Oklahoma! ****, Hadestown ****, A’int Too Proud ***1/2

By: David Sheward

April 23, 2019: Like our current political climate, Daniel Fish’s sex-drenched nightmare version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! has polarized the theatergoing public. You either hate it or love it. After engagements at Bard College in 2015 and St. Ann’s Warehouse Off-Broadway earlier this season, the radical revival has forced audiences to examine their assumptions about this supposedly wholesome staple of high school and community theater. Naysayers moan that the director has distorted and ruined a beloved classic of Broadway’s Golden Age. But the sex, violence and discord Fish has mined beneath the sunny farmlands and corn as high as an elephant’s eye was always there, he’s just brought it to the surface. 

By: David Sheward

April 23, 2019: Like our current political climate, Daniel Fish’s sex-drenched nightmare version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! has polarized the theatergoing public. You either hate it or love it. After engagements at Bard College in 2015 and St. Ann’s Warehouse Off-Broadway earlier this season, the radical revival has forced audiences to examine their assumptions about this supposedly wholesome staple of high school and community theater. Naysayers moan that the director has distorted and ruined a beloved classic of Broadway’s Golden Age. But the sex, violence and discord Fish has mined beneath the sunny farmlands and corn as high as an elephant’s eye was always there, he’s just brought it to the surface. 

Rather than presenting a 1943 musical comedy version of a loving and friendly prairie family, Fish delivers a modern, disturbing view of a divided country. The disorientation starts as you enter the Circle In the Square Theater which set dinger Laura Jellinek has transformed into a huge Western community center, festooned with tinsel, colored lights and gun racks. Some patrons are seated on stage at long tables with crockpots full of chili to be served at intermission. The house lights remain on as triangular libidinal tensions between jovial cowboy Curly, haughty but sexually curious farm owner Laurie, and brooding hired hand Jud play out. Occasionally we are plunged into darkness as the inner depths of the characters’ psyched are explored. The Freudian implications Agnes de Mille hinted at in her original rendition of the dream ballet are fully exposed in choreographer John Heginbotham’s disturbing fever vision of Laurie’s repressed urges, embodied by Gabrielle Hamilton’s visceral, sexy dancing.

Damon Daunno and Rebecca Naomi Jones as Curly and Laurey in Oklahoma!

Costume designer Terese Wadden outfits the cast in modern garb and music director Nathan Koci and orchestrator/arranger Daniel Kluger have given Richard Rodgers’ sweetly romantic score a country-western twang. The effect is that of a town meeting where “traditional” values of family and firearms are maintained and outsiders like the misfit Judd and the foreign peddler Ali Hakim are either tragically pushed out or comically taken into the fold. 

Without altering the text of Oscar Hammerstein’s folksy adaptation of Lynn Riggs’ Green Grow the Lilacs, Fish transforms Oklahoma! into a modern examination of American contradictions about interpersonal and community connections. No, it’s not the expected feel-good evening, but it’s a startlingly fresh and dangerous take on a familiar favorite. 

Rebecca Naomi, Damon Daunno in Oklahoma!

Damon Daunno and Rebecca Naomi Jones expose Curly and Laurie’s tentative, hidden attractions and deliver the beloved duets “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top” with tenderly aching vocals. Ali Stroker nearly steals the show as an uninhibited Ado Annie, steering her wheelchair like a rodeo queen while James Davis and Will Brill provide laughs as her dueling beaus Will Parker and the peddler Hakim. The reliable Mary Testa is a flinty, tough-as-nail Aunt Eller. Patrick Vaill’s open wound of a Judd is the twisted heart of this production, bursting to belong, but not knowing how, he is like the lone wolf gunmen/stalkers plaguing modern America. We can’t totally reject him and we don’t know how to deal with him.

Eva Noblezada, who plays Eurydice, and the Broadway cast of Hadestown.

Another musical with a long production history also recently finally arrived on Broadway and employs familiar tropes to interpret modern society. Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown comes to the Main Stem after concept albums, workshops, a 2016 Off-Broadway run at New York Theater Workshop and a London engagement at the National Theater. Mitchell’s delightfully funky folk opera weaves together the myths of Eurydice and Orpheus with that of Persephone and Hades to create an allegory of the conflicting strains of passion, art, and commerce. Hades, king of the underworld, forces his wife Persephone, goddess of the harvest, to live with him in his gloomy subterranean domain for half the year. She emerges on the surface annually bringing spring with her. Bored with the arrangement, the wife rebels and the sinister ruler draws down Eurydice, a financially desperate young woman, to replace her. But Eurydice’s lover, the gifted musician Orpheus, follows her and attempts to rescue her from Hades’ clutches with his enchanting songs. 

Mitchell makes hell into a dreary factory where the damned souls are exploited workers laboring on a concrete wall to protect them from outsiders and Hades is a ruthless business tycoon preaching isolationism (sound Trump-ily familiar?). The fact that the show began incubation before our current president took office does not lessen its relevance. Director and developer Rachel Chavkin has made the current incarnation sleeker and slicker than its more intimate and affecting NYTW version, but Hadestown is still a moving and rousing celebration of community and love. Mitchell’s score retains its juicy pop flavor with more than a hint of Dixieland tang, echoed in the New Orleans ambience of Rachel Hauck’s set and Michael Krass’s costumes. Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada are heartbreaking and tender as the separated lovers. Patrick Page’s rumbling bass and stern presence make for a frightening and powerful Hades while Amber Gray contrasts as a loose-limbed, boisterously joyful Persephone. Veteran Andre De Shields is an elegantly arch narrator Hermes for this hot and captivating Hadestown.

Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, Jawan M. Jackson, James Harkness, Derrick Baskin in Ain’t Too Proud

While Oklahoma! and Hadestown offer modern slants on traditional templates, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations is an example of a relatively recent and already cliched genre: the jukebox musical. Like Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, The Cher Show, Motown, and Jersey Boys before it, Proud recycles the songbook of its subject, the phenomenally successful R&B male group The Temptations to rake in nostalgic box office dollars. 

Amber Gray as Persephone in Hadestown.

There is an overlap of material from Motown and the basic thread of Dominique Morisseau’s efficient book based on Temptations founder Otis Williams’ memoir is a worn one—humble beginnings, skyrocketing success leading to personal problems, redemption in the end. Fortunately Morisseau, director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo have crafted an effective delivery system for us to enjoy such hits as “Get Ready,” “Ball of Confusion,” and “My Girl.” The story and staging move rapidly and a spectacular cast led by Derrick Baskin as Williams displays magnificent pipes along with dance and acting skills. Special kudos to Ephraim Sykes who stunningly conveys the pyrotechnical vocals and shattering inner demons of David Ruffin, the most volatile member of the group. 

All three of these Broadway shows are entertaining and absorbing, but Oklahoma! is the most challenging and disturbing.   

Oklahoma! ****
April 7—Sept. 1. Circle in the Square Theatre, 1633 Broadway, NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 8pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm. Running time: two hours and 45 mins. including intermission. $69.50—$159.60. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com.
Photography: Teddy Wolff , Little Fang Photo

Gabrielle Hamilton Oklahoma!

Hadestown ****
Opened April 17 for an open run. Walter Kerr Theater, 219 W. 48th St., NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 7:30pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 7pm, Sun 3pm. Running time: 2 hours and 30 mins. including intermission. $49—$199. (800) 653-8000. www.ticketmaster.com.  
Photography: Mathew Murphy

Hadestown

Ain’t Too Proud The Life and Times of the Temptations ***1/2
Opened March 21 for an open run. Imperial Theater, 249 W. 45th St., NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 8pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm. Running time: two hours and 30 mins. including intermission. $49—$179. (212) 239-6200.
www.telecharge.com.
 Photography: Mathew Murphy


Christian Thompson, Saint Aubyn, Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, Derrick Baskin, and Jawan M. Jackson in Ain’t Too Proud

Ephraim Sykes, Jawan M. Jackson, Jeremy Pope, Derrick Baskin, James Harkness in Ain’t Too Proud

Hillary & Clinton ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

April 22, 2019: Lucas Hnath’s Hillary and Clinton may be only 90 minutes long, yet it provides us with a searing, insightful and sometimes very funny glimpse into the life of a couple that has tantalized so many for the past several decades.

By: Paulanne Simmons

April 22, 2019: Lucas Hnath’s Hillary and Clinton may be only 90 minutes long, yet it provides us with a searing, insightful and sometimes very funny glimpse into the life of a couple that has tantalized so many for the past several decades.

The show, well directed by Joe Mantello, is set in a hotel room, just before and after the 2008 New Hampshire primary, when Hillary (Laurie Metcalf) is convinced her chances of winning the nomination are slipping away. Despite the protests of her campaign manager, Mark (Zak Orth), she phones her husband, former president Bill Clinton (John Lithgow), who has been sidelined and is passing the time impatiently back home.  Hillary wants money so she can continue her campaign, but she gets much more than she’d bargained for.

Laurie Metcalf

Clinton arrives promptly, suitcase in hand. It’s apparent he intends to stay. He has lots of advice for his wife. She needs to be more human, more vulnerable. People vote with their hearts, not their heads. Of course Hillary (and just about the entire audience) knows what lies heavily on Hillary’s heart. When forced to face the truth, Clinton is touchingly contrite.

There follow episodes in which Mark confronts Clinton with some truths he does not want to hear and Barak Obama (Peter Francis James) offers Hillary a deal she does not want to accept. Orth is excellent as the frustrated political aide, with the perfect balance of defiance and resignation common in loyal functionaries. James, the only actor who seems to be trying to make his character sound and act like the original, achieves his goal, unfortunately to the detriment of a nuanced performance.

Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow

But for the most part, this play belongs to Metcalf and Lithgow, who create an appealing and complex portrait of a couple that might be typical in many ways except for the fact that the philandering husband was once president and the long-suffering, over-supportive wife wants to be president. Lithgow is oafish and somehow charming in boxer shorts. Metcalf is a powerhouse, dropping flat on the floor, storming out of the room, tossing around papers that don’t bring good news.

The drama is bookended by a prologue and epilogue in which Hillary sets the story in the context of cosmic forces and parallel universes. One tends to doubt that the very down-to-earth Hillary Clinton ever thinks in such philosophical paradigms. But such flights of fancy are one of theater’s privileges.

