DRAMA DESK 2017 NOMINATIONS

Hello Dolly leads with 10 nominations followed by Anastasia and Come From Away with 10 each.

Laura Benanti and Javier Muñoz announced the nominations for the for 62nd Annual Drama Desk Awards at Feinstein’s 54 Below on Thursday morning, April 27, 2017. The awards will be presented by TheaterMania on Sunday June 4, at 8:00 PM in a ceremony hosted by Michel Urie at The Town Hall in Manhattan and produced by Joey Parnes Productions.

Hello Dolly leads with 10 nominations followed by Anastasia and Come From Away with 10 each.

Laura Benanti and Javier Muñoz announced the nominations for the for 62nd Annual Drama Desk Awards at Feinstein’s 54 Below on Thursday morning, April 27, 2017. The awards will be presented by TheaterMania on Sunday June 4, at 8:00 PM in a ceremony hosted by Michel Urie at The Town Hall in Manhattan and produced by Joey Parnes Productions.

Michael Urie

New shows that opened on Broadway, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway during the 2016-2017 season playing the required number of performances were eligible for nominations. Several shows, which were considered last season, moved to Broadway this season and were not eligible as shows that were previously considered for nominations are not deemed eligible. Dear Evan Hansen and Significant Other fell into this category.

 The Drama Desk nominees will receive their official nomination certificates at the nominees’ reception on May 10th at The New York Marriott Marquis.
Photography: Barry Gordin

Charles Wright
Javier Munoz, Laura Benanti
Richie Ridge, Michael Urie
Javier Munoz, Charles Wright
Robert Blume, Scott Siegel
Javier Munoz, Laura Benanti
Gretchen Shugart, Javier Munoz, Charles Wright, Laura Benanti, Michael Urie

 

COMPLETE LIST OF 2017 DRAMA DESK AWARD NOMINATIONS

 Outstanding Play

If I Forget, by Steven Levenson, Roundabout Theatre Company

Indecent, by Paula Vogel, Vineyard Theatre

A Life, by Adam Bock, Playwrights Horizons

Oslo, by J. T. Rogers, Lincoln Center Theater

Sweat, by Lynn Nottage, The Public Theater

Outstanding Musical

Anastasia

The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Come From Away

Hadestown, New York Theatre Workshop

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

 Outstanding Revival of a Play

The Front Page

The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club

The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

 “Master Harold”… and the Boys, Signature Theatre Company

Picnic, Transport Group Theatre Company

Outstanding Revival of a Musical

Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater

Hello, Dolly!

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweet Charity, The New Group

Tick, Tick…BOOM!, Keen Company

Outstanding Actor in a Play

Bobby Cannavale, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Daniel Craig, Othello, New York Theatre Workshop

Kevin Kline, Present Laughter

David Hyde Pierce, A Life, Playwrights Horizons

John Douglas Thompson, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club

Outstanding Actress in a Play

Cate Blanchett, The Present

Laura Linney, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Amy Ryan, Love, Love, Love, Roundabout Theatre Company

Harriet Walter, The Tempest, St. Ann’s Warehouse

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Nick Blaemire, Tick, Tick…BOOM!, Keen Company

Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon

Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale

Andy Karl, Groundhog Day

Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Christy Altomare, Anastasia

Christine Ebersole, War Paint

Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity, The New Group

Patti LuPone, War Paint

Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

Laura Osnes, Bandstand

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Michael Aronov, Oslo, Lincoln Center Theater

Danny DeVito, The Price, Roundabout Theatre Company

Nathan Lane, The Front Page

Jeremy Shamos, If I Forget, Roundabout Theatre Company

Justice Smith, Yen, MCC Theater

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Randy Graff, The Babylon Line, Lincoln Center Theater

Marie Mullen, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, BAM

Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

Emily Skinner, Picnic

Kate Walsh, If I Forget, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!

Jeffry Denman, Kid Victory, Vineyard Theatre

George Salazar, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!

Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater

Jenn Colella, Come From Away

Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia

Nora Schell, Spamilton

Outstanding Director of a Play

Richard Jones, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Anne Kauffman, A Life, Playwrights Horizons

Richard Nelson, What Did You Expect?/Women  of a Certain Age, The Public Theater

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club

Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

Daniel Sullivan, If I Forget, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, Come From Away

Bill Buckhurst, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

David Cromer, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!

Outstanding Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand

Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly!

Aletta Collins, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Kelly Devine, Come From Away

Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Music

Stephen Flaherty, Anastasia

Dave Malloy, Beardo, Pipeline Theatre Company

Richard Oberacker, Bandstand

Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away

David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Outstanding Lyrics

Gerard Alessandrini, Spamilton

GQ and JQ, Othello: The Remix

Michael Korie, War Paint

Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away

David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company


Outstanding Book of a Musical

Terrence McNally, Anastasia

Itamar Moses, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Richard Oberacker, Bandstand

Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away

Joe Tracz, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

Outstanding Orchestrations

Doug Besterman, Anastasia

Bruce Coughlin, War Paint

Benjamin Cox, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand

August Eriksmoen, Come From Away

Jamshied Sharifi, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Outstanding Music in a Play

Daniel Ocanto, Graham Ulicny, and Sean Smith, Alligator, New Georges in collaboration with the Sol Project

Marcus Shelby, Notes from the Field, Second Stage

Bill Sims Jr., Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club

Outstanding Revue

Hello Dillie!, 59E59

Life is for Living: Conversations with Coward, 59E59

Outstanding Set Design for a Play

David Gallo, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club

Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong

Laura Jellinek, A Life, Playwrights Horizons

Stewart Laing, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page

Outstanding Set Design for a Musical

Lez Brotherston, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse

Simon Kenny, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!

Jason Sherwood, The View UpStairs

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play

Jane Greenwood, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter

Murell Horton, The Liar, CSC

Toni-Leslie James, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club

Stewart Laing, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Ann Roth, The Front Page

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical

Linda Cho, Anastasia

Toni-Leslie James, Come From Away

Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!

Anita Yavich, The View UpStairs

Paloma Young, Bandstand

Catherine Zuber, War Paint

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play

Christopher Akerlind, Indecent, Vineyard Theatre

James Farncombe, The Tempest, St. Ann’s Warehouse

Rick Fisher, The Judas Kiss, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Mimi Jordan Sherin, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

Stephen Strawbridge, “Master Harold”…and the Boys, Signature Theatre Company

Justin Townsend, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical

Jeff Croiter, Bandstand

Mark Henderson, Sunset Boulevard

Bradley King, Hadestown, New York Theatre Workshop

Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Amy Mae, Sweeney Todd: The Barber of Fleet Street

Malcolm Rippeth, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse

Outstanding Projection Design

Reid Farrington, CasablancaBox, HERE

Elaine McCarthy, Notes from the Field, Second Stage

Jared Mezzocchi, Vietgone, Manhattan Theatre Club*

John Narun, Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey, Life Jacket Theatre Company

Aaron Rhyne, Anastasia

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play

Mikhail Fiksel, A Life, Playwrights Horizons

Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, The Encounter

Brian Quijada, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Radio Drama Network

Leon Rothenberg, Notes from the Field, Second Stage

Jane Shaw, Men on Boats, Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb

Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical

Simon Baker, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse

Peter Hylenski, Anastasia

Scott Lehrer, Hello, Dolly!

Nicholas Pope, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Mick Potter, Cats

Brian Ronan, War Paint

Outstanding Wig and Hair

David Brian Brown, War Paint

Campbell Young Associates, Hello, Dolly!

