NYC theater scene sizzles in summer… By: Isa Goldberg During the summer, the theater scene in New York City is a swarm of theater festivals all of them promising Dionysian abandon and many conjuring classical themes as conceived by emerging artists. Audiences will have their choice of everything from the “Clubbed Thumb”(Clubbed Thumb.org) to “Planet Connections” (planetconnectionsfestivity.com), both of which return this year along with the “Ice Factory” turning up the heat while SPF (Short Play Festival) takes a hiatus.
Cirque du Soleil’s OVO… Deborah Colker…Banana Spheel By Ellis Nassour Cirque du Soleil has returned to New York and has pitched its trademark 2,500-seat blue-and-yellow grand chapiteau again at Randall’s Island, where it’s scheduled to play through June 6. Things are a bit different with this edition, titled OVO. It’s about time. For one thing, at its helm is a woman director for the first time in Cirque’s quarter century of shows, acclaimed Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker. Her much-honored contemporary dance troupe tours the world. And the show has a new beat, very Brazilian.
By: Ellis Nassour An economic downturn, rampant unemployment, home mortagemania, terrorist plots, and a drop in tourism must have happened in a Dallas-type dream. It certainly hasn’t affected theater attendance with Bway and Off Bway boasting their best season yet. The fact that ticket prices are through the roof hasn’t hurt to make box offices boffo. It’s something everyone complains about but which they keep ignoring. Natives and visitors alike flock to the unique TKTS booth in Times Square, and not just to perch themselves in the dark at the top for the red stairs. What would theater attendance be without TKTS [the booths and their mailings offering steep ticket discounts]?
The Art of Greed: Enron’s Stephen Kunken By Ellis Nassour The acclaimed London production of Lucy Prebble’s Enron, a docudrama using song, movement, projections, and raptor costumes, tells the story of the collapse of the once fabled energy giant in a most unconventional way.
While still running on the West End, the play opened here with an American cast: Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, Tony nom Gregory Itzin [The Kentucky Cycle; President Logan, TV’s 24, The Mentalist], Stephen Kunken [Our Town, Rock ‘n Roll, Frost/Nixon, Festen] and Tony/Olivier nom Marin Mazzie [Kiss Me Kate, Ragtime, Passion] play wrongdoers at the top of the Enron foodchain. Rupert Goold [Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart], whose Headlong Theatre commissioned the work, continues as director.
Euan Morton SIngs the Praises of Sondheim and the Sondheim on Sondheim Cast By Eiils Nassour
Roundabout at Studio 54’s Sondheim on Sondheim not only brings the master composer back to Bway and is his [sort of] onstage Bway debut but also marks the return of a list of long-time favs.
Welcome back Tony winner Barbara Cook, after an absence of 37 years*; Tony nom Vanessa Williams; and Euan Morton, returning after an absence of some three and a half years. Of course, it’s always good to have Tom Wopat, Norm Lewis, and Leslie Kritzer back. Even though they’ve not been missing that long, welcome back Erin Mackey and Matthew Scott.
City Center Encores! Anyone Can Whistle By Ellis Nassour Get thee to the City Center box office. Don’t walk, run! Encores! season finale of the eagerly awaited concert of Sondheim and Laurents’ unconventional musical satire, Anyone Can Whistle, with only five performances April 8 – 11, appears to be a hit before it opens. Already there’s talk of a Bway transfer. Ticket sales have been brisk. Buzz is international. There’ve been ticket requests from as far as the U.K., Germany, and France!
Broadway’s Beloved Patti LuPone to Host the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards May 23
By Ellis Nassour Tony and Drama Desk multiple award winner Patti LuPone, will host the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards on Sunday, May 23, at 9 P.M.. Robert R. Blume, exec producer of the Awards, and William Wolf, DD prez, made the announcement. The Awards will take place at the Concert Hall of the LaGuadia High School for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Leslie Uggams: In Concert for American Songbook By Ellis Nassour Last Saturday, in the American Songbook series, Tony and Emmy winner, Golden Globe nom, and hometown gal Leslie Uggams gave her first New York concert in 18 years. It was flawless and, as far as the timbre of her voice, as if time had stopped. Where had that voice been? Well, here and there.
Over 40 Years Later, Mart Crowley Revisits The Boys in the Band By Ellis Nassour In 1967, when "starving" writer Mart Crowley "on the brink of destitution" but sitting in the lap of luxury finished his play The Boys in the Band, he says he intended it to be controversial. But, having distanced himself from gay politics, he didn’t set out to be an rights activist. "I probably didn’t even know what that meant," he laughs.
Marilyn Maye’s in Love in Feinstein’s Debut By Ellis Nassour Grammy nom, legendary RCA recording artist, and the artist dubbed "Super Singer" by Johnny Carson [in her 75 + appearances on the Tonight Show] Marilyn Maye continues her conquering of the New York music scene at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, where she opens on March 2 with a new show, In Love Again, through March 13.
By: Ellis Nassour A galaxy of stars honored theater legend and five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury at the Drama League benefit gala, A Musical Celebration of Broadway, Monday, February 8, at the Pierre Hotel.
Performing and paying tribute were James Barbour, Charles Busch, Ann Hampton Callaway, Len Cariou, Will Chase, Edie Falco, Beth Fowler, Victor Garber, Alexander Gemignani, Malcolm Gets, Dee Hoty, Cheyenne Jackson, Chad Kimball, Donna Murphy, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Sieber, Will Swenson, and, among others, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Though all the season’s headliners haven’t been announced, look at the star power coming in: Two-time Tony and three-time DD-winner John Lithgow, making his frequent transition from screen to stage roles, this season co-starring at Second Stage in Douglas Carter Beane’s Mr. and Mrs. Fitch; Two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, returning five years after his Brutus in Julius Caesar, in the Fences revival; and Kelsey Grammar is back after 10 years and roles in Shakespeare classics for a total change of pace as Georges in the La Cage revival.
SIZZLIN’ BALLROOM: BURN THE FLOOR’S CREATIVE FORCE: JASON GILKISON By: ELLIS NASSOUR
NYTimes critic Charles Isherwood termed Burn the Floor, the ballroom dancing spectacular now at the Longacre, "every bit as flashy and tacky as you would expect." WOW! Those two qualities, both of which are so alien to Broadway!, are perhaps what’s making the Aussie production such a hit. That and the fact that thanks to smash TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars the world seems dance crazy.
Best Play: God Of Carnage Yasmina Reza’s shallow dissection of contemporary social hypocrisy will win in a weak year, where the best new plays were seen Off- Broadway. Note: the Pulitzer Prize winning Ruined by Lynn Nottage is still playing at MTC.
Best Musical: Billy Elliot The musical based on the movie of the same name is perfection and recently won 10 Drama Desk Awards. Billy will dance away with multiple Tonys as well.