Hillary and Clinton runs through July 21, 2019 at the John Golden Theatre, 252 West 45 Street.
Photography: Julieta Cervantes

Laurie Metcalf, Zak Orth

James Snyder

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: James Synder Heads the New American Cast

By: Ellis Nassour

April 22, 2019: The two-part epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and the first official Potter story to be developed for the stage. Following a blockbuster premiere in London, the show and cast crossed the Atlantic for the U.S. premiere at the totally renovated Lyric Theatre on West 43rd Street, which now has been turned into a Harry Potter fantasy experience.  

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: James Synder Heads the New American Cast

By: Ellis Nassour

April 22, 2019: The two-part epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and the first official Potter story to be developed for the stage. Following a blockbuster premiere in London, the show and cast crossed the Atlantic for the U.S. premiere at the totally renovated Lyric Theatre on West 43rd Street, which now has been turned into a Harry Potter fantasy experience.  

It received ten 2018 Tony Award nominations and won six – including Best Play, Director (innovative Tony winner John Tiffany), Scenic and Costume Design (Christine Jones and Katrina Lindsay, respectively). If there had been categories for Best Magic and Illusion (Jamie Harrison and Jeremy Chernick) and Best Reviews of the Season, H.P. and company would’ve certainly taken those home, too.

JK Rowling was most intrigued with the idea of diving into Harry’s life as a father—the boy who grew up orphaned is now a parent. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he’s a husband, father of three school-age children, and an overworked Ministry of Magic employee. 

Taking over the lead of the adult Harry in the American cast is James Snyder (If/Then, In Transit, Cry-Baby,) who explained, “Harry is still grappling with his past thatrefuses to stay in the past. His middle son, Albus, also struggles with the weight of a legacy he never wanted. It really is a deep and complex family drama, abetted with all the JK Rowling trappings and mindboggling magic and illusion.” James says he’s always tried to book shows that are different “and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not only different, there’s nothing like it. Nothing!”

In his career, he points out, “I’ve been fortunate. Since L.A. was my home I was able to pick and choose what I wanted to go after without having to worry too much about where I’d hang my hat. The roles have been so varied. Thankfully, I got to work with great people who are interested in furthering the art.” 

In October 2018 when he auditioned, he was hoping to get the role of Draco. “I did a lot of homework: read four books, spoke to friends familiar with the show.  Malfoy. That part was going to be mine. And then…” Well, he was offered the role of Harry.

James, 38, was born in San Jose but raised in Sacramento. “I’m a real California boy, through and through. Luckily, I was raised in a musical family.” His father, a realtor, and grandfather, a barber, sang Barber Shop. Along with family members, they formed a group which won several awards. James’ mother is a writer. He credits his Christian Brothers High/Sacramento choir teacher Christian Bohm with instilling a love of theater in him. It was there he began appearing onstage.

“I grew up listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, so when I got into high school, I saw a path,” he says. “I was already a bit of a ham. I played soccer in the Fall and did track in Spring. I didn’t see a fit with the baseball guys, so freshman year I auditioned for Godspell, and won the role of Jesus. That’s where I clicked.”

He explained that with shows such as Gilmore Girls and Smallville, there were lots of opportunities in TV. It didn’t hurt that he was drop-dead handsome. He also appeared in musicals on the West Coast and at Goodspeed and Paper Mill Playhouse. The actors who’ve influenced him, that he looks up to, run the gamut from Albert Finney to Hugh Jackman.

James was self-taught on piano and guitar. In addition he plays clarinet, trumpet, harmonica, and the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003 from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. From his late teens, he became a regular guest star on dozens of TV shows and in film. “I kept thinking, ‘Make the move to New York,’ but I could never convince myself it was the right move.”

However, he finally came to New York in 2008 to play Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, a 50s Baltimore bad boy, albeit with a heart of gold, when the musical adaptation of John Water’s 1990 film [which starred Johnny Depp], Cry-Baby, moved from San Diego’sLa Jolla Playhouse to Broadway.

During Harry’s two parts [a total of five hours and 15 minutes, with two intermissions], James is rarely off stage except for quick costume changes. “Once the train pulls out of the station, it’s non-stop,” he states. “It’s the difference between running a marathon and running a sprint. I always considered versatility one of my strengths, and I get to test that theory. I’m pulling from every part of my body, from everything I’ve learned. It’s almost as if every bit of training I’ve had and every show I’ve done has enabled me to pull this off.”

He says for him, or any actor lucky to be in his shoes, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the ultimate experience. “We worked really long and hard. Rehearsals began before Christmas and were painstaking. It didn’t let up until after we opened. I’ll feel rested in about two months.”

He met his wife Jacqueline, a fashion designer who specialized in swimwear, on a blind date, while bartending by day and acting at night. They have two children, “so one of the fun things about this role is I get to work with kids—incredibly talented kids who are wonderful to work with. The bonding happened quite quickly. The great thing is I wasn’t going in alone.”

Although he doesn’t get to sing, he does create a lot of magic. “The difference between rehearsing for Harry and rehearsing for a musical,” he explains, “is that instead of doing book scenes for a couple of hours and then working with the music director and choreographer, I worked a couple of hours—or more, then met with movement director Steven Hoggett to develop character and learn magic. Now I can add to my resume: Magician!”

So what is this “movement”? “It’s choreography without music and with a feeling, a purpose, and an intention. It’s very natural, all born from within. Everything is motivated. You know the why before the move, not the move and then the why. Then, you turn the volume up and heighten it.” 

James has appeared in a variety of TV and film roles, but the stage is where he feels he belongs. He and his family have been East Coast transplants for three years. When he and his wife saw Harry for the first time after he was cast, she said, “I can’t believe you’re getting to do this.” James couldn’t believe it either. “There’s nothing like it. Nothing! It’s a beautiful play about family, fathers and sons, parents trying to do better. Then, you add in this incredible wizarding world of possibility.” 

He said when you audition for shows, certain things have to click. “I’ve gone up for shows I really wanted, shows I felt perfect for; and worked very hard to prepare. But I didn’t get them. There’s an intangible aspect within who you are and what you bring. It’s whether you fit the director’s vision or not. They know behind the table and I know within my heart whether it’s right or not. It’s a hard thing to deal with. I just want to work, show people what I’ve got. That’s what I love doing, exploring different worlds and putting it out there for people to experience so they can be taken on a journey. I just knew Harry was right for me, and prayed that I could show I was. It clicked!”

TV and film are wonderful, he said, “but nothing tops being on a stage in front of an audience. Working in front of the camera, you go on for 30 to 40 seconds and run that 100-yard dash because that take might be the take the director will use. With the stage, it’s about stamina, being able to pace yourself through the story to tell each individual moment as richly as possible. It makes my heart explode. I am so blessed because I get to do what I love.”

This Harry Potter is by Jack Thorne (King Kong), based on a new story by Ms. Rowling, Tiffany, and him. It has a stunning score, something a bit unusual for a play, by English singer/songwriter Imogen Heap. Unlike the film adaptations of the Rowling books, the stage play doesn’t use computer-generated imagery, stunt doubles, or smoke and mirrors. The conjuring wizardry leaves audiences gasping in wonder. The magic emanates from swirling capes, moving staircases, miraculously quick switches in identity and costumes. 

Ithas become the most honored/awarded play in theater history. Besides its Tonys, in the U.K. it captured the Olivier for Best Play. In addition to 25 honors across the pond, there’ve been 25 major U.S. awards.

In addition to Snyder, the 38-plus cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child includes Diane Davis as wife Ginny Potter; and Nicholas Podany, fresh out of Julliard, and Will Carlyon are sons Albus and James. The role of daughter Lily is shared by Catherine Ashmore and Grace DeAmicis. Nadia Brown is Rose Granger Weasley; Jenny Jules plays Hermione Granger; Jonno Roberts portrays Draco Malfoy; and Bubba Weiler is Scorpius Malfoy. Someone very familiar to theatergoers, two-time  Tony winner Stephen Spinella (Angels in America: Millennium Approaches/ Perestroika), plays many roles.  

Burn This ***1/2

Adam Driver and Keri Russell star in tepid revival of Burn This, a 1987 drama by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Landford Wilson.

By: Patrick Christiano

April 19, 2019:  Originally commissioned by Circle in the Square, Burn This, a 1987 drama by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Landford Wilson, sizzled on Broadway with John Malkovick and Joan Allen, who won a Tony Award for her performance. The two stars generated real heat in a thrilling production that ran on Broadway for over a year, with 437 performances. Michael Mayer’s tepid revival with Adam Driver and Keri Russell as Pale and Anna, respectively, is played more for laughs than emotional subtext and leaves us wanting more.

Adam Driver and Keri Russell star in tepid revival of Burn This, a 1987 drama by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Landford Wilson.

By: Patrick Christiano

April 19, 2019:  Originally commissioned by Circle in the Square, Burn This, a 1987 drama by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Landford Wilson, sizzled on Broadway with John Malkovick and Joan Allen, who won a Tony Award for her performance. The two stars generated real heat in a thrilling production that ran on Broadway for over a year, with 437 performances. Michael Mayer’s tepid revival with Adam Driver and Keri Russell as Pale and Anna, respectively, is played more for laughs than emotional subtext and leaves us wanting more.

The, often entertaining, revival, served up in a glossy production with two film stars, is all surface appeal with little subtext or authentic emotional life. This is disappointing as the gifted playwright was a unique voice and his outstanding drama, although a bit dated, is still a smoldering, nuanced look at two lost souls struggling to find a safe place to sort things out in the face of a shared tragedy.

The play, set in 1987 in a loft in a converted cast-iron building in lower Manhattan, starts just after the funeral of Robbie, a young gay dancer who died in a boating accident with his lover. Robbie’s roommates, Anna, his sensitive dance partner, and Larry, a confident young ad man, have returned from his funeral in the Midwest to the loft the three had shared together. Burton, Anna’s longtime lover, and Pale, Robbie’s cocaine snorting older brother, will show up at the loft, and the four will attempt to make sense of their lives and their relationships now that someone they all loved has died.

Adam Driver

Although the staging at the Hudson theater looks great, the two stars have little chemistry and fail to generate the kind of push/pull that is needed for the evening to succeed dramatically. The problem appears to be Keri Russell, who looks terrific, but is a limited stage actress unable to convey any shading or duality. Her Anna comes off like a cranky brat, and her vapid performance leaves you wondering why two men are fighting over her. 

