Storytime Online

Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton will read their children’s book, Simeon’s Gift, on Saturday @10:30 am via Zoom. This is the final segment in the Bay Street Theater online series. 

May 10, 2021:  The final segment for Bay Street Theater’s Storytime will be Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, co-authors of the children’s book, Simeon’s Gift. The reading is the final Zoom segment for Storytime, an eight-part online program of children’s book readings by authors from the East End and New York. The series is an interactive and engaging experience, where children and their families can enjoy live readings. Julie and Emma will read Simeon’s Gift, their most recent children’s book, during a Zoom session on Saturday, May 15th @ 10:30 am. A Q&A will follow. An access link will come, by email, with confirmation. To purchase tickets: 

Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton will read their children’s book, Simeon’s Gift, on Saturday @10:30 am via Zoom. This is the final segment in the Bay Street Theater online series. 

May 10, 2021:  The final segment for Bay Street Theater’s Storytime will be Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, co-authors of the children’s book, Simeon’s Gift. The reading is the final Zoom segment for Storytime, an eight-part online program of children’s book readings by authors from the East End and New York. The series is an interactive and engaging experience, where children and their families can enjoy live readings. Julie and Emma will read Simeon’s Gift, their most recent children’s book, during a Zoom session on Saturday, May 15th @ 10:30 am. A Q&A will follow. An access link will come, by email, with confirmation. To purchase tickets: 

Emma Walton Hamilton on SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS discussing Simeon’s Gift and her beloved mother Dame Julie Andrews. Or you can view the segment this week on LTV, Channel 20 in East Hampton on Tuesday @ 6pm, Thursday @10:30am, Friday @ 8pm, or Sunday @ 3:30pm.

Broadway To Open September 14

Tickets go on sale today!

May 6, 2021:  Broadway shows can open on September 14th at 100% capacity.  Yesterday at a press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that Broadway will be back in New York City in the fall. He gave September 14th as a start date and tickets will go on sale today at 100% capacity.

Tickets go on sale today!

May 6, 2021:  Broadway shows can open on September 14th at 100% capacity.  Yesterday at a press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that Broadway will be back in New York City in the fall. He gave September 14th as a start date and tickets will go on sale today at 100% capacity.

Broadway League President, Charlotte St. Martin, said it will take producers at least 3 to 4 months to mount a production. No individual shows have announced returning yet, but Martin indicated longer running shows can probably be ready first. According to the New York Times, Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked will announce jointly next week, followed by Chicago, Aladdin, Come From Away, American Utopia, and others.

Shows can open on May 19 at a reduced capacity. There have already been a few socially distanced openings popping up around the city, but as St. Martin pointed out Broadway cannot function, profitably, at much less than 100%. 

Blindness

Off Broadway, Daryl Roth was the first major producer to mount a show, Blindness, an acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production with no actors, which opened on April 23 at the DR2 in Union Square. Attendance is capped at a mandated 33%, with only 86 people in attendance, seated in pods six feet apart. Tickets are sold in advance, online or by phone (212-269-6200) or visit:  www.BlindnessEvent.com 

Tennessee Rising,
a solo play directed by Alan Cumming opened at The Cell on 23rd Street in Chelsea. The play, written and performed by Jacob Storms, was originally scheduled to open in New Orleans last year, but was canceled due to covid 19. The gifted Mr. Storms sounds very much like a young Tennessee Williams capturing his Southern drawl and cadences beautifully.  Tennessee Rising chronicles Willams’ formative years and runs Sundays April 11, 25, May 9 & 23 at 6pm and Sundays, June 6-27 at 7pm. Patrons are required to follow all city-mandated covid-19 precautions, including mandatory mask wearing and capacity is limited to 18.
For tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1043729 

In Greenwich Village Voyeur, a live, open air, immersive Theatrical Experience, reopened on March 26 for an intimate audience of only 8. The sidewalks, doorways and windows of Greenwich Village become the setting for the walking show. Voyeur celebrated its 250 performance on April 23 and tickets are currently on sale through May 29.  Visit www.unmakinglautrecplay.com for times, tickets and further details.

Bay Street Theater

Tickets go on sale TODAY at 11am for their 30th Anniversary Season, COME TOGETHER, for the thrill of Live Theater.

May 11, 2021: Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts announced tickets are now on sale for their 30th anniversary summer season, Come Together, a showcase of live, indoor performances, outdoor musical concerts, and experiential art installation.

Tickets go on sale TODAY at 11am for their 30th Anniversary Season, COME TOGETHER, for the thrill of Live Theater.

May 11, 2021: Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts announced tickets are now on sale for their 30th anniversary summer season, Come Together, a showcase of live, indoor performances, outdoor musical concerts, and experiential art installation.

The season will launch with a staged production in the Theater of Mark St. Germain’s Becoming Dr. Ruth, starring Tovah Feldshuh; and will continue with an outdoor concert production of Camelot; and Wonder/Wall, an immersive visual arts experience.

Becoming Ruth chronicles the life of noted psychologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, from her early years fleeing Nazi Germany, living as an orphan in Switzerland, to her service in the Israeli armed forces as sharpshooter, and her later life and career in New York. Tony and Emmy Award-nominee Tovah Feldshuh stars in this illuminating one-woman show, written by renowned playwright, Mark St. Germain. Becoming Dr. Ruth is a humorous and heartfelt portrait detailing Dr. Ruth’s remarkable journey against so many odds, to become a pioneer in the psychology of human sexuality and the world’s most famous sex therapist. 

This production has a runtime of 90 minutes with no intermission and will be performed for a social-distanced audience indoors on Bay Street’s Mainstage in compliance with all New York State requirements for indoor performances. 

Becoming Dr. Ruth is produced in association with North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, California, with David Ellenstein, Artistic Director, and Bill Kerlin, Managing Director. 

Performances are June 4–June 27 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and matinee performances on Sundays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m.

Wonder/Wall is an exciting and new immersive video performance series bringing the work of four unique, cutting-edge video artists to Sag Harbor, to share work commissioned by Bay Street Theater. Each new work will have a one-week run during the month of July, and each will include a live performance element, which will be performed within the immersive video world surrounding the audience. Performances will be approximately 15 minutes in duration, and will take place within Bay Street Theater’s courtyard, which will be converted into a newly envisioned outdoor performance space created especially for these compelling presentations.

Conceived and curated by Artistic Associate Josh Wilder, Wonder/World runs July 6–July 31 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Runtime: 15 minutes.

In the new envisioning of Camelot, the story of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot is told with intimacy, immediacy, and incandescent passion. This beloved musical explores one of the greatest romances of all time and paints a luminous picture of a fleeting moment when justice, peace, and righteousness reigned supreme. And while that moment must come to an end, we are asked to believe it could come again. Love, loss, humor, and regret pour forth from the acclaimed score, which includes classic songs such as I Loved You Once in SilenceI Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight, If Ever I Would Leave You, and of course the title song, Camelot.

Camelot, with Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and Music by Frederick Loewe, will be performed under the stars from August 5–August 29, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinee at 5:30.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit their website:  http://baystreet.org/ 

A Dozen Dreams

Waking Up New York with Immersive A Dozen Dreams

 By: Ellis Nassour

May 7, 2021 — En Garde Arts and Arts Brookfield are presenting the immersive theatrical installation A Dozen Dreams, a live “timestamp of a once-in-a-generation event that will resound for years to come” May 13 – 30 at Brookfield Place in one of downtown’s treasures, the Winter Garden (Battery Park, at the West Side Highway, entry through mall at 230 Vesey Street opposite the World Trade Center).

