I Just Want To Tell Somebody ****

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.

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.

This is not another and-then-I-performed-in piece. Throughout, the protagonist confronts a sinister, seductive, perpetually high alter ego he calls D-Man (demon) representing his drug addiction. “I met you when you had your first drink, cigarette and weed. We go waaay back,” the cocky intruder hisses.  

D-Man is marvelously manifest- physically curled in on himself, gimlet-eyed, spacey, with a growl and snake-like sss in his voice. Transitions between the two are seamless. “You back cause you know I’m about to do my show,” the hero says accusingly to D-Man. In order to be left alone, he makes a deal to include the character in his story.

We hear about Stevens’ trajectory from classical repertory theater (the DC repertory company founded by Robert Hooks) to dancing – lithe and young – in a Chevrolet commercial, backing up Vivien Reed and – wait for it – Lucille Ball, roles in films like The Cotton Club and The Wiz as well as half a dozen musicals. Friendships with the generous Charles Honi Coles (tap dancer extraordinaire) and initially snobby singer/dance band leader Cab Callaway of “Hi-De-Ho” fame (the first African American musician to sell a million records) feature.

Joyce Silvester in Inacent Black; Right: Smokey Stevens in Bubbling Brown Sugar

D-Man regularly interrupts, pointing out omission of drug indulgence, primarily cocaine, and consequences the raconteur fails to mention. Many over time culminate in all encompassing loss. He tempts and disparages his victim sure of tonight’s outcome. “My batting average for destroyed souls is very high,” the presence comments sniggering.

Chorus jobs precede garnering the lead in successive mountings of Bubbling Brown Sugar – here and abroad  for years and finally Stevens’ own 1999 Broadway production Rollin’ On the T.O.B.A. which centers on the waning days of Black vaudeville through three African American performers. (T.O.B.A. was a nationwide theatrical entertainment circuit known as the Theater Owners Booking Association.) Though there’s mention of love interest, little is revealed but for a description of a ballerina so vivid he almost conjures her. It would be illuminating to know how pivotal women dealt with him on the roller coaster ride.

Stevens is masterfully in control, his energy level/delivery evangelical. One fears for the artist’s blood pressure. Though he glowers at incidents of falling back, most of his take is infectiously enthusiastic, often innocent and grateful.

Left: Smokey Stevens as D-Man; Right: As himself

A film I’m told he himself put together spotlights many of the entertainers we lost to overdoses as well as close-ups of drug use. Viewing towards the end of the production allows it to land as a warning from someone who’s been there, not heavy handed proselytization.

I Just Want To Tell Somebody is thoroughly entertaining, Smokey Stevens a pleasure to watch. The play could successfully be cut by twenty to thirty minutes (too many unknown names for one thing) with ten minutes added back describing his state when high and perhaps what lead him inextricably back to it after respite. Both would add another dimension. Until then, this is a fine piece of storytelling in worthy hands.

Director Stephen Byrd manages to create terrific variation with one man (well, two) in a single room. Segues to music, dance, and film are smoothly integrated. D-Man is splendid.

I Just Want To Tell Somebody
Written and Performed by Ronald “Smokey” Stevens
Directed by Stephen Byrd
All photos courtesy of the production.

Theater For The New City 
155 First Avenue between 9th & 10th Street
Extended through January 30, 2022
Originally Posted on January 22, 2022 on Woman Around Town

Broadway Update

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. 

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. 

The Kite Runner was published in 2003 and became a surprise international smash, selling 31.5 million copies in 60 languages in 70 countries. It was made into a movie in 2007. Spangler’s stage version was first presented the same year at San Jose University where he teaches. It had its first professional production at San Jose Repertory Theater in 2009. The current Broadway edition was first presented at Nottingham Playhouse in 2013, directed by Croft. 

The cast of the Woolly Mammoth production of “A Strange Loop“, opening on Broadway in April. Credit: Marc J. Franklin

Also announced for Broadway are definite dates for A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about a black, gay musical theater writer penning a musical about a black, gay musical theater writer. Loop will begin preview performances at the Lyceum on April 6 and open on April 26. Originally produced Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2019, this different production recently played Washington, DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theater with the cast repeating its performances for Broadway.

Terry Teachout

In other news, Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout passed away on Jan. 13 at 65. Not just a reviewer, Teachout also wrote biographies of Louis  Armstrong, George Balanchine, Duke Ellington, and H.L. Mencken. His one-person play Satchmo at the Waldorf starred John Douglas Thompson and played Off-Broadway in 2014. He championed regional theater and gave stages across the country national exposure in the Journal. He also covered jazz, dance, classical music and books. In addition to the Journal, his by-line appeared in Commentary, the New York Daily News, and the Washington Post. He wrote a play about William Inge and Tennessee Williams, Billy and Me, and three opera libretti. A true renaissance man of the arts.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

Jan. 23–Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Audible Theater/Minetta Lane)

Jan. 26–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)

Feb. 3–Sandblasted (Vineyard)

Feb. 5–The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)

Feb. 7–Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

Feb. 15–Black No More (The New Group)

Feb. 14–Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Feb. 22–English (Atlantic Theater Company)

Feb. 23–On Sugarland (NYTW)

Match 8–The Chinese Lady (Public Theater/Ma-Yi Theater Company)

March 14–Mrs. Doubtfire re-opens (Sondheim)

March 17–The Little Prince (Broadway)

March 24–for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Booth)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

April 3–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 6–Suffs (Public Theater)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 8–Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 13–Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

April 23–Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

April 24–Funny Girl (August Wilson)

April 25–The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)

April 26–A Strange Loop (Lyceum)

April 27–Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)

April 28–Macbeth (Longacre)

April 30–The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

June 1–To Kill a Mockingbird re-opens (Belasco)

July 21–The Kite Runner (Hayes)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’, Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Cinderella; Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)

Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)

Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Macbeth

Plaza Suite

The Skin of Our Teeth

Slave Play (return engagement)

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

The Little Prince

MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six

A Strange Loop (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Musical Revivals

Beetlejuice (return engagement)

Caroline or Change

Company

Funny Girl 

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on January 19, 2022


June Kelly Gallery

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.

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.

It’s A New Dawn, 2021, Mixed media, archival newspapers, corrugated cardboard, 40 x78 inches.

Archival publications absorbed with diverse global issues, beliefs and traditions, economics, health, science, and politics are essentials of Giordano’s intriguing large scale sculptural constructions. Giordano’s constructions effect collage media in her pushing of limits and exquisite positioning of materials in arrangements of broad array of surfaces, newspaper rolls and color with found papers, corrugated board, graphite, paint and encaustic. Interwoven with actual international newspapers, the sense of time in both historical and contemporary thought is drawn. 

It has been said, Giordano can turn an abstract work of art toward the political without making direct inferences. Giordano’s art is current even as she intimates a strong connection with the modernist past.

Lily Wei, art critic and journalist writes Giordano has taken to collecting magazines, newspapers, and journals, including issues that date back decades, partly in anticipation of the demise of paper editions in the future as digital publications become increasingly the norm. Her signature newsprint-based works are an act of recuperation as well as one way to shelf a trove of information within what might be seen as fantasias of the archive. 

It’s Never Really Black and White!, 2021
Archival newspapers, corrugated cardboard on canvas and board
65 x 56 x 4 inche
s.

Giordano was also enamored of paper’s versatility, by what it could be made to represent. Versatility includes malleability, paper’s ability to assume any shape desired, becoming a sculptural material in addition to serving as a two-dimensional support for imagery. Two beautifully wrought hands in the round attached to the surface of Over the Top, 2021, made from cast paper, and, underscoring a narrative that supports feminism and economic equity, she tells me that they are the hands of a woman, a worker.

Wei writes text matters to Giordano, as do titles, and the words that correspond to the theme of the work are often strategically highlighted. Life of Wonderment, 2021 speaks to Wei’s statement that Giordano reminds us that these constructions are intended to be read as well as visually parsed. When Wei asked why so many different languages are present, Giordano answered, “there are so many ways to read and write the news, to evaluate truth.” And, with reference to her latest work, It’s a New Dawn, Giordano adds, “I don’t think there is a problem that art can’t solve.” 

Giordano lives and works in New York City and Roscoe, NY.  She holds a BA from Wagner College, Staten Island, and an MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. Giordano works have been shown in numerous one-person and group exhibitions in the United States and countries throughout the world. She is represented in numerous public and private collections including the Savannah College of Art and Design, GA; Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Gardens, North Salem, NY; Longview Art Museum, TX; Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport, CT; New York Public Library Print Collection; Awagami Museum, Hall of AWA, Tokushima, Japan; PepsiCo, Purchase, NY; the Henry Buhl Collection, New York, and the North Carolina National Bank, Charlotte, NC.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11am- 6pm.  For further information and images, please visit www.junekellygallery.com  or call 212 226-1660.

Broadway Update: Mockingbird and Girl to Go on Hiatus

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. 

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. 

Meanwhile, the current tenant of the Belasco, Girl from the North Country, will play its final performance on Jan. 23. The producers have stated it will reopen sometime in the spring at a Shubert theater to be announced. Girl is written and directed by Connor McPherson and employs the songs of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan to chronicle the travails of the denizens of a rooming-house in Depression-era Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan’s hometown. It originated in London and played the Public Theater Off-Broadway. The current production opened on Broadway March 5, 2020 but had to close a week later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show re-opened on Oct. 13, 2021 and will have played a total of 31 previews and 117 regular performances.

The cast of “Girl from the North Country“.

“Working on Broadway with this show has been an incredible and beautiful experience,” said Girl producers Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons. “We are eternally grateful to our amazing cast and crew for their unwavering commitment, fortitude and professionalism to deliver the very best show each night. We are most appreciative to our fans and the Broadway community for welcoming us with open arms. We really believe in this show and are looking forward to seeing it in another Shubert house in the spring.” 

Girl From The North Country is an important part of this season,” said Robert E. Wankel, Chairman and CEO of The Shubert Organization. “We have always been supportive of this show, and we are excited about bringing it to another theater in the spring.”

“Although this is a very challenging time for all forms of live entertainment, Broadway is still open with gold standard protocols in place to keep everyone on both sides of the curtain safe,” said executive producer Aaron Lustbader. “We are looking forward to bringing Girl From The North Country back to Broadway later this spring.”

Rumor has it that Mockingbird vacated the Shubert because another production–possibly Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella–has its eye on the house for a fall opening. 

In other news, after two postponements due to COVID outbreaks in the company, Skeleton Crew has announced a new opening date at the Samuel J. Freidman. Dominique Morriseau’s drama about the workers in a Detroit auto parts factory starring Phylicia Rashad will now open on Jan. 26. 

Mr. Saturday Night, the musical based on the 1992 Billy Crystal film about a TV comic trying for a comeback, has announced opening dates and additional cast. The tuner with a score by Jason Robert Brown and Amanda Green, will open at the Nederlander on April 27 instead of the previously announced March 31. Singer-songwriter Shoshana Bean joins the Crystal, Randy Graff, Oscar nominee David Paymer, and Chasten Harmon.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

Jan. 23–Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Audible Theater/Minetta Lane)

Jan. 26–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)

Feb. 3–Sandblasted (Vineyard)

Feb. 5–The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)

Feb. 7–Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

Feb. 15–Black No More (The New Group)

Feb. 14–Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Feb. 22–English (Atlantic Theater Company)

Feb. 23–On Sugarland (NYTW)

March 14–Mrs. Doubtfire re-opens (Sondheim)

March 17–The Little Prince (Broadway)

March 24–for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Booth)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

April 3–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 6–Suffs (Public Theater)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 8–Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 13–Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

April 23–Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

April 24–Funny Girl (August Wilson)

April 25–The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)

April 27–Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)

April 28–Macbeth (Longacre)

April 30–The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)

Spring 2022–A Strange Loop (Lyceum)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

June 1–To Kill a Mockingbird re-opens (Belasco)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’, Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Cinderella; Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)

Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)

Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Macbeth

Plaza Suite

The Skin of Our Teeth

Slave Play (return engagement)

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

The Little Prince

MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six

A Strange Loop (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Musical Revivals

Beetlejuice (return engagement)

Caroline, or Change

Company

Funny Girl 

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

The cast of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Credit: Emilio Madrid
The cast of “Girl from the North Country“. Credit: Matthew Murphy
Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on January 13, 2022

Broadway Update

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.

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.

Paradise Square, the new musical about the owner and multi-racial customers of a tavern in NYC’s Five Points neighborhood during the Civil War, has also pushed back its opening dates. The show will now begin previews at the Barrymore Theater on March 15 in advance of an April 3 opening (The original opening was set for March 20).

“During Christmas week, when there were over 560,000 positive daily cases in the US, over 70,000 positive daily cases in NYC and scientists suggested that the virus had yet to peak, we grew deeply concerned for the ongoing safety of our cast, crew and creative team, who were scheduled to begin Broadway rehearsals this month,” commented producer Garth H. Drabinsky. “We hope that a later start date for rehearsals and performances after the current wave is predicted to subside will better protect our company, audience and theatre community.” 

Also, Flying Over Sunset will be closing three weeks earlier than its original limited engagement. The musical imagining Cary Grant, Clare Booth Luce and Aldous Huxley taking LSD together running at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont, will end its run on Jan. 16 instead of Feb. 6.

