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February 2017 NY Theater Openings

Broadway this month will see the opening of two starry musical  revivals by two of the reigning composers of musical theater — Stephen Sondheim (86) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (68) — while Off-Broadway pays tribute to Jerry Herman (85) and Kurt Weill (1900-1950), and presents a new musical by John Kander (89.)

Meanwhile, Off-Off Broadway is showcasing the work of one of New York’s hottest musical composers, Dave Malloy (41), best-known for the hit Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812., which also started Off-Off-Broadway.

The month will also see the opening of new plays by (among others) Brandon Jacob-Jenkins, David Mamet,  Tanya Saracho,and  Will Eno, and new productions of plays by Tracy Letts and Wallace Shawn.

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide

February 1

georgie-for-calendar

Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose (Davenport)

Ed Dixon recounts how he came to know and admire character actor George Rose, who acted with such luminaries as Katherine Hepburn and Noel Coward.

February 8

jonah-and-otto

Jonah and Otto (Lost Tribe at Theater Row)

Over the course of a single day, two men  – one 26, the other 62; different in every way – share their solitude and unfold their secrets.

fade-for-calendar

Fade (Primary Stages at Cherry Lane)

A comedy by Tanya Saracho about the burgeoning friendship between Lucia and Abel, two Latinos of Mexican descent working at a ruthless Hollywood studio

big-river-poster-2

Big River (Encores at City Center)

The Encores concert version of the Tony-winning musical based on Mark Twain’s novel “Huck Finn.”

February 9

The Mother of Invention (Abingdon at June Havoc)

James Lecesne’s unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Sunset Boulevard (Palace Theatre)

Glenn Close stars in a 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.

object-lesson-for-calendar

The Object Lesson (New York Theatre Workshop)

In what’s becoming its signature activity, NYTW has physically transformed their theater once again, this time turning it into a giant storage facility.  allowing audiences to roam and poke through the clutter.

February 10

crackskull-row-for-calendar

Crackskull Row ( Irish Rep)

Rasher Moorigan has a secret that only his mother knows. Tonight  – for the first time in over thirty years – mother and son spend May Eve together in a wreck of a house down the backlanes of Dublin

February 12

kurt-weill

Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: (York)

Kurt Weill’s theater songs are presented in the York’s “Musical in Muftis” series (a short run), in a blend of music and story, spanning twenty years, from Von Hindenburg and Hitler in Germany to Roosevelt and Truman in the U.S.

beardoscream

Beardo (Pipeline)

Beardo, which takes place in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Greenpoint,  is a “Russian indie rock musical” with music by Dave Malloy ( Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.) “This New York premiere explodes the mad inner workings of Rasputin, the infamous mystic who sexed his way to the fall of the Russian monarchy.”

Ring Twice For Miranda (NY City Center Stage II)

A man known only as Sir rules with a vengeance, but it’s Miranda, a chambermaid, who adds intrigue to his life. When Elliot, the butler, is fired, she flees with him in defiance onto the frightening streets. All must soon make critical decisions with imperfect facts to guide them, since little in their world is as it appears.

February 15

man-from-nebraska-for-calendar

Man From Nebraska (Second Stage)

A revival of the play by Tracey Letts, directed by David Cromer, starring Reed Birney (The Humans) as Ken, a middle aged man from Nebraska, who suddenly finds he’s lost his faith, along with his sense of purpose. He goes on a wild adventure to find it. Along the way he encounters a world vastly different from his own, filled with chance meetings and romantic encounters that shake him to the core.

February 16

Wallace Shawn, from the National Theater production.

Wallace Shawn, from the National Theater production.

Evening at the Talk House (New Group at  Signature)

The New Group at Signature) by Wallace Shawn with Matthew Broderick, Jill Eikenberry, John Epperson, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, Claudia Shear, Annapurna Sriram, Michael Tucker.  Shawn takes on theater itself with this acerbic and stealth political comedy about theater artists who  have a reunion at their old hangout, the Talk House, to reminisce about the show they made a decade ago — except most are no longer theater artists. There’s been “a decline in the theatergoing impulse.”

February 19

On The Exhale (Roundabout)

A play by Martin Zimmerman (Netflix’s Narcos) starring Marin Ireland as a liberal college professor inexplicably drawn to a weapon used in a senseless act of violence.

