entertainment.

Yes, I know, this production – directed by Lonny Price and originally presented by the English National Opera in London — is being touted as a pared down concert version. This is a, well, semi-delusional claim. There is indeed a 40-piece orchestra placed Encores-like on stage. There is also

a cast of more than two dozen

a new gorgeous costume for Glenn Close in each and every scene

a working antique car (a “Isotta-Fraschini”)

a life-sized dummy suspended above the stage (the murder victim we see at the outset of the show, that is supposed to make it a stage noir, which it isn’t)

and the pool of water where the orchestra pit is normally located, from which emerges Joe Gillis (Norma’s kept man, portrayed by Michael Xavier) in wet bathing suit and glistening pectorals.

Yes, yes, the set is surely less elaborate than the original Broadway production: In that version, Norma is alone on New Year’s Eve in her exquisite palazzo, appointed with a working pipe organ and a majestic staircase, when it is literally lifted up into the air, revealing a crowded party in a cramped Hollywood apartment in the bottom half – a living split screen, one of the most memorable stage effects ever. (I’ll confess that’s one of the few things I remember from the 1994 show, winner of seven Tonys, including best musical.) But James Noone’s set for the revival can be considered bare bones only if the bones belonged to Tyrannosaurus rex. It is an elaborate multi-tiered maze of staircases and catwalks, with the “HOLLYWOOD” sign behind it, and interspersed with the odd gold-and-crystal chandelier.

The large orchestra certainly makes Lloyd Webber’s score sound better than it would have if played by 40 kazoos, but, as tuneful as some of it is, all the violins in the world can’t turn it into Puccini.

“Sunset Boulevard” is ersatz opera of the outsized and mostly overwrought kind that Broadway audiences have been eating up, on and off, since the 1980s. It’s noteworthy, then, that this production (and the one in 1994) cast Glenn Close, whose voice is, to put it politely, far from operatic. Her power resides in her acting; her Norma manages, at its best, to be both steely and vulnerable, sinking into herself and dominating everything and everyone. Most of the other cast members hardly register by comparison. (One exception is Fred Johanson as the odd Max von Mayerling, her driver and protector, who makes the most of his one song.)

Glenn Close gets seriously into her character. But at the same time, when Joe says on meeting her “Aren’t you Norma Desmond?….You use to be big,” there’s something of an implied wink in her delivery of the most famous line in the musical (and in the movie): “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”  That’s a moment when the audience can say: I’m with her.

Sunset Boulevard

Book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton; Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton; Based on the film by Billy Wilder.

Directed by Lonny Price; Choreographed by Stephen Mear; Associate Director: Matt Cowart

Scenic Design by James Noone; Costume Design by Tracy Christensen; Lighting Design by Mark Henderson; Sound Design by Mick Potter; Original Glenn Close Costume Designs: Anthony Powell; Glenn Close Wig Design: Andrew Simonin; Glenn Close’s Makeup Design: Charlotte Hayward; Hair and Wig Design by Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas; Makeup Design by Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas; Associate Costume Design: Abby Hahn; Associate Lighting Design: Travis McHale; Associate Sound Design: Adam Fisher; Associate Wig Design: Brittany Hartman

Cast: Glenn Close as Norma Desmond, Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaeffer, Fred Johanson as Max von Mayerling, Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis, Nancy Anderson, Mackenzie Bell,Preston Truman Boyd, Artie Green, Barry Busby, Britney Coleman, Julian R. Decker, Anissa Felix, Drew Foster, David Hess, Brittney Johnson, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Martignetti, Lauralyn McClelland, T. Oliver Reid, Lance Roberts, Stephanie Rothenberg, Graham Rowat, Paul Schoeffler as Cecil B. DeMille, Andy Taylor as Sheldrake, Sean Thompson, Matt Wall, Jim Walton as Manfred

Musical Director: Kristen Blodgette; Music orchestrated by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber; Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements: David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber

Musical Supervisor: Kristen Blodgette; Musical Coordinator: David Lai; Conducted by Kristen Blodgette; Keyboard 1: Michael Patrick Walker; Keyboard 2: Dale Rieling; Concert Master: Kelly Hall-Tompkins; First Violin: Katherine Livolsi-Landau, Karl Kawahara, Victoria Paterson, Sebu Sirinian and Svetlana Tsoneva; Second Violin: Mineko Yajima, Elizabeth Nielsen, Louise Owen, Rena Isbin and Patricia Davis; Viola: David Creswell, Mark Holloway, Richard Brice and Jennifer Herman; Cello: Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf, Robert Burkhart and Emily Brausa; Bass/Electric Bass Peter Donovan; Bass: Lisa Stokes; Flute/Alto Flute: Liz Mann; Flute/Piccolo: Kathleen Nester; Oboe/Cor Anglais: Julia DeRosa; Clarinet: Todd Palmer; Clarinet 2/Tenor Saxophone: Rob Jacoby; Bass Clarinet/Alto Saxophone 1: Andrew Sterman; Bassoon 1: Damian Primis; Bassoon 2: Cynde Iverson; Horn 1: Mike Atkinson; Horn 2: Will de Vos; Trumpet/Piccolo: John Chudoba; Trumpet 2: Alex Holton; Trombone: Mark Patterson; Bass Trombone: Jeremy Morrow; Harp: Grace Paradise; Guitar: Nate Brown; Drums: Michael Croiter; Percussion: Daniel Haskins; Synthesizer Programmer: Stuart Andrews; Music Copying: Emily Grishman Music Preparation and Adriana Grace

Running time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one intermission.

Tickets: $79-$250

“Sunset Boulevard” is scheduled to run through June 25, 2017 (which is an extension of its original run.)

Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide


Yes, Glenn Close, Sally Field, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Bette Midler, and Cynthia Nixon are all returning to Broadway in Spring 2017, and Cate Blanchett and Danny DeVito are making their Broadway debuts. But Broadway is more than its divas and hunks.

The Spring 2017 season begins with a new play based on Chekhov and ends almost four months later with a new play based on Ibsen. Frequently revived plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman are all back again, while the one play by August Wilson that was never produced on Broadway finally gets there. Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel make their Broadway debuts with serious new works that were hits Off-Broadway. And the 41st Broadway house is being inaugurated this season with a Sondheim revival.

Or, yet another way to look at the season, three big beloved Broadway musicals are back, and seven new musicals (four of them based on movies) are making their debuts.

Below are the plays and musicals opening on Broadway from January through April, 2017, going chronologically by opening dates. Things are likely to change — additions, subtractions, rescheduling —  in the weeks and months ahead.


the-present-logoThe Present

Theater: Ethel Barrymore
Playwright: Andrew Lipton
Director: John Crowley
First preview: December 17
Opening: January 8, 2017
Closing: March 19
Cast: Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh
A new play based on Anton Chekhov’s Platonov, with the action transposed to the 1990s.


Twitter feed: @thepresentbway

Buy tickets to The Present



jitney-logoTheater: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman
Playwright: August Wilson
Director: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
First preview: December 28, 2016
Opening: January 19, 2017
Tweeter feed: @MTC_NYC


Broadway premiere of Wilson’s first play, the only work from his The American Century Cycle never previously seen on Broadway. Set in the early 1970’s, the story follows a group of men who drive unlicensed cabs or jitneys.

Buy tickets to Jitney


sunset-boulevard-logoSunset Boulevard

Theater: The Palace
First Preview: February 2, 2017
Opening: February 9, 2017
Written by Christopher Hampton and Don Black (book/lyrics), and Andrew Lloyd Webber (music)
Director: Lonny Price
Cast: Glenn Close
Revival of the 1994 musical based on the 1950 Billy Wilder movie about a faded Hollywood silent film goddess who tries to make one last comeback. This production was seen in a spring 2016 revival in London.



Buy tickets to Sunset Boulevard

Sunday in the Park With George

sunday-in-the-park-logoTheater; Hudson
First Preview: February 2, 2017
Opens: February 23

Closes: April 23
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; book by James Lapine
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford
Transfer of the New York City Center‘s fall 2016 concert version of the Pulitzer-winning 1984 musical about pointillist painter George Seurat.



Buy tickets to Sunday in the Park with George


Significant Other

Significant Other logoTheater: Booth

Previews: February 14, 2017
Opens: March 2, 2017
Playwright: Joshua Harmon
Director: Trip Cullman
Cast: Gideon Glick, Barbara Barrie and Lindsay Mendez
Transfer of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2015 Off-Broadway hit about a gay bachelor looking for love in the big city.



