Reviews

I Just Want To Tell Somebody ****

Ronald “Smokey” Stevens

I Just Want To Tell Somebody Noteworthy Theater

By: Alix Cohen

January 22, 2022: Ronald “Smokey” Stevens’ one man tell-all is worth the trip downtown. The Washington, D.C. born artist, who began performing at his mother’s card parties at age ten, is a multi-talented thespian with a helluva history. Stevens sings, moves like a Motown star, regales us with history and anecdotes and runs film clips from past work. The actor is a dandy; intermittent descriptions of costume/physicality are immensely evocative. We ostensibly meet as he’s preparing for a show.

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Around The Town

Broadway Update

A scene from the London production of “The Kite Runner”. Credit: Irina Chira

B’way Update: Kite Runner, Strange Loop Set Dates; WSJ Critic Terry Teachout Dies

By: David Sheward

January 19,2022: Amid news of many shows closing or going into hibernation for the winter, Broadway got a boost with the announcement of a new production. A stage version of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s international best-seller, will be coming to Broadway for a limited run this summer after two seasons in London’s West End. The novel tells the story of Amir, a young boy born in Afghanistan in the 1970s, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant. As their country is pitched into political turmoil, the boys’ lives are changed forever. The play with music, adapted by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft will begin previews at the Hayes Theater on July 6 and open on July 21 for a limited run until Oct. 30. The Hayes is owned by Second Stage which will rent the theater out to the production. 

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Around The Town

June Kelly Gallery

Joan Giordano with In Gringolandia, 48 x 75 inches, mixed media triptych, 2021

Painting the Printing Word, a solo exhibition by Joan Giordano, on view through February 15, 2022, at June Kelly Gallery in Soho. 

January 12, 2022:  June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street in Soho, launched their 2022 season with a solo exhibition by Joan Giordano: Painting the Printed Word, which will be on view through February 15. The exhibition of mixed media wall constructions by painter Joan Giordano is reflective not only of her mastery with the brush and the art of printmaking and Japanese papermaking, but likewise her passion for newspaper’s printed text.

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Around The Town

Broadway Update: Mockingbird and Girl to Go on Hiatus

The cast of “To Kill a Mockingbird” Credit: Emilio Madrid

By: David Sheward

January 13, 2022: Two more Broadway shows are going on hiatus, joining Mrs. Doubtful as productions temporarily closing during these volatile COVID-tinged times in hopes of keeping open in a later, less chancy atmosphere. To Kill a Mockingbird, Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, will play its last performance at the Shubert Theater on Jan. 16. The play will re-open at the smaller Belasco Theater on June 1 with Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Greg Kinnear resuming the lead role of courageous lawyer and father Atticus Finch. Mockingbird opened on Dec. 13, 2018 with Jeff Daniels as Atticus and has been one of the most financially successful straight plays in Broadway history. The play re-opened on Oct. 5, 2021 with Daniels and Tony winner Celia Keenan Bolger returning to their original roles. Kennear took over on Jan. 5. It will have played 626 performances and 45 previews. 

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Around The Town

Broadway Update

Joaquina Kalukango, Nathaniel Stampley, Chilina Kennedy & the Chicago company of “Paradise Square.” Photo: Kevin Berne

B’way Update: Skeleton and Paradise Shift Dates, Joan Copeland Dies

By: David Sheward

January 5, 2022: COVID and Omicron are still necessitating changes on Broadway. Skeleton Crew, Dominique Morriseau’s drama presented by Manhattan Theater Club at the Samuel J. Friedman starring Phylicia Rashad, has suspended all performances through Jan. 9 due to breakthrough COVID cases in the company. The opening, originally scheduled for Jan. 19 will be postponed to a later date to be announced.

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Around The Town

BroadwayHD

Alfie Boe, Colm Wilkinson, Ramin Karimloo and Nick Jonas in Les Miserables 25 Anniversary Concert

Kick-Off the New Year with star-studded new additions on BroadwayHD, including the Les Miserables 25 Anniversary Concert with Nick Jonas.

January 1, 2022: BroadwayHD, the premiere streaming service for theater fans, is singing and dancing its way into the new year with a dazzling lineup of new theater productions, musical films and documentaries. Kicking off the month on January 1st is the 1945 musical comedy film Ziegfeld Follies, featuring Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Fanny Brice, Lena Horne and more. The How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying film, based on the musical of the same nam, is set to debut on January 4th, following a lowly window cleaner with dreams of making it big in the business world. Next up on January 6th is the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert, featuring celebratory performances of the hit musical with Alfie Boe, Norm Lewis, Lea Salonga, Nick Jonas, Samantha Barks and more reprising their original roles. 

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Around The Town

Broadway Update

A scene from Mrs. Doubtfire which will pause performances at the Stephen Sondheim. Photo: Joan Marcus

B’way Update: Doubtfire Pauses, Proud Closes, Jackman Sidelined

By: David Sheward

January 3, 2022: The omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to wreak havoc on the New York theater scene. In an unprecedented move, Mrs. Doubtfire will halt performances at the Stephen Sondheim Theater for nine weeks from Jan. 10 through March 14 when it is hoped the current surge of COVID cases will have died down. Producer Kevin McCollum states that raising costs for COVID testing, loss of revenue due to cancelled performances and the production’s high weekly running expenses would have forced the show to close permanently if not for this pause. All 115 cast and crew will be laid off with the promise of being rehired when the show re-opens.  

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Reviews

Flying Over Sunset **1/2

Robert Sella, Harry Hadden-Paton, Carmen Cusack and Tony Yazbeck

By: David Sheward

December 23, 2021: “What am I doing here?,” asks the magnificent dancer Tony Yazbeck portraying legendary movie star Cary Grant as he is about to experiment with LSD with two other luminaries—controversial novelist Aldous Huxley and playwright-diplomat Clare Boothe Luce—in the physically ravishing but emotionally numb new musical Flying Over Sunset (at Lincoln Center’s cavernous Vivian Beaumont Theater). I felt a similar unease and uncertainty at this lush concoction from an impressive creative team. The book and direction are by James Lapine who collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on three of his most innovate pieces—Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods and Passion. The score is by composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, music arranger/supervisor for Jagged Little Pill) and lyricist Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, War Paint). The songs are sweet, the orchestrations by Michael Starobin are smooth as silk, the sets, costumes and lighting are gorgeous. But something vital is missing—an emotional center, a reason to care whether or not this diverse trio will take the drug and about what they discover on their trip.

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Around The Town

BroadwayHD

Michaela DePrince

Dance into the Holidays with COPPELIA coming to BroadwayHD on December 25. The cutting-edge ballet combines animation & live action dance for a unique cinematic experience that delivers the message, Be True to Yourself.

December 24, 2021:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, is dancing into the holiday season as it brings the cutting-edge and critically acclaimed Coppelia to its platform on December 25.  Starring Boston Ballet soloist Michaela DePrince, also featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade and First Position, Coppelia is a sumptuous cinematic experience combining animation and ballet.  Modern and fast paced, the dialogue-free film features a blend of musical influences from classical to electronic, bringing the story of Coppelia to life like never before and delivering the message to viewers that in the age of social media and an increasingly image conscious culture—it’s never been more important to be yourself.  Coppelia was brought to the platform in partnership with distributor Shout! Factory.

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Reviews

Becoming Dr. Ruth ****

Tovah Feldshuh

By: Patrick Christiano

December 20, 2021:  Becoming Dr. Ruth re-unites four-time Tony Award-nominee Tovah Feldshuh with Scott Schwartz, who directed her Tony nominated performance as Golda Meir in Golda’s Balcony. That play opened on Broadway October 15, 2003, and before it had closed in January 2005, it had become the longest running one woman show in Broadway history, with 493 performances. Now the two, Scott and Tovah, are at it again with Becoming Dr. Ruth, another one woman play, about another Jewish archetype. They debuted their production this summer at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, where Mr. Schwartz is the Artistic Director. The results were a smashing success and Tovah was illuminating. 