February 21

everybody-for-calendar

Everybody (Signature)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s new play is a modern version of Everyman, a famous morality play about Christian salvation from the 15th century. I have no idea what he’s doing with it, but he was very clever in a play called Octoroon, which was his take on an 19th century melodrama, and both provocative and thoughtful in his play Gloria

February 22

If I Forget (Roundabout)

A new play by Steven Levenson (“The Language of Trees,” “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin”) that tells the story of the bickering reunion of liberal Jewish studies professor Michael Fischer with his two sisters to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday shortly before 9/11.

DC production of Kid Victory

DC production of Kid Victory

Kid Victory (Vineyard)

The latest collaboration between John Kander and Greg Pierce. “Seventeen-year-old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance.”

February 23

City Center

Sunday in the Park with George (Hudson Theater)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford star in this
transfer of the New York City Center‘s fall 2016 concert version of the Pulitzer-winning Sondheim and Lapine 1984 musical about pointillist painter George Seurat. It marks the re-launching of the Hudson Theater (built in 1903) as the 41st Broadway house.

Linda (MTC at City Center)

Penelope Skinner’s play is about a successful woman whose pitch to change the way the world looks at women of a certain age winds up making her fight for her own relevance.

February 24

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The View UpStairs (Lynn Redgrave Theater)

A young fashion designer from 2017 buys the abandoned space that was the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant ’70s gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

February 26

Dear World (York)

Tyne Daly stars in the York’s “Musical in Mufti” (short run) of Jerry Herman’s musical based on the Madwoman of Chaillot.

February 27

Wakey, Wakey (Signature)

Will Eno’s play “challenges the notion of what really matters and recognizes the importance of life’s simple pleasures.” The downtown playwright  who made his Broadway debut recently with the abstruse The Realistic Joneses has his admirers; I’m not yet one of them.

The Penitent (Atlantic)

A new play by David Mamet. “A renowned psychiatrist is asked to testify on behalf of a young patient. When he refuses, his career, ethics and faith are thrown into question.”

Nibbler (The Amoralists at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre)

A play by Ken Urban that takes place in the summer of 1992 in Medford, New Jersey, when Adam and his gang of friends face life after high school.  But then the fivesome encounter a mysterious visitor from another world, and their lives are forever changed

bull_in-a-china-shop

Bull In A China Shop (LCT)

A comedy by Bryna Turner that follows Mary Woolley and her partner Jeannette Marks through 40 years in a New England seminary as they reform and revolutionize women’s education at the height of the suffrage movement.

February 28

A Gravediggger’s Lullaby (TACT at Theatre Row)

A new play by Jeff Talbott about the life of Baylen, an honest, hard-working gravedigger who sweats and bleeds to support his small family

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Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide

spring-2017-broadway-logo-collage

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.

JANUARY

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.

website

Twitter feed: @thepresentbway

Buy tickets to The Present

 

Jitney

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

website

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

February

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.

website

@sunsetblvd

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.

@hudsonbway

website

Buy tickets to Sunday in the Park with George

March

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.

@SignificantBway

website

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.

website

Buy tickets to The Glass Menagerie

Come From Away

come-from-away-logo
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,

website

@wecomefromaway

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
website
Tweeter feed: @RTC_NYC

website

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.

@MissSaigonUS

website

Buy tickets to Miss Saigon

Sweat

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

website

My review of Sweat off-Broadway

Buy tickets to Sweat

APRIL

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

website

Buy tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong

Amelie

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.

@AmelieBroadway

website

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.

website

@laughteronbway

Buy tickets to Present Laughter

War Paint

war-paint-logo
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.

website

@warpaintmusical

Buy tickets to War Paint

oslo-logoOslo

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

website

@LCTheater

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.

website

@Groundhogdaybwy

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.

website

@SixDegreesBway

Buy tickets to Six Degrees of Separation

Indecent

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

website

@IndecentBway

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
Closing:
Cast: Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

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

website

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
Closing:
Cast: Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
website
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.

website

@CharlieOnBway

Buy tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Anastasia

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.

website

@AnastasiaBway

Buy tickets to Anastasia

Bandstand

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

website

@BandstandBway

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.

website

@DollsHousePart2

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.

New York Theater January 2015 Quiz: Special TV and Movie Edition

How well were you paying attention to the theater news this month? Answer these 10 questions – most of which also involve television or the movies in some way — and find out.

