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War Paint Review: Patti LuPone vs Christine Ebersole, Face to Face

In “War Paint,” Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole are sharing a Broadway stage for the first time in their careers, portraying rival cosmetic industry pioneers Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. If I might have preferred they be given a rivalry as grand as the talents of these extraordinary performers – say, Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, whom she beheaded – they do much to help make this new musical both entertaining and fabulous. No, they can’t make it a great musical. But LuPone and Ebersole, each with two Tony Awards apiece (LuPone: Evita, Gypsy; Ebersole, 42nd Street, Grey Gardens) , give star turns of equal weight, Most impressively, although they are portraying life-long rivals, these are bravura performances that don’t clash; they blend.

They and the rest of the 15-member cast are costumed by Catherine Zuber, likely to snag her ninth Tony Award for designs that are to die for, especially her literally over-the-top hats, offered like a tour of twentieth century fashion.

Songwriters Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, book writer Doug Wright and director Michael Greif – the team that put together the much-admired musical Grey Gardens, based on the true story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt and cousin – here explore another pair of real-life magnetic women.

War Paint 6 Patti LuPoneElizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein were exact contemporaries – both born in the 1870s (the one Florence Nightingale Graham in Canada; the other Chaja Rubinstein in Krakow), both died in the 1960s – immigrant outsiders who changed the face of America’s women, becoming rich and famous in the process, but never as powerful or accepted as they would have been had they been men.

War Paint Ebersole

There are some lovely, funny little scenes, such as one in which Helena tries her new secret formula face cream on her assistant. As she vigorously slaps her face with it:

HELENA: Sit down, darling. There are no ugly women; only lazy ones. Every day you must apply. Always with the up motion. To rub this cream into the skin is to swim in the Fountain of Youth!
Voilà! How you feel now, Magda?
MAGDA: Like rich woman with expensive cream.
HELENA: And when women feel rich, I become rich. Dziekuja, Magda. [Thank you in Polish]

Yet, for all its appeal, “War Paint” does not surmount some logistical problems that are likely to make some of the scenes heavy-going to all but ardent students of the beauty industry that the two women helped create.

The musical, inspired by a book of the same name and a subsequent documentary, The Powder and the Glory, must grapple with the fact that the two women apparently never met. Most of the songs they sing are solos; their duets are not with one another, but side by side. We hear them disparage one another, but not face-to-face.

They also apparently sacrificed most of their personal life to build their respective empires. There is a subplot involving the husband of Arden and the gay business manager of Rubinstein, each of whom feels taken for granted, which leads to a  remarkable development; they both switch sides. But this is the only thing that one can call personal in the show.  “War Paint” becomes something of a history of the beauty industry.

Some of the tidbits are fascinating. When I began my business, the only women wearing lipstick were on the stage or in the gutter,” Elizabeth lectures her new assistant. “I needed brave young women to broaden the trend. So what did I do?”

“Free samples to the Suffragettes,” her assistant responds.

“And now I cater to the very highest echelons of New York Society.”

We see the two women trying to one-up each other in beauty products in the 1930’s; their rivalry results in a Senate hearing that concludes with their being forced to reveal the ingredients of their products, a revelation that they fear will cause their customers to flee. During World War II, they both cleverly innovate products that will appeal to women newly enlisted in the armed forces and the workforce, and that work around the material shortages. In the 1950’s,they both ignore the competition from those who indulge in the growing trends that they abhor – teenagers, television!

War Paint 7 Patti LuPone

Their rise is far less interesting in this musical than their fall. The last half hour of “War Paint” is as good as it gets on Broadway, with two women knocking us over with back-to-back powerhouse solos that are both touching and tuneful – Ebersole sings “Pink,” her signature color that now haunts her; LuPone sings “Forever Beautiful” about the portraits of herself she commissioned over the years. Then there is a final scene in which they meet at last – with hilarious digs, and affecting reconciliation – followed by a rousing finale. If only that had actually happened.

The curtain at War Paint

War Paint
Nederlander Theater
Book by Doug Wright; Music by Scott Frankel; Lyrics by Michael Korie; Choreography by Christopher Gattelli; Directed by Michael Greif
Cast: Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein. Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden. John Dossett
as Tommy Lewis.Douglas Sills as Harry Fleming. Mary Ernster as Society Doyenne, Mrs. Trowbridge-Phelps & others; David Girolmo as Senator Royal Copeland, William S. Paley, Mr. Levin & others. Joanna Glushak as Countess, Magda & others. Chris Hoch as Mr. Simms, Hal March, Mr. Baruch & others. Mary Claire King as Miss Beam, Tulip, Arden Girl & others. Steffanie Leigh as Dorian Leigh, Arden Girl & others. Erik Liberman as Charles Revson, Sailor & others. Barbara Marineau as Grand Dame, Beauty Technician & others; Stephanie Jae Park as Arden Girl, Beauty Technician & others; Angel Reda
as Heiress, Miss Smythe, Arden Girl & others. Jennifer Rias as Miss Teale, Arden Girl & others.
Running time: Two and a half hours, including a 15-minute intermission
Tickets: $69-$196
“War Paint” is scheduled to run through September 3rd, 2017

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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.

Broadway Divas and The #1 Song on Their Birthdays

What does it say that, on the day that Laura Benanti was born, the number one song was Bad Girls, and the number one movie was Dracula?
Probably nothing, but thanks to a #1 song database, and a #1 movie database, you can look up the song or movie that was number one on any date. I looked up the hit song on the birthdays of the most popular current Broadway divas. Consider it song astrology.

Laura Benanti

July 15, 1979

Bad Girls by Donna Summer

Kristin Chenoweth

July 24, 1968

Grazing in the Grass by Hugh Masekela

Sutton Foster

March 18, 1975

Black Water by The Doobie Brothers

Nikki M. James

June 3, 1981

Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes

Patti LuPone

April 21, 1949

Cruising Down the River by Blue Barron and His Orchestra

 

Audra McDonald

July 3, 1970

The Love You Save by The Jackson 5

Idina Menzel

May 30, 1971

Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones

 

Kelli O’Hara

April 16, 1976

Disco Lady by Johnnie Taylor

Bernadette Peters

February 28, 1948

I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover by Art Mooney and His Orchestra

Billy Porter

September 21, 1969

Sugar, Sugar by The Archies

 

Chita Rivera

January 23, 1933

 

Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time) by Ethel Waters

Getting A Charge Out of Broadway. Free Summer Stages! The Week in NY Theater

NeedaChargeHandtoGod

“Well, where can I charge it?” the theatergoer at Hand to God allegedly asked after the usher gave him back his phone. It had been confiscated because he had tried to plug it into a (fake) outlet on the set of the play. (Set designer Beowulf Boritt’s reaction to Charge-Gate: “It’ll keep me from ever putting a toilet on stage.”)

This has been an electric couple of weeks, what with the Confederate flag going down and the rainbow flag rising up; the President rousing the nation by singing a song that’s in a new Broadway musical; a time of shocking violence (Violence on Stage, Responding to the latest mass shooting), but also of historic Supreme Court decisions, parades and…fireworks.

McNallyandKirdahy

Tom Kirdahy on Love, Law, Marriage, Producing Theatre, and Making a Difference — and the kiss that made it onto the cover of the New York Times.

Now we settle into July. There are a number of Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Broadway shows opening this month. But it’s hard to come up with a comprehensive list for July — not because there is so little to see, but so much. And much of it is free.

On The Town at Bryant Park

On The Town at Bryant Park

For example, Broadway in Bryant Park starts this week. Broadway in Bryant Park is a FREE concert every Thursday at lunchtime in July and August, featuring the casts performing anywhere from one to three numbers from Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals.

NYCSummerFestivals2015

Then there are the many summer theater festivals. This week begins FIVE different summer theater festivals, including the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the Lincoln Center Festival, and the East to Edinburgh Festival (click on link for details.)

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Happy DaysThe Flea

Happy Days

In “Happy Days,” Samuel Beckett’s bleak but compassionate 1961 play being given a witty, compelling production at The Flea, Brooke Adams as Winnie is buried in a mound of dirt, sometimes with a gun pointed at her head, while behind her, her husband Tony Shalhoub as Willie grunts, or groans, or flips through a browning newspaper, or — in a climactic moment of movement – crawls toward her.

 Jennifer Mudge,  Heather Lind, Alicia Silverstone Production Credits: Lynne Meadow (director) Santo Loquasto (scenic design) Tom Broecker (costume design) Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design) Jill BC DuBoff (sound design) Other Credits: Written by: Melissa Ross

Of Good Stock

if “Of Good Stock” doesn’t quite go anywhere, it does take us someplace. Those deprived of a weekend beach house getaway will surely marvel at Santo Loquasto’s meticulous, revolving set, which takes us not just to different locations, but cleverly offers us a series of slightly different perspectives on the same locations….Yes, there’s that downside of requiring that we spend time doing very little with some self-involved characters. But isn’t that true of nearly any beach house invitation?

ShowsforDaysforTwitter

Shows for Days

Shows for Days, starring Patti LuPone as a ruthless regional diva and Michael Urie as a sweet stand-in for playwright Douglas Carter Beane, dramatizes Beane’s memories of his introduction to the world of the theatre, which he tells us changed his life. The play is unlikely to change anybody else’s.

The Week in New York Theater News

The Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening, in English and ASL, will begin an 18-week Broadway run at the Brooks Atkinson starting September 8. It will open September 27, and closet January 9th.

It Shoulda Been YouBrooks Atkinson Theatre

It Shoulda Been You will close August 9, four months after it opened.

Jessica Hecht will play Golde opposite Danny Burstein as Tevye, with Adam Kantor as Motel, in Fiddler on the Roof, opening December 17.

Javier Munoz

Javier Muñoz, who has been the understudy all along, will play Alexander Hamilton one day a week — at first Saturday matinees, then Sunday matinees, in Hamilton when it begins performances this month on Broadway. It opens August 6.

MistyCopeland

Ballerina Misty Copeland, who recently became the first African-American woman to be a principal dancer at American Ballet Theater, is heading to Broadway’s ‘On the Town’ as Miss Turnstile, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6

Misty-Copeland-Ballet

June2015quizcollage

June Quiz

HistoryPlaysfor4thofJuly

July poll — your favorite American history musical

June 2015 New York Theater Openings

Theater in New York doesn’t end when the Broadway season does.

Patti LuPone, Tony Shalhoub, Mary-Louise Parker and Alicia Silverstone are all treading the New York boards this month, and there are new plays by Simon Stephens (Curious Incident) Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park), Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger), Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns), Douglas Carter Beane, Melissa Ross, Jesse Eisenberg, There are six shows opening on June 11th alone, which must be a record. There’s even a play opening on the same night as the Tony Awards. And let’s not forget the many summer theater festivals that are going on this month — with show too numerous to list here. (So I have a separate preview about New York’s summer festivals.)

