Come Together *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

British cabaret dynamo Barb Jungr grew up in Rochdale, Lancashire, just a few miles from Liverpool. So it’s not surprising she has a special attraction to the Beatles. In fact, she told the audience at Don’t Tell Mama on Jan. 9 that growing up in the 1960s, she was convinced her country had produced no modern popular icon. Then the Beatles came along and Great Britain was back on the map.

By: Paulanne Simmons

British cabaret dynamo Barb Jungr grew up in Rochdale, Lancashire, just a few miles from Liverpool. So it’s not surprising she has a special attraction to the Beatles. In fact, she told the audience at Don’t Tell Mama on Jan. 9 that growing up in the 1960s, she was convinced her country had produced no modern popular icon. Then the Beatles came along and Great Britain was back on the map.

Jungr’s show, which ran Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, celebrated not only her personal connection with the Beatles but also the release of her latest CD, “Come Together,” an exciting collaboration between Jungr and arranger and pianist John McDaniel. But much more important, it introduced even the most avid Beatle fan to a whole new way of looking at the Fab Four.

When Jungr sings “Ah look at all the lonely people,” she expresses all the isolation and misery of loneliness in a way that might have surprised even the song’s creators. The beautiful and tender “In My Life” is given a similarly intense treatment.

But Jungr also knows how to inject an impish merriment into every performance. Often she engaged in playful banter with McDaniel. It’s obvious the two like each other both professionally and personally. Several times Jungr ceded the stage to McDaniel, who sang a few songs in his own style.

Although the Beatles have been lauded for their lyrics in the group’s more mature years, it’s hard to make too much of lyrics such as “I give her all my love/That’s all I do/And if you saw my love/You’d love her to/I love her.” But Jungr, with her exquisite phrasing and deep emotional commitment to every song she adopts and adapts, can turn even the most banal of lyrics into a revelation.

With that said, Jungr has a keen sense of which songs the audience wants to hear and she wants to sing. This is especially true in her medleys, when she combines the insolence of “Getting Better” with the lyricism of “Here There Everywhere” or strings together simple messages of love in “And I Love Her,” “All My Loving” and “All You Need Is Love.”

When Barb Jungr sings she has a unique ability to convince everyone in the audience she’s sharing a very special secret with very special people. Sometimes that secret is funny, sometimes it’s sad and sometimes it’s subversive. But it always tickles the imagination and soothes the soul.

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Piaf! The Show *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

In1957 Edith Piaf gave her second and last concert at Carnegie Hall. The concert included “La vie en rose,” “Padam Padam,” and “L’Accordéoniste.” Sixty years later, on Jan. 6, Anne Carrere dazzled the audience at Carnegie Hall with her brilliant performance in Piaf! The Show. She sang many of those songs the audience longed to hear again.

By: Paulanne Simmons

In1957 Edith Piaf gave her second and last concert at Carnegie Hall. The concert included “La vie en rose,” “Padam Padam,” and “L’Accordéoniste.” Sixty years later, on Jan. 6, Anne Carrere dazzled the audience at Carnegie Hall with her brilliant performance in Piaf! The Show. She sang many of those songs the audience longed to hear again.

Backed by a videoscape of Piaf, Paris and Parisians, Carrere took the audience on a musical journey tracing Piaf’s rise to prominence from a penniless street singer to an international icon. Carrere first appeared dressed in scrubby pants and sweater, and ended up in Piaf’s classic black dress, while her band (Philippe Villa on piano, Guy Giuliano on acordion, Laurent Sarrien on percussion and Daniel Fabricant on double bass) likewise upgraded dress ending up in elegant tuxedos.

Although Carrere occasionally interacted with members of the band, sharing a drink and a joke, most of the evening was devoted to song. She has a powerful, emotion-laden voice that is uncannily like Piaf’s. She’s also adept at reproducing Piaf’s Parisian pronunciation, making full use of all those sexy, throaty r’s.

The first half of the concert, composed primarily of lesser known songs that have not been much translated, was certainly appreciated, but was not as successful as the second half. Even Carrere’s magnificent voice could not completely overcome the language barrier.

However, the second half, with mostly Piaf’s signature songs, “Hymne à L’amour,” “La Vie en Rose,” “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien,” “Milord,” was a total triumph. With impish delight Carerre chose one man as her dance partner for “La Vie en Rose” and another to play the rich gentleman addressed in “Milord.”

Curiously, Carrere is at her very best when she is not Edith Piaf, but Anne Carrere. One is hard pressed to imagine Piaf as buoyant and carefree as this young lady.

At the end of the show Carrere, who has performed Piaf! The Show
internality for the last year, tearfully told the audience that she was once a
French girl from a little town singing in southern France. I’m still that same French girl, she said, “But look where I am now!”

Indeed!

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Remembering Debbie Reynolds

Remembering Almost Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds

By: Ellis Nassour

In 2009, legendary film star Debbie Reynolds returned to New York for her first professional appearance in over 25 years — performing her celebrated nightclub act that June at the Café Carlyle.

Remembering Almost Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds

By: Ellis Nassour

In 2009, legendary film star Debbie Reynolds returned to New York for her first professional appearance in over 25 years — performing her celebrated nightclub act that June at the Café Carlyle. Continue reading “Remembering Debbie Reynolds”

A Bronx Tale **1/2 – The Death of the Last Black Man in Whole Entire World ***1/2 The Band’s Visit ****

By: David Sheward
If the recent presidential election has taught us anything, it’s that racism and stereotyping are still prevalent despite polite wrist-slapping by the media elite. A spate of new productions address prejudice in various forms with varying degrees of creativity and imagination. It should come as no surprise that the Broadway entry in this round-up is the softest and least dangerous of the three while the Off-Broadway shows are edgier and more honest.

By: David Sheward
If the recent presidential election has taught us anything, it’s that racism and stereotyping are still prevalent despite polite wrist-slapping by the media elite. A spate of new productions address prejudice in various forms with varying degrees of creativity and imagination. It should come as no surprise that the Broadway entry in this round-up is the softest and least dangerous of the three while the Off-Broadway shows are edgier and more honest.

A Bronx Tale, the Broadway show and the safest production under consideration here, is the latest iteration of Chazz Palminteri’s autobiographical solo play about his boyhood attachment to a local mob figure and its affect on his hard-working father. After successful 1989 runs in Los Angeles and Off-Broadway with Palminteri playing his younger self and all the other characters, Robert De Niro made his directorial debut with the 1993 filversion, and played Lorenzo, the father, with Palminteri as Sonny, the neighborhood boss. The movie’s success launched Palminteri’s film acting career, usually limning tough guys, most notably in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway. The author-star returned to Tale in a 2007 Broadway revival directed by Jerry Zaks.