Joan Copeland

In other news, Broadway veteran Joan Copeland, the sister of playwright Arthur Miller, has passed away at 99. Copeland played the tap-dancing mother in Wendy Wasserstein’s long-running Off-Broadway comedy Isn’t It Romantic? while I was ushering for the show at the Lucille Lortel Theater. She was a delightful presence, giving a consistently warm and generous performance with a revolving cast including Alma Cuervo and Robin Bartlett as her daughter, Janie. She was also magnificently maternal and loving in Joe DiPietro’s Over the River and Through the Woods and won an Obie as the calculating mother of a conflicted daughter in Richard Greenberg’s The American Plan. She also won a Drama Desk Award (over Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes) playing a version of her own mother in her brother’s play The American Clock. Joan will also be remembered as a stern judge on early episodes of Law & Order. 

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

TBA–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 23–Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Audible Theater/Minetta Lane)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Jan. 31–Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)

Feb. 3–English (Atlantic Theater Company); Sandblasted (Vineyard)

Feb. 5–The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

Feb. 14–Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Feb. 22–Black No More (The New Group)

March 17–The Little Prince (Broadway)

March 24–for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Booth)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

March 31–Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)

April 3–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 6–Suffs (Public Theater)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 8–Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 13–Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

April 23–Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

April 24–Funny Girl (August Wilson)

April 25–The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)

April 28–Macbeth (Longacre)

April 30–The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’, Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; A Strange Loop; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)

Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)

Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Macbeth

Plaza Suite

The Skin of Our Teeth

Slave Play (return engagement)

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

The Little Prince

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six

Musical Revivals

Beetlejuice (return engagement)

Caroline or Change

Company

Funny Girl 

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on January 4, 2022

BroadwayHD

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. 

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. 

The Broadway revival of the Lerner & Loewe classic, Camelot, starring Richard Harris, also joins the streaming service on January 13th, followed by Death of a Salesman with Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich on January 18th. Debuting on January 20th is Lee Mead in Concert, a 40th birthday concert celebration, live from the London Palladium stage, including guests Kerry Ellis, Marisha Wallace, Dalton Harris and Steve Balsamo. On January 25th, the 2018 documentary Every Act Of Life comes to BroadwayHD, profiling four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally’s six ground-breaking decades in the theatre, the fight for LGBTQ rights, triumph over addiction, the pursuit of love and inspiration at every age, and the power of the arts to transform society. Golda’s Balcony, a film about the fearless Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, starring Valerie Harper, also makes its debut on January 27th. Rounding out the month in celebration of the Grammys on January 31st is the Bluebird documentary, about the discovery and rise to fame of megastars like Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift while following emerging singer-songwriters as they chase their dreams inside The Bluebird Cafe, the Nashville landmark that has altered the course of music history. 

“We are thrilled to kick off the new year with such an exciting star-studded lineup, including the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert, Ziegfeld Follies, Death of a Salesman, Every Act of Life highlighting Terrence McNally’s six ground-breaking decades in the theatreand more,” said Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, co-founders of BroadwayHD. “From theater productions to musical films and documentaries, there is something for everyone to enjoy this month.”
The new productions coming to BroadwayHD in January include:

Ziegfeld Follies– January 1- Ziegfeld Follies is a 1945 American musical comedy film originally released by MGM from Warner Bros. In heaven, showman Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. fondly recalls his first Broadway revue, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1907. The greatest showman on earth is now looking down from heaven, hoping that he can, for one last time, create that same magic by mounting one last follies. It stars many leading talents, including Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Lucille Bremer, Fanny Brice, Judy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, James Melton, Victor Moore, William Powell, Red Skelton, Cyd Charisse and Esther Williams. 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying- January 4- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a 1967 American musical comedy film based on the 1961 stage musical of the same name, which in turn was based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 book. The film was produced by United Artists and directed by David Swift, with original staging by Bob Fosse. J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) is a lowly window cleaner with dreams of making it big in the business world. After finding a copy of the book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Finch decides to apply the tactics in the book to his own life. Soon, he’s working as a mail-room clerk at the World Wide Wicket Company and quickly fighting his way up the corporate ladder with relative ease in this quirky musical. 

Les Misérables- 25th Anniversary Concert- January 6- The celebratory 25th anniversary concert performance of the hit musical was filmed at The O2 in London in 2010. The concert stars Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Norm Lewis as Javert, Lea Salonga as Fantine, Nick Jonas as Marius, Katie Hall as Cosette, Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras, Samantha Barks as Éponine, Mia Jenkins as Young Cosette, Robert Madge as Gavroche, Matt Lucas and Jenny Galloway as the Thénardiers, and Earl Carpenter as the Bishop of Digne. 


Camelot Revival-
January 13-
The Broadway version of the Lerner & Loewe classic starring Richard Harris. Camelot is a utopia where good King Arthur, his wife Guinevere and The Knights of the Roundtable live virtuous lives until Guinevere develops a powerful attachment to a French soldier, Lancelot. Their love for Arthur and each other serves to disrupt peace in the kingdom. Lancelot falls madly in love with the queen while Arthur is entrapped by an evil spell cast by Sorceress Morgan le Fay at the urging of the king’s illegitimate son, Mordred. When their affair is revealed, Lancelot fights his way out of Camelot, leaving Guinevere who is sentenced to die by fire. When Arthur returns from his enchanted imprisonment, he must decide whether to watch her suffer a painful death or incite a civil war. This production was part of the cable series “HBO Theatre” and is a videotaped presentation of the 1980 Broadway stage revival of the Lerner & Lowe musical. The production was filmed at the Winter Garden Theater in Manhattan, NY and received four ACE nominations.

Death of A Salesman– January 18- Starring Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich, the 1985 film follows Willy Loman, an aging, traveling salesman, who despairs that his life he’s been living in vain. Facing dispensability and insignificance in a heated, youthful economy, Willy is not ready to part with his cherished fantasies of an America that admires him for personable triumphs in the marketplace.

Lee Mead

Lee Mead in Concert Recorded at The London Palladium- January 20- In June 2021, West End and television star Lee Mead, celebrated his 40th birthday by performing his own show at the iconic London Palladium. The show not only celebrated his birthday, but also the joy of starting to emerge from lockdown. It was a fitting venue for the artist, who is famed for his starring performance as Joseph in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat after winning the UK TV program Any Dream Will Do. The Palladium concert was a fantastic success, and included guests Kerry Ellis, Marisha Wallace, Dalton Harris and Steve Balsamo.


Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life
– January 25-
Every Act Of Life is a documentary that profiles four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally’s six ground-breaking decades in the theatre, the fight for LGBTQ rights, triumph over addiction, the pursuit of love and inspiration at every age, and the power of the arts to transform society. The 2018 documentary film was directed, produced and written by Jeff Kaufman, produced by Marcia S. Ross and features F. Murray Abraham, Christine Baranski, Edie Falco, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, Rita Moreno, Billy Porter, Chita Rivera and Patrick Wilson.