She’s an excellent example of what works on film doesn’t necessarily work on the stage. Sustaining a performance on stage requires creating a complex inner life while playing specific actions that serve the text.  She instead seems to wander vaguely around the stage throwing her body into posed positions, in an attempt to appear relaxed and at ease. And when she listens, she is so passive that she appears slightly bored just waiting for her turn to speak. She does look very pretty with long limbs and a stunning lean figure, and I am sure would look even better on film.  However, this is the theater, and she needs to do more than say the lines and look pretty.

Keri Russell

As a result, the immensely talented Driver is given little to react to from Russel, who seems barren of an inner life, and he resorts to a predominately physical performance, which although dynamic with razor sharp transitions, feels imposed rather than organic. Sure, the play springs to life whenever he bursts into the room with his larger than life persona, but his skilled performance never hints at danger, and the dynamics needed, between the two stars, to propel the evening to another level isn’t there.   

The supporting actors, David Furr as Burton, Anna’s rich screenwriter boyfriend, and Brandon Uranowitz as Larry, Anna’s gay roommate, are excellent. They almost steal the show with their sincere performances that display lovely shadings and wit. They probably create the most genuinely affecting moments in an evening that misses many opportunities between the two leads. 

David Furr, Keri Russell, Brandon Uranowitz

Burn This ***1/2
Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th Street, NYC
For tickets call 1 855 801-5876
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 15-minute intermission.
Photography: Matthew Murphy


Easter Bonnet Competition

Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS’ 33rd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Monday and Tuesday at the Minskoff Theatre

By: Ellis Nassour

April 23, 2019: The Red Bucket Brigade (#redbuckets) has completed their Spring end-of-theater mission. Volunteers across 22 Broadway and Off Broadway shows and also touring companies, their casts, and crews have lobbied tirelessly for the last six weeks to benefit the multitude of programs Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS supports. Their efforts culminate and will be honored at the 33rd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition(#BroadwayBonnets)at the Minskoff Theatre, home of Disney’s The Lion King.There are two performances: Monday at 4:30 P.M., Tuesday at 2 P.M.

Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS’ 33rd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Monday and Tuesday at the Minskoff Theatre

By: Ellis Nassour

April 23, 2019: The Red Bucket Brigade (#redbuckets) has completed their Spring end-of-theater mission. Volunteers across 22 Broadway and Off Broadway shows and also touring companies, their casts, and crews have lobbied tirelessly for the last six weeks to benefit the multitude of programs Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS supports. Their efforts culminate and will be honored at the 33rd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition(#BroadwayBonnets)at the Minskoff Theatre, home of Disney’s The Lion King.There are two performances: Monday at 4:30 P.M., Tuesday at 2 P.M.

Winners of Top Fundraiser, Best presentation and best bonnet design, as well as the much-anticipated spring fundraising total, were announced Tuesday by Bryan Cranston (Network), Jeff Daniels (To Kill a Mockingbird), Glenda Jackson (King Lear), and Kelli O’Hara (Kiss Me, Kate).

The Easter Bonnet Competition featured Stephen AshfieldKim Exum and Cody Jamison Strand (The Book of Mormon); Micaela Diamond and Jarrod Spector (The Cher Show); Bongi Duma and Tryphena Wade (The Lion King); Gideon GlickCelia Keenan-Bolger and Will Pullen (To Kill a Mockingbird); Andy Karl and Orfeh (Pretty Woman); and Beth Leavel and Christopher Sieber (The Prom). 

Jayne Houdyshell (King Lear), Heidi Schreck (What the Constitution Means to Me), and James Snyder (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) introduced the competition’s judges.

Shows presenting songs, skits or dances and those stunning handcrafted bonnets included AladdinAvenue QBe More ChillThe Cher ShowCome From AwayFiddler on the Roof – in YiddishFrozenKing KongNetwork, and NEWSical the Musical. A special Bonnet Parade included custom-crafted bonnets from Kiss Me, KateWaitressWicked; and the national tour of Hello, Dolly! as well as Broadway Cares affiliate organizations Broadway Green Alliance, Broadway Serves, and R.Evolución Latina.

Cast members from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring companies will perform original songs and skits and exhibit their often spectacular and/or outrageous designs. On Tuesday, a panel of celebrity judges and two lucky high bidders from the annual flea market will select Best Presentation and Best Bonnet Design. Current stars on the boards will distribute certificates to the top fund raising shows.

In exchange for a donation, audiences at participating shows received autographed posters, Playbills, photo opts, memorabilia (such as the glittering tiara worn by Brooks Ashmanskas’ Barry Glickman in The Prom), and one-of-a-kind experiences, including backstage tours and meet-and-greets. Every dollar and credit card receipt dropped in buckets help provide lifesaving medication, meals, financial assistance, and more to the most vulnerable.

BC/EFA is the major supporter of the social service programs at 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 also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states. Since 1987, the 32 editions of the Easter Bonnet Competition have raised $81-million to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and various charities and aid following national disasters.

The participating shows included Aladdin, AnastasiaAvenue QThe Book of MormonThe Cher ShowKing KongThe Lion KingMean GirlsMerrily We Roll Alongand Wicked. Next week, Dear Evan HansenFiddler on the Roof – in Yiddish, FrozenHamiltonKinky BootsMy Fair LadyThe Phantom of the OperaPretty WomanThe Prom, To Kill a Mockingbird and Waitress. Last year, 62 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and national tours raised $5.7-million.

Available tickets for $30-$130 to Easter Bonnet Competition can be purchased online at www.broadwaycares.org or by calling (212) 840-0770, X. 229. VIP and Priority tickets are $375 and $250. The Competition is sponsored by The New York Times.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. Since 1988, more than $300-million has been  raised for essential services for those with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses. For more information, please visit the website. Follow BC/EFA at facebook.com/BCEFA, at instagram.com/BCEFA, at twitter.com/BCEFA and at youtube.com/BCEFA.

Drama League Nominations

April 17, 2019: The Drama League (Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, Executive Artistic Director) announced the 2019 Drama League Awards Nominees for Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Production of a Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and the much-coveted Distinguished Performance Award. The nominations were announced by the current stars of Waitress, Shoshana Bean and Jeremy Jordan, at Sardi’s Restaurant.

April 17, 2019: The Drama League (Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, Executive Artistic Director) announced the 2019 Drama League Awards Nominees for Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Production of a Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and the much-coveted Distinguished Performance Award. The nominations were announced by the current stars of Waitress, Shoshana Bean and Jeremy Jordan, at Sardi’s Restaurant.

The nominations announcement begins a month of celebrations leading up to the 85th Annual Drama League Awards, which will be held at the Marriott Marquis Times Square (1535 Broadway) on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 11:30am. Tickets and tables to the star-studded luncheon are available for purchase at www.dramaleague.org or by calling The Drama League at 212.244.9494; VIP tickets include access to the nominees’ reception. The event is sponsored by MAC Cosmetics, Official Make-up Partner of The Drama League. The Drama League Awards Event Chair is Bonnie Comley.

The Drama League previously announced the 2018 Special Recognition Award Recipients: Tony® Award winner Kelli O’Hara will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award; director Alex Timbers will receive The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing; and Taylor Mac will receive the Unique Contribution to the Theater Award.

First awarded in 1922 and formalized in 1935, The Drama League Awards are the oldest theatrical honors in America. They are the only major theater awards chosen by a cross-section of the theatre community — specifically, by the industry professionals, producers, artists, audiences, and critics who are Drama League members nationwide Membership is open to everyone; for more information about membership or the Drama League Awards, please call (212) 244-9494 or visit www.dramaleague.org.

2019 DRAMA LEAGUE AWARDS NOMINATIONS

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY PLAY

Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties 

by Jen Silverman 

Directed by Mike Donahue 

Lucille Lortel Theatre 

Produced by MCC Theater (Bob LuPone, Bernie Telsey and Will Cantler, Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director)

Dance Nation 

Written by Clare Barron 

Directed by Lee Sunday Evans 

Playwrights Horizons 

Produced by Playwrights Horizons (Tim Sanford, Artistic Director; Leslie Marcus, Managing Director; Carol Fishman, General Manager)

Fairview 

Written by Jackie Sibblies Drury 

Directed by Sarah Benson 

Soho Rep 

Produced by Soho Rep (Sarah Benson, Artistic Director; Cynthia Flowers, Executive Director) in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre

The Ferryman 

Written by Jez Butterworth 

Directed by Sam Mendes 

Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 

Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Neal Street Productions, Ronald Frankel, Gavin Kalin Productions, Roy Furman/Ben Lowy, Scott M. Delman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Ron Kastner, Starry Night Entertainment, Kallish Weinstein Creative, Scott Landis, Steve Traxler, Richard Winkler, Rona Delves Broughton/William Damaschke, 1001 Nights, Burnt Umber Productions, Rupert Gavin, Scott Rudin, Jamie deRoy/Catherine Adler, Sam Levy/Lauren Stevens and Ramin Sabi/Christopher Ketner

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

Written by Taylor Mac 

Directed by George C. Wolfe 

Produced by Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Eli Bush, Eric Falkenstein, Suzanne Grant, No Guarantees, Universal Theatrical Group, James L. Nederlander, Columbia Live Stage, The John Gore Organization, Spring Sirkin, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Jamie deRoy, Wendy Federman, Barbara Manocherian, Al Nocciolino, Bruce Robert Harris & Jack W. Batman and Adam Rodner

The House That Will Not Stand 

Written by Marcus Gardley 

Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz 

New York Theatre Workshop 

Produced by New York Theatre Workshop (James C. Nicola, Artistic Director; Jeremy Blocker, Managing Director)

The Jungle 

Written by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson 

Directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin 

St. Ann’s Warehouse 

Presented by St. Ann’s Warehouse, a Good Chance Theatre co-production with the National Theatre and Young Vic

The Lehman Trilogy 

Written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power 

Directed by Sam Mendes 

Park Avenue Armory 

Produced by the National Theatre and Neal Street Productions, in collaboration with Park Avenue Armory