Constellations Review: Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson Lick Elbows, Cosmically

“Constellations” is a kind of stage version of the film “Groundhog Day” except instead of Bill Murray endlessly repeating a single day, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson – both making their Broadway debuts — endlessly repeat a few moments throughout their relationship. The first moment is when Roland and Marianne meet for the first time and each tries to lick the tip of his or her own elbow. This, you see, is because, as Marianne points out, it’s impossible to lick the tips of your elbows – if you could do this, you would be immortal.

This is an intriguing idea, one of many in this play.

Actually, it isn’t.

This scene is played out several times in alternative versions. Marianne and Roland say slightly different things to one another, their back story differs slightly – sometimes they both know the host of the party where they are meeting; sometimes they don’t — although in each of these scenes, they still attempt to lick their elbows. It is kind of sexy when these fine performers and attractive human beings — Gyllenhaal, a movie star, and Wilson, the award-winning star of Showtime’s The Affair — work their tongues rapidly along their arms.

Over the 70 minutes of Nick Payne’s play, Marianne and Roland spin out what are apparently a few more key encounters, in their various alternative scenarios, quick scenes followed one upon another separated only by a brief blackout or a more subtle shift in lighting: Marianne and Roland get together; they don’t get together. They stay together; they don’t stay together. She’s dying; she isn’t dying. They meet years later in a ballroom. At one point their conversation is conducted entirely in sign language. At another moment they’re on the floor kissing. Most of the time they stand apart, as if on a stage reciting lines — which makes it all the more miraculous that these performers create two credible characters and some affecting interaction out of what in other hands might have been little more than an acting exercise.

What does it all mean? There are some clues. Marianne is a professor of physics at Cambridge University who studies “quantum cosmology” and “string theory.” She toys with the idea that several universes exist, and that in this “quantum multiverse….at any given moment, several outcomes can co-exist simultaneously.”

“This is genuinely turning me on you do realize that,” Roland interjects.

“….Every choice, every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes,” Marianne continues, ignoring his flirtation.

Roland is a beekeeper, and at one point, he recites a speech (repeating it several times) about the brief lives of bees, and the “clarity” of their purpose in living, depending on which of the three types of bees they are – the worker bee, all of whom are females, and they’re the ones we see pollinating the flowers, the Queen bee whose job it is to give birth to other bees, and the drones, whose purpose is to have sex with the Queen bee once and then die.

I didn’t know much about bees, and found this information fascinating.

Actually, just the first time.

There’s even a clue as to why the stage is full of balloons, although not why they change from white to purple, shimmer on occasion, and fall at a slow, steady rate to the stage floor. They make the set look initially like an exhibition at a planetarium, or maybe like a chic birthday party. At one point, Marianne says she hates it when sick people are surrounded by those garish “Get Well” balloons.

“Some people like to give people balloons,” Roland observes helpfully.

The British playwright Nick Payne is also the author of “If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet,” another export from Britain, which marked Gyllenhaal’s American stage debut a few years ago, and which had him speaking in a different British accent than the one he affects for Constellations. That first Payne play was about a family falling apart at the same time that the earth’s suffering as a result of climate change, and is most memorable for flooding the stage with water. On the basis of these two plays, one can conclude that Payne is interested in comparing and contrasting an individual’s emotional life with the larger concerns of the universe. You can understand why some critics on both sides of the Atlantic have been dazzled by this play, and how some theatergoers have said they leave the theater thinking about the choices they have made at key points in their own lives.

 Actually, I can’t.

 

Constellations

At the Samuel J. Friedman Theater

By Nick Payne; directed by Michael Longhurst; sets and costumes by Tom Scutt; lighting by Lee Curran; sound by David McSeveney; music by Simon Slater; movement director, Lucy Cullingford; fight director, Thomas Schall

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Roland) and Ruth Wilson (Marianne).

Running time: 70 minutes, no intermission.

Tickets: $115.00 – $155.00

Constellations is scheduled to run through March 15

Broadway Fall 2014 Preview Guide

Listed below, chronologically by opening dates, are the shows officially scheduled so far on Broadway in the 2014-2015 season, with basic information and my two cents for the Fall shows. Both the schedule and my opinions are tentative and will be revised and updated as the season progresses.