Buy tickets to Significant Other

The Glass Menagerie

glass-menagerie-logoTheater: John Golden
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Director: Sam Gold
First preview: February 14, 2017
Opening March 9, 2017
Cast: Sally Field, Joe Mantello, Finn Witrock, Madison Ferris
The eighth production of Tennessee Williams play on Broadway.


Buy tickets to The Glass Menagerie

Come From Away

Theater: Schoenfeld
Previews: February 18, 2017
Opens: March 12, 2017
Book, music and lyrics by the Canadian husband-and-wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein.
Director: Christopher Ashley
Cast: Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks and Caesar Samayoa.
New musical that explores the lasting connection forged between a group of travelers whose planes were diverted to a small Newfoundland town on Sept. 11, 2001.
The show had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in summer 2015,



Buy tickets to Come From Away

The Price

theprice-logoTheater: Roundabout’s American Airlines
Playwright: Arthur Miller
Director: Terry Kinney
First preview: February 16, 2017
Opening: March 16, 2017
Cast: Danny DeVito, Jessica Hecht, Tony Shalhoub, John Turturro
Tweeter feed: @RTC_NYC


A revival of the 1968 drama about two estranged brothers who reunite to sell their the remainder of their parents’ estate.

Buy tickets to The Price

Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon logoTheater: Broadway
Previews: March 1, 2017
Opens: March 23, 2017
Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (lyrics), Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (book)
Director: Laurence Connor
Cast: Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada
An American soldier named Chris marries Kim in Vietnam before departing for the US. Three years later, he returns to find Kim still alive and raising Tam, a boy he fathered. With the Viet Cong closing in on the city and two women wanting the only place in his heart, Chris has big decisions to make.



Buy tickets to Miss Saigon


sweat-logoTheater: Studio 54
First previews: March 4, 2017
Opens: March 26, 2017
Playwright: Lynn Nottage
Director: Kate Whoriskey
Cast: Carlo Albán, James Colby, Khris Davis, Johanna Day, John Earl Jelks, Will Pullen, Miriam Shor, Lance Coadie Williams, and Michelle Wilson
Broadway transfer of the hit Public Theatre production of Nottage’s drama about blue-collar workers in a Pennsylvania town at the turn of the millennium.

Twitter: @SweatBroadway


My review of Sweat off-Broadway

Buy tickets to Sweat


The Play That Goes Wrong

play-that-goes-wrong-logoTheater: Lyceum
First preview: March 9, 2017
Opens: April 2, 2017
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Director: Mark Bell
Cast: Matthew Cavendish, Bryony Corrigan, Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, Greg Tannahill, and Nancy Zamit.
Olivier Award-winning comedy about an amateur university production that goes hopelessly awry

Twitter: @BwayGoesWrong


Buy tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong


amelie-logoTheatre: Walter Kerr
First preview: March 9, 2017
Opens: April 3, 2017
Written by Dan Messé (music), Nathan Tyson (lyrics), Craig Lucas (book)
Director: Pam MacKinnon
Cast: Phillipa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat
A musical adaptation of the  2001 film, which starred Audrey Tautou as a shy waitress with a wild imagination.



Buy tickets to Amelie

Present Laughter

present-laughter-logoTheater: St. James
Target Previews: Early spring 2017
Opening: April 5, 2017
Playwright: Noël Coward
Director: Moritz von Suelpnagel
Cast: Kevin Kline

Revival of the 1940s comedy about the tribulations of a popular matinee idol.



Buy tickets to Present Laughter

War Paint

Theater: Nederlander
Previews: March 7, 2017
Opening: April 6, 2017
Writers: Book by Doug Wrights; music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie
Director: Michael Grief; choreographer: Christopher Gattelli
Cast: Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole
Musical based on the rivalry of cosmetics titans Helena Rubenstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole)
Premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in summer 2016.