Network 

Adapted by Lee Hall; Based on the film by Paddy Chayefsky 

Directed by Ivo van Hove 

Belasco Theatre 

Produced by David Binder, The National Theatre, Patrick Myles, David Luff, Ros Povey, Lee Menzies, Annapurna Theatre, Blanshay-Yonover, CatWenJam Productions, Patrick Catullo, Delman-Whitney, Diana DiMenna, Falkenstein-Grant, Hagemann Rosenthal Associates, GHF Productions, The John Gore Organization, Harris Rubin Productions, Sharon Karmazin, Koenigsberg-Fan, Kors Le Pere Theatricals LLC, Alexander ‘Sandy’ Marshall, Stephanie P. McClelland, David Mirvish, Moellenberg-Hornos, R.H.M.-Jonathan Reinis, Catherine Schreiber, Ken Schur, Jayne Baron Sherman, Cynthia Stroum, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Zeilinger Productions and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President); Produced in association with Dean Stolber

Paradise Blue 

Written by Dominique Morisseau 

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson 

Signature Theatre Company 

Produced by Signature Theatre Company (Paige Evans, Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert, Executive Director)

Teenage Dick 

Written by Mike Lew 

Directed by Moritz von Steulpnagel 

Public Theater 

Produced by Ma-Yi Theater (Ralph B. Peña, Producing Artistic Director) in association with The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director)

To Kill A Mockingbird 

Written by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the novel by Harper Lee 

Directed by Bartlett Sher 

Shubert Theatre 

Produced by Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Lincoln Center Theater (André Bishop: Producing Artistic Director; Adam Siegel: Managing Director; Hattie K. Jutagir, Executive Director of Development and Planning), Universal Theatrical Group, Eli Bush, The John Gore Organization, Len Blavatnik, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, James L. Nederlander, Eric Falkenstein, Suzanne Grant, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Benjamin Lowy, Al Nocciolino, David Mirvish, Wendy Federman, Heni Koenigsberg, Patty Baker, Bob Boyett, Barbara H. Freitag, True Love Productions, Jason Blum, Roxanne Seeman & Jamie deRoy, Eric Cornell & Jack Sennott and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

What The Constitution Means To Me 

Written by Heidi Shreck 

Directed by Oliver Butler 

New York Theatre Workshop/Barrow Street Theater/Hayes Theater 

Produced by Diana DiMenna, Aaron Glick, Matt Ross, Madeleine Foster Bersin, Myla Lerner/Jon Bierman, Jenna Segal/Catherine Markowitz, Jana Shea/Maley-Stolbun-Sussman, Rebecca Gold/Jose Antonio Vargas, Level Forward, Cornice Productions, Lassen Wyse Balsam, Nederlander Presentations/Kate Lear, Clubbed Thumb, True Love Productions and New York Theatre Workshop; Associate Producer: SL Theatricals and Daniel

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY PLAY

All My Sons 

Written by Arthur Miller 

Directed by Jack O’Brien 

Roundabout Theatre Company 

Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO; Julia C. Levy, Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager; Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer)

Boesman and Lena 

Written by Athol Fugard 

Directed by Yaël Farber 

Signature Theatre Company 

Produced by Signature Theatre Company (Paige Evans, Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert, Executive Director)

Burn This 

Written by Lanford Wilson 

Directed by Michael Mayer 

Hudson Theatre 

Produced by David Binder, Ruth Hendel, Big Beach, Sharon Karmazin, OHenryGS Productions, Ken Schur, Jayne Baron Sherman, Cynthia Stroum, Barbara Whitman, Richard Willis, The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President) and Ambassador Theatre Group

By The Way, Meet Vera Stark 

Written by Lynn Nottage 

Directed by Kamilah Forbes 

Signature Theatre Company 

Produced by Signature Theatre Company (Paige Evans, Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert, Executive Director)

Choir Boy 

Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney 

Directed by Trip Cullman 

Manhattan Theatre Club 

Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer)

King Lear 

Written by William Shakespeare 

Directed by Sam Gold 

Cort Theatre 

Produced by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, No Guarantees, Stephanie P. McClelland, Universal Theatrical Group, Len Blavatnik, James L. Nederlander, Rosalind Productions, Inc., Barbara Manocherian, The John Gore Organization, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Jamie deRoy, Wendy Federman, Al Nocciolino, Candy Spelling, True Love Productions, Adam Rodner and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Torch Song 

Written by Harvey Fierstein 

Directed by Moisés Kaufman 

Hayes Theatre 

Produced by Richie Jackson, Eric Kuhn & Justin Mikita, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ken Fakler, David Mirvish, Lassen Blume/Karmen Boyz Productions, CJC & Priest/Judith Ann Abrams, Burnt Umber/True Love Productions, Caiola Productions/Torchbearers, Jujamcyn Theaters (Jordan Roth: President; Rocco Landesman: President Emeritus; Paul Libin: Executive Vice President Emeritus; Jack Viertel: Senior Vice President) and Second Stage Theater (Carole Rothman, Founder & Artistic Director; Casey Reitz, Executive Director; Christopher Burney, Artistic Producer); Associate Producer: Keith Hallworth

Twelfth Night 

Written by William Shakespeare 

Directed by Oskar Eustis and Kwame Kwei-Armah 

Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival 

Produced by the Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director)

The Waverly Gallery 

Written by Kenneth Lonergan 

Directed by Lila Neugebauer 

John Golden Theatre 

Produced by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, The John Gore Organization, Columbia Live Stage, Len Blavatnik, Universal Theatrical Group, Stephanie P. McClelland, James L. Nederlander, Eric Falkenstein, Suzanne Grant, Benjamin Lowy, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Peter May, Al Nocciolino, Patty Baker, Bob Boyett, Wendy Federman, Barbara H. Freitag, Heni Koenigsberg, David Mirvish, True Love Productions, Roxanne Seeman & Jamie deRoy, Jason Blum and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations 

Book by Dominique Morisseau; Music and Lyrics from The Legendary Motown Catalog 

Directed by Des McAnuff 

Imperial Theatre 

Produced by Ira Pittelman, Tom Hulce, Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Tony Taccone, Artistic Director; Susan Medak, Managing Director), Sony/ATV Music Publishing, EMI Entertainment World, Inc., Josh Berger, Ken Schur, Ron Simons, Stephen Byrd, Alia Jones, Ruth & Steve Hendel, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Harriet Newman Leve, Jeffrey Finn, Stephen & Nancy Gabriel, Darren Bagert, David Binder, Wendy Federman, Susan Quint Gallin, Mickey Liddell, Robert Ahrens, Christopher Maring, David Mirvish, Stacy Jacobs, Marianne Mills, Loraine Alterman Boyle, deRoy-Winkler, Karmazin-McCabe, Koenigsberg-Krauss, Zell-Kierstead, Deborah Barrera, Robyn & Larry Gottesdiener, The Araca Group, Rashad V. Chambers, Mike Evans, Hani Farsi, The John Gore Organization, Mike Karns, Willette & Manny Klausner, Gabrielle Palitz, No Guarantees, Sheldon Stone, Stuart Weitzman and Universal Music

Beetlejuice 

Book by Scott Brown and Anthony King; Music by Eddie Perfect; Lyrics by Eddie Perfect 

Directed by Alex Timbers 

Winter Garden Theatre 

Produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions, Jeffrey Richards, Jam Theatricals, IMG Original Content, Rebecca Gold, Ben Lowy, James L. Nederlander, Warner / Chappell Music, Inc. and ZenDog Productions; Produced in association with deRoy Federman Productions/42nd.club, Latitude Link, Mary Lu Roffe, Terry Schnuck, Marc Bell & Jeff Hollander, Jane Bergère, Joanna Carson, Darren DeVerna & Jere Harris, Mark S Golub & David S. Golub, The John Gore Organization, Ruth & Steve Hendel, LHC Theatrical Fund, Scott H. Mauro, NETworks Presentations, No Guarantees, Gabrielle Palitz, Pierce Friedman Productions, Iris Smith and Triptyk Studios

Be More Chill 

Book by Joe Tracz; Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis 

Directed by Stephen Brackett 

Lyceum Theatre 

Produced by Gerald Goehring, Michael F. Mitri, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Marc David Levine, Marlene and Gary Cohen, 42nd.club, Viertel Routh Frankel Baruch Group, Jenny Niederhoffer, Ben Holtzman and Sammy Lopez, Jenn Maley and Cori Stolbun, Joan and Robert Rechnitz, Chris Blastings/Simpson & Longthorne, Koenigsberg/Federman/Adler, YesBroadway Productions, Kumiko Yoshii, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W Batman, Jay and Cindy Gutterman/Caiola Productions, Phil Kenny/Jim Kierstead, deRoy/Winkler/Batchelder, Jonathan Demar/Kim Vasquez, Brad Blume/Gemini Theatrical Investors, LLC, Alisa & Charlie Thorne, Fred and Randi Sternfeld, Connor Tinglum/Andrew Hendrick, Ashlee Latimer & Jenna Ushkowitz and Two River Theater

The Cher Show 

Book by Rick Elice; Music by Various Artists 

Directed by Jason Moore 

Neil Simon Theatre 

Produced by Flody Suarez, Jeffrey Seller and Cher

Hadestown 

Lyrics and Book by Anais Mitchell 

Directed by Rachel Chavkin 

Walter Kerr Theatre 

Produced by Mara Isaacs, Dale Franzen, Hunter Arnold, Tom Kirdahy, Carl Daikeler, Five Fates, Willette & Manny Klausner, No Guarantees, Sing Out, Louise! Productions, Stone Arch Theatricals, Benjamin Lowy/Adrian Salpeter, Meredith Lynsey Schade, 42nd.club, Craig Balsam, Broadway Strategic Return Fund, Concord Theatricals, Laurie David, Demar Moritz Gang, Getter Entertainment, Deborah Green, Harris Rubin Productions, Sally Cade Holmes, Marguerite Hoffman, Hornos-Moellenberg, Independent Presenters Network, Jam Theatricals, Kalin Levine Dohr Productions, Phil & Claire Kenny, Mike Karns, Kilimanjaro Theatricals, Lady Capital, LD Entertainment, Sandi Moran, Tom Neff, MWM Live, Patti Sanford Roberts & Michael Roberts, Schroeder Shapiro Productions, Seriff Productions, Stage Entertainment, Kenneth & Rosemary Willman, KayLavLex Theatricals, Tyler Mount, Jujamcyn Theaters (Jordan Roth: President; Rocco Landesman: President Emeritus; Paul Libin: Executive Vice President Emeritus; Jack Viertel: Senior Vice President), The National Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop

Head Over Heels 

Songs by The Go-Go’s; Conceived by Jeff Whitty; Original Book by Jeff Whitty; Book adapted by James Magruder; Based on ‘The Arcadia’ by Sir Philip Sidney 

Directed by Michael Mayer 

Hudson Theatre 

Produced by Christine Russell, Louise Gund, Donovan Leitch, Rick Ferrari, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scott Sigman, Hunter Arnold, Tom Kirdahy, Jordan Roth, Julie Boardman, Broadway Strategic Return Fund, Vikram Chatwal, The John Gore Organization, NETworks Presentations, LLC, Insurgent Media, Robert Kravis, Art Lab, LLC, Marc Bell, Mara Burros-Sandler, Carrie Clifford, Adam Gorgoni, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Marguerite Hoffman, Dr. Michael Mintz, Sandi Moran, Paramount Pictures, Van Horn Doran Group, Eric Cornell, Jonathan & Nancy Glaser/Lucy Fato & Matthew Detmer, Heather Reid & Allison Milgard/NS HOH, LLC/Leslie Bourne & Lisa Martin, Franklin & Tracy Codel/Mike Singer/Taffy Stern, Oliver Roth/Kate Cannova/Anne & Larry Hambly and Brad Blume/Eric Gelb/Gary Nelson

The Hello Girls 

Music and Lyrics by Peter Mills; Book by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel 

Directed by Cara Reichel 

Prospect Theatre Company/59 East 59 Theaters 

Produced by Prospect Theatre Company (Cara Reichel, Artistic Director; Melissa Huber, Managing Director)

King Kong 

Written by Jack Thorne; Score Composed and Produced by Marius de Vries; Songs by Eddie Perfect 

Directed by Drew McOnie 

Produced by Carmen Pavlovic, Roy Furman, Gerry Ryan, Len Blavatnik, Edward Walson, Benjamin Lowy, Bob Boyett, Harmonia Holdings, Peter Ivany, Bruce Robert Harris/Jack W. Batman, Peter May, Liebowitz/Grossman/Shields Productions, Iris Smith, Triptyk Studios, Robert Appel, Lynne & Marvin Garelick, The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President), The Nederlander Organization (James L. Nederlander: President), Jujamcyn Theaters (Jordan Roth: President; Rocco Landesman: President Emeritus; Paul Libin: Executive Vice President Emeritus; Jack Viertel: Senior Vice President), Audrey Wilf, Aleri Entertainment, Sandy Robertson, Jennifer Fischer, Fantaci/Carusi/Lachowicz, Darren DeVerna, Jere Harris, The John Gore Organization, 42nd.club, Hello Entertainment, Independent Presenters Network and Global Creatures

The Prom 

by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin; Music by Matthew Sklar; Lyrics by Chad Beguelin 

Directed by Casey Nicholaw 

Longacre Theatre 

Produced by Bill Damaschke, Dori Berinstein, Jack Lane, James & Catherine Berges, Nelda Sue Yaw, Natasha Davison, Joe Grandy, Kimberlee Garris, Lisa Morris, Terry Schnuck, Jane Dubin, Rosalind Productions, Inc., Fahs Productions, Seth A. Goldstein, Mike Kriak, Don & Nancy Ross, Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra & Stephen Della Pietra, Cliff Hopkins, Masie Productions, Vivek Shaw, Three Belles & A Bob, Arment-Tackel, Armstrong-Manocherian, Fakler-Silver, Fox Theatricals-Mosbacher-Lonow, Palitz-Stern-Smedes, Nancy & Ken Kranzberg/David Lyons, Larry & Elizabeth Lenke/Elizabeth L. Green, Iris Smith/InStone Productions, Kuhlman-Ketner/Wallace-ATxRandomProductions, The John Gore Organization and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President); Produced in association with Independent Presenters Network, Margot Astrachan, Darren P. DeVerna & Jeremiah J. Harris and Reagan Silber

Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future 

Book, Music and Lyrics by Andrew R. Butler 

Directed by Joran Fein 

Ars Nova 

Produced by Ars Nova (Jason Eagan, Founding Artistic Director and Renee Blinkwolt, Managing Director)

Tootsie 

by Robert Horn; Music by David Yazbek; Lyrics by David Yazbek 

Directed by Scott Ellis 

Marquis Theatre 

Produced by Scott Sanders, Carol Fineman, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Columbia Live Stage, Sally Horchow, James L. Nederlander, Benjamin Lowy, Cindy and Jay Gutterman/Marlene and Gary Cohen, Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Robert Greenblatt, Stephanie P. McClelland, Candy Spelling, Jam Theatricals, Roy Furman, Michael Harrison/David Ian, Jamie deRoy/Catherine Adler/Wendy Federman/Heni Koenigsberg, JAA Productions/Stella LaRue/Silva Theatrical Group, Toho Co. Ltd., Jonathan Littman, Peter May, Janet and Marvin Rosen, Seriff Productions, Iris Smith, Bob Boyett, Thomas L. Miller, Larry J. Kroll/Douglas L. Meyer, Victoria Lang/Scott Mauro, Brunish/Caiola/Fuld Jr/Epic Theatricals, Ted Liebowitz/Lassen Blume Baldwin, The John Gore Organization, Ronald Frankel, Char-Park Productions, Chris and Ashlee Clarke, Fakston Productions, The Woodland Hills Broadway Group, 2 Js and an A, Inc., Tom McGrath/42nd.club, Drew Hodges and Peter Kukielski, Jim Fantaci, Frederike and Bill Hecht, Brad Lamm and Independent Presenters Network

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL

Carmen Jones 

Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy’s adaptation of Prosper Merimee’s Carmen; Music by Georges Bizet 

Directed by John Doyle 

Classic Stage Company 

Produced by Classic Stage Company (John Doyle, Artistic Director; Toni Marie Davis, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager)

Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish 

Book by Joseph Stein; Music by Jerry Bock; Lyrics By Sheldon Harnick 

Directed by Joel Grey 

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene/Stage 42 

Produced By Hal Luftig, Jana Robbins, Steven Chaikelson, Ruth Hendel, Braemar House Productions, Jamie deRoy & Friends, Nina Korelitz Matza/Nicola Behrman, Anita Waxman/Martin H. Borell, and The Shubert Organization in association with Sandy Block; Roy Gabay, Executive Producer

Kiss Me, Kate 

Book by Sam Spewack and Bella Spewack; Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter 

Directed by Scott Ellis 

Roundabout Theatre Company 

Produced By Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO; Julia C. Levy, Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager; Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer)

Oklahoma! 

Book by Oscar Hammerstein; Music by Richard Rodgers; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein 

Directed by Daniel Fish 

St. Ann’s Warehouse/Circle in the Square Theatre 

Produced By Eva Price, Level Forward, Abigail Disney, Barbara Manocherian & Carl Moellenberg, James L. Nederlander, David Mirvish, Mickey Liddell & Robert Ahrens, BSL Enterprises & MagicSpace Entertainment, Berlind Productions, The John Gore Organization, Cornice Productions, Bard Fisher/R. Gold, LAMF/J. Geller, T. Narang/ZKM Media, The R/F/B/V Group, Araca/IPN, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Tamar Climan and Bard Summerscape; Associate Producer: Square 1 Theatrics

Ordinary Days 

Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon 

Directed by Jonathan Silverstein 

Keen Company 

Produced by Keen Company (Jonathan Silverstein, Artistic Director; Ashley DiGiorgi, Managing Producer)

Smokey Joe’s Café 

Music and Lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller 

Directed by Joshua Bergasse 

Stage 42 

Produced by Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, and Tom Viertel

NOMINEES FOR THE DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE AWARD

Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom 

Annette Bening, All My Sons 

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Our Lady of 121st Street 

Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show 

Eboni Booth, Dance Nation 

Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice 

Josh Charles, Straight White Men 

Paddy Considine, The Ferryman 

Jordan E. Cooper, Ain’t No Mo’ 

Bryan Cranston, Network 

Jeff Daniels, To Kill A Mockingbird 

Jessica Frances Dukes, By The Way, Meet Vera Stark 

André De Shields, Hadestown 

Adam Driver, Burn This 

Edie Falco, The True 

Santino Fontana, Tootsie 

Harriett D. Foy, The House That Will Not Stand 

Lynda Gravatt, The House That Will Not Stand and The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d 

Amber Gray, Hadestown 

Jake Gyllenhaal, Sea Wall/A Life 

Ammar Haj Ahmad, The Jungle 

Ethan Hawke, True West 

Marin Ireland, Blue Ridge and Summer and Smoke 

Zainab Jah, Boesman and Lena 

Nikki M. James, Twelfth Night 

Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill A Mockingbird 

Leslie Kritzer, Beetlejuice 

Beth Leavel, The Prom 

Tracy Letts, All My Sons 

Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery 

Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet 

Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton 

Bonnie Milligan, Head Over Heels 

Gregg Mozgala, Teenage Dick 

Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate 

Jeremy Pope, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations and Choir Boy 

Carey Mulligan, Girls and Boys 

Anika Noni Rose, Carmen Jones 

Debra Jo Rupp, The Cake 

Stacey Sargeant, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future 

Heidi Schreck, What The Constitution Means To Me 

Steven Skybell, Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish 

Keith Randolph Smith, Paradise Blue 

Ali Stroker, Oklahoma! 

Michael Stuhlbarg, Socrates 

Ephraim Sykes, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations 

Ben Turner, The Jungle 

Ana Villafañe, Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag 

Kerry Washington, American Son 

Julie White, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

Ruth Wilson, King Lear 

BD Wong, The Great Leap

The Drama League also wishes to acknowledge the previous recipients of the Distinguished Performance Award who appeared in Broadway or Off-Broadway productions this season. As the Award can only be won once in a performer’s lifetime, they are ineligible to be nominated; however, their exemplary work is recognized and applauded.

