Armie Hammer, Stephen Payne, Paul Schneider in “Straight White Men”
By: Isa Goldberg
September 1, 2018: Playwright, Young Jean Lee makes her Broadway debut with, Straight White Men, a comedy that has all the ingredients of a domestic sitcom. The setup, much like the 60’s TV series, My Three Sons, centers around a midwestern engineer, and his family.
HIGH ANXIETY: NEUROSIS: A MUSICAL THAT GETS IN YOUR HEAD
By: Samuel L. Leiter
August 26, 2018: The Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives this meaning for “neurosis”: A mental and emotional disorder that affects only part of the personality, is accompanied by a less distorted perception of reality than in a psychosis, does not result in disturbance of the use of language, and is accompanied by various physical, physiological, and mental disturbances (such as visceralsymptoms, anxieties, or phobias).
Ric Reid as Dr. Watson and Damien Atkins as Sherlock Holmes in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”
By: David Sheward
August 24, 2018: The magic of storytelling and theater is celebrated in various forms at the Shaw Festival in picturesque Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The captivating spell of a fascinating tale is the essence of stage adaptations of classic yarns by Arthur Conan Doyle and C.S. Lewis while contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl examines the contrast between the fantasy of the footlights and the harsh realities of life. The venue’s main stage Festival Theater plays host to the Victorian thriller The Hound of the Baskervilles and C.S. Lewis’ Christian fable The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth of his Narnia tales, but the first chronologically. Ruhl’s clever Stage Kiss, previously presented Off-Broadway by Playwrights Horizons in 2011, holds sway in the intimate Royal George Theatre.
Danielle Wade as Marian Paroo and Daren A. Herbert as Harold Hill with members of the company in “The Music Man”
By: David Sheward
August 24, 2018: The Stratford Festival in Ontario includes musicals along with Shakespeare,classic and contemporary plays. Their current tuner offerings ran the gamut from traditional family fare (The Music Man) to outrageous sexual campiness (The Rocky Horror Show). Yet both exude a joyous love of the form and celebration of individuality. Perhaps because both are directed and choreographed by the same stager, Donna Feore, and tie in with the season’s theme of freedom. You would hardly think the heroes of these two disparate shows have much in common, but their protagonists are passionate advocates for personal liberation. Professor Harold Hill, the charismatic con man of Meredith Willson’s 1957 valentine to middle America, releases the Iowa-stubborn residents of apple-pie River City from their puritanical strictures while Dr. Frank N. Furter, the “sweet transvestite” ringleader of Richard O’Brien’s 1970s cult phenomenon, rips the prudishness from his starched late-night guests Brad and Janet while indulging his own unlimited libido. In both productions, Feore joyously expresses this spirit of unconventionality with snappy staging and energetic dance.
August 18, 2018: While Lincoln Center’s My Fair Lady is still packing the house, another show about a poor young woman taken under the wing of a wealthy man has just opened at the Nederlander Theatre. Pretty Woman: The Musical does not have a score by Lerner and Lowe or a book based on a play by George Bernard Shaw, but it does have the imprimatur of an eponymous hit film from 1990.
An elegant evening honoring David Monn in East Hampton.
August 18, 2018: The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons hosted the Bow Wow Meow Ball at the ARF’s 22-acre campus in Wainscott in the midst of heavy showers, which didn’t dampen the spirits or enthusiasm of 400 high-profile guests from New York and the Hamptons. The affair honored event designer David Monn and his beloved Sammy with the Champion of Animals Award, in recognition of his dedication and service to animal welfare. His spectacular design for the evening with stunning lighting and hanging plants was the backdrop for an elegant evening. Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Peter Marino presented the award to Mr. Monn.
August 17, 2018: Unless you’re prepared, you might get a bit of a shock from the electric reaction greeting the appearance of each new character in Be More Chill, the rambunctious if juvenile new musical shaking the rafters and exploding eardrums at the Pershing Square Signature Center.
Lucy Peacock as Volumnia and André Sills as Coriolanus in “Coriolanus”.
