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The Price on Broadway With Danny DeVito: Pics, Review

Danny DeVito, making his Broadway debut, gets the best deal out of The Price. Arthur Miller is not a playwright known for comically colorful characters, yet here’s DeVito as Gregory Solomon, a Jewish acrobat turned 89-year-old used furniture dealer who “smoked all my life, I drinked, and I loved every woman who would let me.”

DeVito’s character is the most enjoyable but not a central one in Miller’s sober family drama, now getting its fifth production on Broadway, in a cast that also includes Mark Ruffalo, Jessica Hecht and Tony Shalhoub. If none are at their absolute best here, that only means that all of them at one time or another have given performances that have left me in awe.In the play — which is also not Miller’s absolute best — Shalhoub and Mark Ruffalo are estranged brothers who meet in their childhood home years after their parents’ death in order to sell off their old possessions before the building is torn down. The meeting turns into a confrontation, with secrets revealed, the past unearthed. The price is not just what Solomon will give them for the furniture but what the characters have paid for past choices and lost chances.

Full review at D.C. Theatre Scene

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

 

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The Band’s Visit Review: Egyptian Police in the Israeli Desert, Making Music

The members of the creative team behind “The Band’s Visit,” a delightfully low-key musical starring a memorably paired Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, have taken a 2007 Israeli film that is off-beat, and supplied their own beat.

Click on any photograph by Ahron R. Foster, to see it enlarged

David Yazbek, best-known as the composer of the Broadway musicals “Dirty Rotten Scoundrel” and “The Fully Monty,” here has come up with a terrifically tuneful Middle Eastern-inflected score (the musical instruments used by the eight-member orchestra include the stringed oud and the percussive darbuka) that veers from witty to wistful, sweet to swinging.

Writer Itamar Moses (“The Fortress of Solitude“; “Back Back Back”) is faithful to the quirky story in the film about the unformed members of the Alexandria, Egypt Ceremonial Police Orchestra who have been invited to the Israeli city of Petah Tikva to perform at a new Arab Cultural Center, but wind up in the small, isolated (fictional) town of Bet Hatikva in the middle of the desert. “There is not Arab Center here,” one of the perennially bored residents explains to them. “Not Israeli Culture, not Arab, not culture at all.”

Moses, Yazbek and the show’s director David Cromer, whose triumphs include widely and wildly praised Off-Broadway productions of Our Town, Tribes, and The Effect, keep the deadpan drollery of the film, but also produce through the individual Israelis and Egyptians alike a collective portrait of yearning.

With the seven Egyptian musicians stranded in the wrong town until they can take a bus the next day, the local café owner, Dina (Katrina Lenk, in what should be a star-making performance), organizes the effort to put them up in different households. This results in three principal stories, not of culture clashes, but of cultural exchange, often lighthearted but always laced with sadness. Despite the small scale and credible nature of the interactions, they take on the feel of fable.

A married couple Iris and Itzik (Kristen Sieh and John Cariani) who no longer get along, and Iris’s father Avrum (Andrew Polk) who still mourns the death of his wife, put up Simon (Alok Tewari), the visiting clarinetist. While his hosts argue in the other room, Simon plays his unfinished concerto to lull their baby to sleep.

The band’s Lothario, the trumpeter Haled (a splendidly and hilariously sexy Ari’el Stachel), who is always ready with a pick-up line, helps the neurotically shy Papi (Daniel David Stewart) make the necessary overtures towards a girl at the local roller skating rink. Even Haled’s bright flirtatiousness is lined with shadow; his family will soon force him into an arranged marriage.

The story that gets the most attention is that between Tewfiq the dignified/stuffed shirt conductor and commander of the orchestra (Tony Shalhoub giving his usual pitch perfect performance), and Dina, sexy and cynical and provincial all at once. There are some lovely moments between them, such as his teaching her how to conduct. As the night proceeds, it becomes clear how much their lives are circumscribed by their sorrows and regrets.