Stockard Channing, Apologia 

Glenn Close, Mother of the Maid 

Glenda Jackson, King Lear 

Cherry Jones, The Lifespan of a Fact 

Nathan Lane, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

John Lithgow, Hillary and Clinton 

Stephen Rea, Cyprus Avenue

SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS

(previously announced)

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre – Kelli O’Hara

Founders Award for Excellence in Directing – Alex Timbers

Unique Contribution to the Theatre – Taylor Mac

BroadwayHD screens 42nd Street

Special screening of acclaimed West End revival of 42nd Street @ AMC on 42nd Street

April 17, 2019:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming platform for live theater, hosted a special screening of visionary director Mark Bramble’s acclaimed West End revival of 42nd Street, the Tony Award winning musical of 1981, which closed in London this past January.  BroadwayHD founders, Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comely, kicked off the special screening with an introduction of how the film came to be after they flew to London to see acclaimed musical and meeting with Bramble. The dazzling film by BroadwayHD captures the intensity and passion of the original West End production and is the next best thing to a seat in the theater.  It will debut in movie theaters as a Fathom event on May 1 for a limited theatrical release before becoming an exclusive on the BroadwayHD  lineup.

Special screening of acclaimed West End revival of 42nd Street @ AMC on 42nd Street

April 17, 2019:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming platform for live theater, hosted a special screening of visionary director Mark Bramble’s acclaimed West End revival of 42nd Street, the Tony Award winning musical of 1981, which closed in London this past January.  BroadwayHD founders, Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comely, kicked off the special screening with an introduction of how the film came to be after they flew to London to see acclaimed musical and meeting with Bramble. The dazzling film by BroadwayHD captures the intensity and passion of the original West End production and is the next best thing to a seat in the theater.  It will debut in movie theaters as a Fathom event on May 1 for a limited theatrical release before becoming an exclusive on the BroadwayHD  lineup.

Randy Skinner, Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane, Kelli Barkley

BroadwayHD filmed the production specifically for the streaming service with the late, great theater producing and directing visionary Mark Bramble collaborating closely with Ross MacGibbon, who directed the filmed version.  Bramble co-write the book for the original 1981 Broadway production that has been widely credited with helping revitalize the Great White Way in the early 80s.  The BroadwayHD production of 42nd Street, which he directed and helped edit for screen, marks one of Bramble’s last theater projects before passing away earlier this year.

Stewart and Bonnie are not only the founders of BroadwayHD, but also Tony Award-winning producers and acclaimed filmmakers-in-their own right. Capturing this production of 42nd Street was much more than a special experience for them, because the film also showcases their mission to present the stage on screen in brand new way.

Photography: Barry Gordin

Bonnie Comley, Joe DiPietro
Randy Skinner, Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane
Randy Skinner,Douglas Denoff
Stewart F. Lane, Joe DiPietro
Ellis Nassour, Kelli Barclay
Joe DiPietro, Patrick Christiano

Tomatoes Got Talent

6th ANNUAL “TOMATOES GOT TALENT” ANNOUNCES WINNERS! CHRISTINA CONNORS WINS! RUNNER-UPS ARE KELLY MAGUIRE, TERRI LEVY, EVANGELINE JOHNS, AND CAMILLE DIAMON

April 21, 2019: Singer Christina Connors was named the winner of the 6th Annual “Tomatoes Got Talent” Contest at The Triad on Monday, April 15. Celebrating the talents of extraordinary women over 40 who have made their marks and their livings outside of the entertainment world, but who consider the craft of singing and performing to be integral to their lives.

6th ANNUAL “TOMATOES GOT TALENT” ANNOUNCES WINNERS! CHRISTINA CONNORS WINS! RUNNER-UPS ARE KELLY MAGUIRE, TERRI LEVY, EVANGELINE JOHNS, AND CAMILLE DIAMON

April 18, 2019: Singer Christina Connors was named the winner of the 6th Annual “Tomatoes Got Talent” Contest at The Triad on Monday, April 15. Celebrating the talents of extraordinary women over 40 who have made their marks and their livings outside of the entertainment world, but who consider the craft of singing and performing to be integral to their lives.

Christina Connors

The juried contest was hosted by Randie Levine-Miller, who co-produced with Cheryl Benton, the founder and publisher of Thethreetomatoes.com, the event’s lead sponsor. Paul Chamlin music directed the sold out show, which featured a guest appearance by 15-year-old rising star jazz singer Anaïs Reno, as well as the 2018 winner Sheree Sano.

Randie Levine-Miller

Winner Christina Connors is a licensed massage therapist who also used to perform on cruise ships.The runner ups were Kelli Maguire, who works at a Manhattan youth center and grew up in a carnival; special-education teacher, a court reporter, and a realtor Terri LevyEvangeline Johns, an 82-year-old blues singer, formerly a market researcher for CBS; and Camille Diamond who is the director of a community center that serves children and families.

Christina Connors

Among the other 12 finalists were: the reigning Ms. New York Senior America Maureen Griffin, who is a legal secretary by day; Amy Downey, a COO of a major bank; Rachael Epstein who is a government contract worker and a three-time cancer survivor; Delaine Douglas who writes plays and short stories, and loves the Great American Songbook; current runner-up in Ms. NY Senior America Laura Lorenzo, formerly an oncology nurse and now a furniture sales person; retired psychotherapist and current standup comedian Taffy Jaffe; and businesswoman and former equestrienne Lynn Henderson.

This year’s judges were three respected industry leaders: the award-winning media personality, producer, radio host Valerie Smaldone; theater critic, author, playwright and former Drama Desk president Peter Filichia, and Sandi Durell, TheaterPizzazz.com editor/publisher and reviewer.

Kelly Maguire

Levine-Miller has produced, hosted and entertained at countless star-studded musical entertainment events — at The Triad, the Metropolitan Room, Feinstein’s, and, for many years, at the Friars Club. Celebrated for their mix of humor and high-octane singing, Levine-Miller’s concerts — which include the “Showstopper Divas” and “Divos” shows — have been a staple of the New York charity nightclub scene for years. Contest co-creator Cheryl Benton has been publishing her popular online newsletter on Thethreetomatoes.com (“The Insider’s Guide for Women Who Aren’t Kids)” since 2007.

Photography: Maryann Lopinto

Randie Levine-Miller, Paul Chamlin
Anais Reno
Lynn Henderson
Sherre Sano

Randie Levine-Miller, Faye Menken Schneier. Paul Chamlin

WP Theater’s Anniversary Gala

WP Theater’s 40th Anniversary Gala honors Women of Achievement.

April 16, 2019:  WP Theater’s 40th Anniversary Gala honoring game-changing women with the Women of Achievement awards was held on Monday at the Edison Ballroom on West 47th Street in the Theater District. The gala honored three-time Tony Award-Winning Producer & Founder of BroadwayHD Bonnie Comley (A Gentleman’s Guide, War Horse), Award-Winning actress, activist, and singer-songwriter Amanda Seyfried  (Mamma Mia, Dear John, Mean Girls), and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and recording artist Emily Warren (The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down”, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules”).

WP Theater’s 40th Anniversary Gala honors Women of Achievement.

April 16, 2019:  WP Theater’s 40th Anniversary Gala honoring game-changing women with the Women of Achievement awards was held on Monday at the Edison Ballroom on West 47th Street in the Theater District. The gala honored three-time Tony Award-Winning Producer & Founder of BroadwayHD Bonnie Comley (A Gentleman’s Guide, War Horse), Award-Winning actress, activist, and singer-songwriter Amanda Seyfried  (Mamma Mia, Dear John, Mean Girls), and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and recording artist Emily Warren (The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down”, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules”).

The Gala was hosted by the star of WP’s Hatef**k Sendhil Ramamurthy (NBC’s “Heroes”, “New Amsterdam”), and featured special performances by the Broadway cast of Oklahoma!, an exclusive sneak peek at the Broadway-bound musical Empire Records,composed by WP Lab Alum Zoe Sarnak, and more.  Special appearances were made by Thomas Sadoski (CBS’s “Life in Pieces”, Reasons To be Pretty), and Charlotte St. Martin President of The Broadway League and 2012 Women of Achievement Award winner.

Each year WP honors truly outstanding women who have taken risks, pushed limits, and broken ground in a wide variety of fields, celebrating their unique accomplishments at the Women of Achievement Awards. Since its inception, WP Theater’s Women of Achievement Awards has paid homage to luminaries such as Gloria Steinem, Whoopi Goldberg, Debra Messing, Audra McDonald, Eve Ensler, Dame Judi Dench, Kerry Washington, Vanessa Redgrave, and Chita Rivera, Charlotte St. Martin, to name just a few. The Women of Achievement Awards delivers an inspiring, entertaining, star-studded night that celebrates the accomplishments of vital women across many disciplines in New York and beyond.

Called “an important, risk-taking organization” by New York Magazine, WP Theater is the nation’s oldest and largest theater company dedicated to developing, producing and promoting the work of women in theater at every stage in their careers. WP Theater supports female-identified theater artists of all kinds and the world-class, groundbreaking work they create, and provides a platform where their voices can be heard and celebrated on the American stage.

Photo: Annie Watt

Jamie deRoy & friends

Show at Birdland benefits The Actors Fund

April 16, 2019:  Hostess/producer Jamie DeRoy brought her multi-MAC Award-winning Variety Show, Jamie deRoy & friends, back to Birdland on Monday, April 15 as part of The Broadway at Birdland concert series. Proceeds from the evening benefited The Actors Fund: Jamie deRoy & friends Cabaret Initiative. Special guests included Christina Bianco, Mike Birbiglia (The New One), E. Clayton Cornelious (Ain’t Too Proud), John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey and Haley Swindal (Chicago, Jekyll and Hyde). The show was directed by Barry Kleinbort, and musical direction was by Ron Abel.

Show at Birdland benefits The Actors Fund

April 16, 2019:  Hostess/producer Jamie DeRoy brought her multi-MAC Award-winning Variety Show, Jamie deRoy & friends, back to Birdland on Monday, April 15 as part of The Broadway at Birdland concert series. Proceeds from the evening benefited The Actors Fund: Jamie deRoy & friends Cabaret Initiative. Special guests included Christina Bianco, Mike Birbiglia (The New One), E. Clayton Cornelious (Ain’t Too Proud), John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey and Haley Swindal (Chicago, Jekyll and Hyde). The show was directed by Barry Kleinbort, and musical direction was by Ron Abel.