Waking Up New York with Immersive A Dozen Dreams

 By: Ellis Nassour

May 7, 2021 — En Garde Arts and Arts Brookfield are presenting the immersive theatrical installation A Dozen Dreams, a live “timestamp of a once-in-a-generation event that will resound for years to come” May 13 – 30 at Brookfield Place in one of downtown’s treasures, the Winter Garden (Battery Park, at the West Side Highway, entry through mall at 230 Vesey Street opposite the World Trade Center).

At the start of the global pandemic, March 2020, En Garde Arts invited 12 women playwrights to share their pandemic dreams. The result became A Dozen Dreams, a series of designer rooms built in a labyrinth conceived by En Garde Arts founder and artistic director Anne Hamburger, visual and environment designer Irina Kruzhilina, and former Lark Performing Arts artistic director John Clinton Eisner. 

Each experience is unique, with the playwrights’ sharing their dreams through stunning, multi-dimensional audio and visual (lights, video) representations of intimate moments vital to the human connection we lost in COVID isolation. Each room comes to life as audiences wind through a maze of single and pod-pair sets. 

The playwrights featured are Sam Chanse, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Emily Mann with singer Kecia Lewis, Ellen McLaughlin, Martyna Majok, Mona Mansour, Rehana Mirza, Liza Jessie Peterson, Ren Dara Santiago, Caridad Svich, Lucy Thurber, and Andrea Thome. 

Production designers also include Brittany Bland (projection and video); Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (lighting); and Rena Anakwe (sound).

 Tickets for A Dozen Dreams performances are free. The running time is 45 minutes. Patrons must wear acceptable face covering. No more than two people are allowed to travel through the experience together at one time if they reserve to travel together.

A digital playbill will be accessible via QR code/URL link on site, and e-mailed to audience members making reservations.

Performances bookings are in 20-minute increments (for example: 2 P.M., 2:20, 3, 3:20. 3:40, and 7:20 P.M.), Wednesday – Saturday, 2:00 p.m. – 8 and Sunday Noon to 5 P.M. (last booking, 4:20 p.m.).

To reserve timed tickets, visit www.engardearts.org. Access to Vesey Street is by IND E or IRT 1 Local to World Trade Center ; IRT Lex 4 or 5 to Fulton Street; BMT R, N or W to  Cortlandt Street;  J or Z to Fulton Street; or PATH to World Trade Center. 

Take note of COVID precautions:

To ensure safety protocols, patrons will receive a questionnaire prior to arrival and asked to respond to these questions: A) Do you have a fever above 100 degrees; B) Have you tested positive for COVID within the last 10 days; C) Do you have any COVID symptoms; D) Have you been exposed to anyone testing positive in last 10 days; and E) Have you traveled outside of NY state, beyond a contiguous state in the past 10 days.

Signage will support and communicate arrival protocols and ensure safe distances are maintained between patrons awaiting entry. 

Signage throughout the location will remind patrons and staff to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE, and cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Hand sanitizer will be available at the check in/box office.

BroadwayHD

May’s Lineup of Exciting New Shows include musical classics and innovative new favorites. 

April 26, 2021: Electrifying performances are coming to BroadwayHD, the premiere streaming service for theater fans. Their May lineup of new content is diverse, from musical classics to visually innovative new favorites.  On May 1st, the Academy Award Best Picture winner An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly dances its way onto the platform, while theater spectacle Over There starring Harry and Luke Treadaway, joins the library on May 6th.  Also, the critically acclaimed revival and emotionally powerful show, The Last Five Years, which will soon become a live stage production on the West End this fall.  

May’s Lineup of Exciting New Shows include musical classics and innovative new favorites. 

April 26, 2021: Electrifying performances are coming to BroadwayHD, the premiere streaming service for theater fans. Their May lineup of new content is diverse, from musical classics to visually innovative new favorites.  On May 1st, the Academy Award Best Picture winner An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly dances its way onto the platform, while theater spectacle Over There starring Harry and Luke Treadaway, joins the library on May 6th.  Also, the critically acclaimed revival and emotionally powerful show, The Last Five Years, which will soon become a live stage production on the West End this fall.  

The story follows a couple, played by Oli Higginson (Bridgerton) and Molly Lynch (Sunset Boulevard), as they fall in and out of love over five years, and will debut on the platform on May 13th.  On May 20th, the 2017 American musical fantasy drama film Saturday Church starring Pose stars Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, which is loosely based on a LGBTQ+ outreach program in New York City, will be available to subscribers.  The month wraps up with documentary Ballet Boys on May 27th, about the struggles, set backs and accomplishments of three friends as they work their way to ballet prestige, as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni on May 31.  

“We have a stunning collection of work that will be available to subscribers this month, from beloved classics like An American in Paris, to unique musicals like The Last Five Years and Saturday Church.  We are looking forward to growing our library with some of the best and brightest performances to ever grace the stage and screen,” Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, co-founders of BroadwayHD.

The new productions coming to BroadwayHD in May include:

An American in Paris- May 1st- The winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, An American in Paris stars Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan, an American ex-GI who remains in post-war Paris to pursue his life as a painter.  Jerry falls for the gamine charms of a French shophand, Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). However, his paintings come to the attention of Milo Roberts, a rich American heiress, who is interested in more than just art.

Over There – May 6th – Breakout UK actors, brothers Harry and Luke Treadaway star in Over There, an enthralling stage performance captured at London’s Royal Court.  The show focuses on Karl, left in East Germany by his mother who escaped to the West with his twin brother Franz, as he crosses the border himself 25 years later, while looking at the character’s differences as they have grown through the years.  

The Last Five Years – May 13th – Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk Award-winning musical, The Last Five Years, recorded live at the Southwark Playhouse in the UK and streamed for the first time, is directed by Jonathan O’Boyle.  This intimate musical follows two New Yorkers and their five-year relationship using a unique form of storytelling. Watch it ahead of its debut on the West End this fall. https://www.last5yearsuk.com

Saturday Church – May 20th – Saturday Church is a 2017 American musical fantasy drama film written and directed by Damon Cardasis.  The film stars FX Pose stars Mj Rodriguez, and Indya Moore and is loosely based on the LGBTQ+ outreach program, Art & Acceptance, at St Luke in the Fields located in the West Village of New York City.  

Ballet Boys – May 27th – Billy Elliot meets First Position in Ballet Boys, a documentary that follows, over four years, the struggles, set-backs and accomplishments of three friends and hopeful future dance stars: Lukas, Syvert, and Torgeir. The boys sacrifice a normal high school experience (including parties and dating) for the sake of ambition and a love of dance. Facing pressure from their parents, schoolteachers and ballet mentors, they prepare for potentially life-altering and career-making auditions at some of Europe’s most prestigious ballet schools. 

Don Giovanni – May 31st – In Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the title character seduces, deceives and murders his way through the opera, doing his utmost to experience life, and all that it has to offer, to the full. This 2012 Opera North production was the company’s first for seven years and was directed by Alessandro Talevi. 

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from 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.

Founded in 2015 by Tony in 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.

Jamie deRoy

Tony Award Winning Musicals Part One

May 1, 2021: Jamie deRoy & friends: Songs from TONY AWARD WINNING MUSICALS PART ONE airs Monday, May 3 on the new HD Channel 1993 at 8 PM. Hugh Panaro, Christiane Noll, Chad Kimball, Penny Fuller, Pamela Myers and TONY Award Winner Chuck Cooper all appear from past shows filmed at Birdland, 59E59 Street Theaters and The Metropolitan Room.Musicians include Ron Abel, Paul Greenwood, Christopher Denny and Tom Hubbard. Jamie deRoy & friends airs on MONDAY, MAY 3 at 8PM on MNN5: Spectrum HD Channel 1993, and Verizon FIOS Channel 37, as well as multiple times on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 at later dates.  