Golda’s Balcony
– January 27-
Golda’s Balcony, produced by Tony Cacciotti, is a film about a fearless woman, Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, directed by Jeremy Kagan. Adapted from William Gibson’s hit play by the same name, Valerie Harper plays Golda and multiple roles throughout the film, which focuses on the 1973 war, which Israel almost lost, and how Ms Meir succeeded in getting the armaments she needed from U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. 


Bluebird- January 31-
Discover the origins of megastars like Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift while following emerging singer-songwriters as they chase their dreams inside The Bluebird Cafe, the Nashville landmark that has altered the course of music history. This award-winning documentary, directed by Brian A. Loschiavo and features Grammy winners Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Vince Gill, Jason Isbell, Tricia Yearwood, Kathy Mattea and Don Schlitz.

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves Me, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, The Sound of Music, and An American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.

Founded in 2015 by Tony Award®-winning producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, BroadwayHD is the only streaming service offering premium full-length stage plays and musicals captured specifically for multi-platform viewing to theatre fans across the globe. In addition to exclusive live-streamed content of the world’s best productions, BroadwayHD offers subscribers unlimited on-demand access to a library of more than 300 theatre productions from Broadway, The West End and beyond.  If You Can’t Get to Broadway, Get to BroadwayHD.

Broadway Update

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.  

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.  

Producer Kevin McCollum said in a statement,

“The first few months of a brand new Broadway show are an extraordinarily delicate and important period of time. With the pervasiveness of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Mrs. Doubtfire would have to close permanently if the production didn’t take drastic, pro-active measures.”

Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard as Euphegenia Doubtfire) Photo: Joan Marcus

“Out of concern for the potential long-term employment of everyone who works on Mrs. Doubtfire, and the extended run of the show, we have decided that following the January 9 performance, the production will close for nine weeks, returning on March 15.”

Mrs. Doubtfire has been in development for six years. We are doing everything in our power to keep the virus from prematurely ending our run on Broadway. By taking this break we can afford to launch an extended run starting in March.”

“Finally, I would like to express my profound and unending admiration for our extraordinary cast, crew, orchestra, creative team, and entire company. They have risen to every challenge thrown at them over the last two years with a remarkable amount of resilience, good humor, grit, and love for one another. They embody the indomitable spirit of Broadway. I cannot wait for audiences to continue to enjoy what they have created in March!”

Doubtfire, based on the 1993 Robin Williams hit film about a divorced dad who dons dowdy Scottish nanny drag to see his kids, features a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell with music and lyrics by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick. Directed by four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks, the show played only three previews performances in March 2020 before it was forced to close along with every other Broadway and Off-Broadway show due to the COVID pandemic. It re-opened on Dec. 5, 2021 to mixed reviews. Rob McClure gives an energetic comic performance in the lead role and is a prime candidate for the Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award. Doubtfire has had to cancel 11 times so far because of positive COVID test results since the re-opening. Hopefully, this pause will help rejuvenate the show’s prospects and will not be a forerunner for other shows. McCollum is also the producer of Six, the mock concert show featuring the six wives of Henry VIII as a girl group. He recently told the New York Times that show is doing better since the cast is much smaller than Doubtfire, production costs are relatively low, and advance word of mouth was enthusiastic.

Doubtfire deserves a second chance and hopefully this hiatus will give the show the opportunity to thrive if and when the omicron surge burns out.

Ain’t Too Proud will close on Jan. 16 Photo: Matthew Murphy

In other recent news, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations will close at the Imperial on Jan. 16, joining Waitress, Jagged Little Pill, Thoughts of a Colored Man, Chicken and Biscuits, Dana H, Is This A Room, Trevor and Is There Still Sex in the City? as shows closing in their open runs or earlier than expected in their limited runs.

Hugh Jackman, Photo: Barry Gordin

The Music Man star Hugh Jackman has tested positive for COVID, following a similar result for his co-star Sutton Foster. All performances are cancelled through Jan. 5 and both stars will return on Jan. 6.

The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and remaining performances of the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker have been cancelled. 

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on January 3, 2022

Flying Over Sunset **1/2

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.

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.

Michele Ragusa, Harry Hadden-Paton and Kanisha Marie Feliciano.

The central idea is intriguing, yet Lapine and company fail to make it compelling. Grant, Huxley and Luce all tried LSD in the 1950s when it was legal. Lapine’s book imagines a meeting of the three along with writer-philosopher Gerald Heard who later acts as a drug “guide,” at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood. This is preceded by the separate stories of Grant, Huxley and Luce and what motivates them to expand their consciousness. 

It’s not clear what Cary Grant’s dilemma is—there is vague dialogue about his failure to commit to any of his three wives (there would be a fourth later). Lapine plays coy with the star’s alleged bisexuality and only briefly mentions the fact that he shared “bachelor quarters” with Randolph Scott for nearly 12 years. Huxley is seeking enlightenment for intellectual reasons. That is until his wife dies of breast cancer and then his incentive for drugging is to deal with his grief. Luce has a similar backstory as she turns down a diplomatic appointment by the Eisenhower administration while struggling with the death of both her mother and daughter in separate auto accidents. 

Tony Yazbeck

In the second act, they gather at Luce’s rented Malibu beach house and have psychedelic breakthroughs while Beowulf Borrit’s versatile sets transform into dreamscapes with the aide of Bradley King’s hypnotic lighting and enchanting video projections by 59 Productions. (Toni-Leslie James’ period costumes are spot on.) All hug each other at the end, having achieved a form of contentment via LSD. Along the way, the scenes veer wildly from smashingly entertaining (Grant tap dances with his cross-dressing younger self; a beautiful recreation of a Botticelli painting) to bizarre (Grant imagines he is a giant penis blasting off into space; Luce searches for her dead mother’s leg which was amputated in the car crash). The musical’s raison d’être is never brought into focus. Is Lapine saying drugs help with psychological problems? That the 1950s were a repressive decade? That famous people are just as mixed up as the rest of us? These themes battle for dominance and none win.

Luckily, the performances are solid and vibrant. As Grant, Yazbeck displays his considerable triple-threat skills, creating a complex, unhappy movie star and establishing himself as Broadway’s leading dancer. As his terpsichorean partners, Atticus Ware as the childhood Grant and Emily Pynenburg as his co-star Sophia Loren dazzle. Choreographer Michelle Dorrance supplied the eclectic routines.

Michele Ragusa, Carmen Cusack, Kanisha Marie Feliciano

Carmen Cusack’s rich vocals and compassionate limning bring Luce to life and Harry Hadden-Paton makes Huxley much more than a dry thinker. Robert Sella exposes the repressed yearnings of the celibate, homosexual Heard. 