John Jared Janas, Yours Unfaithfully, Mint Theatre Company

Jason Hayes, The View UpStairs

Josh Marquette, Present Laughter

Tom Watson, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club

Outstanding Solo Performance

Nancy Anderson, The Pen (Inner Voices), Premieres

Ed Dixon, Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose

Marin Ireland, On the Exhale, Roundabout Underground

Sarah Jones, Sell/Buy/Date, Manhattan Theatre Club

Brian Quijada, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Radio Drama Network

Anna Deavere Smith, Notes from the Field, Second Stage

Unique Theatrical Experience

CasablancaBox, HERE

The Paper Hat Game, The Tank/3-Legged Dog

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland

The Ephemera Trilogy, The Tank/Flint & Tinder

Outstanding Fight Choreography

J. David Brimmer, Yen, MCC Theatre

Donal O’Farrell, Quietly, Irish Repertory Theatre

Michael Rossmy and Rick Sordelet, Troilus and Cressida, New York Shakespeare Festival

Thomas Schall, Othello, New York Theatre Workshop

Thomas Schall, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory

U. Jonathan Toppo, Sweat, The Public Theatre

Outstanding Adaptation

David Ives, The Liar, Classic Stage Company

Ellen McLaughlin, The Trojan Women, The Flea Theatre

Outstanding Puppet Design

Basil Twist, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Lyndie Wright, Sarah Wright, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse

Javier Munoz, Laura Benanti

SPECIAL AWARDS:

Outstanding Ensemble

The Wolves, The Playwrights Realm: The superbly talented cast of Sarah DeLappe’s debut play -Mia Barron, Brenna Coates, Jenna Dioguardi, Samia Finnerty, Midori Francis, Lizzy Jutila, Sarah Mezzanotte, Tedra Millan, Lauren Patten, and Susannah Perkins-jelled as one, proving that team spirit is just a alive on the stage as it is on the soccer field.

Special Award to Phil LaDuca: Proving that character comes from the ground up, the designer’s innovative flexible dance shoe ensures that hoofers on any stage remain on point.

Sam Norkin Award: Lila Neugebauer:  During a season that saw her helm the original works The Antipodes, Everybody, Miles For Mary, and The Wolves, and resurrect the works of esteemed playwrights Edward Albee, Maria Irene Fornes, and Adrienne Kennedy in Signature Plays, director Lila Neugebauer has shown that her dauntless insight into the human condition knows no bounds.

TOTAL NOMINATIONS:
Hello, Dolly! – 10
Anastasia – 9
Come From Away – 9
The Hairy Ape – 8
Bandstand – 7
The Band’s Visit – 7
The Little Foxes – 7
War Paint – 7
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – 7
Jitney – 6
A Life – 5
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips – 4
The Front Page – 4
If I Forget – 4
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 – 4
Notes from the Field – 4
Falsettos – 3
Present Laughter – 3
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical – 3
The View UpStairs – 3
CasablancaBox – 2
A Doll’s House, Part 2 – 2
Hadestown – 2
Indecent – 2
The Liar – 2
“Master Harold” …and the Boys – 2
Oslo – 2
Othello – 2
Picnic – 2
Spamilton – 2
Sweat – 2
Sweet Charity – 2
The Tempest – 2
Tick, Tick…BOOM! – 2
Where Did We Sit on the Bus? — 2
Yen – 2
Alligator – 1
The Babylon Line – 1
Beardo – 1
The Beauty Queen of Leenane – 1
A Bronx Tale – 1
Cats – 1
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 1
The Encounter – 1
The Ephemera Trilogy – 1
Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose – 1
Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey – 1
Groundhog Day – 1
Hello Dillie – 1
Holiday Inn – 1
The Judas Kiss -1
Kid Victory – 1
Life is for Living: Conversations with Coward – 1
Love, Love, Love – 1
Men on Boats – 1
Miss Saigon – 1
On the Exhale – 1
Othello: The Remix – 1
The Paper Hat Game – 1
The Pen – 1
The Play that Goes Wrong – 1
The Present – 1
The Price – 1
Quietly – 1
Sell/Buy/Date – 1
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – 1
Sunset Boulevard – 1
Troilus and Cressida – 1
The Trojan Women – 1
Vietgone – 1
What Did You Expect?/Women of a Certain Age – 1
Yours, Unfaithfully – 1

 

James Earl Jones To Receive Special Tony

JAMES EARL JONES TO BE HONORED WITH THE 2017 SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE

Two-time Tony Award winner and icon of stage and screen James Earl Jones will be this year’s recipient of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

JAMES EARL JONES TO BE HONORED WITH THE 2017 SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE

Two-time Tony Award winner and icon of stage and screen James Earl Jones will be this year’s recipient of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

“In 1975 when I came to NY to study acting, my father – the actor Robert Earl Jones – took me on a ‘Grand Tour.’ The first night was to the opera Tosca starring Leontyne Price. I loved the singing, but I didn’t understand the format of opera. The second night was Swan Lake starring Margot Fontaine. The movement of the bodies just seemed like magic. The third night was Pal Joey. I was captivated by the warmth of the light on stage. I was not inspired to sing and dance, but I knew I wanted to be in the warmth of the stage light. The fourth night was Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. By contrast, it created a cold world, coldness between human beings, but the ideas that Arthur Miller was able to evoke onstage were blazing hot. I knew I wanted to be a part of this and to explore the stage,” Jones said.

“James Earl Jones has given us a lifetime of unforgettable performances on the stage, and his voice resonates through generations. His legacy is unmatched and his work has had an impact not only on Broadway but across the entire galaxy!” Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, said.

In 1957 James Earl Jones made his Broadway debut. Since that time he has performed on stage, television, and in films and continues to receive accolades from every corner of the entertainment industry. In addition to having won two Tony Awards for his work on Broadway in The Great White Hope and Fences, Jones has garnered much praise for more recent stage roles including those he performed in the Broadway productions of On Golden Pond, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Driving Miss Daisy, The Best Man, You Can’t Take It With You and The Gin Game.

Among his numerous and distinguished awards, Jones has received the National Medal of Arts, The John F. Kennedy Center Honor and most recently in 2011, The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with an honorary Oscar.

James Earl Jones’ voice is known by people of all ages and walks of life, from Star Wars fans who have long recognized him as the voice of Darth Vader, to children for whom he is Mufasa from Disney’s The Lion King.

The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Tony and Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, will air live from Radio City Music Hall on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT). The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

For more information on the Tony Awards, visit TonyAwards.com and Facebook.com/TheTonyAwards and follow @TheTonyAwards on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Join the conversation using the hashtags #TonyAwards2017 and #TheatreInspires.

About the Tony Awards

The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Robert E. Wankel is Chairman and Charlotte St. Martin is President. At the American Theater Wing, David Henry Hwang is Chairman and Heather A. Hitchens is President. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment are the Executive Producers of the 2017 Tony Awards. Mr. Weiss will also serve as Director of the 2017 Tony Awards.

Sponsors for the 2017 Tony Awards include: IBM – develops, designs, and hosts the official Tony Awards digital experience anchored by TonyAwards.com; Carnegie Mellon University – the first-ever, exclusive higher education partner; Grant Thornton LLP – official accounting services partner; City National – official bank of the Tony Awards and presenting sponsor of the Creative Arts Awards; Nordstrom – official sponsor of the Red Carpet; Sofitel New York – the official hotel of the Tony Awards; Rainbow Room – official partner of the Tony Nominee Luncheon; United Airlines – the official airline of the Tony Awards for the last 17 years.

 

The Lightning Thief *** 1/2

Theatreworks NYC presents a new version of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at Lucille Lortel Theatre

By:  Patrick Christiano

Joe Tracz adapted the book for The Lightning Thief from the best-selling young adult fiction series of the same name by Rick Riordan, and Rob Rokicki, wrote the music and lyrics. The musical presented by Theatreworks NYC, a group that has produced over 130 children oriented shows since 1961, and directed by Stephen Brackett is a fast- paced fun filled delight. Low budget, yet thoroughly entertaining the evening for children of all ages centers on a young man, Percy Jackson intensely played by Chris McCarrell, who suddenly realizes he has powers he can’t fully control, when he discovers he is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. . 