The cast of 14 (several of whom are also in the orchestra), who swirl around on Scott Pask’s deliberately barren set, are employed in other stories as well — small, often odd, but telling moments. There is the man who waits patiently each and every night by the town’s telephone booth for his far-away girlfriend to call him. There is a machine-gun toting roller rink guard who barks at Haled, refusing to let him enter, until Papi slips in between them, and says in Hebrew: “Hey, it’s okay, he is a friend of mine, okay?” The tensions between Arabs and Israelis are thus acknowledged, like everything else in “The Band’s Visit,” in an understated way, delivering no artificial happiness but suggesting reasons to be hopeful.

 

The Band’s Visit

Atlantic Theater

Book by Itamar Moses, based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin; Music and lyrics by David Yazbek; Directed by David Cromer

Sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Sarah Laux, choreography by Patrick McCollum, lights by Tyler Micoleau, projectons design by Maya Cirrocchi

Cast: George Abud, Bill Army, John Cariani, Katrina Lenk, Erik Liberman, Andrew Polk, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh Tony Shalhoub, Kristen Sieh, Ariel Stachel, Daniel David Stewart and Alok Tewari

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets: $91.50 – $111.50

The Band’s Visit is scheduled to run through January 1, 2017. It’ll be surprising if it’s not extended.

Update: Extended to January 8

Off Broadway Fall 2016 Guide

SmithNottageParksDuring the Fall 2016 season, three of the most celebrated playwrights in America are offering some acclaimed plays: Anna Deavere Smith, Lynn Nottage and Suzan-Lori Parks. That the three are black women tells the savvy New York theatergoer that their shows are all Off-Broadway.

OffBroadwaystarsFall2016

David Oyelowo, Daniel Craig, Sutton Foster, Judith Light, Rachel Weisz, Jason Sudeikis, Tony shalhoub

Yes, Off-Broadway can be as starry as Broadway – this season’s shows Off-Broadway will feature David Oyelowo, Daniel Craig and his wife Rachel Weisz (in separate shows), Sutton Foster,, Tony Shalhoub, Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis.

But it’s instructive to realize that the work of Lynn Nottage, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Ruined,” has never been on Broadway.  Her award-winning play, “Sweat,”  is set to run this season at the Public Theater.

Similarly, MacArthur “genius” Anna Deavere Smith has been on Broadway only once, for two months, 22 years ago. Smith, who has made her mark in American theater by exhaustively researching one urgent issue after another, putting together solo shows in which she portrays the characters on all sides, has done it again.  Her “Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education” will be performed at Second Stage.

Suzan-Lori Parks, who won the Pulitzer for Top Dog/Underdog is the artist-in-resident this season at the Signature.

TaylorMac1940s

Taylor Mac

There are exciting offerings this season that one cannot imagine fitting on Broadway — Taylor Mac’s “24-Decade History of Popular Music “at St. Ann’s Warehouse; “The Gabriel’s,” Richard Nelson’s three-part series on the effect of the 2016 Presidential election on a single family, at the Public  — and some that one can — the New Group’s revival of “Sweet Charity” and the Irish Rep’s of “Finian’s Rainbow.”

But it’s short-sighted to treat Off-Broadway in the same way as Broadway — as a collection of individual potential hits or misses. (See my Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide.)   As most serious theatergoers will tell you,  Off Broadway has far richer, more adventurous and more diverse offerings, at a lower price.  Off-Broadway is also harder to get a handle on —  more spread out,  less publicized, and more numerous; there are  some 200 theaters/theater companies, more than five times the number of Broadway theaters. What’s more, most of the Off-Broadway theaters present entire seasons of (mostly) rewarding shows. These theaters generally offer subscriptions and/or memberships for the season.

That is why I organize my Off-Broadway preview below largely by the theaters in which they are being produced, in order of my preference for these theaters (determined by such factors as their recent track record, the promise of the new season, and by the overall experience I’ve had with the theater.)

Still, I’ve put a red check mark —  — besides a handful of shows opening in the Fall about which I’m especially excited, or intrigued, or at least notably hopeful. This can’t count as a recommendation, because I haven’t seen them yet. A few less promising-looking shows are sure to wind up more satisfying.  Expect to be surprised.

(The asterisk *, explained more fully at the bottom, indicates those theatrical empires that are both on and Off Broadway.)

PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS playwrights horizons logo

416 W. 42nd St. Twitter: @PHNYC

Annie Baker’s “The Flick” is one of six plays that originated at Playwrights Horizons that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The theater offers new plays and musicals that are consistently worthwhile, in an environment that feels dedicated both to the theater artists and the theatergoers.

PlaywrightsHorizonsFall2016

Aubergine

August 20 – October 2. Opens September 12.

Julia Cho’s new play focuses on food. A man who shares a bowl of berries, a young woman who falls in love; a mother who prepares a bowl of soup to keep her son from leaving home; and a son who cooks a meal for his dying father.

A Life

September 30 – November 13. Opens October 24.

After another breakup, Nate resorts to astrology. In this new play by Adam Bock,  “the answer he receives, when it comes, is shockingly obvious — and totally unpredictable.”

Rancho Viejo

November 11 – December 23. Opens December 6.

In Dan LeFranc’s comedy of anxiety and awkward neighbors, the residents of Rancho Viejo drift from one gathering to the next, wrestling life’s grandest themes while fending off existential despair — set against the lustful, yearning strains of a distant bolero.

Spring, 2017

The Light Years by the Debate Society

The Profane by Zayd Dohrn

Bella: An American Tall Tale, Book, Music, and Lyrics by Kirsten Childs

THE PUBLIC THEATER

publictheaterlogo425 Lafayette Street. Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

Having originated both Hamilton and Fun Home, the Public is on a roll, the latest of many in the successful downtown empire that Joe Papp created half a century ago. The Public is so popular these days that members have been complaining that their membership doesn’t guarantee tickets to the Public shows they want to see.

Public Works’ Twelfth Night
September 2-5

Twelfth Night Public Works

Twelfth Night
Public Works

Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage, and songwriter Shaina Taub team up to present this Shakespeare comedy with professional actors such as Jose Lana and Nikki James and some 200 community members.

What Did You Expect?

September 10-October 9

What did you expect gabriels

The second in the three play cycle by Richard Nelson, “The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family.” The first play in the cycle, Hungry, opened March 4, which is the date in which it is set.

Plenty

October 4 – November 6

Rachel Weisz and Corey Stoll star in a revival of David Hare’s play about  Susan Traherne, a fiercely intelligent British secret agent flown into France during the second world war, who has trouble adjusting in the years after the war.

Sweat

October 18 – November 27

Scene from a previous production of Sweat

Scene from a previous production of Sweat

The much-praised play by Lynn Nottage, getting its New York premiere, about a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat. “Sweat,”  winner of this year’s prestigious  Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for a play by a woman, is the result of two years of research in Reading, Pennsylvania, which the U.S. Census Bureau proclaimed the poorest city in America.

√ Women of a Certain Age

November 4 – December 4

WomenofaCertainAge

The third play, and culmination of, “The Gabriels” trilogy, which will be both set and open – and which the playwright will finish writing – on Election Day, November 8, 2016.

Party People

November 1 – December 4

PartyPeople1

The complicated legacies of the original Black Panther Party and the Young Lords are explored in a play developed and directed by Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed), and starring the ensemble known as Universes (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and William Ruiz aka Ninja), in their Public Theater debut.

Tiny Beautiful Things

November 15 – December 31

Strayed/Vardalos

Strayed/Vardalos

Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist in a Vardalos’ stage adaptation of the book of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton.)

Under the Radar Festival, 13th edition

January 4-15, 2017

Cutting-edge theater from around the U.S. and the world.

Spring 2017:

Joan of Arc: Into the Fire by David Byrne, directed by Alex Timbers

The Outer Space by Ethan Lipton

Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo

 Gently Down The Stream by Martin Sherman starring Harvey Fierstein

new_york_01NEW YORK THEATER WORKSHOP

79 East 4th Street. Twitter: @NYTW79

NYTW got much attention last year for presenting David Bowie’s musical “Lazarus.” Its fare ranged from the innovative and tuneful — “Hadestown” — to the cutting edge and incomprehensible — “Fondly, Collette Richland”

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

September 7 – October 16

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

In August 1831, Nat Turner led a slave uprising that shook the conscience of the nation. Turner’s startling account of his prophecy and the insurrection was recorded and published by attorney Thomas R. Gray. NYTW 2050 Fellow Nathan Alan Davis makes his New York debut with a timely new play that imagines Turner’s final night in a jail cell in Jerusalem, Virginia, as he is revisited by Gray and they reckon with what has passed and what the dawn will bring.

