Some of Broadways brightest stars were on hand when the Outer Critics Circle presented their 2008 awards for outstanding achievement in the theatre. Theater legend Jerry Herman was a special honoree at the 58th Annual Awards Party held at Sardi’s Eugenia Room where winners in 23 categories were also honored for the 2008 season. Presented included Raul Esparza, Priscilla Lopez, Karen Ziemba and Jerry Herman. The 2008 Award Winner were:
Joshua Schmidt’s haunting musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s Expressionist tragedy the “Adding Machine,” currently playing downtown at the Minetta Lane Theatre, is a stunning artistic achievement. Directed by David Cromer with daring style the brilliantly conceived production is simply shattering. While the moody chamber piece may not be for the masses, Cromer’s original staging of the dark tale is nonetheless a bracing heartbreaker that remains true to the source material, while courageously avoiding commercial conceits.
After Mel Brooks, could John Waters, the self styled auteur of trash be far behind? Encouraged by the mega success of the Broadway production of “Hairspray,” John Waters has consented to this campy multi-million dollar musical adaptation of his 1990 film “Cry Baby” that starred a quirky Johnny Depp.
Theater talk this week centered around the 53rd Annual Drama Desk Awards Nominations announced at the Friars Club. A Catered Affair, the Harvey Fierstein "little gem" (no pun intended) with 12 nominations headed the list, followed by Adding Machine, a brilliant musical adaptation of the 1923 Elmer Rice classic with 9 nods, while the acclaimed Lincoln Center production of "South Pacific" and the critically hammered commercialization of Mel Brook’s "YoungFrankenstein" both scored eight.
Len Cariou, Tony Award winner for "Sweeney Todd," shared behind-the-scenes stories about his life and times in show business at The Friars Club during an afternoon luncheon produced by Randie Levine-Miller.
Who would have thought a 1980 big budget movie musical turkey starring Olivia Newton-John would be reincarnated on Broadway as an absurdly silly send up of itself.
The jukebox musical Xanadu is the first show of the new Broadway season and from the looks of things may be just what the doctor ordered, “Inspired magic to heal what ails you.” This deft spoof at the Helen Hayes Theatre has audiences roaring with delight at the preposterous shenanigans from the top notch ensemble.
The new Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein,” based on his classic film, opened on Broadway with strong word of mouth from Seattle, indicating Mr. Brooks was poised to top his mega smash hit The Producers. With a reported excess of $30 million in advance ticket sales the splashy new musical is already a success and nothing anyone might say will ultimately matter much, but here we go, Young Frankenstein is a big bloated monster of a show, an over amplified extravaganza, dazzling in every detail, but missing the charm of the original film upon which it was based.
As part of Edward Albee’s ongoing 80th birthday celebration the playwright has directed two of his early one act plays, “The American Dream” and “TheSandbox” at the venerable Cherry Lane Theatre. The satires of American values, intended as a homage to the French absurdist Eugene Ionesco, were written almost 50 years ago as an assault on middle class values, but today remain startlingly fresh and even contemporary.
A musical that really goes to unexpected places, that’s NEXT TO NORMAL. Yes that’s the name of the show. Actually it’s about bipolar disease, the darkest side of the mind and the dark ways in which we perceive it and treat it. Not a predictable or even plausible subject for a musical. But as it unfolds here in an uncanny, sensitive book by Brian Yorkey, the story is suspenseful and provocative.
MCC Theater is presenting “Grace,” an acclaimed hit at London’s Soho Theater, now making its American premiere with Lynn Redgrave reprising her starring role. The distinguished actor is a commanding presence as the title character, a British professor of science, who calls herself a “naturalist” and has little need for God; considering the belief in a higher power or divine being to be “bollocks, complete and utter bollocks!”
There is something absolutely contrary to a Broadway play, something that resides in a private, inner space. Here the gestures are as big as they appear to the inner eye, regardless of whether the guy in the back row notices them or not. And that is what going to an Off-Broadway show is all about – about uncovering a secret… the songs of a young Jonathan Larson (“Rent”), or a first-time role for the likes of Dustin Hoffman.
A trio of new plays recently opened at all three theaters housed at the 59E59 complex, where Primary Stages is the resident company on the main stage. The playwrights on display are a diverse sampling of distinctly different talents all possessed with tantalizing ideas, provocative themes, and a good ear for contemporary dialogue.
If you don’t want to see Ellen Burstyn lying in a hospital bed, you may not want to sit through Stephen Adly Guirgis’ new play “The Little Flower of East Orange”. But the amazing actress, looking her years, still exudes the innocent charm and eager optimism that made her performance in “Alice Doesn’t Live HereAnymore” so unforgettable.
Nationally syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith was interviewed by NBC-TV film & theater critic Jeffrey Lyons at The Friars Club in NYC. The luncheon events produced by Randie Levine-Miller have been a resounding success and the legendary diva of dish did not disappoint.