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.
The new Harvey Fierstein/John Bucchino musical “A Catered Affair” is a heartfelt little gem, a lovingly subdued ode to real emotions and genuine feelings. If, however, the predictable evening doesn’t succeed as compelling musical theater there are many distinct charms to be savored from John Doyle’s intimate production. Here is a decidedly risky venture for Broadway, a musical that relies upon sincerity and simplicity, where the music underscores the action instead of overwhelming it, moving the story along with quiet introspection.
Kathleen Clark’s charming new play "Secrets of a SoccerMom," directed by Tony Award winner Judith Ivey scored a big win for "multitasking mothers" on opening night at the Snapple Theater Center in NYC located at 510 West 50th Street at Broadway. Caralyn Kozlowski, Nancy Ringham and Deborah Sonnenberg give lovely nuanced performances as three mothers who rediscover their spirit for life with poignant results. The humorous tale explores the bonds of friendship and the need for self examination in a highly entertaining evening that is consistently winning.
"Beebo Brinker Chronicles" adapted from Ann Banon’s 1950’s lesbian pulp novels follows the lives and loves of four friends in pre-Stonewall Greenwich Village. Leigh Silverman directs Carolyn Baemler, Jenn Colella, Bill Dawes, Autumn Dornfeld, David Greenspan and Xanthe Elbrick (Coram Boy), who replaces Marin Ireland in this funny, sex and booze filled tale of surpressed passions. Beebo Is playing thru April 27 at 37 Arts at 450 West 37th St. For Tickets call 1- 212 307- 4100
Barbara Colacello will perform her one woman show LIFE ON THE DIAGONAL, her personal slant on survival in this crazy world of ours, at Theaterlab, 137 West 14th St., btwn Sixth and Seventh Avenues this Thurs, Fri., & Sat. An intimate of the Warhol factory scene, Colacello celebrates life’s mysteries and imperfections with humor, sexuality and a little madness. She charts her journey from her NY Italian Catholic roots to her current role as wife, mother, and artist with pentetrating wit weaving origninal music with spoken word and story telling.
Live Out Loud presented four young trailblazers (Tiffany Studer, Raymond Martinez, Nelso Rodriquez and Luis Garay), with youth scholarships at the seventh annual LIVEOUTLOUD benefit hosted by Cheyenne Jackson the star of Broadway’s "Xanadu.".
Roundabout Theatre Company’s stunning revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning musical “Sunday in the Park with George” beautifully illuminates the struggle and sacrifice inherent in the creative process. Directed by Sam Buntrock, the emotionally charged show arrives on Broadway by way of London, where Buntrock originated his innovative new production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2005. The sold out run transferred to the West End winning five Olivier Awards (London’s equivalent of the Tony) before coming to New York with the two leads, Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, reprising their award winning performances.
A Drama Desk luncheon-panel discussion at Sardi’s in New York featured actors from two current Broadway plays focusing on dysfunctional familes. From the
revival of Harold Pinter’s award winning play "The Homecoming" were Ian McShane and Raul Esparza, while Randi Reed, Sally Murphy and Amy Morton spoke about Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Tracy Letts’ acclaimed drama "August: Osage County." The lively discussion was modereated by USA Today’s Elysa Gardner.
"Missives," an engaging new play by Garret Jon Groenveld opened in New York at 59E59 Theaters for a limited engagement through April 6. The story directed by Elysabeth Kleinhans explores the bonds of a most unlikely friendship when one of the friends suddenly disappears. For tickets call 212-279-4200.
THEATERLIFE.COM has discovered a delightful new book for which we hope to help find a publisher. Written by Tom McMorrow, a former theater critic of the Daily News, past president of The Drama Desk and editor of the Drama Desk News for all lovers of elegant language, Words of Wit and Wisdom has been hailed by educators (see below), who have called it “monumental” and compared it to Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary.