10 Out Of 12 theater review: We’re in tech, at SoHo Rep, via Anne Washburn

10 Out of 12

At “10 out of 12,” Anne Washburn’s new ambitious, amusing and exasperating backstage play set during a technical rehearsal for a new play, the audience was full of theatrical royalty, including playwright and lyricist Lisa Kron who had just won Tonys for Fun Home. In one of Kron’s Tony acceptance speeches, she had compared Broadway to a big house where until now only a few of the rooms have been used. “This season the lights got turned on in other rooms….Wouldn’t it be great if after this season we didn’t all just go back to the living room.”

“10 Out Of 12” is definitely a previously unused room, even Off-Off Broadway at the SoHo Rep, where it’s just opened. I’m thinking maybe it’s the storage room – the playwright has said she based the play on notes she’s been taking at tech rehearsals over the past ten years. Or it could be the boiler room – everything in the room has some purpose, but you’re not quite sure what.

Those people who are not themselves professional theater artists – a decided minority in the audience the night I attended– are probably most acquainted with technical rehearsals in the theater through the canceled but not forgotten television series “Smash,” when in season one Dev proposes marriage to Karen, and she replies “I’m in tech” – which became a popular catchphrase.

Washburn, justly praised for her bravado experiments and best-known for Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, with its clever use of episodes from The Simpsons TV series, steers way clear of anything resembling Smash in “10 out of 12.” Her play doesn’t seem to be intended as an entertainment nor even an education about backstage life so much as it is a painstaking effort to re-create it — to have the theatergoers feel what it’s like to be part of a tech rehearsal. To that end, each theatergoer is given a headset so that we can listen in on the headset conversations between (the actors portraying) the stage manager and lighting and sound designers and the crew, a standard means of backstage communication.

Some of the impromptu actions and interactions are odd and amusing:

The director wants a total blackout in the opening scene and begs the stage manager to figure out a way to cover up the fire exit light. “Not on my watch,” she replies.

The two actresses ask the costume designer and the director whether they should be “boobier” — have larger breasts. (No details on how this would happen.)

“It doesn’t mess with your mis en scene or anything does it?” one asks the director.

“This is strictly between you girls. Women,” the director replies.

“We must increase our bust,” they start chanting playfully.

“Dear Jesus,” the director says. The conversation ropes in the assistant director, who speculates how the playwright would react.

There are emotional confrontations, mostly involving Thomas Jay Ryan as a prickly member of the cast, who has the juiciest moments and makes the most of them, while the “crew” comment (“Wow” “Yup”) on their headsets, which the audience can hear (on our headsets) but the “cast” cannot.

“I do new plays because I love work which has only just emerged from the present moment,” Ryan’s character Paul says at one point, objecting to a particular scene.  “But — and I mean this with no malice whatsoever — I wish all playwrights would die immediately after writing their script…. I treasure the art, but so often the artist doesn’t have the courage of the art.”

But these shiny moments are like nuggets extracted from a cavernous mine. What tech rehearsal means for most people involved is a lot of waiting while the sets and sounds and lighting and costumes get adjusted and fixed, and the major emotion is tedium. Both waiting and tedium are in abundance in Washburn’s play, which clocks in at close to three hours (including a 15-minute intermission.)

We see how the characters in the play occupy the long stretches of dead time: The director talks to himself in German, a techie breaks out into song, the actors stand around clinking teacups in a kind of makeshift game, the crew talk to each other on the headset about food.  But the audience has no such recourse to amuse ourselves.

“10 Out Of 12” seems influenced by Annie Baker’s “The Flick” in its respect for a real-life rhythm full of pauses, dead moments, random bursts that peter out. But at least in the Flick, we knew what the characters were doing at all times – their activities got no more complex than sweeping the aisles of the movie theater – and we eventually learn about them as people; there’s a solid arc, a story. By contrast, there are only fleeting clues to the lives of the characters in “10 Out Of 12”, a play primarily made up of seemingly random stretches of visual chaos and tech-speak and insider references. Even the title is an insider’s reference, to the union requirement that 12-hour days for rehearsals contain two hours of breaks.

We have to listen carefully just to pick up on that. And, though this tech rehearsal is supposedly a run-through of the play-within-the-play, we never learn its title nor precisely what it’s about; it appears to be a Victorian s&m horror story. It’s a testament to Washburn’s talent that, as cheesy as the drama seemed to be, I wanted more of it.

10 Out of 12 Soho Rep May 24, 2015 Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

10 Out of 12
Soho Rep
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

10 out of 12

at SoHo Rep

By Anne Washburn; directed by Les Waters; sets by David Zinn; costumes by Ásta Bennie Hostetter; lighting by Justin Townsend; sound by Bray Poor; props by George Hoffmann and Greg Kozatek; choreography by Barney O’Hanlon; music arrangement by Dan Mackenzie and Mr. Poor; production manager, Jeff Drucker; production stage manager, Amanda Spooner; technical director, Sara Morgan.

