Honeymoon is Over. April Avalanche Begins. Bowie! The Week in New York Theater

Of the 14 shows opening on Broadway in April, the most anticipated, according to my poll so far, are

1. Fun Home

2. Something Rotten

3. The King and I

Last week, Skylight opened. This week, it’ll be:

Hand to God


Wolf Hall, Parts 1 and 2

And we’re only getting started. I’ll be reviewing them all, which makes me a theater critic, although I don’t say things like the critic depicted in Birdman:

Confrontation between Broadway director Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) and New York Times theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman

Confrontation between Broadway director Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) and New York Times theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman

Why are critics villains? — which links to my larger piece in Howlround:

Are Theatre Critics Critical? An Update

Below, news about a new musical by David Bowie, a new play about Maya Angelou, a stage adaptation of a Bill Murray movie

The Week in New York Theater News

Rob McClure: But I LOVE Betsy

Rob McClure: But I LOVE Betsy

Honeymoon in Vegas ends its run today, Sunday April 5, less than three months after it opened


Gene Saks, actor and director of 33 Broadway shows, best-known as Neil Simon’s director, has died at age 93.


New artistic director at the Flea Theater, replacing founder Jim Simpson: Niegel Smith, long Taylor Mac’s director. (I went on one of his unorthodox “Elastic City” walking tours.)

Cory-finleyCory FinleAR Gurney By Gregory Costanzoy is the first playwright to be awarded the Flea Theater’s new Gurney Playwrights Fund, a $100,000 annual prize funded by playwright A.R. Gurney, who has a longstanding relationship with the theater. (He is also one of this season’s Signature Theater playwrights.)


“3C, ” playwright David Adjmi’s parody of the sitcom “Three’s Company”, does not violate copyright, a federal judge rules, permitting any and all future productions.


The Wiz” will be the next NBC live musical (December 3), in partnership with Cirque de Soleil, and directed by Kenny Leon.  Then it’s on to Broadway! This is not normal. (Cinderella did that, sort of, but different productions 56 years apart) Harvey Fierstein will create new material for the production, which originated on Broadway in 1975, winning seven Tonys, including best musical, then was turned into an all-star, widely ridiculed movie in 1978 (pictured.)maya-angelou-stamp

Kenny Leon is also working on a play about Maya Angelou, a stage adaptation of Tavis Smiley’s new book, My Journey with Maya




Lazarus,by David Bowie and Enda Walsh (Once), inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth,  and directed by Ivo van Hove, will be presented by the New York Theatre Workshop sometime before the end of 2015.  Bowie played the lead character in the 1976 movie director Nicholas Roeg made of the novel by Walter Tevis, a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. Lazarus will feature new songs composed by David Bowie as well as new arrangements of his old songs.

Actors Equity has created a new website to determine if a “Broadway tour” employs the cast under the Broadway Equity contract. The website is:


Groundhog Day, a musical based on the Bill Murray movie, put together by the Matilda team, including Tim Minchin, is heading to Broadway in 2017

 Week in Theater-Related Developments

2015 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations

New reality series on Discovery Family to feature animal trainer William Berloni, whose animals have been in 19 Broadway productions

Week in Theater Arguments

It’s time for a better Sound of Music, writes Lawrence Downes, which emphasizes its cruelty and carnality.


March New York Theater Quiz



New Show Announcements! Spring Show Excitement (Hamilton! Fun Home!) Theater Wisdom. Week in New York Theater

Is it better to be dramatic than theatrical? That’s what the thesaurus seems to be saying:

Synonyms for “theatrical” in online thesaurus: affected, artificial, campy, exaggerated, hammy, mannered, pompous, showy
Synonyms for “dramatic”: affecting,breathtaking,effective, electrifying,expressive, impressive, powerful, striking…and theatrical

Some dramatic/theatrical developments in the week in New York theater:

Theater wisdom from Tommy Tune and Mark Twain and Henry Winkler, as well as Spring 2015 show excitement (Hamilton! Fun Home!), and new show announcements (Falsettos! Allegiance! Patti LuPone at Lincoln Center!), Awards and Achievements (Beautiful! Bobby Lopez! Hal Holbrook! the FBI goes Broadway!), Deals and Delights and Theater-Related Developments (new affordable housing for artists!), culled from the theater news between February 4 and February 15, 2015

Excitement for Spring 2015 Shows


Hamilton extended through May 3, (its third extension.) It opens February 17th.

