Light of the Hamptons @ Janet Lehr

Light of the Hamptons: Paintings by David Demers and Haim Mizrahi

June 17,2018:  Uniting David Demers and Haim Mizrahi together, in their Two Man Exhibition, LIGHT OF THE HAMPTONS, at Janet Lehr Fine Arts, has clearly had a very positive effect for both artists. Their creative works are explored with brush-in-hand as they transfer their vivid impulses onto canvas, the great strength of their impulses are the inspiration of the extraordinary Hampton’s light.

Light of the Hamptons: Paintings by David Demers and Haim Mizrahi

June 17,2018:  Uniting David Demers and Haim Mizrahi together, in their Two Man Exhibition, LIGHT OF THE HAMPTONS, at Janet Lehr Fine Arts, has clearly had a very positive effect for both artists. Their creative works are explored with brush-in-hand as they transfer their vivid impulses onto canvas, the great strength of their impulses are the inspiration of the extraordinary Hampton’s light.

David Demers bridges a great leap in the world of American Painting, many painters were effected by the stunning Hampton’s light. 19th – 21st centuries, artists as disparate as Thomas Moran, Childe Hassam, William de Kooning, and Ross Bleckner are Demers forerunners.  Demers received instruction quite broadly before arriving in the Hamptons; first at R.S.D.I., then at the University of Colorado and finally at The Art Students League.

David Demers:
Breaks Oil on canvas, 2018 46×60 inches

Think Wassily Kandinsky’s expressive colored masses and overlapping lines when you look for Haim Mizrahi’s precursor. 

It was the ‘vocabulary’ of the European Modernists that Mizrahi was trained in, at the Bezalel Academy in Israel.

Haim Mizrahi

The exhibition has several exceptional features.  10% of all proceeds will be donated  Hayground and Our Sons & Daughters Schools. Attendees, children and adults, may enjoy sketching and photographing on Sunday afternoons from 2-5pm during the exhibition. We ask that parents remain in attendance during those hours. Refreshments will be served during this time as well as opening night.

David Demers Oil on Canvas

For further information on the artists and additional images, please view our website www.janerlehrfinearts.com

Photography: Barry Gordin

JANET LEHR                JanetLehr@JanetLehrInc.com
Janet Lehr Fine Arts
631 324 3303  / c./txt 516 353 6450  / f. 631 324 4455      
68 Park Place              
East Hampton, NY 11937     

Haim Mizrahi, Janet Lehr, David Demers
Jane & Barton Shallot

Janet Lehr   
Janet Lehr Patrick Christiano

The Most Painted Woman: All I Want Is One Night **1/2

By: Samuel L. Leiter

June 15, 2018:  I have a hunch that most knowledgeable New York theatregoers of a certain age, if asked to name the top French cabaret singers (i.e., chanteuses) of the 1930s and 1940s, would come up with such stars as Edith Piaf, Mistinguett, Josephine Baker, Arletty, and perhaps, among others, Lucienne Boyer, Rina Ketty, and Fréhel. One name that might not often be dropped, despite her once considerable fame, is that of Suzy Solidor (1900-1983), the subject of All I Want Is One Night, a humdrum musical biodrama, performed at 59E59 Theaters with most of the audience at tiny cabaret tables equipped with battery-operated candles.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

June 15, 2018:  I have a hunch that most knowledgeable New York theatregoers of a certain age, if asked to name the top French cabaret singers (i.e., chanteuses) of the 1930s and 1940s, would come up with such stars as Edith Piaf, Mistinguett, Josephine Baker, Arletty, and perhaps, among others, Lucienne Boyer, Rina Ketty, and Fréhel. One name that might not often be dropped, despite her once considerable fame, is that of Suzy Solidor (1900-1983), the subject of All I Want Is One Night, a humdrum musical biodrama, performed at 59E59 Theaters with most of the audience at tiny cabaret tables equipped with battery-operated candles.

Jessica Walker

British singer-actress Jessica Walker is the author and star of this blissfully brief excursion into the bisexual Solidor’s hothouse of lesbian lovers, renowned portrait painters, and performances at La Vie Parisienne, Solidor’s iconic Paris cabaret. Her show comes to us courtesy of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where it began under Sarah Frankcom’s direction (the “company” is credited for “revival direction”).

With her hair dyed blond and clipped short in a boyish style resembling Solidor’s, and dressed in a silver evening gown, Walker bears a sufficiently close physical resemblance to the original. However, Walker’s voice is much closer to a soprano’s than to the low, richly throbbing sound for which Solidor was known, which can be heard by a quick trip to the Internet. In fact, Walker’s singing and manner, while polished and expressive, don’t come close to embodying the Gallic charm one expects from such an artiste.

Jessica Walker

One problem is the musical limitation of a single accompanist, Joseph Atkins. He mostly plays the piano but sometimes the accordion or synthesizer; the largely piano-only approach effectively kills the music’s French personality. Another obstacle to making us feel like sophisticated Parisians is Walker’s having translated the lyrics into English (except for “Lily Marlene,” sung in French and German). Wouldn’t it have been better to use surtitles and keep the originals intact?

Solidor’s story is bookended by scenes set in the antiques shop she ran, during her senior years, in Haut de Cagnes, on the Côte d’Azur, where she cross-dresses as an admiral. The tale, however, is not particularly unusual for a daring French celebrity of her time. It includes charges she faced for collaborating with the Nazis—something of which other French stars also were accused—as well as the tired trope of the aging diva’s depression about her fading looks.

Joseph Atkins i

Her sexual proclivities—Rachel Austin plays her lover, Daisy, and her potentially available housemaid, Giselle—also have little shock value. On the other hand, Solidor’s repute as “the most painted woman in the world,” with hundreds of portraits by world-famous artists, among them Picasso, Bacon, and Braque, not to mention photographer Man Ray, has some dramatic value, Eight reproductions hanging upstage form the show’s main design element.

Perhaps the most famous portrait, a nude by Tamara de Lempicka, gets its moment, as does Lempicka herself, played by Alexandra Mathie (whose several other roles include both men and butch women). But the loosely connected script, which intermingles biographical material within the context of a cabaret show (life is a cabaret, old chum), with action occurring among the tables as well as on the small stage, is too discombobulated to stir much deep interest.

Jessica Walker, Rachel Austin

Nor is Solidor’s repertoire one with which most non-French audiences will feel familiar. “Lily Marlene” is the best known, but mainly because of Lale Andersen’s original and later renditions by Marlene Dietrich, Vera Lynn, and many others. While pleasant enough, none of the sometimes risqué songs, a number of which touch on the sea and sex, are as enthralling as, for example, would be almost any song plucked at random from Piaf’s songbook. The eight numbers, all but one of which can be heard on YouTube in their original recordings, include “Les Filles de St. Malo,” “Ouvre,” “Je ne veux qu’une Nuit” (the title song), “Escale,” “Lily Marlene,” “Qu’on est Bien,” and “La Chanson de la Belle Pirate.”

All I Want Is One Night is the third Jessica Walker cabaret-style show I’ve seen at 59E59. The best was the first, The Girl I Left behind Me, in 2013, which was about famous cross-dressing British and American women entertainers. In 2014, she performed Pat Kirkwood Is Angry, a middling piece about a now little-known British actress-singer. The downward trend continues with this show that, even at 65 minutes, makes you think that all you want is for it to end.