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Around The Town

Broadway Update

Lionel Zalachis and Charlotte Kah in The Little Prince at the Sydney Opera House. Credit: Prudence Upton

B’way Update: Little Prince, Cancellations, MacBeth and Strange Loop

By: David Sheward

December 20, 2021: While Broadway is in turmoil over multiple performance cancellations and uncertainty due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, a new production has been announced for the spring–The Little Prince, a stage version of the classic 1943 novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery about the titular boy royal who seeks companionship on a journey to many different planets. Described as a theatrical experience with musical elements, the show combines elements of acrobatics, circus arts, dance, and video. It is the creation of director-choreographer Annie Tournie and has had runs in Paris, Sydney and Dubai. 

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Around The Town

BroadwayHD

Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook comes to BroadwayHD on December 22.

December 20, 2021:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, announced last week that Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook from the legendary Broadway and film composer, Stephen Schwartz, and writer David Stern, is coming to the platform exclusively on December 22.  Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook is an original musical which incorporates over two dozen of Stephen Schwartz’s songs from his hit and award-winning musicals including Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, The Baker’s Wife, Rags, Working, Children of Eden, and Enchanted.  Some of the well-known songs that fans will recognize include Popular, Meadowlark, Corner of The Sky, All for the Best, and Lion Tamer.  The show is a touching and authentic look into how we fall in love and the poignant power of trusting our hearts and memories. 

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Reviews

Company *****, Kimberly Akimbo *****

Patti LuPone as Joanne and-Katrina Lenk as Bobbie in Company

By: David Sheward

December 18, 2021: The leading women of two new musical productions are facing momentous birthdays. Bobbi, the protagonist of a gender-reversed revival of Company, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s innovative 1970 musical about marriage, friendship and the chasm between the two, is facing a dreaded 35th natal anniversary while still unattached. The title character of Kimberly Akimbo, a musical adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2000 dark comedy, is just turning 16, but the consequences of aging are much graver for her. Kimberly is suffering from a rare disease which causes her to age four times faster than normal and her approaching date could be a death sentence. How the two deal with the challenges presented make for two of the most exciting evenings in the New York theater season so far.

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Around The Town

BroadwayHD

Lewis Cornay, Rachel Tucker

World Premiere of John and Jen, staring Rachel Tucker, to stream exclusively on BroadwayHD.

December 18, 2021:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, brought a brand new digital capture of Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald’s musical John & Jen, an intimate look at the complexities of familial relationships in a changing Americaexclusively to the platform globally on December 15th. Filmed in the of summer 2021 at the Southwark Playhouse in London, the worldwide premier of the updated production stars Olivier Award nominee Rachel Tucker (Come From Away, Wicked, The Last Ship Broadway productions) and Lewis Cornay (The Book of Mormon West End production). Produced by Bray Productions with direction by Guy Retallack. The digital capture is directed by Austin Shaw (42nd Street: The Musical, Anything Goes, An American in Paris)with orchestrations by Jason Robert Brown (13, The Last 5 Years) and Andrew Lippa.

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Reviews

Ari’s Arias: Ari Axelrod at Birdland Theater

By: Alix Cohen

December 16, 2021: Ari Axelrod wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s also a showman. That these two qualities don’t contradict one another is a testament to the power of authenticity. With this very personal show, the young artist exhibits self awareness, acting and vocal prowess, savvy stagecraft (a single, lit candle, for example, works wonderfully).  Choice of often eclectic material relates directly to his through line. Bridging is deft. Axelrod is as much a communicator as entertainer. He appealingly takes risks.

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