‘Town’ and ‘Out’ Set for B’way 2021

By: David Sheward

July 3, 2020: Announcements continue for the (projected) Broadway reopening in 2021. The Broadway League announced on Monday, refunds and exchanges will be granted up until Jan. 3 of next year. Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters have been closed since March 12 due to the corona virus pandemic. Several productions announced previews and openings beginning in March. The League also said there would be “rolling” openings in early 2021 but so far, the earliest show with a specific date is Tracey Letts’ The Minutes which begins previews at the Cort Theater on March 1.

By: David Sheward

July 3, 2020: Announcements continue for the (projected) Broadway reopening in 2021. The Broadway League announced on Monday, refunds and exchanges will be granted up until Jan. 3 of next year. Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters have been closed since March 12 due to the corona virus pandemic. Several productions announced previews and openings beginning in March. The League also said there would be “rolling” openings in early 2021 but so far, the earliest show with a specific date is Tracey Letts’ The Minutes which begins previews at the Cort Theater on March 1.

Second Stage’s revival of Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg’s 2002 play imagining an openly gay major league baseball player who comes out during a championship season, will begin previews at the Helen Hayes Theater on March 22 with an opening set for April 22. The production was originally set to throw out its first pitch on April 21 of this year. The cast is headed by Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Patrick J. Adams (Suits), and Drama Desk winner Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family). Scott Ellis (Tootsie, She Loves Me) directs. The original production opened at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 2002 and then transferred to Public Theater Off-Broadway. The subsequent Broadway transfer won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play and Best Featured Actor for Denis O’Hare.

Dustin Hoffman

Scott Rudin also announced he will be producing a revival of Thornton Wilder’s classic drama Our Town to star two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman, to be directed by Tony winner Barlett Sher (To Kill a Mockingbird, South Pacific), sometime in 2021. Hoffman has not appeared on Broadway since 1989 when he played Shylock in a revival of The Merchant of Venice. Prior to that he starred as Willy Loman in a 1984 revival of Death of a Salesman and played the title role in Jimmy Shine in 1968. Off-Broadway he won an Obie Award for Journey of the Fifth Horse and a Drama Desk and Theatre World Award for Eh? In 2017, Hoffman was the subject of several accusations of sexual harassment. Anna Graham Hunter wrote an essay in The Hollywood Reporter stating the actor harassed her when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the TV-movie version of Death of a Salesman. Hoffman apologized in a letter to the publication. There were other accusations which he has either denied or not commented on.

Our Town premiered on Broadway in 1938 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story of everyday lives in a small New Hampshire town has gone on to become a favorite of high-school and community theaters to this day. There have been four subsequent Broadway productions—1944 at City Center with Montgomery Clift as George; 1969 with Henry Fonda as the Stage Manager; 1988 starring Spalding Gray; and 2002 with Paul Newman. An Off-Broadway production in 2009 directed by and starring David Cromer went on to become the longest-running version of the play, racking up 644 performances. The 1940 film version starred William Holden and Martha Scott and the script was changed to provide a happy ending. A 1977 TV version featured Hal Holbrook, Robbie Benson, and Glynis O’Connor. Frank Sinatra headlined a 1955 TV musical version of the play with Newman and Eva Marie Saint. A later musical version by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt called Grovers’ Corners was workshopped but never came to Broadway. Ned Rorem’s operatic version had performances in 2006 and a ballet set to the music of Aaron Copeland has been performed by American Repertory Ballet.

Tentative Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule for 2021-22

March 15–The Minutes (Cort) (previews March 1)

April 13–Plaza Suite (Hudson) (previews March 19)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle in the Square) (previews March 22)

Paul Newman in the 2002 revival of Our Town

April 15–MJ (Neil Simon) (previews March 8)

April 22–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes) (previews begin March 22)

May 20–The Music Man (Winter Garden) (previews April 7)

Spring 2021–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

1776 (Roundabout/American Airlines)

Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)

…what the end will be (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

Exception to the Rule (Roundabout/Steinberg Center)

Fall 2021–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/American Airlines)

Winter 2021-22–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/American Airlines)

2021–Our Town

Future–Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train

Unopened Productions from 2019-20 with no new dates yet

Company

Diana

How I Learned to Drive

The Lehman Trilogy

Mrs. Doubtfire

Sing Street

Six

Long-Running Shows and Opened 2019-20 Shows 

Ain’t Too Proud

Aladdin

The Book of Mormon

Chicago

Come from Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Girl from the North Country

Hadestown

Hamilton

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Jagged Little Pill

The Lion King

Mean Girls

Moulin Rouge

Phantom of the Opera

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

To Kill a Mockingbird

West Side Story

Wicked

Originally Posted on The David Desk 11 on July 2, 2020

Hamilton to Premiere on Disney

Hamilton’s journey from the stage to living rooms across the world.

By: Alex Simmons

July 2, 2020: Tomorrow, July 3, Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton will premiere on Disney+, Disney’s video streaming service. Hamilton could be one of the most hotly anticipated releases on a ‘streaming service’ since the term first entered pop culture vernacular. With Disney’s sudden decision to stop offering the familiar ‘free for the first week’ promotional model, it would appear the prolific media company thinks so as well.

Hamilton’s journey from the stage to living rooms across the world.

By: Alex Simmons

July 2, 2020: Tomorrow, July 3, Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton will premiere on Disney+, Disney’s video streaming service. Hamilton could be one of the most hotly anticipated releases on a ‘streaming service’ since the term first entered pop culture vernacular. With Disney’s sudden decision to stop offering the familiar ‘free for the first week’ promotional model, it would appear the prolific media company thinks so as well.

The Disney+ premiere will not be a film adaptation but rather a filmed performance of the award-winning musical by its original Broadway cast at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. This does not mean a single-angle recording of a stage show that looks like old VHS tapes of your high school musicals. The musical was filmed by up to 15 cameras, with one camera built into the upstage set and one camera overhead, as well as steadicams and cameras mounted on cranes. Hamilton on Disney+ will be an experience almost as good as being in ‘the room where it happens.’

Before making popcorn and settling down to enjoy this imaginative take on the life and times of the man on the ten dollar-bill, let’s take a look at the path Lin Manuel Miranda and the Public Theater took in creating this musical and turning it into a cultural phenomenon. 

Hamilton’s meteoric rise relies heavily on Lin Manuel’s flowing rap skills and imagination, and the journey was helped along by In The Heights producers Jeffrey Seller, Jill Furman and Sander Jacobs. An early interest in Hamilton was taken by The Public Theater’s artistic director Oskar Eutis and executive director Patrick Willingham. The pair were stung by the failure of a previous attempt at a musical based on a historical American figure to catch on with mainstream Broadway audiences, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

In the summer of 2007, the interim between the off-Broadway and Broadway runs of Miranda’s In the Heights, Miranda grabbed a copy of Chernow’s book for some vacation reading. “I picked up the book thinking maybe I’ll get a funny song out of it,” he said.

What started as a summer read evolved into a full-blown obsession. Miranda was inspired by Hamilton’s belief in the power of words and the struggles of wit between Hamilton and fellow founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams over what form their young nation’s government would take. He became convinced that a man of such eloquent oratory could be brought to life by the power of rap.

By February 2008, In the Heights had concluded its Broadway run, and Miranda’s early image of Hamilton had formed as a rap concept album. According to Miranda, the rivalries and revelries of America’s first leaders brought the great rap grudges of Tupac and Biggie Smalls to mind. 

Three months later, Miranda was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama. Although he was invited to perform selections from In the Heights, Miranda instead performed the now familiar opening number from Hamilton, in a clever maneuver of self-promotion. He would spend the better part of the next year perfecting another song from the show, My Shot.

By January 2010, Miranda had refined his vision of Hamilton to a “hip-hop song cycle” named The Hamilton Mixtape. He presented a preview of the songs at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series on Alexander Hamilton’s 225th birthday.

It wouldn’t be until summer 2013 that Miranda’s Hamilton project would begin to resemble the show we recognize today, reuniting his creative team from In the Heights, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and musical director Alex Lacamoire. The Hamilton Mixtape was presented as a musical for the first time as a workshop production at Vassar College, the production includes the entirety of Act I and three songs from Act II.

On March 6, 2014, the Public Theater announced it would be producing the musical, now renamed Hamilton. The show made its premiere on Feb. 17, 2015. 

After only a week Off-Broadway, Hamilton’s producers announced the show would transfer to Broadway later that summer. It was no great surprise that a show from the creative team behind In The Heights was always bound for Broadway, though no one could have predicted the depths to which Hamilton would pierce the cultural zeitgeist. Hamilton’s Off-Broadway run would conclude on May 3rd 2015.

On August 6, 2015, after some minor rewrites and cuts, Hamilton opened in Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. This staging would be filmed by a sophisticated multi-camera setup and locked away for eventual release in theaters. Disney had paid handsomely for the distribution rights to this live capture, in light of the recent Covid-19 Pandemic, Disney has decided to forgo an October 15, 2021 cinema release and bring Hamilton to Disney+.

Broadway Officially Closed through 2020

Roundabout Announces Dates for ‘Trouble,’ Etc.

By: David Sheward

June 29, 2020: It’s official. No Broadway for the rest of 2020. The Broadway League has announced all productions will remain shuttered through at least Jan. 3, 2021. Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters were all closed on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In an official press release, the League states, “Some of the logistics being currently reviewed for audience members and employees include: screening and testing, cleaning and sanitizing, wayfinding inside theatres, backstage protocols, and much more.” There is no mention of social distancing or reduced seating. Producer Scott Rudin and League President Charlotte St. Martin have both stated in previous interviews, social distancing will not work with the Broadway economic model. In other words, reduced seating capacity would not be profitable enough for the producers. The press release goes one to state “Returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021. Tickets for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.” Whether the theatergoing public will feel safe enough to return to New York theater without a vaccine to protect them remains to be seen.

Roundabout Announces Dates for ‘Trouble,’ Etc.

By: David Sheward

June 29, 2020: It’s official. No Broadway for the rest of 2020. The Broadway League has announced all productions will remain shuttered through at least Jan. 3, 2021. Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters were all closed on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In an official press release, the League states, “Some of the logistics being currently reviewed for audience members and employees include: screening and testing, cleaning and sanitizing, wayfinding inside theatres, backstage protocols, and much more.” There is no mention of social distancing or reduced seating. Producer Scott Rudin and League President Charlotte St. Martin have both stated in previous interviews, social distancing will not work with the Broadway economic model. In other words, reduced seating capacity would not be profitable enough for the producers. The press release goes one to state “Returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021. Tickets for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.” Whether the theatergoing public will feel safe enough to return to New York theater without a vaccine to protect them remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the floodgates of Broadway announcements have been opened. Last this week we had new spring 2021 dates for The Music Man, The Minutes and American Buffalo, all pushed back from earlier dates due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Roundabout Theater Company has joined in with adjusted previews and premieres as well as new productions. The company will present the first Broadway production of Alice Childress’  comedy-drama Trouble in Mind, to be directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The play which played Off-Broadway in 1955, is tailor-made for this moment as it deals with racism in the theater. The main character is a middle-aged African-American actress cast in a New York production of a drama about lynching in the South. She comes into conflict with the white director-producer over the validity of the script written by whites. Trouble is scheduled to play the American Airlines Theater in the winter of 2021-22. In the wake of nationwide protests against police violence against minorities, many artists of color have been sharing their experience of racism in the theater and calling for change.

Roundabout has pushed back additional productions originally scheduled for 2020. The revival of Caroline or Change (which explores similar themes to Trouble in Mind) with Sharon D. Clarke, is now slated for the spring of 2021 at Studio 54. The gender-inclusive restaging of 1776, to be directed by Diane Paulus, will also open next spring, but at the American Airlines. Birthday Candles, to star Debra Messing, will now open in the fall of 2021. Paulus was the subject of accusations of racism in a video posted on social media by actor-writer Griffin Matthews with whom she collaborated on the musical Witness Uganda, later retitled Invisible Thread. Paulus responded with an apology, promising to “do better” in the future.

Roundabout’s Off-Broadway production ...what the end will be by Kireh Breon Holder opens at the Laura Pels Theater in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theater and Exception to the Rule by Dave Harris will also open at the Steinberg Center. Both shows open in spring 2021.

Tentative Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule for 2021-22

March 15–The Minutes (Cort) (previews March 1)

April 13–Plaza Suite (Hudson) (previews March 19)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle in the Square) (previews March 22)

April 15–MJ (Neil Simon) (previews March 8)

May 20–The Music Man (Winter Garden) (previews April 7)

Spring 2021–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

1776 (Roundabout/American Airlines)

Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)

…what the end will be (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

Exception to the Rule (Roundabout/Steinberg Center)

Fall 2021–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/American Airlines)

Winter 2021-22–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/American Airlines)

Future–Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train

Unopened Productions from 2019-20 with no new dates yet

Company

The Lehman Trilogy

Diana

Mrs. Doubtfire

Sing Street

Six

How I Learned to Drive

Take Me Out

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on June 26, 2020

Broadway 2021

New Opening Dates for Broadway 2021

By: David Sheward

June 26, 2020: While New York City is slowly reopening from the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of Broadway and other stages is still far in the future. But there is a glimmer of hope. Several Main Stem productions have announced new dates for previews and openings, all in 2021 and the earliest dates are March 1. The Minutes by Tracey Letts will begin previews at the Cort Theater on next March 1 with an opening set for March 15, one year after its originally projected premiere. The dark comedy about a secretive town council meeting has had a bumpy road to Broadway. After its Steppenwolf Theater Company debut in Chicago in 2017, the play was set to open on Broadway in 2018, but was delayed. The 2020 production was to have been directed by Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro (Letts’ August: Osage County) and feature the playwright, Armie Hammer, Ian Barford (Letts’ Linda Vista), Blair Brown, Cliff Chamberlain, K. Todd Freeman, Danny McCarthy, Jessie Mueller, Sally Murphy, Austin Pendleton, and Jeff Still. 

New Opening Dates for Broadway 2021

By: David Sheward

June 26, 2020: While New York City is slowly reopening from the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of Broadway and other stages is still far in the future. But there is a glimmer of hope. Several Main Stem productions have announced new dates for previews and openings, all in 2021 and the earliest dates are March 1. The Minutes by Tracey Letts will begin previews at the Cort Theater on next March 1 with an opening set for March 15, one year after its originally projected premiere. The dark comedy about a secretive town council meeting has had a bumpy road to Broadway. After its Steppenwolf Theater Company debut in Chicago in 2017, the play was set to open on Broadway in 2018, but was delayed. The 2020 production was to have been directed by Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro (Letts’ August: Osage County) and feature the playwright, Armie Hammer, Ian Barford (Letts’ Linda Vista), Blair Brown, Cliff Chamberlain, K. Todd Freeman, Danny McCarthy, Jessie Mueller, Sally Murphy, Austin Pendleton, and Jeff Still. 

The fourth Broadway production of David Mamet’s American Buffalo is now set to begin previews at Circle in the Square on March 24 with an opening slated for April 14, also a year from its original debut. The three-character play about small-time crooks planning a heist of a coin collection stars Laurence Fishburne, Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss. Neil Pepe directs. Previous productions have starred Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, and John Leguizamo. 

Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell and Darren Criss
in American Buffalo. Credit: Matthew Murphy

The producers of  both shows issued the following statement: “It is the intent to open these plays—both powerful, funny and relevant dissections of Americana—in the spring of 2021, on the exact dates they were scheduled to open in 2020. However, we will only do so knowing that there are safeguards in place that will encourage audiences to return to the theatre, and that our government will allow us to have gatherings of more than 500 people. We, the producing team, believe that a vaccine is essential as part of that process, and we are hopeful that progress will be made in that area to ensure that artists and theatregoers will return to support this vital element of our theatrical heritage: the American play.”

Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster

In addition, the highly-anticipated revival of The Music Man is scheduled to march its 76 trombones and award-winning cast into the Winter Garden Theater for previews on April 7 for a May 20 opening. Four-time Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks is slated to begin rehearsals in Feb. 8 with a cast headed by Tony winners Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster, Jefferson Mays, Jayne Houdyshell, Marie Mullen, and Shuler Hensley. Producer Scott Rudin has also announced his productions of West Side Story, and the long-running To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Book of Mormon will reopen in mid-March or April. Rudin’s transfer of The Lehman Trilogy was set for the Nederlander, but there is a scheduling conflict and he hopes to bring it to another theater.

All 41 Broadway theaters and all Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theaters closed on March 12 by government orders which forbade large public gatherings. A firm date for reopening has never been officially announced by the Broadway League, though several dates have been put out as cut-offs for refunding or exchanging tickets. As of now, Sept. 6 is the last date for refund or exchanges. There have been industry reports that will be extended to Jan. 3, 2021. There is also speculation that a spring reopening is more realistic since the holiday season and winter are traditionally difficult times for the box office. It’s notable no productions have made any announcements earlier than March.   

MJ, the Michael Jackson musical, the revival of Plaza Suite with Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, and the Diane Paulus-directed revival of 1776 have also announced spring dates. The return engagement of David Bryne’s American Utopia had been set for a fall engagement at the Hudson where Plaza Suite is set to play, but that may be postponed. Fortunately, Utopia will be available on HBO as well the megahit Hamilton on Disney Plus.   

Lincoln Center Theater’s Flying Over Sunset and the opera version of Intimate Apparel had announced fall openings, but are now slated for the spring. Roundabout Theater Company’s productions of Birthday Candles and Caroline or Change had also been pushed back to the fall along with Manhattan Theater Club’s revival of How I Learned to Drive. They will most likely announce spring openings. Other new productions in various stage of previews or rehearsals before the shutdown such as Take Me Out, Company, Diana, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Sing Street have made no formal announcements about openings.

Additional possible 2021 shows include Death of a Salesman with Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalfe, and a repertory of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and its sequel The Destiny of Me.

Hangmen and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? were cancelled. Beetlejuice officially closed and Frozen will not be returning.

The producers of these returning shows are banking on a vaccine for the corona virus becoming widely available by March. Rudin and Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin have stated social distancing seating will not be possible under the Broadway economic model, so audiences would be relying only on face masks and hand sanitizer for protection from the virus without a vaccine. 

For those who crave a hit of theater before next spring, Richard Nelson will be providing another Zoom visit from the Apple Family. And So We Come Forth, a play written especially for the Zoom platform, will become available on YouTube and www.theapplefamilyplays.com for eight weeks starting on July 1 at 7:30pm ET. Written and directed by Nelson, the play follows up on What Do We Need to Talk About, which detailed the travails of an upstate NY family also chronicled in a trilogy of works presented at the Public Theater. The new play takes place in early July over dinner as the Apples discuss the protests against racism and the effects of the pandemic on their lives.

Tentative Schedule for 2021

March 15–The Minutes (Cort) (previews March 1)

April 13–Plaza Suite (Hudson) (previews March 19)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle in the Square) (previews March 22)

April 15–MJ (Neil Simon) (previews March 8)

May 20–The Music Man (Winter Garden) (previews April 7)

Spring 2020–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont); Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse); 1776

Future–Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train

Unopened Productions from 2019-20 with no new dates yet

Birthday Candles

Company

The Lehman Trilogy

Diana

Mrs. Doubtfire

Caroline or Change

Sing Street

How I Learned to Drive

Take Me Out

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on June 26, 2020

On This Day In New York Theater: June 26 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 8 in the series)

June 26, 2020: Judging by the dearth of shows that opened in the last days of June during the twenties, thirties, and forties, it almost looked like there would be barely anything to record in this week’s installment or, for that matter, in the weeks to come. Summertime has always been a time when theater activity slowed down, even after the advent of a/c. Just considering June 26 to June 30 in our chosen decades, we find only 13 openings for those four days across 30 years. 

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 8 in the series)

June 26, 2020: Judging by the dearth of shows that opened in the last days of June during the twenties, thirties, and forties, it almost looked like there would be barely anything to record in this week’s installment or, for that matter, in the weeks to come. Summertime has always been a time when theater activity slowed down, even after the advent of a/c. Just considering June 26 to June 30 in our chosen decades, we find only 13 openings for those four days across 30 years. 

The most prolific date was June 26, which gave us the following seven shows, most of which you probably never heard of: Shooting Shadows (1924), Say When (1928), Bomboola (1929), A Church Mouse (1933), Turpentine (1936), and Laura (1947). As always, when looking back on this ephemeral art, there are definitely a few intriguing things to discover, even in the flimsiest efforts.

For Shooting Shadows, we enter the Ritz Theatre on June 26, 1924, to encounter a mystery comedy-drama by Henry Fisk Carlton and William Ford Manley, a mixture of melodrama and farce that might never have seen the light of day but for the cheap theatre rental prices of summertime. To the Times it was little more than “an infirm conundrum.” 

In it, a varied assortment of mystery-play characters gather at a New England haunted house, where a handsome young millionaire (Howard Miller) is involved with a pretty blackmailer (Ann Reader), who finds herself unable to carry out her devious scheme against him. That’s because his presence causes her heart to do flip-flops. As the action progresses, dire deeds transpire, including a couple of killings, the search for ghosts, the millionaire’s proposal to the blackmailer, her arrest, the return to life of the presumably “dead” bodies, and the discovery, instead, of real corpses. After 12 performances, Shooting Shadows joined the body count.

Our next June 26 example lasted only three more showings than that, for a total of 15 after opening at the Morosco in 1928. Its title was Say When and it was an eccentric musical version of a 1924 play, Love in a Mist, which had starred Madge Kennedy and Sidney Blackmer. One of the show’s curious features was the use of songs by well-known celebrities, such as the Hon. Jimmy Walker, Mayor of New York City. 

The Times concluded: “Banal numbers and routine uninspired direction [by Bertram Harrison] . . . make what occasional sparkle of line and situation the book possesses stand out in sharp relief.” The book writer was rumored to be Marc Connelly (The Green Pastures), working under the pseudonym of Calvin Brown.

Cora La Redd

Highlights included a radio broadcast scene featuring Alison Skipworth that spoofed cigarette commercials and a performance by black dancer Cora LaRedd, considered the best thing in the show.

An all-black musical that arrived at the Royale Theatre in 1929, and lasted 27 performances, was Bomboola, written and directed by D. Frank Marcus. Broad comedy, furiously paced dancing, and the talented Isabell Washington gained this ill-fated show a few kudos, but it was basically a conventional effort stocked with clichéd songs and gags. 

Its simple story was of a Savannah girl (Washington) who leaves home to venture into northern show biz in a revue with the same title as this show. She becomes a star and marries the show’s composer.

Bomboola

It had songs titled “Dixie Vagabond,” “Ace of Spades,” and “Rub-A-Dub Your Rabbit’s Foot,” and dance groups called the Bamboola Dusky Damsels and the Bomboola Steppers. The Times complained that halfway through it all grew tedious. Richard Dana Skinner reflected a widespread concern that such shows were too imitative of white ones and did not do enough to exploit “the superb, naïve genius of the race.” (Note: Some sources spell the title Bamboola.)

Dismal as this survey of June 26 shows of the twenties is, those of the thirties were even drearier. The first, in 1933, was a revival, of a Hungarian play from1931, Ladislaus (Lazlo) Fodor’s A Church Mouse, which overcame negative notices to acquire 162 performances. The 1931 version featured the inimitable Ruth Gordon in the leading role.

Louise Groody

The unexceptional new staging was produced by a stock company managed by top theatre agent Chamberlain Brown. Louise Groody took on Gordon’s role of Susie Sachs, a dowdy church mouse who nibbles her way into her bank president employer’s trust and affection.

“Miss Groody is of the musical comedy stage,” noted Lewis Nichols, “and she is not Miss Gordon in the manner of playing Susie Sachs.” It took eight performances for the show to close up shop at the Mansfield Theatre.

A bit more historical significance accrues to the only other June 26 offering of the decade, Turpentine, which opened at the Lafayette Theatre Off Broadway (a term not yet coined) in 1936, and ran 69 times. Written by J. Augustus “Gus” Smith and Peter Morell, and directed by Emjo Basshe and Smith, it was produced by the Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project. 

Given that backing, it is not surprising that it was about hungry workers, black and white, at a central Florida camp for collecting and refining turpentine, where the workers are oppressed by their northern, white bosses. The workers must also defend their women against the encroachments of the bosses. Although watched by armed overseers, the laborers seize the chance to unionize when it presents itself. Author and co-director Smith played Forty-Four, the chief organizer.

Lewis Nichols said, “It is not the greatest play of the year, but it is far from the worst one; it is written and played with sincerity and spirit and so received.” Several critics thought it on a par with any of the protest dramas staged at such leftist theatres as the Theatre Union. “The piece has impact,” declared Robert Garland. 

Although not commercially successful, the most notable of the June 26 plays of our decades was the only one to open on that date in the forties. It was Laura, a 1947 suspense drama based by author Vera Caspery (with the assistance of George Sklar) on her best-selling novel of that name, which had been made into a now classic 1944 movie, starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. You may recall its haunting theme song, eventually a standard. Several other plays of the period also were based on popular movies, a major example being Rebecca. Like that effort, Laura, which played 44 times at the Cort Theatre,was deemed inferior to its movie version. 

A few critics mildly appreciated it, one being Euphemia Van Rensselaer Wyatt, who placed it “in the upper register of melodramas. True it never acquires the eerie atmosphere not continued thrills of Angel Street but its characters come to life and dominate the action.” But Brooks Atkinson felt that none of the unappetizing characters “seems worth a whole evening in the theatre, despite the ingenious plot.” George Jean Nathan thought that more talented hands might have handled it better, “but in these it has become simply another garrulous and stenciled failure. A crucial problem in transferring the story to the stage was the need to offer important exposition in dialogue that the movie was able to convey in flashbacks.

K.T. Stevens

The tale is sparked by the discovery of a murdered woman found in the apartment of Laura Hunt (K.T. Stevens, daughter of film director Sam Wood), an advertising writer. It is believed that the beautiful Laura is the victim, although it is impossible to verify because the face has been shot away with a sawed-off shotgun. Laura’s fiancé, Shelby Carpenter (Tom Rutherford; Vincent Price in the movie), is a suspect. After the funeral, Laura herself turns up, still alive, having spent the weekend in the country. The victim turns out to be a friend who had been using the apartment. 

Before he meets the living Laura, handsome, literate Detective Mark McPherson (Hugh Marlowe) falls in love with her from her portrait. After he gets to know her, he marries her. The clues implicate Laura herself in the murder, but Mark refuses to believe her guilty. The perpetrator turns out to be the witty, middle-aged, hedonistic writer Waldo Lydecker (Otto Kruger; Clifton Webb in the film), in love with Laura, but impotently unable to physically express his feelings. 

Kruger (who replaced John Loder during the tryout period) received strong reviews for his unctuously superior manner, but K.T. Stevens was not widely approved. During the previous season, the play had failed out of town with Miriam Hopkins playing Laura.

If you don’t hear from me for a bit, it’s likely because there’s not much to hear from me about. Still, the search for worthwhile dates about what happened in New York theatre back in the dog days of the twenties, thirties, and forties continues!

The Music Man

Hugh Jackman as Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Wilson’s Quintessential Broadway Musical Comedy ” The Music Man” set to start Previews on April 7, 2021 with an Opening Night set for May 20, 2021.

June 24, 2020: Producers Scott Rudin / Barry Diller / David Geffen announced today that the start of preview performances and the opening night of the highly-anticipated revival of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man have been rescheduled. Starring two-time Tony Award®, Grammy Award®, and Emmy Award®-winning star Hugh Jackman as Professor Harold Hill, and also starring two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster as Marian Paroo, preview performances of The Music Man are now set to begin on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, with Opening Night scheduled for Thursday, May 20 at the Winter Garden Theatre (1634 Broadway).  As a result of New York State’s ban on large gatherings, rehearsals (which were to have begun June 29), will now commence on Monday, February 8.

Hugh Jackman as Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Wilson’s Quintessential Broadway Musical Comedy ” The Music Man” set to start Previews on April 7, 2021 with an Opening Night set for May 20, 2021.

June 24, 2020: Producers Scott Rudin / Barry Diller / David Geffen announced today that the start of preview performances and the opening night of the highly-anticipated revival of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man have been rescheduled. Starring two-time Tony Award®, Grammy Award®, and Emmy Award®-winning star Hugh Jackman as Professor Harold Hill, and also starring two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster as Marian Paroo, preview performances of The Music Man are now set to begin on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, with Opening Night scheduled for Thursday, May 20 at the Winter Garden Theatre (1634 Broadway).  As a result of New York State’s ban on large gatherings, rehearsals (which were to have begun June 29), will now commence on Monday, February 8.

Sutton Foster, Photo: Barry Gordin

In a statement, Hugh Jackman said, “Performing on Broadway is a great honor for an actor; in fact, one of the greatest.  No two shows are exactly alike, in large part due to the audience.  Show One is filled with anticipation, fear and excitement.  It’s like an opening night 8 times a week; the energy in the theater is palpable.  It is those same feelings that happen every show thereafter – and you and I are going through it together. The change of dates will not take any of that away.  What it will do, however, is help to ensure that The Music Man audiences, and our company, are in a completely safe environment. Can’t wait for that day!”

Rudin added, “We’re obviously profoundly disappointed to be unable to start rehearsals for The Music Man as scheduled.  But safety is safety, and it has to take precedence over every other consideration – for both our audience and for our company.  Despite the postponement, we are sticking together as a company, and we are grateful to be able to do so.  And so we look forward arriving at The Winter Garden – with a beautiful, heartening Music Man in tow – at the beginning of April, and to being just one part of what we expect will once again be a vibrant and exciting Broadway.”

The production, directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, with choreography by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, will also star Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Shinn, Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn, Tony Award winner Marie Mullen as Mrs. Paroo, and Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Marcellus Washburn.

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One of the most universally cherished treasures of the American musical theater, The Music Man was an instant smash hit when it premiered on Broadway on December 19, 1957. It went on to win five Tony Awards, including the prize for Best Musical, and ran for 1,375 performances. The original cast album held the number one position on the Billboard charts and stayed on the album charts for 245 weeks. The recording won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. The Smithsonian Institution ranks The Music Man as one of the “great glories of American popular culture.”

The Music Man reunites the creative team of the Tony Award-winning and record-breaking revival of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler, including (in addition to Rudin, Zaks, and Carlyle), four-time Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design), six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), and David Chase (Dance Arrangements).Tony Award winner Jonathan Tunick will create Orchestrations, and Patrick Vaccariello joins the team as The Music Man’s Musical Director.

Ms. Mullen is appearing with the permission of Actors’ Equity Association. The producers gratefully acknowledge Actors’ Equity Association for its assistance to this production.

Falsettos Sing-A-Long

BroadwayHD and Lincoln Center celebrate Pride with the first ever FREE SING-A-LONG WATCH PARTY of Lincoln Center’s 2017 Tony Nominated musical Falsettos.

June 22, 2020: BroadwayHD, the premier streaming platform for live theater, is planning a jammed packed pride celebration, kicking things off with a special free sing-a-long watch party of Live From Lincoln Center’s broadcast of Falsettos – a Lincoln Center Theater production – on June 25th at 8PM, in association with Jordan Roth’s Jujamcyn Theatre.

BroadwayHD and Lincoln Center celebrate Pride with the first ever FREE SING-A-LONG WATCH PARTY of Lincoln Center’s 2017 Tony Nominated musical Falsettos.