Buy tickets to War Paint


Theater: Vivian Beaumont
Previews: March 23, 2017
Opens: April 13, 2017
Playwright: J.T. Rogers
Director: Bartlett Sher
Cast: Jennifer Ehle, Daniel Jenkins, Jefferson Mays and Daniel Oreskes
Transfer of Lincoln Center Theater’s Off-Broadway production of the play about the top-secret, high-level meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that culminated in the signing of the historic 1993 Oslo Accords.

My review of “Oslo” Off-Broadway



Buy tickets to Oslo

 Groundhog Day

groundhog-day-logoTheater: August Wilson
Previews: March 2017
Opening: April 17, 2017
Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, book by Danny Rubin
Director: Matthew Warchus
Cast: Andy Karl
A musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray film about a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again…and again. Will he ever unlock the secret and break the cycle?
Produced in London in summer 2016.



Buy tickets to Groundhog Day

Six Degrees of Separation

six-degrees-of-separation-logoTheater: Barrymore
Target Opening: April 2017
Playwright: John Guare
Director: Trip Cullman
Cast: Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey
Revival of the 1990 drama about a young con man who is embraced by wealthy New Yorkers after passing himself off as Sidney Poitier’s son.



Buy tickets to Six Degrees of Separation


indecent-logoTheater: Cort
Opening: April 18, 2017
Playwright: Paula Vogel
Director: Rebecca Taichman
Cast: TBA

A behind-the-scenes look at the true story of the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s “God of Vengeance” — “a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel,” in part because of its lesbian lovers.

My review of Indecent Off-Broadway



Buy tickets to Indecent

The Little Foxes

Theater: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman
Playwright: Lillian Hellman
Director: Daniel Sullivan
First preview: March 29, 2017
Opening: April 19, 2017
Cast: Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

The fifth Broadway production of the 1930 drama about a ruthless Southern belle.


Buy tickets to The Little Foxes

Hello, Dolly

Hello Dolly logoTheater: Shubert
Authors: Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, book by Michael Stewart
Director: Jerry Zaks, choreographer Warren Carlyle
First preview: March 13, 2017
Opening: April 20, 2017
Cast: Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
Tweeter feed: @HelloDollyBway

The fifth Broadway production of the 1964 musical about a matchmaker who sets out to find a match for herself at the turn of the 20th century.

Buy tickets to Hello, Dolly

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory logoTheater: Lunt-Fontanne
First Preview: March 28, 2017
Opening: April 23, 2017
Written by David Greig (book), Marc Shaiman (music & lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics), Roald Dahl (novel)
Director: Jack O’Brien
Cast: Christian Borle as Willy Wonka
When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.



Buy tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


anastasia-logoTheater: Broadhurst
First Preview: March 23, 2017
Opening: April 24, 2017
Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally
Director: Darko Tresnjak
Cast: Christy Altomare, Derek Klana, Ramin Karimloo, Mary Beth Peil, John Bolton, and Caroline O’Connor
Inspired by the 1997 film about a young woman who may be the last surviving member of the Russian royal family. The score includes songs from the movie, including the Oscar- nominated “Journey to the Past,” plus an entirely new score from the Tony Award-winning team.
The musical had its world premiere at Hartford in 2016.



Buy tickets to Anastasia


bandstand-logoTheater: Bernard Jacobs
First Preview: March 31, 2017
Opening: April 26, 2017
Music by Richard Oberacker and book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
Director/Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuhler
Cast: Laura Osnes and Corey Cott
This “big-band musical” chronicles a mismatched band of WWII veterans who join forces to compete in a radio contest.
The show debuted in 2015 at Paper Mill Playhouse



Buy tickets to Bandstand

A Doll’s House, Part 2

a-dolls-house-logoTheater: Golden
First Preview: April 1, 2017
Opening: April 27, 2017
Playwright: Lucas Hnath
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell, Condola Rashad.
Sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s play, following up after Nora has left her husband and children.



Buy tickets to A Doll’s House, Part 2


Also check out my monthly calendar of theater openings, which includes Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

Full 2016-2017 Broadway season, including my reviews of the shows that have opened.

Theater Awards Up The Wazoo. Avatar on Stage? RIP Tony Nominee Maya Angelou. The Month of May in New York Theater

Somebody should launch the New York Dramamine Awards — for shows that put us to sleep?