Cast: Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Stage Manager), Jeff Biehl (Technician 3), Gibson Frazier (Ben/Charles), Rebecca Hart (Costume), Nina Hellman (Siget/Old Lady/Lucille), Sue Jean Kim (Eva/Marie), Bruce McKenzie (Director), Garrett Neergaard (Technician 2), Bray Poor (Sound), David Ross (Jake/Richard), Thomas Jay Ryan (Paul/Carstairs), Conrad Schott (Assistant Director), Wendy Rich Stetson (Lights) and Leigh Wade (Assistant Stage Manager).

Running time: About 2 hours and 45 minutes (including 15 minute intermission.)

10 out of 12 is scheduled to run through July 11, which is an extension of the original end date.


Smash Calendar 2014 (and why nobody will buy it)

Sure “Smash” was killed after two season because of steadily decreasing viewers. But that hasn’t stopped the merchandising for the TV series about the backstage story of a Broadway musical.
If sales of the Smash 2014 calendar are not as brisk as its manufacturers expect (at least on Amazon), it may be because, like the creators of the series, they chose the wrong character to highlight.


Ann Harada on Smash, Avenue Q’s 10th Anniversary, and on being the not-so-evil stepsister in Cinderella

AnnHaradaAnn Harada currently performs as Charlotte, one of Cinderella’s not-so-evil stepsisters in the Broadway debut of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical. This is her sixth role on Broadway, which have ranged from Comrade Chin in “M. Butterfly” to Madame  Thénardier in “Les Miserables.” But she is best-known for originating the part of Christmas Eve in “Avenue Q,” which officially celebrates its 10th anniversary on July 31, 2013.

CinderellaTshirtHarada and the cast of “Cinderella” sang “Stepsister’s Lament” at the Broadway at Bryant Park lunchtime concert series on July 11, 2013, which she sings nightly at the Broadway Theater on 53rd Street.  Instead of the colorful gown, she was wearing a Cinderella T-shirt, which said “I can be whatever I want to be,” which is not just the show’s motto, but seems to be Harada’s as well.

Below are two videos, first of her performance of  the song (complete with captions of the lyrics).

I also spoke  to her briefly, as you can see in the second video.

On Smash. Did she know when she was hired that she wouldn’t be singing.

‘It was going to be a very small part, and I was totally fine with that; I was happy to be on the show at all. There was no reason for me to think that I would ever be singing.”

Did the threat of cancellation hang over the cast?

“So much of the shooting was before they started running the episodes,We just went to work and thought ‘Whoopee we have a job.’ and weren’t thinking about that at all.”

On Avenue Q: I loved being part of it. I’m proud of what we did. It’s our tenth anniversary this year; I couldn’t be more pleased about that. It was a very special time.”

On her future as a performer: “I’d like to play Dolly Levi someday.” She can be whatever she wants to be, including her generation’s Carol Channing.

From left to right: Laura Osnes, Harriet Harris, Marla Mindelle and Ann Harada

From left to right: Laura Osnes, Harriet Harris, Marla Mindelle and Ann Harada

Top 11 Songs From Smash

Now that NBC has canceled “Smash,” what will happen to the original songs created for this TV series about Broadway? Here are 11 that should last. (Lyrics are below the videos)

1. Let Me Be Your Star, with Megan Hilty (written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

2.The National Pastime, with Megan Hilty (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

3. 20th Century Fox Mambo, with Katharine McPhee (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

4. Hang The Moon – duet between Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

5. Second Hand Baby Grand, with Megan Hilty (Shaiman and Wittman)

6. Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking, with Christian Borle (Shaiman and Wittman)

7. Broadway, Here I Come, with Jeremy Jordan (written by Joe Iconis)

8. Caught in the Storm, with Katharine McPhee (written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)

9. A Love Letter From The Times, with Christian Borle and Liza Minnelli (Shaiman and Wittman)

10. The Goodbye Song, with Jeremy Jordan and Katharine McPhee (Joe Iconis)

11. Don’t Forget Me, with Megan Hilty (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

Let Me Be Your Star:

Fade in on a girl
With a hunger for fame
And a face and a name to remember
The past fades away
Because as of this day
Norma Jean’s gone
She’s moving on
Her smile and your fantasies
Play a duet
That will make you forget
Where you are
The music starts playing,
It’s the beat of her heart saying
Let me be your star
Flashback to a girl
With a song in her heart
As she’s waiting to start the adventure
The fire and drive
That make dreams come alive
They fill her soul
She’s in control
The drama, the laughter

The tears just like pearls
Well they’re all in this girl’s repertoire
It’s all for the taking
And it’s magic we’ll be making
Let me be your star
I just have to forget the hurt that came before
Forget what used to be
The past is on the cutting room floor
The future is here with me, choose me
Fade up on a star
With it all in her sights
All the love and the lights
That surround her
Someday she’ll think twice
Of the dues and the price
She’ll have to pay (She’ll Have to pay)
But not today (But not today)
She’ll do all she can
For the love of one man
And for millions who love from afar
I’m what you’ve been needing
It’s all here and my heart’s pleading
Let me be your star

The National Pastime

Fellas! (Yeah?)
Fellas! (Is it?)
Hey, team! (Off the benches, it’s Marilyn!)

I just got a date (She just got a date!)
With baseball’s Joltin’ Joe! (That lucky so-and-so!)
So run me ‘round the bases,
Put me through my paces,
And teach me all the things a slugger’s lover
Should know!