June 22, 2020: BroadwayHD, the premier streaming platform for live theater, is planning a jammed packed pride celebration, kicking things off with a special free sing-a-long watch party of Live From Lincoln Center’s broadcast of Falsettos – a Lincoln Center Theater production – on June 25th at 8PM, in association with Jordan Roth’s Jujamcyn Theatre.

The Falsettos Sing-A-Long is the first of its kind done for a Broadway stage musical and will allow fans to belt out their favorite tunes along with the stars of the musical. Falsettos, which received five 2017 Tony nominations for its Lincoln Center Theater production, is a hilarious and poignant look at a modern family revolving around the life of gay man Marvin, his wife, his lover, his soon-to-be-bar-mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door. Originally created on the cusp of the AIDS crisis, this timely musical about middle-class family dynamics manages to remain buoyant and satirically perceptive, even as it moves toward its heartbreaking conclusion.

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells in “Falsettos Photo: Joan Marcus

Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Falsettos, presented in association with Jujamcyn Theaters, stars Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, Andrew Rannells, and Brandon Uranowitz, all of whom received Tony Award nominations for their respective performances. Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, and Betsy Wolfe round out the talented cast. The production was filmed live at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City in January 2017. You can watch the Falsettos Sing-A-Long HERE, which will be up on the BroadwayHD site for 48 hours.

While the film is free for everyone to enjoy, viewers are encouraged to make a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and its Emergency Grants for Pandemic Relief at https://broadwaycares.org/falsettos2020

Be sure to follow along with BroadwayHD’s Twitter and Instagram throughout the event. Gather the whole family and use #FalsettosSingALong on social media to be a part of the fun!

The celebration on BroadwayHD will continue with a vibrant playlist of trailblazing musicals, plays and other productions centered around the LGBTQ community. Some of the exciting titles viewers can stream this month include Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s Kinky Boots at London’s Adelphi Theatre, Del Shores’s production of Southern Baptist Sissies, Indecent, Brokeback Mountain the opera composed by master operettist Charles Wuorinen, Hello Again, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns directed by Michael Urie and more. 

“BroadwayHD has such a diverse fanbase and we are proud to celebrate Pride Month with an incredible viewing event that showcases a wide variety of exciting productions from talented creators and performers,” said BroadwayHD co-founders, Tony Award®-winning producers and filmmakers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley. 

 Here’s a full list of titles included in BroadwayHD’s Pride Month playlist:

Kinky Boots- The digital capture of Kinky Boots was filmed at London’s Adelphi Theatre. The musical focuses around Charlie, who is a factory owner struggling to save his family business. Lola is a fabulous entertainer with a wildly exciting idea. With a little compassion and a lot of understanding, this unexpected pair learns to embrace their differences and create a line of sturdy stilettos unlike any the world has ever seen.

Indecent- Indecent is inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance—a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel. The play charts the history of an incendiary drama and the path of the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. Contains adult themes.

Southern Baptist Sissies- Del Shores’s production of Southern Baptist Sissies is the story of four boys who are gay growing up in the Southern Baptist Church and how they each deal differently with the conflict between the teachings of the church and their sexuality.

Brokeback Mountain Opera- Brokeback Mountain is the heart-wrenching tale of ranch hand Ennis del Mar and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist, two young men who meet and fall in love on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming in 1963. Composed by master operettist Charles Wuorinen, this marks one of the ambitious and major works in his long and storied career.

Six Characters in Search of A Play- Del Shores’ new one-man play, “Six Characters In Search Of A Play”, brings to life six one-of-a-kind characters he has met in real life that haven’t quite made it into one of his plays, films or TV shows. Shores shares the truth behind how he collected these eccentrics and their stories as he portrays his hilarious, off-the-rails encounters with them.

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns- The play directed by Michael Urie, follows the story of Josh and Brennan, who are about to get married in Palm Springs on a lovely Saturday afternoon. However, the night before becomes a drunken, drug-fueled riot, because their friend Gerry has arrived, furious that their invitation says “Please refrain from wearing bright colors or bold patterns.” In the struggle for equality, what do we really want? What do we lose? And is there any cocaine left?

Ruthless- The camp cult classic from Joel Paley, with music by Marvin Laird, is filmed from London’s West End critically acclaimed off-Broadway production. Ruthless! The Musical famously spoofs Broadway musicals from Gypsy to Mame, as well as iconic films including The Bad Seed and All About Eve. The production follows a talented eight year old, Tina Denmark, who will do anything to play the lead in her school musical. 

Hello Again- Hello Again, directed by Tom Gustafson, chases ten lost souls across ten New York City eras. The lives of a restless soldier, a defiant nurse, a helpless college boy, a driven actress, and more intersect in this daisy-chained exploration of bittersweet love. The film is based on the Off-Broadway hit of the same name by Michael John LaChiusa and stars Martha Plimpton, Audra McDonald, Cheyenne Jackson, Rumor Willis, Sam Underwood, Nolan Gerard Funk, Jenna Ushkowitz, Tyler Blackburn and more. 

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musical including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves MeThe Phantom of The Opera, The King and I, Sound of Music, and An American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.  To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com.

On This Day In New York Theater: June 20 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 7 in the series)

June 20, 2020: Readers following this series must be patient as we wend our way, once a week, through the summer doldrums of New York theater in the twenties, thirties, and forties. It would be great to stumble across a few historically significant summer shows from those years  on the dates selected, but just finding shows—any shows—during June, July, and August is challenge enough. And finding any that have readily available photos to illustrate them is even unlikelier. For today’s list, in fact, I was able to turn up photos of only one production, John Ferguson, from my personal resources.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 7 in the series)

June 20, 2020: Readers following this series must be patient as we wend our way, once a week, through the summer doldrums of New York theater in the twenties, thirties, and forties. It would be great to stumble across a few historically significant summer shows from those years  on the dates selected, but just finding shows—any shows—during June, July, and August is challenge enough. And finding any that have readily available photos to illustrate them is even unlikelier. For today’s list, in fact, I was able to turn up photos of only one production, John Ferguson, from my personal resources.

Helen Westley and Augustin Duncan in John Ferguson”.

The few titles we’ll look at today are everything produced on June 20 during those bygone decades: Goat Alley, John Ferguson, and Hot Chocolates for the twenties, Find the Fox for the thirties, and Love on Leave and Icetime for the forties. Apart, perhaps, from John Ferguson, even theater buffs will likely draw a blank about these shows. Still, the less well-known, the more interest such forgotten efforts are likely to have.

Goat Alley, which managed eight performances at the Bijou Theatre in 1921, was by Ernest Howard Culbertson, who aimed offer a sociologically accurate depiction of contemporary black life. Not only did a piece about it appear in the Medical Review of Reviews, but, before the curtain, a doctor addressed the audience about the play’s truthfulness. Imagine: a play about blacks for whites that needed the patronizing assistance of medical experts to attest to its veracity! As it turned out, none of this “scientific” contextualization was of much avail, since nothing on view was either scientific or artistic.

A black cast, presumably amateur, performed the “crude and inexpert play,” as the Times described it, which only sporadically showed sparks of vitality. So unusual was it to see black actors in a Broadway play that the Times critic opined that whatever realism was present could as easily have been projected by “professional actors in blackface.”

Because it had a racy plot not unlike Eugene Walters’s Easiest Way, audience members under 20 were not allowed in. The action was set in a Washington, D.C., ghetto and focused on Lucy Belle (Lillian McKee), an ignorant, indigent young woman in love with Sam Reed (Barrington Carter). While he is in jail, however, she is driven to a series of unwilling affairs. Upon his release, the angry Sam, refusing to accept Lulu Belle and her bastard child, kills her.

Ludwig Lewisohn decried the sanitizing the play had undergone at the hands of the “sociologists and propagandists” in prettifying the ending, which originally had Lulu Belle, Medea-like, slay both her child and herself.

An April 1927, revival of the play, at the Princess Theatre, lasted a bit longer (13 performances). The Times critique included these insensitive words: this production “serves to dispel what seems to be a prevailing illusion—namely that all negroes are good actors. Although there are some first rate performances, there are also others which are pretty bad.”

Barry McCollum in “John Ferguson”.

Our next example, also from 1920, is the best-known one, but is not a particularly significant member of the June 20 club since it was not the play’s first production. Irish playwright St. John Ervine’s John Ferguson, a 1915 play, had given the recently born Theatre Guild—soon to become the most important American company of its time—its first success, following their initial failure in 1919 with The Bonds of Interest. The well-received John Ferguson recounts the tragic travails of John (Augustin Duncan), a crippled farmer, as he awaits the money from his wealthy mother in America that will prevent foreclosure of the farm’s mortgage.

Soon after the May 23 production of John Ferguson (24 performances) closed, virtually the same cast—calling itself the Repertory Theatre—produced it on June 20 at the Belmont Theatre. The major casting change was Dudley Digges’s role of James Caesar being taken by J.M. Kerrigan, a popular Irish actor from the original Dublin staging. Yet another version was staged in 1928, for matinees only, but that takes us too far from our purpose, although it might be of interest to note that the title role was again played by Duncan, who, though having become blind in the intervening years, also directed. 

The June 20 mood was lifted in 1929 when a black revue called Hot Chocolates opened at the Hudson Theatre and ran for 228 jazzy performances. It was one of the few shows of its kind to make a dent in the late 20s. It sported a chorus of lovelies whom Francis R. Bellamy was at pains to describe as light enough in complexion to adorn a white chorus line. There was also a fine score by “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks (and others), and a host of stageworthy talent. 

Billed as “A New Tanskin Revel,” the show originated at Harlem’s popular night spot, Connie’s Inn, where its opening scene took place as customers started to arrive. There followed a succession of sketches with some memorable dancing, both solo and chorus. This was the show that introduced Waller’s classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” which would one day serve as the title for a hit Broadway revue of Waller’s tunes. “Jazzlips” Richardson was the evening’s mirth provoker and Margaret Simms its principal female singer. At one point, Louis Armstrong, who was in the orchestra, did a standout solo.

Finding a show that opened on June 20 in the thirties is like looking for a needle in a haystack, the only one available being Frank Martins’s turkey, Finding the Fox, which appeared in 1930 and disappeared three days later. Performed at Wallack’s Theatre, it was a spoof of murder mysteries that the Times called “a frantically foolish and preposterous nondescript” comedy. The characters were supposed to be a group of actors improvising the plot as it progressed. At the end, the cast revealed that the whole thing was a joke. 