That’s about the only *theater award that hasn’t been thought up yet — most of them having had announcements or ceremonies or parties this month — or, in the case of the Tonys, whose ceremony will take place on June 8th, one promo after another.

It’s enough to twist some people out of shape — a weak segue to this truly disturbing dance sequence from a movie musical. (Could they do that eight times a week on Broadway?)

Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close, Kristin Chenoweth all announced in May their return to Broadway next season.

Plenty of shows opened in May, but none on Broadway.

LucilleLortellogoThe Month in New York Theater

May 4

*Lucille Lortel Awards  Best of Off-Broadway: Fun Home; sweet revenge by both Will Eno and Alex Timbers.

What a terrific idea: The Civilians will become the first theater in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Jonathan Larson’s sister and parents will discuss his life, in lobby before his autobiographical tick…tick BOOM!. New York City Center, June 25.

That’s just one of the many “Lobby Projects” this summer as part of #EncoresOffCenter.

NY Drama Critics Circle*2014 NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award Winners:

The Night Alive, Best Play

All the Way, Best American Play

Fun Home, Best Musical

“Special Citations” to Twelfth Night/Richard III and Richard Nelson’s Apple Family Plays

Alex Timbers to direct “Up Here” by Bobby Lopez and Kristin Lopez-Anderson, boy-meets/loses/gets back-girl musical for La Jolla Playhouse in 2015



*2014 Theatre World Award Winners: Bryan Cranston, Nick Cordero, Ramin Karimloo, Zachary Levi + 8

*2014 Astaire Award Nominees: Broadway Dancers, Choreographers

Peter Maloney (Outside Mullingar) Mare Winningham (Casa Valentina) win *Actors Equity Foundation’s Richard Seff Award. (Seffies?)
Whitney Bashor (Bridges of Madison County) and Steven Boyer (Hand to God) win *Actors Equity Foundation Award for most promising performances

“Critics should write for readers — not artists, not funding bodies, not advertisers, not their pals”

“The two things you cannot do effectively on stage are pray and copulate”-Orson Welles, 17-time Broadway veteran, who would have been 99 today. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations” ~ Orson Welles



Hugh Jackman at Tony's

After he’s host of the Tonys in exactly one month, Hugh Jackman will return to Broadway in The River by Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem), beginning October 31 at the Circle in the Square.

Why hasn’t Fun Home transferred? “Sometimes, shows take time to get to Broadway,” says its composer

New degrees from Boston Conservatory: teaching music to the autistic; arts criticism; contemporary theater.


The New York Philharmonic production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” with  Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson will air Sep. 26 on PBS, Live from Lincoln Center

Jonny Orsini and Nathan Lane

Jonny Orsini and Nathan Lane

The Nance with Nathan Lane will air on PBS next year, also as part of Live on Lincoln Cener. Date uncertain)



Jay Armstrong Johnson, Tony Yazbeck and Clyde Alves in ‘On the Town’

The revival of the Leonard Bernstein/Comden and Green musical On The Town will open October 16 at (newly renamed) Lyric Theater

It will star Jay Armstrong Johnson, Tony Yazbeck and Clyde Alves.


Tony Awards Statuette

*2014 Tony Awards Winners — YOUR Pick (Poll)

Our Picks (Results of poll — AND my preferences)


“I discovered what it is to be an American through the theater”~Pulitzer-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar

Will Mayor DeBlasio be good or the arts in NYC? 



*2014 Outer Critics Circle Award Winners
Steve Bakunas will interview AND paint the portrait of Linda Lavin (his wife) over 90 minutes on stage at Vineyard Theatre June 16

What’s the next live musical on NBC after Peter Pan (set for December 4th)? The Music Man, NBC honchos announced today. (no date yet)

“Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical, at the Public Theater in January (and Broadway after?) gets terrific buzz


kristin-chenoweth-photosKristin Chenoweth is coming back to Broadway in a revival of “On the Twentieth Century.” Opens March 12 2015 American Airlines Theater


How The Velocity of Autumn ran into the ferocity of Broadway. Well-received in DC, it closed quickly in NYC.

Marcyliena Morgan, head of the Hiphop Archive writes about Tupac Shakur and new musical Holler If Ya Hear Me. Tupac Shakur is remembered as a rapper. But he was also an actor (debuting in Raisin in the Sun as a child) and a lover of Shakespeare.