Othello

November 22 – January 18, 2017

Sam Gold directs David Oyelowo (Selma) in the title role and Daniel Craig (Betrayal, Spectre) as Iago in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

 

Spring 2017:

The Object Lesson

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

 

SIGNATURE

signature_01

480 West 42nd Street. Twitter: @signaturetheatr

As the first New York theater to win the Regional Tony Award, the Signature now has some solid proof of what has been clear to its patrons for years.  What has distinguished this theater is not only its track record, but its commitment to keep the price of all tickets for initial runs to $25.

With the recent expansion of both their facilities and their mission, some longtime subscribers have had to adjust to the introduction of work by more untested playwrights. This is the first season under new artistic director Paige Evans, who headed Lincoln Center’s LCT3   Signature’s founding artistic director James Houghton died in August.

 Master Harold….and the Boys

October 18 – November 27. Opens November 7.

A revival of Athol Fugard’s play, directed by the playwright, about  two black men and a young white boy who joke and dance together, “defying the brutalities of apartheid through their joyous love. But festering issues of family, race, and power are not so easy to ignore…”

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World

Opens November 14.

Suzan-Lori Parks begins her Signature residency with a play that “explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy.”

Spring 2017

Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

A new play by Will Eno

The Antipodes by Annie Baker

Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks

 

AtlanticTheaterlogoATLANTIC THEATER

Marie and Rosetta

August 24 – October 2. Opens September 14.

Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis Marie star in this play by George Brant inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the “queen of race records” who influenced everybody from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix, but died forgotten. The play takes place during her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, preparing for a tour.

 The Band’s Visit

November 11 – December 23. Opens December 18.

This musical with a book by Itamar Moses (Fortress of Solitude) and music by David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and directed by David Cromer (Our Town), is an adaptation the 2007 film about an Egyptian Police Band that arrives in Israel to play a concert but is sent by mistake to a remote village in the middle of the desert.

 

LincolnCenterlogoLINCOLN CENTER THEATER*

@LCTheater

The shows at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway venues are inexpensive (especially at the Claire Tow theater, where initial-run tickets cost $20) and often rewarding.

The Harvest

October 8 – November 20. Opens October 24.

A new play by Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale) about a Mormon missionary who has bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East, but is confronted by his sister, who doesn’t want him to leave.

The Babylon Line

November 10 – January 22. Opens December 5.

A play by Richard Greenberg about a writer from bohemian Greenwich Village who commutes to Levittown to teach a creative writing class that includes one student that reawakens his own artistic impulses.

ROUNDABOUT* LAURA PELS

The empire that is now Roundabout includes three Broadway theaters, and that’s where most of the attention is focused, mostly on star-studded revivals, especially musicals.  But its fourth building houses two Off-Broadway theaters (one of them a tiny “Black Box” theater.) It is in its Off-Broadway facility that Stephen Karam’s The Humans originated, now transferred to Broadway, and (as of this writing) the only non-musical there.

Love, Love, Love

September 22 – December 18, 2016. Opens October 19.

A new play from Mike Bartlett (King Charles III, Cock.)  “London, 1967. Beatlemania is in full effect, the “Me” generation is in its prime and Kenneth and Sandra are in a world of  sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll….But what happens when they have babies of their own.”

Kingdom Come

October 7 – December 18. Opens November 2.

Jenny Rachel Weiner’s comedy about two people who meet from an online dating site, who are both pretending to be somebody else.

MCC THEATER

Address: The Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street. Twitter: @mcctheater

All The Ways to Say I Love You

September 6 – October 9

Judith Light stars in an hour-long solo play by Neil LaBute, portraying Mrs. Johnson, a high school English teacher and guidance counselor in a loving marriage. “As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life.”