All I Want Is One Night
59E59 Theaters/Theater B
59 E. 59th St., NYC
Through July 1
Photography: Carol Rosegg

Joseph Atkins, Jessica Walker, Alexandra Mathie
Joseph Atkins, Rachel Austin, Jessica Walker

 

 

Fruit Trilogy ****

By: Isa Goldberg

June 15, 2018:  Watching Eve Ensler’s, Fruit Trilogy, currently at the Lucille Lortel Theater, one feels as if they were entering an existential hell, as in Waiting for Godot. Only here the quest to be rescued from a terrible fate is massaged for a happy ending. And we all know about happy endings, in the corporeal sense.

By: Isa Goldberg

June 15, 2018:  Watching Eve Ensler’s, Fruit Trilogy, currently at the Lucille Lortel Theater, one feels as if they were entering an existential hell, as in Waiting for Godot. Only here the quest to be rescued from a terrible fate is massaged for a happy ending. And we all know about happy endings, in the corporeal sense.

Through two small windows in a solid black screen, the characters, Item 1 and Item 2, appear as two wigs on a shelf. Their tags visible, they wait to see, “Who could be coming? Some soldiers who will leash us and make us crawl? Some husband who will sell us as whores and force us to watch him buying and raping our friends…”

In this first play, entitled Pomegranate, the fate of the two wigs, two women, is expressed by their commodification. And the pomegranate itself serves as a sign of what is to come. Less the spring, in this case, the season when they’re harvested, than a sign of the customers who arrive like victors to carry off the spoils of war.

Who they are, where they’ve been, and how they got here are unanswerable, albeit fundamental questions. Whether their absurd existence is defined by circumstances, or threats, it will ultimately come down to what men dictate. And they, “women more willing to be vile receptacles than (they) are willing to be dead,” suffer that shame.

Kiersey Clemons

In the second play, Avocado, the younger of the two characters, performed by Kiersey Clemons, describes being packed into a container with a lot of unripe, hard avocados. Staged by (Mark Wendland) like a wide screen movie, the setting is free of objects. But the environment, which the actor paints vividly, is so suffocating that she can’t breathe.

It is also the most brutal of the three stories, as this nameless character describes her existence as a woman and a slave. She recounts the abuses of her brother and father, and the whacking that she is repeatedly subjected to by her captors. Describing her experience in abstractions, her monologue is fuming and furious, a litany of startling images, violent deeds, and painful revelries.

And the avocados, the unripe ones she had stuffed herself on because she was starving and that was all there was to eat have made her vomit, leaving quite a stench, in this contained space. It’s the same experience she had the first time a man shoved himself into her mouth. That scared her and made her vomit.

Indeed, Ensler’s language is graphic, vulgar and poetic. And the acts described are in large part violent sexual crimes against women, committed for personal gain.

Liz Mikel

But the third play, Coconuts, in which Liz Mikel portrays a character who discovers herself spiritually, and physically, is completely uplifting, and fun. Set in a bathroom, with an altar, the space is mystical – the setting for a uniquely sensual experience. Here, Mikel rubs coconut oil on her skin, beginning with her feet and working the way up to her voluminous breasts.

Oiling her skin, making it so soft “that you melt into it like butter,” she reveals, helps her overcome the deficits – her unruly hair –  and all the other ways in which she cannot measure up. As her hands glide and slip over her skin, “moving into the mandala” as she puts it, she bares into her core, touching herself, seeking her own deliverance.

Sitting alone at the front of the stage, in increasing states of nudity, self-awareness, and pleasure, she asks us not to think of this as theater. She asks, “Can we call it a shared private coconut oil happening? A cosmic body lift, a mystical flesh occurrence?”

That she is a woman who takes pride in her body is Ensler’s message – especially in light of the men who don’t! As the character in Coconut expresses it, “I want to know my body without having to give anything without having to arch my spine or make idiotic stripper poses or pouty baby faces and high squeaky noises. I want to know my body through you seeing my body, seeing me, not as an instrument of labor or service or as a vehicle or a cavern or an object of worship or a vessel of sin.”

Beyond the daring and sensuality of her performance, Mikel evokes her ceremonious oiling with a wonderful sense of humor, and amazing self-confidence. In fact, both of the actors are incredibly vulnerable and dynamic, as they encounter their many roles as women.

Sensitively directed by Mark Rosenblatt, the characters’ realizations, and their ability to transform, inform the play’s happy ending.

Liz Mikel, Kiersey Clemons

Fruit Trilogy ****
Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village
212 352-3101
Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission
Through June 23, 2018
Photography: Maria Baranova

Liz Mikel, Kiersey Clemons
Liz Mikel, Kiersey Clemons
Liz Mikel, Kiersey Clemons

 

Dan Cody’s Yacht ***

By: Isa Goldberg

June 15, 2018:  Anthony Giardina’s new drama, Dan Cody’s Yacht at The Manhattan Theater Club, City Center Stage I, plays with the simplicity of boulevard comedy, while addressing complex issues of education and class, in America today. But it’s not just the divide between the wealthy and the poor that is being addressed here. More importantly, it’s about the divide between being real and genuine, versus getting away with easy answers.

By: Isa Goldberg

June 15, 2018:  Anthony Giardina’s new drama, Dan Cody’s Yacht at The Manhattan Theater Club, City Center Stage I, plays with the simplicity of boulevard comedy, while addressing complex issues of education and class, in America today. But it’s not just the divide between the wealthy and the poor that is being addressed here. More importantly, it’s about the divide between being real and genuine, versus getting away with easy answers.

In this production, directed by Doug Hughes (Tony Award-winning Doubt), the cards are played openly, and dealt unfairly. As the play begins Kevin (Rick Holmes) is trying to bribe his son’s English teacher, Cara (Kristen Bush), into giving his lazy son a higher grade. The money is on the table. And while Cara does not accept, she is drawn into the world of this high-powered boastful money manager, with all the hopes and expectations he feeds her.

And Cara also has a child, Angela, a dedicated student, the class poet, whose prospects are just the opposite of Kevin’s son, John. There is no private education in her future, much as she strives to learn, and achieve. That the two teenagers are black and white opposites serves the issue at the heart of the drama.

While the plot is pretty obvious, Giardina manages to hold up the ambiguity of morality in a thoughtful, sophisticated way. It’s not about right and wrong, as much as it’s about being true to oneself, and knowing how to get results. Indeed, there is no defense of righteous deeds that lead to self-destructive ends, nor crimes targeted to cause others harm. It’s a well nuanced, and well thought out position.

That the play moves so easily and quickly is, of course, a tribute to Hughes’ direction, as well as the very capable cast. Casey Whyland’s Angela evokes our empathy, while John Croft as O’Neill’s son is adorable, and therefore irreprehensible.

Rick Holmes, Casey Whyland

And the supporting actors bring their characters into sharp focus, especially Roxanna Hope Radja as Cathy, Cara’s best friend from high school. Still stuck in that small town where Cara is struggling to raise her daughter, Bush’s Cara is a friend you wouldn’t want to lose.

Rick Holmes, as the successful money manager is as charming, as he is contriving. The production is smooth, well-paced, and timely.

Dan Cody’s Yacht ***
Manhattan Theater Club (Off Broadway)
New York City Center Stage I
131 W. 55th Street, NYC
212-581-1212
Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.

Photography:Joan Marcus

Roxanna Hope Radja, Kristen Bush

 

Half Time @ Paper Mill Playhouse

A new musical, Half Time directed by Broadway legend Jerry Herman, opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

June 13, 2018:  Half Time, new musical inspired by Dori Berinstein’s 2008 documentary “Gotta Dance,” about a basketball halftime dance team made up of performers over 60, opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey.