Tony Award Winning Musicals Part One

May 1, 2021: Jamie deRoy & friends: Songs from TONY AWARD WINNING MUSICALS PART ONE airs Monday, May 3 on the new HD Channel 1993 at 8 PM. Hugh Panaro, Christiane Noll, Chad Kimball, Penny Fuller, Pamela Myers and TONY Award Winner Chuck Cooper all appear from past shows filmed at Birdland, 59E59 Street Theaters and The Metropolitan Room.Musicians include Ron Abel, Paul Greenwood, Christopher Denny and Tom Hubbard. Jamie deRoy & friends airs on MONDAY, MAY 3 at 8PM on MNN5: Spectrum HD Channel 1993, and Verizon FIOS Channel 37, as well as multiple times on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 at later dates.  

Jamie deRoy & friends is directed by Barry Kleinbort and produced and edited by Russell Bouthiller. 

Jamie deRoy, Penny Fuller, Chuck Cooper, Doreen Montalvo, Paulo Szot, Tom Hubbard, Billy Stritch
Photo: Barry Gordin

We Have To Hurry

Actors Fund Benefit

We Have to Hurry, new work by acclaimed playwright, actor, and director Dorothy Lyman starring Kathleen Chalfant and Elliott Gould will host a Virtual Stage Door, with the play, which streams live via Broadway on Demand for two performances only, Saturday, May 1 at 8pm and Sunday, May 2 at 3pm

Actors Fund Benefit

We Have to Hurry, new work by acclaimed playwright, actor, and director Dorothy Lyman starring Kathleen Chalfant and Elliott Gould will host a Virtual Stage Door, with the play, which streams live via Broadway on Demand for two performances only, Saturday, May 1 at 8pm and Sunday, May 2 at 3pm

Two mature couples get a spark in life’s third act in We Have to Hurry directed by Patricia Vanstone. One of the most beloved theater rituals is waiting by the Stage Door to get your Playbill signed. Since we can’t do that now, Dorothy Lyman and the cast of We Have to Hurry are hosting a Virtual Stage Door. People that purchase VIP tickets ($25) will be able to submit questions to be answered during an invite-only live post show Q&A. General Tickets are ($15). In addition Producers Stuffed Olive, Inc. and Davina Belling will donate all profits from the streaming of We Have to Hurry to The Actors Fund Home East and West. Tickets, priced at $15 per household, are available to purchase HERE

Dorothy Lyman Photo: Nicholas Suttle

At a retirement community in sunny Cedar Key, Florida, 70 year-olds Margaret and Gill are forced apart in their adjacent condos because of the mandatory isolation for all residents.  Across their neighboring balconies, Gil who is seriously in love with her observes Margaret’s frustrations and realizes he must use his wit and humor because every moment is precious.  We Have to Hurry, but can he persuade her to come downstairs and take a walk on the beach with him?

In keeping with the play’s touching message, all profits from the live stream of We Have to Hurry will be donated to The Actors Fund Home East and West. Owned and operated by The Actors Fund, the residences offer short-stay rehabilitation, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care services for individuals who have dedicated a major portion of their professional lives to the performing arts and entertainment.

Along with Kathleen Chalfant and Elliott Gould, co-star Jeanne Lauren Smith is featured in the cast. Sound design and technical support for the streaming event are by Josh Liebert.

Tickets for the live stream of We Have to Hurry are $15 per household for general viewing.  VIP tickets for the play and ‘Virtual Livestream’ are $25 per household.  They are both valid for one viewing only. The performance schedule is as follows: Saturday, May 1st  at 8pm and Sunday, May 2nd at 3pm  For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.broadwayondemand.com/channels/details/we-have-to-hurry

Kathleen Chalfant (Margaret) received a Tony Award for her performance in Angels in America and is the recipient of the 1996 OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence, 2004 Lortel Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Professional Women, and the 2018 OBIE Award for Lifetime Achievement. Broadway: Racing Demon, Dance With Me. Off-Broadway: A Woman of the World, Wit (Drama Desk, Lortel, OCC, Drama League, CT Critics Circle, and OBIE Awards), For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, A Walk in the Woods (Drama Desk nom.), Talking Heads (OBIE Award), Nine Armenians (Drama Desk nom.), Henry V (Callaway Award), Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and many more. Select Film & TV: Ulysses, Duplicity, Lackawanna Blues, Kinsey, The Laramie Project; recurring on “The Affair,” “The Strain,” “The Americans,” “House of Cards,” “Rescue Me,” “The Book of Daniel,” “The Guardian,” “Law & Order,” and “One Life to Live.” She has received the Drama League and Sidney Kingsley Awards for her body of work and holds an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Cooper Union.

Elliott Gould (Gil) is a prolific American actor and producer, who began his acting career on Broadway. His portrayal of Trapper John in Robert Altman‘s feature film M*A*S*H earned him a Golden Globe nomination and landed him on the cover of TIME magazine, calling him a “star for an uptight age. “Nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, other memorable roles include playing Philip Marlowe in Altman’s The Long Goodbye and being the first American actor to work with renowned director Ingmar Bergman when he starred in The Touch. He has since appeared in noteworthy roles in numerous feature films including Contagion, American History X, Bugsy, Meet Ruby Sparks, A Bridge Too Far, Capricorn One, The Lady Vanishes, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark, and portrayed Reuben Tishkoff in the popular trilogy of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen. 
On television, a new generation became enthusiastic fans when Mr. Gould appeared as Jack Geller, Ross and Monica’s father, on the wildly popular sitcom Friends. His other TV work includes Ray Donovan, the sitcom Mulaney, Doubt, 9 JKL, Grace and Frankie, and The Kominsky Method. 

He is part of an elite club having the distinction of having hosted Saturday Night Live six times. Gould produced several films including Woody Allen’s, Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask, Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders, and is in development on several new projects.

Dorothy Lyman (Playwright) is a two-time Emmy© Award-winning actress for her work as Opal Gardner on “All My Children” and is widely known for her co-starring role on “Mama’s Family,” alongside Vicki Lawrence and Carol Burnett. In addition to her numerous film and television appearances, Ms. Lyman also directed 75 episodes of the Fran Drescher sitcom “The Nanny.” Her other plays are Enemy (an adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People), A Rage in Tenure and Soft Landing (directed by John Tillinger) all developed and produced by Players Workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In The Bleak Midwinter, the prequel to We Have To Hurry was produced in New York City and Westchester in 2019. Ms. Lyman’s directing career began in 1980 when she produced and directed the original off-Broadway production of A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking starring Susan Sarandon and Eileen Brennan, and the subsequent national tour starring Elizabeth Ashley and Susan Anton. Her feature films, The Northern Kingdom and Split Ends, are available on Netflix.

Patricia Vanstone (Director) is an award-winning Canadian director, performer, and dramaturge. In addition to her over 150 acting and directing credits in Canada and abroad, she co-founded The Foster Festival in Niagara, Canada in 2016, where she produced four successful seasons and directed seven world premiere productions, including Halfway There, Screwball Comedy, and Lunenberg. Under her direction and dramaturgy, the Young People’s Theatre production of Beo’s Bedroom won a DORA Award for Outstanding TYA Production and was a finalist for a Chalmers Award for Outstanding New Play, TYA. She is the recipient of the “Established Artist Award” at the St. Catharines Arts Awards. Her Foster Festival production of Old Love, a StageDoor.com Top 10 production, was subsequently presented at Players Workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Voyeur

A LIVE Theatrical Experience, VOYEUR The Windows of Toulouse -Lautrec.

April 24, 2021: VOYEUR, a live, open air, immersive Theatrical Experience, returns to the streets of Greenwich Village after a successful 2020 run.  Produced by Bated Breath Theatre Company, the Spring version of the show features new scenes, additional cast members, a new tour route and a new finale venue. 

A LIVE Theatrical Experience, VOYEUR The Windows of Toulouse -Lautrec.