Jim Caruso, Christina Bianco, E. Clayton Cornelious

This colorful cabaret series has been thrilling New York City audiences for the past 25 years and serves as the basis for deRoy’s award-winning cable television show which spotlights well-known entertainers and newcomers that are lighting up the marquees of cabaret, theater, music and comedy. Jamie deRoy has won three Tony Awards, eight MAC Awards, four Back Stage Bistro Awards and ten Telly Awards for her extensive work on both stage and screen. She has appeared onstage with Joan Rivers and has headlined at many of New York’s major clubs. She has produced nine CDs in the Jamie deRoy & friends series, all of which are available on Harbinger and PS Classics labels.

Bill Hutton, Ron Abel, Rita Moreno, Ken Fallen, Jamie deRoy and Hunter Ryan Herdlicka
Jamie deRoy, David Zippel
E. Clayton Cornelious, Christina Bianco, Jim Caruso
Richard Soloway, Donna Soloway, Eda Sorokoff, Christina Rose, Stephen Sorokoff
Barbara Clarkson, Riki Kane Larimer
Allan Lazare, Arlene Lazare, David Zippel
Jamie deRoy, E. Clayton Cornelious
Tracie Bennett, Haley Swindal

Performance Photos: Stephen Sorokoff

Benny & Joon ***

Paper Mill Playhouse Presents Star Showcase for Bryce Pinkham in East Coast  Premiere of Benny & Joon, Adapted from the Film Starring Johnny Depp

By: Ellis Nassour

Monday, April 15: Benny & Joon is the highly-emotional story of a young high-functioning female schizophrenic who dreams of being normal, independent; her obsessively worrying brother, who cares for her after the deaths of their parents; and a mysterious stranger who upends their already upended lives. Paper Mill Playhouse (Milburn, NJ) is presenting the East Coast premiere, through May 5. Kirsten Guenther (Richard Rodgers Grant; upcoming Roman Holiday), has give the stage adaptation fuller-developed characters than were in 1993 romantic comedy [starring Johnny Deep], which touched audiences and became a cult favorite. The score has music by Nolan Gasser (the opera The Secret Garden) and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein (2005 Little Women).

Paper Mill Playhouse Presents Star Showcase for Bryce Pinkham in East Coast  Premiere of Benny & Joon, Adapted from the Film Starring Johnny Depp

By: Ellis Nassour

Monday, April 15: Benny & Joon is the highly-emotional story of a young high-functioning female schizophrenic who dreams of being normal, independent; her obsessively worrying brother, who cares for her after the deaths of their parents; and a mysterious stranger who upends their already upended lives. Paper Mill Playhouse (Milburn, NJ) is presenting the East Coast premiere, through May 5. Kirsten Guenther (Richard Rodgers Grant; upcoming Roman Holiday), has give the stage adaptation fuller-developed characters than were in 1993 romantic comedy [starring Johnny Deep], which touched audiences and became a cult favorite. The score has music by Nolan Gasser (the opera The Secret Garden) and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein (2005 Little Women).

Some six years in the making, the musical adaptation premiered in 2017 at San Diego’s Old, directed by our very own Jack Cummings III (artistic director, Transport Company). It was a star showcase for the amazing talents of Tony-nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), who is back to portrays Sam, the dysfunctional, but endearing movie-obsessed stranger. Cummings returns as director, along with members of the Globe production that include co-star Hanna Ellness (Paper Mill’s The Other Josh Cohen; 2016’s Best Musical nominee Bright Star). 

Benny & Joon opens with Pinkham’s winsome but eccentric Sam arriving in Spokane   decked out in the style of Buster Keaton (and later channeling Chaplin and Harold Lloyd antics), searching a side-ways drone schematic to find his way to a cousin’s home. He’s not only a mime but also a sad clown hiding the secrets of how he was abused, detailed in the poignant “In My Head.” When conversing, he does so in sound bites of dialogue from some 15 classic films – E.T., Lust for Life, Animal Crackers, Cool Hand Luke and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to The Godfather — along with vocal impersonations. 

Joon (Elless) wins Sam in a poker game and he soon becomes not only a house guest but also a reliable housekeeper who not likely will be added to the list of those who’ve quit due to Joon’s caustic and violent mood swings. Sam’s not appreciated as much by brother Benny, portrayed by the newbie to the cast, Claybourne Elder (Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde), who sees him as an interloper. There’s great love between the siblings. They even do a nightly ritual that dates back to childhood (“Benny and Joon”). When she’s on her meds, she’s caring, sweet, and artistic (even painting large, colorful canvases) – even concerned with traffic safety (“Saving a Life”); and, when she’s not, Joon has violent tantrums. She sings of being normal, independent, of what her life could be like (“Happy”). Benny worries she could never function on her own. Sam provides an understanding, soothing presence; and Joon’s thrilled to be around someone who treats her as an adult. Needless to say, Sam’s soon more than a housekeeper. 

Tensions rise as Benny reluctantly considers a group home for Joon, to prepare her for the time when he’s not there to watch over her and to allow him a life, even maybe to fall in love — with a former indie film actress, who’s come home to roost (Tatiana Wechsler), and, as a friend of Joon, often caught in the middle. Joon and Sam plot to run away. They’ll find happiness, with her selling her canvases, and him working as a video store clerk. Act One ends with things looking more hopeful as Sam prepares dinner in the oven – a gigantic popcorn feast (“Dinner and a Movie”).

With Guenther having given the characters much more depth than they have in the film and exposition done with, Act Two moves along at a fast clip. Sam is convincing when applies for a job in a video store (“I Can Help”). Soon, everyone’s on Cloud Nine in “Wonder” – singing does this happiness have to end. Yes, it does. Benny is falling in love, but walks away because his life is too complicated. Then, it’s the group home again. Though he’s filled with guilt at the thought of suffocating life out of Joon in a regimented home, he goes ballistic and hurtful when he discovers Joon and Sam’s plan. He kicks Sam out; Joon kicks him out. When Sam reenters, Joon reveals she’s been off her meds and describes how her mind plays tricks and she can’t always tell what’s real. They hatch a plan to save the world (“It’s a Shame”), however, off her meds, Joon’s fragile and falls off the deep end. The stars align (“Yes or No”) as Benny realizes Sam will be there for Joon. He can support their dream, and, perhaps, realize one of his own. 

Out west, Benny & Joon played on the Globe’s intimate 580-seat Shiley Stage. Here, in the Paper Mill’s 1,200-seater, even with the further work that’s gone into it, doesn’t exactly leap to the stage. The Paper Mill’s wide, deep stage is the envy of many a Broadway house, but it doesn’t offer intimacy when intimacy is ideal. The musical is filled with whimsical and sentimental moments (musical and otherwise), including bits of small magic. Some get lost on the mammoth stage. What a shame Tony-nominated designer Lane Laffrey (Once on This Island revival) wasn’t allowed to create a design that could rein in the set width. The one-time you really appreciate the expanse is in a finale sequence with born scene-stealer Pinkham, once again amazing as he channels the daredevilry Lloyd made famous.  

Conor Ryan from the Paper Mill’s recent My Very Own British Invasion premiere plays Sam at certain performances. This was fortuitous because the week prior to the opening, Pinkham was absent due to a family emergency. He returned to the role, without missing a beat, certainly due to the fact he premiered the role in San Diego.

Additional cast are Colin Hanlon (TV’s Modern Family; In Transit; Falsettos), Paolo Montalban (Breakfast at Tiffany’s; 1996 King and I; and Paper Mill’s 2005 Cinderella and 2002 The King and I), Natalie Toro (Les Miz), hilarious Jacob Keith Watson (recent Carousel and Hello, Dolly revivals),and Belinda Allyn (Maria, Paper Mill’s 2016 West Side Story).

Benny & Joon is supported by season sponsor Investors Bank. 

Tickets for the show are $32-$112 and available at Paper Mill’s box office (22 Brookside Drive, Millburn) or online at www.papermill.org. Groups of 10 or more may receive up to a 40% discount on tickets by calling (973) 315-1680. Students may order $23-$28 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the box office on the day of the performance.
Production photos by Matthew Murphy, Jerry Dalia, and Jim Fox (Old Globe, SanDiego)

Burn This ***

OH, OH, OH . . . HE’S ON FIRE

By: Samuel L. Leiter

Adam Driver (TV’s “Girls,” BlackkKlansman) is giving an incendiary performance in the first Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s 1987 play, Burn This. The thermostat clicks off when he’s not on stage; when he is, though, he makes the Hudson Theatre crackle with his fiery presence. Anybody looking for Broadway’s next Stanley Kowalski need look no further.

OH, OH, OH . . . HE’S ON FIRE

By: Samuel L. Leiter

Adam Driver (TV’s “Girls,” BlackkKlansman) is giving an incendiary performance in the first Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s 1987 play, Burn This. The thermostat clicks off when he’s not on stage; when he is, though, he makes the Hudson Theatre crackle with his fiery presence. Anybody looking for Broadway’s next Stanley Kowalski need look no further.

Driver plays Jimmy, nicknamed Pale, who says his job is to put out fires (the play is packed with references to heat and fire), a metaphor for solving problems; he’s actually a New Jersey restaurant manager and he doesn’t make his appearance until well into Act One of this two-act, two-and-a-half-hour play. His name comes from the cognac designation V.S.O.P., Very Superior Old Pale, although Pale uses the word “special” instead of superior.

The play’s locale is an expansive, lower Manhattan loft, with its huge, windowed, upstage wall facing a low, river skyline (designed by Derek McLane and moodily lit by Natasha Katz). Here we quickly meet the three other characters: the beautiful dancer, Anna (Keri Russell, TV’s “The Americans,” the film Waitress), striving to become a choreographer; her wealthy boyfriend, Burton (David Furr), a successful screenwriter working on a new script; and Larry (Brandon Uranowitz), Anna’s wisecracking gay roommate, a cheerily cynical advertising executive. Until now, Anna and Larry shared the loft with another gay man, Bobbie, Anna’s dancer/choreographer colleague and close friend. 

David Furr, Keri Russell, Brandon Uranowitz

Larry and Anna are still dazed with grief by Bobbie’s recent death in a boating accident. Then, in the middle of the night, Pale, Bobbie’s flashily-dressed, coke-snorting brother, bursts into the room.  A towering inferno of rage, he spews vulgarities like a David Mamet character wired on dope, screaming about a parking dispute he just had. Although he barely knew the late brother to whom he bears a strong resemblance, and, like the rest of his disinterested family, never saw him dance, he’s come to gather Robbie’s belongings. Despite being married with two kids, his body heat soon enough embraces Anna, with consequences that force each character to reconsider their loves, lives, and longings.