A new musical, Half Time directed by Broadway legend Jerry Herman, opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

June 13, 2018:  Half Time, new musical inspired by Dori Berinstein’s 2008 documentary “Gotta Dance,” about a basketball halftime dance team made up of performers over 60, opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey.

The musical features a book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, with songs by Matthew Sklar and Nell Benjamin, and additional music by Marvin Hamlisch and Ester Dean. Half Time, directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner  Jerry Mitchell, features five-time Emmy nominee Georgia Engel  best known for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and Tony and Emmy Award winner Lillias White (The Life, “Sesame Street”) along with André De Shields (The Wiz, The Full Monty, Ain’t Misbehavin’) and Tony award winner and Broadway legend Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line) who with this all-star cast tell the uplifting true story of ten New Jersey seniors with extraordinary dreams.

The principal cast features André De Shields as Ron, Georgia Engel as Dorothy/Dottie, Donna McKechnie as Joanne, Lillias White as Bea, who are joined by Haven Burton as Tara, Lori Tan Chinn as Mae, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Kendra, Nancy Ticotin as Camilla, Madeleine Doherty as Estelle, Tracy Jai Edwards as Alison Prager, Mary Claire King as Jenny, Lenora Nemetz as Fran, and Kay Walbye as Muriel.  

Rounding out the cast are Alexander Aguilar, Ken Ard, Sydni Beaudoin, Tami Dahbura, Paula DeLuise, Gabriela Garcia, Talya Groves, Kathryn Kendall, Valton Jackson, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Garrett Turner and Gayle Turner.

Half Time began performances May 31, 2018 for a limited engagement through Sunday, July 1, 2018, at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive) in Millburn, NJ.

Photography: Maryann Lopinto 

Andre De Shields
Georgia Engel
Donna McKechnie
Christian Borle, Tracy Jai Edwards
Curtain Call
Lori Tan Chinn
Lori Tan Chinn
Donna McKechnie, Harvey Evans
Curtain Call
Curtain Call
Curtain Call

Half Time ***1/2

Georgia Engel, André De Shields, Lillias White, and Donna McKechnie in Half Time East Coast Premiere at Paper Mill Playhouse

By: Ellis Nassour

June 14, 2018 – There’re enough Tony winners among the creative team in the East Coast premiere of Jerry Mitchell’s production of the musical Half Time for you to expect a championship game.

Georgia Engel, André De Shields, Lillias White, and Donna McKechnie in Half Time East Coast Premiere at Paper Mill Playhouse

By: Ellis Nassour

June 14, 2018 – There’re enough Tony winners among the creative team in the East Coast premiere of Jerry Mitchell’s production of the musical Half Time for you to expect a championship game. The adaptation of Dori Berinstein’s 2008 documentary Gotta Dance, about New Jersey seniors creating a hip-hop squad for the local team, plays at the Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, NJ) through July 1. While things don’t quite gel to equal the sum of their parts, there are incredibly standout parts. With a score by Matthew Sklar (music) and Nell Benjamin (lyrics) and book  by Bob Martin (Drowsy Chaperone) and Chad Beguelin (Aladdin;  The Wedding Singer), it dribbles along at TV-sit-com level until the momentum picks up when a couple of players shoot winning hoops.

The show, where the seniors defy the odds to disprove the axiom “No one said getting old is easy” and that age is just a number, had changes since its 2015 Chicago premiere, then-titled Gotta Dance, also helmed by Mitchell. He’s kept the lead cast mostly intact. As with any show, no matter how strong the book and music are, great casting choices make it stronger. He’s blessed to have five-time Emmy-nominated Georgia Engel and Tony and Obie-winning stage veteran André De Shields as his MVPs.

Tony nominated Sklar (Elf) and Olivier and Tony nominated Benjamin (Legally Blonde) joined the team when EGOT (Emmy, Grammy Oscar, Tony) and Pulitzer Prize winner Marvin Hamlisch died in 2012. Three of his tunes remain. They and two from the new players add incalculable gloss.

Half-Time is very much an ensemble show. Returning in addition to Engel and De Shields are  Tony winning belter Lillias White, Haven Burton, Lori Tan Chin, Nancy Ticotin, Madeline Doherty, Tracy Jai Edwards, Lenora Nemetz, and Kay Walbye. Replacing popular TV star Stefanie Powers from Chicago is Donna McKechnie.

The inspiration for the musical is literally ripped out of the headlines – or, in this case, a gossip column. Four-time Tony-winning producer Berinstein (2012 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf  revival, Thoroughly Modern Millie, among others) saw an item in a 2006 Cindy Adams New York Post column announcing the New Jersey Nets were holding an audition for the first-ever N.B.A. senior hip-hop squad. She raced there, camera in hand. That led her to produce the 2008 indie film Gotta Dance.

In Half Time, reminiscent of the English import of Richard Harris’ 1987 play with songs, Stepping Out, there are nine seniors and one man. Here, the team is the New Jersey Cougars, choreographed/coached by Tara (Burton). The 60-year-old plus dance hopefuls – all truly amazing cougars, arrive thinking they’re up for tap and ballroom and find themselves in a rude awakening. Things get off to an even worse than bad start for the Nifty Shades of Grey, until the revelation that mild-mannered kindergarten teacher Dorothy, portrayed by extraordinary scene-stealer Engel [who turns 70 next month], who can’t walk without a cane is a hip-hop aficionado spouting lyrics from rappers Topac, Run DMC, 50 Cent, and Eminem. On the dance floor, she gets her grove on as if she’s a high-energy teenager. In less than three weeks they’re to bust their moves center court in front of 20,000 fans. As things start to shape up there are petty jealousies, granddaughter marital advice from sassy “grandma” Bea (White) who’s knows how to work it and twerk it, a superiority attitude from former professional dancer (McKechnie) who’s hiding a secret, wise-cracking one-liners courtesy of the diminutive Mae (Chinn), and hot salsa from Camilla (Ticotin) who brandishes a sexy French-kissing boy toy. They’re balanced by a smooth-talking widower (De Shields) known as “the Prince of Swing” in spite of his aching back. They put petty attitudes and differences aside and finally bond in solidarity – not to mention romance, defy the odds, and become “We seniors are the world!” champions with no end-game in sight.

There really wouldn’t be much here except for Engel and De Shields. She has a winning Hamlisch reverie  in “Dorothy/Dottie,” where she reveals that the woman on the dance floor isn’t her/Dorothy but her hip-hop alter ego Dottie. She sings “Dor’thy’s not bold … She’s got nothing to say. Neat appearance and good manners”; but as Dottie, when the music “pulses through her body, bass and reverb start to shake … she feels something inside her wake.” And it’s on the dance floor where she literally walks off with the show. De Shields has long been known as a smooth-talker with amazing stage swagger. He delivers both towards the end of Act One in the Hamlisch charmer “The Prince of Swing,” where he reveals how one dance changed his life and got him a wife. He and Engel spot some dazzling ballroom moves during  a few stanzas of “There You Are,” which Hamlisch incorporated into the number. They not only stop the show, they bring the house down.

White delivers brassy, sassy advice to her granddaughter in the three-part “Princess” and Ticotin and her boy toy Fernando (Alexander Agular) deliver hot Salsa in “Como No.” Then, there’s the Act Two moment when set designer David Rockwell’s back wall segues into panels of mirrors and Cassie, that is Joanne (McKechnie), delivers a solo dance  in “Too Good for This” that’s three degrees of separation from her Tony-winning moment in A Chorus Line.