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
Nothing, of course, is guaranteed about any of these shows, even those that seem the most promising. (This is why I write reviews.) There are always surprises.
Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To check out the entire Spring 2015 season, see my Broadway and Off-Broadway preview theater guides.

 June 1, 2015

Composition…Master-Pieces…Identity  (Connelly Theater)

David Greenspan’s solo show “brings to life two ‘lectures’  and a ‘play’ by Gertrude Stein.” (The quotation marks are his.)

June 2

The Spoils (The New Group at The Pershing Square Signature Center)

Jesse Eisenberg writes and stars in another play, this one about a man who sets out to win back his grade school crush after he finds out she is marrying another grade school classmate, who has become a banker.

June 3

Heisenberg (The Studio at Stage II City Center)

Written by Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) this play stars Mary-Louise Parker as a woman who spots a much older man in a London train station, and plants a kiss on his neck.

Heisenberg New York City Center - Stage II Cast List: Mary-Louise Parker Denis Arndt Production Credits: Mark Brokaw (director)  Other Credits: Written by:

The Twentieth-Century Way (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre)

Based on a little-known incident in LA history, this play by Tom Jacobson explores the collision of reality and fantasy as two actors juggle various roles to entrap homosexuals for “social vagrancy” in the public restrooms of 1914 Long Beach. I reviewed this when it appeared at the 2010 New York Fringe Festival, calling it “a dazzling display, and occasionally dizzying. By the end, though, The Twentieth-Century Way‘s confusions seem integral to its many satisfactions.”

twentiethcentwayatRattlestick

June 4

Hey Jude (The Cell at Urban Stages)

Anna’s losing it, her husband Henry’s already lost it and her son Jude is just plain lost. Identity is a slippery slope in this family drama, when a matter of life and death unhinges its members and challenges their basic beliefs.

June 5

InjunctionGrantedPosterInjunction Granted (Metropolitan Playhouse)

“Capital vs. Labor, with clowns.” A re-creation of a social drama devised by the Work Projects Administration in 1937, with “a special coda…bringing the play into the next century.”

June 7

The Tony Awards

The Old Masters (The Flea)

Ben, “an artist turned teacher and expectant father, serendipitously discovers an old friend’s paintings – an old friend who mysteriously disappeared 4 months ago. As the art world falls under the spell of his friend’s work and life story, Ben is left to wonder: what about me?”

June 9

Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, America, Kuwait (Rattlestick at Gym at Judson)

Written and Directed by Daniel Talbott. In a not so distant future where children have never known a world without war, resources are vanishing and what’s left is controlled by minuscule factions

June 10

10 Out of 12 Soho Rep

10 Out of 12
Soho Rep

10 Out Of 12 (SoHo Rep)

A play by Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns), “10 out of 12” is set during the technical rehearsals for a new play

June 11

Guards at the Taj (Atlantic Theater Company)

In this new play by Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) directed by Amy Morton,  Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed play to imperial guards in 1648 India, who watch from their post as the sun rises for the first time on the newly-completed Taj Mahal , and are then asked to do something they consider unthinkable.

guardsatthetaj

A Midsummer Nights Dream (Masterworks Theater Company at 47th Street Theatre)

Office PoliticsOfficepoliticspic (June Havoc Theatre)

When a white male co-worker makes an off-the-cuff racially insensitive remark to his boss’s black female assistant, what seems like a harmless joke snowballs, suddenly catapulting the ad sales office of a women’s magazine into turmoil.

CONSENT (The Back Box Theatre at Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center)

A natural athlete and former pro-NFL player, Ron married his high school sweetheart and achieved early success as an award-winning architect. Now a chance encounter with Kurt, a sexy young law student, pushes Ron’s boundaries and seduces him into the murky waters of consent.

square14Debutaunt (Atelier Roquette)

“An interactive dance-based experience in which audience members are invited to attend a debutante ball. ”

Devil and the Deep (Theater East)

A musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s  Treasure Island.

DevilandtheDeepparrot

June 12

Gordy Crashes (IRT Theatre)

Superstorm Sandy has driven Gordy out of his apartment and into a dizzying blur of other people’s couches…Over the next three days, Gordy will see the true extent of the storm’s devastation

June 14

The Qualms (Playwrights Horizons)

This play by Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park) introduces a couple into “an alcohol-fueled party for swingers, only to find themselves at odds with the idea of free love and, suddenly, each other.”

TheQualms2

June 15

preludesposterPreludes (Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theatre)

From the creators of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, PRELUDES is a musical fantasia set in the hypnotized mind of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. After the disastrous premiere of his first symphony, the young Rachmaninoff suffers from writer’s block. He begins daily sessions with a therapeutic hypnotist, in an effort to overcome depression and return to composing

June 16

The Tempest (Public Theater – Delacorte)

The opening of Shakespeare in the Park


Ghost Stories: The Shawl and Prairie Du Chien
 (Atlantic Stage 2)

A revival of two plays by David Mamet.  Shawl is the story of a bereaved woman who consults a small-time mystic for guidance. In Prairie du Chien, a railroad car speeding through the Wisconsin night is the setting for a story of obsessive jealousy, murder and suicide.

June 17

Gloria (Vineyard Theatre)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s play about an ambitious group of editorial assistants at a notorious  Manhattan magazine, who hope for a starry life of letters and a book deal before they turn thirty.

June 18

Significant Other (Laura Pels)

Jordan would love to be in love, but that’s easier said than done. So until he meets Mr. Right, he wards off lonely nights with his trio of close-knit girlfriends. With Gideon Glick, Lindsay Mendez, Barbara Barrie, John Behlman.