In this age of recycling material, a musical version was inevitable. Many of the personnel associated with earlier editions are associated with the new product. Palminteri   wrote the book and Zaks and De Niro co-direct. Sonny is played by Nick Cordero who starred in the Palminteri role in the so-so stage musical version of Bullets.

The show is slick, professional, and enjoyable, with smart staging from Zaks and De Niro (though I suspect Zaks is largely responsible for the musical’s zip, along with Sergio Trujillo’s street-savvy choreography). Palminteri attempts to retain the grittiness and depth of his original script, but it gets drowned in nostalgic musical suds. The score by composer Alan Menken  and lyricist Glenn Slater employs the 1960s sounds of the settings and has some grabby high spots but feels mostly derivative.

In the original, Sonny and Lorenzo emerges as complex figures. The mobster is a brutal killer but also compassionate when young Chazz (his full name is Calogero) reveals he wants to date an African-American girl. The dad is a role model of honesty, rejecting Sonny’s easy money and loose morals, but he intolerantly rejects his son’s reaching across racial lines. In this musical, these rough edges are smoothed over with everybody singing about finding their “heart.”

Despite Cordero’s charismatic performance, or maybe because of it, Sonny’s darkness is totally eclipsed by a sunny—no pun intended—demeanor. This Sonny is a great guy, a romantic crooner, and a “cute”
gangster we root for even as he smashes rivals with a baseball bat. It’s the latest example of stereotyping mob figures in a rosy, admiring aura.

This qualm does not lessen my admiration for Bobby Conte Thornton who as Calogero carries the show on his shoulders with style, sturdy Richard H. Blake as Lorenzo, and spunky Hudson Loverro as the child version of the hero.

While Bronx Tale offers cuddly criminals serving sweet tiramisu, The Band’s Visit at Atlantic Theatre Company is a spicier slice of falafel. Derived from a 2007 Israeli film, this small-scale tuner is intimate and authentic while Bronx Tale is big and broad like a tourist version of reality. When an Egyptian policeman’s band is stranded in an isolated Israeli town for a night, the musicians must rely on the hospitality of the residents. Unexpected connections form as cultures clash and stereotyping breaks down. David Yazbek’s moving songs incorporate an exotic blend of influences rarely heard on or Off-Broadway and David Cromer’s direction has a refreshing verisimilitude. There are dozens of tiny, evocative moments such as an exhausted wife angrily simmering as her husband and father entertain their visitors; two men awaiting calls from their distant sweethearts battling over a pay phone; the band’s romeo offering romantic advice at a rollerskating rink; and the autocratic conductor letting his guard down as the lonely cafe owner sings of her attraction for him.

Tony Shalhoub is pricelessly stiff as the proper bandleader and Katrina Lenk convincingly conveys both the brittle sheen and soft center of Dina, his sarcastic hostess. Daniel David Stewart, Ari’el Stachel, John Cariani, Kristen Sieh, and Erik Liberman also provide endearingly real portraits.

In the final look at theatrical response to cultural stereotyping, we move from desert realism to abstract symbolism. Suzan-Lori Parks’ singularly titled The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World aka The Negro Book of the Dead (1990), at Signature Theatre,takes on the most brutal aspects of prejudice in a nightmarish tone poem populated by race-based figures. Black Man with Watermelon (an intense Daniel J. Watts) dies over and over, by lynching and the electric chair, as his wife Black Woman with Fried Drumstick (a magnificent Roslyn Ruff) perpetually says goodbye and goes into mourning. Their narrative
of sorrow is augmented by a chorus of mythical stock characters with names like Old Man River Jordan, Queen-Then-Pharoah Hatshepsut, and Lots of Grease and Lots of Pork. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz makes this satiric parody into a lively dance-meditation on race and Roslyn Ruff’s emotive acting transforms a symbol into a living, breathing person. In this era of Black Lives Matter and the triumph of Trump, Parks’ angry, mysterious, and challenging work is especially relevant—and dangerously real.

A Bronx Tale: Opened Dec. 1 for an open run. Longer Theatre, 220 W.
48th St., NYC. Tue—Thu, 7pm; Fri—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm, Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours including one intermission. $45—$162. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Band’s Visit: Dec. 8—Jan. 1. Atlantic Theatre Company, 336 W. 20th St., NYC. Tue, Sun, 7 pm; Wed—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, Sun, 2 pm. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. $91.50—$111.50. (866) 811-4111. www.ovationtix.com. Photo: Ahron R. Foster

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The Band’s Visit 

The Death of the Last Black Man in Whole Entire World aka The Negro Book of the Dead: Nov. 13—Dec. 18. Signature Theatre Company, 480 W. 42nd St.NYC St., NYC. Tue-Thu, Sun, 7:30 pm; Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, Sun, 2 pm. Running time: 75 minutes with no intermission. $25. (212) 244-7529. www.signaturetheatre.org. Photo: Joan Marcus
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Broadway Exodus

A Bleak January 2017 Ahead with the Closing of 12 Shows

By: Ellis Nassour

January is always a dark time for Broadway. Many shows survive by having pre-season sales to fill seats during cold, drab January and February. A dozen shows are biting the dust. In most cases, no sooner than they’re gone, new ones will come roaring into town.

BroadwayExodus_0

A Bleak January 2017 Ahead with the Closing of 12 Shows

By: Ellis Nassour

January is always a dark time for Broadway. Many shows survive by having pre-season sales to fill seats during cold, drab January and February. A dozen shows are biting the dust. In most cases, no sooner than they’re gone, new ones will come roaring into town.

BroadwayExodus_0


Take a moment to pay respects to the fallen shows of late December 2016 and January 2017. Among those heading out of town are more than a few treasured ones.

Some were limited engagements that were planned to close in January, but it’ll be a sad goodbye to some long-running shows. Late this month and into January, we’ll see 12 shows bite the dust:
Tony-winning and Drama Desk-nominated
The Color Purple revival (January
8),
The Encounter (January 8), the Falsettos revival (January 8),
Tony and DD-nominated revival of
Fiddler on the Roof (December 31), Holiday
Inn
(January 15), Tony and DD-winning The Humans (January 15),
The Illusi
onists – Turn of the Century (January 1), Jersey Boys (January
15,
after over 4,640 performances), Les Liaisons Dangereuses (January
8), DD-winning and Tony-nominated
Mathilda (after over1,565performances),
Oh, Hello
(January 22), and that hilarious gift to theater Tony and
DD-nominated
Something Rotten (January 1). Barring an extension, one of the season’s biggest hits, the all-star revival of The Front Page, is set to close January 29.