Ride the Cyclone

November 9 – December 18

“The Saint Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster at 8:17pm. At 8:19 the front axle will break, sending them to their tragic demise. A mechanical fortune teller invites each to tell the story of a life interrupted”

CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY

136 East 13th Street Twitter: @ClassicStage

 

Dead Poets Society

October 27-December 11, 2016

DeadPoetsSociety

Academy Award-winner Tom Schulman adapts his own screenplay for this play about an inspiring boarding school teacher, starring Jason Sudeikis.

 

MTC AT CITY CENTER*

131 West 55th Street Twitter: @MTC_NYC

This theater was publicly criticized for the lack of diversity in its season last year, criticism they seem to have taken to heart, judging from its Off-Broadway fare this time around.

Sell/Buy/Date

Opens October 18

Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel) portrays multiple characters in a new show inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry.

Vietgone

Opens October 25

The award-winning play by Qui Nguyen is a love story about a boy and girl who are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America.

OTHER  HIGHLIGHTS

√ Notes From The Field (Second Stage)

October 15 – December 11. Opens November 2.

Drawn from interviews with more than 200 people, Anna Deavere Smith explores the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline, which pushes minors from poor communities out of the classroom and into incarceration,

 The 24-Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse)

September 15 – October 8.

TaylorMac1910s

Taylor Mac’s concerts chart a history of popular music and activism in America from the nation’s founding in 1776 to the present day. I’ve seen several installments. This is the first time he is putting it all together, including for one marathon 24-hour session.

Sweet Charity (The New Group)

November 2 – December 23, Opens November 20.

A revival on its 50th anniversary of the musical by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, starring Sutton Foster as Charity Hope Valentine, the dancehall hostess, a role famously associated with Gwen Vernon and Shirley MacLaine.

This Day Forward (Vineyard Theatre)

November 3 – December 18. Opens November 21.

A comedy by Nicky Silver (The Lyons) about a woman who made a surprising confession on her honeymoon, causing all plans to fall apart. “Nearly 50 years later, her children wrestle with their past and a mother whose secrets are quickly fading along with her memory.”

Finian’s Rainbow (Irish Rep)

October 26 – December 18. Opens November 6.

Melissa Errico stars in a reprised revival (translation: the Irish Rep has done it before) of this 1947 musical by Burton Lane and Yip Harburg about an Irishman who steals a leprechaun’s pot of gold and escapes with his daughter to the Jim Crow South.  The creative team intended this musical to be politically on the left, but its message feels nowadays something of an outdated muddle. The tunes, however, are terrific.

Always worth checking out: Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival which focuses on avant-garde experimental and European works.

Other companies worth checking out:

Ars Nova

Rattlesticks Playwright Theater

Mint Theater

Mayi Theater Company

Primary Stages

Pearl Theater

 

There are also commercial shows put together by independent producers that appear in theaters for rent, such as:

Cherry Lane Theatre
Daryl Roth Theatre
Gym at Judson
Lucille Lortel Theatre
New World Stages
Orpheum Theater
The Players Theatre
Snapple Theater Center
Theatre Row – The Acorn
Union Square Theater
Westside Theatre

*THE ASTERISK: Off-Broadway AND Broadway

*Just to complicate matters, several of the resident theaters also present shows on Broadway –  Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Company (MTC), the Roundabout Theater Company., and starting this season, Second Stage Theatre, which has bought the Helen Hayes. Their Broadway offerings are listed in my Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide.

What Is Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway?

Off-Broadway theaters, by definition, have anywhere from 100 to 499 seats. If a theater has more seats than that, it’s a Broadway house. If it has fewer, it’s Off-Off Broadway.

There are some terrific Off-Off Broadway theaters, sometimes confused for Off-Broadway. These include (but are not limited to) The FleaLabyrinth Theater, and LaMaMa ETC.

Monthly Calendar of Openings

Because there are so many shows Off-Off Broadway, and their runs are so limited, I include them in my monthly theater preview calendar (along with Broadway and Off Broadway openings) posted near the beginning of each month.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information about Off-Broadway, go to  The League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers (aka The Off-Broadway League).  This should not be confused with the Off-Broadway Alliance, which is a separate organization (though they should probably merge, no?)

