The first big musical of the new season A Tale of Two Cities based on the classic 1859 Charles Dickens novel opened at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre. The rousing pop opera, inventively designed by Tony Walton, makes a handsome showcase for some of the most gifted voices on Broadway. The staging of the compelling love story, told against the backdrop of the gritty French Revolution, is a bold attempt to recreate the heart stirring emotions of Les Miserables. If the musical is not always successful at recapturing the sweeping thrill of Les Miserables, the creators and cast have tapped into the universal appeal of the well read Dickens’ story that has sold over 200 million copies around the world.
The high concept production of Arthur Miller’s morality drama All My Sons directed by Simon McBurney is a sight to behold. Burney is one of Europe’s most innovative theater makers, and his production with a Brech-like representational style, while always arresting, does little to aid his sterling cast. Commanding performances by John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, and Patrick Wilson, along with a game Katie Holmes, making her Broadway debut, are all upstaged by McBurney’s cinematic flourishes. You will either love it or hate it.
Dorian and Jeff Bergen hosted the 10th anniversary celebration party for The Anyone Can Fly Foundation. The festive event at their ACA Gallery in Chelsea featured live music by Gia Williams and her band, great food by Spoonbread, and silent actions all for a great cause – to the raise the profile of great African American artists.
Bay Street Theatre hosted "Celebrity Autobiogaphy: In Their Own Words," a star studded weekend created by Eugene Pack, where celebrities that included Joy Behar and Richard Kind had the audience laughing with delight as they read from other stars’ autobiographies.
Spotted backstage at the Tony Award-winning show "Inthe Heights" were local New Age authors, Monte Farber and Amy Zerner with an original Broadwy Gypsy, Shirley MacLaine. The legend was wearing one of Amy’s Spiritual Couture jackets. Shirley has a line of Chakra jewelry which she will show at Bergdorf Goodman, where Amy sells her Spiritual Couture evening wear. Shirley played Coco Chanel in a miniseries on Lifetime
Producer Stewart F. Lane and his sons Lenny & Frankie with Melissa Lewis at the opening of her interactive musical for kids, P is for Party." The show "really rocks." Bring you little ones and check it out. Prizes for Best Pirate and Princesses in the audience. On Sundays September 21 through October 26, 11am and 1pm at the DR2 Theater, 103 East 15th Street in Union Square. For tickets call telecharge 239-6200
Sam Shepard’s new play Kicking a Dead Horse, directed by the playwright himself and starring the acclaimed Irish actor Stephen Rea, is a black comedy with a grim message. The tale making its American premier at the Public Theater is a potent metaphor about our current political atmosphere and the barren existence most Americans lead in pursuit of false values. Covering familiar Shepard themes and philosophies the thought provoking story is an inventive homage to Beckett. Although beautifully acted the evening doesn’t go far enough theatrically, and is continuously upstaged by the carcass of the character in the title, a dead horse.
A. R. Gurney returns to Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters with the New York premier of his charming new comedy Buffalo Gal. Set in a regional theater where a production of “The Cherry Orchard” is about to be mounted, Gurney bows in homage to the greatness of Chekhov. He draws many amusing parallels to Chekhov’s characters and themes in this latest effort. Television star Susan Sullivan (Falcon Crest and Dharma & Greg) makes a fine presence as the fading Hollywood star at the center of his bittersweet tale, and the direction by Mark Lamos mines the backstage story for all the humor while lamenting the diminishing power of the theater and the changes wrought by the passing of time.
The plucky (title of show), which was a downtown sensation at the Vineyard Theatre over two years ago, has miraculously found its way to Broadway. The well crafted musical with only four performers and an electric piano was originally a surprise hit at the Fringe, where the little show flaunted its aspirations of taking their satire about nothing all the way to Broadway. That their dream seemed impossible added to the quirky charm of the comedy. But now here, part of the joke is missing along with the edge, and the musical feels decidedly small and self indulgent. Still you have to cheer the audacity of the show’s creators, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell.
Acclaimed Award Winning Actress Marian Seldes, an electee of the Theatre Hall of Fame, was presented with the Medal of Honor by the The National Arts Club at an exciting star studded evening featuring K. T, Sullivan, Tammy Grimes, a moving Anna Bergman, and many others. Edward Albee commenting on the star’s illustrious career was a highlight of the event chaired by Rose Billings.
Ian Rickson’s wonderful production of Anton Chekhov’s classic The Seagull starring a marvelous Kristin Scott Thomas as the tempestuous Russian actress Arkadina, is never less than entertaining and often much more. Working with a new modern translation by Christopher Hampton, Rickson’s Seagull originally debuted at the Royal Court Theatre in London, where it was a heralded success.
Spiegelworld 2008 returns to the South Street Seaport for its third annual carnival with the world premier of Desir, an audacious new circus experience performed in an intimate cabaret like setting on a small round stage barely twenty-five feet in diameter. Patrons in the first four or five rows are right on top of the non stop action. Inspired by the adventurers of early 20th century Paris, the seductive Desir takes us backstage to one of the greatest nightclubs in the world for a Moulin Rouge-like revue of beguiling aerial and acrobatic acts from all over the world.
James Braly’s poignant Life in a Marital Institution opened at the SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street and will run through August 31. The tragicomic one man show is a semi-autobiographical account of married life. A sold out hit at 59E59 Theaters near the end of last season, the New York Times said the production was “Full of laughs and insights.” What underlines the humor most is the center of real emotion that runs throughout the evening.