The evening is definitely a mixed bag. While the libretto is confusing and unfocused, many fascinating facts are disclosed. For instance, Grant’s wife Betsy Drake wrote a screenplay for the couple to act in, but it was transformed into Houseboat co-starring Loren as the female lead. Huxley defended a fired teacher for recommending his dystopian novel Brave New World to a student. Luce was a war correspondent and editor before turning to politics. Even more tidbits can be found in the handsome Lincoln Center Theater souvenir program book. But interesting bits of information do not a coherent musical make. When the program is more interesting than the show itself, something is wrong.

Carmen Cusack and Robert Sella

Dec. 13—Feb. 6, 2022. Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St., NYC. Tue 7pm; Wed 2pm & 7pm; Thu 7pm; Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 3pm. (Check the website for schedule changes during holiday weeks.) Running time: two hours and 45 mins. including intermission. $59—$249. www.telecharge.com. Photography: Joan Marcus

Tony Yazbeck, Harry Hadden-Paton and Carmen Cusack
The company of Lincoln Center Theater’s FLYING OVER SUNSET

BroadwayHD

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.

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.

Michaela DePrince and Daniel Camargo

In addition to ballet superstar/author/and inspirational activist, Michaela DePrince, the stellar cast includes principals and soloists Daniel Camargo, Vito Mazzeo, Sasha Mukhamedov, Igone de Jongh, Irek Mukhamedov and Darcey Bussell—dancing together for the first time since their Royal Ballet partnership 20 years ago.  This visually opulent fairy tale was inspired by Ted Brandsen’s 2008 production for Dutch National Ballet.  Brandsen gave Coppelia a contemporary twist, updating Doctor Coppelius from toymaker to cosmetic surgeon and the directing team further rewrote the story for today’s young audience. 

The innovative family feature combines enchanting animation and live action dance in a modern retelling of the love story between Swan and Franz, jeopardized by Dr. Coppelius and his uncannily beautiful protégée Coppelia. Screen Daily wrote of the film “young audiences should be particularly smitten with [the film’s] Disney-esque charms.”

With a diverse and world-class cast, this unconventional adaptation of Coppelia sees Dr. Coppelius (Mazzeo) as a cosmetic surgeon, whose lure of superficial beauty poisons the town. Swan (DePrince) must uncover the truth about the popular newcomer who puts her community and the life of her beloved Franz (Daniel Camargo) in danger.  She must act to save her sweetheart Franz, before his heart is used to spark life intoCoppelia—the “perfect” robot-woman Coppelius has created.

 Michaela DePrince

The film’s creative team includes the award-winning directing team of Jeff Tudor (Betroffenheit, A Swan Lake, Mata Hari, Cinderella), Steven De Beul, and Ben Tesseur, Emmy-nominated composer Maurizio Malagnini, award-winning choreographer and artistic director of Dutch National Ballet Ted Brandsen, and director of photography Tristan Oliver BSC (Fantastic Mr. Fox, ParaNorman, Loving Vincent).

Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, co-founders of BroadwayHD, said, “Coppelia is an innovative and beautiful piece of work and we’re looking forward to bringing it to our subscribers.  It’s a wonderfully inspiring film for families to watch together during the holidays.”

Coppelia is only the latest acclaimed performance to come to BroadwayHD.  BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves Me, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, The Sound of Music, andAn American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.  To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com. If you can’t get to Broadway, get to BroadwayHD.

Becoming Dr. Ruth ****

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. 

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. 

The role of Dr. Ruth, like the role of Golda Meir, feels tailor made for the consummate actress of Jewish heritage, and once again, as she has done for four decades, she does not disappoint. She is simply marvelous, the embodiment of the real-life Dr. Ruth, but it is Dr. Ruth’s compelling story that is the ultimate star of the evening. 

Tovah Feldshuh

The play by Mark St. Germain chronicles the remarkable life of the noted psychologist, the larger-than- life Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who almost-everyone is familiar with from her career as a pioneering radio and television sex therapist. However, few know the details of her incredible journey. She fled the Nazis in the Kindertransport and joined the Hagenah in Jerusalem, turning into a sharp-shooting sniper, before coming to America as a single-mother. Her struggles to succeed, as a single mother in her adopted country, are cleverly illustrated by the playwright as the details of her inspiring life unfold.

When the play begins, we discover Dr. Ruth, alone in her upper Westside apartment overing looking the Hudson River. She is on the phone and packing to move. We wonder why she is leaving this incredible view. When she finishes her call, she continues to pack, but quickly breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. She informs them of the particulars surrounding her move. Immediately were taken in by her charismatic charm. She relates the facts of her story, all the while simultaneously dispensing advice, opinions, and antidotes drawn from a lifetime of living, learning, loving, and discovering the joys of being alive. 

The two worked with playwright Mark St. Germain, even incorporating some new dialogue suggested by Dr. Ruth and enhanced further by Tovah. Visuals of many of the people in the story have been added, but I am not convinced they contribute much to the tale’s essential power.

Dr. Ruth is an inspiring tale filled with the humor, openness, and the life-affirming spirt of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became Dr. Ruth, America’s most famous sex therapist. Tovah Feldshuh, guided by Scott Schwartz, skillfully captures the wise and witty essence of the beloved media icon with an illuminating portrait that is both fascinating and heartbreaking. 

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Tovah Feldshuh

Anyone interested in the true-life stories of Holocaust survivors will find Dr. Ruth a memorable 90 minutes that will resonate long after the evening has ended. 

Becoming Dr. Ruth is now playing at the Edmond J. Safra Hall at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial in Battery Park through January 2, 2022. The performance runs 90 minutes. The is a talk back with Dr. Ruth and Tovah Feldshuh on December 22 following the 7pm performance.
For Tickets Click Here

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Photo: Carol Rosegg, Josh Halpern, Kate Milford

Broadway Update

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. 

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. 

Previews begin March 4 at the Broadway Theater with an opening set for March 17 for a run through Aug. 14. The show features a libretto by co-director Chris Mourin who also plays the narrator, and music by Terry Truck. It’s not clear if this presentation is a traditional musical, a play with music, and a sort of Cirque du Soleil show. A spokesperson stated it would be up to the Tony Eligibility Committee to determine its status for awards consideration. For our purposes, I have listed it as a new musical under the list of productions for the 2021-22 Broadway season. After seeing it, I might shift it to Special Presentations.

Director Tournié said, “We are thrilled for our company to continue The Little Prince’s world journey to the bright lights of Broadway and New York. On his journey, the Little Prince shares a message of humanity with the many different people and cultures he encounters. We are humbled to bring his story of friendship, loneliness, love, and caring for others and our planet back to the melting pot where Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first created this beloved tale.”

Bob Fosse as the Snake in the 1974 film of The Little Prince.