Fran Drescher will remain the wicked (or maybe just misunderstood?) stepmother in Cinderella through June 29th.

Patti LuPone, Joshua Luke Johnston


Sondheim and Lloyd Webber have long wanted to write a song together. Riedel suggests: Next James Bond theme

How live theater is learning from the movies how to evoke “the unseen off-screen” (by using video, etc.)

Answer: This long-time Broadway costume designer is getting entire category on Jeopardy Friday. Question: Who’s William Ivey Long?

If Miss Saigon gets good reviews when it opens next week in UK,producer Cameron Mackintosh reportedly will bring it to Broadway 2015

Daphne Rubin-Vega, singer-actress from Rent to Streetcar Named Desire

Daphne Rubin-Vega in her dressing room at “Streetcar Named Desire,” showing a picture of her mother, who died when the actress was ten. “I’m older now than she ever was.”

Original Rent-er Daphne Rubin-Vega is joining in June Eve Ensler’s Spanish-language Los Monologos de La Vagina, Westside Theater

Here’s TV ad for cryptic The Realistic Joneses that makes it look like a roly-poly sitcom

My review of The Realistic Joneses — which is a bit more…realistic…about the show



Glenn Close returns to Broadway in revival of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance. Also starring John Lithgow,Martha Plimpton. It’s set to open November 20 at The Golden

Power Plays, with new short works by John Guare, David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute,etc TBTB Theater (disability advocates) June 12-29, Theater Row

New Andrew Lloyd Webber musical,  adapted from Jack Black film “School of Rock,” may debut on Broadway,because child labor laws are looser in th US than UK


 The Mysteries at The Flea extends through July 14

LaChanze, Widowed on 9/11, Sings Amazing Grace At Memorial Opening


*2014 Drama League Winners: Neil Patrick Harris, Gentlemen’s Guide, All The Way.

Pace University has announced a new School for the Performing Arts, first new one in Manhattan in nearly 50 years.


STAGETEXT is developing automated captioning. Cheaper, more accurate for deaf audiences.


Winnie Holzman, book writer for the musical "Wicked," is among the 2014 Lilly Award winners.

Winnie Holzman, book writer for the musical “Wicked,” is among the 2014 Lilly Award winners.

*2014 Lilly Award Winners, Honoring Women in the Theater


*2014 Obie Award Winners: Fun Home, Branden Jacobs-Jenkens


TimesSquareMay.jpgThe 5 best things to do in Times Square while waiting to see a show, according to, um, me. 22


A comedy tonight! James Corden “in talks” to return to Broadway in 2015 as the slave in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum


Carrie Robbins designed the costumes for the first play that Meryl Streep performed on Broadway, for the original production of Grease, and for more than thirty other shows on Broadway. But there came a time, shortly after her husband died, when she felt costume designing just wasn’t enough.

“Sometimes,” she thought, “the most important decision I make as a costume designer is: ‘Should I make this out of silk charmeuse or should I make it out of silk crepe?’” Now she says, “I began to see that what my husband did was better than what I was working on.”

Her husband was a physician, then a writer. Carrie Robbins decided to adapt his short stories for the stage. Robbins, who began working as a costume designer on Broadway nearly half a century ago, is now making her debut as a playwright at HERE, with two one-act plays entitled Sawbones and The Diamond Eater, running May 21 through June 7.

Full story


Playwright Karla Jennings suggests anonymous submissions of plays as a way to broaden theater’s reach


Cameron Mackintosh bought UK’s The Ambassadors and will re-name it after Sondheim, who already has a NYC theater named after him.



I’ve never been sick a day in my life,Grandma says in Tony and Tina’s Wedding. But the actress playing her, Annie Lanzillotto, has been  “a cancer person” for the last 33 years.




*2014 Off Broadway Alliance Award Winners: Fun Home, Hand to God 


Kelli O’Hara,Julie Andrews, Raul Esparza,Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein,Stephen Schwartz have all NEVER WON a Tony, although each has been nominated multiple times.


Broadway supports 87,000 jobs and generates $500 million in taxes annually to NYC. Kiss a Broadway tourist: Their ticket buying etc. contributed $9.6 billion to the NYC economy in 2012/13, according to a new economic report from the Broadway League.