For our next endeavor, we leap into the following decade where just two shows await us. The first, as appropriate for something a wartime title, is Love on Leave, by A.B. Shiffrin. This fitful sex comedy at the Hudson Theatre could barely squeak out a week. Many left in mid-performance from this loser about a teenage girl’s sexual curiosity. 

Lucy Wilson (Rosemary Rice) is the 15-year-old daughter of a famous specialist in child psychology, Sam Wilson (Millard Mitchell, seen in countless movies). Intrigued by the conduct of a local tramp (Joann Dolan) and wishing to taste life so she can become an actress, Lucy sneaks out of her house in Astoria, Queens, dressed whorishly, to follow the tart to Times Square. There she ends up in a seedy hotel room with a saintly young sailor named Nick Hardy (John Conway), whom she attempts vigorously to bed. 

The sailor, unlike those then typical on the stage, is a fine, upstanding fellow with a mind as clean as soap. Recognizing that Lucy is lying about her age and experience, and thinking of his own sister at home, he returns her to her family, but she tries to shift the blame from herself to the boy, claiming he drunkenly seduced her. The cops are dragged in, but the family doctor (Ross Matthew) settles matters satisfactorily, and Nick ends up with Lucy’s sister (June Wilson).

The general line taken by the critics was that to handle the subject of juvenile delinquency as farce was socially irresponsible. Besides, said Herrick Brown, it was “a crude and badly written charade from any angle.” 

And then there was Icetime, a musical revue on ice skates shown at the huge Center Theatre in 1946 and successful enough to run 405 times. The period boasted a number of spectacular ice-skating revues (“icestravangazas”), including a regular series at Madison Square Garden. 

This first example of the postwar era featured acts like the low-comical Bruises (Monty Stott, Geoffe Stevens, and Sid Spalding)—formerly four, now three—reprising their routine as dowdy charwomen. Comedy was also the specialty of tiny Paul Castle and the virtuosic Freddie Trenkle. The chief figure skater was pretty Joan Hyldoft. Other acts included barrel jumper James Caesar (who also leaped blindfolded through a hoop of knives); trick double skaters Helga and Inge Brandt; and acrobatic Jack Reese, who did a complete somersault on skates. 

There were numbers for young children, like “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,” Cossack dances, high-speed routines, and so on. A minstrel show concluded act one, with such old standards as “Mandy” and “Shine On, Harvest Moon.” Colorful production numbers presented “The Nutcracker Suite,” “The Garden of Versailles, “Sherwood Forest,” and the like. 

So familiar had such skating revues become most critics had lost interest, especially George Jean Nathan, who announced: “Totally lacking in imagination, it repeats everything in the antecedent exhibits in even less attractive costumes and even less slightly scenic cut-ups.” Otis L. Guernsey, Jr., described it as “a gorgeous monotony which seems to get showier and emptier as the evening passed.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Hopefully, our next installment will hold something more durable to contemplate, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Click Here for #1 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 14 IN THE 1920’S

Click Here for #2 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 19 in the 1930’s

Click Here for #3 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 24 IN THE 1920’S and 1930’S

Click Here for #4 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 29 in the 1920’S, 1930’S and 1940’S

Click Here for #5 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: JUNE 3 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #6 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 13 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

The 86th Drama League Awards

Danny Burstein wins The Distinguished Performance Award at the 2020 Drama League Awards

June 19, 2020: Moulin Rouge! and Danny Burstein were among the winners for the 2020 Drama League awards. The musical won Outstanding Production of a Musical and Burstein The Distinguished Performance Award for his portrayal of Harold Zidler.

Danny Burstein wins The Distinguished Performance Award at the 2020 Drama League Awards

June 19, 2020: Moulin Rouge! and Danny Burstein were among the winners for the 2020 Drama League awards. The musical won Outstanding Production of a Musical and Burstein The Distinguished Performance Award for his portrayal of Harold Zidler.

The other winners of the 2019–2020 season were Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance for Outstanding Production of a Play, A Soldier’s Play for Outstanding Revival of a Play, and Little Shop of Horrors for Outstanding Revival of a Musical.

The awards were announced online June 18, instead of the traditional ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down Broadway through at least September 6.

The Drama League also honored Marianne Elliott with the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing, late playwright Terrence McNally for his unique contribution to theatre and playwright and director James Lapine for distinguished achievement in musical theatre.
Congratulations to all the Nominees and The Winners.

List of Nominees and Winners

Outstanding Revival of a Play

Betrayal

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Fires in the Mirror

Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune

Judgment Day

Medea

Native Son

The Rose Tattoo

*** A Soldier’s Play

The Woman in Black

Outstanding Revival of a Musical 

Enter Laughing

*** Little Shop of Horrors

Rock of Ages

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

West Side Story

Outstanding Production of a Play

Cambodian Rock Band

Dana H.

Grand Horizons

The Hot Wing King

*** The Inheritance

The Michaels

Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

One in Two

Sea Wall/A Life

Seared

Slave Play

Stew

Outstanding Production of a Musical

Girl from the North Country

Jagged Little Pill

*** Moulin Rouge!

Octet

The Secret Life of Bees

Sing Street

Six

Soft Power

A Strange Loop

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Distinguished Performance Award

David Acton, The Woman in Black

Jeffrey Bean, Dublin Carol

Ato Blankson-Wood, The Rolling Stone and Slave Play

Christian Borle, Little Shop of Horrors

Danielle Brooks, Much Ado About Nothing

*** Danny Burstein, Moulin Rouge!

Rose Byrne, Medea

Len Cariou, Harry Townsend’s Last Stand

Patrice Johnson Chevannes, runboyrun & In Old Age

Liza Colón-Zayas, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Kate del Castillo, the way she spoke

Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements

Raúl Esparza, Seared

Francesca Faridany, The Half-Life of Marie Curie

Halley Feiffer, The Pain of My Belligerence

Danyel Fulton, Broadbend, Arkansas

Annie Golden, Broadway Bounty Hunter

Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Where We Stand

David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play

Jonathan Groff, Little Shop of Horrors

Jake Gyllenhaal, Sea Wall/A Life

Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal

Paul Hilton, The Inheritance

Kathryn Hunter, Timon of Athens

Galen Ryan Kane, Native Son

Brittney Mack, Six

April Matthis, Toni Stone

Susannah Millonzi, The Crucible

Kate Mulgrew, The Half-Life of Marie Curie

Joe Ngo, Cambodian Rock Band

Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.

Brenock O’Connor, Sing Street

Okwui Okpokwasili, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Karen Olivo, Moulin Rouge!

Larry Owens, A Strange Loop

Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill

Chris Perfetti, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

Ben Porter, The Woman in Black

Isaac Powell, West Side Story

Jonathan Pryce, The Height of the Storm

Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Michael Shannon, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune

Tom Sturridge, Sea Wall/A Life

Marisa Tomei, The Rose Tattoo

Blair Underwood, A Soldier’s Play

Michael Urie, Grand Horizons

Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Michael Benjamin Washington, Fires in the Mirror

Portia, Stew

Danny Burstein Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Actors Fund Benefit

Step Forward Entertainment Celebrates the Music of the Legendary Neil Sedaka A Virtual Concert to Benefit The Actors Fund. Streaming on June 20th and 21st @ 7pm EDT / 4pm PDT.

June 16, 2020: To help lift spirits during the worldwide lockdown while providing a lively musical event, Step For- ward Entertainment is producing a special virtual concert celebrating the music of the legendary artist, Neil Sedaka to benefit The Actors Fund Covid-19 Relief efforts.

Step Forward Entertainment Celebrates the Music of the Legendary Neil Sedaka A Virtual Concert to Benefit The Actors Fund. Streaming on June 20th and 21st @ 7pm EDT / 4pm PDT.

June 16, 2020: To help lift spirits during the worldwide lockdown while providing a lively musical event, Step For- ward Entertainment is producing a special virtual concert celebrating the music of the legendary artist, Neil Sedaka to benefit The Actors Fund Covid-19 Relief efforts.

Neil Sedaka

The concert titled, “Steppin Forward Virtually to Celebrate the Music of the Legendary Neil Sedaka” will be streamed on Saturday, June 20th and Sunday, June 21st at 7pm EDT, 4pm PDT and repeated on Thursday, June 25th at 10pm EDT, 7pm PDT, presented by Robert R. Blume/Step Forward Entertainment and Pat Labez, in coop- eration with both Neil Sedaka Music and The Actors Fund. Krystin Goodwin, TV/Film actress and Fox reporter covering Entertainment and Trending News on Sirius XM Radio will serve as host.

The concert will feature 17 artists, in 15 performances, consisting of clients & friends of Step Forward Entertain- ment performing from their homes while in lockdown. All the songs performed in the concert were written by Neil Sedaka with either Howard Greenfield or Phil Cody.

Neil Sedaka will lead off the concert with a special, introductory message from home.

The virtual concert, presented free of charge, will be streamed on broadwayworld.com, and will also be available on other platforms including YouTube and Facebook Live. Optional donations can be made to benefit The Actors Fund.

The international array of artists performing in the concert include a Lucille Lortel Award winner, a Drama Desk nominee, a Billboard chart album jazz pianist, recording artists, award-winning cabaret artists and Network TV / Film actors. In order of appearance, with the song they will be performing, are Renn Woods (You Mean Everything To Me), Justin Senense (I Go Ape), Paola Morales (The Immigrant), Denise Kara (Calendar Girl), Soara-Joye Ross (The Hungry Years), Xiaoqing (Mao) Zhang (Stupid Cupid), Emma Campbell (My Friend), Nina Martinez (Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen), Kea Chan (Where The Boys Are), Kayla Merrow (The Diary), Mitch Week (Rosemary Blue), Pat Labez (Run Samson Run), Anthony Salvador Lewis (Breaking Up Is Hard To Do), Gloria Papin (Solitaire), Marissa Mulder and Jon Weber (Love Will Keep Us Together).

For additional dates, showtimes and links to watch, plus a virtual program on the performers, visit www.steppinforwardnyc.com. For more information on The Actors Fund or to make a donation, visit www.actorsfund.org/stepforward.

About Neil Sedaka

Singer, songwriter, composer, pianist and author, Neil Sedaka’s impressive 60-year career ranges from being one of the first teen pop sensations of the 50’s, a tunesmith for himself and other artists in the 60’s, an international superstar in the 70’s, remaining a constant force in writing and performing presently. This is all thanks to the countless songs he has written, performed and produced that continue to inspire artists and audiences around the world.