You want stars, pick your favorite: Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close, Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, Carol Burnett even, etc.  You want revivals, you got them – nine of the 15 set to open from September through December.  But there is also here the promise of a quality season.

( Click for a rundown on long-running Broadway shows)

(Click here for the Off-Broadway Fall 2014 Preview Guide)

September:

ouryouthlogoThis is Our Youth

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

Cort Theater

Playwright: Kenneth Lonergan

Director: Anna D. Shapiro

First preview: August 18, 2014

Opening: September 11

Closing: January 4, 2015

Principal cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Tavi Gevinson.

48 hours in the live of three teenagers in 1982, one of whom has stolen cash from his father.

This is a revival. There were productions Off-Broadway in 1996 and 1998

One Chicago critic liked this production when it was in try-outs there, but wondered if the Cort will be too big for it. Lonergan wrote one of my favorite movies, “You Can Count On Me,” but find the plays of his I’ve seen (The Starry Messenger) painfully meandering.

Twitter: @YouthBroadway

My review: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin Far From Ave Q

Love Letters

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

loveletterslogoBrooks Atkinson Theater

First preview: September 13

Opening: September 18

Closing: February 1, 2015

Playwright: A.R. Gurney

Director: Gregory Mosher

In a revival of A.R. Gurney’s play, two people write one another love letters over a period of 50 years.

The play features a star-studded rotating cast on the following schedule:

Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow (September 13-October 10)

Carol Burnett and Brian Dennehy (October 11-November 7)

Alan Alda and Candice Bergen (November 8-December 5)

Stacy Keach and Diana Rigg (December 6-January 9)

Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen (January 10-February 1).

This is a charming play, that I’ve seen in previous productions. (It was on Broadway in 1989.) If this production can be said to indulge in stunt-casting (and what else would you call it?) it’s stunt casting of the very highest order. My only regret is that they didn’t cast just one pair of younger performers, like, say, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson

Twitter: @LoveLettersBway

My review: Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy Over 50 Years

canttakeitwithyoulogoYou Can’t Take It With You

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

Longacre Theater

First preview: August 26

Opening: September 28

Closing: January 4, 2015

Playwrights: George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

Director:  Scott Ellis

Cast: James Earl Jones, Kristine Nielsen and Elizabeth Ashley lead a cast of nearly two dozen.

Two families (one deeply eccentric) collide when their children become engaged.

First produced on Broadway in 1936, this comedy (by the writing team that was the subject of the play Act One last season), is now on its fifth revival.

Twitter: @CantTakeItBway

My review of You Can’t Take It With You

October:

CountryhouselogoThe Country House

Samuel J. Friedman Theater

First preview: September 9

Opening: October 2

Closing: December 9

Playwright: Donald Margulies

Director: Daniel Sullivan

Principal cast: Blythe Danner leads a six-member cast.

An adaptation by Margulies (Dinner With Friends) of Chekhov’s The Seagull focuses on a family of thespians who gather in a house in the Berkshires during the Williamstown theater festival.

@MTC_NYC

My review of The Country House

dognighttimelogoThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

Ethel Barrymore Theater

First preview: September 10

Opening: October 5

Playwright: Simon Stephens adapting the novel by Mark Haddon

Director: Marianne Elliott

Fifteen-year-old Christopher, clinically awkward and brilliant, is suspected of killing the neighbor’s dog. He sets out on a life-changing journey to find the culprit.

This stage adaptation of a peculiarly-written novel I loved by Mark Haddon was well-received in London, winning 7 Olivier Awards (equalling the previous record-breaking Matilda.) It was especially praised for its design. The director and the designers are the same on Broadway, it is still a Royal National Theatre production, but the cast is different.

@CuriousBroadway

My Review of The Curious Incident

onlyaplaylogoIt’s Only A Play

First preview: August 28

Opening: October 9

Closing: January 4, 2015

Playwright: Terrence McNally

Director: Jack O’Brien

Cast: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick. F. Murray Abraham, Stockard Channing, Rupert Grint, Megan Mullally and Micah Stock.

Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes, including one intermission.

The cast of a show called “The Golden Egg” await the reviews in this revival of Terrence McNally’s 1982 comedy, which is likely to be most appreciated for its cast — especially the reunited duo Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, as well as the Broadway debut of Harry Potter veteran Rupert Grint.