June 29

showsfordaysposterShows For Days (Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E Newhouse)

Michael Urie and Patti Lupone star in Douglas Carter Beane’s new play about a young man’s first experiences in the theater.

Happy Days The Flea Cast List: Brooke Adams Tony Shaloub Production Credits: Andrei Belgrader (director) Other Credits: Written by: Samuel Beckett

Happy Days (The Flea)

Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub star in Beckett’s classic play about a woman buried in the ground.

June 30

Of Good Stock (MTC – NY City Center Stage I)

In a new play by Melissa Ross, Heather Lind, Jennifer Mudge, Alicia Silverstone portray the three Stockton sisters, who are witty, brilliant, beautiful – and a total mess, thanks to the legacy of their complicated novelist father.

OfGoodStock

Alan Cumming will say “Macbeth” even in the theater, despite The Curse of The Scottish Play

Alan Cumming's Macbeth is coming to Broadway

Alan Cumming’s Macbeth is coming to Broadway

Defying the long-held superstition about the dangers of saying the name “Macbeth” inside a theater, Alan Cumming replied to my inquiry:

“I am going to say Macbeth everywhere, even in the theatre. None of this ‘Scottish play’ stuff for me!”

Responses so far have ranged from
peter foy ‏ Yir doomed, doomed ah tell yi.

to

Peter A Bell Quite right! It’s bad luck to be superstitious

to

accounts that the superstition is real:

Robert Gray: I was playing the Dr and someone mention the word & Lady M nearly died in the Dr scene

Alan Cumming’s one-man Macbeth is playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theater from April 7th through June 30, 2013.

Update: 

How did “The Curse of The Scottish Play” superstition begin?

It goes back to the very beginning of Shakespeare’s play, according to legend, when “Macbeth” was presented to King James in 1606. The boy playing Lady Macbeth suddenly got sick backstage and died. Two centuries later, fans of a rival American actor rioted when British William Macready was performing the play, the infamous Astor Place Riot of 1849, in which 22 people were killed.

But this is not just long-ago history or legend. You cannot dissuade modern-day actors from believing in the curse. Here is page 301 of Patti LuPone’s memoir, discussing what happened during a production of “Gypsy” on Broadway when director Arthur Laurents “said out loud what must never be said inside a theatre: He uttered the actual title of the Shakespearean tragedy we call ‘the Scottish Play.’

“Theatre people are notoriously superstitious, and saying the name Macbeth backstage or in a dressing room is the biggest, darkest superstition of them all. It’s taken seriously with good reason. Actors can tell tales of accidents and close calls after someone uttered the word. Soon it began happening to us, too. Things started to go wrong. The curtains got snarled in the “Rose” light at the end of “Rose’s Turn.” Sami Gayle, our Baby June, fractured her pelvis warming up  and missed the Broadway opening. This was serious stuff, and something had to be done before there were any more mishaps. Lenora pulled me aside and was adamant that Arthur break the curse. She had a deep look of concern on her face, as if she’d be next in the line of injuries.

“The ritual to break the curse of the Scottish Play is very specific, and more than a little peculiar. In accordance with the time-honored procedure, I made Arthur go outside onto West Forty-fourth Street, only because that’s where I found him backstage—right next to the door. It was almost thirty minutes before we were due to go on. He was baffled at my insistence that he go through this ritual. He was outside on the street and I told him through the closed door to turn around counterclockwise three times, spit over his left shoulder, curse, then knock on the door and ask to come back in. Well, we heard him swear like a drunken sailor, even though there was a line of ticket holders standing next to the door, intrigued or horrified by the sigh of Arthur Laurents spinning, spitting, and swearing. But it had the desired effect, and the spell was broken.”

2nd Update:

Alan Cumming may say the name of the play, but the producers don’t want the audience to — or at least, they’ve come up with an attention-getting sign on the doors to the Ethel Barrymore Theater: “…The producers ask that you please refrain from speaking the name of the play…”

"The producers ask that you please refrain from speaking the name of the play"

A post shared by @newyorktheater on

Must Actors Be 1. Narcissists and Opportunists 2. White 3. Human?

NewYorkTheaterWeekActorIdentitiesA debate over whether actors and other artists must be narcissists and opportunists, sparked by yet another story about Lena Dunham of “Girls”; a new report on the racial make-up of performers on New York stages; reports of champion dog starring in a Broadway show and auditions for cats for another – that’s what’s been going on this week, as chronicled below.

GettingMarriedTodayonGleeDid you catch Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Married Today” from Company on Glee? See it below. Also: Jane Lynch on Broadway?

KinkyBootsposterOne more day for my ticket giveaway contest to Kinky Boots, whose music is by Cyndi Lauper, making her Broadway songwriting debut. That is what prompted the question:  What singer/songwriter would you like to see writing a show for Broadway, and/or performing in one? 

You need not enter the contest to find some of the answers intriguing.

Ann Holt ‏@mordyth I was hoping to see more theatrical types of answers. Adam Guettal or Scissor Sisters. So many pop performers.

Jonathan Mandell ‏@NewYorkTheater Somebody did mention Scissor Sisters. But that’s what was exciting, that fans of cutting-edge musicians want to see them write for Broadway

The Week in New York Theater

February 11, 2013

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Richard Rodgers TheatreShe’s done plays by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams on Broadway. What’s next for Scarlett Johansson? “I just want to play Norma Desmond…my dream role”

12

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson team Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman have  created a new musical based on Shakespeare’s “Love Labour’s Lost ” that will be presented as part of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park this summe in Central Park. Second play: Comedy of Errors with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater

Coming to Broadway?