About The Actors Fund

The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that fosters stability and resiliency and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan. Through offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Actors Fund serves everyone in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance with programs including social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and secondary employment and training services. Visit www.actorsfund.org/stepforward

About Step Forward Entertainment

An entertainment production and talent management company headquartered in New York City which also repre- sents clients in Los Angeles, Florida and other areas in the U.S. Founded by renowned producer/talent manager, Robert R. Blume, the company was established on the principles of transparency and trust. With strong roots on Broadway as an Executive Producer of the annual Drama Desk Awards from 1999 to 2018, Blume saw the oppor- tunity to share his experience to develop and present talent in addition to producing TV, film and theatre. Step Forward Entertainment has a strong track record of developing and placing talent of all ages and experience levels in all types of productions.

About the Artists (in order of appearance):

  • Krystin Goodwin is currently is a TV/Film actress and FOX News Headlines reporter covering and Trending News on Sirius XM Radio. As an on-air personality, she was a reporter for FOX Sports Florida; a news anchor for the CBS Tallahassee, FL WCTV Eyewitness News and her work appears on USA Today, MSN, The Huff- ington Post, and Yahoo among many others. As an actress, she had a recurring role as a reporter on the CBS shows Tommy and Bull; TV Co-star appearances on Netflix’s The Politician and Orange is the New Black; NBC’s The Blacklist and American Odyssey; FOX’s The Following; and TNT’s Franklin and Bash; and played a reporter on the Paramount film Bumblebee a spinoff from the Transformers series. Krystin is The Host.
  • Renn Woods was a child star and teen heartthrob best known for her roles at “Fanta” in the TV mini-se- ries, Roots. She also performed in the musical Hair and played “Dorothy” in the first national Broadway tour of The Wiz. Other film roles include The Jerk, Car Wash in addition to the TV series, Beauty and the Beast. Woods, with a musical track produced by Michael Raye, will perform You Mean Everything To Me.
  • Justin Senense, American actor/singer of Philippine heritage. He was the lead in the award-winning indie short film, Howard, and has nationally and internationally toured in the musical theatre productions of Rent, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Hair. Senense performs I Go Ape.
  • Paola Morales is a Latina actress born and raised in Camuy, Puerto Rico who recently joined the New York workforce just prior to the pandemic after earning her Musical Theatre degree at Manhattanville College in Westchester, New York. Morales will perform The Immigrant.
  • Denise Kara, a 10-year-old who has been performing since she was 4 years old. She has made a name for herself in the Filipino-American community as a live performer who recently graced the cover of FILAM Magazine. She recently performed live at The Green Room 42 and sings, dances and writes original songs. Kara, accompanied by Bobby DeLeon on piano and synthesizer, will perform Calendar Girl.
  • Soara-Joye Ross recently starred in both Carmen Jones at CSC and Promenade at City Center NY. She has also performed in many other live shows including the lead role of “Reno Sweeney” in the Arena Stage production of Anything Goes! Her TV appearances include the new HBO show, The Flight Attendant. Ross performs The Hungry Years.
  • Xiaoqing (Mao) Zhang is a musical theatre and TV actress from China and now resides in the U.S. She has starred as a leading lady in many musicals including the Mandarin premiere of Avenue Q, Mama Loves Me Again and Spiral Show in China and Eastbound and The Emperor’s Nightingale in New York. She was a well-known singer on Chinese TV. Zhang will perform Stupid Cupid.
  • Emma Campbell, a New Yorker originally from LA, is a character actor performing varied comical and clas- sical roles in plays and musicals in addition to working with various companies. Emma will be debuting her NY cabaret act, directed by legendary cabaret performer Marilyn Maye, after the pandemic is over. Campbell will perform My Friend.
  • Nina Martinez is a TV and Film actress as well as an award-winning BMI singer/songwriter. She was part of the Do the Right Thing tour with Radio Disney and is a 3-time winner at Showtime at the Apollo in New York. Martinez will perform Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen.
  • Kea Chan, a New Yorker originally hailing from the Philippines. She has appeared on TV and has regularly performed in The Green Room 42 and other New York cabarets with a featured appearance at the Orle- ans Arena in Las Vegas. Chan performs Where the Boys Are.
  • Kayla Merrow, a 19-year-old New Jersey college student is a triple threat – actor/singer/dancer. She be- came a professional performer two months prior to the pandemic. With a focus on musical theater and TV, she has played leads in school musicals and has won competitions. Merrow will perform The Diary.
  • Mitch Week is an award-winning recording artist who had her first album released at the end of 2019 titled “Love Like This” which included the single, “You Try.” A recipient of many awards, Week has shared the stage with well-known Philippine musicians, singers and actors performing in the U.S. Week will per- form Rosemary Blue.
  • Pat Labez is a Hawaii-raised performer and working actress debuting in the original Magnum P.I. on CBS in addition to recent roles in New Amsterdam on NBC and Blue Bloods on CBS. She is executive producer of the award-winning short film, Howard, and associate producer on this concert. Labez will perform Run Samson Run.
  • Anthony Salvador Lewis was a known musical performer within the NY-NJ Filipino-American community in addition to his acting career. His recent TV appearances include Tommy on CBS; Billions on Show- time; Alternatino on Comedy Central; a recurring role on Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix; and in film, he played a key role in the remake of the Roger Corman film thriller, Dementia 13. Lewis will perform Break- ing Up Is Hard To Do.
  • Gloria Papin has traveled the world performing as part of the Philippine super group, The Papin Sis-
    ters
    with her sisters Imelda and Aileen. As a soloist, Gloria as a recording artist, has released many albums over the years and recently played the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas in addition to nationally touring with her Karen Carpenter Tribute Show. Papin will perform Solitaire.
  • Marissa Mulder and Jon Weber will close out the concert. Mulder is an award-winning cabaret singer based in Manhattan. The New York Times called her show “Tom… in his words, the songs of Tom Waits, far and away the season’s best cabaret show, everything the genre can be but almost never is.” Weber, the pianist member of the duo has hosted the NPR series Piano Jazz and has recorded and toured all over the world, while scoring extensively for television since 1987. He has released two jazz albums Jazz Wagon and Simple Complex. Mulder and Weber perform Love Will Keep Us Together.

The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards

June 13, 2020:  The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards hosted by Frank DiLella from Times Square went virtual and streamed on NY1.com and DramaDeskAwards.com.

The Drama Desk Awards featured appearances by Tituss Burgess, Drama Desk Award winner James Corden, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, Drama Desk Award winner Alan Cumming, Beanie Feldstein, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Santino Fontana, Drama Desk Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Jesse Tyler Ferguson, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Jane Krakowski, three-time Drama Desk Award winner Patti LuPone, five-time Drama Desk Award winner Audra McDonald, Drama Desk Award winner Cynthia Nixon, two-time Drama Desk Award nominee Ashley Park, Drama Desk Award nominee Andrew Rannells, Drama Desk Award winner Ali Stroker, and five-time Drama Desk Award winner Susan Stroman.

June 13, 2020:  The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards hosted by Frank DiLella from Times Square went virtual and streamed on NY1.com and DramaDeskAwards.com.

The Drama Desk Awards featured appearances by Tituss Burgess, Drama Desk Award winner James Corden, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, Drama Desk Award winner Alan Cumming, Beanie Feldstein, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Santino Fontana, Drama Desk Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Jesse Tyler Ferguson, two-time Drama Desk Award winner Jane Krakowski, three-time Drama Desk Award winner Patti LuPone, five-time Drama Desk Award winner Audra McDonald, Drama Desk Award winner Cynthia Nixon, two-time Drama Desk Award nominee Ashley Park, Drama Desk Award nominee Andrew Rannells, Drama Desk Award winner Ali Stroker, and five-time Drama Desk Award winner Susan Stroman.

Hal Prince

The ceremony also celebrated the life and legacy of American theater producer and director Hal Prince with the Drama Desk Awards’ first-ever lifetime achievement honor. The Harold Prince Award will be bestowed annually for outstanding contributions to theater, and this year was awarded posthumously to Mr. Prince. Prince passed away on July 31, 2019 at the age of 91.

The event also featured a first look at the brand-new Drama Desk Awards statuette.

Click Here to see the entire show in case you missed it on NY1 Presents the 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards

65th ANNUAL DRAMA DESK AWARD WINNERS: 

Outstanding Play

Samuel H. Levine, Kyle Soller, Kyle Harris, Arturo Luis Soria, Jordan Barbour and Darryl Gene Daughtry Jr. (kneeling). in “The Inheritance”

Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre

Greater Clements, by Samuel D. Hunter, Lincoln Center Theater

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Atlantic Theater Company/LAByrinth Theater Company

Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will Arbery, Playwrights Horizons

***The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez***

Outstanding Musical

Octet, Signature Theatre

The Secret Life of Bees, Atlantic Theater Company

Soft Power, The Public Theater

***A Strange Loop, Playwrights Horizons/Page 73 Productions***

The Wrong Man, MCC Theater

Outstanding Revival of a Play

Fefu and Her Friends, Theatre for a New Audience

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, The Public Theater

Mac Beth, Red Bull Theater/Hunter Theater Project

Much Ado About Nothing, The Public Theater

***A Soldier’s Play, Roundabout Theatre Company***

Outstanding Revival of a Musical

***Little Shop of Horrors***

The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Transport Group

West Side Story

Outstanding Actor in a Play

Charles Busch, The Confession of Lily Dare

***Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements***

Raúl Esparza, Seared

Francis Jue, Cambodian Rock Band

Triney Sandoval, 72 Miles to Go…

Kyle Soller, The Inheritance

Outstanding Actress in a Play

Rose Byrne, Medea

***Liza Colón-Zayas, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven***

Emily Davis, Is This A Room

April Matthis, Toni Stone

Ruth Negga, Hamlet

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

L Morgan Lee, James Jackson Jr., Jason Veasey, Larry Owens, Antwayn Hopper and John-Michael Lyles in “A Strange Loop“.