What’s that there? (That’s the pitcher’s mound!)
Have you ever seen a shape that is so perfectly round?
(Batter up!) Play ball!
(You better give it your all!)
‘Cause all men like to play at
The national pastime.

Who’s that man? (That’s the first base coach!)
Have you noticed that he signals every time I approach?
(Kill the ump!) Throw him out!
(Because there isn’t a doubt..)
That all men like to play at
The national pastime!

When I was just a little girl,
I liked being dainty and purty.
But now that I’m giving sports a whirl,
I find I kinda like to get dirty!

(Baby, what’s that there?) That’s the team bullpen,
And I like the odds I’m seeing: no girls, all men!
(Hit the deck, look alive!
Beware the lady’s line drive!)
Because my skill and my passion’ll
Elevate the national…

Hot Dogs! Crackerjack!
I don’t care, I don’t care if I ever get back!
(When the season’s over, the play won’t end…)
‘Cause a baseball diamond is a girl’s best friend!

Yes, my style and my fashion’ll
Elevate the national

The 20th Century Fox Mambo

At Paramount it’s “Oh la la”
The Warner Brothers “Cha Cha Cha”
And L.B. Mayer loves his schmaltz
so MGM made the great waltz.
But the 20th Century Foxtrot…
It’s precious but precious
It’s not hot!
To make the big boys hire me, please make that rhythm fiery
(Come on boys and girls, make me over)
In this factory where dreams can come true,
Are you ready to make someone new?
You’re the team that must teach me to do,
The 20th Century Fox Mambo!
Done the homework and I’ll pass the test,
I’ll do whatever my teacher suggests.
I can do it clothed or undressed,
The 20th Century Fox Mambo!
Make it up! Shake it up!
Let the fantasies begin!
Here’s the dope:
To get cast, change the past
Make the light just right for Cinemascope
Take a gamble cause it’s safe to bet
Mister Zanick ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
When we’re finished he’ll never forget
This 20th Century Fox!
Ah! Ah-ah! For fame… Play the game… Change your name… To the 20th Century Fox!
Make it up! Shake it up!
Make me feel like the main attraction
Change the clothes, fix the nose
And then 5,6,7,8, Action! (ACTION!)
Now I’m blonde but I ain’t so dumb (No!)
Hollywood will be under my thumb (Yes!)
I’ll change partners until I become…
The 20th Century Fox Mambo!

Hang The Moon
If our lives were a movie
I’d know what to do
I’d write every scene with my heart
An RKO picture that stars me and you
And this time I’d learn my part

I’d paint you some scenery
We’d sing, and we’d dance
From morning ’til late afternoon
And when that scene is done
Then I’d take down the sun
And for you darling, I’ll hang the moon

We’d wake up to sunshine
Like lights on a set
You’d reach out and there’d be my hand
All day there’d be music, a perfect duet
That flows from the white baby grand

At night when you’re frightened
I’d play you to sleep
That melody from Clair de Lune
And to fill up the sky
Past the clouds, I would fly
And for you darling, I’ll hang the moon

Hang the moon forever
So you’d never fear the darkness
The darkness I’ve known
Moon protect Norma Jean
So that she’ll never be alone
Never alone

If our lives were a movie
Then you’d be the star
‘Cause now I know the role I should play
To applaud all you do
All the things that you are
And just be there on opening day

I know in the past
That the lines were all wrong
And the music was never in tune
But the wish that I make
Is for just one more take
Because then darling
I’ll hang the moon

I’ll hang the moon above you
So you’ll never fear the darkness
The darkness of night
Then you’ll know I love you
Each time that you feel the light
Feel the light

If our lives were a movie
Then I’d cut away
All the moments when I wasn’t there
The scenes that are happy
Are all that will stay
The rest will dissolve into air

As the final reel ends
We might both shed a tear
For the ending is coming up soon
But when the screen fades to black
We can smile and look back
And for you darling I’ll hang the moon

Second Hand Baby Grand

My mother bought it secondhand from a silent movie star
It was out of tune but still I learned to play
And with each note we both would smile forgetting who we are
And all the pain would simply fly away
Something secondhand and broken still can make a pretty sound
Even if it doesn’t have a place to live
Oh, the words were left unspoken when my momma came around
But that Secondhand White Baby Grand still had something beautiful to give
Through missing keys and broken strings the music was our own
Until the day we said our last goodbyes
The baby grand was sent away, a child all alone, to pray somebody else would realize
That something secondhand and broken still can make a pretty sound
Even if it doesn’t have a place to live

Oh. the words are still unspoken now that momma’s not around
But that Secondhand White Baby Grand still has something beautiful to give
For many years the music had to roam
Until we found a way to find a home.
So now I wake up every day and see her standing there.
Just waiting for a partner to compose
And I wish my mother still could hear
That sound beyond compare
I’ll play her song till everybody knows.

That something secondhand and broken still can make a pretty sound
Don’t we all deserve a family room to live
Oh. the words can’t stay unspoken until everyone has found
That Secondhand White Baby Grand that still has something beautiful to give.
I still have something beautiful to give

Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking

A studio executive has no beliefs
That’s the way of the studio system
We bow to every rear of all the studio chiefs
And you can bet your ass we’ve kissed ’em
Even the birds in the Hollywood Hills
Know the secret to our success
It’s those magical words that pay the bills:
Yes, yes, yes, and yes

Gentlemen! Take a memo.
Today the Trades are all aglow
With grosses for our Miss Monroe
The things those vermin mustn’t know
Is what she puts us through
She makes directors wait all day
One line per hour is all she’ll say
And still, she thinks we’re gonna pay
She needs a talking to
Tomatoes like her must be put in their place
If she don’t shape up soon, she’ll soon be walking
‘Cause the buck stops with me

Yes you’re right, we agree!

Uh, don’t say yes until I finish talking
She’s got them all tied up in knots
Makes each producer faint in plotz
She thinks she’s queen and calls the shots
As she sits on a thrown
She needs to learn she’s only skin
The next girl’s waiting for a spin
I made a star of Rin Tin Tin and paid him with a bone
Tomatoes like her
Well, they’re easy to find
We throw them out as soon as they start squacking
So, get me some younger dish

We concur, as you wish!

Hey! Don’t say yes until I finish talking
And while you’ve got me on a roll
Let’s find a role for Nat King Cole
Tell Mankiewicz his script is trite
A little lower, to the right
I think that Brando is miscast
That television just won’t last
That I’m the king of Hollywood

All hail the king!

Oh, that feels good
Which brings me back to that dumb blonde
To her demands, I now respond
Some buy your act, but I’m not conned
You’d better fall in line
Your two bazooms are nuts to boot
I’ll keep you in a bathing suit
When you stop bringing in the loot
Well, go back to the vine
Tomatoes like you
They all wither and die
My powers, though, will never be diminished
So don’t bring me to my boiling point
You’re just a broad, I own the joint
I’m in control, you’re just a face
So allow me to cut to the chase
I’ll make another movie star
Could someone light my damn cigar?
And then say “yes”
Cause yes, men
I’m finished


Broadway Here I Come

I’m high above the city
I’m standing on the ledge
The view from here is pretty
And I step off the edge

And now I’m falling, baby, through the sky, through the sky
I’m falling, baby, through the sky
It’s my calling, baby, don’t you cry, don’t you cry
I’m falling down through the sky

Toward the street that I’m from

Oh Broadway here I come
Broadway here I come

The pressure it increases
The closer that I get
I could almost go to pieces
But I’m not quite there yet

See I’ve been braving crazy weather
Drownin’ out my cries
I’ll pull myself together
I’m focused on the prize

I’m falling, baby, through the sky, through the sky
I’m falling, baby, through the sky
It’s my calling, baby, don’t you cry, don’t you cry
I’m falling down through the sky

Its a tune you can hum
Oh Broadway here I come


Will I remain the same, or will it change a little bit
Will I feel broken or totally complete

Will I retain my name when I’m the biggest hugest hit

Or will I blend in with the rest of the street

The people all are pointing
I bet they’d never guess
That the saint that they’re anointing
Is frightened of the mess

But even though I fear it
I’m playing all my cards
Baby, you are gonna hear it
When I give them my regards

I’m falling, baby, through the sky, through the sky
I’m falling, baby, through the sky
It’s my calling, baby, don’t you cry, don’t you cry
I’m falling down through the sky

And I refuse to go numb

Oh, Broadway here I come
Broadway, here I come
Broadway, here I come
Broadway, Broadway, here I come
Here I come!

And the last thing I hear
As the impact grows near
Is it a scream or a cheer?
Well, never mind, I’ll never find out
‘Cause Broadway, I am here!

Caught In The Storm

You can push me away
I can take it
I can make you a promise
and break it
We know the way it goes by now

Running off just to see
if I chase you
I pretend I know how
to replace you
still we get tangled up

Hear it thunder
and I wonder
How long can I hang on

I’m caught in the storm
I’m caught in the rain
I’m caught in the rush
that hides this pain

I’m ready to drown
but it’s coming down
but I feel so alive

Just let me go
Just walk away
If you love someone
you never let them stay

caught in the storm

as the bars on the Bowery
are closing
you arrive at the door
standing frozen
you say you thought you’d find me here

tell me how I begin
to forget you
when you keep coming back
and I let you
Love me until you disappear

I’m caught in the storm
I’m caught in the rain
I’m caught in the rush
that hides this pain

I’m ready to drown
but it’s coming down
but I feel so alive

Just let me go
Just walk away
If you love someone
you never let them stay

caught in the storm

Let me wash away
you can find me after the flood
let me wash away

caught in the storm
caught in the rain
caught in the rush
that hides this pain

If you love someone
you find a way to stay
caught in the storm


A Love Letter From The Times

Today at tech where life’s a zoo
What irony, I missed my cue
Your birthday almost came and went
No wonder you were malcontent
And so tonight to right the wrong
I’ve written you a birthday song
But I ain’t gonna wing it
Look who I got to sing it

May each evening be a triumph
Where are the planets are aligned
With you, the star that hits the sky and climbs
And when you’re waking in the morning
Well, dear friend, I hope you find
A love letter from The Times

Then, an afternoon of roses
Like the At Home section brings
Just past the metro section and its crimes
They’re yellin’ on the sports page
But the Arts and Leisure sings to you
A love letter from The Times

A full page ad that’s full of quotes
About your face, your style, those notes
superlatives about your gifts prolific
The raves from me would never end
About the girl who’s my best friend
She’s wonderful, she’s special, she’s terrific

So that’s the gift I wish for you
And hope I can achieve
And someday when we both run out of rhymes
I don’t care about my notice
But I know that you’ll receive
A love letter from The Times

You’re older and I’m wiser
Ivy, look, I brought you Liza!

With a love letter from The Times

The Goodbye Song
The time has come
I’m flying away
Mouth is numb
Heart don’t know what to say

And although I’ll be out of sight, dear
Know I’ll be right here
Right here forever, ever, ever, ever

When you look to the night skies
Don’t think of goodbyes
Think how I’m right here ever, ever, ever


No, you can’t come with me


I wish I could

Goodbye aye-aye-aye

I know it’s hard to say


No, you can’t come with me


I wish I could

Goodbye aye-aye-aye

I know it’s hard to say


I know it hurts to say

I’d stay if I could
But the universe won’t let me
So please be good
And don’t you forget me

And although I’ll be out of sight, dear
Know I’ll be right here
Right here forever, ever, ever, ever

When you look to the night skies
Don’t think of goodbyes

Think how I’m right here ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever

Don’t Forget Me
They thought they could dispose of me
They tried to make me small
I suffered each indignity
But now rise above it all

Yes, the price I paid was all I had
But at last, I found release
And if something good can come from bad
The past can rest in peace

Oh if you see someone’s hurt
And in need of a hand
Don’t forget me
Or hear a melody crying from some baby grand
You don’t forget me

When you sing happy birthday to someone you love
Or see diamonds you wish were all free
Please say that you won’t;
I pray that you don’t forget me

But forget every man who I ever met
‘Cause they only lived to control
For a kiss they paid a thousand
Yet they paid fifty cents for my soul
They took their piece
The price of fame that no one can repay
Ah, but they didn’t buy me when they bought my name
And that is why I pray

That when you see someone’s hurt
And in need of a hand
You don’t forget me
Or hear a melody crying from some baby grand
You don’t forget me

When you sing happy birthday to someone you love
Or see diamonds you wish were all free
Please say that you won’t;
I pray that you don’t forget me

There are some in this world who have strength on their own
Never broken or in need of repair
But there are some born to shine who can’t do it alone
So protect them and take special care
Take care

And don’t forget me
Please take care
And don’t forget me
When you look to the heavens with someone you love
And a light shining bright from afar
Hope you see my face there
And then offer a prayer
And please let me be
Let me be that star

New York Theater April 2013 Quiz

April2013NewYorkTheaterQuizThis month’s theater quiz is a special theater awards edition.About half the 10 questions have something to do with one of the many awards whose nominations were announced in April. See how well you were paying attention.

Matilda. Motown. Marathon on Broadway.


Ten shows will be opening on Broadway within the next ten days. The consensus on the two that just opened, “Matilda” and “Motown,” were starkly different — and my take on both strayed from the mainstream. (See 11 and 14 below)

The Week in New York Theater:

Monday, April 8, 2013


Hands On A Hardbody is closing April 13, after 28 previews and 28 regular performances. BUT three predictions…

Russell Warne ‏‪@Russwarne  I’ll expect a production of ‪Hardbody in Utah within the next 18 months.



Cast album of ‪Pippin by ‪ShKBoom ready in June. Show opens April 25th.


Billy Elliot after Margaret Thatcher (and Avenue Q after Gary Coleman, Ghost after Whitney Houston)

Twelve Broadway shows grossed more than $1 million last week, including newcomers ‪Cinderella, ‪Lucky Guy, and ‪Motown: The Musical

Adam PascalAdam Pascal – bohemian in Rent, MC in Cabaret, DJ in Memphis, now slick lawyer in ‪Chicago starting tonight.
‪Robert Falls: @RobertFalls201 Hey, Adam Pascal was also a brilliant Egyptian Soldier in the long-running AIDA dontcha know…
Elvan McMillen ‏‪@elvanmcm Adam Pascal was also brilliant as Freddie in Chess! (albeit not long running, brilliant nonetheless!)
Sylvia W. Sankey ‏‪@FisherSylvia Ever since I saw ‘Rent’, I have *loved* Adam Pascal.

Bombshell is “opening” April 20th – an episode of Smash entitled “Opening Night,” which might not be long before Smash’s closing night. The number of viewers have fallen from 11.44 million for the pilot to 1.88 million for the latest episode 14 months later.

Megan Hilty as Ivy playing Marilyn in "Bombshell" on Smash

Megan Hilty as Ivy playing Marilyn in “Bombshell” on Smash

Wicked sold 14,290 seats last week, which was higher than any other Broadway show. (If all 1.88 million Smash viewers saw Bombshell on Broadway, it’d be a hit!)


Murder Ballad, praised when at ‪MTC, returns, this time to Union Square Theater April 29-May 22,with ‪Caissie Levy ‪and Will Swenson.


Matilda Mania – Even Google is in on it.


The Julie Taymor vs. Spider-man trial is not going forward. They just announced they have settled. Terms not publicized.

Mary Louise-Parker returns to Broadway as a World War I widow in The Snow Geese by Sharr White (The Other Place) ‪Opens October  24

Two new Broadway cast albums coming in May: ‪Cinderella and Kinky Boots

Andrew Lloyd Webber ‪ has acquired rights to Jack Black’s 2003 comedy film School of Rock to adapt for Broadway.

Christina Crawford, author of 1978 Joan Crawford memoir, will perform “Surviving Mommie Dearest” May 8-12 Snapple Theater Center

A “crowd-sourced” musical adaptation of The Tempest at the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater — with 200 New Yorkers on stage — Sept 6-8.

Quiz: Which grossed more money in ticket sales in 2012? London’s West End or Broadway?
Answer: In 2012, Broadway grossed $1.1 billion in ticket sales; London’s West End 530 million pounds ($830 mil)
Are Broadway grosses higher than the West End’s just because the tickets are more expensive?

Jeremy Bennington ‏‪@MrProducer: The answer is simple: YES

The 25 best songs about the theater

Boldly includes a Smash song

Louis Peitzman ‪@LouisPeitzman: Two, actually.

Jonathan Mandell ‏‪ How are these “Broadway songs”?

Louis Peitzman ‏: I made an exception. They’re good songs.

Jonathan Mandell ‏ Maybe you’re prescient, and those Smash songs will indeed get to Broadway, or at least to a live stage somewhere.


Jason R. Brown’s The Last Five Years has been extended until May 18 at ‪Second Stages.

Katie Labovitz ‏@klabovitz11  YES! Now we have more chances to get sucker punched in the feels by JBR and this show 🙂

Kenny Leon will direct NYC workshop this summer of Holler If Ya Hear Me, rap musical using music by the late Tupac Shakur

Ryan Silverman, Melissa Errico and Judy Kuhn in Sondheim's "Passion" at CSC

Ryan Silverman, Melissa Errico and Judy Kuhn in Sondheim’s “Passion” at CSC

He directed Passion for The Classic Stage Company. Now the theater has made John Doyle an associate director. Less Strindberg, more Sondheim?

Greg Reiner ‏@gregreiner11 (executive director of Classic Stage)  His background is actually just as much in classics as in musicals- just not as well known for it in the US.

Jonathan Mandell ‏ Which begs the question: Is Classic Stage planning to do more musicals?

Classic Stage Co ‏@classicstage11 We do plan to! More info on our Musical Theatre Initiative

Greg Reiner ‏@gregreiner11 Probably every other year, given the scale and planning involved.

Matilda opens

Matilda 2

My review of Matilda

How do you solve a problem like “Matilda”? How do you handle the juggernaut it’s become? ..Loving this musical has become the default reaction; theatergoers can’t help but have heightened expectations… And in a way, that’s too bad.

There is much to like in what is unquestionably one of the best new musicals of the Broadway season (its major competition to my mind is “A Christmas Story.”) “Matilda” offers dazzling stagecraft overseen by director Matthew Warchus,  a faithful and intelligent book by David Kelly, and Tim Minchin’s clever lyrics. The production also, however, sometimes feels in need of a translator.

Full review of Matilda


playwrights horizons online auction

For its online auction, Playwrights Horizons has come up with dozens of items to bid on — some great; some elaborate; one a really, really bad idea.

Actors dance in the Stonewall In in the play "Hit The Wall" by Ike Holter

Hit The Wall will play its final performance at Barrow Street Theater on April 28.


Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” – Samuel Beckett, born April 13, 1906

On the front door of the Ethel Barrymore Theater

Brian ‏@frontrowcenter514 “Oh, MacB-” *usher smackdown*

Odd contrast to the view of the star Alan Cumming


Cicely Tyson visits Wharton,Tex.home of “Trip to Bountiful” playwright Horton Foote for her first Broadway role in 30 years
CicelyTyson’s childhood home in Manhattan just torn down:”I used to walk by & feel like I could still see my mother in the window”

Michael Jackson (Raymond Luke Jr.) and the Jackson 5

Michael Jackson (Raymond Luke Jr.) and the Jackson 5

My review of Motown

It is easy to see “Motown: The Musical” as Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr.’s affectionate tribute to himself…in a script that takes chutzpah to new heights….But…If you love the music of Motown, nothing will stop you from enjoying this musical. If you don’t – and I love it so much, it’s hard for me to fathom people who don’t – “Motown: The Musical” can still offer you an array of exciting performances. If you are unfamiliar with the music or the story behind it, this musical with its greatest-hits approach is as good an introduction to it as you are likely to get, despite Berry Gordy Jr.’s attempt at self-canonization.

Full review of Motown (and picture gallery)

Bombshell Opening On Smash

Megan Hilty as Ivy playing Marilyn in "Bombshell" on Smash

Megan Hilty as Ivy playing Marilyn in “Bombshell” on Smash

“Bombshell,” the Marilyn Monroe musical that fans of Smash will have  been following for 26 episodes, promises to open on April 20th in an episode entitled, appropriately, “Opening Night.”  This is the latest episode of the television series in its new slot on Saturday nights, a time period considered the hospice of TV land, so the question facing fans: How long until “Closing Night”?

The April 6th episode, the first in the new time slot, scored a 0.5 rating in the “demo” (18-49 year olds), and a total of 1.88 million viewers. This was a new low for the series — until the April 13th episode, which scored a 0.4 rating, and 1.80 million viewers. The series high was its pilot in February 2012, which had a 3.8 rating, and 11.44 million viewers.

Meanwhile, here are some photographs from the episode, in which Rosie O’Donnell, Bernadette Peters, Jesse L. Martin and Jamey Sheridan guest star. Click on any picture to see it enlarged in a slide show.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged in a slideshow

On NBC Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET

Smash duet between Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty

One reason to regret what seems at the moment to be the inevitable — that the second season of Smash, the backstage theater TV series, will be its last. In this duet, Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty play real-life mother and daughter who are performing as Marilyn Monroe and her mother Gladys.

New York Theater February 2013 Quiz

Jane Lynch, Moose Murders, and Shia LaBeouf are all in either the questions or the answer to February's New York Theater Quiz

Jane Lynch, Moose Murders, and Shia LaBeouf are all in either the questions or the answer to February’s New York Theater Quiz

This month’s theater quiz is a special TV edition (Half the 10 questions have something to do with both television and theater.) See how well you were paying attention.

Hollywood Broadway Debuts: Shia LaBeouf Shooed From, Tom Hanks Lured To, Robert DeNiro Promised For, The Great White Way.

top to bottom: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hanks, Robert DeNiro, Jane Lynch: Broadway DebutsIs Shia LaBeouf’s sudden departure from what would have been his Broadway debut a boost for Broadway in what would normally be a fallow February?  But this week actually has been fertile for theater folk – and, fittingly, considering this is Oscar week, much of it can be fit with Hollywood, such as the announcements that Les Miserables will return to Broadway, and the report that Robert DeNiro may be making his Broadway debut — as a director of a Broadway musical! Tom Hanks is talking about not just his Broadway debut, but his first stage role since 1981.

Also making her Broadway debut: Jane Lynch of Glee.

Speaking of TV: the auxiliary entertainment industry that has built up around Smash. And: What IS a dramaturg, and why are they always ridiculed on television?

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Memoirs

Rita Moreno,	Sachi Parker, Clive Davis

  1. Rita Moreno reveals that she was impregnated by Marlon Brando, who insisted she have an abortion. She also dated Elvis
  2. Sachi Parker, only child of Shirley MacLaine, writes in “Lucky Me” how Mom sabotaged her daughter’s acting career
  3. In The Soundtrack of My Life, Clive Davis writes he’s bisexual and currently living with a man. He details his efforts to get Whitney Houston off drugs.

Oddly, Clive Davis tells USA Today he plans to ask Anne Hathaway & Colin Firth to star in his planned 2014 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady

(Shouldn’t he tell the press AFTER he asks them?)

Sex in movies? Often great. Sex on Girls on HBO? Immersive. Sex on stage? Rarely works, says Chicago Tribune drama critic Chris Jones

Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, the canceled “Partners”) stars in Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater’s” Buyer and Cellar,” about a struggling actor who bonds with a Streisand-like superstar while cataloguing her collection. Opens April 3.

Tina Landau (‏‪@TinaLandau, director of “Old Hats” at the Signature Theater ): Directing in previews is a lot about making lists. I need lists. I love lists. Lists save me.


Yes, it’s happening; Les Misérables is returning to Broadway, its third run, set to open in March of 2014, producer Cameron Mackintosh announces

Boosted by ‪the Les Miz film, the Les Miz U.S. stage tour is doing $1 million a week. That’s what’ll be coming to Broadway

Should anybody from the ‪#LesMiz film do the Broadway version next year?

LesMizSamanthaBarksAaronTveitAndrew Marcinak (‏‪@Droid_boy): Hands down Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit
Laura (@LauraBethD): Samantha Barks & Aaron Tveit!

Suzanne Du Charme (@SuzanneDuCharme): Hugh Jackman, Colm Wilkinson, some if the townspeople who already work in theatre
Kerri (what_a_dream) I say none of the leads in the Les Mis movie should be in the broadway production but the secondary cast should be

Andy Scott ‏‪@AndyDirects Perhaps Tom Hooper can also direct it so that there is nothing but religious symbols and water onstage

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater) You forgot the giant noses

ShkBoom Records (@ShKBoom) Big news! We’re recording Pasek and Paul’s DOGFIGHT  with Lindsay Mendez and Derek Klena and the rest of the Second Stage Theater cast!

Adele Rufus Gaga

Which singer/songwriters do people most want to see writing for Broadway? Adele, Rufus Wainwright and Lady Gaga, according to the contest entries for tickets to “Kinky Boots,” Cyndi Lauper’s Broadway songwriting debut.

Ann window display

The window display at the Drama Book Shop for “Ann,” the solo show about the late Governor Ann Richards, starring Holland Taylor

(After first preview of “Ann”)


SmashPataphysicalSciMemorable lines
Tom (Christian Borle): “Art without torture. I don’t think it’s possible”

Dan Mason ‏‪(@djdan1033): Very true. Ask most of us who watch the show every week.

Producer Eileen (Anjelica Huston): He’s a professional dramaturg.
Tom: A dramaturg, are you joking?
Librettist Julia (Debra Messing): Laughs.
Eileen: It’s a common practice these days.