By: David Sheward
August 17, 2018: Visionary Canadian director Robert LePage has been accused of stressing his technologically dazzling concepts at the expense of the text. In his magnificent staging of Shakespeare’s infrequently performed saga of power and mass hysteria Coriolanus for the Stratford Festival in the province of Ontario, he gives the lie to that calumny. LePage’s innovative and ultramodern effects are anything but gimmicky and serve the purpose of the Bard’s theme of easy public manipulation, an especially relevant trope in this age of social media and governing by Twitter. This astonishing production combines elements of film and theater to create a third, hybrid form, moving with the speed of light yet still carrying the full weight of Shakespeare’s dynamic and scathing indictment of thoughtless mob mentality.
August 14, 2018: At first glance it is hard to find any reason to enjoy Head Over Heels. As a whole, it is a train wreck of a piece despite the incredibly creative team behind it. One can only imagine the size of the joints that were rolled when Jeff Whitty solidified the concept for this theatrical mayhem. The book, based on Sir Philip Sidney’s The Arcadia, has no business as a front for the latest jukebox musical featuring the work of 80s super-group the Go-Go’s. The story is secondary to the display of radio hits, a fact that is most evident at the abrupt, lazy ending. Matched with 16th century prose and Elizabethan farce, the bizarre outcome of this venture is giddy at best, gaudy at worst. Despite all of this, there are a few redeeming qualities to be found within this Broadway sideshow, and they are worth checking out:
August 11, 2018: The literary event of the Hamptons and one of our country’s leading annual literary celebrations began at 5 pm with the Authors Book Signing Reception under a tent in Amagansett, where guests enjoyed scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and fine wine while mingling with the over 100 authors. The evening provides an opportunity to have books personally inscribed by the authors when purchasing. Afterwards at 8 pm twenty-four private dinner parties featuring one or more of the guest authors, followed the reception. Photography: Barry Gordin
Vanessa Becerra as Maria and Joseph Leppek as Tony in The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2018 production of Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”
By: David Sheward
August 12, 2018: Casts and creative staff trained in opera don’t always gel with musical theatre material. The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, has sought to combine the two disciplines in its annual offerings since Broadway and opera director Francesca Zambella took over the reigns as artistic director. Under her leadership, of the four mainstage productions, at least one has been a popular musical. This summer, opera and theater blend almost seamlessly in Zambella’s staging of West Side Story, the landmark updating of Romeo and Juliet which electrified Broadway when it premiered in 1957. Street gangs replaced Shakespeare’s battling Italian noble houses. Jerome Robbins effectively integrated his explosive dance sequences and Arthur Laurents’ snappy book scenes. Leonard Bernstein’s innovative score balanced popular Latin American and jazz elements along with atonal and harmonious chords, expressing the clashing emotions of the characters. A young Stephen Sondheim’s intricate lyrics were sophisticated yet believable as uttered by unsophisticated youths.
Bryan Cranston in the London production of “Network”
B’way Update: ‘Network’ ‘Glengarry’ News; Dziemianowicz Out at the Daily News
By: David Sheward
August 10, 2018: The new Broadway season just got more exciting. In addition to Glenda Jackson playing King Lear and Elaine May appearing on a Broadway stage for the first time in 50 years in The Waverly Gallery, Tony-Emmy-Golden Globe winner Bryan Cranston will recreate his Olivier-winning performance as crazed newscaster Howard Beale in a transfer of Ivo van Hove’s stage version of the Oscar-winning Network. Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) adapted Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay. Previews begin Nov. 10 at the Cort Theater in advance of a Dec. 6 opening. No announcement if the rest of the cast will be American or British.
August 8, 2018: Comedian, actor, filmmaker, and writer Mike Birbiglia (Netflix’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Thank God for Jokes) knows that the most annoying things in life can, with a little distance, sometimes be the funniest. If, like me after seeing his show last night, he’d been stuck for over an hour while wearing shorts on an over-air conditioned A train in the East River tunnel, he’d probably make it into a story that would have his audience as close to peeing in its pants as I was during my MTA ordeal.