@ItsOnlyAPlay

My review of It’s Only A Play: Nathan Lane, Selfies, and Sniping

onthetownlogoOn The Town

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

Lyric Theater (formerly Foxwoods)

First preview: September 20

Opening: October 16

Lyrics by: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Music by: Leonard Bernstein

Book by: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Director: John Rando

Principal cast: Clyde Alves, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Tony Yazbeck

Three sailors spend a day on leave in New York City, meeting some great dames.

I have high hopes for this production, which features great choreography by Joshua Bergasse (based on the glimpses we’ve been given, in videos, in reports from pre-Broadway tryouts, and at Broadway in Bryant Park), and such standards as “New York, New York (It’s a Wonderful Town)” “Come Up to My Place” and “Lonely Town,” as well as some jazzy surprises like “I Can Cook Too.”

@OnTheTownNYC

My review of On The Town

disgracedlogoDisgraced

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

First preview: September 27

Opening: October 23

Playwright: Ayad Akhtar

Director: Kimberly Senior

Cast: Hari Dhillon, Gretchen Mol, Karen Pittman and Josh Radnor.

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Pakistani-American lawyer Amir and his white, artist wife Emily gives a dinner party that starts off friendly and turns ugly.

The play, Akhtar’s first, was produced at Lincoln Center in 2012, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

@DisgracedBway

My review of Disgraced

lastshiplogoThe Last Ship

Neil Simon Theater

First preview: September 30

Opening: October 26

Lyrics and Music: Sting

Book: John Logan and Brian Yorkey

Director: Joe Mantello

Gideon leaves his hometown to travel the world, returning 14 years later to discover that the love he left behind is engaged to somebody else, and the town’s shipbuilding industry is endangered.

The show is said to be inspired by Sting’s own childhood experiences.

@LastShipMusical

My review of The Last Ship

realthingpiclogoThe Real Thing

American Airlines Theater

First preview: October 2

Opening: October 30

Closing: January 4

Playwright: Tom Stoppard

Director: Sam Gold

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cynthia Nixon

Henry is a successful writer who is attempting to balance his professional and personal lives in this comedy about marriage and betrayal.

McGregor and Gyllenhaal are both making their Broadway debuts in this second Broadway revival of Stoppard’s play.

@RTC_NYC

My review of The Real Thing

November:

theriverlogoThe River

Circle in the Square Theater

First preview: October 31

Opening: November 16

Closing: January 25

Playwright: Jez Butterworth

Director: Ian Rickson

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Laura Donnelly, Cush Jumbo

Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

A trout fisherman in a remote cabin tries to hook a woman into some night-time fishing.

Two words: Hugh Jackman.

@TheRiverPlay

My review of The River

sideshowlogoSide Show

#NewYorkTheaterpicks

St. James Theater

First preview: October 28

Opening: November 17

Lyrics by: Bill Russell

Music by: Henry Kreiger

Book by: Bill Russell with additional material by Bill Condon

Director: Bill Condon

Principal cast: Erin Davie, Emily Padgett

The Hilton twins, Daisy and Violet, were in real life conjoined twins who were trained by their guardians to become performers, and became the highest paid performers on the vaudeville circuit. “Side Show” purports to tell their story.

This “reimagined” revival of the 1997 musical was well-received in D.C., and is one of the most anticipated shows of the season, hugely leading (as of this writing) my Broadway Fall 2014 preference poll

@SideshowBway

My review of Side Show

delicatebalancelogoA Delicate Balance

John Golden Theater

Playwright: Edward Albee

Director: Pam MacKinnon

First preview: October 20

Opening: November 20

Closes: February 22

Running time: 2 hours and 55 minutes, including 2 intermissions

Cast: Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban, Claire Higgins and Martha Plimpton.

A long-married couple must maintain their equilibrium as over the course of a weekend they welcome home their 36-year old daughter after the collapse of her fourth marriage, and give shelter to their best friends who seek refuge in their home, all the while tolerating Agnes’ alcoholic live-in sister.

The Edward Albee-Pam MacKinnon match-up, which brought us the priceless recent Broadway production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” promises to do justice with another one of the playwright’s caustic Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpieces (despite the ugly poster.)

December

illusionistslogoThe Illusionists

Marquis Theater

First preview: November 26

Opening: December 4, 2014

Closes: January 4, 2015

Cast:

The Manipulator, Yu Ho-Jin

The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry

The Trickster, Jeff Hobson

The Escapologist, Andrew Basso

The Inventor, Kevin James

The Warrior, Aaron Crow

The Futurist, Adam Trent

Seven illusionists perform magic and illusion. Broadway is a stop on their world tour.