Closing1-2017

It was an amazing and profitable season.
What a shame there’s no time capsule where these shows could be placed, so they
could rise again years later. The closest  to that is the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts [where video capsules of most closing shows go
into the archives].

January 2016 was also a cruel month with closings of Allegiance, China Doll, and The Crucible, Dames at Sea, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Gin Game, Hand to God, King Charles III, the revivals of Spring Awakening and Sylvia, Therese
Raquin, and A View from the Bridge. There was some magic to do, with
the 2015 edition of The Illusionists – Live on Broadway materializing into a January blockbuster — capitalizing to a $8-million profit in only three weeks (64 performances).

 

January 2015, like January 2017, was exactly a happy start to the new year. It
saw the demise of Cinderella, The Last Ship, Motown, 2012’s Best
Musical Once, Pippin, The Real Thing revival, the Side Show, and This
Is Our Youth
didn’t age well (133 performances). 

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PIAF! THE SHOW

For one night only on January 6, 2017 @ Carnegie Hall


With over a half a million tickets sold in more than 30 countries and worldwide acclaim, PIAF! THE SHOW  a musical celebration of the life and music of the legendary French chanteuse – returns to the US as part of the extended world tour.  
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For one night only on January 6, 2017 @ Carnegie Hall


With over a half a million tickets sold in more than 30 countries and worldwide acclaim, PIAF! THE SHOW  a musical celebration of the life and music of the legendary French chanteuse – returns to the US as part of the extended world tour.  
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The highlight of the American leg of a 400-performance global tour is the special presentation at Carnegie Hall on January 6, 2017, at  8pm celebrating
the 60th anniversary of Edith Piaf’s 
final performance at the renowned venue. Retracing her life and history through her greatest hits, such as “La Vie en Rose” and “Hymne à l’amour,” PIAF! THE SHOW stars the highly praised singer Anne Carrere. Tickets for this concert are $20-$125 and can be purchased through Carnegie Hall’s website www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2017/1/6/0800/PM/Piaf-The-Show or by calling CarnegieCharge at 212 247-7800 Peter Bogyo is the Executive Producer. 

Inspired by the award-winning movie La Vie en Rose, PIAF! THE SHOW is
a tribute to  Edith Piaf.  
Conceived and directed by the Nice-based theatrical maverick Gil Marsalla and starring Anne Carrere, a young French
performer hailed as “Edith Piaf’s legitimate musical heiress,” PIAF! THE SHOW premiered in 2015 as a tribute to “The  Little Sparrow” on the centennial of her birthday.  In two 45-minute acts, the show narrates the rags-to-riches story of the Parisian singer’s career through her unforgettable songs, complemented by a visual tapestry of previously unreleased photographs and images of famous locations from Piaf’s era. 



A recent review in the Guardian said “Anne Carrere’s voice soars,” The LA Times
raved “Anne Carrere captured the hearts of the audience.”  Piaf’s longtime
collaborators, composer Charles Dumont and singer Germaine Ricord, described
Anne’s skills as “that of Edith Piaf at the top of her career.”

Gil Marsalla, producer and director of PIAF! THE SHOW, first
met future star Anne Carrere in 2014, when she  auditioned for another of his productions, Paris! Le Spectacle. Captivated by her skills and
natural charisma, Marsalla offered her the role of Edith Piaf in his new
production. “I have worked in show business – on and off stage – for 25 years
and mounted shows around the world. But to this day, Anne Carrere is my
greatest artistic discovery yet. Don’t you dare touch or polish her, she is a
‘diamond in the rough’, such is the nature of her pure and natural talent,”
says Marsalla of his leading lady.

Watch trailer: https://youtu.be/obpUmr1s8kQ

Listen to the recording: https://soundcloud.com/directo-productions/les-amants-dun-jour-extrait-spectacle-piaf-le-spectacle

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Othello *****

The moment you enter New York Theatre Workshop for Sam Gold’s searing production of Othello, you know it will be a startlingly different interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy of the noble Moor. Set designer Andrew Lieberman has reconfigured the normally spacious playing area into a tight, claustrophobic army barracks.

By: David Sheward
The moment you enter New York Theatre Workshop for Sam Gold’s searing production of Othello, you know it will be a startlingly different interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy of the noble Moor. Set designer Andrew Lieberman has reconfigured the normally spacious playing area into a tight, claustrophobic army barracks.

Mattresses and macho gear like nudie magazines, snack food bags, and electric guitars are strewn everywhere. (There’s even an actor’s actual artificial limb by his bedside.) Audience members are crammed like sardines into uncomfortable wooden bleachers to view this tense drama of jealousy, manipulation and power. Jane Cox’s striking lighting employs head-set flashlights and floodlights to create an eerie, battle-torn atmosphere.

In Gold’s unsparing staging, Othello and his followers are modern American and English soldiers occupying a Middle Eastern territory. Parallels are drawn between the Bard’s themes of racism and misogyny and contemporary issues of the same conflicts along with imperialism and cultural oppression as the self-hating, Cockney, Caucasian Iago (a brilliantly devious Daniel Craig) is driven to distraction by the merits and advancement of the foreign, dark-skinned Othello (David Oyelowo in a powerhouse, career-defining performance). You could infer similarities to Trump and Obama, but that’s up to you.

Regardless of the political implications, the production has the impact of a gut punch. Iago and Othello are engaged in a wrestling match to the death which sometimes becomes literal (kudos to fight director Thomas Schall). Craig captures the broiling rage of lago and his insidious drive to spread lies and “fake news” about Desdemona’ fidelity. This is an Iago akin to Richard III in his quest to destroy anyone who has what he doesn’t. His envy of Othello’s happiness in marriage and career inspires him to infect the Moor with the same disease. Many only know Craig as James Bond, but his performance here—and in Broadway productions of A Steady Rain and Betrayal—display a subtle craft unseen in the 007 franchise.

Oyelowo matches Craig in intensity and masterfully calibrates Othello’s descent into uncontrolled madness. He begins as the assured general, confident in his military ability and his love for Desdemona (a charming and spirited Rachel Brosnahan) despite the heated disapproval of her bigoted father Brabantio (an appropriately indignant Glenn Fitzgerald). His doubts, fed by Iago’s lies, gradually take over Oyelowo’s noble visage, twisting it with fury and turning him into an inhuman monster. His humanity returns with devastating force at the final denouement when the truth of his wife’s faithfulness and his ensign’s deceit trigger a howl of despair which seems to come from the pit of hell.

Even the supporting roles are fully fleshed out. Marsha Stephanie Blake is a flinty Emilia,  Finn Wintrock is a valiant but flawed Cassio, and Nikki Massoud makes for a heartbreaking Bianca, a role usually thrown away. Special mention to Matthew Maher whose comic timing and honest limning give depth to the normally buffoonish Roderigo. At one point he crawls out of a foot-locker. I’m not sure how this was accomplished, but it was just one arresting moment in a landmark production.

Dec. 12—Jan. 18. New York Theatre  Workshop, 79 E. 4th St., NYC. Running time: three hours and 10 mins. including intermission. Schedule varies. $125. (212)460-5475. www.nytw.org.
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David Oyelowo, Daniel Craig

 

Analisa Leaming

Broadway’s Analisa Leaming Celebrates the Holidays on Long Island as Mary Poppins

By Iris WienerMary_Poppins_1

Broadway’s Analisa Leaming Celebrates the Holidays on Long Island as Mary Poppins

By Iris WienerMary_Poppins_1

No one gets inside the cheeful spirit of titular nanny Mary Poppins quite like Analisa Leaming. The star of John W. Engeman Theater’s holiday show has not only played Mary in a previous production of Mary Poppins at Kansas City Starlight Theatre, but she has also stepped into the shoes of Maria in The Sound of Music (another role
made famous by Julie Andrews…in case you a
re keeping count!). After a 2016 that
saw her first leading role as Anna Leonowens in Broadway’s
The King and Iand her current foray as Mary, she’ll be working on Broadway again in 2017 with the cast of Hello Dolly!, led by Bette Midler. She spoke with Theaterlife.com about playing
Mary at the most magical time of the year.


How does one go from growing up in Tennessee to
The King and I and Hello Dolly! on Broadway? 

I actually trained in opera and classical singing, but my heart was always in musical theatre. I moved to New York City, and since being there I made my Broadway debut in On the Twentieth Century with Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher. It was such
a fun show. Directly following that I stepped into The King and I and was standing by for Kelli O’Hara all last year.
In between her leaving the show and Marin Mazzie taking over, I got to step
into the role for a few weeks; it was a dream. I’ve also done a couple of
tours, like The Sound of Music and Annie and aton of regional stuff. When I did Mary Poppins last summer in Kansas, the theatre sat 8,000 people. It
was a blast, but coming to the Engeman Theater is especially fun, because now I
get to play the show in a much more intimate house. It really changes it.

What is your first memory of Mary Poppins?

We had taped the movie from TV on a VHS, and we wore
it out. I remember watching that VHS over and over because I can remember the
commercial breaks- there was a Dimetapp commercial after “Jolly Holiday.” I
think “Jolly Holiday” stands out to me the most because I loved when the
characters would step into the painting, and I loved the mixture of cartoon and
real life. I think that had a very big impact on me.

What were your first thoughts upon donning the iconic Mary Poppins costume?

Julie Andrews has always been one of my greatest role
models, between Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, so getting to do
both shows have been complete dreams. They’re both nannies, or governesses if
you will, but they’re also so different. Maria is more free-spirited and
childlike, and Mary is kind of the opposite of that. The costumes definitely
help inform that- the high neck, the bowtie, the hat, carrying that
parrot-headed umbrella around…they inform your choices and your mannerisms. I
get compared to Julie Andrews all the time, which is one of the biggest
compliments.

Why do you think Mary Poppins has withstood the test of time?

She’s a hero. She has these supernatural powers! She
can fly, and she can make all sorts of magical things happen. Everybody loves
the idea of having this hero outside of themselves. What I love about Mary
Poppins is that she really doesn’t make things happen for this family. She just
kind of shows up and guides them, and they end up finding themselves. That’s an
ultimate lesson in life, that we really do have the power within us. I think we
all love this idea of imagination and magic.

Who makes the better babysitter: Analisa or Mary Poppins?

If you talked to kids I babysit, they would probably tell you  you I’m like Mary Poppins- minus the magic, of course. I can have that stern
quality, but there’s always a bit of a glimmer in my eye. To me, that’s totally
her. I had somebody say to me, “She’s so strict and stern!” I said, “Yeah, but
if you really listen to the lines, she’s smiling behind every one of them
because she knows they’re funny.” She’s got a lot of humor. So fine, I guess
Mary is better because she’s got the magic. That’s what a kid would say!

What is your first memory of yourself as a performer?

I have a lot of cousins, so at all of the family
gatherings I would gather everybody and I would put on a play. I would direct
everybody, but of course, I would star in the shows too. We would just make the
plays up. I was writer, director, and star. That is so embarrassing. My cousins
would always tell me how bossy I was. I’ll go back and watch a family video and
I’ll just cringe.

Your name is so unique. How did your parents decide on it?

They saw it in a magazine, but it was a very German
spelling so they adapted it to be a little easier for most people to read or
pronounce. They just loved it. Growing up I was called Annie, and then I got to
college and I was like, “Wait, I kind of like Analisa. Let’s do that!”


Is performing in
Mary Poppins at John W. Engeman Theater your first time on Long Island? 

It is, and it’s really nice. The town of Northport is so sweet. There are a lot of great restaurants and cute little shops to spend time at between shows. It’s lovely. As for the theatre, it’s intimate so everybody an see me sweat! Getting to perform in that kind of space allows you to be just a little bit more grounded in reality because you’re not trying to reach people in the fiftieth row. This story has some big spectacular moments, like the flying and big production numbers like “Step in Time,” but there’s a lot of
really sweet scenes and it’s really fun to get to lean into those in this
theatre. People are very close, they get to see a lot.

What was the most surprising experience that you have had while working on Broadway?

I started in The King and I as a standby for Kelli O’Hara. The first time I went on for her,
I didn’t have any notice. It was wild! When I did my first show, I had never
had a full rehearsal. Kelli called out around 11am on a Saturday, so I was
going on for the 2pm matinee. I had never worn the dresses on the stage or
anything. It was a crazy time. Luckily, I did my work and I knew the role
inside and out at that point. These regional gigs are quick rehearsal
processes, but once you do something like that, you can do anything! When they
say, “You have twelve days to put up
Mary Poppins…” Now it’s no sweat! It’s a luxury.