Another adaptation appeared on Broadway in 1982 under the title of The Little Prince and the Aviator. Starring Anthony Rapp and Michael York in the title roles, this version closed during previews and never officially opened. A 1974 film version was directed by Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain, It’s Always Fair Weather and a dozen other screen classics) and featured a score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe and an impressive cast including Bob Fosse, Gene Wilder, Richard Kiley, Clive Revill, Joss Ackland, and Donna McKechnie. This was the first new project Lerner and Loewe had collaborated on since Camelot. With a pedigree like that, you’d think the film would have been a classic, but it faded into obscurity soon after the opening.

Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular cancelled the remainder of its run due to COVID.

It’s heartening to hear of a new, unexpected Broadway production, especially amid the high number of shows canceling performances due to positive COVID tests. Ten productions have eliminated performances including Ain’t Too Proud, Aladdin, Freestyle Love Supreme, Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jagged Little Pill, Little Shop of Horrors (Off-Broadway), Moulin Rogue, Mrs. Doubtfire, MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical, and Tina. Company had to scrap a performance due to a non-COVID illness in the cast (Claybourne Elder who plays Andy, tweeted he had been thrown up on at the start of a performance.) MJ is going on the longest hiatus and will begin new performances on Dec. 27. In the most extreme move, Radio City has shuttered the rest of its Rockettes Christmas Spectacular which had several performances a day through Jan. 2.

In another drastic development, the Public Theater is now requiring its patrons to show proof of a negative COVID test within 24 hours of the date of the performance in addition to a photo ID and evidence of full vaccination. This new protocol will be in place until Jan. 30. Will Broadway adopt this extra layer of precaution?

There have been some panicky posts on social media foretelling the doom of live theatre in New York, but most of these shows have resumed performances or have announced their return. However, this uncertain state could spell trouble at the box office with audiences jittery over attending if performances are cancelled at the last minute. With omicron spreading rapidly, there could be more closures in the future.

James Jackson, Jr., Jason Veasey, John Michael Lyles, Jaquel Spivey, L. Morgan Lee, John Andrew Morrison, Antwayn Hooper in A Strange Loop Photo: Marc J. Franklin

In other news: the revival of Macbeth starring Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga, previously announced for the Lyceum has switched to the more desirable Longacre which became available once Diana posted a closing notice for Dec. 19. That left the Lyceum vacant and it was snapped up in a hurry by the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop from the Washington DC-based Woolly Mammoth Theater. Loop is the autobiographical portrait of a gay, African-American theater writer dealing with his community’s homophobia and his own self-acceptance. Michael R. Jackson’s musical had a limited run at Playwrights Horizons in 2019 and won the Pulitzer Prize as well as the Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for the 2019-20 season. The Woolly Mammoth run has been extended to Jan. 9, 2022. The NYC transfer will open sometime in the spring of 2022. Specific dates and casting will be announced soon. The question is will it be considered a new musical or a revival by the Tony eligibility committee? I will list it as a revival for the moment (see below).

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

Jan. 19, 2022–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 23–Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Audible Theater/Minetta Lane)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Jan. 31–Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)

Feb. 3–English (Atlantic Theater Company); Sandblasted (Vineyard)

Feb. 5–The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

Feb. 14–Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Feb. 22–Black No More (The New Group)

March 17–The Little Prince (Broadway)

March 20–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

March 24–for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Booth)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

March 31–Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 6–Suffs (Public Theater)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 8–Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 13–Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

April 23–Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

April 24–Funny Girl (August Wilson)

April 25–The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)

April 28–Macbeth (Longacre)

April 30–The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)

Spring 2022—A Strange Loop (Lyceum)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’, Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; A Strange Loop; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)

Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)

Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Macbeth

Plaza Suite

The Skin of Our Teeth

Slave Play (return engagement)

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

The Little Prince

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six

Musical Revivals

Beetlejuice (return engagement)

Caroline or Change

Company

Funny Girl 

A Strange Loop (previously presented Off-Broadway)

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on December 19, 2021

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. 

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. 

Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook was produced for streaming by ACT (A Contemporary Theater) of CT earlier this year. Stephen Schwartz collaborated with ACT of CT’s Artistic Director (and director of the film) Daniel C. Levine, alongside ACT of CT’s Music Supervisor, Bryan Perri to create this unique and exciting production.  The show features a stellar cast who have performed in some of your all-time favorite Broadway musicals, including John Cardoza (Jagged Little Pill), Mariand Torres (Hadestown, Prince of Broadway), Michael McCorry Rose (Anastasia, Wicked), Monica Ramirez (Working, Godspell), Ryan Bailer (Evita) and Olivia Hernandez (Austen’s Pride).

The production has  music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by David Stern, was conceived by Michael Scheman and David Stern, with additional music and lyrics by David Crane (Friends, Episodes), Seth Friedman (Upstairs at O’Neals, Personals), Marta Kauffman (Friends, Grace and Frankie), Alan Menken (Beauty and The BeastLittle Shop of Horrors) and Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie), and arrangements and orchestrations by Steve Orich. The production was Directed by Daniel C. Levine, Music Supervision by Bryan Perri, Choreography by Sara Brians, and Cinematography by Barton Cortright.  

Stephen Schwartz said, “I’ve always been partial to Snapshots, David Stern’s imaginative repurposing of songs of mine from other projects into an original, funny, and touching small musical.  I’ve enjoyed seeing it at several regional theatres over the years, and so I was disappointed when it seemed the COVID pandemic might derail the ACT of CT production, especially because director Daniel C. Levine had assembled such a great cast.  But the ever-resourceful Mr. Levine had the imaginative idea to shoot it as a movie instead, and I am truly delighted with the result and thrilled that BroadwayHD viewers now have an opportunity to enjoy this production.” 

Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, co-founders of BroadwayHD said, “Stephen Schwartz is one of the legends of Broadway and we are looking forward to bringing this new production exclusively to BroadwayHD.  We are sure that fans of his shows from Wicked to Godspell, and beyond, as well as those who have never had a chance to check out his previous works, will fall in love with Snapshots.

The Grammy nominated world premiere recording for Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots is available to purchase. Please visit Broadway Records at https://www.broadwayrecords.com/film-tv-soundtracks-1/stephen-schwartzs-snapshots-world-premiere-recording-mp3

To license the performance rights for Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots, please visit Music Theatre International at https://www.mtishows.com/snapshots-a-musical-scrapbook.

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves Me, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, The Sound of Music, and An American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.  To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com.

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

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.

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.