@Illusionists7

The Elephant Man

theelephantmanlogoBooth Theater

First preview: November 7

Opening: December 7

Closes: February 15

Playwright: Bernard Pomerance

Director: Scott Ellis

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Alessandro Nivola, Anthony Heald, Scott Lowell, Kathryn Meisle, Henry Stram

Running time: one hour 55 minutes, including intermission.

Based on the true story of John Merrick, a horribly deformed man in the 19th century who was treated abominably.

This second Broadway revival of the 1979 play gives movie hearthrob Bradley Cooper a chance to show his inner beauty. (The deformity is not actually depicted. The audience is asked to imagine it.)

@ElephantMan

A peek at Spring 2015, which is even more tentative than the fall. I’ll flesh it out in the future. This is, as they say, a work in progress:

January

Constellations

Samuel J. Friedman Theater

Playwright: Nick Payne

Director: Michael Longhurst

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal

First preview: December 16

Opening January 13, 2015

Closes: March 15

honeymooninvegaslogoHoneymoon in Vegas

Nederlander Theater

Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

Book: Andrew Bergman

Director: Gary Griffin

First preview: November 18

Opening: January 15

Cast: Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Byrnn O’Malley

Jack Singer, a regular guy with an extreme fear of marriage, finally gets up the nerve to ask his girlfriend Betsy to marry him. But when they head to Las Vegas to get hitched, smooth talking gambler Tommy Korman, looking for a second chance at love, falls head over heels for Betsy.

@HoneymoonBway

March

The Heidi Chronicles

Opening March 1

Fish in the Dark

Opening March 5

The Audience

Opening March 8

On The Twentieth Century

Opening March 12

 

April

Skylight

Opening April 2

Hand to God

Opening April 7

Finding Neverland

Opening April 8

Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2

Opening April 9

An American in Paris

Opening April 12

It Shoulda Been You

Opening April 14

The King and I

Opening: April 16

Dr. Zhivago

Opening April 21

Fun Home

Opening: April 22

Airline Highway

Opening April 23

Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift versus Taylor Swift’s Songs of Ex Lovers

Making art, and sport, out of Taylor Swift’s love life is far from original; the popular singer-songwriter has done so herself many times; it’s easy to argue that her career is largely built on songs about her brief relationships (and breakups) with mostly famous men. But “Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift,” one of the productions at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival, sounded promising: Each of the seven monologues is written by a different female playwright, all portrayed by the same actor, Thaddeus Shafer, usually conversing with an unseen Taylor Swift.

Thad Shafer as Joe Jonas

Thad Shafer as Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas (written by Caitlin Bower) engages in an interior monologue (a recorded voiceover) as he sits next to Taylor Swift in a movie theater, and contemplates giving up his virginity, and his purity ring, for her and getting married.
Jonas is depicted as a naïve and prudish mama’s boy.

In real life, Swift’s relationship with Jonas is said to have inspired at least three of her songs. (Since Swift rarely names the specific individuals who inspired her songs, the connections below are mostly guesses, albeit widely published ones.):

Last Kiss

Forever and Always

Holy Ground

 

Thad Shafer as Taylor Lautner

Thad Shafer as Taylor Lautner

Taylor Lautner (written by Nadia Vazquez), who is depicted as muscle-bound and intellectually limited, readies for his first date with Taylor by talking on the phone with his manager; he will take her out so that the press can write about their “canoodling. Like, what does that even mean? It sounds like ‘canoe’ and ‘noodles’ and neither of those things make sense together.” When she arrives, Lautner writes in his gratitude journal how grateful he is to be going out on a date. “We could just be two Taylor’s against the world, writing our name on the sky forever. I could tour with you. We could get matching workout gear.”

Her relationship with Taylor Lautner is said to have inspired Taylor Swift’s “apology” song “Back to December”

John Mayer (written by Joanna Horowitz) plots with the bartender at The Rusty Pig in Washburn, Arkansas to woo her into bed after her concert in nearby Little Rock, by getting her to sing a duet with her. “As soon as our voices stitch up together, it’s in the bag.” What does he think of her? “She’s so sweet. Like, type two diabetes sweet.”