LeslieUggamsLeslie Uggams says on her website she’s going to  star in “Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Story” on Broadway in the fall.

“I hope to be coming to New York to do a musical this summer.I have not inked the deal but I’m teasing it”~Fox’s Jane Lynch.

Peter Marks ‏@petermarksdrama But she can’t sing. Oh, well, what’s the difference any more?

KevinGrayBroadway veteran  Kevin Gray (Phantom, King & I, Jesus Christ Superstar) died last night of a heart attack at age 55.

Both attendance and grosses plummeted last week on Broadway, because of the snowstorm and normal February slump. Biggest drop: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Patti LuPone taking her cabaret act Faraway Places to faraway places,then Carnegie Hall 11/7

“Crowdfunding” using Kickstarter, RocketHub Indiegogo gets shows and cast albums made. Example: “Now Here This”  

13

New York Theater and Diversity

Minority representation on NY stage has increased two percent says a report by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, but they are still under-represented in proportion to the population of New York City

Cast makeup on Broadway + 16 non-profit NY theaters:

16 percent African-American (23 percent population in New York)

3 percent Latino (39 percent)

3 percent Asian (13 percent)

77 percent white (33 percent)

How Actors Equity pushed for racial equality in era when Paul Robeson starred on Bway but barred from Sardis 

Rent opened  17 years ago today at the New York Theatre Workshop, a good time for the American Theatre Wing to announce the winners of this year’s Jonathan Larson Award:  writing team Joshua Salzman & Ryan Cunningham; composer Kamala Sankaram

“X Factor” the musical is in the works in UK, says Michael Riedel in the New York Post, with Simon Cowell a producer. The Simon Cowell character sings a song “Falling in Love With Myself”

“The Man,” musical about rise and fall of a fictional musical superstar (produced by 4 who worked w/Michael Jackson) aiming first for Las Vegas, then on the road, and then, if all goes well, Broadway

Animals on Broadway

Banana Joe in Edwin Drood

1. Banana Joe, Westminster’s Best in Show dog, debuts on The Mystery of Edwin Drood

2. Anybody wind up auditioning their cat for role in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

Allie Cornblath ‏@AllisonSarah1  I’m taking my cat to the audition today!

Please tweet us a pic and tell us why it should star

Madeline the cat

Allie Cornblath: This is Madeline and I think she’d be great for the role bc she’s gorgeous and a good listener.

Jonathan Mandell: But can she sing?

Allie Cornblath: She can learn, I’m sure 🙂

Jonathan Mandell: Actually it’s a straight play, so your cat shouldn’t have to sing. I wonder if  Actors Equity has rules about this.

Actors Equity ‏(@ActorsEquity): We support teaching an old cat new tricks

14

Aaron Carter and Addi McDaniel in The Fantasticks

Aaron Carter and Addi McDaniel in The Fantasticks

Love Lessons from the Stage: Can theater teach us anything about love?

For Love, Laoisa Sexton’s play about 3 women’s search for love in Dublin “no matter what it costs.” Irish Rep, begins March 13 

“Lucy Loves Me, ” a new play by Migdalia Cruz, Intar Theatre, Feb 22-March 24

Questlove will be speaking with David Byrne about what shapes music (like love?) February 26 at Public Forum at the NYU Skirball Center.  

Illinois Senate just passed same-sex marriage by a vote of 34-21. Now on to the Illinois House. A Valentines Day Gift

Love and Theater, Love of Theater including two videos and the lyrics of the MOST romantic Broadway song ever, according to everyone from Streisand to Angela Lansbury to Corey Cott.

Anybody see Glee’s version of Stephen Sondheim’s (I’m Not) “Getting Married Today” from the musical “Company”? (I suppose to say so is to acknowledge that you still watch Glee.)

15

RitaMorenomemoirShould churches invest in Broadway?  Foursquare Church lost two million dollars in Scandalous, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rita Moreno  in Conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda to discuss her new memoir, at Barnes and Noble (86th and Lexington), March 15

Only $150,000 worth of tickets sold so far for  Bette Midler’s I’ll Eat You Last, 1/3 to 1/5 of hoped-for

Culture Craver ‏@craverco: Crazy since it’ll be her first time on Broadway in 33 yrs !

Retired Rep Barney Frank wasn’t appointed Senator but he DID play one in Encores! production of Fiorello!  

Too much testosterone in Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross? All-female cast reading w/ Robin Wright, Allison Janney et al at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 21.

 

Are artists narcissists and opportunists?

LenaDunhaminGirlsWriting about Lena Dunham and Girls in New York Magazine, Don’t Call Lena Dunham ‘Brave’ Brian McGreevy made two general observations about artists:

“Narcissism is as essential to the artist’s temperament as competition to the athlete’s”

“…all art is a product of shameless opportunism that deserves to be applauded”

Is this true? Must all artists be narcissists and opportunists?

Brandon David Wilson ‏@Geniusbastard It certainly seems that way. If they aren’t, they get bogged down in living life.

Terry Teachout (@TerryTeachout): No, it’s nonsense. Many are–some famously so–but they don’t have to be. What they MUST have is a streak of ruthlessness.

Isaac Butler ‏@parabasis There is I feel no excuse for artists acting like assholes but being an asshole doesn’t make you a bad artist

Terry Teachout: Of course. Fortunately, it’s not compulsory.

LilEsBella ‏@LilEsBella Their madness is more tolerable to me.