Happy Days Review: Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub Find The Droll in Beckett’s Bleakness

Happy Days The FleaIn “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.

What exactly is going on?

Some have claimed Beckett’s play as a metaphor for marriage. Others see it as a vision of totalitarian or apocalyptic times. Recent readings associate it with climate change. I myself see a look at the process of aging.

There is enough in the text to justify any of these interpretations. Who, for example, is ringing the bell that wakes Winnie up every morning, facing another day stuck in a mound? And then Winnie is sometimes worn down — “So little to say, so little to do, and the fear so great.” Yet she is also often optimistic: “That is what I find so wonderful. The way man adapts himself. To changing conditions.”

Whatever metaphor the play awakens in the audience, the appeal rests in the two performers. Adams, carefully coifed, with a lovely white smile, prattles on to the unseen Willie and is determined to keep busy, with the help of her elegant parasol and the contents of her black handbag, containing the essentials of her existence – a toothbrush, a small mirror, a pair of glasses, lipstick, a bottle of medicine, a gun. Why a gun? Pick your metaphor.

As Willie, Shalhoub has a total of maybe ten minutes of activity in the two hours of the play; this is the Winnie show. Nevertheless, he manages to be hysterical, memorable, a spot-on impersonation of a member of your family.

The production, originally presented at the Boston Court theater in Pasadena, California, is the closest we’ll get to a sunny Beckett,

Happy Days
at the Flea
By Samuel Beckett
Directed by Andrei Belgrader

TakeShi kata scenic design, tom oNtiveroS lighting design, melaNie watNiCk costume design, roBert oriol sound design, madiSoN rhoadeS prop design, miChal v. meNdelSoN stage manager, alySSa eSCalaNte production consultant

Cast: Brooke Adamas, Tony Shalhoub

Happy Days is scheduled to run through July 18

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

Tupac Shakur At The Palace. Harry Potter Star Broadway-Bound. Sondheim Censored. Week in New York Theater

“The theater is the only institution in the world which has been dying for 4,000 years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.”-John Steinbeck,

Another theater season is dead.

But a new one has already begun, with the opening of “Holler When Ya Hear Me,” a new musical using the songs of Tupac Shakur. (Review below.)

The Week in New York Theater

June 15, 2014

Broadway acting debut -check. Next: James Franco will be making his theatrical directorial debut for Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater’s, The Long Shrift July 7-Aug. 23 .  Written by Robert Boswell, the play tells the story of a dorky teenager thrown in jail for rape, who meets his accuser nine years later.

Nine Thoughts on Theater Awards, clever/informative by Robert Kaplowitz, Tony winner in sound design (Fela) http://bit.ly/1sgMZ5T

Who and what are the new avant-garde? Kate Kreme begins an answer http://bit.ly/1p7Te6f

Closing today:

Tony Shalhoub as quirky George S. Kauffman, mentor and collaborator to Moss Hart, portrayed by Santino Fontana

Tony Shalhoub as quirky George S. Kauffman, mentor and collaborator to Moss Hart, portrayed by Santino Fontana

Act One (Santino Fontana, the Unluckiest Lucky Actor in New York)

Raisininthesun5
A Raisin in the Sun

17 Amazing Theater Cities That Aren’t London or New York – http://bit.ly/1y5ygLi

 

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An evening of lost Cole Porter songs, The Ambassador Revue, will be performed June 27 only, at Town Hall.

theater-masks-mike-segal

The World Cup Translated for Theater People

Best Plays by Women That Aren’t Being Produced (and Should Be)

Using improv comedy theater to prevent rape: Sex Signals

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Rupert Grint

Rupert Grint to debut on Broadway

Harry Potter star  joins Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick etc in the revival of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only A Play, making his Broadway debut. It opens October 9th.

Tonys2014rehearsal

A Tony bounce? All The Way way up in attendance (13.6%), and in grosses. A Gentlemans Guide slightly DOWN in attendance, but also substantially up in grosses.  Aladdin, Raisin, All The Way, Beautiful, Hedwig all got positive airtime at Tonys, all this week grossed $million+.