This relationship reportedly inspired several songs, most obviously “Dear John”

 

Thad Shafer as Cory Monteith

Thad Shafer as Cory Monteith

Corey Monteith (written by Lily Blau) has escaped with Taylor from the paparazzi to his hotel room, where she spots a dime bag he’s stashed in the minibar, and he explains, vaguely, why he needs drugs.

Several publications have claimed “Mine” to be inspired by Monteith

It’s Halloween when Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor text back and forth (written by Joanna Bateman), Jake trying to convince Taylor to come over and make love. But Taylor wants it to be special. So Jake convinces her that it will be because he has an amber-scented candle, which he bought “when I was low and alone in Paris.”

Some see Gyllenhaal in Taylor’s “The Last Time”

Conor Kennedy (written by Kit Steinkellner) writes Taylor a letter with a quill pen claiming they have a lot alike: “I am the whitest, richest, handsomest male in the whitest, richest, handsomest family in this country. But the most American thing in the world is not me. It’s you…. We are not ordinary mortals, and it can be lonely at the top.” He promises to be her prince, although he won’t sweep her away in a white horse but in his Lamborghini or Ferrari

Taylor Swift has said that “Starlight” was inspired by Ethel and Robert Kennedy, Conor’s grandparents.

Thad Shafer as Harry Styles

Thad Shafer as Harry Styles

Harry Styles from One Direction (written by Kari Lee) addresses the audience rather than Taylor, offering his reasons for wanting to hitch up with Taylor. Members of boy bands have a short career. The exception was Justin Timberlake “And we all know how he did it. He rode Britney Spears like a rocket to a solo career.” So Harry determined to do the same with Taylor, but it wasn’t easy hooking up. “I friended her, Fanned her, Followed her, Instagrammed her, Pinned her, Poked her, Winked and Tumblr’d. I emailed my agent to email her agent…all to no avail.” The only way was to disguise himself as a “Swifty” at one of her concerts.

Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” is said to have grown out of her relationship with Harry Styles.

How does the Fringe show and Taylor Swift’s songs compare?

Swift’s various hairstyles are much more interesting to look at than the nearly indistinguishable mop-top wigs that Thad Shafer dons for the characters; his impersonations are as sloppy and unvaried as the wigs. Taylor’s songs are, of course, from her point of view. The skits in Seven Seductions are from the point of view of women playwrights who save their mockery and their venom for her exes; Swift herself is spared their direct ridicule.  (The only man not skewered is the late Cory Monteith.)

Swift has entertained millions, and earned hundreds of millions. Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift will be seen by hundreds, dozens of whom will find parts of it amusing or intriguing, and not be baffled by its point nor disappointed by its execution.

“Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift” will be presented at The Players Theater (115 MacDougal Street) through August 23. Check the Fringe website for specific times.

Tony Silent Treatment. Ruby Dee RIP. stAgeism. Week in New York Theater

Old soldiers never die and neither do old Tony winners – at least judging from the omission of the In Memoriam video from the Tony broadcast last week.

Complaints against this snub were drowned out by the protest over the Tonys’ subsequent decision to eliminate the awards next year for sound design of a play and of a musical.

More fall-out from the Tonys – two Broadway shows announced this they were closing. But two new shows announced Broadway runs, including one in which Jake Gyllenhaal will be making his Broadway debut.

Scroll down for more theater news involving Steven Spielberg,  Bryan Cranston, Audra McDonald, Randy Harrison, Neil Patrick Harris (they announced his replacement in Hedwig) and my two controversial essays – about diversity and the anti-elderly attitude in the theater, where many seem to want older audience members to fade away.

The Week in New York Theater

 

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NPH kissing Tony Award

2014 Tony winners

 

AladdinatTonys

AudraMcDonaldatTonys

jenniferhudsonatTonys

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Hugh Jackman hopped, the ratings dipped: Preliminary Tony figures show 7.02 million viewers, down from last year’s 7.24 million.

LBJ (Cranston) with MLKing Jr (Brandon J. Dirden)

LBJ (Cranston) with MLKing Jr (Brandon J. Dirden)

Director Steven Spielberg reportedly wants Bryan Cranston to play LBJ some more — on a television mini-series, says Deadline.