Josh Lamon ‏@JoshLamon: Not true at all. Some choose to be. They find themselves alone“

16

Ageism is rampant in theater, says director Jonathan Miller,78. “…you don’t get jobs after a certain age” http://bbc.in/VrxBnN 

“If politics is the art of the possible, theater is the art of the impossible”~ Herbert Blau.

17

The Laramie Project Cycle- Part 2

My review of The Laramie Project Cycle

Many people in Laramie, Wyoming don’t think that Matthew Shepard was murdered in their town in 1998 because he was gay — they think that he wasn’t the victim of a hate crime, according to the extraordinary two-part work of theater and journalism, “The Laramie Project Cycle,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through February 24th. They believe this even though a new federal hate crime law is named after Shepard, even though the police who investigated the crime say the proof is conclusive, even though his murderer admits it….

Part II (with separate admission) is “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later,” based on interviews when the company returned to find out what had changed, and what hadn’t.It is an inspired idea whose resonance goes beyond the story of this one murder or this one town, beyond even homophobia and hate.  The entire cycle, but especially Part II, comes close to offering some fresh insight about human nature.

Full review of The Laramie Project Cycle

Top 10 Stories in 2012 on NewYorkTheater.Me

Here are the ten most-read articles from this blog this year:

Will Slings and Arrows Return To TV?

Slings and Arrows may return, says one of its three creators

Slings and Arrows, a cult-like backstage television series that ran for three seasons. Its creators hope to revive it

I uncovered startling news for the many fans of “Slings and Arrows,” the cult Canadian TV series about a fictional theater suspiciously similar to the Stratford Festival: Co-creator Bob Martin told me (on Twitter) that they were thinking of reviving the series, creating a fourth season. “Slings may live again.” It’s been six months, and they still haven’t changed their mind — or done anything about it.

This was the number 1 story on NewYorkTheater.me in 2012, and an update on “Slings and Arrows” was the tenth most popular story.

Times Square, Wet…and After Sandy

New York After Sandy

New York After Sandy

I posted a photograph of Times Square which, viewers eventually agreed, was taken during Hurricane Irene in 2011, not during Hurricane (reduced to Storm) Sandy in 2012. Then I went to Times Square myself two days after Sandy — and it was dry, and busy, and inviting.

This was the second most popular page in 2012. The third most popular was another picture of the effects of Sandy — this one of all of Manhattan, showing the Dark Zones and the Energy Zones.

Broadway Fall 2012

BroadwayFall2012

This was a simple list of shows scheduled for Broadway. As you can see from the picture (i.e.. Rebecca), nothing is actually simple in the theater. A more barebones list Broadway 2013 — which I will soon be updating — was the ninth most popular blog post.)

My review of Scandalous: Kathie Lee Gifford’s Term Paper

I did not like this musical about the life of 1920’s evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, although apparently I disliked it less than many of the other critics. I’m not sure why this was my most popular review, but traffic persisted even after “Scandalous” closed on December 9th, after 31 previews and 29 regular performances. The only reason it lasted as long as it did is because the hopeful producers were making up for its substantial losses in hopes it would attract a Christmas crowd.

(Does it say anything that my second most-visited review was “The Performers” which was an even worse bomb, closing just four days after it opened?)

Into The Woods First Preview: Attack on ‘Attack’ By Morgan James

The Broadway actor Morgan James (The Addams Family, Wonderland, Godspell and scheduled to be in Motown: The Musical) attended the first preview of “Into The Woods” at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and Tweeted that she didn’t like it. She used some profanity in the process.  She was attacked intensely for her criticism — and I was attacked for writing about it, but probably only because I did so before all the major theater news outlets, and New York newspapers, did so as well. James apologized — although as it turns out some critics agreed with her.  Recently, Ms. James knocked, to far less notice, Les Miz.

MorganJames2

Update: Morgan James sent me a message: “If you’re going to continue to drag my name into everything, please don’t print lies. I have never even seen les mis, & never “knocked it””

What led me to characterize her as knocking Les Miz is this Tweet.

and multiple Tweets she “retweeted” including (but not limited to):

and

Top Ten Lists of Top Ten Theater in 2012

Top Ten Theater of 2012. Shows in  Top Ten lists of theater, from left: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (top); 4,000 Miles; Detroit; One Man, Two Guvnors; Falling

Top Ten Theater of 2012. Shows in Top Ten lists of theater, from left: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (top); 4,000 Miles; Detroit; One Man, Two Guvnors; Falling

I listed the top ten lists of ten New York drama critics, including my own.

Patti LuPone Sings Happy Birthday To Meryl Streep At 54 Below

PattiLuPoneatBelow54

She may have ended the year with some bitterness because of the abrupt closing of David Mamet’s The Anarchist, but Patti LuPone helped inaugurate the theater-oriented nightclub 54 Below with Meryl Streep in attendance on her birthday. I was there too, and it remains one of my favorite performances of the year.

These were the most popular stories on this blog in 2012 — but they weren’t necessarily my favorite. I liked my reviews and my weekly summaries of New York theater news and views (mostly culled from my Twitter feed) and my monthly theater quizzes. I was especially fond of

The debates over theater etiquette:

Paul Rudd from Grace on LettermanWhat do theatergoers think of opening applause for celebrities?

Is it rude to leave at intermission, or skip out before the curtain call is finished?

Should ill theatergoers stay home?