David Aron Damane, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Chris Dwan, Enter Laughing

Joshua Henry, The Wrong Man

Francis Jue, Soft Power

***Larry Owens, A Strange Loop***

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Tammy Blanchard, Little Shop of Horrors

Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Saycon Sengbloh, The Secret Life of Bees

Elizabeth Stanley, Jagged Little Pill

***Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical***

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Victor Almanzar, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Esteban Andres Cruz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play

***Paul Hilton, The Inheritance***

Chris Perfetti, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Patrice Johnson Chevannes, runboyrun & In Old Age

Kristina Poe, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Belange Rodríguez, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

***Lois Smith, The Inheritance***

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Jonathan Groff, Christian Borle “Little Shop of Horrors”

George Abud, Emojiland

***Christian Borle, Little Shop of Horrors***

Jay Armstrong Johnson, Scotland, PA

Conrad Ricamora, Soft Power

Ryan Vasquez, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Yesenia Ayala, West Side Story

Paula Leggett Chase, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

LaChanze, The Secret Life of Bees

Alyse Alan Louis, Soft Power

***Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill***

Outstanding Director of a Play

Jessica Blank, Coal Country

***Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance***

John Ortiz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Tina Satter, Is This A Room

Erica Schmidt, Mac Beth

Outstanding Director of a Musical

***Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop***

Thomas Kail, The Wrong Man

Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Leigh Silverman, Soft Power

Annie Tippe, Octet

Outstanding Choreography 

Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, West Side Story

Keone Madrid and Mari Madrid, Beyond Babel

Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

***Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!***

Travis Wall, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Music 

Ross Golan, The Wrong Man

Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop

***Dave Malloy, Octet***

Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams

Duncan Sheik, The Secret Life of Bees

Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power

Outstanding Lyrics 

Susan Birkenhead, The Secret Life of Bees

Adam Gwon, Scotland, PA

***Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop***

Joanne Sydney Lessner and Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams

Dave Malloy, Octet

Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette

Outstanding Book of a Musical 

David Henry Hwang, Soft Power

***Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop***

Dave Malloy, Octet

Lynn Nottage, The Secret Life of Bees

Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette

Dick Scanlan, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Outstanding Orchestrations

***Tom Kitt, Jagged Little Pill***

Alex Lacamoire, The Wrong Man

Or Matias and Dave Malloy, Octet

Danny Troob, John Clancy, and Larry Hochman, Soft Power

Jonathan Tunick, West Side Story

Outstanding Music in a Play

Steve Earle, Coal Country

Frightened Rabbit, Square Go

Jim Harbourne, Feral

***Martha Redbone, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf***

Adam Seidel, Jane Bruce, and Daniel Ocanto, Original Sound

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Play

Catherine Cornell, Mac Beth

***Clint Ramos, Grand Horizons***

Adam Rigg, Fefu and Her Friends

Paul Steinberg, Judgment Day

B.T. Whitehill, The Confession of Lily Dare

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical 

Karen Olivo and Aaron Tveit in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Julian Crouch, Little Shop of Horrors

Anna Louizos, Scotland, PA

***Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!***

Clint Ramos, Soft Power

Amy Rubin and Brittany Vasta, Octet

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play

Asa Benally, Blues for an Alabama Sky

Montana Levi Blanco, Fefu and Her Friends

Toni-Leslie James, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Antony McDonald, Judgment Day

***Rachel Townsend and Jessica Jahn, The Confession of Lily Dare***

Kaye Voyce, Coriolanus

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical

Vanessa Leuck, Emojiland 

Jeff Mahshie, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Mark Thompson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Anita Yavich, Soft Power

***Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge!***

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play

Isabella Byrd, Heroes of the Fourth Turning

Oona Curley, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House

***Heather Gilbert, The Sound Inside***

Mimi Jordan Sherin, Judgment Day

Yi Zhao, Greater Clements

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical 

Betsy Adams, The Wrong Man

Jane Cox, The Secret Life of Bees

Herrick Goldman, Einstein’s Dreams

Bruno Poet, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

***Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!***

Outstanding Projection Design

David Bengali, Einstein’s Dreams

Julia Frey, Medea

***Luke Halls, West Side Story*** 

Lisa Renkel and POSSIBLE, Emojiland

Hannah Wasileski, Fires in the Mirror

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play

***Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid, The Inheritance***

Justin Ellington, Heroes of the Fourth Turning

Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H.

Palmer Hefferan, Fefu and Her Friends

Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada, Is This A Room

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical

Tom Gibbons, West Side Story

Kai Harada, Soft Power

***Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge!***

Hidenori Nakajo, Octet

Nevin Steinberg, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Wig and Hair Design

***Campbell Young Associates, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical***

Cookie Jordan, Fefu and Her Friends

Nikiya Mathis, STEW

Tom Watson, The Great Society

Bobbie Zlotnik, Emojiland

Outstanding Solo Performance

David Cale, We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time

Kate del Castillo, the way she spoke

***Laura Linney, My Name is Lucy Barton***

Jacqueline Novak, Get on Your Knees

Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.

Unique Theatrical Experience

Beyond Babel, Hideaway Circus 

Feral, Tortoise in a Nutshell/Cumbernauld Theatre/59E59 

***Is This A Room, Vineyard Theatre***

Midsummer: A Banquet, Food of Love Productions/Third Rail Projects

Outstanding Fight Choreography

Vicki Manderson, Square Go

***Thomas Schall, A Soldier’s Play***

UnkleDave’s Fight House, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Outstanding Adaptation 

***A Christmas Carol, by Jack Thorne***

Judgment Day, by Christopher Shinn

Mojada, by Luis Alfaro

Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, by Halley Feiffer

Outstanding Puppet Design

***Raphael Mishler, Tumacho*** 

Rockefeller Productions, Paddington Gets in a Jam

Amanda Villalobos, Is This A Room

Special Awards: 

The Harold Prince Award: Drama Desk Awards’ new lifetime achievement award is presented posthumously to Hal Prince.

Ensemble Award: To the eight pitch-perfect performers in Dave Malloy’s a cappella musical Octet: Adam Bashian, Kim Blanck, Starr Busby, Alex Gibson, Justin Gregory Lopez, J.D. Mollison, Margo Seibert, and Kuhoo Verma proved instrumental in giving a layered look at modern forms of addiction.

Sam Norkin Award: To actress Mary Bacon, who continued her versatile career of compassionate, searing work for such companies as The Mint, Primary Stages, The Public Theater, and The Actors Theater Company, with two of Off-Broadway’s most humane performances this season in Coal Country at the Public Theater and Nothing Gold Can Stay presented by Partial Comfort Productions.

To The Actors Fund, Seth Rudetsky, and James Wesley for connecting members of the theater community and lifting spirits during the coronavirus crisis. The Actors Fund has worked tirelessly to provide financial and health resources to those impacted by the pandemic; Rudetsky and Wesley’s semi-daily “Stars in the House” webcast is raising funds for The Actors Fund, while providing performances, reunions, and medical updates.

To The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s “Mobile Theater” that began in 1957 and evolved into the New York Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theater. The current Mobile Unit tours free Shakespeare throughout the five boroughs, including prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers, reminding audiences new and old that the play really is the thing. 

To WP Theater and Julia Miles, the company’s founder who died this spring. Formerly known as The Women’s Project and Productions, the company began in 1978 at American Place Theatre, where Miles served as associate to visionary artistic director Wynn Handman, who also died this spring. WP is the largest, most enduring American company that nurtures and produces works by female-identified creators. Over a little more than four decades, it has changed the demographics of American drama through an unwavering focus on women writers, directors, producers, performers, and craftspeople.

To Claire Warden for her pioneering work as an intimacy choreographer in such recent projects as Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune and Linda Vista, and her leadership in the rapidly emerging movement of intimacy direction. As part of the creative team of Intimacy Directors & Coordinators and Director of Engagement for and co-founder of Intimacy Directors International, she is helping create theater experiences that are safer for performers and more authentic for contemporary audiences. 

Awards by production:

A Strange Loop — 5

The Inheritance — 5

Moulin Rouge! — 5

Little Shop of Horrors — 2

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical — 2

A Soldier’s Play — 2

Jagged Little Pill — 2

Greater Clements — 1

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven — 1

Octet — 1

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf — 1

Grand Horizons — 1

The Sound Inside — 1

West Side Story — 1

The Confession of Lily Dare — 1

My Name is Lucy Barton — 1

Is This A Room — 1

A Christmas Carol — 1

Tumacho — 1

Founded in 1955, the Drama Desk Awards honor outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. The Drama Desk Awards are voted on and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters covering theater.

The Drama Desk Awards are presented by the Drama Desk organization in partnership with Broadway Brands. The presentation is produced in consultation with Joey Parnes Productions, continuing a relationship formed in 2012.

The mission of the Drama Desk is to recognize outstanding achievement in New York theater and encourage discussion of issues significant to theater professionals. The organization accomplishes these goals by bestowing annual awards in more than 30 categories of theater arts and crafts, hosting the awards celebration, and presenting educational forums and panel discussions on theater topics.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 by New York Times arts reporter Sam Zolotow, Edith Oliver of The New Yorker, and New York Post critic Vernon Rice, among others. Six years later, after Rice’s untimely death, the organization initiated an award in his honor for outstanding achievement Off-Broadway. Subsequently expanded and renamed the Drama Desk Awards, they now recognize accomplishments on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway.

On This Day in New York Theater: June 13 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 6 in the series)

June 13 in the twenties, thirties, and forties had its theatrical ups and downs, mostly downs, of course, like the vast majority of summertime shows during those decades. Looking at what opened in the days right before and afterward, however, does make the thirteenth look good by comparison, even if, of the mere eight shows that opened that day over the course of three decades, only one had the cachet of popularity. 

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 6 in the series)

June 13 in the twenties, thirties, and forties had its theatrical ups and downs, mostly downs, of course, like the vast majority of summertime shows during those decades. Looking at what opened in the days right before and afterward, however, does make the thirteenth look good by comparison, even if, of the mere eight shows that opened that day over the course of three decades, only one had the cachet of popularity. 

Dorothy Ward in “The Whirl of New York“.

Before we look at that single memorable June 13 enterprise, The Grand Street Follies (1922), let’s survey the more easily disposable products of the passing show (a phrase that reminds us of yet another popular revue series of the twenties). A couple do have at least a smidgen of continuing interest. One, in fact, The Whirl of New York (1921), was entertaining enough to accumulate 124 performances at the Winter Garden. The problem is that it was a revival of The Belle of New York,an outdated 1897 musical, an “expanded version” that was more revue than book musical. 

The old plot situations were retained in attenuated form, mainly as an excuse for adding specialty numbers for vaudevillians like the Avon Comedy Four (later known simply as Smith and Dale, the likely inspiration for Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys), dancers Adelaide and Hughes, and various other acts. In what passed as a plot, German-dialect comic Louis Mann starred as Karl Von Pumpernick in a flimsy love story featuring a Salvation Army heroine (Lucille Shalfont). No one was terribly impressed. 

Talk about Girls was a flimsy new book musical that opened at the Waldorf Theatre in 1927, its otherwise second-rate songs at least having the distinction of lyrics by the great Irving Caesar. It was based on a flop comedy of 1921, Like a King, which had 16 showings, one more than this dud.