Era of grant-funded artists is dead, writes Hannah Wolf. How to turn “there’s no money” into an advantage

Ofmicenandmen3O'Dowd, Franco-Photo by Richard Phibbs

Of Mice and Moolah: Of Mice and Men recouped its $3.8 million capitalization (broke even) with  7 weeks to go on its limited run.

 

RIP Julie Harris
In Memoriam – not shown during the Tony broadcast

“Why should dead people expect special treatment?”~Tony Kushner (facetiously) on Tony snub of In Memoriam.

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Mothers and SonsJohn Golden Theatre

Mothers and Sons by Terrence McNally will play its final performance June 22nd matinee after 104 regular performances.

HariDhilloninDisgraced

Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer winning play, will open on Broadway’s Lyceum Oct. 23. The lead will be played by Hari Dhillon (pictured), who played the lead in the London production.  The play is described as the story of “a successful Pakistani-American lawyer whose dinner party spins out of control amid a heated discussion of identity and religion.”

JERSEY BOYS

Jersey Boys, The Clint Eastwood Movie: Photographs, Trailer

The Ballad of Audra McDonald and ADHD
1. Tony speech thanks her folks “for disobeying the doctors’ orders and not medicating” her but pushing her “into the theater.”

2. Sorry, Audra McDonald—My Kid Needs His ADHD Meds – in TIME , \

3. Audra replies to her critic: I have no doubt that had they medicated me I wouldn’t be in the theater.

In praise of the proscenium (Prosceniums don’t cause distance;people cause distance)

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No Sound Tonys

The Tony Administration Committee has cut the categories of Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical.

Sound designer John Gromada circulates petition: Reinstate Sound Design Tonys. (1000s have signed already)

Yes, writes Douglas Clayton, most Tony voters are ignorant about sound design. So educate them.

LadyDay4

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday extends through August 31st

David Henry Hwang: “Ageism is a valid concern. I believe diversity includes older people."

David Henry Hwang:

10 Questions About Diversity

My sweet encounter (at Cupcake Café) with David Henry Hwang

Creating a Theater of Inclusion with Jeff Calhoun (Deaf West) and Ike Schambelan (TBTBTheater) Wed June 18 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (1501 Broadyway) Free

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Broadway to dim its lights tomorrow at 7:45 p.m. in honor of Ruby Dee, who appeared on Broadway in eight productions, including the original “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, married for nearly 60 years, "Their partnership was romantic, familial, professional, artistic and political."

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, married for nearly 60 years, “Their partnership was romantic, familial, professional, artistic and political.”

Hilton Als in the New Yorker:

Dee and Davis, who married in 1948, and whose marriage lasted until Davis’s death, in 2005, had become, together and separately, stars in a world that didn’t exactly welcome actors of color or handle them with anything approaching sensitivity. Dee was born in Ohio, in 1922; she moved with her family to Harlem while still a young girl, and it was there that she became immersed in theatre, her great love. With the support of black-run theatre companies formed by the likes of Frank Silvera, Dee was able to work and hone her craft. Being in the majority always gives you confidence, and for many years her world was the black stage and, eventually, black film.

 

jake gyllenhaalJake Gyllenhaal will make his Broadway debut in “Constellations” by Nick Payne, the same playwright who wrote “If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet,” the play in which Gyllenhaal made his New York stage debut in 2012. Constellations is described as telling the story of two strangers who continue to meet by chance under the parallel universe framework of string theory. It opens January 13 at MTC’s Sam Friedman Theater, a couple of months after his sister Maggie is scheduled to make her Broadway debut opposite Cynthia Nixon and Ewan McGregor in a revival of Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch 19

Neil Patrick Harris is leaving Hedwig and the Angry Inch as planned on Aug 17th. Replacing him: Andrew Rannells, Aug. 20 to Oct. 12.

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Randy Harrison, at rehearsals for Atomic

Randy Harrison, at rehearsals for Atomic

Randy Harrison’s Manhattan Project

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stAgeism: Anti-Elderly Attitudes In The Theater

Everett Bradley

Everett Bradley

Sadly,After Midnight will close on June 29 after 8 months, losing $. A terrific revue!

OITNBonBwayLike the acting in Orange is the New Black? As it turns out, ELEVEN of the cast members are Broadway vets; 2 currently.

The Broadway marquee of the Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper is already up, although the show doesn't open until November.

The Broadway marquee of the Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper is already up, although the show doesn’t open until November.