Job by Thomas Bradshaw at The Flea: Sean McIntyre

On Theater and Suffering

Looking for love on all the wrong stages? Theatergoers have found useful lessons about love from Death of A Salesman, Les Miserables, Follies, Ragtime, Mame, and one of three newly opened shows, "Hearts Like Fists"

Love Lessons From The Stage

Popularity or preference aside, what were the ten most noteworthy New York theater stories of 2012. I posted Top 10 New York Theater Stories of 2012 on Stage Status. In summary:

1. Sandy

2. Rebecca

3. Theater on Screen (from Smash to Les Miz)

4. Ticket Price Hike, Income Fall

5. Building (and Renovation) Boom

6. The Rise of the Short Run

7. The Rise and Fall of Religion

8. The Tables Turn on Stephen Sondheim

9. The Angry Enforcers of Theater Etiquette

10. #SIP – Saturday Intermission Pictures

The Anarchist Review: Real-Life Riveting Story Turned Into Mamet Mush

TheAnarchistLuPoneWingerWhen I first heard about “The Anarchist,” David Mamet’s play pitting Patti LuPone as an incarcerated violent radical against Debra Winger as her jailer, I immediately pictured the townhouse that blew up when I was a child. I remember walking by the demolished building and spotting a bookcase still full of books stuck on the outer wall of the adjoining building, two or three stories up. This was the family home of one of the bomb-makers of the Weather Underground; they had blown it up by accident, killing three of them. Two more, after being treated for their injuries,  disappeared, becoming fugitives.

A decade later, one of those two women, Kathy Boudin, the daughter of a prominent attorney, participated in the robbery of a Brink’s armored car in Westchester in which two law enforcement officers were killed. She was arrested, pled guilty, and received a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

While she was in prison, her son was adopted by former Weatherman leader Bill Ayers, who became a professor of education in Chicago and figured prominently in an attack on candidate Barack Obama in 2008 presidential campaign.

It was this intriguing story that I assumed had inspired Mamet to write and direct “The Anarchist,” which imagines a meeting in which Cathy (LuPone), an inmate for 35 years for murdering two law enforcement officers during a robbery, is requesting from Ann (Winger), an unspecified official (Warden? Prosecutor?) that she finally be released on parole, in order to visit her dying father. Cathy has found Jesus, she says, and tries to bring Ann to the light. Ann wants Cathy to tell her the location of Althea, her long-ago accomplice, still fugitive and lover.

The hour-long play that Mamet has produced manages to disappoint on nearly every level.  The actors do what they can, especially LuPone, who gives a master lesson in making something out of nothing. But Mamet gives them little but vagueness as a writer and as a director enforces a weird stylized stiltedness that we have seen from him before in movies such as “The Spanish Prisoner,” and plays like “Race,” which was on Broadway a few seasons back. (“Race” seemed thin at the time, but in light of “The Anarchist,” now comes off like “Around The World in 80 Days.”) The absence of any real drama is exceeded only by the pat ending, which would be rejected by the better TV police procedural shows as too stacked and gimmicky. But there is little satisfaction even in taking “The Anarchist” as an exercise in political philosophy. Putting aside how utterly unlikely the conversation between the two antagonists, it is a pompous affair with only intermittent insights, primarily marked by name-dropping and a lack of clarity.

The worst of “The Anarchist,” however is in imagining what the younger David Mamet would have made of such a complex, riveting real-life story.

The show has already announced it will close on December 16, two months earlier than its scheduled limited run.

The Anarchist

At the John Golden Theater, 252 West 45th Street

Written and directed by David Mamet; sets and costumes by Patrizia von Brandenstein

.Cast: Patti LuPone (Cathy) and Debra Winger (Ann).

Running time: an hour with no intermission.

“The Anarchist” is now scheduled to end on December 16 (14 days after opening)

Chaplin Silenced, Anarchist Scolded, Dead Accounts Dead on Arrival

Katie Holmes, Ricky Martin, Chaplin, Patti LuPone, Debra Winger, Cicely Tyson all figure in this week in New York theater

Katie Holmes, Ricky Martin, Chaplin, Patti LuPone, Debra Winger, Cicely Tyson all figure in this week in New York theater

T’was not a great week to be jolly for many in New York theater, with stars leaving shows, closing announcements, and Broadway openings marred by pans.

On the other hand, there was some good news involving Cicely Tyson, Nathan Lane, playwright Amy Herzog and fans of The Lion King. Also below: a chance to weigh in on the worst Broadway show of 2012, and to test how well you were paying attention to theater news in November.

November 26, 2012

Holland Taylor as Ann Richards in "Ann"

Holland Taylor as Ann Richards in “Ann”

Holland Taylor will be starring on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theater production of “Ann,”  about late Texas Gov Ann Richards, opening March 7

Quiz: What recent NYC show also featured Ann Richards?

Karen Wilson ‏(@akakarenwilson)” Pre-show speech at Urban Cowboy

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater): Not what I was thinking, no

Patricia Milton ‏(@PatriciaMilton): Anna Deavere Smith played Ann Richards in “Let Me Down Easy” Off-B’way in 2009.

Scottish play, rainbow casting, ghost light. Know these theater terms? If not,check out TDF’s theater dictionary 

Tina Packer’s marathon “Women of Will” (about Shakespeare’s female characters) Jan-June 2013 at Gym at Judson 

Actor just starting out cast in what he discovers is incompetent unprofessional production asks: Should I quit? 

Daniel Bourque ‏@Danfrmbourque: Tough one early in career, especially for an actor. I’d say stick it out and then not go near company again.