Theatreworks NYC presents a new version of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at Lucille Lortel Theatre

By:  Patrick Christiano

Joe Tracz adapted the book for The Lightning Thief from the best-selling young adult fiction series of the same name by Rick Riordan, and Rob Rokicki, wrote the music and lyrics The musical presented by Theatreworks NYC, a group that has produced over 130 children oriented shows since 1961, and directed by Stephen Brackett is a fast- paced fun filled delight. Low budget, yet thoroughly entertaining the evening for children of all ages centers on a young man, Percy Jackson intensely played by Chris McCarrell, who suddenly realizes he has powers he can’t fully control, when he discovers he is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. 

We first meet Percy, who suffers from dyslexia, when he is living with his loving mother and his foul-smelling step-father. However soon he is placed in a summer camp for “half-bloods,” children that are half god and half human. While there he meets the aggressive (Kristin Stokes), the daughter of Athena, Grover, a friendly satyr, and the hostile Mr. D the camp’s director, Dionysus, the god of wine (both played by George Salazar).

Percy quickly discovers his true-identity that he is a demigod and is propelled by his new-found knowledge to attempt to prevent a war between the gods by finding Zeus’s missing lightning bolt. Zeus believes Percy has stolen the lightning bolt, and Percy must travel to Hades, where he is pursed by monsters, to prove him wrong and prevent a war between the Greek gods.

The story moves along at rapid speed spiced with juvenile dialogue that is witty, many sight gags, and an infectious pop/rock score filled with songs which sound alike, but nonetheless put forth some universally positive messages for everyone.

As Percy Chris McCarrell is appealing in the leading role turning in an engagingly high-spirited performance that starts out strong and sustains with passion throughout the evening. The remaining cast of six includes Carrie Compere, James Hayden Rodriguez, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Jonathan Raviv, Geroge Salazar and Kristin Stokes, who play multiple roles and more than make up for the lack of special effects. They are likewise tremendously energetic and fully committed in a staging by Stephen Brackett that rarely slows down for a moment and is perfect for children of all ages.

An earlier version of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical debuted in New York in 2014 as part of Theatreworks USA’s free theatre series before touring. The Off-Broadway production now features an updated score, expanded script, a larger cast, with a live band.

The staging features musical direction and orchestrations by Wiley DeWeese, choreography by Patrick McCollum (The Band’s Visit), and fight direction by Rod Kinter .

The Lightning Thief is now playing at the Lucille Lortel Theartre, for a limited engagement scheduled to run through May 6. Tickets are $65-$85 and can be purchased by visiting www.LightningThiefMusical.com  or by calling 866- 811-4111. Photos: Jeremy Daniels

Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell, George Salazar


Broadway Unplugged

Scott Siegel Launches 15th Annual Broadway Unplugged,
Town Hall, May 1

By: Beau Jared

Among Scott Siegel’s headliners for his launch of the 15th Annual Broadway Unplugged on May 1 at 8 P.M. at Town Hall will be Tony, Drama Desk-nominee Stephanie J. Block (DD nominee, Falsettos revival; Mystery of Edwin Drood revival; headliner on first Unplugged); Tony, DD-nominee Emily Skinner (Billy Elliot, original Side Show, upcoming Prince of Broadway); and Tony, DD-nominee Max von Essen (An American in Paris, Evita revival).

Scott Siegel Launches 15th Annual Broadway Unplugged,
Town Hall, May 1

By: Beau Jared

Among Scott Siegel’s headliners for his launch of the 15th Annual Broadway Unplugged on May 1 at 8 P.M. at Town Hall will be Tony, Drama Desk-nominee Stephanie J. Block (DD nominee, Falsettos revival; Mystery of Edwin Drood revival; headliner on first Unplugged); Tony, DD-nominee Emily Skinner (Billy Elliot, original Side Show, upcoming Prince of Broadway); and Tony, DD-nominee Max von Essen (An American in Paris, Evita revival).

Joining them will be Farah Alvin (It Shoulda Been You, Look of Love, Nine revival); Tony honoree Ben Davis (La Boehme; Violet); Erin Davie (Side Show revival; Unplugged debut); Olivier Award nominee Kyle Scatliffe (Scottsboro Boys; Broadway: Color Purple, Les Miz); Jeremy Kushnier (Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour); NY Musical Theatre award winner Jillian Louis; Olivier winner Lesli Margherita (West End, Broadway Matilda; recent Dames at Sea; Unplugged debut); and – no strangers to singing without amplification: noted belters and multi cabaret award-winners Klea Blackhurst and Maxine Linehan.

Siegel may not quite be in league with epic movie director Cecil B. DeMille and his “cast of thousands,” but you can bet he’ll have “more, more, more” guests.

This is a unique and always much-anticipated event, says Siegel, “because it gives audiences the opportunity to hear true sound, totally unamplified – just like in the good old days, and by top-drawer talent.” Another reason is that Siegel, in addition to being host, is also the very informed writer who delights audiences with the history of the shows songs are from. And did we mention his dry sense of humor?

There’ll be several returning favorites. “Stars of past concerts enjoy the experience to such a degree that they are always anxious to come back.” They’ll include Bill Daugherty (making his 15th appearance), Douglas Ladnier, William Michals (South Pacific), and Brian Charles Rooney.

“For many of our returnees,” adds Siegel, “the show is an opportunity to fully control their performances, which won’t be controlled by sound board technicians. That makes it doubly exciting for audiences.”

Siegel will be directing, with music direction by the indefatigable Ross Patterson and his Big Little Band.

Broadway Unplugged is sponsored, in part, by the Edythe Kenner Foundation, Doris and Ed Cohen, Dr. Stu Chassen, the Berkshire Theatre Group, and Sue Fallon.

Tickets are $30, $60, and $100 and are available at Ticketmaster (fees apply), www.theTownHall.org, and Town Hall’s box office.

Outer Critcs Circle NOMINATIONS

Anastasia leads with 13 nominations followed by Hello Dolly with 10, while The Band’s Visit and Come from Away received 7 each.

The Outer Critics Circle, the organization of writers covering New York theatre for out-of-town newspapers, national publications and other media beyond Broadway, welcomed Danny Burstein and Jane Krakowski to announce the nominees for the 2016-17 season on Tuesday, April 25th in the Oak Room at New York’s renowned Algonquin Hotel. 59 West 44th Street.

Anastasia leads with 13 nominations followed by Hello Dolly with 10, while The Band’s Visit and Come from Away received 7 each.

The Outer Critics Circle, the organization of writers covering New York theatre for out-of-town newspapers, national publications and other media beyond Broadway, welcomed Danny Burstein and Jane Krakowski to announce the nominees for the 2016-17 season on Tuesday, April 25th in the Oak Room at New York’s renowned Algonquin Hotel. 59 West 44th Street.

The winners will be announced on Monday, May 8th. The annual Gala Awards Dinner and presentation of awards to the winners will be held on Thursday, May 25th at the legendary Sardi’s Restaurant.

Celebrating its 67th season of bestowing awards for excellence in the field of theater the Outer Critics Circle is an association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, internet, and theatre publications in America and abroad.

Show with Nominations 3 or more
Anastasia – 13; Hello, Dolly! – 10; The Band’s Visit – 7; Come From Away – 7; Indecent – 6; The Little Foxes – 6; Groundhog Day – 5; A Bronx Tale – 4; The Front Page – 4; War Paint – 4; Bandstand – 3; A Doll’s House – 3; Holiday Inn – 3; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 – 3; Oslo – 3; Sweat – 3

 Because the Off-Broadway productions of “Dear Evan Hansen,” “In Transit,” “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” and “Significant Other” were evaluated, nominated and/ or received awards from Outer Critics Circle in previous seasons they were not considered for this year. Due to OCC’s nomination deadline last season, the producers of the Broadway musical “Shuffle Along,” asked to be included with this year.

 THE COMPLETE LIST OF NOMINEES
Outstanding New Broadway Play

A Doll’s House, Part 2
Indecent
Oslo
Sweat

Outstanding New Broadway Musical
Anastasia
A Bronx Tale
Come From Away
Groundhog Day
Holiday Inn

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play
If I Forget
Incognito
A Life
Linda
Love, Love, Love

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
The Band’s Visit
Hadestown
Himself and Nora
Kid Victory
Spamilton

Outstanding Book Of A Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Terrence McNally, Anastasia
Itamar Moses, The Band’s Visit
Chazz Palminteri, A Bronx Tale
Danny Rubin, Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff & David Hein, Come From Away

Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens, Anastasia
Alan Menken & Glenn Slater, A Bronx Tale
Tim Minchin, Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff & David Hein, Come From Away
David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit

Outstanding Revival Of A Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
The Front Page
Jitney
The Little Foxes
Othello
The Price

Outstanding Revival Of A Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Finian’s Rainbow
Hello, Dolly!
Miss Saigon
Sunset Boulevard
Sweeney Todd

Outstanding Director of a Play
Lila Neugebauer, The Wolves
Jack O’Brien, The Front Page
Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
Kate Whoriskey, Sweat

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
David Cromer, The Band’s Visit
Darko Tresnjak, Anastasia
Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!

Outstanding Choreographer
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly!
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn

Outstanding Set Design (Play or Musical)
Alexander Dodge, Anastasia
Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Scott Pask, The Little Foxes
Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page

Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)
Linda Cho, Anastasia
Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along
Catherine Zuber, War Paint

Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical)
Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Donald Holder, Anastasia
Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!
Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Kenneth Posner, War Paint

Outstanding Projection Design (Play or Musical)
Duncan McLean, Privacy
Jared Mezzocchi, Vietgone
Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions, Oslo
Aaron Rhyne, Anastasia
Tal Yarden, Indecent

Outstanding Sound Design (Play or Musical)
Gareth Fry & Pete Malkin, The Encounter
Gareth Owen, Come From Away
Nicholas Pope, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd
Nevin Steinberg, Bandstand

Outstanding Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, Anastasia
Larry Blank, Holiday Inn
Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!
Jamshied Sharifi, The Band’s Visit

Outstanding Actor In A Play
Daniel Craig, Othello
Michael Emerson, Wakey, Wakey
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
David Oyelowo, Othello
David Hyde Pierce, A Life

Outstanding Actress In A Play
Janie Dee, Linda
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Allison Janney, Six Degrees of Separation
Laura Linney, The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Outstanding Actor In A Musical
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Tony Shalhoub, The Band’s Visit

Outstanding Actress In A Musical
Christy Altomare, Anastasia
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

Outstanding Featured Actor In A Play
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Danny DeVito, The Price
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes
Richard Topol, Indecent

Outstanding Featured Actress In A Play
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Katrina Lenk, Indecent
Nana Mensah, Man From Nebraska
Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes

Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical
John Bolton, Anastasia
Jeffry Denman, Kid Victory
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Shuler Hensley, Sweet Charity
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos

Outstanding Featured Actress In A Musical
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Caroline O’Connor, Anastasia 
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia

Outstanding Solo Performance
Ed Dixon, Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose
Marin Ireland, On the Exhale
Sarah Jones, Sell / Buy / Date
Judith Light, All the Ways to Say I Love You
Simon McBurney, The Encounter

John Gassner Award
(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Jaclyn Backhaus, Men on Boats
Sarah DeLappe, The Wolves
Paola Lázaro, Tell Hector I Miss Him
Qui Nguyen, Vietgone
Bess Wohl, Small Mouth Sounds

The Little Foxes *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

It’s an old play. And it could have been written yesterday. Lillian Hellman penned The Little Foxes in 1939. Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it chronicles the struggles of the avaricious Hubbards over who will control the family business. They are ruthless, deceitful and conniving. They know they will inherit the earth. And if you look around today, you may be convinced they are right.

By: Paulanne Simmons

It’s an old play. And it could have been written yesterday. Lillian Hellman penned The Little Foxes in 1939. Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it chronicles the struggles of the avaricious Hubbards over who will control the family business. They are ruthless, deceitful and conniving. They know they will inherit the earth. And if you look around today, you may be convinced they are right.

Manhattan Theatre Club’s decision to revive the play under the brilliant direction of Daniel Sullivan is in itself commendable. But what’s even better is their gathering of a superb cast and creative team to bring this revival into spectacular life.

And to top it off, the production allows Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney to alternate in the roles of the defeated southern belle, Birdie; and her sister-in-law, the vicious Regina Giddens.

It would be wonderful to see Linney and Nixon in both parts, but having only seen Linney as Regina and Nixon as Birdie, I can merely report that the two seem to be made for these roles. 

Linney gives Regina a certain charm that surrounds her stony heart like a silk glove covers sharp claws. Yet she makes it clear Regina, too, is a victim. Her less talented, much duller brothers have inherited the business. In some ways she’s merely fighting for survival.

Nixon makes Birdie an object of pity but never ridicule. When Birdie confesses that she spends her days drinking in her bedroom, there’s both defiance and despair in her voice. That same scene provides some of the most poignant moments one can ever expect to see onstage.

Although Regina and Birdie are the roles everyone will be talking about. Regina’s husband, Horace (Richard Thomas) is the character at the center of the conflict. Try as she might Regina cannot convince him to join his brothers-in-law in a partnership with a Chicago businessman who wants to build a cotton mill near the their cotton plantation. 

Thomas displays a fine strength of character in high contrast to his weakened body. His resistance might take on the aura of a heroic last stand without the nice touch of sarcasm and evil wit Thomas gives Horace. Certainly, it’s hard to imagine a better executed death scene than his final climb up the curving staircase.

Scott Pask has given the Hubbards a stately old southern mansion in which to carry out their machinations, and Jane Greenwood has dressed the men in impeccable suits to signify their authority. Regina is imperious in her long sweeping skirts. Birdie is vulnerable in her pastels and lace.

The Little Foxes gets its title from the Song of Solomon: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Solomon seems to be saying that love can only flourish when evil has been banished. He knew what he was talking about. And so did Hellman.

For Tickets Click Image

The Little Foxes *****
Samuel J. Friedman Theater
261 West 47 Street
Through July 16, 2017

Richard Thomas, Michael McKean, Darren Goldstein, and Michael Benz in “The “Little Foxes.

 

Urban Stages to Honor Tony Walton

Tony Walton to be honored at The Central Park Boathouse

Urban Stages Board of Directors and Frances Hill, the founding artistic director, will celebrate “The Magic of Set and Costume Design” at their Gala/Benefit on May 15 at the Boathouse in Central Park. Legendary Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award winning set and costume designer Tony Walton will be presented with the 2017 Urban Stages’ Lifetime Achievement Award.  Special guest Melissa Errico, a Tony Nominated Broadway, film and television star, will present the honor to Mr. Walton.

Acclaimed Designer Tony Walton to be Honored at The Central Park Boathouse

Urban Stages Board of Directors and Frances Hill, the founding artistic director, will celebrate “The Magic of Set and Costume Design” at their Gala/Benefit on May 15 at the Boathouse in Central Park. Legendary Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award winning set and costume designer Tony Walton will be presented with the 2017 Urban Stages’ Lifetime Achievement Award.  Special guest Melissa Errico, a Tony Nominated Broadway, film and television star, will present the honor to Mr. Walton.