The idea of swapping the sexes in Company seemed like a crazy one, but Marianne Elliott’s sleek and warm-hearted production somehow works. The new take on a beloved classic was a smash hit in London and was set to open on Broadway just before COVID-19 closed all the theaters. Now finally unleashed, this dazzling and vibrant alternate view of a familiar favorite was well worth the long wait. The original production was one of the first concept musicals, eschewing the traditional easy songs and romantic plot for Sondheim’s complex, intricate score and Furth’s acid-funny, splintered book portraying a bachelor afraid of commitment and five couples offering diverse and ambiguous, sorry-grateful perspectives on marriage. Interestingly, aside from the gender switches, very little in Furth’s prescient book and Sondheim’s brilliant lyrics have to be updated. Life Magazine has been replaced by Time and references to answering services have been deleted, but not much else has been changed. By the way, David Cullen’s orchestrations and Joel Fram’s music supervision and direction perfectly set off Sondheim’s magnificently eclectic score.

Matt Doyle as Jamie in Company

By making Bobbie into Bobbi and updating the setting to the present, Elliott has found new perspectives on this unblinking view on the good and bad of conjugal unions. The pressure on women to wed is still greater than on men, plus the protagonist’s marriage uncertainty becomes more urgent as her biological clock is speeding ahead. Elliott emphasizes this aspect with ticking clocks and enormous party balloons with the number 35 overwhelming Bobbi. In another bold creative move, Elliot and set designer Bunny Christie use Alice in Wonderland as inspiration as Bobbi sinks into tunnels, emerges onto terraces, crawls into shrunken apartments and her friends becomes the wacky revelers at a mad marriage tea party. “Tick Tock,” originally a dance solo for Donna McKechnie, becomes a nightmare sequence involving the whole cast, in which Bobbi envisions an endless stream of mundane mornings of monogamy.

Katrina Lenk as Bobbie in Company

Katrina Lenk captures Bobbi’s ambivalence towards the martial state as well as her thirst for finding an amorous connection. Her singing voice is not as strong or supple as could be desired for some of the power notes of “Being Alive,” but she puts across this shattering ballad of longing—as well as the urging Act One closer “Marry Me a Little”—with power and tenderness. Patti LuPone delivers the expected powerhouse rendition  of the caustic Joanne and a scorchingly memorable “Ladies Who Lunch.” Terence Archie is believably confident as her hubby Larry and convincing as the one man who could handle  her. Christopher Sieber and Jennifer Simard are riotously contentious as Harry and Sarah, a duo suppressing urges for booze and chocolate while literally wrestling in their living room. 

Katrina Lenk as Bobbie, Christopher Fitzgerald as David and Nikki Renee Daniels as Jenny in Company

In another of Elliot’s strokes of recasting genius, the frantic, fearful bride Amy is now a gay groom Jamie played with perfect jittery intensity by Matt Doyle. Etai Benson is sympathetic as his steadier soon-to-be husband. Jamie’s comedy number, “Getting Married Today” is brilliantly staged with the couple’s ultra-modern apartment becoming a madhouse with ensemble members popping out of appliances. Christopher Fitzgerald and Nikki Renee Daniels provide giggles as David and Jenny as they experiment with pot. Greg Hildreth and Rashidra Scott do too as Peter and Susan who find happiness in divorce and an uncluttered terrace.

Bobby’s original trio of girlfriends become Bobbi’s three suitors and are hilariously embodied by Claybourne Elder as a gorgeous but dim flight attendant, Manu Narayan as a philosophical New Englander, and Bobby Conte as a hippie-ish free spirit who delivers a powerful “Another Hundred People.” The “city of strangers” referred to in that bracing song about the alienated denizens of Gotham is even more apt now with the cast wondering through designer Christie’s neon jungle set, enraptured by their I-phones. Also aided by Neil Austin’s stark, evocative lighting and the enveloping sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Marianne Elliott has created a bracing, uncompromising Company for the present moment. 

Bonnie Milligan (Debra, center) with (l-r) Michael Iskander (Aaron), Nina White (Teresa), Olivia Elease Hardy (Delia) and Fernell Hogan II (Martin) in Kimberly Akimbo

The musical version of Kimberly Akimbo is equally unflinching in its portrait of a dysfunctional family, split apart by disease and misfortune. Yet David Lindsay-Abaire’s book (based on his own play) and lyrics, along with Jeanie Tesori’s music, are riotously funny as well as touchingly empathic. Kimberly (a magnificent Victoria Clark, skillfully playing a teenager in a 60-year-old body) yearns to be like any girl her age, but physically she’s an old lady, plus her family is more than a little batty. Her dad Buddy (appropriately scruffy and forlorn Steven Boyer) chugs beer to escape reality. Her mom Pattie (hilariously needy Alli Mauzey) has both arms in casts while pregnant with Kim’s sister. Aunt Debra (delightfully lowdown Bonnie Milligan) is a con artist, bent on using Kim as a pawn in a check-forging scheme. Not exactly your model family. Kim is attracted to and finds a fellow outcast in Seth, an equally lonely, puzzle-loving nerd (adorable Justin Cooley). The title comes from an anagram of Kim’s name, created by Seth as a brainy valentine.

The musical improves on the play by widening Kim’s world. We see her in high school attempting to live a normal life but thwarted by her illness. To echo her anxiety, Lindsay-Abdaire and Tesori have added a quartet of student misfits, confused about their sexuality and yearning to hit it big in Show Choir (Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan II, Nina White and Michael Iskander, all wonderfully awkward and endearing).  In a wrenchingly funny and heartbreaking sequence, the kids perform a musical science class report, detailing various ailments, all very funny. That is until Kimberly (Clark is particularly heartbreaking here) vocalizes about her own ailment and exposes a galaxy of desperate emotions. 

(l-r) Victoria Clark (Kimberly) and Justin Cooley (Seth) in Kimberly Akimbo

Director Jessica Stone’s intimate production balances farce with tragedy. David Zinn’s sets, Sarah Lux’s costumes and Lap Chi Chu’s lighting combine to create a seedy but recognizable New Jersey environment for this bittersweet little show. Hopefully, it will transfer to a longer run either on or Off-Broadway after its limited run at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Company: Opened Dec. 7 for an open run. Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, 242 W. 45th St., NYC. Tue 7pm; Wed 2pm & 8pm; Thu 7pm; Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 3pm (check schedule for holiday week performances). Running time: two hours and 40 mins. including intermission. $59—$299. www.telecharge.com.
Company Photos: Mathew Murphy, Ahmed-Klink and Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Rashidra Scott as Susan, Katrina Lenk as Bobbie and Greg Hildreth as Peter in Company
The Broadway cast of Company
Christopher Sieber Jennifer Simard Katrina-Lenk and Patti LuPone in Company
Katrina Lenk
Katrina Lenk as Bobbie and Claybourne Elder as Andy in Company

Kimberly Akimbo: Dec. 8—Jan. 15, 2022. Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater, 336 W. 20 St., NYC. Schedule varies. Running time: two hours and 30 mins. including intermission. $101.50—$131.50. www.ovationtix.com.
Kimberly Akimbo Photos: Ahron R. Foster