Playwrights David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage will join the faculty of @ColumbiaSchArts, which offers a 3-year playwriting MFA.

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l’m really enjoying having a connection with a live audience, said James Franco to 100s of whooping teens. My article for Broadway Direct, Young Audiences Connect with Of Mice and Men.

James Franco on the difference between movies and theater, and what happens now:

“I went into this project with the object of wanting to learn,”  and that’s what happened. “You have to project your voice in a different way. There are different kinds of rhythms. On stage, the whole play depends on everybody’s rhythm. If an actor is taking too long, the whole play is affected.

“I really like being able to step on stage, and you’re in that world, and it’s all around you. A camera is just a moment. It’s not the same kind of immersion.

“The energy you get from a live audience is really great as a performer. I’m loving that. I’m gobbling it up. It’s a new chapter in my life that I hope to visit some more.

“I’m having one of the best times of my life doing this. But I’m not going to give up movies. I don’t get trapped into any one thing.”

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HoneyMooninVegasPapermill
It’s official: Honeymoon in Vegas by Jason R Brown opens at Brooks Atkinson Theater January 15, starring Tony Danza,Rob McClure and Brynn O’Malley.

Sondheim On Changing ‘Into The Woods’ for Disney, and Living With Censorship

Meryl Streep will reportedly play Maria Callas in film of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class. Mike Nichols will direct.

Are artists born or made? Two studies suggest that artistic talent begins in the womb, shaped by

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The Escape by William Wells Brown, oldest surviving play by African-American (1858). Sunday New Brooklyn Theater

Holler If Ya Hear Me 6

Holler If Ya Hear Me Review

Eighteen years after his murder at the age of 25, Tupac Shakur has made it to Broadway, in a show that has taken on the awesome challenge of weaving 21 songs and poems by the charismatic rapper and actor into a newly created story about the struggling community on a block in a Midwestern industrial city…Despite a conscientious effort, the story is what is most disappointing about “Holler.”  The multi-character plot that replaces the expected bio-drama is at times muddled or poorly paced…There are enough arresting moments, the music is often exciting enough, and the large cast is talented enough, to have made me wonder whether  it would have worked better without a plot…

Full review, photo essay, and three of the songs.

 

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Puppet Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s worst play done like Avenue Q by @PuppetShakes July 24 – August 17 Theater Row.

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James Earl Jones reads from Othello, Adam Baldwin Macbeth etc in Shakespeare in America. FREE June 30 Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Recap of panels at the annual TCG conference: 1. Taylor Mac and  Craig Lucas 2.  talks about gaming. 3. diversity. Theaters foster diversity by supporting artists:”We need many things,because we’ve made a terrible career choice”~Kristoffer Diaz

Mamet shuts down a production of sexual harassment drama Oleanna because female part cast w/male actor

We employ camaraderie to kill, Stefan Wolfert learned in combat… and from Henry V. (Latest in series.) The third in his series about a combat veteran discovers Shakespeare

Golden Boy Review: Clifford Odets’ Broadway Boxing Drama Dated, Wonderful

Seth Numrich and Danny Burstein in Lincoln Center Theater production of "Golden Boy"

Seth Numrich and Danny Burstein in Lincoln Center Theater production of “Golden Boy”

There are several great pleasures in “Golden Boy,” the play by Clifford Odets about gifted Italian-American violinist Joe Bonaparte who gives up his art for the life and quick fortune of a boxer, which has returned to the Belasco Theater 75 years after it debuted there.

*Some of the playwright’s dialogue brings us back to the heyday of snappy repartee, but each rich, slangy line contains what Odets devotee Arthur Miller called “word-joy,”  demonstrating why Miller considered Odets “the only poet….not only in social protest theater but in all of New York theater.”

*Director Bartlett Sher’s staging, which takes some time to get used to, becomes riveting in its details, and powerful in its impact.