The Whirl of New York

The plot remained the same: failed small-town boy (Willard Mack) returns home in a borrowed Rolls-Royce and goes on to win fortune and romance. The music and lyrics were “indifferent enough, the scenery . . . routine,” and the singing poor: “sometimes in fact, it is sour,” added the Times. Even the real Rolls-Royce rolled on for effect couldn’t save this show from four flat tires.

The only other June 13 entry of the twenties was The Marriage Bed,a mildly effective comedy-drama by Ernest Pascal, directed by the respected Robert Milton at the Booth Theatre, where it eked out 72 performances. Richard Dana Skinner called it “a very creditable piece of dramatic work,” with its pro-marriage theme and a plot about a married man, George (Allan Rinehart), who falls for and philanders with a young woman (Helen Flint), and whose wife (Ann Davis) refuses him a divorce for what she takes as a passing fancy. 

When she discovers that her own sister (Helen Chandler, who went on to play Mina Seward in the 1931 horror film Dracula) is in the sad position of the other woman in her own life, she relents, but by now George no longer wants the divorce and is happy to be taken back. Francis R. Bellamy called the play “a curious combination of Victorian emotionalism, and what is called ultra-modern, hard-boiled intellectualism.”

In the Threatening Thirties, only two shows opened on the fateful thirteenth: Back Fire (1932) and The Climax (1933). The former opened at the Vanderbilt Theatre, where it backfired after eight performances. It was by Jerrold Robert, who acted in it under the name Robert Ober, with a group called the Broome Stagers, who hoped to form an ongoing company before their effort was swept away. 

Guy Bates Post and Norma Terris in “The Climax“.

The play itself was “an innocuous bit of conventional masquerade,” according to Brooks Atkinson, about two women’s (Mabel Taliaferro and Doris Packer) love rivalry—one is morally upright, the other a sensualist with a past—over the same man (Ober). 

The next June 13 turkey was a revival at the Bijou Theatre of Edward J. Locke’s The Climax, a 1909 drama that had enjoyed earlier revivals in 1919 and 1926 but survived in this version for only 15 performances. It starred Guy Bates Post, who had toured the play internationally, and musical comedy star Norma Terris, he as Dr. Golfanti, she as the singer he tries to convince her voice is gone. “After all these years it remains a shoestring production,” griped John Mason Brown, “only now it appears to be suffering from fallen arches; or perhaps, remembering Miss Terris’s gay and canary-like performances, it’s just fallen archness.”

Bringing us closer to our concluding examples, we note just two June 13 plays in the Fighting Forties, Slightly Scandalous (1944) and The Fifth Horseman (1949). The first was an “incredibly feeble,” as George Freedley described it, seven-performance comedy by Frederick Jackson seen at the National Theatre. It marked the return to Broadway of once-popular actress Janet Beecher after twelve years in Hollywood.

The plot (which has no relation that of the similarly titled 1946 movie) bears a striking resemblance to the musical Mamma Mia! with its lead character, Frances Stuart (Beecher), being a noted writer-lecturer of liberal morality who never married but had three children, two of whom are getting married. The prospective in-laws want to determine the paternity of Frances’s children. She must inform her brood—who were led to believe that the portrait over the fireplace is their father—that she never wed, and that each is the offspring of a different man. Each of these is still living, so she invites them to her Westchester home where she will select one to be her spouse.

“The piece has neither wit nor point. It bumbles through three ponderous scenes without giving players or spectators a Chinaman’s chance,” said Howard Barnes. Too bad Abba wasn’t around to offer it a score. 

Now for that famous revue, The Grand Street Follies,which, like the most famous example them all, the Ziegfeld Follies, was part of a series with multiple editions. It was essentially a high-class vaudeville show, born in 1922 at the Neighborhood Playhouse, in the same venue that now serves as the Abrons Arts Center on Grand Street and Henry. It enjoyed seven editions, the last moving from its funky downtown theatre to Broadway’s Booth, but we’re concerned here only with the first, which began as a giveaway to the Neighborhood Playhouse’s 1921-1922 subscribers. The Playhouse had been giving informal burlesques of its work annually since 1912, but they had remained private, inside jokes for the theatre’s “family.” 

Alice Lewisohn conceived the notion of showing the sketches to the public when nothing suitable could be found to end the season. What was developed from this idea was labeled “a low brow show for the high grade morons,” and quickly became so popular the two subscribers’ performances had to be supplemented by ten more for the public at large, most of whom had never been to 466 Grand Street before. The revue had to close for various reasons but could have drawn audiences all summer if had been able to remain open.

This first edition established the format for later programs: songs, impersonations, and sketches all designed to ridicule both the Playhouse’s productions and those of the uptown theatres. Such spoofs or burlesques were a regular part of late 19th-century and early 20th-century revues, and were the predecessors of today’s Forbidden Broadway. It opened with “In the Beginning,” a bit depicting the world’s first drama critics, Adam Stale and Eve—the former a takeoff on critic Alan Dale—and moved on to parodies of leading personalities and plays. In the second half, the show used a framework borrowed from a contemporary international revue Le Chauve-Souris to introduce the acts. Albert Carroll, who was in this first Grand Street Follies, became a stalwart of later editions, which resumed after a year’s hiatus in 1924.

See you in another week or so.

Click Here for #1 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 14 IN THE 1920’S

Click Here for #2 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 19 in the 1930’s

Click Here for #3 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 24 IN THE 1920’S and 1930’S

Click Here for #4 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 29 in the 1920’S, 1930’S and 1940’S

Click Here for #5 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: JUNE 3 in the 1920’s, 2930’s and 1940’s

We Are Here

We Are Here: A Celebration of Resilience, Resistance, and Hope

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 11, 2020: At this time of protest and pandemic, not much attention has been paid to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt both anniversaries speak to the challenges of the current moment. And several organizations are attempting to remind us of this.

We Are Here: A Celebration of Resilience, Resistance, and Hope

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 11, 2020: At this time of protest and pandemic, not much attention has been paid to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt both anniversaries speak to the challenges of the current moment. And several organizations are attempting to remind us of this.

These organizations are Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust; National Yiddish Theatre, Folksbiene; Sing for Hope, which brings arts-based hope, healing, and connection to people in hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and transit hubs; and Lang Lang International Music Foundation, dedicated to igniting children’s passion for music.

On Sunday, June 14, at 2 PM ET, these organizations will present “We Are Here: A Celebration of Resilience, Resistance, and Hope,” a star-studded concert event that will be livestreamed at http://www.wearehere.live/ by a network of more than 100 national and international organizations.

The first 90 minutes of the event will feature a variety of artists from different backgrounds, from comedian/actors Jackie Hoffman and Whoopi Goldberg to opera singers Julia Bullock and Isabel Leonard. Renée Fleming will sing the premiere of a new work by the Pulitzer, Grammy and Oscar award-winning composer John Corigliano.

Following the concert, The Forward Editor-in-Chief Jodi Rudoren will interview Nancy Spielberg, Roberta Grossman, and Sam Kassow, creators of the film Who Will Write Our History. The film chronicles the story of Oneg Shabbat, the group of people who risked their lives to make sure the witnesses of the atrocities were the ones who wrote the history.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on April 19, 1943, when the incarcerated Jews, who had built bunkers and smuggled weapons and explosives into the ghetto, refused to surrender to police commander SS-Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop. Stoop then ordered the burning of the ghetto block-by-block, killing 13,000 Jews, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. It was doomed from the start.

The program will begin and end with “The Partisan Song,” an anti-fascist anthem written in 1943 by Russian-born Anna Marly, with lyrics by French Resistance leader Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie.

Bruce Ratner, Chairman of the Board at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, believes this song “speaks to the fight for social justice and fundamental human rights.”

Those fundamental human rights are universal and immutable, as Sing for Hope Co-Founder Camille Zamora points out: “Both the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the centuries-old pandemics of racism and antisemitism highlight the need for resistance and resilience.”

Pipeline Free on BroadwayHD

Piercing drama, Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau, free on BroadwayHD beginning today.

June 9, 2020:  Live From Lincoln Center, in partnership with BroadwayHD, starting today is bringing Dominique Morisseau’s strikingly powerful work Pipeline, originally staged at Lincoln Center Theater in 2017, to audiences at home. This intimate play depicts a mother’s hopes for her son and their clash with an educational system rigged against him. To view for free (87 minutes) Click Here: http://ow.ly/cE7b50A1Nfl

Piercing drama, Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau, free on BroadwayHD beginning today.

June 9, 2020:  Live From Lincoln Center, in partnership with BroadwayHD, starting today is bringing Dominique Morisseau’s strikingly powerful work Pipeline, originally staged at Lincoln Center Theater in 2017, to audiences at home. This intimate play depicts a mother’s hopes for her son and their clash with an educational system rigged against him. To view for free (87 minutes) Click Here: http://ow.ly/cE7b50A1Nfl

Hailed as “potent and intensely acted,” Pipeline confirmed Morisseau’s “reputation as a playwright of piercing eloquence (New York Times).“ The story follows Nya Joseph (Karen Pittman), a dedicated, inner-city public high school teacher, who is committed to her students’ achievement, while she sends her only son, Omari (Namir Smallwood), to a private boarding school. When Omari is involved in a controversial incident which threatens him with expulsion from his school, Nya is forced to reconcile Omari’s rage, her own parental decisions, and the public and private school systems, as she rallies to save her son.

Directed for the stage by Lileana Blain-Cruz

With Tasha Lawrence, Morocco Omari, Karen Pittman, Namir Smallwood, Jaime Lincoln Smith, and Heather Velazquez
Matt Saunders, sets
Montana Levi Blanco, costumes
Yi Zhao, lighting
Justin Ellington, original music and sound
Hannah Wasileski, projections
Charles M. Turner III, stage manager
Producer
Kristy Geslain, Douglas Chang
Executive Producer
Andrew Carl Wilk, Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane

Right now, as we are all struggling with the events of the past week, BroadwayHD believes we must stand together in recognizing the fear, hurt, and outrage that has risen as a result of the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.

That painful past is still present today. Not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. Although we have seen progress in America, our communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma. Truly, we can’t celebrate our society unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor and life.

Since their inception, BroadwayHD has had inclusion and diversity as a core tenet of their mission, believing that tenet has made them a stronger company and given them more flexibility to support their employees, customers and the industry.

BroadwayHD fully supports the initiatives of Black Lives Matter as well as the other institutions and organizations that promote and support inclusion and diversity. We know that we, as theater purveyors and producers, have to actively pursue BIPOC content and make sure that we are uplifting Black voices, and must do better. 

They have donated to Color of ChangeNAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Southern Poverty Law Center and encourage you all to do the same.