27

Stephen Sondheim and Nathan Lane

Stephen Sondheim and Nathan Lane

Ricky Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris will all leave Evita after Jan 26. Show continues with unannounced new cast. Who will they have to get to keep Evita going after its stars leave in January?

Lights will dim on Broadway tonight for producer Marty Richards (Sweeney Todd, etc),  co-founder of Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS, who died yesterday at age 80

After 18 months, the unexpected hit Silence: The Musical, a spoof of the movie “Silence of the Lambs,” will close December 30th at the Elektra Theater in Times Square.

Nathan Lane will be host of the Symphonic Sondheim at the New York Philharmonic January 29

Audra McDonald to be new host of “Live From Lincoln Center” on PBS

Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, by Kathie Lee Gifford

Parishioner at Aimee Semple McPherson’s church who met Kathie Lee leaves comment on my review of Scandalous: Kathie Lee Gifford “said she felt the show needed to be done and that God would use it.”

Worst-performing show on Broadway last week, by most measures (e.g. attendance down more than 40%!) was Scandalous

BackStageBarbie ‏@barbiebackstage oh geez. I have comps to use for that show. Sounds like I better get on before it closes.

Why is Scandalous still playing when theater is 2/3rds empty? Amway millionaires Dick and Betsy DeVos covering losses in hopes of a miracle turnaround in audience attendance.

William Akers ‏@ouijum I should send them one of my scripts. Gotta love producers with blind faith and deep pockets.

28

Do labels for artists “young” and “emerging” discriminate on basis of age and insult based on experience?

Kicked off Smash in March, Theresa Rebeck has a new play Dead Accounts opening Thursday. She talks about both Rebeck saw herself as the architect of Smash, she says; NBC saw her as the general contractor. “…you don’t fuck with the muse.

Government “invests” in manufacturing, says UK arts writer Louise Jury, but “subsidizes” the arts. “But both make things.”

TLK_988x238_102612Free Lion King exhibition this Saturday through Dec. 16. Mask-making etc

 

My Name Is Asher Lev: "You have a responsibility. Do you know what that responsibility is?" the art teacher (Mark Nelson) asks his student, an art prodigy who is also an Orthodox Jew (Ari Brand)

The arts teach kids creativity, confidence, problem-solving,perseverance, focus, collaboration, dedication

“To make theater, one must live in a state of crisis,” writes playwright & actor Michael Yichao http://bit.ly/Se66Zw  True?

My Name Is Asher Lev: What does it take to be an artist? What is the artist’s responsbility?

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark began performances for the paying public two years ago today. (It opened 6 1/2 months later.)

29

August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at Signature Theater is extending 3 weeks through January 13.

Crystal T. Johnson ‏@ArtsGift2Crys Yessss! I need tickets

DRG Records making cast recording of Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In studio: Dec 10. Available: Jan 29

In 8 videos on Sony Masterworks “Legends of Broadway,” Sondheim discusses Gypsy, Follies,Into the Woods

Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes in Dead Accounts on Broadway

Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes in Dead Accounts on Broadway

My review of Dead Accounts

After departing “Smash,” the television series she created that looks with fluttering heart at the making of a Broadway musical, Theresa Rebeck apparently has changed her mind about New York City, judging from her inconsequential and oddly hostile new comedy, “Dead Accounts.”

….What was most entertaining for me about “Dead Accounts” was the mystery behind Norbert Leo Butz’s character – and the teasing, intriguing clues Rebeck sprinkles in the first act, with little surprises leading up to the biggest surprise.

And then the big surprise turns out to be a dud.

Full review of Dead Accounts

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Neil LaBute is following up his Reasons to be Pretty with new play Reasons to Be Happy, which he will

ReasonstoBePretty direct for MCC Theater in 2013

Wendy Rosenfield ‏@WendyRosenfield Reason to be annoyed

David Robson ‏@davidrobsonplay Come on, you know you love him.

November2012TheaterQuiz

November 2012 New York Theater Quiz

Sample Q: In a review of what work did Isherwood use the word “Weltanschauung”? http://

December 1

The Worst Broadway Show of 2012? Vote in the poll:

Stage Acting Tips: e.g. keep a notebook, read the play out loud at least 3 times, don’t drink cold water 

Glenda Jackson: Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare

2

Happy 87th birthday,Julie Harris,winner of 6 Tonys,veteran of 33 Broadway shows, co-star w/James Dean, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando

“Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Epstein to play Peter Parker/Spider-man in “Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark” Saturday and Sunday matinee performances beginning Dec. 8

3

Patti LuPone and Debra Winger in David Mamet's "The Anarchist" on Broadway got reviews that will be difficult for the production to quote.

David Mamet will not be quoting reviews of The Anarchist in ads

“a wearying lecture”…”strangely gassy”…”restrained to the point of somnambulance”…”drone on and on”

CicelyTysoninTheCornIsGreenCicely Tyson returns to Broadway after 30 years in revival of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, opening April, 2013 Sondheim Theater. The last time she was on Broadway was in “The Corn Is Green” in 1983.

Amy Herzog has won fourth annual NY Times Outstanding Playwright Award for After the Revolution, about radical family,

Chaplin, starring Rob McClure, is closing

Chaplin, starring Rob McClure, is closing

Chaplin will close after 24 previews and 136 regular performances.

@ChaplinBway With heavy hearts, we announce our final perf, Jan 6.

The announcement that Chaplin is closing comes a day before its cast recording becomes downloadable, 5 days before CD available

Broadway audiences: 2/3rds female, almost 2/3rds tourists. Almost half buy tickets online., according to a new report from The Broadway League.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean sings Who Am I in Les Miserables Movie