The evening begins at 6:30 with cocktails, and gondola rides in Central Park. There will be a special performance by Ms Errico, as well as performances by the theater’s acclaimed teaching artists. Christie’s Auction House will be the auctioneer for Urban Stages’ live auction, which includes luxury vacations, golf escapes, and theater tickets.

The gala fundraiser benefits Urban Stages’ season of developing and producing new plays and musicals as well as Urban Stages’ celebrated Outreach Program, which brings over 25 different programs to libraries and schools in all five boroughs of NYC.


Ticket Information: General Tickets are $400 (30 and under, $200) Patron tickets are $800. For tickets go online to 
www.urbanstages.org or call the Urban Stages at 212 421-1380.

BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition

BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition Raises Record-Breaking $6,379,572

By: Ellis Nassour

Broadway audiences and show auctions helped Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS break another fund-raising record with their donations: $6,379,572. Results were announced and awards were presented at Tuesday’s Easter Bonnet Competition finale at Nederlander’s Minskoff Theatre, home to The Lion King. The total far surpassed last year’s record-setter of $5,528,568.

The top overall fundraising award went to Glenn Close and company of Sunset Boulevard, which raised a jaw-dropping $509,246.

BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition Raises Record-Breaking $6,379,572

By: Ellis Nassour

Broadway audiences and show auctions helped Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS break another fund-raising record with their donations: $6,379,572. Results were announced and awards were presented at Tuesday’s Easter Bonnet Competition finale at Nederlander’s Minskoff Theatre, home to The Lion King. The total far surpassed last year’s record-setter of $5,528,568.

The top overall fundraising award went to Glenn Close and company of Sunset Boulevard, which raised a jaw-dropping $509,246.

Handing out awards to shows raising the most cash were Gavin Creel, a most excited Bette Midler – amazed at the staggering numbers, and David Hyde Pierce (Hello, Dolly [not represented since it opened April 20]).

With 57 Broadway and Off Broadway shows and those on tour participating, it was an entertainment and dance extravaganza with many skits pillaging the Trump administration’s planned cuts to 20 knock-out, handmade bonnets.

Introducing the panel of celebrity judges were Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole (War Paint). Also appearing were Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen), Mark Ruffalo (The Price)Andy Karl and Barrett Doss (Groundhog Day), Denée Benton, Josh Groban, and Lucas Steele (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, and Charlie Russell (The Play that Goes Wrong), Bongi Duma, Tshidi Manye, and L. Steven Taylor (Lion King), Gideon Glick and Sas Goldberg (Significant Other), Sheryl Lee Ralph (original cast of Dreamgirls; currently: Wicked’s Madame Morrible), and John Mulaney and Nick Kroll (Oh, Hello).

Monday and Tuesday’s shows opened with Marissa Rosen, Jason Kravits, and Hannah Shankman headlining the high-energy “Resist,” parodying Annie, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Wicked, respectively, and encouraging the performing community to “give audiences hope,” “make them laugh,” and “be a light” in today’s political climate. The number was written and directed byPeter Gregus with dance ensemble choreography by Geoffrey Goldberg.

The Lion King won for Best Presentation, which celebrated world unity; and Best Bonnet Design, a tribute to Mother Earth, by Mikey Clifton, Matthew Keating, 

Brenda O’Brien, and Ilya Vett. The company of Cats was runner-up with “The Battle of 52nd Street: Cats vs. Hogs,” a parody of the “Jet’s Song” from West Side Story.

As always, Avenue Q came through with jabs of topical humor, this year to the show’s hit song “For Now” for sharp comments about President Trump, debuting his puppet, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Sunset Boulevard performed a satirical skit in response to the proposed defunding of PBS. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, delivered a trippy medley of parodied songs from AssassinsBig RiverCabaretChessFiddler on the RoofHairOf Thee I Sing, Ragtime, and 1776.

Tribute was paid to the volunteers of Broadway Cares’ Bucket Brigade and   national tour productions raising money across the country.

Easter Bonnet Competition director was Bess Marie Glorioso; Ben Cohn was music supervisor; production stagte manager was Arabella Powell , leading a team of 10 stage managers.

Fundraising highlights:

Musicals: Top Overall Fundraiser: Sunset Boulevard, $509,246; Top Fundraiser, Sunday in the Park with George, $382,780; 1st Runner-Up, Dear Evan Hansen, only slightly behind with $381,732; 2nd Runner-Up, Hamilton, $348,585; and 3rd Runner-Up Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, $288,166; Off Broadway Top Fundraiser, Avenue Q, $49,485. The Top Play Fundraiser was The Price, $122,114.

For complete results, visit broadwaycares.org.

Since the Easter Bonnet Competition began in 1987, $75.2-million has been raised for BC/EFA programs, medical research, the Actors Fund, HIV/AIDS Initiative, Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts. Broadway Cares also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states.

The Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines.

Daniel’s Husband **1/2

Primary stages presents sentimental drama by Michael McKeever at Cherry Lane Theater.

By: Patrick Christiano

Playwright Michael McKeever tackles weighty thought provoking territory in his latest play, Daniel’s Husband, about the relationship of a successful gay couple, Daniel an architect played by Ryan Spahn, and his partner Mitchell, a writer of gay fiction played by Matthew Montelongo. For the past seven-years the two men have lived in their perfectly appointed home, which Daniel designed and where the play is set. Their story begins amusingly with some witty banter just after a dinner that Daniel, also an excellent chef has prepared for Mitchell’s agent Barry, an aging gay man played by Lou Liberatore, and his latest conquest Trip, a 23 year- old special home care aid played by Leland Wheeler. 

Primary stages presents sentimental drama by Michael McKeever at Cherry Lane Theater.

By: Patrick Christiano

Playwright Michael McKeever tackles weighty thought provoking territory in his latest play, Daniel’s Husband, about the relationship of a successful gay couple, Daniel an architect played by Ryan Spahn, and his partner Mitchell, a writer of gay fiction played by Matthew Montelongo. For the past seven-years the two men have lived in their perfectly appointed home, which Daniel designed and where the play is set. Their story begins amusingly with some witty banter just after a dinner that Daniel, also an excellent chef has prepared for Mitchell’s agent Barry, an aging gay man played by Lou Liberatore, and his latest conquest Trip, a 23 year- old special home care aid played by Leland Wheeler. 

Drinking wine after dinner and avoiding politics, the couples make silly talk about jelly beans versus gummy bears and Cyndi Lauper versus Madonna. This feels like a set up and terribly gay. When the flippant chat turns to marriage, we realize a sore point between Daniel and Mitchell has come up, as Mitchell launches into an extended tirade on his anti-marriage views, an outdated institution he doesn’t feel compelled to participate in. An institution, Daniel would like to commit himself to, but it takes two to stride up the aisle, Mitchell lashes out. Distressed, Daniel retreats to the kitchen, and we understand this is a long running conflict between the couple.   

Completing the cast is Daniel’s outspoken mother Lydia, who flies in the following day for an extended stay, played by Anna Holbrook. Before she even enters the front door, we learn how challenging her presence is for Daniel, and during her visit, he confronts her by sharing his belief that she was a terrible mother. Mitchell drives Lydia to the airport, but when he arrives home, Daniel steers the conversation away from his mother and back to their clash on marriage.

Under Joe Brancato’s direction the evening is happily gay until Mitchell’s strident outburst. What follows in McKeever’s predictable tale feels manipulative and often contrived with basically stereotypical characters used to craft the playwright’s opinions. For the play to work you must buy into the romance between the two men at the center of the story, and although the actors are likeable and their work earnest, you never feel a chemistry beyond friendship.

Further complicating matters the performances in Brancato’s staging all  lack emotional depth so the play turns overly talky, because the conflicts do not accumulate spontaneously with specific points of long held resentment. Without a passionately layered subtext, the evening fails to engage or resonate with authenticity. Most of the audience didn’t care in the least and were happily persuaded, even impressed.

Daniel’s Husband   is now playing at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, through April 28, 2017. Running time is 95 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $72 with $20 student rush one hour before at the box office. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.primarystages.org  or call 212-352-3101 Photos: James Leynse

Anna Holbrook, Mathew Montelongo, Lou Liberatore
Ryan Spahn, Matthew Montelongo

 

Live Out Loud

Bruce Cohen Executive Producer on ABC’s “When We Rise” Live Out Loud’s Soaring Spirit Award Honoree

Academy Award-winning producer of film, television and theater, Bruce Cohen will receive Live Out Loud’s Soaring Spirit Award at the 2017 Young Trailblazers Gala! on Monday June 5th. Cohen won the Best Picture Academy Award for producing “American Beauty” (1999) and earned Best Picture nomination for “Milk” (2008).

Bruce Cohen Executive Producer on ABC’s “When We Rise” Live Out Loud’s Soaring Spirit Award Honoree

Academy Award-winning producer of film, television and theater, Bruce Cohen will receive Live Out Loud’s Soaring Spirit Award at the 2017 Young Trailblazers Gala! on Monday June 5th. Cohen won the Best Picture Academy Award for producing “American Beauty” (1999) and earned Best Picture nomination for “Milk” (2008).

He is the executive producer of “When We Rise,” an 8 hour mini-series on the LGBT rights movement from 1972 to today, created and written by Dustin Lance Black, for broadcast on ABC in 2017. “When We Rise” chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ people who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. equality movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to today. 

He served as President of the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group behind the successful Supreme Court case to have California’s Proposition 8 declared unconstitutional, as featured in the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary “The Case Against 8.” 

 For Tickets Click Here! Live Out Loud 16th Annual Young Trailblazers Gala Monday, June 5th, 6:30 – 9:30PM
TimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street (Bet. 7th & 8th Avenue), NYC.

Groundhog Day ***** Hello, Dolly! *****

By: David Sheward

The future and past of musical theater are being triumphantly celebrated this week on Broadway with two exhilarating new productions. Groundhog Day, based on the 1993 film comedy starring Bill Murray, combines an innovative premise with a fresh, eclectic score influenced by many genres, while Hello, Dolly! is a sterling example of the Golden Age of Tuners employing a familiar template and tropes so well that it seems brand new.

By: David Sheward

The future and past of musical theater are being triumphantly celebrated this week on Broadway with two exhilarating new productions. Groundhog Day, based on the 1993 film comedy starring Bill Murray, combines an innovative premise with a fresh, eclectic score influenced by many genres, while Hello, Dolly! is a sterling example of the Golden Age of Tuners employing a familiar template and tropes so well that it seems brand new.  At the center of both are outsize lead performances. One is a surprising turn by a steadily-working pro breaking out of the ranks of the reliable into stardom and the other is a highly anticipated outing by an established megastar which confirms her status as a world-class entertainer. Andy Karl rockets into the stratosphere in Groundhog Day and Bette Midler soars even higher in Hello Dolly! Ironically both have had trouble during preview performances. Karl suffered a knee injury which put him out of a few showings and Midler had a coughing fit, briefly delaying her big Act One finishing number during an evening show. As of this writing, Karl has returned to the show and Midler has had not further reported interruptions.

Bette Midler in “Hello Dolly!”

The devastatingly handsome Karl has played supporting roles in such shows as Legally Blonde, 9 to 5, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and On the Twentieth Century. He played the title role in the relatively short-lived Rocky, but his work as Phil Connors, a smug weatherman with a deja vu problem has earned him an Olivier Award for the London production and will grab a basketful of nominations and prizes for the American premiere. The plot conceit of book-writer Danny Rubin, who also penned the original screenplay, is devastatingly simple. Connors is stuck in a time-loop, endlessly reliving the same excuriatingly dull 24 hours when he must cover Groundhog Day festivities in a tiny Pennsylvania hamlet. Without imitating Murray, Karl captures Phil’s gigantic egotism, his dizzying descent into despair and madness, and incremental attempts to become a better person as he adjusts to this hellish repetitive cycle. He flavors Phil’s narcissism with just the right hint of charm so we don’t find him a beast and his gradual transformation to decency is believable. He’s equally credible and fun as a snide lout, a drunken lech, or a budding humanitarian, plus his vocals and physical movement skills are top notch.

Andy Karl and the cast in “Groundhog Day”

The surrounding production, inventively staged by Matthew Warchus and designed by Rob Howell, is a feast of the imagination. Variations on the same segments of time are played out from different angles and perspectives, achieving an almost cinematic quality (Hugh Vanstone’s lighting aides immeasurably.) Set pieces fly apart, revolve, and reassemble like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Tim Minchin’s multi-leveled score and witty lyrics push the story along and provide character insight. As noted, the musical vocabulary extends beyond Broadway to rock and country.

Barrett Doss makes an appealing leading lady as Rita, Phil’s news producer and object of affection, matching Karl’s snark with spunk. Rebecca Faulkenberry, John Sanders, Andrew Call, and Raymond J. Lee have individual moments to shine in smaller roles. So this is not a one-man show, but Andy Karl is the brightest spot in Groundhog Day.

While Karl is getting his first taste of unqualified, above-the-title stardom in a major hit (no counting Rocky), Bette Midler is reasserting her claim as a combination supernova and goddess in the ultimate “big-lady” musical, Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! Incredibly, this is the Divine Miss M’s Broadway acting debut in a leading musical role. She did play one of Tevye’s daughters in a replacement company of the original Fiddler on the Roof, headlined two concert productions, and played legendary agent Sue Mengers in the solo show I’ll Eat You Last. She brings all of her considerable talents to bear in this scintillating revival. You would think after Carol Channing’s numerous returns in the show, there would be nothing new to be found in this war horse. But director Jerry Zaks, Midler, and a superb company breath new life into the old gal.

Zaks and choreographer Warren Carlyle give the show speed and youthful energy and Santo Loquasto has created Easter Egg-bright sets and costumes, while Midler injects her own style of raucous comedy into the role, plus she unabashedly plays to her adoring fans—just about everyone in the civilized world—and establishes a personal connection. Though her voice is limited, she brings reams of subtext to each number, even playing off her supposed exhaustion by leaning against the proscenium arch (But she wisely keeps such schtick to a minimum.) From the first moment when she peaks out from behind a newspaper with impish eyes aglow to her grand entrance in Loquasto’s stunning red gown down that stairway for the big title number, Midler takes command of the stage, implicitly saying to the audience, “Look, I know this show is kinda corny, but let’s have some fun with it, kids.” Even a coughing attack just as she began “Before the Parade Passes By” at the performance attended did not stop her from wrapping the entire Shubert Theater around her little finger. She made a joke of her hacking, plowed right on after co-star Gavin Creel brought her a cup of water, and deservedly received the first of three standing ovations.

David Hyde-Pierce’s ultra-stuffy Horace Vandergelder is the perfect foil for Midler’s life-embracing Dolly. Gavin Creel and Kate Baldwin are a gorgeous couple as Cornelius and Irene while Beanie Feldstein and Jennifer Simard steals their scenes as Minnie and Ernestina. This joyous Hello, Dolly! is a loving salute to a past tradition while Groundhog Day shows us its dazzling future.

David Hyde Pierce and Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Groundhog Day *****
Opened April 17 for an open run. August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St., NYC. Tue, Thu, 7 pm; Wed, Fri—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours and 30 mins. including intermission. $79—$249. (800) 745-3000. www.ticketmaster.com. Photos: Joan Marcus

Andy Karl and the cast in “Groundhog Day”

Hello, Dolly! *****
Opened April 20 for an open run. Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St., NYC. Wed, Fri, Sat, 8 pm; Thu, 7 pm; Wed, Sat, Sun, 2 pm; Running time: two hours and 30 mins. including intermission. $79—$169. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photos: Julieta Cervantes

Bette Midler in “Hello Dolly!”

 

Fragmented Frida ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

Considering how few women, until modern times, have become artists, it’s easy to see why Frida Kahlo is such a fascinating figure. Not only is Kahlo noteworthy for her self-portraits that link pre-Columbian and Christian symbols, she was also praised by the likes of André Breton who considered her a feminine force within the Surrealist Movement. And she was the wife of the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

By: Paulanne Simmons

Considering how few women, until modern times, have become artists, it’s easy to see why Frida Kahlo is such a fascinating figure. Not only is Kahlo noteworthy for her self-portraits that link pre-Columbian and Christian symbols, she was also praised by the likes of André Breton who considered her a feminine force within the Surrealist Movement. And she was the wife of the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

But Kahlo’s personal life has piqued our interest almost as much as her art. After her death, she became the subject of a biopic, three fictional novels, a ballet and two operas, as well as several plays.

The newest dramatization of Kahlo’s life is Andrea Dantas’ one-woman show, Fragmented Frida, directed by Christine Renee Miller and Jim Parrack. The show begins with Kahlo as an unhappy, crippled girl who is mocked for her disabilities and her Jewish heritage. In the absence of friends, young Frida plays with her dolls in loving and imaginative ways.

Next we see Frida as a revolutionary student whose activities are cut short by a near fatal bus accidents. It is then that her father gives her a paint set to keep her busy and Frida discovers her talent.

A while later she discovers Rivera. Rivera encourages her art. At the same time his various infidelities cause her great pain. But despite physical distress and emotional anguish, Kahlo perseveres. She examines her life with the same objective eye that judges her work.

With the help of videos, cast on the walls of her childhood home, and the offstage voices of Nelson Rockefeller, Georgia O’Keefe, journalists, paparazzi and her friends and family, we can picture Kahlo in Mexico and New York City, at home and in the hospital, with her mother and with Rivera. But it is mostly Dantas’ skill as an actor that makes Kahlo come to life. 

Dantas, who is not only an actress and a director but also a Flamenco dancer, knows how to make movement count as much as voice. Her portrayal of Kahlo is deeply physical as well as emotional.

Despite it’s title, Fragmented Frida gives us an extremely coherent image of a very complicated woman.

Fragmented Frida was performed at BAM Fisher at 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn. After a very short run, hopefully it will come back or find a new home.

Easter Bonnet Competition

A Galaxy of Star Power Will Be on Hand for BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition: April 24 and 25 

By: Ellis Nassour

What better signifies Spring is officially in the air, and does it with extraordinary finesse — not to mention gorgeously-crafted Easter bonnets and original musical/dance skits? Yes, yes, yes! It’s Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ semi-annual fundraiser, the Easter Bonnet Competition (#BroadwayBonnets). The curtain raises on the end of the 31st annual six-week appeal to audiences on Monday, April 24 at 4:30 P.M., with an encore performance on Tuesday, April 25 at 2 P.M. at Nederlander’s Minskoff Theatre — home to Disney’s long-running The Lion King.  A huge roster of stars will participate as special guests and judges for top prizes (awarded on the 25th). More than 150 actors and dancers, including actors representing Off Broadway and national tours will headline.

A Galaxy of Star Power Will Be on Hand for BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition: April 24 and 25 

By: Ellis Nassour

What better signifies Spring is officially in the air, and does it with extraordinary finesse — not to mention gorgeously-crafted Easter bonnets and original musical/dance skits? Yes, yes, yes! It’s Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ semi-annual fundraiser, the Easter Bonnet Competition (#BroadwayBonnets). The curtain raises on the end of the 31st annual six-week appeal to audiences on Monday, April 24 at 4:30 P.M., with an encore performance on Tuesday, April 25 at 2 P.M. at Nederlander’s Minskoff Theatre — home to Disney’s long-running The Lion King.  A huge roster of stars will participate as special guests and judges for top prizes (awarded on the 25th). More than 150 actors and dancers, including actors representing Off Broadway and national tours will headline.

There are scheduled appearances by Denée Benton and Lucas Steele (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812); Barrett Doss and Andy Karl (GroundhogDay); Bongi Duma and Tshidi Manye (The Lion King); Gideon Glick and Sas Goldberg (Significant Other) and Rachel Bay Jones and Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen). Returning to Broadway for another hilarious turn will be Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who’ll reprise their curmudgeonly characters of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland from their recent smash run of Oh, Hello.

 On Tuesday’afternoon Gavin Creel, Bette Midler, and David Hyde Pierce (Hello, Dolly!) will present the awards for Best Presentation and Best Bonnet Design to the top fundraisers from the preceding six weeks. Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone (War Paint) will introduce the competition’s judges.

Shows set to perform original numbers created by cast members include A Bronx Tale, Avenue Q, Cats, Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Sunset Boulevard, and Wicked. The parade of bonnets will also honor The PriceSunday in the Park with George, and Waitress. The cast of The Play That Goes Wrong will make a special appearance. There’ll also be tributes to the indefatigable BC/EFA volunteers, known as the Red Bucket Brigade, who with cast members, crews, and volunteers collecti donations at theatre exits. The Lion King’s L. Steven Taylor will perform Easter Bonnet Competition’s anthem, “Help Is on the Way.”  

In addition to autographed posters and Playbills, various shows have ingenious fund-raising opportunities such as photos with stars, and, certainly unique this season, an auction for casts worn by Ben Platt during the first act of Dear Evan Hanson, which, amazingly have received bids up to $20,000! 

Comprising the judges panel will be music director Kristen Blodgette (SunsetBoulevard); Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon); Kate Burton and Kristine Nielsen (Present Laughter); Ed Dixon (Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose); and award-winning costume designer Catherine Zuber (OsloWar Paint). Joining them are Lee Perlman and Peg Wendlandt, who won spots with winning bids on VIP packages at September’s 30th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction.

Easter Bonnet Competition is a celebration of the tireless efforts of theatrical companies and volunteers who raise money for the most vulnerable among us. The donations become grants that provide lifesaving medication, healthy meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance in 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.

A limited number of tickets, starting at at $30, are still available, along with VIP packages. Purchase at broadwaycares.org.

 The 31st Easter Bonnet Competition will be directed by Bess Marie Glorioso, with music supervision by Ben Cohn and music direction by Ted Arthur. Arabella Powell will be production stage manager.

 Since 1987, the 30 editions of the Easter Bonnet Competition have raised more than $68.8 million to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

 The Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines.

 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. Through the generosity of the national theater community, BC/EFA has raised more than $285-million since 1988 for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses. It’s the major supporter of social service programs of The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts. Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at broadwaycares.org, at facebook.com/BCEFA, at instagram.com/BCEFA, at twitter.com/BCEFA and at youtube.com/BCEFA.

War Paint **** Little Foxes ****

By: David Sheward

The new musical War Paint and the revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (1939) featuring alternating leading ladies represent more than just two spectacular rounds of dueling divas—though that would be reason enough for rejoicing. Both productions afford fascinating takes on the shifting role of powerful women and how they are portrayed in popular media.