Director Jim Cameron is teaming with Cirque de Soleil to develop an “Avatar” stage show.  (Coming to NYC? Would you go?)

ElizabethMoss in Mad Men

Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men is in talks to star in a Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles next season


In what is shaping up as a trend, the US arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar has been canceled at virtually the last minute.

Maya Angelou in Look Away

Maya Angelou, the well-known poet and memoirist, died on May 28th at the age of 86. Few recalled that she co-starred on Broadway in 1973 with Geraldine Page in a play about Mary Todd Lincoln entitled “Look Away.” Although the play closed on opening day, Angelou was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress.

Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Love and Bridges. Lin-Manuel Miranda Meets Rita Moreno In The Heights. The Week in New York Theater

Lin-Manuel Miranda briefly danced with Rita Moreno, and interviewed her about her Oscar-winning role as Anita in “West Side Story” before a screening Sunday of the 1961 movie at the United Palace of Cultural Arts in Washington Heights, attended by some 1,600 people!  At 82, Moreno, who published a memoir last year, is still working; she told Miranda she is making a TV pilot for Amy Poehler. 

The United Palace began life in 1930 as an improbably elegant vaudeville house and movie theater.   It is one of the few surviving gems of its era, and Manhattan’s fourth largest theater, just blocks from the George Washington Bridge.  It was turned into a non-profit cultural center in 2012, and what they’re doing there, helped along by “Sunday Movies at the Palace with Lin-Manuel Miranda,” feels like an effort to create a few bridges — between screen arts and live performing arts, between uptown and downtown.

This is a week for bridges, I suppose. A musical adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County opened on Broadway. James Franco, who is about to debut on Broadway, wrote an essay in the New York Times defending the recent erratic antics of Shia LaBeof, who was going to debut on Broadway last year — trying to create a bridge between actor and audience? Bronx Bombers, a play about the New York Yankees, announced it will close after only 29 performances on Broadway, its producers yet again unsuccessful in their attempt to create a bridge between sports and theater fans.

Off-Broadway Week, 2-for-1 tickets, runs now through March 2.

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, February 17, 2014

TitanicatLincolnCenterWhile well-meaning, Gwydion Suilebhan has some very scary suggestions for using tech to measure theater audience’s response.
Gwydion Suilebhan (@GwydionS) Boo
Jonathan Mandell: Hey I don’t want to be wired for “galvanic skin response” when I go to see a show, thank you very much.
Howard Sherman (@HESherman): I’d submit, for test purposes. Just so long as you don’t force my eyes to stay open, as in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Jonathan Mandell @NewYorkTheater Intermission at Titanic, at Lincoln Center. They’ve just hit the iceberg. This is SO well done


SidneyPoitierNew exhibition at the Main Library on 42nd St. on Raisin in the Sun, including Hansberry’s manuscript, pictures of cast, Tennessee Williams telegram

Digital technology in service of the arts has kinks to work out, as this grouch points out unsupportively

AngelaLansburyAngela Lansbury, with a career spanning 70 years, will be honored by the American Theatre Wing at its annual gala September 15th.

Lin-Manuel Miranda:
How writing works
1.Think of something that doesn’t exist but should
2.Don’t stop until it exists
3.Make it better


Vanessa Williams will be the “Special Guest Star” vocalist in After Midnight from April 1 to May 11.(after Toni Braxton and Kenny Edmonds)

A revival of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance “is in the works for next season,” says Michael Riedel, starring Glenn Close.

Free  Barn Series readings by LAByrinth Theater (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s old company) Feb 25 – March 9

???My review of Love and Information 

Sleep/ I can't sleep/ Hot milk/ I hate it now/ Book?/ I don't have one I like./ Just lie there and breathe./ My head's too full of stuff. Are you asleep?/ No, no, what it's fine. You can't sleep?/ I think I'll get up and go on Facebook.

I can’t sleep/
Hot milk/
I hate it now/
I don’t have one I like./
Just lie there and breathe./
My head’s too full of stuff. Are you asleep?/
No, no, what it’s fine. You can’t sleep?/
I think I’ll get up and go on Facebook.

At the end of Caryl Churchill’s dazzling experimental play “Love and Information,” theatergoers have spent two hours watching 15 actors portray 100-plus characters in more than 60 scenes, some as short as a few seconds, none longer than a few minutes — each scene, no matter how brief, with its own costumes and props: Two characters elaborately dressed as Elvis Presley impersonators, both looking as if they stayed up too late and drank too much, slouch silently in their seats, until one says: “The difficulty of getting the Israelis and Palestinians to…” Blackout. That’s the whole scene….At around the point where the intermission would have been, I started feeling “Love and Information” overload. I loved it anyway.

Full review of Love and Information


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

Bronx Bombers will play its final performance on Broadway March 2, less than a month after opening Feb 6.
The producers’ first sports play, Lombardi, (about football) ran seven months, the second, Magic/Bird (about basketball) 37 performances. This one about baseball will be closing after 29 regular performances.

ChristopherJHankeBroadway vet Christopher J Hanke  (Rent, Cry-Baby,etc) will be replacing Michael Urie in Buyer And Cellar starting March 18th.
And what will Michael Urie be doing? He’ll be touring with Buyer and Cellar — Chicago in May, DC in June, LA in July.

james-franco and Shia LaBeoufJames Franco in defense of Shia LaBeouf, whose “performance art” is trying to “reclaim his public persona”

As an actor, you’re often the most visible part of a project while having the least amount of say over its final form~James Franco

In his will, Philip Seymour Hoffman asks that his son be raised in a city so he can enjoy “the culture, arts and architecture”

Apollo Theater, amateur no more: On its 80th birthday, “the legendary Harlem theater doubles programming and plans to launch its first international tour.”

Theater and Politics – Howlround chat


Jonathan Mandell: “Politics” is like “community.” It seems to mean different things to different people. In danger of losing meaning

@MrSamuelFrench: Do playwrights set out to make a political statement with their work? Or does it happen naturally in it?

Zena ‏@scarletseas: Of course they do – what is The Crucible after all. Playwrights are intellectuals who think, devise, create

Tiffany Antone @LadyPlaywright Have to walk a fine between storytelling and preaching. Audiences don’t like to be talked AT. Tell the story

Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale

Bridges of Madison County reviews


Click to enlarge

The costs of running a theater.  Cape May Stage turns their budget into a scene.

Opening tonight at Quad Cinema: The Standbys, a documentary film about performers like Merwin Foard, the current standby for Aladdin,  who never perform.

“Unlike understudies or swings.. standbys only get onstage if there’s been a disaster” Announcements of their performance are often greeted by boos

Arts Education and Theater Attendance

Mike Lew @MikeLew4 Arts Education Won’t Save Us from Boring, Inaccessible Theater

Well-argued, but I disagree.
Anybody here have personal experience of arts education making a difference in your theatergoing or theater-making? #artsed

What do you get when you combine Snoopy w/ climate science? #DontbeSadFlyingAce FREE play by @SuperheroCH NYU’s Kimmel Center 3/4 7:30


Lopez-Anderson family
Happy 39th Birthday Bobby Lopez, father of two daughters, and of Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Frozen…and much to come.

Q and A with Lopez about Frozen.

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers that inspired the Sound of Music, has died at age 99.

“Before you have any resources, before you have anyone who’s willing to give you a shot, you have your own gut of what you think is good…
I was enormously frustrated as a young director by the fact that I am a very visual thinker; I always had design ideas and I had no money, and so it was very frustrating. It was like this wants to be 4,000 feet of snow, but we’ll settle for this paper bag.” ~ director Lear deBessonet

The Glass Menagerie: There is one magical moment in The Glass Menagerie that I don’t want to talk about since the surprise of it is part of what makes it magical. (For those of you who’ve seen the show – the couch moment.) The rapport between Laura and the gentleman caller is a sustained magical moment, thanks to the performances of Celia Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith.

The Glass Menagerie: There is one magical moment in The Glass Menagerie that I don’t want to talk about since the surprise of it is part of what makes it magical. (For those of you who’ve seen the show – the couch moment.)
The rapport between Laura and the gentleman caller is a sustained magical moment, thanks to the performances of Celia Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith.

The Glass Menagerie comes to an end today.