MirandainNewYorkerFrom Lin-Manuel Miranda profile in the New Yorker:

At age 7, Lin-Manuel cried when Fantine died, then fell asleep until Javert’s suicide – “a great way to experience” Les Miserables.

Now 35, Lin-Manuel is awed by what “Hamilton accomplished by that age. Or Paul McCartney. Or Sondheim. Or Gershwin. Or OutKast.”

In Hollywood,”I get to be the best friend of the Caucasian lead. If I want to play the main guy…I have to write it.”

An Aaron Burr who’s not the enemy: Leslie Odom Jr.:

LeslieOdomJrbyMandell“They’re asking me to do things I never thought I could do. What’s being asked of me is so high it’s exciting.” Plus: the three rules he lives by for career success.

1.) Never wait for permission to practice your art. You cannot wait to get a job to be an artist.

2.) Study your art. Never stop studying.

3.) Find a spiritual practice that works for you.


 Fun Home


Alison Bechdel on her journey with Fun Home (the cartoon above, animated — and much easier to follow.)

A ‘Bad’ Play, Anti-Lynching Revivals, American in Paris

Sheila Heti wrote a novel about her failed play “All Our Happy Days Are Stupid” – which revived interested in the play. It will opens at The Kitchen February 19 for a six night run.

Part of the season-long #ForwardFerguson series at Jack Arts Center in Brooklyn: anti-lynching plays revived.

New Show Announcements:

Patti Lupone to star as crazed community theater star in Douglas Carter Beane’s new play Shows for Days, at Lincoln Center starting June 6, 2015

The musical Allegiance, about Japanese-American internment camps starring George Takei, is finally scheduled to begin on Broadway October 6, 2015

What are Tom Kitt/Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then) working on next? Reportedly a musical version of Freaky Friday

Falsettos, the 1992 musical by William Finn and  James Lapine that helped redefine family, is aiming for a Broadway revival Spring 2016

Next Playwrights Horizons 2015-2015 season: plays by Taylor Mac, Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns), Danai Gurira (who is also an actress currently starring in Walking Dead), Lucas Hnath

2015-2016 MCC Theater includes a new work by Matthew Lopez (“The Whipping Man”)


Gotta Dance, musical based on 2008 documentary about elderly hip-hop dancers, directed by Jerry Mitchell with music by the late Marvin Hamlisch music, aims for Broadway 2016.

FREE readings of three plays from The Kilroys list by women playwrights via The Lilly Awards Mar 9,16,23. Duke Theater.

brandy-clarkYes, Hee Haw has been made into a musical, by Nashville (the city, not the TV show) songwriters Brandy Clark (pictured) and Shane Mcanally. Moonshine:The Hee Haw Musical” set for Fall 2015 at Dallas Theater Center, which is also premiering a new Samuel Hunter play.  But there are no explicit plans to bring it to Broadway (yet?)

Disney Theatrical’s Thomas Schumacher responds to Frozen rumors: Yes,  married songwriting team Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are working on the Broadway adaptation, composing several new songs. (see below)  But no dates have been set

Awards and Achievements

Winner of The Grammys for Best Musical Theater Album: Beautiful


Bobby Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez have won a Grammy for Frozen soundtrack – and a second for their song Let It Go

Congrats (I think) to Bobby Lopez and Jeff Marx: FBI director James B. Comey quoted Avenue Q in speech on race 

“Much research points to the widespread existence of unconscious bias. Many people in our white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face. In fact, we all, white and black, carry various biases around with us. I am reminded of the song from the Broadway hit, Avenue Q: “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” Part of it goes like this:

Look around and you will find
No one’s really color blind.
Maybe it’s a fact
We all should face
Everyone makes judgments
Based on race.

You should be grateful I did not try to sing that.”


Hal Holbrook will be performing “Mark Twain Tonight” at The Bushnell Feb 17th – the actor’s 90th birthday!
Holbrook has been performing as Mark Twain for 61 years! He’s brought it to Broadway,TV,50 states, 20 countries.

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence” ~ Mark Twain


AnikaLarsen1Anika Larsen — A “Beautiful Life…and a Changed One.

Although she had already performed in four Broadway shows before she joined the cast of “Beautiful,” Anika Larsen says that, without the Carole King musical, she would not now be 1. Pregnant, 2. Still an actress, 3. A new recording artist, and 4. About to make her New York cabaret debut.

Deals and Delights

Offer from The Heidi Chronicles with Elisabeth Moss as art historian: Buy 2 full-priced tickets, get free one-year membership to the Museum of Modern Art.

50 years of fighting for justice Teatro Campesino, forum w/ Luis Valdez Lemon Andersen and Maria Hinojosa at the Public Theater April 13

New Theater-Related Developments

In his State of the City address, Mayor Bill deBlasio promised 1,500 units of affordable housing for artists and musicians.
NYC no longer has the highest rents in U.S. (That’s just because San Francisco is even higher.) Median rent for one-bedroom in NYC: $3,000


Inspired by success of Comiccon, Anthony Rapp has co-created BroadwayCon, a convention for fans. 1/22-24/2016

Howard Sherman has found a home for his anti-censorship work in New School for Drama’s new Arts Integrity Initiative

Theater Wisdom

Todd London’s love essay on wife Karen Hartman, and impassioned plea for other post “emerging” playwrights

Henry Winkler on longevity in the entertainment world:

“Tenacity and gratitude. Tenacity gets you where you want to go and gratitude doesn’t allow you to be angry along the way. “

One should compromise in life, George Hunka writes, but not in art:

“Art itself is larger than the artist”


Tommy Tune:

“My feeling is that if we had a healthy balance of new shows and revivals, that would be good. But everybody gives their money to revivals—they’re like a sure bet. It makes it very hard for those of us that want to have new musicals to compete with producers who are doing revivals”.

On the other hand:

“I’m a fool for Gershwin. I did 1,500 performances of My One and Only, which was a Gershwin musical, and it just sits with my voice and my body for dancing. I can’t resist it. As rock and roll come on when I was in high school—Elvis Presley and all of that—I just didn’t get it, because I was so infused with that earlier time. I always wished that I had been born in the ’20s…”


Bullets and Billie Holiday on Broadway. Tax Help for Artists. Spring Beefcake. The Week in New York Theater

WeekinNewYorkApril13Eight Broadway shows are opening in the next ten days. Two opened last week, Bullets Over Broadway and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.
It’s tax time, which may be why there is a special section on artists and money (see 13 below)

Also below: News about Michael Cera, Taylor Mac, Tommy Tune, Spring is Here beefcake section (shirtless Zac Efron, Neil Patrick Harris, James Franco)

The Week in New York Theater

Monday, April 7, 2014

Anthony Rapp, James Snyder, Idina Menzel, and LaChanze at  the If/Then recording session. Album will be out June 3

Anthony Rapp, James Snyder, Idina Menzel, and LaChanze at the If/Then recording session. Album will be out June 3

Mayor Bill de Blasio names Queens Museum’s Tom Finkelpearl to be commissioner of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs


Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner in the original Broadway production of The King and I

Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner in the original Broadway production of The King and I

The King and I will be on Broadway (at Lincoln Center) for the fifth time in 2015, says Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization’s Ted Chapin. They are in talks with Kelli O’Hara to star

Morgan Saylor (Dana Brody in Homeland) will play Cherry Jones’s daughter in MTC’s When We Were Young & Unafraid.Opens June 17

The disabled are US’s largest minority, yet invisible on our stages, says Christine Bruno of Inclusion Arts.