Music director and arranger is Tony-winner Charlie Alterman (Pippin revival, Next to Normal), with orchestrations by Tony-winner Larry Hochman (Book of Mormon), and dance arrangements by Kenny Seymour. Two-time Tony winner Mitchell (Kinky Boots) choreographed and directed, but credits co-choreographer Nick Kenkel with the hip-hop moves accompanying Sklar’s pulsating dance music. Half Time is produced in association with Berinstein and Bill Damaschke. The production is also made possible with support from Bank of America and season sponsor Investors Bank.

Tickets for Half Time at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive) are $34 – $137, and available at the box office, online at www.PaperMill.org, or by calling (973) 376-4343. Groups of 10 or more receive up to a 40% discount (973) 315-168). Students: $23 rush tickets at box office or by phone day of performance. For performance schedules,  visit www.papermill.org. Mark S. Hoebee is Paper Mill’s producing artistic director and Todd Schmidt is managing director. 

Special events at Half Time

June 24 and 30, 1:30 P.M.: Audio-described performances. Prior to the performances at noon, there’ll be sensory seminars, offering patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the show’s production elements and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.

June 30: Q&A with the cast, following the matinee.

July 1, 7 P.M.: a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance.

Tony Awards

Robert De Niro, Donald Trump, and the Tony Awards

By: David Sheward

June 14, 2018:  It had been one of the better Tony Awards in recent memory. The hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles were funny and charming, and not the disastrous Kevin Spacey of the year before or the over used Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. The pop duo even wrote their own original musical material. The numbers from the nominated musicals showcased their respective shows with wit and precision.

Robert De Niro, Donald Trump, and the Tony Awards

By: David Sheward

June 14, 2018:  It had been one of the better Tony Awards in recent memory. The hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles were funny and charming, and not the disastrous Kevin Spacey of the year before or the over used Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. The pop duo even wrote their own original musical material. The numbers from the nominated musicals showcased their respective shows with wit and precision. Acceptance speeches were short and the orchestra cut-offs were ruthless at times–Harry Potter playwright Jack Thorne did not get to speak at all, but mostly winners appropriately thanked their colleagues. Any political messages were subtle and not obscene or blatant. In one stunningly moving sequence, drama students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who had suffered through a horrific school shooting sang “Seasons of Love” from Rent to honor their teacher for winning a special Tony Award. Nobody carried a Gun Control protest sign or pointed out that two years ago the Tonys were overshadowed by the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre. The kids singing got the message across.

Glenda Jackson in her speech for taking the Best Actress in a Play category for Three Tall Women praised the Parkland children and indirectly criticized the current administration stating that “America has always been great.” Tony Kushner in receiving the Best Revival of a Play Award for Angels in America, exhorted viewers to vote in November without explicitly advocating for an overthrow of the GOP in Congress. Andrew Garfield, winning Best Actor in a Play for Angels, slammed the recent Supreme Court decision siding with the homophobic baker against the gay couple who wanted a wedding cake. Harry Potter director John Tiffany got the entire Radio City Music Hall audience to sing Happy Birthday to his boyfriend. All very cozy, nothing objectionable. There was even a commercial with a lesbian wedding. Maybe a few rigid people in Middle America turned off their sets, but no one could accuse the Tonys of being overly political.

Then Robert De Niro came on stage to introduce Bruce Springsteen. “I just want to say one thing,” the Oscar winner began and his lips were suddenly moving but nothing came out. The audience screamed, stood and cheered. Twitter and Facebook exploded asking what had happened. From my couch I could make out what De Niro seemed to be saying and it was “Fuck Trump.” He doubled down and added “It’s no longer Down with Trump, it’s Fuck Trump.” CBS was able to censor the remark since the broadcast was on a seven-second delay. But the star’s incendiary blast was heard nonetheless.

On Twitter, I predicted that the right-wing media would castigate De Niro–“Can you imagine if someone had said Fuck Obama?,” they’d be saying–and the entire Broadway community for giving him a standing ovation. They would accuse the ritzy New York crowd of being out of touch with real Americans and of being traitorous for scorching an American president just as he is about to go into a major summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. De Niro may have been specifically reacting to Trump’s boorish behavior at the G7 meeting, or his recent claim that he has the power to pardon himself, or the policies which separate immigrant children from their families and lock them up in little cages like animals. Or all of the above. Unfortunately, De Niro’s outburst may have elated Trump opponents like me for a few moments, but it also served to push Trump supporters further into his arms. The previously noted actions were more effective in registering our dissent.

This is what I wrote on Facebook in response to a comment calling the actor’s scream “high school boy silliness”:

“I think De Niro should not have done it. I do understand the rage behind it because I feel it myself. Trump represents bigotry, dishonesty and ignorance to me. To his supporters, he doesn’t; they see him as an economic savior and they either ignore his racism or they endorse it. I don’t believe every Trump booster is a racist pig, but I’m angry that this dishonest pig of a man is representing the USA and I’m ashamed to be an American because he’s president. It would have been more constructive for De Niro to say something like ‘We in the theater embrace gays, people of diverse backgrounds, immigrants, and love. Our president does not. The kids from Florida who sang survived a mass shooting at their school and our president does not want to do everything he can to protect them because he is beholden to the NRA and the gun lobby. We want everyone watching to know we embrace love in the theater and the president does not.’ “

Perhaps De Niro went too far, but he has the right to express his views at an awards show or anywhere else.

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/REX/Shutterstock (9708047ke) Robert De Niro 72nd Annual Tony Awards, Show, New York, USA – 10 Jun 2018

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on June 13, 2018

 

The Boys in the Band ***

By: David Sheward

June  13, 2018:  When The Boys in the Band, Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play focusing on the gay experience, opened Off-Broadway in 1968, critics praised it as a sympathetic portrait of a persecuted sexual minority. But many reviewers tellingly revealed their bias. One expressed disgust at having to watch men dance together while another described the work as an accurate depiction of those suffering from a disease. The current revival at the Booth of this devastating artifact—the first one for Broadway after two major Off-Broadway stagings—shows how far we have come as far as gay acceptance goes. The director Joe Mantello, all of the producers,  and the entire nine-man cast are all openly gay and have not suffered any career damage.

By: David Sheward

June  13, 2018:  When The Boys in the Band, Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play focusing on the gay experience, opened Off-Broadway in 1968, critics praised it as a sympathetic portrait of a persecuted sexual minority. But many reviewers tellingly revealed their bias. One expressed disgust at having to watch men dance together while another described the work as an accurate depiction of those suffering from a disease. The current revival at the Booth of this devastating artifact—the first one for Broadway after two major Off-Broadway stagings—shows how far we have come as far as gay acceptance goes. The director Joe Mantello, all of the producers,  and the entire nine-man cast are all openly gay and have not suffered any career damage.

The acting and direction are strong and precise, Crowley’s bitchy wisecracks are dropped like nasty bombs exactly on target. But, like George C. Wolfe’s surface-deep rendering of The Iceman Cometh a few doors down at the Bernard Jacobs, this production settles for easy laughs and fails to offer the full depth of the first production, preserved in a 1970 film version with the original ensemble, directed by William Friedkin. Crowley has trimmed his script and eliminated the intermission and Mantello delivers his usual tight pacing, but it feels as if we are looking at these boys through the prism of 2018 sensibilities rather than directly experiencing their pain and loneliness.

Michael Benjamin Washington, Robin de Jesus, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Carver, Andrew Rannells, Matt Bomer

The concept is ingeniously theatrical and accounts for the original’s smash run of 1,000 performances. A group of funny-on-the-outside-sad-on-the-inside gay friends gather for a birthday party, but a wild card is dealt when the supposedly straight college friend of the host shows up and all bets are off. A Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf-style party game forces the guests to reveal bitter secrets and each somewhat stereotyped figure is stripped metaphorically bare.

The attitudes towards gays at the time—reflected accurately in the script—ranged from outright repulsion to condescending pity. None of the partygoers is in a healthy relationship and the object of their game, engineered by the self-loathing host Michael, is to expose the impossibility of romantic love between men. (Each player must telephone the one person they have truly loved and tell him so—a bold challenge to express the passion that dare not speak its name.) In 1968, homosexuality was seen as a curse, not a healthy state of being. Mantello’s sharp direction does not touch on this theme, but does offer plenty of yucks and attempts at pathos. At times, he pushes the melodrama, such as freezing the action and throwing a spotlight on Michael as he takes his first cocktail of the evening as if to shout at the audience, “Look out, dramatic fireworks ahead!” But his choices are rarely this blantant.

Jim Parsons deserves kudos for his caustic Michael, a notoriously difficult role which the lovable Big Bang Theory star tackles with conviction despite a fall during previews. He wisely does not water down Michael’s venom, but he misses his fathom-deep anguish and anger. The latter half of the play is usually stolen by Harold, the acerbic birthday boy who is given the lion’s share of biting barbs and is Michael’s equal when it comes to powerful put downs. Unfortunately, Zachary Quinto plays Harold on one affected rumbling bass note, sort of like a cartoon villain.

Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer

Robin de Jesus reveals the ache beneath the effeminate clowning of Emory, the “nelly queen” of the bunch. Matt Bomer is relegated to reacting to the others’ excesses as Donald, Michael’s sometime lover, but he makes the most of it. Michael Benjamin Washington, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, and Brian Hutchinson complete this proficient ensemble. Even Charlie Carver in the small role of the cowboy-hustler bought as a gag gift for Harold, has moments to shine.

David Zinn designed the appropriate period costumes and the red-velvet duplex apartment set which gets a trifle crowded. But the split-level effect is employed cleverly by Mantello. With the aide of Hugh Vanstone’s lighting, he uses mirrors and glass panels in a technique similar to the one in his staging of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, a revival which, unlike this Boys, fully mines the depths of its source.

The Boys In The Band ***
May 31—Aug. 11. Booth Theater, 222 W. 45th St., NYC. Mon 8pm, Tue 7pm, wed 2pm & 7pm, Thu—Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm. Running time: one hour and 45 mins. with no intermission. $69—$199. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photography: Joan Marcus

Robin de Jesus, Michael Benjamin Washington, Andrew Rannells, Jim Parsons
Tuc Watkins, Michael Benjamin Washington. Matt Bomer

Originally Posted on ArtsInNY.com on June 10, 2018

 

 

Richard Hambleton at ACA

Richard Hambleton: Eternity on view June 14 through July 27, 2018

June 13, 20018:  ACA Galleries, 529 West 29th Street in the Gallery district hosted an opening reception for Richard Hambleton: Eternity , on view at ACA  June 14 through July 27, 2018. The exhibition showcases major paintings and works on paper from Hambleton’s two signature series – Shadowmen and Horse & Rider.  Widely considered the “Godfather of Street Art”, his contemporaries included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol.

Richard Hambleton: Eternity on view June 14 through July 27, 2018

June 13, 20018:  ACA Galleries, 529 West 29th Street in the Gallery district hosted an opening reception for Richard Hambleton: Eternity , on view at ACA  June 14 through July 27, 2018. The exhibition showcases major paintings and works on paper from Hambleton’s two signature series – Shadowmen and Horse & Rider.  Widely considered the “Godfather of Street Art”, his contemporaries included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol.

Exhibition highlights include: a colossal unstretched canvas with five life-sized Shadowmen figures; several large single Shadowmen; and Rodeo paintings on canvas – these prime examples demonstrate Hambleton’s ability to expressively combine representation and gestural abstraction.  Coming out of private collections the majority of these works have never been exhibited before. 

Initially recognized for his Mass Murder Series where he created bloody “crime scenes” with splattered red paint outlining the forms of “homicide victims”; and I Only Have Eyes For You, a series of stenciled self-portraits wheat-pasted throughout the city. The printed images were fragile and impermanent, eventually fading into “white shadows”. He went on to cover the streets with his legendary Shadowmen – quickly executed black painted silhouette figures which lurked in unexpected corners and alleys and became synonymous with 80s New York.  Later he translated these figures to canvas and paper and developed his popular Horse and Rider – Rodeo themed artworks.

Richard Hambleton, born in Vancouver, Canada moved to New York in the late 1970s. Along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hambleton established himself as one of the top artists working in New York City in the 1980s. Hambleton considered his work to be public art where the city itself served as both canvas and subject matter. He was included in the Venice Biennale in 1984 and 1988. In 2009, a major exhibition, “Richard Hambleton – New York” opened in collaboration with Armani in London. The exhibition toured to multiple venues including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.  Recently, Hambleton was featured in the exhibition, Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  A feature length documentary about Richard Hambleton’s life and work premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, titled “Shadowman”, before being bought and distributed worldwide by Amazon. 

Celeste Miles, Dorian Bergen
Noha Baltagi, Gordon Von Brock, Vaughn Bergen
Serri Knight, Casey Bergen, Mikaela Sardo Lamarche

Casey Bergen, Jacqueline Kelly-Lynch, Dmitry Razin

529 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
212 206-8080
Info@acagalleries.com
Summer Hours:
Tuesday-Friday 11am-6pm
Saturday-Monday / Open By Appointment Only

 

Live Out Loud

17th Annual Young Trailblazers Gala honors Brent Miller of Proctor Gamble.

June 11, 2018:  Live Out Loud held the 17 Annual Trailblazers Gala hosted by Ariana DeBose, Tony nominated for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, on Monday at The Times Center in New York, where Broadway star, Nick Adams, was a special performer and Hailie Sahar, from FX’s Pose, was a special guest presenter.

17th Annual Young Trailblazers Gala honors Brent Miller of Proctor Gamble.

June 11, 2018:  Live Out Loud held the 17 Annual Trailblazers Gala hosted by Ariana DeBose, Tony nominated for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, on Monday at The Times Center in New York, where Broadway star, Nick Adams, was a special performer and Hailie Sahar, from FX’s Pose, was a special guest presenter.

Each year at the Gala, Live Out Loud honors three graduating high school seniors, each, with a $10,000 scholarship. Along with these awards Live Out Loud recognizes outstanding individuals, who have nurtured and supported the LGBTQ community. This year Brent Miller of Proctor Gamble, P&G, was given the corporate leadership award.

As one of the earliest companies to include sexual orientation into its diversity statement, P&G has been a leader in supporting the LGBTQ community. This year, P&G reached billions of people around the world with its “Love Over Bias” campaign celebrating moms and their role in helping young people reach their full potential no matter where they come from or who they love.  Working in partnership with Gay Olympian Gus Kenworthy, P&G put a spotlight on LGBTQ youth and the importance of supporting them to achieve greatness.  Head & Shoulders, a P&G brand, also worked with Kenworthy in their “Shoulders of Greatness” campaign to highlight the power of living as your authentic self.  The campaign featured the first Pride flag to ever be shown in a national television advertisement and helped create a dialogue of support and acceptance. 

The scholarship award winners were: Ibn H. Coleman, Ross L. Jacobson, and Ethan W. Cepeda. Jennifer Elliott, LCSW was recognized for her inspired work as Educator of the Year.

Live Out Loud is a non-profit organization that nurtures future LGBTQ leaders by providing them with role models, resources and opportunities needed to discover their voice and become agents of change. This year, three outstanding high school seniors from the New York Tri-State area will each be awarded $10,000 college scholarships for their demonstrated leadership and community activism. Proceeds from the gala event will benefit Live Out Loud’s educational school programming for LGBTQ youth. 

Bruce T. Sloane, Nick Adams, Charles Busch

John McDaniel

Raphael Miranda, Leo Preziosi Jr., Bruce T. Sloane

NIck Adams, Charles Busch

72nd Annual Tony Awards

The Band’s Visit was named Broadway’s Best Musical taking home Ten Awards at 2018 Tony Awards, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child nabbed Six.

June 11, 2018:  The Band’s Visit was the big winner at the annual Tony Awards winning awards in 10, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best, Director, and Best Book of a Musical.  The popular London import, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was honored with six awards, including Best Play. The 72nd Annual tribute was televised Sunday evening, live on CBS, from Radio City Music Hall. The lavish celebrity-studded ceremony, hosted by Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, was an unforgettable evening featuring performances from many of the nominated shows.
Here are the complete list of winners:
Photography: Barry Gordin

The Band’s Visit was named Broadway’s Best Musical taking home Ten Awards at 2018 Tony Awards, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child nabbed Six.

June 11, 2018:  The Band’s Visit was the big winner at the annual Tony Awards winning awards in 10, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best, Director, and Best Book of a Musical.  The popular London import, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was honored with six awards, including Best Play. The 72nd Annual tribute was televised Sunday evening, live on CBS, from Radio City Music Hall. The lavish celebrity-studded ceremony, hosted by Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, was an unforgettable evening featuring performances from many of the nominated shows.
Here are the complete list of winners:
Photography: Barry Gordin

Best Musical

The Band’s Visit

“The Band’s Visit”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit

Katrina Lenk “The Band’s Visit”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Tony Shalhoub “The Band’s Visit

Tony Shalhoub & Katrina Lenk “The Band’s Visit”

Best Revival of a Musical

Once on This Island

Best Play

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Colin Callender, Sonia Friedman, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”

Best Revival of a Play

“Angels in America”

Tony Kushner, Jordan Roth, Lisa Burger, Marianne Elliott, Tim Levy, Rugus Norris,Best Revival of a Play
“Angels in America”
Tony Kushner “Angels in America”
Jordan Roth “Angels in America”

Best Original Score

David Yazkbek, The Band’s Visit

David Yazkbek, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Direction of a Play

John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

John Tiffany, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”

Best Direction of a Musical

David Cromer, The Band’s Visit

David Cromer, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Andrew Garfield, Angels in America

Andrew Garfield “Angels In America”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Glenda Jackson, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women

Glenda Jackson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Nathan Lane, “Angels in America”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel

Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel”
Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Laurie Metcalf, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women

Laurie Metcalf, Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women”

Best Book of a Musical

Itamar Moses, The Band’s Visit

Itamar Moses, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Orchestrations

Jamshied Sharifi, The Band’s Visit

Jamshied Sharifi, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Choreography

Justin Peck, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel

Justin Peck, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel”

Best Sound Design of a Play

Gareth Fry, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Gareth Fry, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Kai Harada, The Band’s Visit

Kai Harada, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

David Zinn, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical”

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Christine Jones, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Christine Jones “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady

Catherine Zuber, “My Fair Lady”

Best Costume Design of a Play

Katrina Lindsay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Katrina Lindsay, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, Parts One and Two
Katrina Lindsay & Christine Jones “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, Parts One and Two

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Tyler Micoleau, The Band’s Visit

Tyler Micoleau, “The Band’s Visit”

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Neil Austin, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”

Non-competitive awards

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Nick Scandalios with Luke and Kate

Regional Theatre Tony Award

La Mama E.T.C.

Anniks Boras, Ayad Akhtar
Mia Yoo, Artistic Director La MaMa

Special Tony Award

John Leguizamo

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen
Special Tony Award
John Leguizamo

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

Sara Krulwich
Bessie Nelson
Ernest Winzer Cleane

Sara Krulwich

2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award

Melody Herzfeld, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Jack Thorne “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”
Colin Callender “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”
Producer Ken Davenport

The Red Carpet 

Stewart F. Lane, Bonnie Comley (Broadway HD)
Christine Baranski
Nikki M. James
Andrew Garfield
Renee Fleming
Michael Arden, Andy Mientus
Brian Tyree Henry
Stephen Bienskie, Christopher Gattelli
Stephanie Styles
Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Sara Bareilles, Joe Tippett
Jennifer Lee
Anthony Boyle
Cynthia Erivo
Laura Osnes, Nathan Johnson
Jamshied Sharifi, Miyuki Sakamoto
Peter Hylenski, Suzanne Hylenski
Josh Groban
Patricia Delgado, Justin Peck
Lauren Worsham, Kyle Jarrow
Brooklyn Sudano, Mimi Sommer, Aman Sudano

Wayne Coyne, Katy Weaver
Noma Dumezweni
Lauren Ridloff
Brandon Victor Dixon
Marissa Jaret Winokur
Joshua Henry
David Zinn
Rachel Bloom

 

2018 Tony Award Predictions

The Band’s Visit and SpongeBob will square off at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards, televised live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall Sunday at 8pm.

By: Patrick Christiano

June 9, 2018:  The Awards season is upon us, and tomorrow night Broadway’s biggest event, the Tony Awards will be televised on CBS at 8pm in a live ceremony hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban from Radio City Music Hall in New York. The nominations were announced back on May 1st and all the votes have been tallied. Here are my choices for Broadway’s most coveted awards from the 2017-2018 season.

The Band’s Visit and SpongeBob will square off at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards, televised live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall Sunday at 8pm.

By: Patrick Christiano

June 9, 2018:  The Awards season is upon us, and tomorrow night Broadway’s biggest event, the Tony Awards will be televised on CBS at 8pm in a live ceremony hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban from Radio City Music Hall in New York. The nominations were announced back on May 1st and all the votes have been tallied. Here are my choices for Broadway’s most coveted awards from the 2017-2018 season.

Best Book of a Musical:
I look for Itamar Moses for The Band’s Visit to square off against Tina Fey’s Mean Girls. Fey has picked up awards at the OCC and Drama Desk, however, The Band’s Visit wasn’t eligible because it won last year. On Broadway Moses will take home the Tony for his moving and nuanced book. Kyle Jarrow, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical will be a distant third.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
David Yazbek should prevail for The Band’s Visit over all the artists from SpongeBob – Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil’C

Andrew Garfield “Angels in America” Photo: Barry Gordin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Andrew Garfield for his searing, gut wrenching portrayal of Prior in Angels in America. Tom Hollander, Travesties was hysterical, but Garfield was unforgettable. Also-rans will be Jamie Parker, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two, Mark Rylance, Farinelli and The King, and Denzel Washington, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh

Glenda Jackson “Three Tall Women” Photo: Barry Gordin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Simply riveting, Glenda Jackson, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, will win hands-down, no contest. She is the winner even though she doesn’t compete.

Ethan Slater “SpongeBob Square Pants”
Photo: Barry Gordin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Probably the most competitive category of the evening with anyone of the nominees deserving of the Tony for different reasons. The nominees are Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady, Joshua Henry, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, Tony Shalhoub, The Band’s Visit, and Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. I look for Ethan Slater to walk away for his Broadway debut in SpongeBob. He is on stage almost the entire time and his performance is completely infectious.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Katrina Lenk for her portrayal of Diana, the café owner in The Band’s Visit. She was born to be on the stage and her work is mesmerizing. She is head and shoulders above the rest. If anyone has the slightest chance of overtaking her, look  to Lauren Ambrose in my My Fair Lady. She won the OCC, however, she didn’t have to compete with Lenk.

Nathan Lane “Angels in America”
Photo: Barry Gordin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Nathan Lane, Angels in America, has already won the OCC and Drama Desk Awards, and I look for him to repeat for his searing portrayal of Roy Cohen.  David Morse was outstanding in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman, but Angels is a popular and timely work. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
This one is a little tricky. Laurie Metcalf, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, may edge out the women from Angels in America, who will probably cancel each other out in the voting, otherwise I would go with Denise Gough, Angels in America.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz won the OCC for his show stopping turn in My Fair Lady, but was snubed by the Drama Desk where Gavin Lee won the award with an equally show-stopping turn as the tap dancing Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. I look for Lee to triumph for his unforgettable four-legged tap dance with a chorus line of pink sea anemones that may be the most memorable production number of the season.  Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit, is a possible dark horse that could surprise.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
A toss-up between Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, and Ashley Park, Mean Girls. Both women turned in terrific work and both have their supporters. I am giving the edge to Lindsay Mendez, who won both the OCC and Drama Desk Awards and is just so likeable and charming.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Christine Jones, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Michael Yeargan for his dazzling revolving set at Lincoln Center for  My Fair Lady. However, both Dane Laffrey, Once on This Island, and David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, are more deserving and imaginative.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Katrina Lindsay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
A close one. I look for Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical to prevail over Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Once On This Island

Best Sound Design of a Play
Gareth Fry, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Another close one.  Just a hunch, Kai Harada, The Band’s Visit, will over
Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best Direction of a Play
All the nominees, Marianne Elliott, Angels in America, Joe Mantello, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, Patrick Marber, Travesties, John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two, and George C. Wolfe, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, are excellent. I like Marianne Elliott, however the smart money is on John Tiffany.

Best Direction of a Musical
Another competitive category.  I like Tina Landau’s zany SpongeBob, however David Cromer, The Band’s Visit is equally deserving.  Totally different and magically as well. Also, you can’t rule out Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady

Best Choreography
Justin Peck, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel

Best Orchestrations
Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, will edge out Jamshied Sharifi, The Band’s Visit.

Best Play
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne

Best Musical
The Band’s Visit

Best Revival of a Play
Angels in America

Best Revival of a Musical
My Fair Lady

 

 

Tony Awards

The 72nd Annual Tony Awards Will Showcase Broadway’s
Biggest and Best  Live from Radio City on CBS;  Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban Host

By: Ellis Nassour

The 72nd annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will have enough star power to light not only 50th Street and Avenue of the Americas but also all of Times Square. The list of mega talent guests could light the world! The Awards will telecast live Sunday from 8 – 11 P.M. from Radio City Music Hall on CBS, proudly entering its 60th year as Tony’s network.

The 72nd Annual Tony Awards Will Showcase Broadway’s
Biggest and Best  Live from Radio City on CBS;  Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban Host

By: Ellis Nassour

The 72nd annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will have enough star power to light not only 50th Street and Avenue of the Americas but also all of Times Square. The list of mega talent guests could light the world! The Awards will telecast live Sunday from 8 – 11 P.M. from Radio City Music Hall on CBS, proudly entering its 60th year as Tony’s network.

Waitress creator [and former star; recent Jesus Christ Superstar live telecast] Sara Bareilles and multi-talented pop/crossover singer Josh Groban [Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet] are hosting Broadway’s penultimate, always-glittering event. As in previous years, there will be lots of social media action and surprises. The network begins full Red Carpet arrivals at 5 P.M.

“It’s Broadway’s biggest event,” says Ms. St. Martin, “and, rightly so. It will be a starry, starry night seen in 45 countries (which include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the world-wide Armed Forces TV Network). We welcome Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban to an illustrious roster of Tony hosts.”

This has been a season of particular highs with the move to Broadway of A Band’s Visit, blockbusters Frozen and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a season of nine classic and much-acclaimed revivals – probably a record, and the year that Tina Landau’s dream and vision of a different kind of musical came to be – SpongeBob SquarePants, after 10 years of development. And if you want to know where the best-dressed gals are, check out the August Wilson, where you’ll also revel in one of the season’s outstanding comic turns by Mean Girls’ Grey Henson. While welcoming back Lauren Ambrose (My Fair Lady), Glenda Jackson (Three Tall Women), Diana Rigg (My Fair Lady), Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield (Angels in America, Parts One and Two), David Yazbeck and Tony Shalhoub (Band’s Visit), and Denzel Washington (Iceman Cometh), we can also celebrate the return to the New York stage of Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, Showstopper of the Year for his Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady. We can also feel for the masses who missed one of the most offbeat and well-acted plays of the year, The Children.

Remember the old M-G-M axiom: “More stars than there are in the heavens!” Well, the goal of the 2018 Tony Awards is to top that. There’ll be more stars than there are in the galaxy – and many of them will be singing and dancing!

Bruce Springsteen will make not only a rare TV appearance in appreciation of his Tony honor for Springsteen on Broadway, but also perform. He will be introduced by old friend Billy Joel.

The roster of guests and presenters includes Lifetime Achievement recipients Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber; Uzo Aduba, Christine Baranski, Mikhail Baryshnikow, Erich Bergen (Waitress), Clare Danes, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Brandon Victor Dixon, James Monroe Iglehart, Christopher Jackson, Patti LuPone, Katharine McPhee, Matthew Morrison, Carey Mulligan, Leslie Odom Jr., Kelli O’Hara, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Bernadette Peters, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Washington, and Marisa Jaret Winokur (Hairspray).

Production numbers by the casts of Tony-nominated shows The Band’s Visit, Carousel, Frozen, Mean Girls, My Fair Lady, Once on This Island, SpongeBob SquarePants and SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical. Returning for a performance is 2017 Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen.

Once On This Island is set in a tropical village in the aftermath of a storm, and at the Tonys like audiences at Circle in the Square, the Tony-nominated Revival of a Musical will be host 130 volunteers and staff from U.S.-based 501(c)3 non-profit organizations bringing relief to areas impacted by natural disasters: All Hands Volunteers, Americares, and UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program. They’ll be onstage on a sandy beach with lagoon, water, goats, and chickens. “Our performance is dedicated to those who give of themselves to help put homes and hearts back together,” says producer Ken Davenport.

To make way for more entertainment, Creative Arts Awards and Special Honors will be distributed in an hour pre-telecast portion that will be seen on NY1 News and www.TonyAwards.com. Highlights will appear during the telecast.

Tony telecast veterans Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment return as executive producers of the Awards; with Weiss also directing.

At the Broadway League, Tom Schumacher is chair and Charlotte St. Martin is president; at the American Theater Wing, Heather A. Hitchens is president and CEO.

In the U.K., Olivier-winning Elaine Paige will host a special program on BBC Radio 2, which will include telecast performances. The Tonys will be seen throughout Canada live and time-delayed. In many countries, the Awards will be seen within a week of the event.

Behind-the-scenes coverage links are www.TonyAwards.com/secondscreen, Facebook.com/theTonyAwards, @theTonyAwards on Twitter, and Instagram.com/theTonyAwards. Join the conversation using hashtags #TonyAwards2017 and #TheatreInspires.

Sponsors for the 2018 Tonys are IBM, Carnegie Mellon University – the first-ever higher education partner; official hotel Sofitel New York; City National Bank; accounting services Grant Thornton LLP; the Rainbow Room; People/Entertainment, Playbill, EBG Premium, and official airline United Airlines.

For a complete list of the nominations, a printable ballot for your picks to win, video features and interviews, trivia, and a history of the Awards and the Awards namesake Antoinette Perry, go to www.TonyAwards.com.

Nomination Highlights

Play – The Children – Lucy Kirkwood; Farinelli and the King, Claire van Kampen; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two, Jack Thorne; Junk, Ayad Akhtar; Latin History for Morons, John Leguizamo

Actor in a Leading Role, Play –
Andrew Garfield, Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Tom Hollander, Travesties; Jamie Parker, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two; Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King; Denzel Washington, The Iceman Cometh

Actress in a Leading Role, Play – Glenda Jackson, Three Tall Women; Condola Rashad, Saint Joan; Lauren Ridloff, Children of a Lesser God; Amy Schumer, Meteor Shower

Actor in a Featured Role, Play –  Anthony Boyle, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two; Michael Cera, Lobby Hero; Brian Tyree Henry, Lobby Hero; Nathan Lane, Angels in America, Parts One and Two; David Morse, The Iceman Cometh

Actress in a Featured Role, Play – Susan Brown, Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Noma Dumezweni, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two; Deborah Findlay, The Children; Denise Gough, Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Laurie Metcalf, Three Tall Women

Direction, Play – Marianne Elliott, Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Joe Mantello, Three Tall Women; Patrick Marber, Travesties; John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two; George C. Wolfe, The Iceman Cometh

Revival, Play –  Angels in America, Parts One and Two, Tony Kushner; The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neill, Lobby Hero, Kenneth Lonergan ; Travesties, Tom Stoppard; Three Tall Women, Edward Albee;

Musical – The Band’s Visit, Frozen, Mean Girls, SpongeBob SquarePants

Actor in a Leading Role, Musical –  Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady; Joshua Henry, Carousel; Tony Shalhoub, The Band’s Visit; Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants

Actress in a Leading Role, Musical – Lauren Ambrose, My Fair Lady; Hailey Kilgore, Once On This Island; LaChanze, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical; Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit; Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls; Jessie Mueller, Carousel

Actor in a Featured Role, Musical – Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady; Alexander Gemignani, Carousel; Grey Henson, Mean Girls; Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants; Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit

Actress in a Featured Role, Musical – Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical; Renée Fleming, Carousel; Lindsay Mendez, Carousel; Ashley Park, Mean Girls; Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady

Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre –  Angels in America, Parts One and Two – Music: Adrian Sutton; The Band’s Visit – Music and Lyrics: David Yazbek; Frozen – Music and Lyrics: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; Mean Girls – Music: Jeff Richmond, Lyrics: Nell Benjamin; SpongeBob SquarePants – Music and Lyrics: Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., and Domani & Lil’C

Book, Musical –  The Band’s Visit – Itamar Moses; Frozen – Jennifer Lee; Mean Girls – Tina Fey; SpongeBob SquarePants – Kyle Jarrow

Direction, Musical – Michael Arden, Once On This Island; David Cromer, The Band’s Visit; Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants; Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls; Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady

Revival, Musical – Carousel, My Fair Lady, Once On This Island

Choreography – Christopher Gattelli, My Fair Lady; Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants; Steven Hoggett, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two; Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Non-competitive Categories:

Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre – Chita Rivera, Andrew Lloyd Webber

Special Tony Awards – John Leguizamo, Bruce Springsteen

Regional Theatre Tony Award – La MaMa E.T.C.

 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award – Nick Scandalios, Nederlander Organization

Tony Honors,  Excellence in the Theatre – New York Times photographer Sara Krulwich, beading seamstress Bessie Nelson, and Ernest Winzer Cleaners

Dan Cody’s Yacht **1/2

By: David Sheward

June 8, 2018:  A wealthy parent confronts his son’s economically strapped teacher over a failing grade for an essay on The Great Gatsby. As the scene progresses, the dad sits at the instructor’s desk, questions her qualifications, her teaching methods, and finally slaps a handful of bills down. The teacher is appalled at the blatant bribe, but she hesitates for a split second, giving the obnoxious parent his opening.

By: David Sheward

June 8, 2018:  A wealthy parent confronts his son’s economically strapped teacher over a failing grade for an essay on The Great Gatsby. As the scene progresses, the dad sits at the instructor’s desk, questions her qualifications, her teaching methods, and finally slaps a handful of bills down. The teacher is appalled at the blatant bribe, but she hesitates for a split second, giving the obnoxious parent his opening. That’s the arresting opening sequence of Anthony Giardina’s intriguing, but ultimately uneven new play Dan Cody’s Yacht, now playing at Manhattan Theater Club’s Off-Broadway space at City Center. It turns out Kevin O’Neill, the arrogant briber, wants something besides a better score on his kid’s homework. The teacher, Cara Russo, is the main advocate for a bill to merge two Boston suburban school districts: ritzy Stillwell, where Kevin lives and Cara teaches, and lower-class Patchett where Cara lives. Kevin offers the financially struggling Cara his considerable investing acumen in return for dropping her support of the measure.

It’s a gripping premise and Giardina has added several factors to up the stakes. For instance, both protagonists have children approaching senior year and their college future depends on the vote. In addition, the central theme is a compelling one, crystallized by the symbolism of the title. The titular watercraft is the fictional one Gatsby sees as a harbinger of the status and privilege he desires and ultimately achieves. Kevin invokes it as a glimpse of the world Cara cannot touch but sees all the time through the parents of her well-to-do students.

The theme of wealthy privilege versus idealist near-poverty is a worthy one, but Giardina adds too much freight to his boat and it sinks before the final fade-out. The main question of the school vote is resolved halfway through and more issues arise which are not fully developed. Kevin announces he’s gay in the first scene, but we get no hint of any romantic attachment or how his queerness influences his actions. His son Conor is a handsome shadow, while Cara’s daughter Angela is more complex and appealing (Both kids speak far more eloquently than any teenagers I’ve ever encountered). There are intense confrontations, but too many of the plot points are just not believable. Would Cara really recklessly invest all of her money with the impulsive Kevin? Predictably her rash decisions led to a bad outcome. This is a disappointment since Giardina’s last major New York production, The City of Conversation was such an insightful and deep portrayal of political conflict.

Luckily, Doug Hughes delivers a sleek and sure staging while Rick Holmes and Kristen Bush are capable and intense sparring partners as Kevin and Cara. Casey Whyland captures Angela’s fear and confidence while Roxanna Hope Radja provides sass and spice as Cara’s blunt-talking best friend. John Lee Beatty created the stylish sets suggesting the contrasting economic environments.

Dan Cody’s Yacht **1/2
June 6—July 8. Manhattan Theater Club at City Center Stage I, 131 W. 55th St., NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 7pm, Thu—Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Running time: two hours including intermission. $90. (212) 581-1212. www.nycitycenter.org.
Photography: Joan Marcus

Roxanna Hope Radja, Kristen Bush
Kristen Bush, Rick Holmes
John Kroft, Casey Whyland