The cast of Kimberly Akimbo.
(l-r) Bonnie Milligan (Debra), Olivia Elease Hardy (Delia), Fernell Hogan II (Martin), Michael Iskander (Aaron), Nina White (Teresa), Victoria Clark (Kimberly), Justin Cooley (Seth), Stephen Boyer (Buddy) and Alli Mauzey (Pattie)
(l-r) Michael Iskander (Aaron), Nina White (Teresa), Olivia Elease Hardy (Delia) and Fernell Hogan II (Martin) in Kimberly Akimbo

(l-r) Victoria Clark (Kimberly), Justin Cooley (Seth), Nina White (Teresa), Fernell Hogan II (Martin), Bonnie Milligan (Debra), Olivia Elease Hardy (Delia) and Michael Iskander (Aaron). in KimberlyAkimbo
Victoria Clark (Kimberly) in Kimberly Akimbo
Olivia Elease Hardy (Delia) in Kimberly Akimbo
Michael Iskander (Aaron) in Kimberly Akimbo
Nina White (Teresa) in Kimberly Akimbo

BroadwayHD

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.

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.

Rachel Tucker

The digital capture of John & Jen, by Bray Productions and Stage2View productions in association with BroadwayHD, has been updated since the last revival to reflect modern times, and is an emotional rollercoaster of a musical that explores the dynamics of family relationships. The musical starts off in 1985 with John and Jen, brother and sister, who were born seven years apart and grow up together totally inseparable. Jen makes a “forever pact” with her little brother to always protect him against anything and anyone, including their own dad. The production fast forwards to 2005, where Jen lives alone in Canada with her baby boy whom she has named John, a living memorial to the brother she failed to protect. The beautiful and haunting score emotionally captures the zeitgeist of contemporary America.

Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald said, “This new London-born production of “John & Jen” has been gloriously captured on film and forever captured our hearts. You’ll see, when Rachel Tucker and Lewis Cornay inhabit our musical, just how deeply two great singing actors can move, inspire, and entertain. Powerfully directed on stage by Guy Retallack and masterfully filmed by Austin Shaw, this production of “John & Jen” will help the show reach a new audience of families and musical theater lovers, and we couldn’t be happier.”

Guy Retallack, director said“What struck me immediately was how much John & Jen is a musical for now, despite being written almost 30 years ago. Andrew’s haunting score and Tom’s incisive narrative capture contemporary America. I felt inspired to ask the writers to update the timeline, because of what I saw happening all around us, families being torn apart for the beliefs they hold, and I’m delighted they agreed. Over the course of an hour and a half we traverse generations. This heartrending musical captures the intricacies of family relationships with astute lyrics and a swelling score. John and Jen is a compelling story where we recognise ourselves and the choices we might have made. Bring tissues!”

Austin Shaw, producer said, “This production of John & Jen has so much emotional power and grows in your heart the more you see it and hear it.  It’s always a privilege to work with a wonderfully collaborative creative team who have delivered a first class show on stage, and ensure that their work is captured for new audiences to enjoy on screen forever”. 

Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, co-founders of BroadwayHD said, “John & Jen is such a powerful musical exploring family relationships and was really brought to life this summer at the Southwark Playhouse. We are thrilled to bring this new digital capture to BroadwayHD so viewers around the world can experience the story.”

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42ndStreet, She Loves Me, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, The Sound of Music, and An American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.  To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com.

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.

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.

A tandem “Neverland”/“Pure Imagination” opens this evening with tremulous, air brushed emotion. Axelrod looks from face to face gently reeling in his audience. (Jule Styne/Betty Comden/Adolph Green; Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) The performer defines “aria” as any moment in life where words alone fail to express what we’re feeling. “To elevate these moments, we sing.”

“I believe West Side Story is the eighth wonder of the world,” introduces a completely original rendition of “Cool” with Axelrod accompanying himself on bongo drum. He sheds his jacket, rolls up his sleeves. The terrific arrangement employs flat and side handwork, elbow and arm slides. He’s good. “Just make it cool, boy,” (deep inhalation), reeeal cooool,” Brow is furrowed, focus like a jazz man. (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim)

Larry Hart was a closeted gay man who apocryphally wrote this song while looking in a mirror, we’re told. One arm on the piano, Axelrod strikes a pose. “My Funny Valentine” emerges delicate, besotted. The artist looks over our heads to an inamorata. Every word lands sincere. Piano is lush without being corny. He’s happy, grateful, hopeful. Lingering vibrato is simply lovely. (Written with Richard Rodgers.)

From Les Misérables (Claude-MIchel Schonberg/Alain Boublil), we hear an inspired take on “Bring Him Home” in Hebrew and English, giving it entirely new and valid context. Arms rise from his sides as if involuntarily, hands fist. “B’shalom,” he says pounding his chest. The prayer elicits chills. Remaining in the lexicon of his roots/religion, Axelrod longs “to bring life to  Anatevka just once,” i.e. to play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. His “If I Were a Rich Man” (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick) resonates with tone and gesture, but needs a few years of experiential gravitas (and padding.)

The show’s centerpiece is a masterful weaving together of “The Cure” (Benjamin Scheuer from The Lion),“Holding to the Ground” (from Falsettos by Williaml Finn) and “How Glory Goes” ( from Floyd Collins by Adam Guettel). Axelrod calls it “Surgery Medley.” (Arrangement- Alex Rybeck and Axelrod) It’s a scene-in-one that attempts to share the artist’s experience with life threatening brain and spine surgery. Though not a fan of “wandering” music, I can’t help being arrested by the piece. Its journey is wrenching, music and lyrics a challenge the performer meets head on. Songs by William Finn and Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin act as epilogue.

Brimming with freshly appreciated life, “Everybody Says Don’t” (Stephen Sondheim) clocks in as buoyant evangelism. A heartwarming story about his beloved dog Leo leads to what Axelrod imagines his best friend might say if he could speak: “Not While I’m Around” (Stephen Sondheim). He sings tenderly, Leo actually cradled in his arms. John Bucchino’s “Unexpressed,” leaves the room in thrall. “Being Alive” (Stephen Sondheim) follows with longing as the night the day.

The artist closes with a wistful version of “Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen/EY Yip Harburg) of which even Julie Wilson might approve. (She famously said no one should attempt the song after Judy Gardland.)

Lawrence Yurman has an eloquent piano touch and seems to breathe with Axelrod. Even familiar songs are given subtle distinctive coloration. A fine collaboration.

Ari’s Arias: Ari Axelrod at Birdland Theater
MD/Accompanist- Lawrence Yurman
Creative Consultant- Jeff Harnar
For other Birdland shows, go to the website.
Photos by Helane Blumfield
Originally Posted on 12/15/21 on Women Around Town