*There are some stand-out performances – Tony Shalhoub as Joe’s music-loving father, Danny Burstein as his trainer, Yvonne Strahovski as the self-declared “tramp from Newark” for whom he falls, and, in a small but delightful role, Jonathan Hadary as the intellectual Jewish neighbor, Mr. Carp. But nearly every actor in this huge cast of 19, including Seth Numrich as Joe, has at least one moment to savor.

*Catherine Zuber’s costumes are sharp, spot-on, and cleverly add to the meaning of the story.

For all the glories of the Lincoln Center production, there is no disguising that “Golden Boy” is also an old-fashioned melodrama that does not transcend its era the way other works written in (if not necessarily about) the 1930’s have done: Our Town, Porgy and Bess, Grapes of Wrath, Life With Father, Of Mice and Men.

Even if you have never seen the 1939 movie of “Golden Boy” that made William Holden a star, or never heard of the 1964 musical version starring Sammy Davis Jr., you can more or less guess how the play ends from the start.

Odets wrote “Golden Boy,” unlike his earlier work, expressly to be a commercial hit, which it was. It is also a stand-in for his own career, begun with such political calls to action as “Waiting for Lefty” and “Awake and Sing” but then swerving to answer the siren call of Hollywood. His “Golden Boy” might have seemed more directly relevant today had he written more specifically about his own compromises, rather than relocating the art vs. commerce conflict to violin-playing vs. boxing, which, however realistic in the 1930’s, is unlikely to the point of absurdity in 2012.

This is not to condemn “Golden Boy,” but to provide the key for appreciating it.   It is a work of anthropology, a spoken-word opera,  a vehicle to another era.

For a play whose plot is as obvious as this one, the Lincoln Center production has wonderful moments of subtlety, feeling and allusion.

Danny Burstein, a trainer with much wisdom and compassion, watches as his boxer breaks down crying,  and then slowly, tentatively, gives him a pat on the head, as if soothing a horse.  Tony Shalhoub offers his son a gift of a violin that he has spent years of his wages to buy for him. The son, already committed to the life of a boxer, nevertheless takes it in his hand with near-reverence – and magically Shalhoub produces the violin bow, and then puts the violin pad on Joe’s shoulder, silently encouraging his son to play…a funny, touching moment.

It’s not just the acting.  Michael Yeargan’s set focuses our attention on the backdrop of a tenement building, which looms over the actors performing in an island in the middle of the stage — as if to say that they can never escape their poverty.

Donald Holder’s dramatic lighting trains dramatic spotlights on the actors and keeps everything else in the dark – apparently looking to recreate the chiaroscuro of the Ashcan School (no coincidence that George Bellows’ painting of a boxer is use as the show’s poster and Playbill cover)

It’s been a long time since anybody thought of Clifford Odets the way Arthur Miller did in his youth: “An Odets play was awaited like news hot off the press, as though through him we would know what to think of ourselves and our prospects.” If “Golden Boy” no longer helps us to know about ourselves, the Lincoln Center Theater production at the Belasco helps us to know about Clifford Odets – and that, it turns out, is a good thing.

Golden Boy

Belasco Theater (111 West 44th Street)

By Clifford Odets

Directed by Bartlett Sher; sets by Michael Yeargan; costumes by Catherine Zuber; lighting by Donald Holder; sound by Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg; fight direction by B. H. Barry;

Cast: Michael Aronov (Siggie), Danny Burstein (Tokio), Demosthenes Chrysan (Lewis), Anthony Crivello (Eddie Fuseli), Sean Cullen (Drake), Dagmara Dominczyk (Anna), Ned Eisenberg (Roxy Gottlieb), Brad Fleischer (Pepper White), Karl Glusman (Call Boy), Jonathan Hadary (Mr. Carp), Daniel Jenkins (Barker), Danny Mastrogiorgio (Tom Moody), Dion Mucciacito (Sam), Seth Numrich (Joe Bonaparte), Vayu O’Donnell (Driscoll), Lucas Caleb Rooney (Frank Bonaparte), Tony Shalhoub (Mr. Bonaparte), Yvonne Strahovski (Lorna Moon) and David Wohl (Mickey).

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes, including two ten-minute intermissions.

Golden Boy is scheduled to run through January 20. It seems likely to be extended.