April 24, 2021: VOYEUR, a live, open air, immersive Theatrical Experience, returns to the streets of Greenwich Village after a successful 2020 run.  Produced by Bated Breath Theatre Company, the Spring version of the show features new scenes, additional cast members, a new tour route and a new finale venue. 

VOYEUR is a fascinating experience and joyous return to live theater. An intimate eight-person audience is guided through the dreams of iconic artist Toulouse-Lautrec. The walking show is a unique blend of theater, dance, art, live music, opera and puppetry. The sidewalks, doorways and windows of Greenwich Village become the setting for VOYEUR transporting us into the bohemian world of 1899 Paris. 

After performances began on March 26th, the company celebrated the 250th performance on Friday, April 23rd. We attended the 6:30pm show on Saturday and had a terrific time. David Sheward found the show, “Dazzling and involving… a fascinating mosaic of an artist’s life and a refreshing return to live theater.”  A link to his full review on TheaterLife is below along with a promo video. Gordin & Christiano

Tickets are currently on sale through May 29th. The performance begins at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street at 7th Avenue South. Performance dates and times vary. See web site for complete schedule. Running time is approximately 1 hour. Audience members must be able to climb one flight of stairs and be on their feet for the duration of the performance. Tickets range from $69 – $94. Visit www.unmakinglautrecplay.com for times, tickets and further details.
 
Check out the new Spring 2021 promo video: 

Click Here to Read Review by David Sheward

Photography: Barry Gordin

Video : Barry Gordin

Pandemic Oscar Predictions

By: David Sheward

April 23, 2020: There has never been a weirder, more unpredictable slate of Oscar nominees, nor has there been a stranger movie awards season in recent memory than this one. The COVID-19 pandemic not only shuttered movie theaters for much of 2020, but it also forced the Oscars to be pushed back into April, its former standard date before moving to February in 2004 to shorten the intense lobbying period for Oscar gold. As a result of the closed cinemas, competing movies moved to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO Max, making it possible to see all of the nominees without leaving your couch. 

By: David Sheward

April 23, 2020: There has never been a weirder, more unpredictable slate of Oscar nominees, nor has there been a stranger movie awards season in recent memory than this one. The COVID-19 pandemic not only shuttered movie theaters for much of 2020, but it also forced the Oscars to be pushed back into April, its former standard date before moving to February in 2004 to shorten the intense lobbying period for Oscar gold. As a result of the closed cinemas, competing movies moved to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO Max, making it possible to see all of the nominees without leaving your couch. 

This year’s crop of contenders reflects the world’s shifting priorities with emphasis on small, independent films focusing on diversity and social justice issues rather than mammoth escapist entertainment. Voices of women, African-, Asian-, and Muslim Americans were well represented with numerous first-time, high-profile nominations for members of those communities. America’s turbulent past regarding race is explored in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Judas and the Black Messiah, and The United States Vs. Billie Holliday. Rape culture is exposed in Promising Young Woman. The main characters experience economic displacement in Nomadland, Minari and Hillbilly Elegy while the protagonists of The Father and Sound of Metal undergo mental and physical trials. It seemed as if the movies had turned away from celluloid fantasies and inward like the whole of society as it was forced to quarantine. Even Mank, a stylish biography of alcoholic screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz the credited co-author of Citizen Kane, explored the political and social aspects of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The Oscars themselves will be muted with a socially-distanced, limited in-person red carpet and ceremony, reflecting our current status of emerging slowly from lockdown. Here are my predictions for this most unusual of Oscars.

Best Picture

Prediction/Preference: Nomadland

All eight nominees for the top prize have strong track records and critical reception. Mank has the most Oscar nominations with 10, but Nomadland has the mojo after copping the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama) and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature. Chloe Zhao’s beautifully shot portrait of RV pioneers struggling in a gig economy seems to perfectly capture the social moment.

Best Actor

Prediction/Preference Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Credit: David Lee/Netflix

For his fiery portrayal of the rage-filled trumpeter Levee in George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of August Wilson’ award-winning play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the late Chadwick Boseman has the edge, having won the Golden Globe, SAG and Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards. If he wins, he will be only the third performer to win a posthumous Oscar, the others being Peter Finch for Network and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight. Boseman’s only real competition is Anthony Hopkins for The Father, who might be able to pull an upset as a sentimental favorite at age 83. Hopkins is a previous winner (for Silence of the Lambs), but that doesn’t necessarily prevent another triumph. His performance as a dementia patient, is every bit as intense as Boseman’s, so this could be a tough one to call.

Best Actress

Prediction/Preference: France McDormand, Nomadland

Frances McDormand in Nomadland Credit: Searchlight

Leading Actress is the most competitive and unpredictable category this year. Four of the five nominees have already won from other award groups. An even distribution like this make a frontrunner hard to spot. Viola Davis of Ma Rainey has copped the SAG and makes a complete physical transformation which always score points with Oscar voters. Andra Day won the Golden Globe for her acting debut as Billie Holliday. Frances McDormand of Nomadland captured the BAFTA and the National Society of Film Critics. Carey Mulligan took the Independent Spirit Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review. Vanessa Kirby, the fifth nominee, delivered an emotionally charged performance in Pieces of a Woman. Davis could be sidelined because Ma Rainey does not have much screen time (In the original Broadway production, Theresa Merritt received a Featured Actress Tony nomination for the role.) McDormand benefits from the major push behind Nomadland and if she wins, she’ll be the second actress to win three Leading Actress Awards (Her previous wins are for Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Apart from Katherine Hepburn’s four wins, no other actress has more than two leading Oscars. Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman have two leading and one supporting.) 

Best Supporting Actor

Prediction: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Preference: Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah 

Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah Credit: Warner Brothers

One could argue that both Kaluuya and Stanfield are really the leading men of Judas and the Black Messiah. Their respective roles of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and FBI informant Bill O’Neal are given first billing in the credits, they are the title characters, and they have the most screen time of anyone in the film. This is kind of unfair to fellow nominees Sacha Baron Cohen (Chicago 7), Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami), and Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) who truly are supporting players. Kaluuya, who was previously nominated for Get Out, has the showier role with many passionate speeches to cheering Panther supporters and will probably win. He’s collected the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTAs. But I found Stanfield’s work more subtle and complex. He skillfully conveyed O’Neal’s conflicting emotions of self-interest in betraying Hampton and growing respect for the radical advocate. 

Best Supporting Actress

Prediction: Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy Credit: Lacey Terrell/Netflix

Preference: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari Credit: A24

Let’s call this category the Battle of the Feisty Grandmas. In one corner, there’s Glenn Close as the cigarette-smoking, tiger-like Meemaw in Hillbilly Elegy. This being Close’s eighth nomination without a win (four for lead and for for supporting), you’d think she was a shoo-in. But her main competiton Yuh-Jung Youn, the wrestling-loving, eccentric Soonja from Minari, has lots of support plus the SAG, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Awards. The Golden Globe went to Jodie Foster from The Mauritanian and she wasn’t even Oscar nominated. Hillbilly got horrible reviews and Minari is a critics’ darling, but Close may get a sympathy bump. I am torn about this one because I loved both performances. Close is one of my favorite actresses and she’s been stiffed by the Oscars so many times in the past, but I’m going just for the individual work I’d have to side with Youn.

Best Director

Prediction/Preference: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Chloe Zhao, director of Nomadland, could become the first person to win four Oscars on one night since Walt Disney

Zhao, who is also nominated for Original Screenplay and Editing, is hot right now with a Marvel Universe helming stint lined up. Nomadland is stuffed with gorgeous shots of the Southwestern landscape the houseless heroine Fern inhabits, plus the Best Picture winner usually also takes the Best Director prize (not always, but it’s the rule rather than the exception). If Zhao wins she will be the first Asian-American woman to be named Best Director and only the second woman (after Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker). (Sidenote: this is the first year two women have been nominated in this category, the other being Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman.) Since Zhao is a producer on the film, she could potentially win four Oscars in one night, a record only previously matched by Walt Disney in 1953 for Best Feature and Short-Subject Documentary and Cartoon and Two-Reel Short Subject.

Additional Categories:

Best Adapted Screenplay: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Best Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Best Animated Feature: Soul

Best International Feature: Another Round

Cinematography: Nomadland

Film Editing: Nomadland

Sound: Sound of Metal

Costume Design: Emma

Production Design: Mank

The 93rd Oscars

The 93rd Oscars Telecast Live Sunday. WATCH!  It’s Going to Be Unique

By: Ellis Nassour

April 22, 2021: Doesn’t everyone love the movies? Even at those long ago cinemas where you could see them on big screens with an extra large soda and those refillable buckets of often stale popcorn – both of which you can’t avoid spilling on the pristine floors? Attendance is surely down, and the culprit is partly Covid 19, but we can be buoyed on Sunday as ABC will present live mostly from Los Angeles the 2021 Academy Awards, the 93rd, at 8 P.M. (E). It will truly be a global event, seen live or recorded in more than 225 countries and territories. 

The 93rd Oscars Telecast Live Sunday. WATCH!  It’s Going to Be Unique

By: Ellis Nassour

April 22, 2021: Doesn’t everyone love the movies? Even at those long ago cinemas where you could see them on big screens with an extra large soda and those refillable buckets of often stale popcorn – both of which you can’t avoid spilling on the pristine floors? Attendance is surely down, and the culprit is partly Covid 19, but we can be buoyed on Sunday as ABC will present live mostly from Los Angeles the 2021 Academy Awards, the 93rd, at 8 P.M. (E). It will truly be a global event, seen live or recorded in more than 225 countries and territories. 

There won’t be the traditional Red Carpet of stunning gowns and glimmering jewels. Instead, movie devotees will have the 90 minute special The Oscars: Into the Spotlight on the menu live at 6:30 P.M. (E). Here’s where the best songs are to be performed. Oscars: After Dark will follow way after dark. 

It’s amazing how many say they could care less about the Oscars, Hollywood’s most prestigious event and bait to get movielovers into cinema seats. Yes, it does drag on and on and there are countless commercials; and with more than half the winners well-deserved craftspersons we’ve never heard of – thanking loved ones and pets we’ve never heard of. 

Unlike at the Tonys, the unions have never allowed the Academy to present craft awards before the telecast. Sadly, with so many award shows – especially the SAG Awards and Golden Globes, no matter how hard the producers labor to put on a lively show, it all seems anti-climatic. You’ve seen so-and-so and the “best” movie already honored and honored and honored again.

Although cineplex box office prices are higher, attendance is down. In a year of streaming on I’ve-lost-count-of-how-many sites [so many that audiences for network TV fare have shrunk], nominations aren’t necessarily coming from films seen on cinema’s big screens. Thanks to Covid 19, one chain has folded, others are in dire straits. Reopening can’t come quickly enough. 

Directing is Tony Awards veteran and 14-time Emmy winner Glenn Weiss. The trio of producers determined to make this 93rd Edition different/unique by going to great lengths and faraway places to be entertaining are Emmy-winning actor/director Jesse Collins, Oscar and Emmy nominee Stacey Sher, and Oscar-winning director, producer, writer, cinematographer, and editor .Steven Soderbergh. The Roots front man Questlove is music directing. 

In addition, says Collins, “We’ve come up with a new approach: An Awards-Show-as-a-Movie. In keeping with our theme, we’ve assembled a truly stellar cast of stars and presenters. In fact, there’s so much wattage, sunglasses may be required.”

With a budget of untold millions, it’s not surprising that Netflix has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. For the 2020 Awards, it emerged as leader of the pack with the critically-acclaimed Mank (10 nominations, including Best Picture, Actor, and Director). 

But not everything was seen only on TV. Films receiving multiple nods are The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. That doesn’t mean a vast audience saw them. Just the opposite. 

It’s also a season of debuts and seasoned actors in excellent supporting roles, but they will go unrecognized since the Academy 
doesn’t have an Ensemble category. 

However, the Academy has shown it can change. This years, especially, it has broken new ground in the Honorary Oscar category.  

In the hopes you will tune in, the producers came up with novel ideas. The Awards will telecast from multiple locations, including L.A. famed Art Deco Union Station, the soon-to-open Academy Museum, Iceland, and the U.K. 

The 93rd Oscars 

2021 Oscar Nomination Highlights:

For a complete list and a ballot, visit www.AcademyAwards.com = 

Picture

The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Lead Actor
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal; 
Chadwich Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom;
Anthony Hopkins, The Father;
Gary Oldman, Mank;
Steven Yeun, Minari

Lead Actress
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom;
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday;
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman;
Frances McDormand, Nomadland;
Carey Mulligan,Promising Young Woman

 Supporting Actor

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 — 
Oscar has no Ensemble Cast category; however, Yahya 
Abdul-Mateen II (Bobby Seale), Eddie Redmane (Tom 
Hayden), Mark Rylance (William Kunstler), Frank 
Langella (Judge “Lock Him Up” Hoffman); Joseph Gordon-
Levitt (Prosecutor Schultz), and Jeremy Strong (Jerry 
Rubin) deserve recognition; 
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah;
Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami  — as above,
Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcom X), Aldis Hodge (Jim 
Brown); and especially Eli Goree (Cassius Clay) are 
stand-outs;
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal;
LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova,Borat Subsequent Moviefilm;
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy;
Olivia Colman, The Father;
Amanda Seyfried, Mank;
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Director
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari;
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman;
David Fincher, Mank;
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round;
Chloé Zhaeo, Nomadland

Animated Feature
Onward;
Over the Moon
;
A Shaun the Sheep Movie
Farmageddon;
Soul
;
Wolfwalkers

International Feature Film
Another Round, Denmark;
Better Days, Hong Kong;
Collective, Romania;
The Man Who Sold His Skin, Tunisa;
Quo Vadis, Aida?, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah, Will Berson, Shaka King (screenplay);
Berson, King, Kenny and KeithLucas (story);
Minari, Lee Isaac Chung;
Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell;
Sound of Metal, Darius and Abraham Marder (screenplay); Darius
Marder, Derek Cianfrance (story);
Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin 

Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, 
Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena 
Friedman, Lee Kern;
The Father, Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton;
Nomadland, Chloé Zhao;
One Night in Miami, Kemp Powers;
The White Tigers, Ramin Bahrani

Original Score
The Academy has made changes for this category: After much-attempted abuse, now a score must have at least 60% new music; franchise films and sequels, 80%.

Da 5 BloodsTerrence Blanchard;
Mank, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross;
Minari, Emile Mosseri;
News of the World, James Newton Howard;
Soul, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batist

Original Song
This year songs will be performed in a pre-show special, Oscars: Into the Spotlight. One performance will be recorded in Hüsavik, Iceland, and four on the Dolby Family Terrace of the soon-to-open Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“Hear My Voice,” The Trail of the Chicago 7; by Daniel Pemberton, Celeste Waite; performed by Celeste; 
“Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah, by H.E.R, Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas; performed by H.E.R; 
“loi si” (Seen), The Life Ahead, by Laura Pausini, Diane Warren; performed by Pausini, Warren;
“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami;  by Leslie Odom Jr, Sam Ashworth; performed by Odom; 
“Húsavik,” Eurovision  Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga; by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsue, Richard Göransson; performed by Molly Sandén

Cinematography
Judas and the Black Messiah, Sean Bobbitt;
Mank, Erik Messerschmidt;
News of the World, Dariusz Wolski;
Nomadland, Joshua James Richards; 
The Trial of the Chicago 7, Phedon Papamichael

Due to the pandemic, there’ll be no traditional inside events. Instead of the honorary Governors Awards, the Academy Board of Governors voted for the first time to present two Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards:  prolific producer/director/actor and philanthropist Tyler Perry; and, in another first, to an organization: the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF). 

For those not of a certain age, the Award honors the memory of longtime Danish actor Jean Hersholt, who established an esteemed career on radio, in film, and on TV. From the early1900s to 1955, he co-starred in over 110 films, the most famous of which are: Erich von Stroheim’s masterpiece Greed (1924 silent); the classic Stella Dallas (1925, silent); Heidi (1937), as the grandfather co-starred with Shirley Temple; and Grand Hotel (1932, Best Picture)In addition to the vastly popular Dr Christian film series, he also segued to TV in the role. Hersholt was also president of the Academy from 1945-1949, and president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund for 18 years.  

“There’s been such widespread generosity in our industry, this past year in particular, that limiting the Humanitarian Award to one recipient was impossible,” states Academy president David Rubin. “We broke with tradition and are giving two awards to honor that spirit.

“Tyler’s cultural influence extends far beyond his work as a filmmaker,” he adds. “He has focused on humanitarian and social justice causes from the beginning of his career. The work of the MPTV became more vital than ever, going above and beyond to help our community. The sheer number of individuals and families from every corner of our workforce aided during the pandemic and over the last 100 years is nothing short of extraordinary.”

At www.oscars.org, check out the complete roster of nominations; and numerous special features, which include Inside the Oscars, a new podcast; video clips; and photos.

pen/man/ship **1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

April 22, 2021: Based in Prospect Park, Molière in the Park boasts a mission statement reinforcing the belief that “provocative and high caliber theater performed in public spaces and available to all, has the power to unite communities.”

By: Paulanne Simmons

April 22, 2021: Based in Prospect Park, Molière in the Park boasts a mission statement reinforcing the belief that “provocative and high caliber theater performed in public spaces and available to all, has the power to unite communities.”

Molière in the park is also “an inclusive and antiracist theater organization,” with the more specific mission “to bring high-caliber English language productions of Molière’s timely masterpieces, as well as carefully chosen contemporary plays that focus on language and question today’s world through the lens of history, to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park annually, and the online theatergoing community, free of charge.”

With all that in mind, it’s not hard to understand why the company chose to present Christina Anderson’s pen/man/ship, directed by Molière in the Park’s Founding Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien, to run online April 16 – 24. This is a play filled with idealism and ideas: religion and racism, personal turmoil and public disgrace.

The drama is set in 1896, on an old whaling ship that has been recommissioned to bring a group of people to Liberia, for reasons only disclosed well into the play.  Onboard are the apparent leader, a black surveyor, the God-fearing, self-righteous, Charles (Kevin Mambo); his submissive, self-righteous son, Jacob (Jared McNeill); Ruby (Crystal Lucas-Perry), a mysterious, self-righteous woman fleeing the Jim Crow South; and Cecil (Postell Pringle), an accordion-playing, thankfully not self-righteous member of the crew.

Cecil befriends Charles. Jacob falls in love with Ruby. And the crew, which for some reason harbors tremendous animosity for Charles from the very beginning, revolts under Ruby’s leadership, after a suspicious death/murder. There is a standoff and a resolution.

The drama has several subplots. Charles and Jacob have something shady going on in their pasts. Ruby has endured traumatic experiences. Charles is an alcoholic widower. But most of all there are words, lots and lots of words. Anderson loves a clever turn of phrase, for example: “Curiosity has the same effect as an untreated rash.” Her characters were created to speak in metaphors.

Very erudite characters are not necessarily a problem, but when such language is not accompanied by appropriate action, the drama ceases to be … well … dramatic. And when characters speak in their own panels, unable to interact with each other, and whatever action does take place does so off camera, the drama cannot help but drag.

On the other hand, most of the acting is quite good, with Mambo and McNeill particularly convincing, considering the limitations of their roles. And the creative team has provided cute, animated illustrations for scene breaks.,

Molière in the Park has announced guest speakers for “In Conversation,” a live post-show series following select virtual performances of pen/man/ship. These speakers include a specialist of early modern French literature (conversation on how women have used literature to engage with social issues), a theologian and activist (intersection of theology and civil rights in the late 1800’s), a Liberian playwright (political history of Liberia) and playwright, Lynn Nottage, who will discuss the inspiration behind Anderson’s play.

But if you’ve made it through the over 2-hour play, you may have had enough of the lecture.

John Cullum: An Accidental Star ****

By: David Sheward

April 17, 2021: Still spry and charismatic at 91, John Cullum offers an enchanting and charming solo turn  in John Cullum: An Accidental Star, a 80-minute career retrospective with songs. This virtual cabaret piece, available online until April 22, was produced by the Irish Repertory Theater, the Vineyard Theater and Goodspeed Opera House, three theaters Cullum has worked with, and is simplicity itself. Cullum relates stories about his seven-decade career with subtle musical accompaniment by pianist and musical director Julie McBride. From his early days in New York with Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park to his Broadway debut in Camelot to recent triumphs such as The Scottsboro Boys, the two-time Tony winning star offers amusing anecdotes and backstage insights as well as memorable performances of songs from his shows.

By: David Sheward

April 17, 2021: Still spry and charismatic at 91, John Cullum offers an enchanting and charming solo turn  in John Cullum: An Accidental Star, a 80-minute career retrospective with songs. This virtual cabaret piece, available online until April 22, was produced by the Irish Repertory Theater, the Vineyard Theater and Goodspeed Opera House, three theaters Cullum has worked with, and is simplicity itself. Cullum relates stories about his seven-decade career with subtle musical accompaniment by pianist and musical director Julie McBride. From his early days in New York with Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park to his Broadway debut in Camelot to recent triumphs such as The Scottsboro Boys, the two-time Tony winning star offers amusing anecdotes and backstage insights as well as memorable performances of songs from his shows.

Julie McBride, John Cullum Photo: Carol Rosegg

Dvid Thompson wrote the concise script and Lonny Price provided the straightforward direction, consisting of Cullum seated on a stool center stage with just enough varying shots to lend variety. The theme tying together his stories is the unpredictable and unintentional nature of many of his triumphs. Hence the title. When he first arrived in New York in the late 1950s from Tennessee, Cullum began nabbing roles in classical productions and established himself as a Shakespearean with several repertory roles in Papp’s summer series. He got into Camelot by not only outsinging, but also outacting rivals for a role as one of the knights. This led to him understudying star Richard Burton and replacing Roddy MacDowall as the villain Mordred in the Broadway company. 

Also in the “accidental” category, Cullum’s leading man roles in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Shenandoah were originally intended for Louis Jourdan and Jack Palance respectively. I loved Cullum’s description of Palance’s voice as wispy and slightly sinister, all wrong for the warm Charlie Anderson, a Civil War patriarch determined to keep his Virginia family out of the conflict. He includes juicy tidbits about the making of both shows as well as the flop We Take the Town which starred a miscast Robert Preston as Pancho Villa and closed out of town. Cullum soulfully warbles a sweet love song from that misbegotten venture, and explains that the songwriters refused to make necessary changes resulting in a shuttering before reaching New York. We also learn about his initial unfavorable reaction to the satiric musical Urinetown. He eventually took on the show moving from Off-Off-Broadway to on, demonstrating Cullum was always willing to take big risks and not settle for reviving the familiar.

Cullum’s voice may be a tad wobbly, but it retains its rich texture and emotive power. His rendition of “Come Back to Me” from On a Clear Day still thrills with urgent passion and humor. His narrative tone is folksy and inviting. The only flaw here is Cullum is such a nice guy, he doesn’t indulge in any nasty show-biz gossip, not even over Madeline Kahn’s departure from On the Twentieth Century only a month after the opening. I also would have liked more info on Cullum’s non-musical roles in such productions as the Richard Burton Hamlet, the ill-fated Burton-Elizabeth Taylor Private Lives, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, Tracey Letts’ August: Osage County and the nuclear-holocaust TV movie The Day After. Despite TV and film roles such as the CBS series Northern Exposure, Cullum is one of the few male leading men whose main media is the theater plus he’s the one of the few from the Golden Age of Musicals still working today. This entertaining retrospective affords a rare overview of not just one superlative performer’s career, but also a look back at the development of the art form over three-quarters of a century.

John Cullum: An Accidental Star will be presented April 8-22, 2021. Streaming tickets are available now at https://www.vineyardtheatre.org/an-accidental-star/. For more information, call the box office at 646-931-4714 or visit www.vineyardtheatre.org.

John Cullum, Photo : Carol Rosegg

On This Day In New York Theater: April 18, 1946

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 26 in the series)

April 18, 2021: April 18 in the 1940s was not a particularly memorable date in the annals of Broadway history, but it did yield one fascinating, if now barely remembered, long-running artifact. Lesser shows that opened on that date during the decade were To Kill a Cat (1943), Sheppey (1944), and Magnolia Alley (1949), the longest running of which (23 performances) was Sheppey,. 

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 26 in the series)

April 18, 2021: April 18 in the 1940s was not a particularly memorable date in the annals of Broadway history, but it did yield one fascinating, if now barely remembered, long-running artifact. Lesser shows that opened on that date during the decade were To Kill a Cat (1943), Sheppey (1944), and Magnolia Alley (1949), the longest running of which (23 performances) was Sheppey,. 

If we are to celebrate April 18 in New York theatre history, however, it is for a unique postwar-themed revue titled Call Me Mister, which opened at the National Theatre and rang up 734 showings. Its sketches were by Arnold Auerbach with Arnold Horwitt, its music and lyrics by Harold Rome, its direction by Robert H. Gordon, its choreography by John Wray, its costumes by Grace Houston, and its producing by Melvyn Douglas and Herman Levin.

Cast album for Call Me Mister

The springboard for this rousing musical revue was the lighter postwar experiences of American men and women who had served in World War II; almost every participant—from the creative team to the players—was a service veteran or had performed in the USO. All branches of the armed forces were represented. 

Co-producer Melvyn Douglas (the movie star), then a major in the army (later promoted to lieutenant colonel), had been staging shows for the troops in China, Burma, and India when he began receiving  mimeographed copies of songs and skits written by Corporal Harold Rome and Sergeant Arnold Auerbach, who belonged to the New York branch of the Special Services. Seeing how clever and diverting their material was, he looked up the pair while on leave in New York and arranged to do a show with them when the war was over.

Headlining the show were singer-comedienne Betty Garrett (the only performer already a recognized Broadway performer), comic Jules Munshin, Black baritone Lawrence Winters, and ballerina Maria Karnilova. Harry Clark and George Hall were funny comics, dancers Betty Lou Holland and Bill Callahan were on point, Danny Scholl and Paula Bane were good young singers, and comic actor George S. Irving, later a Main Stem stalwart, made his Broadway bow.

Lobby card for Call Me Mister

The subject of the show was hinted at by the title, implying that military persons of rank were to be addressed as “mister” in civilian life. This advice was rendered in an opening number sung before a delightfully designed curtain on which the serviceman’s discharge button was depicted in an amusing distortion. The cast informed the audience that “dramatic critics have more power over us than Eisenhower.” Some material was satirical, some sentimental, and some patriotic. Not all of it was on the same high level (like the bit featuring Munshin showing how classical actor Maurice Evans would sound as a train announcer), but enough clicked to make the show a hit.

The overall tone was jubilation at the war’s victorious conclusion. John Mason Brown said that the good-natured revue was “a lively one, healthy and unsparing in its spoofing.” Howard Barnes agreed: “Call Me Mister is a captivating show. It is fresh, vigorous and what was least to have been expected, it has great style.”

Harold Rome (then best known for his Depression-era, labor-positive Pins and Needles) was celebrated for his musical contributions and intelligent lyrics. “The Red Ball Express,” a lonely tune sung by Winters, dealt with a Black truck driver traveling down the Normandy coast. Winters also sang the socially conscious but overly bromidic “The Face on the Dime” (a tribute to Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and the emotionally satisfying “Going Home Train,” effectively set in the rhythms of a train bearing the doughboys (who served as a chorus) homeward. “Off We Go” was a parody of the Air Force, seen through Hollywood-influenced GI eyes as a world of snooty Noël Coward high life. One of Garrett’s best numbers was “Surplus Material,” in which she was a canteen waitress whose sexual frustration had been exacerbated with the demobilization of her soldier customers. 

An excellent comic sketch, “Welcome Home,” concerned the homecoming of a soldier whose parents have been preparing to greet him by reading so much somber literature on the returning vet that they expect him to be a psychological wreck. The mother, for example, thinks that she must convince her son that she has shared all his battlefield experiences. When she meets him at the door, she is dressed in a helmet and a gun belt, with two revolvers, and is more frightening than the nastiest top sergeant.

 Betty Garrett in Call Me Mister

Another funny sketch showed what Paul Revere would have encountered if he had had to cut through the modern army bureaucracy’s red tape to get a horse to warn that the British were coming. Some material confronted the housing shortage, the problems of buying civilian clothes (“civvies”), the serviceman who returns to meet his newborn child, and so on. Among the few numbers not directly connected to the problems of returning soldiers was one satirizing three Southern senators who are delighted to learn from a public opinion survey that their popularity is only several points below that of athlete’s foot. (I can think of three contemporary Southern politicians who might have similar results today.) “Yuletide, Park Avenue” showed a wealthy family singing the praises of various prominent department stores.

One of the best routines came about in typical show biz fashion. According to Douglas and Tom Arthur’s See You at the Movies, the show, when still in rehearsal, was in need of an up-tempo song just before the end of Act Two. Rome confessed he was out of ideas, but did have a nonsense piece he was not sure was right for the show. “Play it!,” shouted his team. “We’ll find a way to use it.” The song, “South America, Take It Away,” in which the eponymous land mass was advised to retrieve its congas, rhumbas, and sambas (ai, ai, ai) became the biggest hit of the show. It was introduced by Betty Garrett, whose performance of it at a Harold Rome celebration nearly half-a-century later is captured in this amateur video.

In 1951, a Hollywood version, which had little to do with the original show, was filmed starring Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, and Danny Thomas, whose trailer can be seen here

Click Here for #1 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 14 IN THE 1920’S

Click Here for #2 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 19 in the 1930’s

Click Here for #3 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 24 IN THE 1920’S AND 1930’S

Click Here for #4 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 29 in the 1920’S, 1930’S and 1940’S

Click Here for #5 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: JUNE 3 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #6 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 13 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #7 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 20 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #8 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 26 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #9 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 6 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #10 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 15 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #11 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 27 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #12 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 14 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #13 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 31 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #14 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: September 12 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #15 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 11 in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Click Here for #16 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 29th in the 1940’s

Click Here for #17 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 13th in the 1930’s

Click Here for #18 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 29th in the 1920’s

Click Here for #19 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: December 19 in the 1940’s

Click Here for #20 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: New Year’s Eve from the 1920’s through the 1940’s

Click Here for #21 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: January 16, 1924 ( The Miracle) 

Click Here for #22 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: February 12 in the 1940’s

Click Here for #23 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: February 24th in the 1930’s

Click Here for #24 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: March 13 in the 1920’s

Click Here for #25 in the Series ON THS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: March 28, 1939

Samuel L. Leiter, Ph.D.
Drama Desk voter
Reviews:
my blog: THEATRE’S LEITER SIDE  http://slleiter.blogspot.com/(now available as a paperback and eBook series, https://www.amazon.com/s?k=theatre%27s+leiter+side&ref=nb_sb_noss)  
THEATER PIZZAZZ http://www.theaterpizzazz.com/
THE BROADWAY BLOG http://thebroadwayblog.com/
THEATER LIFE http://theaterlife.com/
Kabuki: KABUKI WOOGIE http://kabukiwoogie.blogspot.com/
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theatre, CUNY
718-843-2799 718-730-2767 (cell)

Jamie deRoy & friends

2021  Academy Award  Winning Songs #1 

April 17, 2021: Jamie deRoy & friends presents Academy Award Winning Songs: Part 1 with Special Guest: Three- Time Oscar Winner Stephen Schwartz airing at it’s new Day, Time and Channel on MONDAY, APRIL 19th at 8PM on MNN5: Spectrum HD Channel 1993, and Verizon FIOS Channel 37, as well as multiple times on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 at later dates.  

2021  Academy Award  Winning Songs #1 

April 17, 2021: Jamie deRoy & friends presents Academy Award Winning Songs: Part 1 with Special Guest: Three- Time Oscar Winner Stephen Schwartz airing at it’s new Day, Time and Channel on MONDAY, APRIL 19th at 8PM on MNN5: Spectrum HD Channel 1993, and Verizon FIOS Channel 37, as well as multiple times on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 at later dates.  

Performers include: Jamie deRoy, Sarah Jane McMahon, Larry Gatlin, Ian Herman, Gregg Edelman and Special Guest: Three-time Academy Award Winner Stephen Schwartz. Stephen won Song of the Year for “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas“( 1995) with Music by Alan Menken and Lyric by Stephen. That year, they also won for Best Score. Then he won again for his song “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt” (1998), for which he did both Music and Lyric, this brought Stephen to three Academy Awards! 

Musicians on this episode include Lanny Meyers, Larry Gatlin, Ian Herman, Christopher Denny and Stephen Schwartz. The footage is culled from shows done at Dillon’s, The Metropolitan Room and Birdland from 2004-2010.

Jamie deRoy & friends is directed by Barry Kleinbort and produced and edited by Russell Bouthiller. 

Welcome Back to Theater

A Door Opens to Off Broadway: Blindness

By: Ellis Nassour

April 16, 2021: The acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production of Blindness, adapted from Nobel Prize-winning José Saramago’s dystopian novel by Tony winner Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), has opened at the Daryl Roth Theatre (101 East 15th Street at Union Square East). The production is the first to cut the ribbon of the commercial return of much-missed performing arts. 

A Door Opens to Off Broadway: Blindness

By: Ellis Nassour

April 16, 2021: The acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production of Blindness, adapted from Nobel Prize-winning José Saramago’s dystopian novel by Tony winner Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), has opened at the Daryl Roth Theatre (101 East 15th Street at Union Square East). The production is the first to cut the ribbon of the commercial return of much-missed performing arts. 

The director is Walter Meierjohann, the Netherlands native who was international associate director at London’s Young Vic. Lead producer is Tony-winning producer Daryl Roth. 

The unique production, a socially-distanced sound and light experience, is actorless. It’s described as “spellbinding storytelling narrated by Olivier Award winner Juliet Stevenson, who in the most hypnotic voice unveils the gripping story of a world changed forever in the blink of an eye reminding us that from the darkness, we will all emerge stronger.”

It delivers “an urgent and timely message” that unfolds through binaural headphones using a Neumann KU100 dummy head containing two microphones, immersive lighting, and atmospheric design.  

As in London, brothers Ben and Max Ringham are the sound designers. When they joined the Donmar team, they had no idea what would come of it, but it all came together extremely fast. “The form and the content and the current pandemic all aligned in quite a beautiful way,” says Max. “It was one of the most extreme things we’ve been through in our 25-year career. It felt like we were the family in The Shining, in the midst of Theatreland, but that made us incredibly tight as a company. As we listened, we felt fully immersed in the duality of the pandemic in our ears and the pandemic around us. It was quite incredible.”

In New York, joining Roth (Returning: Company revival, How I Learned to Drive revival; Tina, Jagged Little Pill, Angels in America revival), as Blindness producers are Elizabeth Armstrong, Jane Bergére, Tom Tuft, No Guarantees, and Gabrielle Palitz/Jack Lane.  The creative team includes design by Lizzie Clachan and lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun Markus Potter is U.S. associate director. 

Attendance is mandated at 86 attendees per showing (33% of the DR’s total space) with showing spaced throughout the day to allow ample time for venue sanitization. 

Blindness runs approximately 70 minutes with no intermission, and is recommended for ages 15+. There’re two shows (3 P.M. and 7). The theatre opens 10 minutes prior to showings to avoid queuing. Audience members enter one entrance and exit through another, creating a one-way traffic flow. The new enhanced building ventilation technologies bring more outdoor air and disinfect re-circulated air. 

Tickets, sold in advance and only online or by phone (212-269-6200), are $48 and sold in pairs at the comparable price of a single Off-Broadway ticket. To purchase, visit www.BlindnessEvent.com, where you’ll find performance schedules, or Telecharge.com (phone 212-239-6200). Seating pods are six feet apart. In addition to the two-person “social bubble” seating, there’re single pods. The price includes $2 facility and $3 Covid fees; in addition, there’s an $8.50 service charge and per-order handling fee. ADA seating is available for persons with disabilities. Follow Blindness on Twitter and Instagram.

Further Safety Protocols

House staff has completed COVID compliance training. Audiences and staff are required to complete a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken upon arrival; and are required to wear masks at all times inside the theatre. Headphones are individually sanitized between showings.

Contact tracing is in effect through the information provided by the purchase of tickets.

A Conversation with Lead Producer Daryl Roth

Produce Daryl Roth discovered Blindness by reading a review of the Donmar production.  “I  thought it would be an amazing piece I could do safely in my theatre on Park Avenue South and 15th Street. It’s an open, flexible space that can be refigured in interesting ways. I spoke with Donmar and they were interested in having a New York production. We started putting it together, not knowing when we’d be able to do it.”

In quite a leap of faith, the team got the theatre ready, purchasing cleaning supplies to be used throughout each day, and putting safety protocols in place — air filtration system, and getting lights, seating, head phones. Many months later, when the Governor to give the green light, we were ready.”

She informs you need a lot of lead time to market and promote a show, and it takes six weeks to get ticket sales ready. “Things are so different now that we opted for news items and did most of our marketing on social media. Word-of-mouth has caused such much interest that we plan to add a 5 P.M. show in two weeks. With the progress made in vacations, she’s observed a stronger comfort level about going out. This shows that people are anxious to get back to theater again, and have a communal experience, which is what theater ideally is.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to kick open our doors and to invite theatergoers into a welcoming and safe space,” she adds. “I felt a huge responsibility to have Blindness take place in the safest way possible. Temperatures are taken and there’s socially-distance seating. Blindness is the essence of storytelling. However, I don’t want people to be mislead. It’s not theater as we know it. There are periods of darkness, and the lighting and sound are intense, so it might not be the right event for everyone.” 

The story: As the lights change at a major crossroads in a city, a car grinds to a halt. Suddenly, without warning or cause, its driver goes blind. Within hours, it is clear that this blindness is like no other—it is an infectious epidemic, spreading like wildfire. The government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum, but their attempts are futile. The city is in panic.

Roth admits, “The story is unsettling. I’ll quote from one review: ‘It’s brilliantly terrifying!’ I would agree, but by the end it’s also cathartic. You feel hope and joy.” 

It was certainly worth the risk. “Everything comes at the right time,” she points out. “If we were looking for the perfect property for right now, we certainly found it.”