A character-driven play with only a wisp of a plot, and backed by David Van Tieghem’s nostalgic sound score of 80s tunes, Burn This is like a boiler that flares up with a whoosh whenever things begin cooling down, almost always when Driver’s on stage. Originally played by John Malkovich when his own career was on fire, Pale is the lost soul of a tornado in which swirl various contradictory parts: arrogance, homophobia, substance abuse, brutishness, volubility, sensitivity, humor, vulnerability, confidence, ignorance, and violence.

He also has a penchant for bizarre but pointedly amusing verbal riffs, one—which actually draws applause—involving the many purposes to which paper is used. He dresses expensively in clothes he handles with loving delicacy, is familiar with classical music, even correctly pronouncing Shostakovich, but brays like a Jersey mafioso, calls gays “faggots,” and has no idea what “truculence” means. 

He’s purely a creature of the stage, someone no real person would hire for a responsible job, much less as the manager of a first-class, celebrity-populated restaurant, but he makes a perfect Beast to Anna’s Beauty, even though it’s impossible to accept their eventual pairing. Interestingly, the emotionally needy Anna’s attraction to Pale’s toxic masculinity reminded me of Cat’s for Guy in the soon-to-open The Pain of My Belligerence, which I’d seen the night before. 

Driver, sharply dressed by Clint Ramos, with his muscular, 6’3” frame, head like an unfinished, granite sculpture, and shock of wild, black hair—which, as in other roles, he’s fond of running his hands through—blazes with animal sexuality. It’s the kind of thing Malkovich, with his phony-looking, long-haired wig, came nowhere near embodying. Driver occasionally overdoes it but there’s no denying the glowing flash of a performance that brings to mind the young Al Pacino in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie.

Keri Russell

Russell, with her slim-as-a-pin dancer’s body, which Ramos’s classy costumes both accentuate and glamorize, looks tiny next to Driver. As directed by Michael Mayer, though, she never dances; I could swear I recall Joan Allen, the original Anna, doing at least a few barre exercises. Wilson’s script makes Anna so placid in the face of Pale’s audacious rudeness that the actress is stymied from the outset; still, one would like to see more signs of her shock and distaste before she finally gets to douse his flames. It’s only then that she flares into memorably dramatic life.

Furr is perfectly satisfactory as the boyfriend, originally played by Jonathan Hogan, whose blandness and self-involvement is a clear setup to contrast with Pale’s menacing combustibility, while Uranowitz does well in the conventional, gay sidekick role, first played by Lou Liberatore. By 1987, Broadway plays about gay people were no longer rare but they were rarely this frank. 

Burn This pushed the envelope a bit with its references to blow jobs and anal sex but nowadays, when shows about boy meets boy, girl meets girl, or someone meets trans, are as common as those about boy meets girl (and vice versa), you may remember that, “In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking.”

Burn This didn’t impress me the first time around as one of Wilson’s better works. While I still don’t consider it on the level of The Hot l Baltimore or Fifth of July, its revival is worth seeing just for the chance to see one of our most exciting young actors bring scorching machismo to Broadway.

Burn This ***
Hudson Theatre
141 W. 44th St., NYC
Through July 14, 2019

Sincerely, Oscar at the Duke *1/2

Musical revue fails to shine despite stellar Hammerstein songs.

By:  Patrick Christiano

April 14, 2019:  Sincerely, Oscar is billed as a new musical, conceived and written by Doreen Taylor and starring Doreen Taylor. Instead of a new musical however, the evening is a lame revue featuring twenty-one songs by the renowned lyrist, Oscar Hammerstein. The timeless song list from his classic Broadway shows like Show Boat, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, is impressive, and Taylor has a lovely, well trained, strong soprano voice. But that’s about as good as it gets. 

Musical revue fails to shine despite stellar Hammerstein songs.

By:  Patrick Christiano

April 14, 2019:  Sincerely, Oscar is billed as a new musical, conceived and written by Doreen Taylor and starring Doreen Taylor. Instead of a new musical however, the evening is a lame revue featuring twenty-one songs by the renowned lyrist, Oscar Hammerstein. The timeless song list from his classic Broadway shows like Show Boat, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, is impressive, and Taylor has a lovely, well trained, strong soprano voice. But that’s about as good as it gets. 

Everything else about this production, from a first-time Off-Broadway producer, is ill conceived, and the hokey staging by first-time Off-Broadway director, Dugg McDonough, is laughable. This evening is a star vehicle for Taylor, and McDonough has complied, keeping her front and center throughout, ascending or descending a series of platforms to punctuate moments within the songs, which gives her something to do since she doesn’t fill the song emotionally.

A speaking hologram, representing Hammerstein, in a voiceover by Bob Meenan, is intended to give us the feeling of Oscar himself reminiscing on his career. This is a clever gimmick that opens the show and is used frequently to set up songs with the hologram returning, often, to Oscar’s favorite word, dream. Live that dream is written in letters, floating in the background, to emphasize the evening’s message in case you didn’t get it.

Doreen Taylor

Taylor occasionally shares the stage with another performer, Azudi Onyejekwe, a charismatic singer and dancer, who appeared on Broadway in The Great Comet. The two make an odd pair visually and have zero chemistry. His youthful physique and movement only accentuate her full-figured stature and her dress compounds the distinction between them making her look matronly.

While they sing, simplistic video projections float in the background with banal images like rainbows, rivers, and stars meant to highlight the themes in the songs, and the images often have words written on them, just in case you don’t recognize them. They are intended as subliminal messages to bolster the feelings but are only distracting and numbing. The orchestrations that sound like elevator music compound the issue and contribute a strange blissed out state that adds to the superficiality of the evening. Nothing is organic, and the staging doesn’t give the performers a chance. Everything is imposed, or mechanical and the results are quite dull and tedious despite the glorious songs.

Sincerely, Oscar
Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row
410 W. 42nd Street, NYC
For tickets, call 212-239-6210 or visit http://www.sincerelyoscar.com
Running time: One hour and 35 minutes with No Intermission. Through June 30, 2019
Photography:  Derek Brad

Doreen Taylor

Tomatoes Got Talent

6th Annual “TOMATOES GOT TALENT” Contest Takes Center Stage at the TRIAD.

On April 15, 2019, 12 uniquely-talented women have been hand-picked to compete in the 6th Annual “Tomatoes Got Talent” contest which celebrates the talents of women over 40.  Hosted by Randie Levine-Miller, the high-spirited juried contest takes place at The Triad Theatre, 158 West 72nd Street, on Monday April 15 at 7pm.

6th Annual “TOMATOES GOT TALENT” Contest Takes Center Stage at the TRIAD.

On April 15, 2019, 12 uniquely-talented women have been hand-picked to compete in the 6th Annual “Tomatoes Got Talent” contest which celebrates the talents of women over 40.  Hosted by Randie Levine-Miller, the high-spirited juried contest takes place at The Triad Theatre, 158 West 72nd Street, on Monday April 15 at 7pm.

Co-produced by Levine-Miller and Cheryl Benton, the founder and publisher of Thethreetomatoes.com, which sponsors the event, “Tomatoes Got Talent” is a showcase for extraordinary women who have made their marks and their livings outside of the entertainment world, but who consider the craft of singing and performing to be integral to their lives.

Serving as judges this year are three respected industry leaders: Valerie Smaldone, Peter Filichia, and Sandi Durell.

Anaïs Reno

Making a special guest appearance will be the 15-year-old vocal prodigy Anaïs Reno.  The Swiss-born Reno – a sophomore at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts – just performed her third solo show at Feinstein’s/54 Below with Billy Stritch and has a date with Stritch at Birdland on May 14, and later in May alongside Michael Feinstein.  The reigning Top Tomato Sheree Sano, winner of the 2018 contest, will perform as well The evening’s music director is Paul Chamlin.

Sheree Sano

They’re a bushel of talent!  Here’s who they are, and what they do: Maureen Griffin is the reigning Ms. New York Senior America. She is a legal secretary by day. Evangeline Johns is an 82-year-old blues singer. Before she retired from her day job, she was a market researcher for CBS. Terri Levy says singing and acting are her passions. She’s been a special-education teacher, a court reporter, and a realtor. Camille Diamond is director of a community center that serves children and families. Kelli Maguire works at a Manhattan youth center and grew up in a carnival. Amy Downey is a singing bank executive. She is COO of a major bank and loves performing. Rachael Epstein is a government contract worker in intelligence and a three-time cancer survivor Delaine Douglas writes plays and short stories, and loves the Great American Songbook. Laura Lorenzo was an oncology nurse and is now a furniture sales person. She is the current runner-up in Ms. NY Senior America. Taffy Jaffe was a psychotherapist in her own private practice. After she retired, she started doing standup comedy. Christina Connors is a licensed massage therapist who also used to perform on cruise ships. Lynn Henderson has had many chapters in her life, including wife, mom, equestrienne, and businesswoman. She has been singing since grade school.

Randie and Cheryl are so proud that the 2018 winner, Sheree Sano, and Tomatoes Got Talent alumi Teresa Fischer, Angela Leone and Susan Mack are up for MAC Awards, which takes place on Tuesday March 26.

“Hostess with the Mostess” Levine-Miller has produced, hosted and entertained at countless star-studded musical entertainment events — at The Triad, the Metropolitan Room, Feinstein’s, and, for many years, at the Friars Club. Celebrated for their mix of humor and high-octane singing, Levine-Miller’s concerts — which include the “Showstopper Divas” and “Divos” shows — have been a staple of the New York charity nightclub scene for years. Contest co-creator Benton — with her popular online newsletter on Thethreetomatoescom (“The Insider’s Guide for Women Who Aren’t Kids)” — cheers, “the bottom line is never give up on your dream!”

An incredible crop of extraordinary women past 40 share their ample gifts with an always enthusiastic audience at The Triad, on Monday April 15 at 7pm. Tickets to the 6th annual “Tomatoes Got Talent” singers contest are $35 with a two-drink minimum.  To order in advance www.thethreetomatoes.com