Peter the dramaturg (Daniel Sunjata): Dramaturgs are like dentists;no one wants to see them but you’re glad you went once the pain wears off”

(Why do dramaturgs get so little respect?)

Julie Felise Dubiner ‏‪(@jfdubiner): Too many of us expect it instead of earning it.

What IS a dramaturg?

A dramaturg is a murderer in “Icarus,” the episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” in which everybody thinks Cynthia Nixon playing a Julie Taymor-like figure was the perpetrator.  A dramaturg is a handsome man who lives in a very expensive New York apartment but who hurts the now-scarfless Debra Messing’s feelings in “The Dramaturg,” the latest episode of “Smash….But what is a dramaturg on stage rather than on the small screen? Answer

Broadway Abridged Smash

Smash – theater bloggers weigh in, from Broadway Abridge’s condensed episode scripts to the Smash Reality Index

Will we have “Smash” to kick around any longer? Whatever else the backstage Broadway TV show has been, it’s been an inspiration for many in the theater community – creating what you could almost call a subsidiary entertainment industry


Shia LaBeouf, who was to make his Broadway debut, has departed “Orphans,” the production announces, “due to creative differences.” No more details at the moment.

The raved-about American Repertory Theater’s production of Glass Menagerie wit Cherry Jones, Zachary Quinto, and Celia Keenan-Bolger is in talks to open on Broadway.

Robert DeNiro plans to direct a Bway musical of Chazz Palminteri’s  A Bronx Tale. So claims ‪Showbiz411

Jane Lynch will replace Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan in ‪”Annie” starting May 16


FREE concert March 28 with the casts of Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Avenue Q and others to celebrate the landmarking status given to Town Hall.  Tickets distributed first come, first served starting at noon on March 25 at the box office

Shia LaBeouf replaced by Ben Foster in Orphans

Shia LaBeouf replaced by Ben Foster in Orphans

On Twitter, Shia LaBeouf (‪@thecampaignbook) publishes e-mails that imply that his “creative differences” were with Alec Baldwin

Ben Foster will replace Shia LaBeouf

The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream,new concert written by Steven Van Zandt (E-Street Band,Sopranos) Ap 15-May 5 Bway’s Richard Rodgers

Terrific project by ‏ the New York Philharmonic to put its 170 years of history online. Check out its archives 


Shia LaBeouf Fired, NOT a feud with Alec Baldwin , says Michael Riedel in the New York Post

Last year’s Kennedy Center revue, “First You Dream,” renamed “Kander and Ebb’s Sing Happy,” is reportedly aiming for Broadway this Fall. Cast unclear.

It didn’t catch on on Broadway, but Kander & Ebb’s Scottsboro Boys will open at UK’s Young Vic,Susan Stroman director/choreographer again

Daughter of All That Jazz screenwriter recalls going to the Oscar ceremony without him. (He had died) 

Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick to to star in film of Jason Brown’s musical about a frayed marriage, “The Last Five Years”


I reach 10,000 Twitter followers — and how I built that following

Joyce Carol Oates  (@JoyceCarolOates): Twitter makes of loneliness something rich & unexpected.But you must choose your travel-companions with care.

Tina Packer in Women of Will (Shakespeare)

Tina Packer in Women of Will (Shakespeare)

My review of Women of Will

Consider Marina – saved by pirates, who then sell her into a brothel, “but she had such a healing spirit that she convinced every man not to have sex with her,” Tina Packer says to us, greatly amused, near the end of “Women of Will,” a fascinating if flawed work of theater about Shakespeare’s female characters, created and performed by a woman who has been studying them for decades – and is, incredibly, making her New York stage debut.

Full review of Women of Will


Matt Cavenaugh made his Broadway debut in "Urban Cowboy" shortly after graduating college

Matt Cavenaugh made his Broadway debut in “Urban Cowboy” shortly after graduating college

New and Once-New Faces of Broadway ‪

Valisia LeKae is portraying Diana Ross this season in "Motown The Musical"

Valisia LeKae is portraying Diana Ross this season in “Motown The Musical”

The Times as usual features fresh faces of Broadway in its Spring preview. This year that includes performers in “The Nance,” “Pippin,”  “Motown The Musical,” “Kinky Boots” and  “The Flick”

But what has happened to the new faces of a decade ago. Good things, as it turns out. I catch up on actors Anthony Mackie and Matt Cavenaugh,  director Kenny Leon and playwright Kate Fodor.


Tom Hanks talks about his Broadway debut in “Lucky Guy” which begins previews on March 1 and opens on April 1:

“I still feel sometimes that I’d like to be as good as so-and-so actor…I see some other actors’ work, and I think I’ll never get there. I wish I could.”

Tom Hanks was last on stage in 1981, and never on Broadway.

“I lived around the corner from Broadway, but I couldn’t even get arrested,” he recalled. “I didn’t know how to dance, I hadn’t taken a voice lesson, and I wasn’t feeling confident.”

He is starring as the late newspaper columnist Mike McAlary, in a play written by Nora Ephron, who died while she was writing it.
“We’re just resorting to imagining the headlines for bad reviews — ‘Lucky Guy, Unlucky Audience!’ ‘Yucky Guy!’ ”