8This is our Youth Media Call


Michael Cera (Juno, Arrested Developmnet), Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down.) to co-star in Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth on Broadway. Opens Sept 11, Cort.

Cera will play the character of Warren, a young man who has stolen $15,000 from his father, and Culkin will play his self-absorbed drug-dealing friend, Dennis. It will also feature the Broadway debut of Tavi Gevinson.

BkxzSEkCIAACIiT110 years ago today, Long Acre Square was renamed Times Square. (Pictures of Times Square through the years in Museum of the City of New York collection.)

Jane Greenwood, who’s been designing costumes for Broadway since 1963, will get a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement

2014-15 New York Theater Workshop season will include: 1. Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, adapted. 2. The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar (Pulitzer winner), about kidnapped stockbroker


JoanMarcus2014 Tony Awards for Excellence: The Actors Fund’s Joe Benincasa, photographer Joan Marcus, general manager Charlotte Wilcox

It was set to reopen tomorrow Off-Broadway, but A Night With Janis Joplin “will postpone its opening indefinitely due to production issues.”

Yes, accessible theater IS possible. third in Howlround series on disability. Q & A with Charles Baldwin of Wheelock Family Theater.



Even people who don’t care for a particular Broadway show give it a standing ovation, survey by Ken Davenport found.

Meh to show but standing ovations:

41 percent: “I liked the actors, just not the show.”

36 percent: “Everyone else was standing, so I did too.”

My reasons for standing during a standing ovation:

1. I can’t see the performers bowing otherwise

2. I need to put on my coat.



Theater should do what fashion does: Make avant-garde seem exciting, even if you don’t want to wear it ~  Taylor Mac in interview with Bomb Magazine. “My outsiderness gave me a way inside to something else.”

NINE-time Tony winner Tommy Tune in “More Taps,Tunes and Tall Tales” his #CafeCarlyle cabaret debut April 22-May 3





RIP Phyllis Frelich,Tony-winning deaf actress (Children of a Lesser God), co-founder of the National Theater for the Deaf, age 70.

Those who love him forgive his syphilis jokes. Drama Desk panel on Shakespeare 


“Most of my plays begin as questions,” says Cleveland’s Eric Coble, making his Broadway playwriting debut with The Velocity of Autumn.

What are your dream roles?

Ben Platt: Bobby in Company.

Nic Rouleau: I’m playing mine right now. Book of Mormon #BOMCHAT

The Obamas attended A Raisin in the Sun. At intermission, Michelle Obama gave A Raisin in the Sun actor Stephen McKinley Henderson a hug: “I’ll never be the same”



Theater Artists and Money

Haven’t done your taxes yet? Tax guide for freelancers (e.g. artists) from Freelancers Union

The theater is “built on the backs of unpaid young people”  writes Greg Redlawsk, who was one of them. Why unpaid internships are wrong.

They are also illegal: For an unpaid internship to be legal, it must be “for the benefit of the intern” not the employer, says the Department of Labor.

“Real artists have day jobs..The biggest myth we’re fed is that we need to sustain ourselves solely on our art”~ Sara J. Benincasa

Instead of unpaid internships, Americans need more paid apprenticeships . U.S. Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey is co-sponsoring a bill to create them.

In Mexico, artists can pay taxes with artwork  Can actors pay with performances?




My review of Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill

Audra McDonald is the same age as the Billie Holiday she is depicting in the first Broadway production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a remarkable performance that transcends the two singers’ differences…ust looking at the photographs of Holiday in the period of the play show the challenge that a clean liver and radiant beauty like McDonald would have in depicting her. McDonald meets that challenge successfully — but a question remains: Why?

Full review of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill


Spring Is Here

Zac Efron at MTV Awards

Zac Efron at MTV Awards

Neil Patrick Harris with a snake, apparently promoting Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Neil Patrick Harris with a snake, apparently promoting Hedwig and the Angry Inch


James Franco promoting Of Mice and Men without ever leaving home.

James Franco promoting Of Mice and Men without ever leaving home.