Holiday Cheer from BroadwayHD


BroadwayHD presents a dazzling line up of holiday classics and the premier of Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 plus Forever Plaid 20th Anniversary Special.

November 30, 2020 – ‘Tis the season to be jolly! BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for theater fans, is spreading holiday cheer in December with a dazzling line up of holiday classics, anniversary specials and more. Kicking off on December 1st is Mame starring Lucille Balla musical revolving around the antics of Mame Dennis, a fun-loving, wealthy eccentric with a flair for life and a razor-sharp wit. The film also stars Bea Arthur reprising her Tony Award Winning role of Vera. Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedy of love and disguise, As You Like It, is reimagined with darker, more somber undertones in this production out on December 3rd. Next, on December 15th is the streaming premiere of Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, followed by a video capture of Private Lives on December 16th, which will celebrate Noël Coward’s birthday.


BroadwayHD presents a dazzling line up of holiday classics and the premier of Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 plus Forever Plaid 20th Anniversary Special.

November 30, 2020 – ‘Tis the season to be jolly! BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for theater fans, is spreading holiday cheer in December with a dazzling line up of holiday classics, anniversary specials and more. Kicking off on December 1st is Mame starring Lucille Balla musical revolving around the antics of Mame Dennis, a fun-loving, wealthy eccentric with a flair for life and a razor-sharp wit. The film also stars Bea Arthur reprising her Tony Award Winning role of Vera. Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedy of love and disguise, As You Like It, is reimagined with darker, more somber undertones in this production out on December 3rd. Next, on December 15th is the streaming premiere of Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, followed by a video capture of Private Lives on December 16th, which will celebrate Noël Coward’s birthday.

Spend your Christmas Eve watching the Forever Plaid 20th Anniversary Special, which is an affectionate musical homage to the close-harmony ‘guy groups’ that reached the height of their popularity during the 1950s.Then, on December 26th check out Behind the Burly Q, a 2010 film documentary giving an inside look at the golden age of American burlesque. BroadwayHD’s month of festive programming concludes with The Fabulous Ice Age documentary on December 29th and Art and Heart on the 30th. 

BroadwayHD is also celebrating the holiday season with a special playlist of jolly titles, including Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Goes Wrong Show: The Spirit of Christmas, Peter Pan, She Loves Me, Meshugna Nutcracker, Meshuggah-Nuns, Nuncrackers and more.

“BroadwayHD is looking to give the lovely gift of engaging holiday viewing to BroadwayHD subscribers with such popular and acclaimed titles like Forever Plaid and All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 coming to the service this month,” said BroadwayHD co-founders, award-winning producers and filmmakers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley. “The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with close family and enjoy a bit of festive television time together.”

See below for a full line-up of what BroadwayHD subscribers can see starting this December:

Mame – December 1-  Lucille Ball stars in this film of the blockbuster Broadway musical that tells the story of the flamboyant, unconventional and, above all, glamorous Mame.  In 1928, nine-year-old Patrick Dennis (Kirby Furlong) comes to live with his Auntie Mame (Ball), who has a generous heart, believes life should be a party and collects fascinating friends. But the stock market crash of 1929 ends a decade-long fete and forces Mame into disastrous forays as an actress and a working woman, before doing what she knows best: marrying well. Once again wealthy, Mame returns to her self-appointed task of liberating friends and family from their bourgeois sensibility. With help from her dearest friend Vera Charles, she keeps life at 3 Beekman Place a rousing free-for-all. The film stars legendary Emmy® Winners Lucille Ball and Bea Arthur and features popular songs; We Need a Little Christmas and Mame.

As You Like It – December 3-  Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedy of love and disguise is reimagined here with darker, more sombre undertones. This production, directed by Michael Boyd and starring Jonjo O’Neill and Katy Stephens as Orlando and Rosalind, was captured at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon.

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 –  December 15 – The streaming premiere of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,directed by Peter Rothstein, tells the story of a German soldier who steps into No Man’s Land singing “Stille Nacht.” Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace. A remarkable true story, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it.

Private Lives – December 16 – Private Lives, a comedy of manners by Noël Coward and starring Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor, sees a romance revisited between Elyot and Amanda after they unexpectedly meet each other while both on honeymoon with their respective spouses. This production was filmed live at London’s Gielgud Theatre and starred Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor.

Forever Plaid – December 24 – The Forever Plaid 20th Anniversary Special is an affectionate musical homage to the close-harmony ‘guy groups’ that reached the height of their popularity during the 1950s. This quartet of high-school chums, and their earnest dreams of recording an album, ended (symbolically, and even literally) in death, when their cherry red ’54 Mercury collided with a bus filled with Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles’ American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The girls were fine. The play begins with the wondrous and wondering Plaids returning from the afterlife for one final chance at musical glory.

Behind the Burly Q  – December 26 –  Behind the Burly Q is a 2010 film documentary directed by Leslie Zemeckis, which gives an inside look at the golden age of American burlesque. The film tells the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it. Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance.

The Fabulous Ice Age – December 29- The Fabulous Ice Age is a 2013 documentary film chronicling the era of the great American touring ice shows revealing how, with their dazzling production numbers and variety acts, they dominated family entertainment for decades. It also depicts one skater’s quest to keep this history from being forgotten.

Art and Heart – December 30-  This 2016 documentary film about the life of Isaiah Sheffer is an enduring portrait of a beloved figure in the arts community and in the hearts of many. Symphony Space co-founder and the resonant voice of Selected Shorts on public radio, was an actor, director, radio announcer, playwright, lyricist, singer, mentor, cultural entrepreneur, creative thinker, loyal friend, and  champion of those he worked with.

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 Me, The Phantom of The Opera, The King and I, Sound of Music, andAn 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.

BroadwayHD, founded in 2015 by Tony in Award®-winning producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, is the only streaming service offering premium full-length stage plays and musicals captured specifically for multi-platform viewing to theatre fans across the globe. In addition to exclusive live-streamed content of the world’s best productions, BroadwayHD offers subscribers unlimited on-demand access to a library of more than 300 theatre productions from Broadway, The West End and beyond.  If You Can’t Get to Broadway, Get to BroadwayHD.

John Lloyd Young

Tony/Grammy Winner John Lloyd Young Celebrates the Season 
Friday with Vegas Holiday

By: Ellis Nassour

December 1, 2020: Tony and Grammy Award-winner John Lloyd Young, forever famous to fans of Jersey Boys, will live stream his new 75-minute pay-per-view concert act Vegas Holiday from Mark Shunook’s The Space this Friday, December 4, at 6 P.M. Pacific [9 P.M. Eastern]. This concert will be much more than just songs. 

Tony/Grammy Winner John Lloyd Young Celebrates the Season 
Friday with Vegas Holiday

By: Ellis Nassour

December 1, 2020: Tony and Grammy Award-winner John Lloyd Young, forever famous to fans of Jersey Boys, will live stream his new 75-minute pay-per-view concert act Vegas Holiday from Mark Shunook’s The Space this Friday, December 4, at 6 P.M. Pacific [9 P.M. Eastern]. This concert will be much more than just songs. 

Friday’s virtual VIP after-party will begin at 7:45 PM Pacific [10:45 P.M. Eastern]. It’ll include a talk-back and Q&A with questions submitted by advance ticket buyers. Young promises, lots of surprises that might include song encores. It will also be available OnDemand for one week. .Music directing again on piano is Tommy Faragher on piano.

Vegas Holiday is Young’s third telecast from Las Vegas’ intimate The Space, the former recording studio of rapper, songwriter, actor, and now TV producer 50 Cent. Young will not be staying at his one-time Vegas home-away-from home, the Palazzo at the Venetian Resort, where Jersey Boys became a Vegas mainstay for more than four years. “I wasn’t in the cast there, but it was fun walking around and seeing the show logo  on gaming tables and B-roll from Broadway playing in the elevators.” 

He’ll hit the highway for the four-hour drive to Vegas early Friday and promises a first-class concert. “During this pandemic entertainers are quite limited in what they can do. I didn’t want to do a show halo-lit from my kitchen in my underwear, but properly dressed in a state-of-art performing arts space. It will be like a TV special.” The 3,000 square foot black box, highlighted by excellent acoustics and lighting, is west of the Strip, two blocks from Dean Martin Drive at Polaris Avenue and Cavaretta Court.

He describes the live stream as “an up-close intimate evening of memorable holiday classics, theatrical treasures, pop classics, nostalgic rock tunes, Motown, and doo- wop.” You might anticipate a dollop of tunes from favorites Young draws from: Roy Orbison, Smokey Robinson, Little Anthony, and Rodgers & Hammerstein. Oh! Last but by no means least: there’ll be Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tunes.

“It’s important to come together during this time and remember how things used to be,” says Young, “to feel the joy and comfort holidays can bring. The songs might invite  sing-alongs.” 

“Have the chestnuts roasting on an open or virtual fire and sit back safely with family and friends,” he continues. “Pop the corn, bake the cookies, put out the candy canes. Since it’s the onset of the holiday season, we’ll virtually raise a glass of eggnog to toast the holidays together.”

Young says, “In our business, it’s a cliché that you play to the back row of the balcony, but on TV you play to the camera and everyone’s in the front row. It’s like the audience is sitting in my lap.” He adds that he’s also the director. “I’ve been doing concerts worldwide long enough to go solo. We do have a masked engineer in the booth keeping up with me and operating the cameras.”

~ ~ ~

John Lloyd Young relocated to New York after university and was soon cast in Off Broadway and regional plays. He auditioned for the 2004 premiere of Bob Gaudio, Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice, and Bob Crewe’s Jersey Boys at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse, but wasn’t cast. However, the next year, when the show was heading to Broadway, he won the dream role of Frankie Valli. The show became a smash, running 4,642 performances. Young won the Tony for Best Actor/Musical [and a Grammy Award with co-stars for the original cast album]; and co-starred in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 film adaptation. He also starred in the musical on the West End.

Young has been an L.A. resident since 2008 when he came out to do Les Miz at the Hollywood Bowl. “I stayed long enough to get a feel for the far flung city and loved it. So, I relocated.”

His last stage performance was in 2017 at Montgomery’s Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where he played Tom in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. “It was a perfect fit for me, but don’t get me started. It’s a memory play, and Tom is channeling Williams telling his own story – even the character is named Tom [Williams’ legit first name]. I found it interesting to play a character if written at the time, the character would be quite obviously homosexual, and wouldn’t have to hide it. Williams has to skirt around the issue, but I imagine audiences knew where Tom was going every night and why he didn’t come home till two in the morning. He was drinking heavily and felt trapped. I found it rewarding to approach Tom in a way that wasn’t beating around the bush.”.   . 

It’s obvious that Young is a non-stop, high energy person. Some may be surprised that in addition to his music, he’s had a steady contemporary pop art and portrait [the one of President Obama will be displayed at his Chicago Presidential Library; he’s working on one of President-elect Biden] career in the “Warhol-Meets-Liberace tradition for over a decade.   

Following his success in Jersey Boys, Young performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Cafe Carlyle, the U.S. Embassy in Finland, and New Year’s Eve in Times Square. He’s appeared here at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Young is a West Coast favorite with regular appearances at his home base, Feinstein’s Vitello [where he’ll be doing a New Year’s Eve Live Stream countdown at midnight New York time]. He’s played San Francisco’s Feinstein’s at the Nikko and Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

Most memorable have been the several times he’s sung at the White House. The first visits occurred after doing tuneful fundraising for the Obama/Biden ticket. “One of the headiest times was when Clint Eastwood, my colleagues from the Jersey Boys movie, and I performed at the State Dinner, with all its pomp and circumstance, honoring the Prime Minister and First Lady of Japan.

“However,” he adds, “my favorite time was in 2014 performing in the East Room for Michelle Obama, the Honorary Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), to leverage support from members of Congress and assorted dignitaries for  aid to poor performing schools. The President, who was not set to attend, made a surprise appearance, resulting in squeals of delight from a few dozen elementary school kids from around the nation.” 

Young was honored to be appointed by President Obama in2013 to the PCAH. He remained active into the Trump administration, resigning in 2017 – co-signing with others a letter that read “ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.” 

Over four decades in show business, Grammy-nominee Faragher produced Katy Perry’s #1 Billboard hit “Teenage Dream” for TV’s Glee; and has written for Celine Dion, Al Green, and the O’Jays. He’s been Young’s music director since 2012. He produced  Young’s album of soul classics “My Turn”; and  music directed the singer’s shows across country.

Tickets for John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday concert segment thisFriday are $30; and $100 for the virtual VIP virtual after party. For tickets for the week of future OnDemand telecasts and additional information, visit www.thespacelv.com. For information on John Lloyd Young’s future dates and to purchase autographed CDs, photos, and posters; and assorted merchandise, visit www.JohnLloydYoung.com.

Michael Riedel

Michael Riedel’s Segue from Rabid Newspaper Columnist to Congenial Early Morning Radio Co-host

By: Ellis Nassour

Monday, November 30, 2020 –Once rabid theater critic/arts reporter Michael Riedel has segued to radio, joining Len Berman, WNBC-TV’s former longtime sports anchor, as sidekick on Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning. Rise and shine at 6 A.M. weekdays to 710 WOR-AM Radio for their freewheeling four-hour conversationathon about anything and everything. Be prepared for quite a bit of mutual razzing. 

Michael Riedel’s Segue from Rabid Columnist to Congenial Early Morning Radio Co-host and Author

By: Ellis Nassour

Monday, November 30, 2020 –Once rabid theater critic/arts reporter Michael Riedel has segued to radio, joining Len Berman, WNBC-TV’s former longtime sports anchor, as sidekick on Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning. Rise and shine at 6 A.M. weekdays to 710 WOR-AM Radio for their freewheeling four-hour conversationathon about anything and everything. Be prepared for quite a bit of mutual razzing. 

Riedel is author of the 2015 New York Times best-seller Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway, a no-holds-barred account of  larger-than-life theater impresarios who transformed the Great White Way from the seedy, often unsafe 70s crossroads into a Disneyesque neon-lit billion-dollar tourist magnet. 

For the few who are not familiar with it, you, like Berman, will tire of hearing about it. “New York Times best-selling author Michael Riedel,” says the modest Riedel, “are the words Len hates to hear. So, of course, I’ve made it into a sort of running gag. I drive him crazy mentioning it every single morning. Truth be told, it’s all in fun. We are partners in crime.”

The duo hail from quite different backgrounds: Berman, a walking/talking sports encyclopedia; and Riedel, the often brazenly caustic New York Posttheater columnist. Yet they have great chemistry even, due to the covid pandemic, hosting remotely from home.

Now, after 22 years, with his Post column, as he put it, “furloughed,” he’s made quite a comfortable leap. At WOR, for the first ever, he has an office. “I have to share it with Len, but it’s quite spacious. There’s even room for a couch in case we want to nap after we’re off the air. Due to the pandemic, I’ve only been to it once since March 14th. Len, established quite well on Long Island’s North Shore, doesn’t seem to have any intention of coming back.”

Growing up in Geneseo, Riedel says that around seventh or eighth grade, “I discovered Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming. Looking back, what I think drew me is that the prose is spare, but it drives the narrative. You can’t wait to see what happens next. That heavily influenced me.” 

In his teens, he was far from being a theater geek. Instead, he was drawn to watching fire and brimstone political commentator John McLaughlin. 

At Columbia, as a history major, he also had no interest in journalism. I was going to go to law school and become a politician. But, he always tried to make his papers fun and lively. “When a professor returned one essay, I received a B- for content, probably because I had no original thoughts whatsoever, and an A for style. He told me: ‘You write as if you’re a reporter for People magazine. I enjoyed this.’” The germ was planted.

Riedel graduated with a BA in history. I wasn’t enamored of Broadway or dreaming of being in the presence of Patti LuPone, Glen Close, or Andrew Lloyd Webber.” However, he kept being drawn to media. He went from leg man collecting tidbits and breaking news from over the city to become managing editor of the now-defunct Theater Week.

It was there he honed his pit bull persona. When in 1993 he became theater columnist at the Daily News, he tells how he was influenced by veteran colleagues. “I was surrounded by these crusty guys who’d covered wars, strikes, and politics. They’d been around the block a few times and didn’t give a hoot offending anyone. They just wanted the facts.”   

That stint segued in 1998 to “the New York Post which lured me away to become theater columnist.” He was quick to provide news others couldn’t; but his often critical drubbing of shows in trouble and scathing criticism of select actors got him tagged “the enfant terrible of the New York press,” a badge he wore proudly.

His column quickly proved New Yorkers in general were interested in Broadway; or at least the Broadway Riedel uncovered. He not only entertained, but also created drama. He did it with tough questions, his continued his leg work, and with a bevy of secret sources. In the process, he burned bridges – especially when he uncovered facts producers and directors wanted kept quiet – such as some shows claiming to be hits when he’d see their theatres half full or box office grosses stated otherwise. When a producer denied him access, Riedel stepped up to the box office, purchased a ticket, and got the lowdown. 

Riedel’s radio career began gradually in 2011, when he was invited on Imus in the Morning to talk about Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark. “Don liked my sense of humor,” he explains, “which led to weekly segments about Broadway for seven years with broadcaster/author Imogen Lloyd Webber [yes, the composer’s daughter].  There were also weekly stints with shock jock Howard Stern on Sirius XM Satellite Radio show. He also was co-host with Susan Haskins (Doloff) on CUNY public TV’s Theater Talk.

Four years ago, WOR broadcaster Mark Simone was set for a week’s vacation. Station chief Tom Cuddy picked Riedel to sub on his two-hour program. “I didn’t know I was auditioning like Cassie in A Chorus Line. On Mark’s return, Tom asked if I’d be interested in co-hosting with Len Berman. 

 “I’d never met Len,” states Riedel, “but knew him from TV. We certainly came from two different worlds, and I wasn’t so sure about co-hosting a four-hour early morning show. It was a big moment in my life. I’m a writer, not a broadcaster. I’d written newspaper columns.” 

Riedel rarely has said no to an opportunity, “and this was big-time radio with a handsome salary to boot. My buddy [playwright/actor] Harvey Firestein gave me the best advice: ‘Always say yes and see what happens. A no closes a door, a yes opens a door.’ So, I said yes. The next week, I was with Len for a trial run.” 

Berman knew little about theater, except for an occasional outing to a show. Riedel knew nothing about sports, even though his father was a catcher on the Pittsburgh Pirates farm team in the 50s, and athletic director at SUNY (State University of New York) Geneseo. 

The duo got on like gangbusters, seeming to know each other like old fishing buddies. “We disagree on politics and much more,” says Riedel. “We have knock-down, drawn-out arguments, but at the end of the show, we’re still pals.”

Riedel wasn’t sure he had another book in him, but he’d been wanting to go beyond just quick   juicy gossip. “I don’t claim to be a great intellectual or stylist. I just want to entertain.”    

The result is Singular SensationThe Triumph of Broadway (Simon and Schuster; 334 pages; two, eight page, B&W photo inserts; Index).

“I’d been a columnist, and only able to give the tip of the iceburg,” he explains. “I didn’t want it to be a collection of columns or my memoir. The 90s was a big time on Broadway: Rent, Chicago, Angels in America, The Lion King, and The Producers. Big shows, as big as any blockbuster movie or hit TV series. 

“I started interviewing everyone involved 20/25 years ago about what it was like from the beginning of the journey to opening night,” he continues. In some chapters, Riedel goes way beyond that. “There was so much I didn’t know, especially what was going through the minds of the creatives.”

Stars, producers, directors, ad agency owners, casting directors – some, once Riedel’s enemies, opened up on what it was like being in the hot seat with millions on the line – the triumphs and disasters. There are tales of intense rivalries among top-drawer stars and massive egos that led to corruption, bankruptcies, and worse. Not to be missed is a photo of producer Barry Weissler with shirt unbuttoned to the navel that will take years to live down.

Tune in to Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning at 710 WOR-AM as Riedel drives Berman crazy mentioning Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway  ad nauseam. Not to worry, Berman has girded himself to bounce back with ego-busting stingers.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

November 29, 2020: In 1988, when Ute Lemper received the Molière Award for her performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret in Paris, she was certainly very happy. But what really amazed and delighted the German-born actress, was when she was compared to the legendary Marlene Dietrich. As Dietrich was also living Paris at the time, Lemper sent her a postcard addressed simply to Dietrich at Avenue Montaigne. Not long afterwards she got a phone call.

By: Paulanne Simmons

November 29, 2020: In 1988, when Ute Lemper received the Molière Award for her performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret in Paris, she was certainly very happy. But what really amazed and delighted the German-born actress, was when she was compared to the legendary Marlene Dietrich. As Dietrich was also living Paris at the time, Lemper sent her a postcard addressed simply to Dietrich at Avenue Montaigne. Not long afterwards she got a phone call.

The phone conversation lasted three hours. During that time, Dietrich, who was 89, looked back on her life: her rise from a Weimar cabaret performer to a Hollywood star, her many love affairs, her work as an American soldier during World War II, her triumphs and her disappointments. Thirty years later, Lemper turned that conversation into her “personal homage to that great lady.”

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene recreates that phone conversation in cabaret form, allowing the audience to see Dietrich much as she must have appeared in those early Weimar days. Lemper plays herself only briefly, to set the scene. The rest is pure Dietrich, with Lemper singing many of the star’s most beloved songs.

Lemper is a gifted actress with a powerful and emotive voice. She mimics all of Dietrich’s marvelous ticks and she has the sexy legs that are de rigueur in a show about the diva. Like Dietrich, she speaks and sings in English, German and French. She also reproduces Dietrich’s husky, sexy voice, and then some. Lemper has a vocal range that far exceeds anything Dietrich could have ever dreamed of. 

In a slinky dress, sporting one of Dietrich’s signature top hats or throwing a boa over her shoulders, Lemper belts, croons or purrs a repertoire that includes Leonello Casucci’s “Just A Gigolo,” Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “One For My Baby,” Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” and Friedrich Hollaender’s “They Call Me Naughty Lola.” But perhaps the most touching moments are when Lemper sings Pete Seeger’s mournful “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” or the song soldiers on both sides during World War II made their own, Norbert Schulze and Hans Leip’s “Lili Marleen.”

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene began as a touring cabaret show. Now, after being filmed at Club Cumming in New York, Alan Cumming and Ute Lemper are streaming the show online. This allows them to take advantage of all the cinematic effects that cannot be realized in a live performance: fades, montage, smooth scene shifts. 

As Lemper tells us many times during the show, Dietrich was a woman who lived every day to the fullest, while at the same placing one foot in the future. She was a sexually liberated woman, with an open marriage and affairs with men and women, who ranged from co-stars to technicians to whoever pleased her at the moment. She would not tolerate anyone telling her what to do, whether that was the Fuhrer or director Alfred Hitchcock. She was totally independent.

Nevertheless, an aging Dietrich is filled with regret. She has left the one man she really loved Jean Gaban. She is alienated from her daughter, Maria, who rightly claims she was not a very good mother. Germans consider her a traitor and do not welcome her back.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene is over two hours long. It is never boring. This is partly due to the nature of the legendary star who inspired the show. But it is also thanks to Lemper’s great artistry and sensitive treatment of her material. 

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene will be stream online on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 8:00pm (EST) and Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 2:00pm (EST). Tickets are $25 and may be purchased athttps://www.stellartickets.com/events/club-cumming-productions/ute-lemper-in-rendezvous-with-marlene.

On This Day in New York Theater: November 29th in the 1920’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 18 in the series)

November 29, 2020: For the time being, this column will be settling into the groove of covering only one decade at a time in its description of shows that opened on a particular date during the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. Those decades, even as their overall numbers slid following the Depression, were unusually active, and only the sparse summer months slowed down enough to allow for coverage here of more than one decade at a time. 

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 18 in the series)

November 29, 2020: For the time being, this column will be settling into the groove of covering only one decade at a time in its description of shows that opened on a particular date during the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. Those decades, even as their overall numbers slid following the Depression, were unusually active, and only the sparse summer months slowed down enough to allow for coverage here of more than one decade at a time. 

From today’s column on (or at least until the theatres reopen), the fall, winter, and spring months will be devoted to a single decade, alternating from the twenties to the thirties to the forties. The date  chosen for today’s column, November 29, offered 10 new shows between the seasons of 1920-1921 and 1929-1930, each season—as was then the custom—beginning in June and lasting until the end of May. There were also two return engagements. None of these shows was of notable significance, although several were not only popular but highly regarded in their day. Perhaps the one with the longest life in terms of later revivals was W. Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Circle, which, for all its excellent assets, is unlikely to find itself on anyone’s list of the last century’s 100 best.

Poster for rhe 1923 movie of The Broken Wing.

So, if you’re interested in using your digital comps to accompany me to the November 29 openings in the Twinkling Twenties, step lively as you enter the era’s theatres to see 1920’s The Broken Wing and The Young Visitors; 1921’s Kiki; 1922’s It Is the Law; 1923’s In the Claws of Life; 1926’s The Constant Wife and Ned McCobb’s Daughter; 1927’s The Centuries; and 1928’s New Americana

You may never have heard of it, but The Broken Wing (Forty-eighth Street Theatre), a comedy-drama by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard, managed 248 performances in 1920 with its plot replete with a panoply of wild Mexican bandits (reminiscent of The Bad Man, another recently successful South of the Border play). The focus is on American aviator Philip Marvin (Charles Trowbridge), who crashes during bad weather in Mexican territory and is discovered by Inez Villera (Inez Plummer). The beautiful Inez considers him the answer to her prayers for a husband. (A film version was advertised as “A Husband from Heaven.”)  Bereft of memory and money, Philip is held for ransom by the not so innocent Capt. Innocencio (Joseph Spurin), who is later undone by the American Secret Service. While waiting for the ransom payment, Philip and Inez, who nurses him back to health, marry. His amnesia vanishes, he repairs his plane’s broken wing, and flies back to the States with his bride.

VHS cover for 1932 movie of The Broken Wing

The highpoint was the crash of Philip’s airplane into the scenery, tearing away part of a wall. The audience heard a great whirring sound and moans from the injured as they viewed the wreckage through a cloud of smoke. The play’s admixture of “ethnic phraseology, a naïve heroine, and mawkish sentiment achieved its burlesque purposes with an ample dose of melodrama,” declared Heywood Broun. Louis Wolheim, later to gain fame in Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, and George Abbott, who became one of Broadway’s most successful directors, were both in the cast. 

In 1923, the play became a silent movie directed by Tom Forman, followed by a 1932 talkie starring Lupe Velez, Melvyn Douglas, and Leo Carrillo. 

Cover of The Young Visiters novel

Multiple openings on the same night were relatively frequent in those days, so November 29, 1920, also saw a musical trifle called The Young Visiters (Thirty-ninth Street Theatre) make its bow. Its book was by Mrs. George Norman and Margaret MacKenzie, based on the eponymous novel (full title: The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena’s Plan) by Daisy Ashford, an English girl who wrote it in 1890 when she was a nine. It wasn’t published, though, until 1919, following the author’s rediscovery of it and the fascinating path it took—involving famous author J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)—before being made public. Long rumored to be a hoax, written not by Ashford but by Barrie himself, the book has been reprinted often and is still widely read. It was made into a TV movie with Jim Broadbent and Hugh Laurie in 2003.

The Young Visiters (its misspelled title reflective of the writing’s multiple errors) expresses how young Daisy saw the world in the fashion of a morality play, its people like dolls with allegorical qualities. This was transposed to the stage in a “burletta” using props and sets resembling toys, with the actors behaving like marionettes. The songs were familiar ones, like “The Spanish Cavalier” and “Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay.” The show, which arrived after what the Times called “a mildly successful and somewhat fugitive engagement in London,” was a slice of late Victoriana offering a child’s idea of life among London’s upper crust as experienced in a series of adventures undergone by young Ethel Monticue (Marie Goff) and told by Daisy herself (Grace Dougherty).

 “Daisy’s vision . . . is purely subjective and wholly uncritical. . . . And it is the vision . . . that has, with the utmost skill and delicacy, been transferred to the stage,” approved Ludwig Lewisohn, who nonetheless noted the triviality of the material. The Times said the novel “has been turned into a play by the simple use of a pair of shears and a pot of paste. Probably no novel was ever so reverently dramatized since the world began.”

A year later came André Picard’s Kiki (Belasco Theatre, 580), adapted from the French, directed, and produced by the great David Belasco at the theatre that still bears his name. I recently described this hit play elsewhere, so interested readers are requested to find it by clicking on this link

 Poster for movie version of It Is the Law

Jumping forward another year, to 1922, we come to Elmer Rice’s crime drama, It Is the Law (Ritz Theatre, 121), based on an unpublished novel by Hayden Talbot. Rice, a former lawyer, who had brought the film technique of flashbacks to Broadway in his popular 1914 courtroom drama On Trial, turned to it again for another stirring melodrama exposing the workings of the legal system, the focus being double jeopardy. It Is the Law had coincidence and improbability in good measure, as many pointed out, but its hair-raising action and suspenseful development gave audiences little chance to contemplate the inadequacies of the plotting.

Told in seven scenes, the play begins with a shooting and then moves back eight years to explain why the killer cannot be prosecuted. The final scene returns to the present. The action—based on a case of mistaken identity—reveals that the murderer has already done time for killing the same man, but that the first crime was a fake. The dead man was a crook made up by the killer to look like himself; the killer escaped and contrived things so that the betrothed of the woman he desired could be framed, even being arrested on his wedding day. It was all the killer’s scheme to win his rival’s wife. 

The villain, Albert Woodruff, was played convincingly by Arthur Hohl, the female love interest, Ruth Allen, by Alma Tell.

Heywood Broun complained of inconsistencies and obvious foreshadowing, but agreed that it did “possess suspense and several striking situations.” “Mr. Rice is . . . is . . . a complete master of artful ingenuity” added the Evening Telegram. The playwright, said John Corbin, “has handled his situations so adroitly and has embroidered it with so many fresh turns and happy inventions, the audience has no time for second thoughts or breath for expostulations.”

Interestingly, Rice himself was less than excited about the play. In his memoir, Minority Report, he claims of the pre-Broadway tryout period, “It was all just so-so: the script, the acting, the direction [by Lester Lonergan], the reviews, the audience response.” He had the same feeling in New York. “The play was neither good enough to evoke enthusiasm nor bad enough to be dismissed. How many such plays open and close every season!” In 1924, a silent film adaptation was produced. 

In the Claws of Life (Jolson’s Fifty-ninth Street Theatre, 3), a 1910 comedy by Nobel Prize-winning (1920) Norwegian playwright Knut Hamsun, arrived in the repertory of the Moscow Art Theatre during their 1923 visit to America. (Hamsun was later found guilty of treason for supporting Adolf Hitler and the Nazis after they invaded Norway).

Directed by Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, with music by Ilya Sats, the four-act play’s star, Olga Knipper-Chekhova ([spelled Tchekhova at the time] widow of playwright Anton Chekhov), won kudos for her portrayal of Mme. Gihle. Once a celebrated player on the international vaudeville stage, the aging Mme. Gihle’s beauty was worshiped even by noblemen. She is married to an elderly, doting husband (Vassily Luzhsky), but, refusing to accept the march of time, still hungers for romance outside the marriage bed. She keeps a lover, Alexander Blumenschon (Nikolai Podgorny), whose wish to break off the affair and leave the country she desperately tries to subvert. There are also melodramatic elements introduced via other prospective swains, an Argentine nabob named Bast (Vassily Katchaloff), who dies of a cobra bite, and a Lieutenant Lynum (Vladimir Yershoff) who kills himself with a pistol. 

John Corbin, noting that, for the first time, the critics had not been provided with a translation by producer Morris Gest, said he found the work difficult to follow; in fact, his review is an amusing attempt to make sense of the play based purely on the stage action. The Telegram’s reviewer, however, thought the piece was the most readily accessible work in the Russian company’s repertory.

 Scene from the movie version of The Constant Wife

In 1926, famous British novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham provided Broadway (where it premiered after a Cleveland tryout) with a mildly naughty, protofeminist, drawing-room comedy, The Constant Wife (Maxine Elliott’s Theatre, 295). Even now, its thoughts on marital relations—advanced for the times—make it an attractive item for occasional revival. Dealing with the double standard in marital relations, it scored both because of its stylistic felicities and the graceful comic charm of its star, Ethel Barrymore. Following its New York run, it toured for a year, and then had even greater success in London, after opening there in 1927. The 1929 movie version was called Charming Sinners.

Ethel Barrymore

“It is a deft and sparkling comedy of an overwhelming importance,” judged the Times. Some, like the moralistic Richard Dana Skinner, inveighed against the play’s suggestion that the way to handle infidelity “is to abolish all standards whatsoever,” but most accepted the thesis as an example of sophisticated modern thinking.

Maugham’s heroine, Constance Middleton (Barrymore), discovers that her husband of 15 years, John (C. Aubrey Smith), a surgeon, has been having an affair with her best friend, Marie-Louise Durham (Veree Teasdale). She takes her revenge by becoming self-supporting as a successful interior designer. She also indulgently extricates John from disaster when the friend’s husband finds him out. However, she gets even, to her mate’s consternation, not only by virtue of her profitable business but by running off to Italy for six weeks with an old flame, Bernard Kersal (Frank Conroy), while also paying John for her “board and lodging for the last twelve months.” John, repentant, is now more enamored of her than ever, and hopes she will return to him for a promising future.

The play’s problems were noted, some finding the theme trivial, others, like Gilbert Seldes, thinking the epigrammatic dialogue “machine-tuned and . . . heavy-handed.” “But it is well written,” countered Arthur Hornblow, and “it sparkles with the usual Maugham wit.” Barrymore seemed younger and more attractive than in years, it was thought. The Constant Wife was chosen by Burns Mantle as one of his Ten Best Plays of the Year.”

As noted above, it was not unusual for more than one play to open the same night, but it was rare to have two potentially important ones do so. Ned McCobb’s Daughter (John Golden Theatre, 144) was less successful than The Constant Wife but it did have imprimatur of the Theatre Guild as its producer. Its author, Sidney Howard, its director, Philip Moeller, and its designer, Aline Bernstein, were all leading theatre artists of the day.

Ned McCobb’s Daughter with Margalo Gilm9ore, Philip Leigh, Clare Eames, and, at center, Alfred Lunt (on top), and Earle Larimore (on bottom)

Although revivals have been rare, this was a highly respected contribution, given a superbly staged production boasting a cast of luminaries. The play—one of many inspired by Prohibition—was “tense, often very poignant, and certainly . . . thoroughly virile,” observed Richard Dana Skinner. It was set in Merrybay, Maine, and portrayed the marriage of angular, hardworking spa-operator Carrie (Clare Eames) and shiftless George Callahan (Earle Larimore). The industrious Carrie, who supports the family with her business, is confronted by her immoral, ex-con, bootlegging brother-in-law Babe (Alfred Lunt) from New York. This happens just when she needs to raise $2,000 to cover a theft of George’s. 

Babe pressures Carrie to let him use her barn to store his hooch in return for his providing the cash. Carrie must engage in a battle of wits to deal with the overbearing gangster while also contending with Jenny (Margalo Gilmore), George’s mistress, and George himself. These struggles constitute the essence of the plot, which is basically a study of Carrie’s sturdy character. 

Ned McCobb’s Daughter with Alfred Lunt and Clare Eames

The actors made an enormous impression. In a minor role, Edward G. Robinson did a striking job as a lawyer. The play was flawed but appealing. “Although the construction is loose-jointed, this is rather good old-time melodrama. The dialogue has genuine folk-flavor,” enthused Time. In 1928, Ned McCobb’s Daughterwas made into a film starring Irene Rich.

That November 29 was a propitious day for New York theater in the twenties was made even clearer when Em Jo Basshe’s The Centuries (New Playwrights’ Theatre, 31) opened Off Broadway in 1927. The play may no longer be remembered, but it had several notable components. It was a fervid, sprawling, experimental work employing a large company, including future notables Franchot Tone and Eduard Franz. It tells in episodic form of the travails of Jewish immigrants in the land of plenty. 

John Mason Brown may have believed it was “muddled, inchoate and meagerly acted,” but Richard Dana Skinner declared “It is full of telling and sharp character studies [and] it has moments which aspire toward poetic beauty.” Unhappily, its stress on a thesis gave it “all the stilted artificiality of a marionette.”

Movie photo for Ned McCobb’s Daughter

Basshe’s “portrait of a tenement house” pictures various rooms in a Lower East Side dwelling, where a Russian-Jewish family experiences the jarring transition from life in the old country to life in the new amid poverty, strikes, brothels, synagogues, and gangsters. In the end, they move to greener pastures in the Bronx. 

Well designed by John Dos Passos—best known, of course, as a writer—and staged expressionistically, it was interesting to observe but too confused to sustain audience interest.

Of all the November 29 shows in the decade, the last, a revue called New Americana (Liberty Theatre, 12), was actually the least. It had begun in 1926 as a satirical revue, written by J.P. McEvoy, called Americana, which got good reviews and ran for 224 performances. A new edition—one of its scenes being a parody of Strange Interlude acted on roller skates—opened on October 30, 1928, but it bombed and closed in a little more than a week. It was revised and revived shortly afterward, on November 29, as New Americana, but, emceed by Julius Tannen, with music by Roger Wolfe Kahn, it couldn’t survive notices like the one in the Times that called it “dull, mediocre entertainment.” I could say more, but fair’s fair.

Hoping the above, though long, was neither dull nor mediocre, I will say farewell until we meet again in December. 

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

Click Here for #7 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 20 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #8 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 26 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #9 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 6 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #10 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 15 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #11 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 27 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #12 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 14 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #13 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 31 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #14 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: September 12 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #15 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 11 in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Click Here for #16 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 29th in the 1940’s

Click Here for #17 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 13 in the 1930’s

BroadwayHD Wins

BROADWAYHD WINS TWO GLOBAL BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS

November 20, 2020: BroadwayHD was named winner in the Outstanding Innovation category and the winner of the Outstanding Product/Service category at the 2020 Global Business Excellence Awards.

BROADWAYHD WINS TWO GLOBAL BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS

November 20, 2020: BroadwayHD was named winner in the Outstanding Innovation category and the winner of the Outstanding Product/Service category at the 2020 Global Business Excellence Awards.

Broadway has always been the pinnacle of live entertainment, but in March Broadway theaters and theaters across the globe shut down. Uncertainty remains as to when the curtains will rise again, but thanks to BroadwayHD, a media technology company, Broadway fans still have a way to watch full-length musicals and plays any time of day or night.

BroadwayHD, often described as the Netflix for Broadway, has more than 300 full-length, VOD (video on demand) recorded productions. Award-winning shows include Phantom of The Opera, 42nd Street, Kinky Boots, The King and I, Sound of Music, Cats, Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oklahoma, 42nd Street. There’s also Cirque du Soleil, Riverdance, and Shakespeare. BroadwayHD is making Broadway accessible to the world through Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, The BroadwayHD Channel on Amazon Prime, and at BroadwayHD.com.

Launched in 2015 by Tony Award winning producers, Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, BroadwayHD is proving to be a win-win for everyone who loves Broadway by serving theater fans and ensuring a strong audience for the future.

Stewart Lane, Bonnie Comley (BroadwayHD) Photo: Barry Gordin

The Global Business Excellence Awards pride themselves on having a large panel of independent expert judges who select winners according to strict criteria for each category and sector; focussing on financial results, innovation, customer, employee, investor and community benefits. 

Commenting on BroadwayHD,  the chairman of the judges said: “The stage curtains might be closed but stage productions are still being viewed around the world thanks to BroadwayHD’s subscription streaming service. It is the only streaming service of its kind offering global audiences unlimited, on-demand access to full-length stage productions to 300+ theatrical performances for an annual subscription. By delivering live stage shows direct to people’s homes, BroadwayHD has made a huge contribution to theatre and given fans and those new to stage productions access to the greatest shows ever produced at the press of a button. This is a wonderful digital entertainment service that attracts new fans to theatre, gives people around the world access to their favourite productions and, in the midst of a pandemic, it’s an ideal way to keep interest in stage shows alive.”

“Broadway had an amazing growth rate for 30 years, and its appeal was greater than ever. In 2015 the timing was right to start a streaming business with full-length Broadway shows, so BroadwayHD was launched. We are committed now, more than ever, to make theater accessible and easy to stream at home”, said Comley. “We have enough content in the pipeline to add new shows every month for the next year and we are working with producers to create new content. We even have a series of shows created during the pandemic called COVID Creations,’” added Lane. 

The Global Business Excellence Awards are one of the world’s highest profile awards and winning this accolade speaks volumes about the quality of your work. Due to their high profile, the Awards attract a wide range of entries from across the world, from large international PLCs and public sector organisations to dynamic and innovative SMEs. The winners all have one thing in common – they are truly outstanding at what they do and BroadwayHD have proved this by winning a Global Business Excellence Award.

About the Global Business Excellence Awards
The Global Business Excellence Awards are open to private, public and third sector organisations of all sizes, based In any country around the world. Entrants to the Global Business Excellence Awards do not have to be operating globally to enter the awards, entries are judged against other entries from the same country. 

Visit http://www.gbeawards.com/ for further information 

About BroadwayHD

BroadwayHD, founded in 2015 by Tony in Award®-winning producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, is the only streaming service offering premium full-length stage plays and musicals captured specifically for multi-platform viewing to theatre fans across the globe. In addition to exclusive live-streamed content of the world’s best productions, BroadwayHD offers subscribers unlimited on-demand access to a library of more than 300 theatre productions from Broadway, The West End and beyond.  If You Can’t Get to Broadway, Get to BroadwayHD.

Broadway in Limbo

Tonys Delayed and Shows Reschedule

By: David Sheward

November 20, 2020: The lights on Broadway will remain dim for even longer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the Broadway League announced that all 41 of its member theaters will be shuttered until May 30, 2021. This is the latest in a series of extended closures since the stages closed on March 13. In the wake of this announcement, many shows have had to reshuffle their schedules and the Tony Awards have been pushed back even further. Broadway’s highest honors for the abortive 2019-20 season have been delayed numerous times but the nominations were given out on Oct. 15 with Jagged Little Pill netting the most with 15 and Moulin Rouge garnering 14. Slave Play took 12. It was expected that the awards would be handed out online sometime in late fall. But with Broadway shows not returning until June of next year, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin has stated in an interview with Sirius XM host Julie James, “We don’t have  a decision date yet. Since we’re not opening in March, we have more planning time.” 

Tonys Delayed and Shows Reschedule

By: David Sheward

November 20, 2020: The lights on Broadway will remain dim for even longer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the Broadway League announced that all 41 of its member theaters will be shuttered until May 30, 2021. This is the latest in a series of extended closures since the stages closed on March 13. In the wake of this announcement, many shows have had to reshuffle their schedules and the Tony Awards have been pushed back even further. Broadway’s highest honors for the abortive 2019-20 season have been delayed numerous times but the nominations were given out on Oct. 15 with Jagged Little Pill netting the most with 15 and Moulin Rouge garnering 14. Slave Play took 12. It was expected that the awards would be handed out online sometime in late fall. But with Broadway shows not returning until June of next year, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin has stated in an interview with Sirius XM host Julie James, “We don’t have  a decision date yet. Since we’re not opening in March, we have more planning time.” 

How much planning time do you need, Charlotte? It’s been eight months. On the surface this foot-dragging doesn’t make sense. All the other theater plaudits including the Drama Desks, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics Circle, Obie and Lortel Awards, were given out in modest, socially distanced ceremonies online or on New York-1, months ago. But when we consider the raison d’etre of the Tony is NOT to honor the best of the season, but to provide a commercial platform to advertise currently-running shows and stoke the box office, it adds up. Dispensing trophies several months before playgoers can buy tickets lessens the Tony impact to almost nothing. So the producers would rather wait until the awards can result in some cash. Will we have to wait until 2021 for the 2020 Tonys? Probably. I guess the producers of Moulin Rogue did not get the memo, because I just received a lavish promotional book on the show, the kind sent to Tony voters just as we are casting ballots.

In addition to gumming up plans for the Tonys, the latest delay means several shows which have announced opening dates for spring 2021 will have to reschedule again. Several have already released new dates. It’s looking like there will be no new shows on the boards before the fall of 2021. Perhaps because tourists will not feel safe to travel to the Big Apple until then. A recent study made the dire prediction that international tourism to Gotham will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025. 

The Music Man revival with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, which has recently put its marquee up at the Winter Garden, will now begin previews Dec. 20, 2021 and open on Feb. 10, 2022. MJ, the Michael Jackson bio tuner, will commence performances in September of 2021 at the Neil Simon. 

A scene from Thoughts of a Colored Man. Credit: Michael Davis

We’ve had an announcement for a totally new play not previously seen on Broadway and not delayed by COVID. Thoughts of a Colored Man, Keenan Scott II’s rumination on the African-American experience previously seen Syracuse Stage Baltimore Center Stage, will open sometime in the 2021-22 season.

Rueben Santiago-Hudson in Lackawanna Blues. Credit: Robert Gauthier

Roundabout Theater Company and Manhattan Theater Club have released updated info on their rosters. For Roundabout, Caroline or Change and the Broadway premiere of Alice Children’s 1955 Trouble in Mind will now open in the fall of 2021 at Studio 54 and the American Airlines respectively, while Diane Paulus’ mixed-gender 1776 has been pushed back to spring 2022. (Jeffrey L. Page will co-direct 1776 with Paulus) Off-Broadway productions include Mansa Rah’s ...what the end will be at the Laura Pels and Dave Harris’ Exception to the Rule.

Meanwhile, Manhattan Theater Club has shifted its plans to include a newly-announced revival of Lackawanna Blues, Rueben Santiago-Hudson’s solo play about his childhood, previously seen Off-Broadway at the Public in 2001 and as an HBO film in 2005. Santiago-Hudson will repeat his performance in his own play on the stage of the Samuel L. Friedman in the fall of 2021. Then the following spring sees the revival of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive with original stars Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse on the same stage. Off-Broadway at the City Center Stage I space, MTC will present Simon Stephens’ Morning Sun and Anchuli Felicia King’s Golden Shield.

Armie Hammer and Tracey Letts in the latter’s play The Minutes Credit: Michael Brosilow

The Minutes, Tracey Letts’ absurdist comedy about a surrealistic small-town council meeting, had to vacate the Cort for planned renovations and will now open March 15, 2022 at a theater to be announced. That is exactly one year after its original, pre-pandemic planned opening. 

Plaza Suite, American Buffalo, Take Me Out, and Diana all had specific dates and theaters for March or April 2021 and will now have to readjust their schedules. Diana filmed a performance in the empty Longacre Theater and the results will premiere on Netflix next year. An untitled new play by Lynn Nottage, Flying Over Sunset, and Sing Street had unspecified openings for spring 2021 or winter 2021-22. Still no word on what will happen to unopened shows such as Company, The Lehman Trilogy, Mrs. Doubtfire, or Six. Also there is no news on West Side Story and Girl from the North Country which opened not long before the theaters shuttered.

2021-22 Broadway Season Calendar (so far)

Fall 2021

MJ (Neil Simon)

Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)

Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)

Lackawanna Blues (MTC/Friedman)

Feb. 10, 2022–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

March 15, 2022–The Minutes

Spring 2022–1776

How I Learned to Drive (Friedman/MTC)

2021-22 Season (date unspecified)–Thoughts of a Colored Man

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on November 18, 2020

The Humane Society “To the Rescue!” Gala

The Humane Society of the United States raised over 2 million dollars at “To the Rescue!” gala to help save animals . Hosted by Cecily Strong and Audra McDonald hosting the pre-show with a special performance.

November 16, 2020: The Humane Society of the United States hosted its 2020 To the Rescue! gala raising over 2 million dollars to benefit the organization’s animal rescue efforts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually.

The Humane Society of the United States raised over 2 million dollars at “To the Rescue!” gala to help save animals . Hosted by Cecily Strong and Audra McDonald hosting the pre-show with a special performance.

November 16, 2020: The Humane Society of the United States hosted its 2020 To the Rescue! gala raising over 2 million dollars to benefit the organization’s animal rescue efforts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually.

“Saturday Night Live’s” Emmy nominated cast member Cecily Strong hosted the event. Tony, Grammy and Emmy award-winning singer and actor Audra McDonald hosted the pre-show and performed “Go Back Home” (from the musical “Scottsboro Boys”) as well as a medley of  “Children Will Listen” (from “Into the Woods”) and “You’ve Got to Be Taught” (from “South Pacific”) during the gala. 

Audra McDonald

Other celebrity guests included Liev Schreiber, Mena Suvari, Rob and Marisol Thomas,Nathan Turner, Dylan Lauren, Katie Sturino, gala chair Georgina Bloomberg and Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

To the Rescue! took place in an innovative 3D environment where guests were taken through a fantasy setting of flowery meadows, glamping-style yurts, and a backyard barn stage to watch the event. An online auction included an opportunity to pitch your business idea over Zoom to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a once in a lifetime trip to the Canadian winter ice floes where mother seals give birth to their pups. The event also featured an engaging virtual photobooth that transported guests inside the virtual environment.

Mena Suvari

 The gala benefited the continued work of the HSUS to end the cruelest practice towards animals with a spotlight on the organization’s animal rescue initiatives, farm animal protection and puppy mill campaigns and global initiatives to stop the dog meat trade. The HSUS has operated in crisis response mode since the first days of the pandemic lockdown, helping vulnerable animals survive and delivering aid to communities where people and pets are struggling.

The virtual gala was produced by Eventique. Georgina Bloomberg was the chair. The 2020 Leadership Committee included Susan Atherton, Ian Bass, Wendy and Howard Berk, Jennifer Faga, Wayne S. Flick, Allison Friedberg, Kimberly Handler, Gretchen Jelinek, Cathy Kangas, Jennifer Laue, Patrick McDonnell and Karen O’Connell, Sharon Patrick, Terry Rakolta, Debra Shore, Alanna Tarkington, and Marisol Thomas.

This year’s gala was sponsored by Moroccanoil, Stray Dog Capital, Liberty Mutual Insurance, TJX, PVH Corp, Hallmark Channel’s Adoption Ever After, Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey, ROI Solutions and Merkle Response Management Group.

Liev Schreiber

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States fights the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, we take on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries. With our affiliates, we rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals every year through our animal rescue team’s work and other hands-on animal care services. We fight all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind our name: A humane society.

The Drama League Announces First Directors Council

THE NEW INITIATIVE IS COMPRISED OF 20 NATIONALLY-RENOWNED DIRECTORS AND ALUMNI TO ADVISE ON THE ORGANIZATION’S DIRECTOR-FOCUSED PROGRAMMING AND THE FUTURE OF THEATER AS THE INDUSTRY PREPARES FOR REOPENING

November 14, 2020: The Drama League (Artistic Director, Gabriel Stelian-Shanks; Executive Director, Bevin Ross) announces the formation of its first Directors Council, featuring nationally-renowned directors Daniel Banks, Melia Bensussen, Christopher Burris, Jillian Carucci, Jennifer Chang, Desdemona Chiang, R.J. Cutler, Estefanía Fadul, Raz Golden, Brian Eugenio Herrera, Adam Immerwahr, Gwynn MacDonald, Tony Phelan, Lisa Portes, Lisa Rothe, Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, Rob Urbinati, Nicole A. Watson, Sharifa Yasmin, and Pirronne Yousefzadeh.

THE NEW INITIATIVE IS COMPRISED OF 20 NATIONALLY-RENOWNED DIRECTORS AND ALUMNI TO ADVISE ON THE ORGANIZATION’S DIRECTOR-FOCUSED PROGRAMMING AND THE FUTURE OF THEATER AS THE INDUSTRY PREPARES FOR REOPENING

November 14, 2020: The Drama League (Artistic Director, Gabriel Stelian-Shanks; Executive Director, Bevin Ross) announces the formation of its first Directors Council, featuring nationally-renowned directors Daniel Banks, Melia Bensussen, Christopher Burris, Jillian Carucci, Jennifer Chang, Desdemona Chiang, R.J. Cutler, Estefanía Fadul, Raz Golden, Brian Eugenio Herrera, Adam Immerwahr, Gwynn MacDonald, Tony Phelan, Lisa Portes, Lisa Rothe, Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, Rob Urbinati, Nicole A. Watson, Sharifa Yasmin, and Pirronne Yousefzadeh.

For over 100 years, The Drama League of New York has been at the forefront of the American theater community, advancing the art form by providing a life-long artistic home for directors and a platform for dialogue with, and between, audiences.

This new Directors Council is composed of award-winning directors and creators from across the country, in theater and its related mediums, who have participated in The Drama League’s director- focused programming in the past, and have committed to providing counsel, guidance, and partnership to the organization moving forward. The Directors Council, born out of the organization’s comprehensive strategic planning in 2019, was formed as a way to further embed artists in the decision- making process of The Drama League, establish peer-to-peer mentorship for Fellowship recipients, and to have the nation’s leading directors guide The Drama League’s programming initiatives as the organization expands its mission to support directors and lead in the re-emergence strategies of Broadway and the American theater industry.

“As the American theater emerges in 2021 from the COVID-19 pandemic, the incredible artists of the Directors Council will inform and partner in our efforts to create a revivified field and a better institution — one that further embraces anti-racist practices, equitably supports BIPOC artists, improves the lives of its communities, and leads the world in healthy practices,” said Artistic Director Stelian-Shanks.

“I am thrilled to have been asked to be a part of the Directors Council at the Drama League. Fresh from college I was invited to be a part of the 1987 Directors Project, and that experience — the artists I collaborated with, the senior directors who mentored me, the way I was welcomed into a community — launched me as a creator and as a person. I look forward to giving back to the many directors just coming into the field, and to working with the Drama League to provide an artistic home for all directors, regardless of where in their careers they might be” said Directors Council member Tony Phelan.

The Directors Council is one of the leadership councils of The Drama League, alongside its Board of Directors and National Advisory Committee. Invitations to join The Directors Council were sent out earlier this fall by The Drama League’s artistic staff, and additional members will be added on an ongoing basis. The council gathered on November 6 by Zoom and plans to meet on an ongoing basis in the coming months. To learn more about the Directors Council, visit dramaleague.org/directorscouncil.

DIRECTORS COUNCIL BIOS:

Daniel Banks (he/him/his) is a director, deviser, dance dramaturg, and dialogue facilitator. He has directed at National Theatre of Uganda, Belarussian National Drama Theatre, Market Theatre Lab (South Africa), Playhouse Square, HERE Arts Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, NYC and DC Hip Hop Theatre Festivals, Oval House, Teatro Technis, and with Kompany Malakhi (London). Movement director/choreography: Shakespeare in the Park, Theatre for a New Audience, Maurice Sendak’s The Night Kitchen, Singapore Rep, and La Monnaie. Daniel is co-director of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization dedicated to dialogue and healing through the arts, engaging the topics of representation, identity, and heritage. Associate Director of Theatre Without Borders. National cabinet of U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. TCG’s 2020 Alan Schneider Director Award Winner. DL Fellow 1994, 1997.

Melia Bensussen (she/her/hers) became Artistic Director of Hartford Stage in 2019. The recipient of an OBIE Award for Outstanding Direction, she has directed extensively around the country and internationally. Raised in Mexico City, Melia is fluent in Spanish and has translated and adapted a variety of works, including her edition of the Langston Hughes translation of Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, published by TCG. A past recipient of a Princess Grace Fellowship, she was awarded the Foundation’s top honor, the Statue Award. She is on the faculty at Emerson College where she previously served as Chair. Chair of the Arts Advisory Board for the Princess Grace Foundation. Secretary for the Executive Board of the Society of Directors and Choreographers (SDC). Brown University. DL Fellow 1986.

Christopher Burris (he/him/his) directed the world premiere of Geese by Samuel D. Hunter at Theatre Row and The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Other new works include: When We Wake Up Dead (Brooklyn College), Lords Resistance (The Fire This Time), Snakeskin Suit (EST Lab), Outcry! (JACK), and the 2010 FringeNYC smash, A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People. Recently, he directed The Brothers Size (Luna Stage). Directed readings/workshops: The New Group, Labyrinth, Ensemble Studio Theatre Lab, National Black Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Epic Theatre Ensemble, The New Black Fest, Liberation Theater Company, Hudson Valley Writers Center, The Cell, Manhattan Theatre Source. As an actor, he has been seen on television (“The Guiding Light,” “Damage Control,” “As The World Turns”), stage (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre), commercials, and more. DL Resident 2017.

Jillian Carucci (she/her/hers) is a director and educator focused on creating quality theater for young audiences and nurturing the growth of early career artists. At TheaterWorksUSA, she currently oversees artistic and education programs in addition to casting up to 30 musical productions, workshops, and readings each season. She has worked off-Broadway and regionally and theaters such as: McCarter Theatre Center, Hangar Theatre, Atlantic Acting School, Keen Company, and Mile Square Theatre. BFA Musical Theatre faculty at CAP21/Molloy College. DL Fellow 2017. 

Jennifer Chang (she/her/hers) is a founding member of Chalk Repertory Theatre, where she won an Ovation Award, an LA Weekly Award, and the Stage Scene LA award. Other awards include: 2019 LADCC Award in Direction, 2020 APAFT Award Outstanding Direction. She was the Assistant Director of Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet on Broadway starring Janet McTeer. Select directing credits: Hannah and the Dread Gazebo (The Fountain Theatre/EWP), Animals Out of Paper (East West Players – LA Times Critics Pick), Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them (Artists at Play – GLAAD Media Award, Stage Scene LA Award Best Director, Ovation Award Nominated), Our American Story and Residence Elsewhere (commissioned for the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066) at the Japanese American National Museum. Head of Undergraduate Acting at UCSD’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Member of SDC, SAG-AFTRA, AEA. DL Fellow 2018.

Desdemona Chiang (she/her/hers) is a stage director based in Seattle, WA and Ashland, OR. Co-Founder of Azeotrope (Seattle). Directing credits include: Guthrie Theater, Alley Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, California Shakespeare, Seattle Repertory, Playmakers Repertory, Studio Theatre, Long Wharf, ACT Theatre Seattle, American Shakespeare Center, Seattle Shakespeare, Village Theatre, Theatre Latte Da, Heritage Theatre Festival, Book-It Repertory, Aurora Theatre, Seattle Public Theatre, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire Theatre, Impact Theatre, Playwrights Foundation, and Golden Thread Productions, among others. Intersection for the Arts Triangle Lab Artist-Investigator. Awards/Affiliations: Princess Grace Award (Robert and Gloria Hausman Theater Honor), Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Theatre, SDC Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellowship, TCG Young Leader of Color, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and Directors Lab West. Gregory Award Recipient for Outstanding Direction. DL Fellow 2011, 2020.

R.J. Cutler (he/him/his) is an award-winning director and producer renowned for documentaries including “The War Room,” “A Perfect Candidate,” “The September Issue,” “The World According to Dick Cheney,” “Thin and Listen to Me Marlon.” A pioneer in nonfiction television, R.J. created landmark programs including “American High,” “Freshman Diaries” and “30 Days,” among others. Cutler’s scripted work includes “Nashville,” “If I Stay,” and the award-winning podcast “The Oval O`ce Tapes.” Upcoming projects include the feature documentary “BELUSHI” on Showtime and the highly anticipated Untitled Billie Eilish Documentary for Apple TV+. Cutler’s documentary series “Dear…” is currently streaming on Apple TV+, and his musical drama “Bronzeville” has been ordered straight-to-series by Showtime. Cutler has been nominated for an Academy Award® and is a two-time Emmy® nominee. DL Fellow 1984.

Estefanía Fadul (she/her/hers) is a NYC-based Colombian-American stage director and producer of new work. Recent: Carla’s Quince created with The Voting Project, Noelle Viñas’ Zoom Intervention (NYTimes Critics Pick), Christina Quintana’s Azul (Southern Rep) and Scissoring (INTAR), Stefan Ivanov’s The Same Day (Sfumato Theatre, Bulgaria), and Preston Max Allen and Jessica Kahkoska’s Agent 355 (Chautauqua, NYSAF). Estefanía is the inaugural recipient of New York Stage and Film’s Pfaelzer Award and a 2020/21 Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellow. Alumna: O’Neill/NNPN National Directors Fellowship, Foeller Fellowship at Williamstown, Van Lier Fellowship at Repertorio Español, and NALAC Leadership Institute. She is a co-leader of the New Georges Jam, and a member of the Latinx Theatre Commons steering committee, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and SDC. B.A. Vassar College. www.estefaniafadul.com. DL Fellow 2015, 2018.

Raz Golden (he/him/his) is a director of theatre, film, and voice over. He is a Resident Director at The Flea, a member of the Roundabout Directors Group, and was a Drama League Classical Directing Fellow. His current work focuses on new and classical texts, as well as narratives that explore shared cultural histories and myths and center people of color. He has developed work with The National Black Theatre, The Public Theatre, NYU Tisch, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Waterwell, Dixon Place, and McCarter Theatre. DL Fellow 2019.

Brian Eugenio Herrera (he/him/his) is a writer, teacher and scholar who examines the history of gender, sexuality and race within and through U.S. popular performance. He is author of Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in 20th Century U.S. Popular Performance (Michigan, 2015), which was awarded the George Jean Nathan Prize for Dramatic Criticism. He is also Inaugural Resident Scholar for The Sol Project, a longstanding contributor to the Fornés Institute, and part of the Core Facilitation Team with ArtEquity. Brian is Associate Professor of Theater and Gender & Sexuality Studies in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. DL Fellow 1990.

Adam Immerwahr (he/him/his) is the artistic director of Theater J, the nation’s leading Jewish theater. He served as the associate artistic director of McCarter Theatre (Princeton, NJ) and the resident director of Passage Theatre (Trenton, NJ). Adam served on the producing team of multiple productions that have transferred to Broadway and Off-Broadway, including the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. As a director, his work has been seen across the world, from Aspen to Zimbabwe. He has directed off-Broadway and at many of the nation’s premier regional theaters, such as McCarter Theatre, Walnut Street Theater, Cleveland Play House, Woolly Mammoth, and many others. He currently serves on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theater. DL Fellow 2008.

Gwynn MacDonald (she/her/hers) has directed or produced theater, TV, film and radio receiving cable Ace and Emmy nominations, and Radio’s Gracie Award. She is a member of Juilliard alumni-founded Juggernaut Theatre, League of Professional Theatre Women, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and Society of Directors and Choreographers. Recent projects: Siachen a new play by Aditya Rawal supported by Baruch Performing Arts Center, and Makena Metz’s DEATH BITES in honor of #ADA30 for Queens Theater / Lincoln Center at Home. International play development includes works from Eastern Europe, U.K., Argentina, India and Israel. International directing includes American plays in Cuba and Bogota. Princeton University. Columbia University’s Arts Leadership Institute. DL Fellow 2005.

Tony Phelan (he/him/his) After joining “Grey’s Anatomy” at the start of season 2, Tony Phelan and his wife Joan Rater rose through the ranks and co-ran the show alongside creator Shonda Rhimes for seasons 7 through 10. For their work on “Grey’s Anatomy” they earned a WGA Award for Best New Series in Television in 2005 and were nominated for two Emmy Awards in 2006 and 2007, both for Outstanding Drama Series. Since 2016, Phelan and his wife have been developing and running their own shows including “Doubt” for CBS and “Council of Dads” on NBC. The husband and wife team enjoyed a successful Off-Broadway run with their stage play Good Will at The Director’s Company in 1998, which The New York Times gave a rave review, hailing it as “touching and thought-provoking.”  Yale University. DL Fellow 1987.

Lisa Portes (she/her/ella) is an award-winning Chicago-based director, educator, leader and advocate whose aim is to define and promote a new American theatre that is driven aesthetically and politically by the world we are becoming rather than the world we’ve been. She is a co-founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons and serves on the board of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the executive board of  the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).  She heads the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Her work has been seen at numerous theatres in Chicago and regionally. DL Fellow 1992, 1997. 

Lisa Rothe (she/her/hers) was nominated for SDC’s Joe A. Callaway Award for Direction for Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, which has toured the country and also won Theatre Bay Area Awards for Outstanding Direction, Performer, and Production. Recent directing work has been seen at: The Guthrie Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Irish Repertory Theatre,  Cincinnati Playhouse, Theatreworks/Silicon Valley, Two River Theater, People’s Light and Playmakers Repertory Theatre. Leadership positions: Director of New Works at Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Director of Global Exchange at The Lark; co-Artistic Director of The Actor’s Center in NYC; co-President of the League of Professional Theatre Women. DL Fellow 2000.

Gabriel Stelian-Shanks (he/him/his) is the Artistic Director of The Drama League of New York and a founder of A Certain Something. He has directed over sixty theater, film, and television projects across the United States and Europe, and is the author of eighteen plays, two screenplays, and a television series.  An alumnus of the Orchard Project, nominee for Best Director at the Madrid International Film Festival, and recipient of the Theatre Project Honor for Outstanding Vision, he has been recognized for his arts leadership by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.  One of the directors of Peculiar Works Project’s The Village Fragments (OBIE Award), his productions have been seen in New York, Seattle, Washington DC, Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Vienna, Sofia, Bucharest, and Budapest, among others.  Recently, his monodrama, DIASTREPHO, premiered as part of Stonewall 50: WorldPride at the LGBT Center of New York; this month, his film “The Damnable Deprivation Of Dmitri” premieres as the Opening Selection of the New Masculinites Festival.  Proud member SDC, IFP.

Rob Urbinati (he/him/his) is a director and writer based in New York, and Director of New Play Development at Queens Theatre. His plays include Hazelwood Jr. High, Murder On West Moon Street, Death by Design, Mama’s Boy and Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, published by Samuel French. The Queen Bees, Nymph Errant, and UMW: University of Mostly Whites are published by Stage Rights. His book, Play Readings: A Complete Guide for Theatre Practitioners is published by Taylor and Francis. Rob’s plays have received over 200 productions world-wide. In NYC, Rob directed for the Public Theater, Classic Stage Company, Culture Project, Abingdon, Pearl Theatre, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, New York Fringe Festival, HERE, New York Music Theatre Festival, and Cherry Lane Theatre. DL Fellow 1997, 1999, 2001.

Nicole A. Watson (she/her/hers) is a director, educator, and the Associate Artistic Director of McCarter Theater Center. As Associate Artistic Director of Round House Theatre, she directed He Brought Her Heart Back In A Box, School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play, A Doll’s House Part 2, and Sweat, among others.  She is a member of the New Georges Jam and has worked with New Dramatists, the Lark Play Development Center, the Fire this Time Festival, the New Black Fest, the Women’s Project Theater, The 52nd Street Project, Signature Theater, Geva Theater Center, A.C.T., Asolo Rep, Washington National Opera, The Contemporary American Theater Festival, Working Theater, Smith College, NCSA, NYU, and LIU. Lincoln Center Directors Lab. the Women’s Project Directors Lab. SDC. BA: History, Yale. MA: NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. DL Fellow 2013, DL Board Member.

Sharifa Yasmin (she/her/hers) is a trans Egyptian-American director and playwright. She has completed fellowships with Actors Theatre of Louisville, Manhattan Theatre Club, Geva Theatre, Hypokrit Theatre, and is a 2020 Eugene O’Neill national directing fellow.  Directing Credits include plays by Naomi Wallace, Marco Ramirez, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ntozake Shange, Harvey Fierstein, Dael Orlandersmith, Eve Ensler, Saviana Stanescu and Tasha Gordon-Solmon. She has assisted directors including Pirronne Yousefzadeh, Steve H. Broadnax III, Saheem Ali, Mark Brokaw, Meredith Mcdonough, Arpita Mukherjee, Drew Fracher, Sharon Graci and Shirley Serotsky. Winthrop University. DL Fellow 2019.

Pirronne Yousefzadeh (she/her/hers) is the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Engagement at Geva Theatre Center. She has directed and developed work at The Public/Joe’s Pub, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, Soho Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Noor Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Pioneer Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, InterAct Theatre Company, and Hangar Theatre. Pirronne is a Usual Suspect at NYTW, New Georges Affiliated Artist, member of EST, and an alumna of the Sagal Fellowship at Williamstown Theatre Festival, SDC Denham Fellowship, and Soho Rep Lab. She is a founding member of Maia Directors. MFA: Columbia University. Member, SDC. DL Fellow 2006.

ABOUT THE DRAMA LEAGUE:

The Drama League of New York, since 1916, has been at the forefront of the American Theatre community, providing talent, audiences, and prosperous support. The Drama League advances the American theater by providing a life-long artistic home for directors and a platform for dialogue with, and between, audiences. The Drama League opens doors for exceptional stage directors by providing time, resources, and space to work without restriction, while augmenting skills through personalized training, production opportunities, and professional development. The Drama League carefully selects directors whose vision and talent are unparalleled, with a clear commitment to the craft, the field, and audiences.

Through our work, The Drama League celebrates the important role theatergoers have to the future of the industry, and champions the impact theater plays in civic life. The Drama League breaks the formidable barriers that impede success in the arts. These directors, nurtured and empowered by The Drama League’s support, are trained to create the most rigorous work possible, as a live exchange between artists and audiences. In doing so, we elevate the conversation, deeply impacting theaters and their communities. Bringing people together to celebrate difference, share experiences, and discover common ground are crucial needs served by the work of Drama League directors. This necessary cultural practice is the foundation of our shared humanity.

On This Day in New York Theater: November 13 in the 1930’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 17 in the series)

November 13, 2020: As per the last entry in this series, I again confine myself to a single decade—in today’s case, the 1930s—in describing what shows opened on a particular day. The one I’ve chosen, November 13, was not especially prolific or even productive of more than a single memorable work. What most attracted it to me was a play that opened at the very start of the decade, Grand Hotel, which would become the inspiration for one of my all-time favorite movies (Garbo! Barrymore! Crawford!), produced in 1932, and the source for a modestly successful 1989 Broadway musical, each known by the original play’s name.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 17 in the series)

November 13, 2020: As per the last entry in this series, I again confine myself to a single decade—in today’s case, the 1930s—in describing what shows opened on a particular day. The one I’ve chosen, November 13, was not especially prolific or even productive of more than a single memorable work. What most attracted it to me was a play that opened at the very start of the decade, Grand Hotel, which would become the inspiration for one of my all-time favorite movies (Garbo! Barrymore! Crawford!), produced in 1932, and the source for a modestly successful 1989 Broadway musical, each known by the original play’s name.

Five other shows opened on November 13 in the thirties, which provides sufficient content for a single entry and prevents it from going on forever: If Love Were All (1931), I Was Waiting for You (1933), Brittle Heaven and Drama at Inish (both 1934), La Sera del Sabato (1936), and Washington—All Change! (1939). Not a particularly exciting group, albeit with some dashes of interest here and there. (An Italian-language play, La Sera del Sabato, part of a visiting company’s repertory, received only fleeting mention in 1936 and is not considered here.)

Henry Hull, Eugenie Leontovich in Grand Hotel

Let’s get right to Grand Hotel, Vicki Baum’s 1929 German drama, based on her novel, known in its native tongue as Menschen im Hotel. It was translated by William A. Drake and directed by Herman Shumlin (assisted by Fritz Feld) at the National Theatre, where it became a blockbuster running 444 performances. The original, staged by the great Max Reinhardt at Berlin’s Theater am Nollendorfplatz, almost failed to find an American producer willing to put it on because it needed the expensive adjunct of a revolving stage. 

This Best Play of the Year selection had a now commonplace but then unconventional structure that reminded some of Elmer Rice’s Street Scene. It was described by Stewart Beach as “a chambermaid’s-eye view of the life of a great city, concentrated with extraordinary centrifugal force within the rooms of a large hotel.” Brooks Atkinson said, “It weaves many destinies into a pattern of moving life, touching briefly on each one individually, binding them together with a slight strand of a story.” The dramatist had actually worked as a chambermaid to gather material for her work.

For the thirty-six hours covered by the action, five volatile and self-indulgent human beings from various walks and levels of society are thrown into one another’s paths in Berlin’s Grand Hotel; the sparks ignited flame into brief conflagrations and are extinguished as life continues to move relentlessly forward. The episodic, seventeen-scene play uses blackouts to shift swiftly from place to place, with action in the suites, lobby, conference rooms, and cabaret.

Henry Hull, Hortense Alden, Sam Jaffe, Siegfried Rumann in Grand Hotel

Its five principal characters are the temperamental ballerina Grusinskaia (Eugenie Leontovich), based on the Russian dancer Anna Pavlova; the aristocratic, debt-ridden fortune hunter, Baron Von Galgern (Henry Hull); the lustful and conniving textile manufacturer, Preysing (Siegfried Rumann); his beautiful stenographer, Flammchen (Hortense Alden), who is willing to sacrifice her virtue for her pocketbook; and the pathetic, fatally ill bookkeeper in Preysing’s employ, Kringelein (Sam Jaffe), who is spending all his hard-earned savings in the one and only fling of his life.

The action tosses the baron and the ballerina together when—after using Kringelein’s adjoining room to enter Grusinskaia’s—he tries to steal her jewels to pay off his debt, but ends up falling in love with her and she with him. Preysing later shoots the baron when the latter—already having failed to rob Kringelein—is caught burglarizing the manufacturer’s room. Kringelein is sent off by Preysing with Flammchen, and Grusinskaia leaves for the station, where she will wait for the baron, who will never arrive.

Most reviews were highly favorable for this first directorial effort of Herman Shumlin, equally successful as a producer in the years to come. “Brilliantly directed, sensitively acted by an excellent cast, written with clairvoyant understanding of the great fabric of metropolitan life, Grand Hotel is one of the season’s finest achievement,” exclaimed Atkinson. Francis Ferguson stated, “The noises of the ceaseless jazz orchestra are well-managed, sometimes near and sometimes far, to keep the frayed nerves aquiver.” But, for all his respect for the staging, he found the play “pernicious, with its Mittel-Europaische pretentiousness, its undigested and aggressive gloom.” 

Henry Hull, Eugenie Leontovich in Grand Hotel

Of the various distinguished performances, the standout was the Russian-born Leontovich’s, who captured all the physicality and poignancy of the aging ballerina, played unforgettably on screen by Greta Garbo. 

Exactly a year later, Broadway’s Booth Theatre hosted If Love Were All, a comedy by Cutler Hatch directed by Agnes Morgan of Grand Street Follies repute. If love for it were offered it might not have vanished after only eleven showings. Brooks Atkinson scratched his head over the well-acted work, which apparently condoned adultery: “The situation is farce; the theme appears to be tragic; the characters are cut out of pasteboard; the ideas come out of books.”

Margaret Bryce (Aline McMahon) is in love with Frank Grayson (Hugh Buckler), which state of emotions they believe to be unknown to their respective daughter, Janet (Margaret Sullavan, at the beginning of her illustrious career), and son, Ronald (Donald Blackwell). The young ones are themselves an item. Fearful of the repercussions for their other parents (Walter Kingsford and Mabel Moore), Janet and Ronald scheme up a situation in which Margaret and Frank will hopefully have their fill of one another by spending an entire summer together.

Sam Jaffe (black suit, near window, looking at desk), Henry Hull (with cane, at table), Hortense Alden (seated, right corner)

Not only does this have the opposite effect of more firmly bonding the illicit lovers, it also leads to the disclosure that their spouses have known everything all along and that they have chosen to wink at the relationship.

It took two years for November 13 to witness another opening night, this one an adaptation from the French called I Was Waiting for You, also at the Booth, where it faded after eight showings. The original author was Jacques Natanson, the adaptor Melville Baker, the director Arthur J. Beckhardt, and the set designer the one name still remembered, Jo Mielziner.

Various well-known artists were involved in this reticently played adaptation, which John Mason Brown considered “disjointed and unpersuasive.” The symmetrical plot concerns a young man (Bretaigne Windust) who lives with an older woman (Vera Allen), but falls for a younger woman (Helen Brooks), who herself lives with an older man (Glenn Anders). The younger pair had known each other as kids; they realize they have been waiting for one another during the passing years. The older couple, former lovers themselves, reconcile themselves to their fates and recognize that they, too, have been waiting for each other.

The fine cast could do little to raise the play to Broadway standards. Minor roles were taken by Myron McCormick and Joshua Logan, both of whom, like Bretaigne Windust and Margaret Sullavan, had been part of the University Players, founded in Falmouth, MA, in 1928, and also included James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Mildred Natwick, among other illustrious names. Buffs will remember that McCormick later created the role of Luther Billis in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which Logan directed. Windust, for his sake, soon found his niche as a topnotch director. 

Company of Grand Hotel

In 1934, Brittle Heaven, by Vincent York and Frederick Pohl (Vanderbilt Theatre, 23), was another November 13 loser. It was based on Josephine Pollit’s eponymous biography of New England poet Emily Dickinson, and was staged by actor Clarence Derwent. Dickinson’s life would be dramatized a number of times, of course, the best version being The Belle of Amherst. A 1930 play, Alison’s House, had already done the job, albeit in a veiled, à clef manner. Brittle Heaven, called by Richard Lockridge a “stiff little play” had one saving grace, an expert performance of the poet by Dorothy Gish. 

It centers on the romantic relationship established during the Civil War between the belle of Amherst and Captain Edward Bissell Hung (Albert [Van] Dekker), which affair is historically controversial. Other Dickensonian factions support different candidates for the position of the writer’s unrequited lover. At any rate, Hunt is married to Emily’s best friend, Helen (Edith Atwater). The lovers reveal their feelings in a touching scene, but the captain is killed in the war, putting an end to any possible romantic future for them.

On the same night that Brittle Heaven opened, so did a revival of Lennox Robinson’s Irish play Drama at Inish, whose provenance needs some explanation? Almost precisely a year earlier, November 9, 1933, to be exact, Robinson had directed a New York cast in the same play at the Masque Theatre, but under a different title, Is Life Worth Living? It gathered only a dozen performances.A number of critics agreed that the reason they didn’t care for it—despite its recent London success—was that it needed a first-rate ensemble, like that of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, of which Robinson himself was the head. 

In 1934, then, the play returned, using its original title, and performed by at the Golden Theatre by the visiting Abbey Theatre itself—albeit for only three showings—during a season of repertory. The critics found their views of the play’s satire on realistic drama (Strindberg, Ibsen, and Chekhov) vindicated, and rejoiced in the indigenous quality offered by the authentic Irish cast. John Anderson observed, “From the way I was laughing and poking my neighbors or myself in the ribs, I could scarcely believe that here was the same play which seemed so dismally unfunny when it was done lamely . . . only a year ago.”

Cast members included brothers Arthur Shields and Barry Fitzgerald, as well as May Craig, W. O’Gorman, and F.J. McCormick. Three years later, the Abbey was back with more repertory, and brought this play with them again, but, with some new casting, it failed to capture critical approval.

Helen Howe

We close with an Off-Broadway trifle from 1939 called Washington—All Change! (Labor Stage, 8), written and directed by Helen Howe, a monologist who also starred in what was a one-woman evening of leftist-oriented satirical sketches and characters based on various Washington, D.C. types and themes. Brooks Atkinson appreciated Howe’s basic talent, but discerned a lack of depth in the material. “Most of her evening is bright chit-chat, better suited to social clubs than to the theatre,” he said. In his view, the most impressive character was the Jewish refugee from Germany, Frau Bernstein, whose words reveal the anguish of her plight.

Howe also played a bespectacled Jewish radical lawyer, a fashionable hostess, a congresswoman who wants people to stop thinking, a Boston right-winger, and so on. It was all tenuously tied together by a tale about an aging senator’s trying to pass civil liberties issues legislation inspired by the persecution of a teacher who calls for America’s isolationism from the European war.

The latter part of November promises nostalgic riches as well, whatever the date chosen might be. See you then.

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

Click Here for #7 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 20 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #8 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 26 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #9 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 6 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #10 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 15 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #11 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 27 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #12 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 14 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #13 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 31 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #14 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: September 12 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #15 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 11 in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Click Here for #16 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 29th in the 1940’s

The Space Presents John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday

THIS INTIMATE AND PERSONAL CONCERT WILL BE STREAMED LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS WITH JOLLY SUPRISES AND HOLIDAY MEMORIES ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4

November 7, 2020: Following the success of two previous live stream concerts from The Space in Las Vegas, Tony and Grammy Award-winner John Lloyd Young returns on Friday, December 4 with John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday, an intimate and unforgettable evening of holiday classics and beloved favorites that will offer an up-close and personal experience to be enjoyed with family and friends safely from home with eggnog, popcorn, Christmas cookies and more. The 75 minute live streamed pay-per- view concert will begin at 6:00 PM PT and then be available OnDemand for one week following the live holiday event. The virtual VIP after-party will begin at 7:45 PM PT and include a talk-back, holiday surprises and an encore performance.

THIS INTIMATE AND PERSONAL CONCERT WILL BE STREAMED LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS WITH JOLLY SUPRISES AND HOLIDAY MEMORIES ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4

November 7, 2020: Following the success of two previous live stream concerts from The Space in Las Vegas, Tony and Grammy Award-winner John Lloyd Young returns on Friday, December 4 with John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday, an intimate and unforgettable evening of holiday classics and beloved favorites that will offer an up-close and personal experience to be enjoyed with family and friends safely from home with eggnog, popcorn, Christmas cookies and more. The 75 minute live streamed pay-per- view concert will begin at 6:00 PM PT and then be available OnDemand for one week following the live holiday event. The virtual VIP after-party will begin at 7:45 PM PT and include a talk-back, holiday surprises and an encore performance.

John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday fires up the season with classic, nostalgic rock, Motown and doo- wop, with a dollop of holiday favorites. With music director Tommy Faragher on piano, John Lloyd Young will sing Roy Orbison, Smokey Robinson, Little Anthony, some Jersey Boys and a good dose of holiday classics. After the concert, gather around the digital fireplace for a VIP holiday party with bonus songs, a Q&A with questions submitted by audience members in advance, surprise onstage gift exchanges between Tommy and John, and plenty of virtual eggnog and memories.

“It’s important to come together right now and remember how things used to be,” said John Lloyd Young. “We deserve to feel the comfort and joy that the holidays can bring. The songs will be great. The music will be beloved classics that will invite sing-alongs. And we will virtually raise a glass of eggnog together to toast the holidays.”

John Lloyd Young

JOHN LLOYD YOUNG is the Tony and Grammy Award-winning star from the Original Broadway Cast of Jersey Boys as well as Clint Eastwood’s Warner Bros. movie adaptation. Young is the only American actor to date to have received all four major Lead Actor honors in a Broadway musical: the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Theatre World Award. Young has performed concerts at The White House, Carnegie Hall, New Year’s Eve in Times Square, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the U.S. Embassy in Finland, Clint Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club, The Hollywood Bowl, the

Cafe Carlyle as well as Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York, Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco and Feinstein’s at Vitello’s in Los Angeles. He served as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by Barack Obama.

TOMMY FARAGHER (Music Direction). From producing the #1 Billboard hit “Teenage Dream” for the acclaimed TV show “Glee,” to producing and writing for such artists as Al Green, The O’Jays and Celin Dion, Grammy nominated Faragher has over four decades of experience in the music industry as one of the most prominent producers, composers, songwriters and arrangers within international entertainment. Faragher has been working with John Lloyd Young as his musical director, producer/co- writer since 2012, producing John’s album of Soul Classics “My Turn” and playing piano and directing live shows at The Cafe Carlyle, The Kennedy Center and venues all across the country.

ABOUT THE SPACE:

The Space is Las Vegas’ Community Driven, Charity Based Arts Complex consisting of a 3000 square foot raw performance/event space, Black Box Theatre, Rehearsal Studio, Podcast Studio, and a Piano Bar. Since opening, it has hosted Tony Winners, Grammy Winners, fashion shows to birthday parties. They currently bring entertainment directly to guests, pay-per-view style, to bring Broadway and live music lovers the very best talent without leaving the safety of their homes, while also providing artists with the opportunity to earn income while reaching out to their fans during these challenging times.

John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday will stream live from The Space in Las Vegas on Friday, December 4 at 6:00 PM PT/9:00 PM ET. The pay-per-view concert is $30 and the concert with VIP virtual after- party is $100 beginning at 7:45 PM PT/10:45 PM ET. The concert will be available OnDemand for one week following the live performance. For tickets and additional information, please visit www.thespacelv.com.

Excerpt from Superstar ~ Jesus Christ Superstar – 3

Excerpt from Superstar ~ Jesus Christ Superstar:Landmark Rock Opera to Worldwide Phenomenon

 By: Ellis Nassour

Part Three   ~   What’s the Buzz

November 6, 2020: Way ahead of the U.K. and U.S. was the popularity the single was reaping on the international scene, and from being programmed on the Armed Forces radio network and Radio Luxembourg. The FM stations were the first to jump on the bandwagon, but pop stations still held out. 

Excerpt from Superstar ~ Jesus Christ Superstar:Landmark Rock Opera to Worldwide Phenomenon

 By: Ellis Nassour

Part Three   ~   What’s the Buzz

November 6, 2020: Way ahead of the U.K. and U.S. was the popularity the single was reaping on the international scene, and from being programmed on the Armed Forces radio network and Radio Luxembourg. The FM stations were the first to jump on the bandwagon, but pop stations still held out. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hope was that a hit single would lead to a rock opera album, which would lead to concerts, which would to a stage production. However, the record never soared above the high 80s on the Billboard and Cash Box charts. 

By May 1969 sales had only slightly exceeded 100,000 copies. For most 45 R.P.M. releases that would be healthy; but the future of a Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera appeared dubious. MCA promotion went into hard drive. Mainly thanks to FM stations, the record was achieving a cult following. Finally, pop stations in major cities relaxed the taboo. An item in Time also helped sales. It also gave the first hint more was on the way: “A rock opera about Jesus Christ is now being written in London.” 

MCA brass figured an album was the right way to go, even if it meant more spending.  But they were impatient and wanted it for Fall 1970 release. A strict deadline was established – and ignored. Used to Lloyd Webber’s spending habits, brass knew a budget would useless and created one anyway.

A sea change in leadership was about to happen. A no nonsense power executive who believed strictly in the bottom line was about to take over operations.

In mid-March, orchestrations, arrangements, and songs were done. Development of art work and such legalities as copyrights were underway. Casting for lead singers and rock groups soon would be completed. Even though he foresaw delays, Brolly all but promised a master tape by May. 

Lloyd Webber and Rice knew who they wanted – top drawer musicians and top drawer talent.

The composer had his mind set on working with Cream guitarist Eric Clapton. He arranged a meeting with high-living entrepreneur Robert Stigwood, who had worked with Beatles manager Brian Epstein and now was having a huge success managing the Herd [Peter Frampton], Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, and especially the Bee Gees. 

“The audience,” recalled the composer, “ended with Tim and me graciously being show the door of his grand Mayfair offices.” 

Stigwood’s version differs. He stated that in addition to seeking Clapton, the duo wanted him to present the rock opera onstage. “I was far from certain it was a sure-fire thing,” he stated, “and suggested they come back and see me later.” The snub really bummed Lloyd Webber…

As Lloyd Webber and Rice rushed to complete their score, they felt a need a love ballad, but who would be in love with whom? That’s how “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” focusing on Mary’s devotion, even affection, for Jesus. It’s one of the rock opera’s most famous/most cherished songs, but Rice described his lyrics as “abysmal songwriting.” Lloyd Webber’s intro pays tribute to Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor.” As it kicks into pop gear, he quotes from “Kansas Morning,” a tune written for the duo’s 1969 publishing contract with Southern Music, but which was never recorded. Co-manager David Land bought back the rights, a steal at £100… 

~~~

Rice, trying to be cost-conscious since he and Lloyd Webber were £1,500 in the red, hoped to hire artists who’d take royalty points. Head and Gillan agreed. Others, keeping in mind U.K. sales for “Superstar” were poor, preferred cash. The Grease Band, with no Joe Cocker gigs on the horizon and who’d be playing literally on every track, wanted session fees. Rice wasn’t pleased but since they proved to be the ultimate pros, often the glue holding everything together, he found money to pay them. 

Next came the all-important matter of casting. There were intense negotiations over salary to keep Head onboard. They succeeded. But who’d play Jesus? The duo wanted a name…

Lloyd Webber attended a Deep Purple concert which featured the London Symphony, which confirmed his and Rice’s notion that rock and classical could work. The band was relaunching with Ian Gillan as lead vocalist and Lloyd Webber asked to hear his demos.  When he delivered a blood curdling blast of heavy metal shouting on “Child in Time,” Lloyd Webber turned to Rice. Words weren’t necessary. They’d found their Jesus. So excited was Lloyd Webber, he rewrote arrangements to suit his range.

A fruitless search for Mary Magdalene was underway. Lloyd Webber happened into a hip Chelsea club in the hope of finding a jazz vocalist for Pontius Pilate. Sitting there, he was bowled over by the opening act, “soft-voiced, angelic” 17-year-old American/Hawaiian-Japanese, Yvonne Elliman… He thought, “Everything I had wanted for Mary Magdalene was there in front of me.” 

“This young guy approached me and said softly, ‘I’ve found my Mary.'” Elliman recalled. “I didn’t know who he was or what he was talking about. I thought him a bit wacky, but I said, ‘Okay.’ He told me about the rock opera.” She laughed, thinking he was a “Jesus-freak” and maybe wanted her for “a hot-gospel album,” which didn’t turn her on. The next night the duo heard her. Lloyd Webber gave Elliman the just-completed “Everything’s Alright.” She worked on it a week, wowed him and Rice again and again. The role was hers… 

For the highly-charged role of Pilate, Head mentioned Chicago native Barry Dennen, who left Greenwich Village’s swinging 60s for London. Lloyd Webber recognized him as the flamboyant M.C. he’d seen on the West End in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, where he had etched a lasting presence in his psyche… The duo soon learned his back story. He came from wealth, had a UCLA theater arts degree, and had been devastated by his breakup with young Barbra Streisand, whom he mentored to her first successes 

 “Heaven on Their Minds,” the first song following the overture, and Act One’s “Everything’s Alright” were written in December. By end of February, there were 24 songs.  

 Jesus Christ’s motley crew was made up of 10 singers and a roster of 26 apostles, priests, Roman soldiers, lepers, and temple vendors — an ensemble worthy of a West End or Broadway musical. 

Lloyd Webber’s arrangement and orchestration for the overture, one second short of four minutes, was highly regarded by the pros. It’s a mix of synthesizer, strings, fierce guitar work, chamber music, symphony orchestra, electronic piano, soul singers, and choir — all strongly complimented by driving, repetitive percussion spiked with tidbits of mini-drum fanfare and flute-influenced crescendos. Amazingly, it all blended into an eerie and powerful whole… Everyone marveled at how Rice managed to crowd in lyrics five beats to the bar…

~~~

Mike Maitland, a label president at Atlantic Records, which encompassed Warner Records, became embroiled in a power struggle with corporate president, the powerful Ahmet Ertegün, who to secure his own position fired Maitland. MCA, badly in need of reorganization, saw a golden opportunity. Not surprisingly, after his success with Warner’s, Maitland drove a hard bargain, with the added cache of demanding full creative control. Negotiations were long and hard. Ultimately, he became labels president. Immediately, his eye was on the bottom line. He made drastic changes.

One of the first things addressed was the rock opera’s session overtime. There were clashes. Much pressure was put on Brolly, who put it on session engineer Alan O’Duffy, who put it on Lloyd Webber and Rice – or attempted to. While creating their masterpiece, the composer felt slighted by such demands, and simply ignored them — losing more good will, not that it concerned him. What could they do? It wasn’t as if they didn’t need him.  

Sadly, that was the case. Only the duo knew what was going on and it was all in their heads. 

Sessions were so loosely organized that when the boys arrived at the studio, they took roll. “What we did each day depended on who was around and what kind of mood they were in,” explained O’Duffy. “Andrew was always touching up the arrangements, and Tim roaming the halls trying to gather a quorum so we could record. When we came up short, he and Andrew joined in on background parts.”

To avoid huge fees for the orchestra sitting idly about, O’Duffy recorded music tracks   first. The glue that helped hold the recording enterprise together was the Grease Band, supplemented by well-known rockers… 

Head and Gillan were in intense competition, giving their all over long hours. For the best segues from soft notes to falsetto screams, they tied. Each delivers one dazzling moment after another. 

In fact, there is no shortage of superb performances. Elliman effortlessly contributed poignant  moments with her ballads. Dennen’s ability to change keys within songs to go from falsetto to tenor without a breath created addictive, often harrowing listening. His “Pilate’s Dream” showcased his   His ability to run keys and sing in anguished measures, makes it one of the rock opera’s most shattering moments… 

Several worried about the length of some tunes as far as radio airplay was concerned. “Everything’s Alright” ran in excess of five minutes. It’s also where you first hear Lloyd Webber’s innovations shine in syncopated beats and his out-of-the-ordinary arrangements – especially where percussion kicked.  “The Last Supper,” which begins the second half, ran over seven minutes, the longest and one of the most poignant sequences.

“King Herod’s Song,” the most audacious tune of the rock opera, memorably performed by Manfred Mann’s Mike d’Abo, came about because Lloyd Webber had a hunch that with the harrowing drama of Judas’ “Damned for All Time”/“Blood Money” and “Pilate and Christ,” things needed to lighten up a bit. It’s rooted in “Try It and See,” written months earlier for the Eurovision competition and which was intended for Jesus. However, it was felt to be much too lightweight. Rice did a total lyric overhaul and it was retitled. The song, raucous, black comic, British music hall vaudeville with more than a dash of soul, stands out — more often than not, controversially.

Head has an originally unplanned moment late in the score. He’d told Lloyd Webber he liked “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and wanted to sing it. Lloyd Webber slyly introduced six lines for Head to croon. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar, he effortlessly changes keys and creates magic…

The last tunes to be recorded were “Gethsemane,” with Gillan reaching every power note he possessed; and “Judas’ Death,” with Head exploding such rawness on the last chords that he blacked out. 

The rock opera wrapped in July. Halleluiah and amen, it was done – all 87 stirring minutes and 16 seconds. And, to many, overdone. There were 60 sessions, 400 hours of recording. It took up four master reels. Brolly and Leander thought the piece too long. Set for a two-disc release, a third would make the album price-prohibitive. Cuts were made

After months of rehearsals, sessions, and retakes, instead of celebrating, Rice was fighting bouts of paranoia. All he could think of was how much he and Lloyd Webber owed MCA and how long it would take to recoup session expenses and see real money or if they’d achieve fame and fortune

~~~

On August 27, MCA New York received the final mix on test pressings. “This is a truly phenomenal work,” wrote Brolly… “I have no doubts of its outstanding aesthetic values and absolutely no doubt that creative and aggressive selling and promotion will make this set one of the biggest selling albums in our history.” 

New York also learned of a title change. Brolly added Superstar to the working title Jesus Christ. The cost was an astronomical $65,000, but that far from exact. Sky high as the final cost was, had Jesus Christ Superstar been produced in the U.S., its cost would have at least doubled 

Lloyd Webber had taken free rein; and, though costly, it was worth it. There’s genius in his meticulous, lavish arrangements. Rice with his non-traditional lyrics, came up with something unique, innovative. The result was something that would have a huge impact on how rock would be recorded.

Rice was always on the hot seat where the lyrics were concerned. There were more than a few claims he was anti-religion, which he strongly refuted. The more and closer you listen to the lyrics, it’s difficult not to be struck by the depth of  thought Rice put into each phrase – and how he delved beyond scripture to tackle contemporary issues. This wasn’t so obvious to him until later. At the time, he was self critical, terming some lyrics “ridiculous.” He received high praise for his audacious cleverness – such as using hip phrases and his tongue-twisting “Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho” on “Hosanna.” 

It didn’t long for a foreboding of gloom set in. Even though Jesus Christ Superstar was a huge achievement, there was no interest in the U.K. It would be in the U.S. where the album would find its place in the history books as one of the best-selling albums in recording history.

~~~

Almost a year after the release of the single, the day of the album unveiling in the U.S. arrived — Tuesday, October 27, 1970, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church [now demolished]. It was quickly dubbed “The Last Supper”… Four hundred engraved invitations had been mailed to media and clergy.

Monday, just before 7 P.M., with things finally quiet at MCA’s offices at Park Avenue and 57th Street, the director of artist relations was about to head home. The phone rang, and rang. Someone yelled: “It’s for you!?” He picked up the blinking line. The caller identified himself as Robert Stigwood, a name he didn’t recognize, and informed he needed to be in touch with the duo. The director took his information and said he’d pass it on. At their hotel, the boys were out. He left the message, marked urgent.

Lloyd Webber, remembering Stigwood’s slight, ignored it. Stigwood’s assistants kept calling; then began showering the duo with wine and Champagne. Still, the composer continued to ignore him. Stigwood persisted. Co-manager David Land advised Lloyd Webber it wasn’t wise to ignore Stigwood. “Robert’s calls were incessant,” recalled Lloyd Webber. “The longer I waited to return the calls, the longer were the limos that were sent to pick us up.” 

It may have slipped Lloyd Webber’s mind, but Stigwood, now a theater producer, had a huge hit on the West End with Tom O’Horgan’s production of Hair.

Finally, the boys to accept Stigwood’s invite and were whisked away in a well-appointed and stocked stretch limo to his Upper East Side townhouse, where they were wined and dined in unimaginable opulence…

While enjoying caviar, gourmet dining, and an endless array of no-expense-spared  wines, Lloyd Webber thought now that he and Rice had their album, with the boss’ operations, there could be concert tours. Realizing Stigwood was producing for the stage, maybe he’d also get the  stage production he dreamed of since childhood.

However, amid mishap after mishap, it would take a while before manna rained down again on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

Click Here for Part One Excerpt From Superstar – Jesus Christ Superstar

Click Here for Part Two Excerpt From Superstar – Jesus Christ Superstar

Special 3K – Triple Threat

Kea Chan, Denise Kara, Kayla Merrow are SPECIAL 3K – the Triple Threat appearing in a LIVE Virtual Concert on Dec. 11th / DON’T STOP BELIEVING! A Musical Entertainment to Escape from the Madness

October 30, 2020: A new concert created and produced by Robert R Blume of Step Forward Entertainment with Pat Labez and Cambridge Productions will feature a return engagement of the SPECIAL 3K triple threat of the trio of rising young stars – Kea Chan, Denise Kara, Kayla Merrow – returning with their new concert DON’T STOP BELIEVING on Friday, December 11th at 10pm EST seen exclusively on Metropolitan Zoom!

Kea Chan, Denise Kara, Kayla Merrow are SPECIAL 3K – the Triple Threat appearing in a LIVE Virtual Concert on Dec. 11th / DON’T STOP BELIEVING! A Musical Entertainment to Escape from the Madness

October 30, 2020: A new concert created and produced by Robert R Blume of Step Forward Entertainment with Pat Labez and Cambridge Productions will feature a return engagement of the SPECIAL 3K triple threat of the trio of rising young stars – Kea Chan, Denise Kara, Kayla Merrow – returning with their new concert DON’T STOP BELIEVING on Friday, December 11th at 10pm EST seen exclusively on Metropolitan Zoom!

The three young female performers, with a guest appearance by Justin Senense, will return to the virtual concert stage of MetropolitanZoom.com where they enjoyed a hit Special 3K concert in early August 2020.  The December 11th concert will reprise some of the requested performances from their prior concert with new musical numbers added as they look to entertain the audience and help them “escape from the madness of our times.” The concert will also feature international music director Bobby DeLeon on the keyboard.

Robert R. Blume, President of Step Forward Entertainment said “Getting a call from Metropolitan Zoom owner Bernard Furshpan to do another concert because of the tremendous success of the last one was exciting for all of us.  We are looking forward to getting together at the new Metropolitan Zoom Studio A in Long Island City to perform the live show at this virtual nightclub site which adds to the excitement.” 

The virtual LIVE Special 3K, Triple Threat concert Don’t Stop Believing! has tickets available from $20 to $40 purchased online at https://metropolitanzoom.ticketleap.com.  

Metropolitan Zoom owner, Bernard Furshpan has created a virtual night Club different from typical jazz, cabaret, and comedy Live Streaming because the production is set on a venue stage and performers are able to engage with virtual audiences via Zoom and see their facial reactions, just like an in-person night club experience”  – perfect for the Special 3K Triple Threat concert.

Quotes from recent reviews:

“This young trio of performers managed by Bob Blume and Step Forward Entertainment gave me one of the most entertaining nights of streaming that I have watched. These 3 young performers proved their talent and high-octane energy was contagious.” … Suzanna Bowling, Times Square Chronicles

“I truly appreciated the finale that included a re-appearance of all the artists.  Kea Chan was particularly strong with “That’s Life,” bringing her own brand of soul music to the stage.  After almost six months of not attending a show at a cabaret or nightclub, the recognizable was heartening and the evening was absolutely joyful.” …Marcina Zaccaria, TheaterPizzazz.com

About the Performers:

KEA CHAN (Special 3K)
Broadwayworld.com called Ms. Chan “breathtaking”.  Times Square Chronicles (t2conline.com) heralded Kea as “a performer to keep your eye on”. This native Filipina most recently appeared in The Actors Fund benefit concert celebrating the music of Neil Sedaka.  She also appeared on the Amazon Prime TV series, Homicide City and performed in several concerts at The Green Room 42.  A finalist for the lead role of Kim in the recent Broadway revival of Miss Saigon, Kea had the honor of singing for the Presidents and Ambassadors of the Philippines, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.  Performing since she was 11, Kea won the Philippine Child Performer of the Year at 13.  Kea has appeared in indie film shorts on the film festival circuit, Bronx SIU on Amazon Prime, Las Vegas hotels, the Hudson Guild Theater, The Triad and Feinstein’s 54 Below. 


DENISE KARA (Special 3K)
At 10 years old, Kara has made a name for herself in the Filipino-American community as a major live performer.  She recently appeared in The Actors Fund benefit concert celebrating the music of Neil Sedaka.  

She has been featured at The Green Room 42 in the American Popular Song Society Christmas Special.  She auditioned for TOMMY on CBS and Nickelodeon, where she impressed the casting directors.  She appeared in the virtual concert benefit for My Sisters Keeper, which raised money for the African American community and was a highlight.  She also performed in Luminaries a concert celebrating Filipinos of Achievement.  Kara sings, dances, writes original songs, plays ukulele and piano! Kara is dedicating this concert to her grandmother who recently passed away.

KAYLA MERROW (Special 3K)
A newcomer to the business, Kayla has most recently appeared in The Actors Fund benefit concert celebrating the music of Neil Sedaka.  This 19-year-old professional actor/singer/dancer is still in college but is competing for professional jobs. She has performed as a guest singer in several shows and competitions. Some of her favorite roles have been portraying the fabulous Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, and the mysterious Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family Musical.

JUSTIN SENENSE (Guest Performer)
An American actor/singer of Philippine heritage, Justin most recently appeared in The Actors Fund benefit concert celebrating the music of Neil Sedaka. He was also seen playing the lead in the award winning indie short film Howard. Some of his favorite credits include, Angel in Rent (Westchester Broadway Theatre), Benjamin in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (National Tour) and Hair (Italian Tour).  He is also a director of cabaret performances. 

BOBBY DELEON (Music Director/Piano)
Bobby was the MD/Keyboard on the recent concert Looking Toward Tomorrow with the girls, as well as the accompanist for both Kara and Kayla in the Neil Sedaka concert. He is an extraordinary, international music director, arranger and pianist who plays entirely by ear!  He has conducted shows for some of the most prominent Philippine stars and performers both in the US and abroad.

About the Producer:

Step Forward Entertainment, an entertainment production and talent management company headquartered in New York City, represents clients in Los Angeles, Florida and other areas in the US. The company was founded by renowned producer / talent manager, Robert R. Blume (“Bob”).  With strong roots on Broadway as an Executive Producer of the annual Drama Desk Awards from 1999 to 2018, Mr. Blume represents talent and produces TV, film and theatre. He is proud to present this virtual concert in association with Pat Labez and Marya Coburn of Cambridge Productions. For more information visit www.StepForwardEntertainment.com