How did you feel about the way the show went when you went on for Kelli?

I felt really good because I have a couple of dear friends that have done a lot of understudying on Broadway. One of the things
they told me is that your first time is such a blur, and that in some ways it’s
pretty miserable because you’re so terrified, but just to accept it. I thought,
I don’t want that to be my experience. I want to have the time of my life. I don’t want to be miserable. So I think I was actually quite present, and I really did just have a ball. After that maybe I got in my head a little more from time to time, but that first one I
was like, “I’m starring on Broadway! What more can you ask for?”

Tell us about your podcast, “A Balancing Act.” How does it speak to people about other aspect of  being an entertainer? 

I’m really fascinated in the mental, spiritual, and emotional
side of this business and working with actors because it’s such an emotional
rollercoaster. I think it’s really important to keep a dialogue and have
constant uplifting conversations, and it helps people realize that they’re not
alone. When a show closes, so many of us are like, “I’ll never work again!” You
think you’re so alone in that. I decided to start a podcast in which I have interviewed
people like Rebecca Luker and Mara Davi, and have had really wonderful, enriching
conversations. Several of the ensemble kids in Mary Poppins were like, “I listen to your podcast, I love it!” You can find it on iTunes.

For more information about Mary Poppins visit www.EngemanTheater.com.

Iris Wiener is an entertainment journalist. Her work appears on Playbill.com and in TheaterMania, Long Island Woman and Long Island Herald, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Iris_Wiener [https://twitter.com/Iris_Wiener] or visit her at IrisWiener.com.


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Edward Albee Memorial

By: Isa Goldberg

Edward Albee, 1928 – 2016, the three time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and author of the groundbreaking plays Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Zoo Story, passed away at his home in Montauk on September 16th. His life and work were remembered on Tuesday, December 6th at The August Wilson Theatre on Broadway, where he was eulogized by colleagues and friends. Among them, Jack Lenor Larsen of Long House Reserve, the actors Brian Murray, Mercedes Ruehl, and Bill Irwin, as well as playwrights, Terrence McNally, Will Eno, John Guare and directors Emily Mann and David Esbjornson, to mention a few. 
AlbeeW_1

By: Isa Goldberg

Edward Albee, 1928 – 2016, the three time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and author of the groundbreaking plays Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Zoo Story, passed away at his home in Montauk on September 16th. His life and work were remembered on Tuesday, December 6th at The August Wilson Theatre on Broadway, where he was eulogized by colleagues and friends. Among them, Jack Lenor Larsen of Long House Reserve, the actors Brian Murray, Mercedes Ruehl, and Bill Irwin, as well as playwrights, Terrence McNally, Will Eno, John Guare and directors Emily Mann and David Esbjornson, to mention a few. 
AlbeeW_1

Albee the playwright was also remembered for his irreverent and brash behaviors. Describing his arrival, late and inebriated, to a party Noel Coward held in his honor, Murray remarked, that he “looked like an irritable Jesus Christ”, “bouncing around the room and insulting everyone”.  Such reports about the outrageous Edward Albee are the subject of lore.

However, Terrence McNally cited their first encounter
more empathically.  Meeting at a party at The Metropolitan Opera, Albee
“looked about as ill at ease I did”.  Regardless, Albee was, at the time,
on the road to fame with the New York premiere of The Zoo Story.

Naturally, McNally addressed their famous love affair,
“the off off Broadway version of the Burtons”, as he put it.  In addition
to McNally, several friends spoke lovingly of Albee’s partner of many years,
Jonathan Thomas who predeceased him in 2005. In September of 2010, when I met
Albee at his Montauk home, he said he was working on two plays: one about a
very evil man, and another about a very good man. The latter character was
based on Jonathan Thomas. 

More about that conversation, and the playwright’s legacy can be found at: https://www.ft.com/content/9d442662-b6e9-11df-b3dd-00144feabdc0

Albee’s historic exile from Broadway following a series of critical and commercial failures was also recalled at his memorial.
In the words of the playwright Arthur Kopit, “he withstood the critical
onslaught and kept writing the plays he wanted to write. With his later works,
the Pulitzer prize-winning drama Three Tall Women and The
Goat
, Albee renewed his place in the New York theater.

A thirst for truth and self-discovery that riddled his personal life also dominated his plays. “Who am I?” “Who are you?” These are the questions that boldly appear in Albee’s plays, most directly perhaps in A Delicate Balance, in which the late Marian Seldes’ portrayal of a distraught divorcee who runs home to her parents, garnered her a Tony Award. Indeed, her voice was heard on this occasion in audio recordings,
reminiscing about their endearing relationship and the professional esteem they
held for one another. His favorite word, she remarked, was “Onward”.

Photo: Barry Gordin

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The Babylon Line ***

By: Isa Goldberg
“Smash everything.” “Be ruthless,” opines the central character in Richard Greenberg’s new play, set in an adult creative writing class. Indeed, It’s of no great surprise to find that Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line, currently at The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, is all about writing. Metatheater being Greenberg’s forte, his works thrive on esoteric wordplay, windy narratives, and literary metaphor

By: Isa Goldberg

“Smash everything.” “Be ruthless,” opines the central character in Richard Greenberg’s new play, set in an adult creative writing class. Indeed, It’s of no great surprise to find that Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line, currently at The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, is all about writing. Metatheater being Greenberg’s forte, his works thrive on esoteric wordplay, windy narratives, and literary metaphor.

Here, Josh Radnor plays Aaron Port, the novelist/teacher, who is hurdling his way through writer’s block, while teaching creative writing to adults. When the play opens it’s 1967 in Levittown, Long Island and his students, primarily women, are novices at self-expression. This was, after all, an era of conformity, and not one that prided itself in individuation.

As Frieda Cohen, the neighbor with a scrutinizing nose in everyone;s business, and the dominant social force in the community, Randy Graff is as comic as she is tragic. Regardless of the outcome, Frieda is narcissistically attached to the privileges of marriage and motherhood, although clearly under performing at both.

Typically outré, Julie Halston shows us the good, bad, and the ugly of the bored suburban wife, Midge Braverman. Evolving into a firecracker of a character, Midge undergoes an eye opening transformation.

The whiny wife, Anna Cantor played by Maddie Corman, writes a story about her peak experience. “Venice is a city of opposites”, she writes, a truly banal takeoff on Dickens’ famous city of contrasts (A Tale of Two Cities).

Rebellion festers throughout the first Act, most significantly in Elizabeth Reaser’s Joan Dellamond, (Joan of the world). Portrayed as a Southern girl, turned New York bohemian, she is portrayed with the classic despair with which Tennessee WIlliams’ imbued his women. Greenberg’s Joan is only free when she can discover herself in the world of literature, or in the arms of a man, who unlike her husband, radiates the air of danger, intellect, and drive, to which she is drawn.

In addition, there are a couple of men in the class. Tony Award-winning Frank Wood, characteristically, appears to be “on the spectrum” in a variety of roles, including that of Joan’s husband. Marc Adams, on the other hand, portrays a series of characters, each of whom blusters with fame.

While Act I is a lengthy prologue, setting the stage for some kind of liberation, Act II takes a delirious route from literature to life, from fiction to reality, from repression to freedom, that is deliciously Greenberg. That his play comes to such a positive outcome, demonstrates the enduring fragility of those who remain faithful to themselves.

Directed by Terry Kinney with a firm, but generous hand, The Bablyon Line, literally the train ride from Greenwich Village to Levittown on the Long Island Railroad, takes us on an adventure with these women, who are drawn with insight and sensitivity.

Babylon Line
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater
212 239-6200
Running Time: 2 hours with one intermission
Photo: Jermy Daniel
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In Transit **, The Babylon Line***, L’Amour de Loin***1/2

By: David Sheward
Transportation plays a part in two new stage productions in NYC and while they both have a few pleasant stops along the way, the ride is over familiar territory.

By: David Sheward

Transportation plays a part in two new stage productions in NYC and while they both have a few pleasant stops along the way, the ride is over familiar territory. In Transit has taken the long route to Broadway. After Off-Off-Broadway iterations in 2004 and 2008 and a Drama Desk Award-winning Off-Broadway run in 2010, this mildly entertaining, but cliched musical has pulled into the Circle in the Square. The chief attraction here is a novelty gimmick of being Broadway’s first a cappella tuner. This has caused some theatre pundits to wonder if consumers will be willing to play Main Stem prices for a show with no orchestra. But Deke Sharon’s arrangements and the scintillating vocalizing of the 11-member cast create a dazzling illusion of one.

The problem is the book, credited to Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Frozen), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth who also wrote the score. Sidenote: When you have four people—with another two, Karla Lant and Gregory T. Christopher—collaborating on a musical, it’s bound to be uneven. The story follows a group of interconnected New Yorkers (fired Wall Street-er, aspiring actress, gay coping coping with the closet, transplanted West Coast young woman getting over a break-up) as they attempt move on romantically and career-wise while negotiating the city’s subway system. A beatbox artist (played at alternate performances by Chesney Snow and Steven “Heaven” Cantor) provides commentary and sound effects. At the performance attended, Snow offered startlingly whimsical beeps, clicks, and buzzes. While Snow and the tunes are upbeat and inventive, we’ve heard these people’s stories and the humor before. The jokes reference subway inconveniences (indecipherable announcements, delays, broken turnstiles and fare machines) and ads (the dermatologist Dr. Zizmor, lessons in Chinese) we’ve been putting up with for decades.

From what I recall of the 2010 production at the 59E59 Theater, Kathleen Marshall’s new staging is tighter and cleaner — Donyale Werle’s flexible set with a moving walkway helps keep the transitions swift and smooth —plus the book has been streamlined. The hard-working cast is enjoyable, particularly Erin Mackey as the dejected love refugee desperately and  hilariously trying not to stalk her ex on social media and strong-voiced Moya Angela in a variety of roles including the personification of the underground train system (Kudos to costumer Clint Ramos for the fabulous frock made of Metrocards she wears.) But In Transit remains a forgettable trip as soon as you step off. Watch the closing doors.

Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line, at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, also uses a train system as a central metaphor and has familiar situations and characters
but not as shopworn and shallow as those in Transit. The main conceit has struggling Greenwich Village-based author Aaron Port (a solid Josh Radnor) taking the titular reverse commute to 1967 Levittown, Long Island to teach a creative writing course to bored housewives (funny and moving Randy Graff, Julie Halston, and Maddie Corman) and assorted misfits (intriguing Frank Wood and Michael Oberholtzer). Of course there is a stunningly talented student (valiant Elizabeth Reaser) who just happens to be pretty and sports a Southern accent and eccentric past right out of a Flannery O’Connor short story. The teacher and pupil’s electric connection is the juice of the play along with Greenberg’s pointed observations on nonconformism and literature. In his previous works such as Take Me Out, The Violet Hour, and Three Days of Rain, the playwright can get too wordy with the characters just sounding like they swallowed dictionaries. Even though the theme is literary aspiration, Greenberg wisely avoids verbosity and celebrates the power of stories to transform and inform.

Terry Kinney’s subtle staging, with the aide of David Weiner’s versatile lighting and Richard Hoover’s pliable set, keeps this train moving with few bumps.

The voyage of Kaija Saariaho’s modern opera L’Amour De Loin was not as smooth at the performance attended at the Metropolitan. As he did with his famous Ring Cycle, director Robert LePage has installed a gigantic machine at the center of his staging. This time it’s a sort of moving staircase which looks like an oil derrick. This monster malfunctioned and caused a delay between scenes (similar mishaps with machinery occurred the Ring). Despite the slight technical snafu, LePage’s gorgeous production of this shimmeringly beautiful meditation on love from afar (a translation of the title) hypnotizes. Michael Currey’s glittery seascape of a set becomes a living, breathing entity thanks to “lightscape image designer”(that’s a new credit) Lionel Arnould.

Saariaho’s 2000 work has been criticized for its lack of action. The only things that happens is a troubadour falls in love with a distant noblewoman, travels across the sea to meet her, and promptly dies when he arrives. Yet the magnificently rich vocals of Eric Owens as the pining musician, Susanna Phillips as the object of his affection, and Tamara Mumford as the seafaring pilgrim who brings them together make this an operatic journey worth savoring.

In Transit: Opened Dec. 11 for an open run. Circle in the Square,
1633 Broadway, NYC. Tue, Thu, 7 pm; Wed, Fri-Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. Running time: one hour and 45 mins. with no intermission. $89-$159. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Babylon Line: Dec. 5—Jan. 22. Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, Lincoln Center, 150 W. 65th St., NYC. Tue-Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including intermission. $77-$87. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Babylon_Jermy_Daniel_1
The Babylon Line

 L’Amour De Loin:  Dec. 1—29.
Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, 66th St. and Broadway, NYC. Repertory schedule. Running time: two hours and 30 mins. including intermission. $27—$460. (212) 362-6000 or www.metopera.org. Photo Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

L___Amour_de_Loin_Ken_Howard_Metropolitan_OperaL’Amour deLoin

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Michael Urie to Host DD Awards

The 62nd Annual DramaDesk Awards will be presented on Sunday,
June 4, 2017
at 8:00 PM at The Town Hall (123 W. 43 S
treet).dramadesk05news


The 62nd Annual DramaDesk Awards will be presented on Sunday,
June 4, 2017
at 8:00 PM at The Town Hall (123 W. 43 S
treet).dramadesk05news


The announcement was  by Charles Wright, Drama Desk President
and 
Gretchen Shugart, CEO of TheaterMania.com and Managing Executive
Producer of the Drama Desk Awards.  TheaterMania will present
the awards ceremony for the sixth consecutive year.

 Drama Desk Award winner Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar, “Ugly
Betty”) will return as host of the ceremony. 

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Michael Urie Photo: Barry Gordin 

The Drama Desk Awards are the only major New York City theater honors for
which productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway compete
against each other in the same categories.

The Drama Desk Awards nominations announcement will take place on Thursday,
April 27th
at Feinstein’s/54 Below at 10:00 a.m. and will be streamed live on www.TheaterMania.com.

“The Drama Desk is privileged to collaborate again with TheaterMania and the superb
production team assembled by Gretchen Shugart and Joey Parnes – and to welcome
back, as our host, the charming Michael Urie,” said
Charles Wright.
“The Drama Desk team is committed to celebrating not just the Awards
nominees and winners but everything that’s outstanding in the New York theater
community.”

“TheaterMania is honored to present the prestigious Drama Desk Awards for our sixth
consecutive year,”
Shugart said. “Celebrating New York City
theater gives us a chance to showcase the creativity, diversity and excitement
that is on and off Broadway with people around the globe. And with the amazing
Michael Urie again leading the show, we know it will be a great night.”

Joey Parnes Productions will produce and manage the show. The
Awards show will be written by Bill Rosenfield and directed by
Mark Waldrop
(Not That Jewish, Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly,
Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends).

The Drama Desk Awards, which are presented annually, honor outstanding
achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway and
Off-Off Broadway. What sets Drama Desk Awards apart is that they are voted on
and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors and publishers covering
theater, without any vested interest in the results. For this reason, Drama
Desk Awards reflect both enthusiasm for all aspects of New York’s professional
theater.

The 2016-2017 Drama Desk Nominating Committee is composed of: David Barbour
(
Lighting&Sound America), Chair; Linda Buchwald
(freelance,
American Theatre, Playbill, TDF Stages, Theatre is Easy,
JTA); 
Peter Filichia (Broadway Select, author, most recently, of The
Great Parade: The Remarkable 1963-64 Broadway Season); David Finkle
(Blogger,
Huffington Post; Clyde Fitch Report); Sandy MacDonald
(freelance,
Time Out New York, TheaterNewsOnline.com);
Douglas Strassler (Garden State Journal); Zachary Stewart
(
TheaterMania); Charles Wright (President, Drama Desk), ex
officio.

The 2016-2017 Board of Directors of the Drama Desk is composed of: Charles
Wright
(A+E Networks), President; Richard Ridge (BroadwayWorld.com), 1st Vice
President; Lauren Yarger (reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com), 2nd Vice
President; Andy Lefkowitz (TheaterMania), Secretary; Edward Karam
(offoffonline.com), Treasurer; David Barbour
(Lighting&Sound America), Chair, Awards Nominating Committee; Leslie
(Hoban) Blake
(Two on the Aisle/MNN/YouTube/Daily Motion), Historian; Arlene
Epstein
(Richner Communications/South Shore Record & Nassau Herald);
Elysa Gardner (freelance critic/arts writer); Isa Goldberg
(freelance writer, East Hampton Independent, Southampton Press);
John Istel (Managing editor, DramaDesk.org;
freelance arts editor and journalist); David Kaufman (author and
freelance); William Wolf (WolfEntertainmentGuide.com
adjunct
professor, NYU). 

In addition to TheaterMania and Ms. Shugart, Robert R. Blume and David
S. Stone
are Executive Producers of the Drama Desk Awards.


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Kristin Chenoweth *****

 A captivating solo concert, “My Love Letter to Broadway,” at the Lunt
Fontanne Theatre through Nov. 13 is an
eclectic selection of songs and personal reminiscences.

By: Patrick Christiano

image001__1_

 A captivating solo concert, “My Love Letter to Broadway,” at the Lunt
Fontanne Theatre through Nov. 13 is an
eclectic selection of songs and personal reminiscences.

By: Patrick Christiano

image001__1_

Tony and Emmy award winner Kristin Chenoweth is a Broadway star from Broken
Arrow, Oklahoma, an adorable mashup of contradictions, a bubbly blond with a
powerhouse voice in a diminutive 4’11” frame, a glamorous diva and a hilarious self-deprecating comedian, who happens to be a staunch LGBTQ activist and a devout Christian. She’s got a bright legit opera voice and a deliriously entertaining down to earth style. And she commanded the stage at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with the ease and intimacy of a veteran performer having a great time living large. The evening she said was a dream come true, and those in attendance were blessed as well. 

The show blends showtunes, standards, pop, country and gospel into a
uniquely captivating evening that is as original as the Star herself.  Dressed in glamorous yet edgy Christian Sirian outfits in shades of fuchsia that accented the Star’s sexy petite figure and legs Chenoweth owned the stage with her playful style and amazing powerhouse pipes.

Elegantly directed by Richard Jay-Alexander, who has directed Chenoweth’s touring appearances in recent years, the show begins with the Star in a pink bathrobe writing a letter to producer James L. Nederlander, giving us her history about being a girl from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who dreams of Broadway, while singing “You Made Me Love You.” The robe comes off to reveal the Star in a secquined fuchsia hot-pants romper in which she struts her stuff to “Let Me Entertain You,” from Gypsy. Without hardly skipping a beat she moved effortlessly into a stunning rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady impressively showing off her celebrated operatic high notes.

She’s accompanied by five terrific musicians led by music director
Mary-Mitchell Campbell. A program note from the Star said the show will be
different every night. The third performance, which I attended, was indeed different
from reports of opening night. Each evening she is joined by a different guest
star, and 12 different choirs will share the stage each night as well.

Alan Cumming, a dear friend who co-hosted the Tony Awards with her last
season, joined her from the audience for some witty banter recalling moments
from their friendship over the years, before launching into a spirited “Easy
Street.” At Friday’s show the choir from Pace University joined her on two
songs. First up was a stirring Jesus song “Upon this Rock,” which the Star quipped “If you’re an atheist this will be over in four minutes.”
And her signature song, “Popular” from Wicked was part of the show. This time,  however, the song was turned into a funny parody on The Donald calling the Star for advice.

Chenoweth’s voice is remarkable, supple an controlled. One of the many highlights of the evening was a medley of Willie Nelson’s “You Are Always on My Mind” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind,” which demonstrated her superb skill. Her
rendition of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, one of the Star’s favorite shows, soared with haunting authenticity. The selections
from her new album, “
The Art of Elegance,” were beautiful as well. They included
“I Get Along Without You Very Well” and the Burt Bacharach-Hal David
standard, “A House is Not a Home,” along with “Smile,” performed
as an encore with a depth of feeling that was moving and fresh.

Chenoweth enchants with effervescent ease, a soaring soprano with a unique
blend of contradictions that keeps you smiling throughout two plus hours of
entertainment.

“My Love Letter to Broadway” runs through November 13 at the Lunt-Fontanne
Theater, 205 West 46th Street. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes. For
tickets  call 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com

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Sgt. Stubby **1/2

Sgt. Stubby, The Great American War Dog Musical

By: Patrick Christiano
The best thing about Sgt. Stubby, The Great American War Dog Musical is that the show sheds light on a remarkable canine and his heroic efforts during World War I. Stubby, the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry, was a stray that served in the military for 18 months participating in 17 battles on the Western Front, while ultimately becoming a decorated war hero and being promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the process. At home his feats were front-page news documenting how he saved his regiment from a surprise mustard gas attack, rescued the wounded, and once even caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants holding him prisoner until American soldiers found him.

Sgt. Stubby, The Great American War Dog Musical

By: Patrick Christiano
The best thing about Sgt. Stubby, The Great American War Dog Musical is that the show sheds light on a remarkable canine and his heroic efforts during World War I. Stubby, the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry, was a stray that served in the military for 18 months participating in 17 battles on the Western Front, while ultimately becoming a decorated war hero and being promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the process. At home his feats were front-page news documenting how he saved his regiment from a surprise mustard gas attack, rescued the wounded, and once even caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants holding him prisoner until American soldiers found him.

Returning home after the war, Stubby was a celebrity leading parades and meeting with Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. For nearly a decade after the war Stubby was the most famous animal in the United States. When he died in 1926 the “New York Times” honored him with an obituary that was half a page long.

Many of Stubby’s adventures are included in the musical, written and directed by Jack Dyville, with pleasant tunes by Lawrence Wankel. The two men share credit for co-writing the lyrics, which are serviceable in moving the story along, while doing little to develop the characters.

The heartwarming tale follows Stubby’s journey from a stray hanging out with his cronies, Penelope, Marvin, and Ralphie, to being adopted by the 102nd infantry chronicling his heroics while winning over their reluctant Captain, and finally his triumphant return to the states and reunion with his fellow strays. The story is a sure-fire crowd pleaser for dog lovers and history buffs, but unfortunately the sound design is a challenge the production fails to rise above. The quality
of the pre-recorded music is consistently poor.

The likeable cast, apparently chosen for their dancing skills, turn in earnest work under Mr. Dyville’s guidance, however their performances are broadly one dimensional, and their singing voices are difficult to hear without mics. There is little delineation
between the humans and the dogs, except face paint on the animals. Adding short tails or stubs for tails and more fur to the costumes would have gone a long way in establishing the canines, and possibly given the actors something to play with while attempting to embody the dogs. As staged, the actors come across as people playing a quality with only Meghan Miller successfully transforming herself into a believable dog.

Stubby will also be memorialized on film in Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, an upcoming animated film scheduled for release in Spring 2018, featuring the voices of Gérard Depardieu and Helena Bonham Carter directed by former Disney and DreamWorks animator Daniel St. Pierre, with music by Academy Award nominee Patrick Doyle.

Sgt. Stubby, the Great American War Dog Musical opened on Saturday, December 3rd at St Luke’s Theater, 308 West 46th Street, and is now playing an open-ended run with performances on Saturdays at 8PM and Sundays at 2PM. For tickets call 212-2396200 or in person at the box office.

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Photos: Lynn Manuell & Barry Gordin

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Lawrence_Wankel__Jack_Dyville
Lawrence Wankel, Jack Dyville
15000242_10157494802735467_1005541150168934547_o
Matt Weinstein as Sgt. Stubby

 

The Front Page ***

By Isa Goldberg

The giddy revival of Ben Hecht and Charles Macarthur’s The Front Page on
Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre is sheer entertainment, especially when
Nathan Lane, the tabloid publisher Walter Burns, arrives.  A sheer force
of nature, Lane drives each scene with relentless energy and vigor, with the
cast of actors tightly on his heels. And what a cast it is!
Julieta_Cervantes_John_Slattery_Nathan_Lane_John Slattery, Nathan Lane

By Isa Goldberg

The giddy revival of Ben Hecht and Charles Macarthur’s The Front Page on
Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre is sheer entertainment, especially when
Nathan Lane, the tabloid publisher Walter Burns, arrives.  A sheer force
of nature, Lane drives each scene with relentless energy and vigor, with the
cast of actors tightly on his heels. And what a cast it is!
Julieta_Cervantes_John_Slattery_Nathan_Lane_John Slattery, Nathan Lane

With John Slattery of Mad Men fame as Burns’ muckraking reporter
and John Goodman as the inept police chief, Jefferson Mays as the germ phobic
and misplaced intellect, along with such legends as Robert Morse, Holland
Taylor and Sherie Rene Scott, the show is a riot. 

Douglas W. Schmidt sets the stage beautifully with his design of the pressroom at
criminal court… seedy in spite of the dark wood, original moldings, and large
picture windows, which look onto the surrounding Chicago buildings. Within this
one setting, lighting designer Brian MacDevitt creates a variety of terse emotional
environments. Directed by the masterful Jack O’Brien, it’s worth catching.

The Front Page
 
The Broadhurst Theater
235 West 44th Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue
212 239-6200

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Photos: Julieta Cervantas
John_Goodman_
Nathan Lane, John Goodman