By: David Sheward

The new musical War Paint and the revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (1939) featuring alternating leading ladies represent more than just two spectacular rounds of dueling divas—though that would be reason enough for rejoicing. Both productions afford fascinating takes on the shifting role of powerful women and how they are portrayed in popular media. Hellman’s Southern melodrama is set in 1900 when women had to use charm, subtlety and sexuality to achieve prominence. War Paint profiles two pioneering titans of the cosmetics industry who shattered glass ceilings from the 1930s into the ’60s, but still met male resistance. Attitudes about female empowerment have significantly altered as well. Hellman’s avaricious Regina Giddens is a hissable villain, equally as rapacious as her cutthroat brothers in her quest for material wealth. She is countered by her teenage daughter Alexandra who slowly realizes her mother’s cravenness and vows to fight it at the final curtain. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, the heroines of War Paint, are portrayed as admirable and courageous, even if they are almost as implacable as Regina and just as unscrupulous in their business practices (though they do stop short of Giddens’ negligent homicide.) In addition, I found both productions tremendously satisfying.

Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole in “War Paint”

War Paint has largely been greeted as an opportunity for theater fans to worship at the feet of its super-size stars Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole who each give their usual spectacular performances, while the show itself has been criticized as uneven and lacking in spark. We don’t know who to root for, whine its detractors, both women are portrayed as ruthless and remote, it may as well be a PBS documentary. Yes, Doug Wright’s book is inspired by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman’s TV doc The Powder and the Glory and Lindy Woodhead’s book War Paint and it doesn’t take the traditional Broadway musical route of asking the audience to identify with its protagonists. Instead, Wright, composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie present their characters warts and all, just as they did in the equally unconventional Grey Gardens.

Wright offers a fascinating history of 20th century fashion and make-up as well as an insightful character study, directed with speed and style by Michael Greif. The incomparable decades-spanned designs are by Catherine Zuber (costumes), Angelina Avallone (make-up), and David Brian Brown (wigs). The score is sharp, funny, and intricate, employing the musical vocabulary of its various eras to convey rapid changes and emotional depths.

Rubinstein, a Polish Jew, and Arden, a farmgirl from Ontario, remade themselves into queens of beauty and business, and were at each others’ throats for 50 years. They never actually met so opportunities for clashes are limited. But, just as Schiller invented an encounter between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots for Mary Stuart, Wright fabricates a green-room tete a tete for his ladies near the final curtain. LuPone and Ebersole milk this climactic scene for all its worth, each dripping with contempt and then gradually admitting grudging admiration for the other.

Before this they command the stage separately but equally. LuPone’s Rubinstein is a defiant force of nature, a bejeweled battleship. The Slavic accent is a bit thick at times, making Korie’s lyrics somewhat blurry, but the star’s magnetic charisma, unique vocals, and impeccable timing cut through the fuzziness to establish a figure as strong and memorable as Evita or Mama Rose. She’s not afraid to show Rubinstein’s unattractive drive for immortality in off-beat numbers like “Forever Beautiful.” Ebersole’s machine-gun delivery and empathic acting capture both Arden’s elegant facade and her tough-as-nails interior. In ballads such as “Pink,” reminiscent of several of her numbers in Grey Gardens, she delineates the executive’s regrets and anger as Arden is forced to sign away her company and her worth is reduced to her signature color. John Dossett and Douglas Sills offer sturdy support as their right-hand men, but the show belongs to its two divas.

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon forge a similar partnership in Manhattan Theater Club’s revival of The Little Foxes, alternating between the lead role of the domineering Regina and the supporting one of her pathetic alcoholic sister-in-law Birdie. (I saw Linney as Regina and Nixon as Birdie.) Director Daniel Sullivan provides a rip-roaring production dripping with melodrama and histrionics, but never going over the top into camp territory. Linney’s Regina is a monster of deceit and narcissism, stunning in her beauty (Jane Greenwood’s gowns and Tom Watson’s hair design are particularly flattering) and seductive in her use of feminine wiles. Watch as the smile fades from her face and her eyes narrow into slits when she is thwarted and must switch from honey to venom to achieve her ends. This is no victim of sexism as Stockard Channing played her in a feminist interpretation for the 1997 Lincoln Center revival.

Similarly, Nixon asks for little sympathy as Birdie, the dipsomaniac aunt shoved into a corner. She doesn’t overplay this desperate woman’s loneliness, but conveys the intense lengths she goes to to mask it and her brief moments of self-awareness and honesty made possible by drink.

Richard Thomas as Horace, Regina’s ailing, conscience-stricken spouse, provides a fiery curtain speech as he denounces his wife while Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein are suitably wily as the grasping Hubbard brothers. The audience utters an audible gasp when Ben states the Hubbards and their kind “will take over this country some day.” Hellman’s warning of corporate greed trumping—pun intended—the common good is coming true and she accurately saw that women will be on both sides of the fight.

War Paint ****
Opened April 6 for an open run. Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St., NYC. Tue, 7 pm; Wed—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including intermission. $75-$170. (800) 745-3000. www.ticketmaster.com. Photos: Joan Marcus

Christine Ebersole, Mary Ernster and Patti LuPone in “War Paint”

The Little Foxes ****
April 19—June 18. Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., NYC. Tue, Wed, 7 pm; Thu—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, Sun, 2 pm. Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including two intermissions. $70-$150. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photo: Jason Bell & Joan Marcus

Richard Thomas and Caroline Stefanie Clay in “The Little Foxes”

Dolly Day

To commemorate tonight’s official opening of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler on Broadway, Mayor Bill de Blasio officially proclaimed tomorrow, Friday, April 21, “Dolly Day” in New York City.

The proclamation, was hand-delivered to the Sam S. Shubert Theatre before tonight’s performance.

To commemorate tonight’s official opening of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler on Broadway, Mayor Bill de Blasio officially proclaimed tomorrow, Friday, April 21, “Dolly Day” in New York City.

The proclamation, was hand-delivered to the Sam S. Shubert Theatre before tonight’s performance.

The Broadway revival of Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman’s masterpiece Hello, Dolly! is directed by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award® winner Warren Carlyle.

Hello, Dolly! instantly became the hottest ticket of the year when it broke the record for best first day of ticket sales in Broadway history. By the time it began previews, it had the largest pre-performance advance sale in Broadway history. Recently, the production shattered the record for the highest weekly gross of any show in the history of the Sam S. Shubert Theatre (built in 1913) – a record set by a previous tenant over a nine-performance week – in just seven performances, and then (just two weeks later) shattered that record again with the same number of performances.

Bette Midler is joined by Tony Award® and four-time Emmy Award® winner David Hyde Pierce (Horace Vandergelder), two-time Tony Award® nominee Gavin Creel (Cornelius Hackl), Tony Award® nominee Kate Baldwin (Irene Molloy), Taylor Trensch (Barnaby Tucker), Beanie Feldstein (Minnie Fay), Will Burton (Ambrose Kemper), Melanie Moore (Ermengarde), Tony Award® nominee Jennifer Simard (Ernestina), and an ensemble of twenty-eight.

The complete creative/design team for the production features three-time Tony Award® winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design), five-time Tony Award® winner Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Tony Award® winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Andy Einhorn (Music Direction), Tony Award® winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), Tony Award® winner Don Pippin (Vocal Arrangements), David Chase (Dance Arrangements), and Telsey + Company (Casting).

The ensemble features Cameron Adams, Phillip Attmore, Giuseppe Bausilio, Justin Bowen, Taeler Cyrus, Elizabeth Earley, Leslie Donna Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Stephen Hanna, Michael Hartung, Robert Hartwell, Aaron Kaburick, Amanda LaMotte, Analisa Leaming, Jess LeProtto, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Nathan Madden, Michael McCormick, Linda Mugleston, Hayley Podschun,

Jessica Sheridan, Michaeljon Slinger, Christian Dante White, Branch Woodman, Ryan Worsing, and Richard Riaz Yoder.

This Hello, Dolly!, the first new production of this classic musical (based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker) to appear on Broadway since it opened more than fifty years ago, pays tribute to the original work of legendary director/ choreographer Gower Champion, which has been hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history.
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes